Interview: TNA's Jeremy Borash talks to Phil Allely
By Phil Allely
During a recent media tour of the UK TNA’s Jeremy Borash gave hope to UK fans that Hulk Hogan’s in-ring career is not over yet and more intriguingly he may well appear once again on these shores.
Affectionately known as JB, Borash is an enigma in the world of wrestling, proving to be a very useful and productive all-rounder. He has pretty much done it all in this industry that he loves so well. Having worked as an announcer, commentator, ringside warm-up guy, backstage hand, producer and much more, he even made the acclaimed documentary Forever Hardcore, which looked at the (real) story of legendary extreme wrestling promotion ECW.
These days JB is the man who whips live audiences into a frenzy at TNA live shows, announces play-by-play spots on the newly promoted to primetime UK TV show Xplosion, and of course he is the popular face of TNA/Impact Wrestling through his many media junkets across the globe.
Sun Sport’s Phil Allely caught up with renowned lifelong wrestling fan JB on one such media tour recently, finding the ever talkative TNA ‘ringmaster’ to be more than willing to share his thoughts on the company he works for.
“You know I’m proud of what we have done with Xplosion. It’s now got a great TV slot in the UK. Our deal with Bravo was great, we finally got to the UK market through it and we made some big leaps there too. We did have a short time where we dropped off the UK’s radar earlier this year, but now we have this agreement with Challenge and we are seen by 95% of the country. We have the number one show on the channel (Impact Wrestling) and it’s nice to be able to say that Xplosion is now up there too in second place. Before we got to it Xplosion was a rehash of Impact and as it followed that show people were not that interested in watching the same thing again, you know they’d already seen most of the action. There were some cool retro bouts etc., but nothing to grab your attention the way we needed to. We’ve now went with new segments, exclusive matches and of course the Spin Cycle sections, which I’m especially proud of. The whole show is proving to be a huge hit”. Said Borash of his recently promoted to prime time TNA TV show.
TNA’s TV shows are seen in over 100 countries and unlike other regular programmes theirs are proving to be ratings winners, especially in the UK.
“Well I think it’s all down to our product, on TV we try to be original. Our fans are very intelligent. We try to give them something that makes them come back for more. They are also very vocal, their loyalty has helped us build on our success and if they get into our stuff they sure let you know it”.
The UK has been a hotbed of top quality TNA live action over the last few years. The Maximum Impact tours selling out each and every venue they visited. Combined with regular media visits, fan parties and other promotional stunts the company seem to be concentrating their marketing to these shores. JB of course has his own feelings as to why that is.
“You know no matter where I go (for media days) the UK always impresses me the most, we treat our UK fans right, this is not a secondary market to us, it is just as important as the States. The fans just get us in the UK. They are also very media savvy too, we have done fan parties and other events that have blown us away with the turn out. We do some great merchandise giveaways, I mean for example right here and now I could tweet a picture and say there’s a signed Hulkster tee shirt at this location. Then I can watch out the window and see a lucky fan show up in no time at all to claim it. I love this stuff, it’s cool to see fans appreciate and support what we are doing, it makes it all worthwhile. Keep watching our tweets/Facebook, there will be more UK fan days etc. soon”. Said the clearly excited JB, who seemingly is always in full on PR mode.
Borash’s role within the TNA/Impact Wrestling framework seems very complex, the man himself finds it hard to explain what exactly he does. “You know I’ve always wanted to learn everything I could about this business, every aspect of how it works and is put together. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do just that. I have the opportunity to work on producing, make documentaries, work behind the scenes, be part of the tours and of course get to do these media days. First and foremost however I’d say I’m an announcer. But I do love being able to participate in so many parts of what makes TNA so special”.
The upcoming UK tour (January 2012) has of course confirmed its leading pair of big names as Sting and Kurt Angle. Does the annual UK Tour hold esteem in the locker room and just how important is it to have legends like this on the card?
“The UK tours are so popular in the locker room that people will pretty much do anything to try and get a spot on them. It’s a great way to showcase your work, they are so much fun and we get to meet and perform in front of some of the most fun fans we see anywhere. Once dates are announced there is a real buzz backstage about them, with everyone (from the top to the bottom) wondering just what they need to do to get booked for them. Having Sting there will be amazing he and Kurt are both at the top of their game. It’s hard to say who is better these days, they are both on fire right now. Whoever has the belt will certainly have their work cut out keeping it in their hands. We always pull out all of the stops in the UK and January won’t be any different”.
Many thought the signing of Hulk Hogan would hinder TNA’s fresh approach to the wrestling business, having been with TNA since the beginning Borash is surely someone who has seen just how much the Hulkster has helped the company.
“You know I was excited about it, hulk is such a well-known figure that it is going to help raise your profile just having him associated with you. He is recognised everywhere, no matter which part of the world you visit he is known by name. His being here has helped us so much, our growth has an awful lot to do with Hulk Hogan. As a fan it still amazes me to think I’m working with this guy, he is such a legend and I am here walking around backstage and hanging out with him. You know I get asked a lot if he will ever wrestle again and to be honest I know Hulk, he is strong and tenacious, he’s not a quitter and even though he’s had a rough time as of late, he is still here and working hard. Best I can say is ‘never say never’. I’d like to think that you’ll also see him in the UK someday soon too. It’s inevitable I’d say, I’m sure he wouldn’t rule it out. Hulk would love the fans in the UK, I guess we’d probably break even more ticket sale records if he did though (laughs)”.
You can catch up with TNA on Challenge every Tuesday at 10pm (Impact Wrestling) and Wednesday at 10pm (Xplosion, unless a PPV is airing that week). Challenge is on Sky #125, Virgin Media #139 and Freeview#46. Visit http://www.facebook.com/tnawrestlinguk for more information on TNA programming, fan day events and tour updates.