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The Line Has Been Crossed

The thread about TNA beginning to panic was getting a little long, and it gave me a lot to think about. For years now it seems like people have kept saying the same things about what TNA needs to do to stay alive or start to challenge WWE, and TNA has tried all sorts of tricks: Bringing in Russo. Bringing in Bischoff and Hogan. Trying to go head to head on Monday nights. Bringing in Bruce Pritchard. Pushing established stars. Pushing new stars. Trying to make the show all about wrestling. Trying to make the show about crazy soap opera angles. Pushing old school wrestling. Pushing the X division. So what is the answer? What is it that TNA can do to break out of their static position as a distant second to WWE? Nothing. Am I suggesting that TNA has no hope of ever being serious competition to WWE? Yes I am. At no point in their history have they ever really been close to competing with Raw or Smackdown in the ratings, and only occasionally have they been a viable alternative to serious wrestling fans. There are no casual TNA viewers. Now, let's be fair. There will always be a secondary wrestling company in this country. There will always be guys who aren't working for WWE who need a place to work, and eventually that company will always find its audience somehow. So if TNA is okay with filling that niche and being Vince's overstock bin, they can probably ride that out for a while even if they take a budget cut. But it didn't always have to be that way.

One of the most common things people are saying about TNA is that they need to attract bigger stars. When it comes to this fantasy booking, there's always one more name that could save everything for them. If only they could get Cena! If they'd gotten Brock they'd be number one! Imagine if Rock joined TNA instead of WWE! The thing is, of course, all of those guys have made it clear that that will never happen. Anyone big enough to save TNA is big enough not to be desperate. Even if by some chance Cena or Punk did end up on the outs with WWE, one needs only to look at what happened with Angle and Hardy. Both were current, main event WWE stars in their primes when they went to TNA; both were dragged down to TNA's level rather than elevating them. The same could happen to Punk or especially Cena. They will always be seen as WWE's leftovers once WWE is done with them. Its like in Moneyball: "If we try to beat the Yankees without Yankees money, we will lose."

It's one of the things that I hate so much about Bischoff. "Established stars" means "stars established by Vince". No wrestling promoter since Heyman has had enough faith in their own talent to push their own stars harder than the ones with the glamour of WWE on them. TNA has always been playing from behind in this respect. In the early days (besides Jarrett, who did a lot to sink TNA out of the gate but that's a whole other debate) you had these guys competing against Jarrett for the title: Raven, who had been a big star half a decade earlier in ECW but had only been as high as the Sunday Night Heat C-team before leaving WWE. D-Lo Brown, who had already disappeared and come back to WWE once and who had been a low midcarder and had previously been second fiddle to friggin' Tiger Ali Singh. And Rhyno, who had only been a main event guy in ECW's dying days and had run the WWE treadmill for years. Later, they bring in Christian and literally treat it as the biggest thing to ever happen in TNA. Now, I love Christian, and I can certainly see the benefit of pushing someone who actively chose to leave for TNA rather than settling on them. But he was, if we're being honest, a midcard act with a definite ceiling in WWE, and he was also sort of seen as the Jannetty in his team with Edge. By pushing him as hard as they did and sending him right to the main event with basically the same Captain Charisma act he was using in WWE, they sent the clear message "our best is as good as WWE's midcard." It made matters worse when Sting, washed up and inactive for half a decade, joined up and was immediately about at that level. And then later that year Angle signed. That was the one big, main event level, current day signing who had goodwill with the fans that could've been that savior for TNA. But it was too late. After years of pushing guys to the top that were at the middle of WWE, Angle seemed like he was demoted to the middle rather than making TNA seem like they were on top. The same was said for Hogan, Hardy, Anderson, RVD, Foley, Flair, et cetera et cetera......

Meanwhile, of course, TNA had all the homegrown talent they could ask for. Any time during the mid-00s, you had some of the best wrestlers in a generation coming out of the indies and ROH in particular. The times when TNA and ROH openly exchanged talent were some of the best for either company. Now of course, members of the ROH "class" are the toast of wrestling: Punk, Bryan, Aries, Cesaro, Joe, Daniels, AJ, and more. TNA went halfway by attempting to push Joe and Daniels, and certainly its hard to argue they didn't do right by Styles. But they always tried to pound their style into one that could work with the ex-WWEers', and when panic set in they'd always fall back on "established stars". They had a chance to set themselves apart by offering something that WWE didn't. They could've built their company around those guys and gone further by signing Bryan, Colt, Nigel, the Briscoes, and more. They could've used the "established stars" to put over the new guys and ensure the future of their company. So, as many people suggest, the answer is to just push those guys to the top now to save the company, right? Nope.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done. If AJ, Aries, Daniels, or Joe could save TNA, they'd have saved TNA. Its been six or seven years since those halcyon days of great talent. To a young kid, those guys are older than dirt. To a longtime viewer, they're old news. It kills me to say it, because that group of wrestlers is a lot of what kept me watching wrestling as an adult and I'll always remember the days of being blown away by their amazing matches, but the bloom is off the rose on those guys. Within a few years, they'll all be a little too old to be hanging on. So what the hell do they do now?

