How to Fix TNA

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
How to ‘Fix’ TNA
The Kingfish Arnie Katz offers some suggestions for improving the impact of North America’s number-two pro wrestling promotion.

Before getting to my suggestions for increasing TNA’s show and its profitability, let’s tackle the question of whether the promotion even needs fixes. TNA management would say, at least for public consumption, that things have never been better for the second-largest wrestling promotion.

It’s all a matter of perspective. iMPACT has set records several times in recent weeks. Yet a look at the actual rating shows that TNA’s flagship is doing about as well as ECW on Sci-Fi. That’s not terrible, but it certain indicates that there is room for a lot more growth. And growth is going to result from improving the product.

The TNA pay per view picture is bleak. Data s in short supply, but TNA’s pay per views garner less than one-tenth the number of subscribes as the WWE events. That’s a poor showing and, as with broadcast ratings, leaves plenty of room for improvement.

TNA has made surprisingly little progress since the initial bounce it got by hooking up with Spike. It’s time to take a hard look at the operation and conceive some ways of making things better.

Improve Continuity
TNA’s writers don’t seem to care about keeping characters true to themselves or maintaining motivations, alliances and friendships from week to week. There has been some improvement, but there is such a distance yet to go.

Greater consistency also means reining in the turns. Matt Morgan has spun between face and heel like a human turbine. TNA must understand that, if a character turns too often and with too little motivation, the fans are likely to turn on the performer behind the character. That’s what happened with X-Pac/Six-Pac/ It could happen to Morgan, Abyss and even Samoa Joe if TNA doesn’t take more care.

Another example of inconsistency is the way the writers handle the group names. They’; hammer away at the name “Mi Pi Sexi,” and then refer to those Knockouts as the Beautiful People. And the writers have never quite settled on a name for the faction sometimes called “TNA Frontline and the TNA Originals.

Establish a Main Event Group
This is something different than the on-screen cliques like the Main Event Mafia. TNA has to make some hard decisions about who their stars are now, today, and push them much more than the performers outside that group.

There’s a tendency on iMPACT to let important guys go for a week or two without any time on the mic. Everyone can’t be a card-topping star; it’s important to give the ones who can the support and the face-time they need.

Reduce Gimmick Matches
Running a dozen guys out there at the same time produces a match with a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Singles matches are the center of the show. All those cluster schmazzes do is make everyone look equal and anonymous, two things you never want to have happen in the wrestling show.

Get Tough
No names mentioned here, because I’m not going to campaign for anyone to be unemployed in these perilous economic times. Yet it is obvious to everyone that there are some TNA talents give their all while others are basically collecting checks.

It’s time to let the locker room know that only hard workers will be tolerated in the future, no matter how big their reputations.

Tricky gimmicks like “Feast or Fired” are built on lame gimmicks. That’s why they don’t get over with the fans or translate in pay per view buys. Stipulations should be a refreshing alternative, not business-as-usual. The main event at Sacrifice, with each participant offering to give up too much to be credible or too little to make fans care, looks like it could be another example.

Focus on the Pay Per Views
TNA has still not come up with effective promotion for its pay per views. The emphasis must be on the top two or three matches, not every contest on the card. The show needs down-the-line strength of course, not just a strong top, but marketing for the pay per view needs to focus on the marquee match-ups that have the power to make fans turn loose of significant cash.

And if a pay per view doesn’t have those promotable matches, that’s a damn good sign that the card is improperly structured and need a re-think.

The Kingfish’s final comments: It must be said that TNA is starting to do some of these things in alternative way. If the promotion wants to rise to become genuine competition with WWE for fans, venues and talent, then it must commit to them wholeheartedly.

That’s it for today. I’ll e back tomorrow with a fresh installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then and, please, bring along your friends.

— Arnie Katz
Executive Editor
[email protected]
(5/22/08)