I complained on Twitter a few days ago about the way Impact Wrestling is being shot for TV now, going by the newest episodes taped recently at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Completely aside from the precarious booking (forgivable; the company’s still ironing out kinks in its new creative direction) and the terrible lighting (ostensibly a decision by producer John Gaburick to put more emphasis on the ring but come on, it’s really to hide the poor attendance, a few hundred in a room that seats over a thousand), I was constantly distracted by the amateurish camerawork and direction (blame for which has to lay at Gaburick’s feet as well).
In place of the usual hard-camera shots interspersed with various angles from ringside, matches are now being filmed primarily from the floor in a close-up ‘shaky cam‘ style that’s probably aiming for realism but comes across worse than a no-budget indie show. I mean, you’d expect professional TV camera crew people not to bump into or trip over things as a habit, or maybe step around the ring post that’s blocking their shot. And you’d expect professional TV directors not to call for incessant crash zooms that are not only disorienting to watch but crop out the bulk of the actual action in the ring because the cameras keep missing the shots, going close-up so the viewer can’t tell who’s doing what to whom, etc, etc.
It’s not as if they’re only working with what they have. There is still a hard camera position, but it’s hardly ever cut to during matches, when it should be the primary position. There’s even a crane-mounted cam that captures the wrestlers’ entrances and nothing more, which is the most glaring waste of an opportunity: it’s got a fantastic view of the ring, slightly elevated to give everything that happens between the ropes an unobstructed, intimate perspective, and the kind of gliding, sweeping angles they can achieve with it would give the show the distinctive look it’s crying out for. (WWE tried it in the past with NXT but it didn’t stick, which is a shame.)
I can only comment on this from the position of a TV viewer, but visually speaking, Impact Wrestling has taken a major step backwards. It honestly annoys me more than Dixie Carter’s refusal to just get it over with and change the name of the company to Impact Wrestling from the cringe-inducing TNA.