Two choices. Either try to say that the rut they're in is really a groove and continue to be the distant second until Spike and Dixie's parents change their minds, or try to get up from the bottom yet again. There is no magic bullet or easy answer to say how TNA could wash the stink of Vince's sloppy seconds off. What I would do, though, if I were in charge? The nuclear option. Build to one last big show for a few months so everyone can say their goodbyes, and start from scratch. The TNA name has very little equity left in it at this point. Look at two of their more successful characters at this point: Abyss changed his gimmick to Joseph Park, and Bully Ray is not exactly the same as Bubba Ray Dudley. Even Daniels and Kazarian had to radically change from their previous states to get over as Bad Influence. In Dixie's shoes, i'd lay it on the line. Everything old is out, even the guys I love and would regret seeing go. For the good of the company, I bring in a small cheap crew of guys who are not established. Anyone who is a little bit younger and looking for their shot can, if not fully overhaul their gimmick, at least find something new to try to make stick (here I think of guys like Magnus, Jesse, Gunner, Kenny King, etc.), but even then i'd be more worried about pushing new names first. If these guys are never seen as having been relative on the card to WWE's midcard, then they can't be considered not as good. Yeah, you'll have your people crowing about "you can't take some nobody and tell people they're as good as Cena!" But that kind of thinking got TNA in the spot they're in, and its certainly better than taking someone the fans already don't think is as good as Cena and trying to put them in that spot. Would my plan work? I dunno. It all depends on what guys have the star power and charisma and determination to connect with a crowd. But its a start..

...but then again, I'm not Dixie. My imagination doesn't have money on the line, and my fantasy booking doesn't account for the friendships and politics of people who aren't going to be so willing to give up their spot. So that's why I think there's basically nothing TNA can do. They've continued to bear the weight of the mistakes they've made, and every attempt to dig themselves out of the creative hole they're in has resulted in less and less viewers. Even WWE is facing the hard reality that wrestling might not appeal to as many people or be the moneymaker it used to. TNA's ratings will sink until Spike pulls the plug, and while they could still continue to keep plugging along as that second place company. But they will never again, pardon the pun, make a real Impact.





  2. Holy lack of formatting, Batman

  3. Fuck. Blogger Mobile seems to fuck all my formatting up. Hold on.

  4. Didn't I pretty much say all that stuff about the X Division/ROH class yesterday in much fewer words?

  5. Good article! I liked the way you laid out your thoughts. You sold me on your approach, too.

    I would go in a different direction, though. I would hire Gabe and go all out trying to acquire anyone worth a damn from PWG, Chikara, ROH, and Evolve after your nuclear option. I'd keep Angle, Hardy, and Sting, but I'd try to get them to be agents and help teach the new guys how to wrestle with only occasional appearances by each. I mean, I actually like Sting and Angle, but neither is in a situation to be carrying the company at this point.

    It kinda upsets me that TNA could have easily had Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. They also could have had El Generico, Samurai Del Sol, and Sami Callihan. There's a ton of talent out there to build around rather than just grabbing anyone WWE tosses off.

  6. You know what.

    Don't compete with Vince. Just...don't. Make peace with him, send talent his way, make nice, be polite, and make a wrestling product as different from WWE as possible.

    Competition is not necessary for quality. Ignore everything you were ever taught about capitalism. Artists create great art because they love what they do, not because they want to destroy their competition.

    A culture of great wrestling, from top to bottom, from the indy's to the flagships to the gimmick products is good for the entirety of the wrestling business. And creating a top to bottom system helps the wrestlers refine their craft and keeps the product from getting stale.

  7. I think for the last 5 or 6 years, TNA's entire scouting philosophy has been "Let's watch all of WWE's programming!" Because they definitely aren't paying attention to wrestlers anywhere else.

  8. Why can't TNA stop trying to compete with WWE and focus on being a stable, profitable, #2 promotion while slowly growing its fan base? If they could do this then MAYBE they would be able to compete with WWE in a few years. I think their problem is they lack focus on what their goals and business model should be and try to emulate and "compete" with WWE programming

  9. Who gets into the wrestling business to become number two?

    It's a hugely ego-driven business, and unless you have the deep pockets of Vince McMahon or Ted Turner, you do not have the luxury of long term planning. You ae always under pressure to perform NOW. And you can't do that with a mindset of being second best.

  10. I agree to a point. Their long term goal should be to compete but their immediate goal should HAVE been profitability, solidifying its fan base, long term growth. A new software company isn't going to jump feet first and compete with Microsoft immediately. TNAs current sad state is a reflection on a poor business model it's first 11 years of existence. Not sure what they do now.

  11. Nicely put Ryan. Don't agree with all your points, specially about ditching the roster and going with the guys you mentioned, but I see where you're getting at. Heyman laid out what his plan would've been if he had been given full control of TNA around 2010 and it was very interesting.

  12. You have zero clue of TNA's profitability. Stop guessing.

  13. I believe that plan was to get rid of all has been and keep around a legend or two and give him 3 years to build all new starts and by then end of year 5 they would be golden. Dixie balked because of all the for WWE people that they had around did not care for the idea because they were on the chopping block.

