This is a cross-post from the Huff Post UK. See the original piece here and do follow us on @royal_ramblings..
In the week that TNA goes live on Challenge in the UK with an all-new ‘Xplosion’ show, their first ever programming designed for a family audience, we speak to creator and host Jeremy Borash about what this means for TNA:
Saturday morning is prime time for young wrestling fans in the UK, what is going to bring them to TNA?
I think it’s a couple of things. First, although there is a vast British wrestling history going back many decades, so far as I can remember there has never been a free-to-air Saturday morning wrestling show. Second, the show is going to be different and in a new format. Xplosion is currently shown on Wednesdays at 11pm and that can be inconvenient for people who have 9-5 Jobs. Moving it to a Saturday morning timeslot when people can watch it with their kids is going to be the advantage. There’s also a personal connection to that timeslot for me. One of my earliest memories is my dad sitting me down at my grandma’s house and showing me wrestling for the first time – I think I was four or five years old. That’s what we did every Saturday morning, we’d watch wrestling together. I did that for much of my youth and now fans all over the UK are going to get the chance to do it too.
TNA seems to favour us Brits, why did you pick the UK to launch this new timeslot for Xplosion?
Well I have personally been pushing for it for a long time because whilst our current timeslot for TNA ‘Impact’ is good, we’re missing a big audience that doesn’t stay up so late. In the US right now, we have a TV deal with spike. You can only see ‘Impact’ on Thursday nights in the states and it’s a well-protected timeslot whereas in the UK, we’re a little more flexible. I think if we’re seen as good to the UK then the fruits of mine and other peoples labour, our hard work and effort are starting to pay off. I also think we are in a David and Goliath situation in wrestling now and that’s something that resonates with UK Fans. The feedback we get from those fans is that they want us to succeed. They like to get behind an underdog, the one that really wants to take a bite out of the ass of the big guy. The UK is certainly our top international market, it’s important to us and it deserves our attention. I would rather do a show in the UK than anywhere else in the world just because of the fan response. For any performer that goes out there, they want a great response and they get it in the UK.
We’ve asked many interviewees about their best ‘rib’ (work banter) stories, what’s yours?
My favourite UK story is something completely bizarre but it doesn’t involve any other wrestlers. My long-term girlfriend is from Leicester in the UK. One of the first times I went to visit her, she was still at work and so I planned to wait at her mum’s house until she was finished. When I got to the block of flats, I knew I had the right area but I wasn’t quite sure which number I needed. When I eventually knocked on one door, I had second thoughts. The door opened and there was a big, just giant polish guy standing there. He just looks at me and says: “Jeremy Borash!?”, “What the **** are you doing here?!” This was Leicester, it was literally one of my first times there and I wasn’t sure how far our TV reach extended. The guy flipped out – he must have thought he was on a candid camera show! I apologised but he insisted I come in and take pictures with his kids – who happened to be playing with TNA action figures! I still talk to him on twitter – so it’s just funny, it was so random and was one of my first times in the UK but you know every day is a circus on the road.
We’re told there is a video of Rockstar Spud doing the YMCA in Gunner’s trunks. Have you seen it?
That’s just one of 5 or 6 dozen stories which I’m aware of when he’s dressed up or done something. In a very short time he has made a huge impact in TNA. You know, if the fans like him and he does well on TV, that’s a big accomplishment but winning over the locker-room and becoming a favourite backstage means everybody’s going to go to bat for you. A few weeks ago Kurt Angle was in the ring with Spud for one of the first times. Because of Spud’s outlandish character sometimes his wrestling is overlooked – but Kurt came back right after their match and said: “I want to wrestle that kid every match for the rest of my life”. And that’s Kurt Angle, the greatest of all time in my book. So to have that kind of ringing endorsement speaks really well for Spud. Everyone’s just taken to him. What an amazing success story for British Boot Camp -to have our first, our one and only winner come over and be such a success in America.
Are we going to see another British Boot Camp?
Well to me, the times right and the talent’s there. When Spud did the show, I didn’t expect him to win. But you have a guy who was working in a bank in Birmingham only a year and a half ago who is now living his dream, on national TV in America, on the most popular show on Spike TV, living in a bigger house than me, with a TNA contract – he’s changed his life! I speak to lots of wrestlers from different UK independent promotions so I know that there are guys here – males or females – that are just as talented, are completely undiscovered and are working a 9-5 jobs and just dreaming about that opportunity. I’ve met many people who want to suggest new talent for the show and so for me as executive producer, I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of doing another season. Obviously the decision isn’t mine to make but I think just based on the success story of the first season that a second season is inevitable.
The TNA roster has changed quite significantly over the past couple of years, what does this mean for the company?