HeadLocker — Jay Shannon Why is TNA Failing as a company?
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, takes a critical look at TNA. He examines what he feels has caused the company’s ratings to plummet and what caused them to go back to Thursdays.
Too Many Cooks…
When TNA got started, Jeff Jarrett was the King of the Mountain, both inside and outside the ring. He was in charge, period. He did have his dad as his partner but Jerry Jarrett stayed in the background. Then Dixie Carter came into the picture and fractured the front office. Storywise, they brought in Mick Foley as an “executive shareholder” but that really had zero effect on the real running of the company.
In late 2009, it was announced that Hulk Hogan had invested in TNA, along with Eric Bischoff. With four powerful people putting in their two cents, things get chaotic. Jarrett went off to start a new relationship with Karen Angle, which irritated the fans. Dixie is nothing more that a cute little figure(head) and the fans reject her. Hogan and Bischoff tried to come in and take over but the newer fans aren’t happy that the poltics and corruption that killed WCW have now invaded TNA. Jarrett needs to return and seriously clean house. Keep Dixie around, since she is kinda cute, but give the boot to Hogan and Bischoff, before it’s too late.
The X-Division was what made TNA unique. The smaller guys are quick and exciting, unlike some of the larger, lumbering super-heavyweights. They created “Ultimate X” which mixed agility and danger. Look at last year’s Bound for Glory for the perfect example. Daniels and Suicide (Kazarian) were at the top of the scaffolding when they fell. Daniels took one horrible bump. Since Hogan showed up, the X-Division has steadily decreased to the point of almost non-existence. All the major X-Division players are either missing or involved in feuds with much bigger guys. The critics felt that Eric Bischoff would push the X-guys, since he was such a huge fan of WCW Cruiserweights. Quite the opposite has been the case.
Daniels, Red, Sonjay Dutt, Consequences Creed, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Shannon Moore and Jesse Neal and others have left the company or gone into non-TV oblivion. Doug Willams is a decent X-Division champ but without a decent amount of competition, his title means very little. There is the possibility that Jimmy Wang Yang, Shelton Benjamin and several other WWE cast-offs could come in to revitalize the division. The main problem is if the smaller guy has any decent level of talent, for example — Shelton Benjamin, they will likely be pushed above the lowly X-Division. TNA needs to either push or get rid of the division.
The Decreasing Knockout Division TNA used to have a women’s division that they could to be proud of. In the last few months, they’ve lost Tara, Roxxi, Awesome Kong, Hamada, Raisha Saeed/Alissa Flash, ODB and Angelina Love. The division is down to The Beautiful People and a couple of others. Many fans reject the cookie cutter Divas of the WWE. TNA did have some unique females: ODB, Daffney, Awesome Kong, etc… They do still have Rosie Lottalove but the division just feels completely dead in the water. TNA expanded their women’s division with the tag team titles, only to have the division crumble. TNA needs to go to Mexico, Canada and Japan for new talent.
Going Retro The fans really hated when Hogan came in. That hatred got worse when Hogan started trotting in all his “friends”. Jimmy Hart, the Nasty Boys, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman used their Hogan connections to get a job. The wrestlers performed dismally and the fans let them know about it. The Nasties, Hall and Waltman are gone now but the damage has been done. Fans keep expecting Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, Jimmy Snuka and Don Muraco to join Tatanka and Jim Neidhart as “surprise guests” on the show. There are far too many good, young kids out there to be forced to endure some of these antiques that can barely bend over and lace up their boots.
The worst thing that can happen to a wrestling show is for it to grow stale. TNA has been so repetitive in the last few months. It’s basically a rehash of lame storylines brought over from the old WCW days. Much like the shark, a wrestling company that doesn’t keep moving will eventually die. It has been documented that the early TNA allowed it’s stars to input ideas and suggest fresh new angles. In recent months, there really hasn’t been too many fresh ideas brought to the fore-front, with the exception of the Rankings System. That system is just getting rolling so I’ll leave that out of this section, until they decide what they want to do with it. Other than that, TNA has become so predictable that there are tiems that the show isn’t any fun to watch.
The Four Sided Ring
Gene Simmons has his Ax Bass Guitar. Mr. T has his Mohawk and gold chains. Gallagher had Sledge-o-Matic and watermelons. There are certain things that are just associated with individuals or companies. With TNA, it was the six-sided ring. They did borrow the concept from Mexico but they made it their own. When Hogan and his group showed up, the inside of the Impact Zone was transformed into Thursday Nitro. The unique ring of TNA was gone and the standard four-sided ring took it’s place. I got so much negative feedback about how TNA just lost another piece of what made them different. Then TNA used the same level ramp to run from the entrance way to the ring. The great Flip Dives and Springboard moves lost a lot of their pizzazz when it was only a five foot drop versus the old 10 foot difference from top rope to floor. Another thing the new ring did was put up an extra barrier between the wrestlers and the ringside fans. Before, the wrestlers could slap hands with the fans and talk with them. Now, just like in the late 80-early 2001, the wrestlers are elevated and isolated from the rabid fans that paid $75 to get into Universal Studios to hopefully get to say hi to their favorite wrestlers (as well as enjoy a day at the park).
