For those of you avoiding such things, there are no "spoiler" related news bits below.
TNA debuted last night at The Manhattan Center in New York for the first of three TV tapings this week that will actually put the company head 6-7 weeks on television. That means that by the end of their August tapings in the venue, they will be well into Impact Wrestling episodes for the Fall.
The Manhattan Center's in-house staff and production facility was used to augment TNA production staff last night. One of the reasons TNA is taping there is because the venue isn't just a typical building but also handles a lot of television production. TNA really liked the building.
For those of you who familiar with the building, the entrance to the ring was on the stage with the "hard cameras" shooting from that direction towards the balconies. So, they shot the room opposite the way WWE did when they filmed the early Raw episodes. TNA set up a small series of bleachers under one of the balconies to give the room a fuller look for television. They also utilized a crane camera and several handhelds. There were no videoscreens.
Jeremy Borash actually spent a good 15 minutes at the start of the taping playing up to the crowd to stretch for time as not everyone had gotten through the security process and made it up to the Grand Ballroom, which is on the seventh floor.
I was told that going forward, we will probably see a little less of the backstage segments and more focus on everything happening in front of the audience on camera.
Mike Tenay was not at the taping as he and Taz will be doing commentary in post-production. Hector Guerrero and Willie Urbine were there and did Spanish commentary live. Taz did appear for a promo on the first episode taped.
At one point, The Great Muta was only going to be appearing, but not wrestling, but over the course of the day, he changed his mind and decided he wanted to wrestle. So, TNA added a segment where he did a short match. It was actually the first time Muta has ever wrestled in New York City in his entire career.
Bully Ray, Tommy Dreamer, Al Snow and Pat Kenny worked as agents.
Abyss was backstage but did not appear at the taping.
Jason Hervey was there working as a producer at the tapings.
The six-sided ring utilizing was a new purchase for the company. The old rings had been converted to traditional rings when the company reverted to using those several years ago.
The taping was not sold out as my guess is there were 550-650 fans there. The company knew going in they weren't going to sell out the first taping as it was a Wednesday night. I was told the advance sales for the second and third night were stronger, specifically Friday since it was the advertised Hardy Boys wrestling reunion. As the four hour taping went on, you could see fans heading out during the last hour, especially for the last few segments.
Rafael Morfi, who came to TNA last year after working for WWE, received a lot of credit for the heavy promotion and appearances the company's talents made over the last several days, especially in the sports world. Morfi worked in Major League Baseball before getting involved in pro wrestling and uses those connections well.
A number of House of Hardcore students worked the taping in different roles to help with logistics.