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Mark tonight on your calendars. Write it down somewhere and put it somewhere where you won’t lose it. Today is January 4, 2010, and as a wrestling fan, you’re in for what promises to be the biggest night in Sports Entertainment in nearly nine years. TNA Wrestling has finally decided to fire the proverbial first shot at World Wrestling Entertainment, a shot that one Vincent Kennedy McMahon will certainly do everything in his power to fight off.
Back in October, the wrestling world was in shock when Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan announced a partnership with TNA President Dixie Carter during a press conference at New York’s Madison Square Garden, a building where the McMahon family and World Wrestling Entertainment has long held a monopoly on the wrestling business. World Championship Wrestling, in it’s entire history, never held an event in the Garden. Neither had the National Wrestling Alliance. MSG was strictly McMahon territory. While TNA hasn’t held an event in the Garden, and likely won’t, just having the press conference in the house that Vince built was huge. It wasn’t as huge as the announcement that followed on TNAWrestling.com – Hulk Hogan was coming to TNA.
Speculation ran wild – no pun intended – as to when Hogan would make his TNA Debut, but during an Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcast on Spike TV, Hogan announced that on January 4th, 2010, TNA would be airing a three hour live edition of iMPACT head to head with WWE’s flagship show, RAW. TNA obviously had huge plans for tonight, but that’s not to say that the WWE hasn’t countered. Rumors originally indicated The Rock would guest host RAW, as he’d arguably been the biggest star in WWE since Hogan’s heyday, but just a few weeks ago the gossip shifted from The Rock to one Bret “Hitman” Hart when RAW Guest Host Dennis Miller indicated that he’d like to see Hart as a future guest host. Last week, McMahon confirmed Hart’s presence for this evening – his first time on a live WWE program in over a dozen years.
Hogan vs. Hart is a long time dream match for wrestling fans, and though the two have never, and given health concerns, likely will never face each other in the ring, tonight they’ll go head to head in a ratings war.
Hulk Hogan is most certainly a bigger name in the world of Sports Entertainment than Bret Hart, but will fans tune in to see him? Do enough people even know that TNA iMPACT – let alone Hulk Hogan – will be on tonight to make any sort of ratings difference?
Whether Hogan’s influence on TNA makes any kind of difference on the product remains to be seen. What changes will be made to the TNA product? What kind of effect will it have on WWE’s stranglehold on the Sports Entertainment audience? Can TNA prove themselves tonight to be a legitimate contender to the WWE throne? I guess we’ll start to find out those answers tonight, as a special 3-hour TNA iMPACT! airs tonight at 8PM EST on Spike TV against WWE RAW at 9PM EST on the USA Network.