Orlando, Florida PPVs
Living in the tiny town of Fallon, Nevada, I don’t get many shows here. Ok, an occasional horse show, which is cool because I can show off my little (ok, not so little) horses, Lacey and Johnny (the Bull). As for concerts or wrestling shows, you have to go to Reno, Vegas or Sacremento for them. With TNA, the only place to see the majority of their PPVs is Universal Studios. That really alienates a lot of fans, who would love the chance to be on TV for a big Pay-per-View. I remember being at Texas Stadium for the David Von Erich Memorial Card, which was broadcast all over the world. It was just so great to be there. I also remember the big shows when the WWF came to Dallas and Reno. TNA doesn’t do that. They just stayed glued to Florida, with an occasional trip for a PPV to St. Louis or Philadelphia. I’ve grumbled for years that I wanted to see TNA come to Reno, or at least Northern California. They have done a show or two in Vegas, but those are really rare. TNA really needs to feed off the local fan bases around the country. I talked with Generation Me at Wrestlefest 2010, as well as Brian Kendrick. I told all three of them that I really wish TNA would come out west and work this area. The owners of the local wrestling groups could offer their kids a chance to help out (and shine). I’d love to see Davina Rose face off against Madison Rayne. Or Cody Kristofferson (yes, he’s Kris’ son) get a shot to ‘rassle with James Storm. As it is, a PPV isn’t all that much different (usually) from a regular episode of Impact.
Growing Too Fast
TNA looked to be taking a smart path to success. For most of the first seven years, they worked from strictly Pay-Per-Views through Fox Sports to Spike. They then took the one hour show and expanded it to two. They also had the syndicated show. Eventually, Spike gave them various specials. When Hogan and Bischoff showed up, TNA made the bold move of moving to Mondays. That turned into a debacle, as Raw decimated them in the ratings. They made a tactical retreat back to the comfort zone of Thursdays. TNA made the move to Mondays, way before they had the fan base or promotion to support the change. TNA gave minimal notice to the change. A move to Mondays should have been promo’d for several months before it happened. Let the Internet Smarks (like me) swarm all over it and build the anticipation. I was the equivalent of a Speed Date versus the guy who works for a long time to gather up the nerve to ask the girl of his dreams to go to dinner and a movie. TNA may never fully recover from this mess.
WWE has its developmental territory in Florida but they also have good working relationships with various independent organizations, around the world. They have ties to Europe, Japan, Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. TNA has severed ties with just about everyone that do business with. They had a good working relationship with AAA but that’s history. Their alliance with New Japan was damaged when Team 3D lost the IWGP tag belts to the British Invasion, in a match that New Japan didn’t recognize. Almost all the Japanese stars are gone from TNA, these days. TNA really doesn’t have a developmental area to draw upon, unless you count the Team 3D Academy. That seriously limits their future talent base. A series of injuries and/or defections could cripple or even kill the company. TNA needs to reestablish links with other areas. They need to make peace with Konnan to regain a working relationship with AAA or they need to contact CMLL. The same could be said for their interaction with the Japanese promotions. Like WWE, TNA needs to reach out to groups like Pro Wrestling Destination, Big Time Wrestling, All-Pro Wrestling, Mid-South and others to find new kids. Someone like my buddy, “Dreamachine” Dustin Ardine, could add some fresh attitude and tie into new local areas (he owns PWD in Reno, NV and also works for several other West Coast promotions). Big Time Wrestling has a great wrestler named Jason Styles. Imagine promoting a true “Styles Clash” match between Jason and A.J. TNA needs fresh blood and they should reach out to others for help.
He was supposed to be the “savior” of TNA. If anything, he’s caused more damage than all the things above, combined. People, as a general rule, don’t like change. It goes back to the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Hogan and Bischoff came in and decided to completely retool the entire product. He changed Abyss’ character into the dominate and brutal monster. He brought in his “buddies” while all but eliminating many of the TNA regulars. Hogan went on a media blitz to try and push his arrival in TNA, which fell flat. Hogan just seems lost as the leader of TNA. How many times can you milk “Whatcha gonna do, brother?” before the fans answer “Turn the channel”. The fans have almost totally rejected being force fed Hogan. Hogan’s own personal issues have so tarnished his image that fans have very little interest in supporting their Hero of Clay.
TNA is in trouble, deep trouble. Their ratings have continued to drop and their talent base is shrinking. The Motor City Machine Guns, Generation Me, Daniels and others have all but vanished from TV. The fans have rejected all of Hogan’s old buddies that he brought in. Monday night was a risky venture that failed, miserably. If TNA doesn’t do something dramatic, soon, WWE may add another notch to their domination belt. TNA may just join WCW, AWA, ECW, World Class and so many others that have gone to the Promotion Graveyard.