  14. Are we allowed to use common sense?

  15. You're right...i dont know exact figures but id bet you ANYTHING its not where they expected it to be 5 or 10 years ago tho.

  16. Wrestling has ALWAYS been about making money.

    And even great artists did mostly what their patrons paid them to do.

  17. Why is wrestling different then any other large scale business model? Establish a core consumer demographic, cater to that niche, build profitability while establishing stability. This all helps to build a BRAND. At that point you can compete at the apex of the industry. NOBODY with any sense thinks they're gonna jump I and compete with WWE, Apple, Oracle, McDonalds within the first few years, and the ones who do usually go broke while trying Use some sense.

  18. Sure. Give me some data and some links and then we can talk. Until then, it's complete fabrication.

  19. I avoided mentioning profits directly in the article because, as you said, they're a private company and we don't actually know what their profits are. But we do know their ratings are in the pooper, and networks don't tend to give primetime away as charity every week. So it stands to reason that they need to appease Spike, because without TV they damn sure aren't gonna be able to make a profit.

  20. As far as we know, Spike is happy with their ratings. They're consistently one of their top rated programs, year 'round.

  21. Yes, thank you. Couldn't remember the exact plan. Oh, and it also meant no Bisch or Hogan interference.

  22. Use some common sense. While Spike might be happy, dropping TV ratings and the deviation from the standard 12 PPVs to 4 bc they aren't getting an acceptable return on each PPV doesn't scream "Profitable thriving company!"

  23. Common sense says that a company with zero buzz, sinking ratings, slashed revenue as a result of losing 2/3 of their PPVs, and a known money pit in Hulk Hogan cannot be profitable. Give me some data to refute that.

  24. Couldn't agree more with the whole post. :) nice job.

  25. The ratings are fine. They're always hovering around the same numbers. They went up against the Heat-Pacers game which killed the night for all cable competition. Just the week before, they did their usual 1.07. They've never drawn on ppv, so really, that's not a loss in any way. Try again. Good guesses though. We have zero clue on what their total take from Spike, tv ads, merch, gate is. We also don't know payroll figures, overhead, etc. So, we don't know whether they're profitable or not. We can do this all night.

  26. All I need is that Spike continues to re-sign them, they're one of the highest rated shows on that network and they're still on national tv. Companies losing money don't continue to stay on TV and making free agent signings. The burden of proof is on you, not me.


  28. Spike also has no hits right now. But assuming in the future Spike finds something that they can rebuild their brand around, TNA's ratings won't be good enough to justify giving up time on Thursdays.

  29. How about taking a guy a getting fully behind him instead of half-assing their pushes.

    The wrestling business has always been star driven. WWF/E got behind Piper, Hogan, Warrior, Savage, Bret, HBK, Austin, Rock, HHH, Batista, Cena and rode each of them for years.

    TNA has pushed about 20 guys has the new best thing in their 10 years of existence but never got behind them for more than 6 months (Jarrett might be the only exception). Just in the last 3 years, they went with Angle, Foley, Sting, Styles, RVD, Hardy, Anderson, Storm, Roode, Aries and now Bully Ray (and I would add Hogan).

    Each successful company in their past had one or two top guys. TNA find a new savior every 3 months before he is relegated to the undercard.

  30. Thursday is traditionally a tough night of TV competition. They'd be better served to move to another day, maybe Wednesday. If Spike had a show with decent ratings on before them, the lead in could give them a couple of decimals. Impact has been pretty good (for the most part) for close to a year. After the initial debacle when Hogan/Bisch came in, things settled down last year when they started really focusing on most of their originals. Samoa Joe, I still can't explain that one.

  31. I think capitalism is inherently flawed. Monopolization is the end result.

    Stop the endless conflict, just find your niche and fill it. There is a place for you.

    And talking about patrons is missing my point.

    A healthy WWE helps wrestling.

    A healthy TNA helps wrestling.

    A healthy RoH helps wrestling.

    A healthy Japan helps wrestling.

    A healthy indy scene helps wrestling.

    That is not capitalism.

  32. Putting other people out of business is the ugly side of capitalism. Those individual companies making money and thriving, employing people, paying the best wrestlers the most, etc. is the good side of capitalism. The territories were great for wrestling and most of them worked together to make money by trading talent and stuff like that. Vince was a greedy fuck.

  33. I still don't get why the "focus on news guys and build stars" is always the ending argument. Well... no kidding. But how? Like I said in the previous post, it's about trying new guys on the booking team/writing staff/whatever you want to call them. Don't they have Hogan, Bischoff, Prichard, and Lagana pulling most of the strings here? It's the ex-wwe guys behind the camera that are the problem, not the ones in front.

    There are so many ex-wrestlers out there that can eloquently explain what works, what doesn't, and why or why not. Read their blogs, read their twitter accounts, or listen to their podcasts: Steve Austin, Regal, Jake Roberts, Sid, Nash, Foley, Lance Storm, Konnan, and a half dozen others I'm forgetting know their shit. While signing some of those guys are pipe dreams, offer at least a couple of them prime booking positions. As long as they never appear on camera (making their ego less of a factor), you could give yourself a better chance to capture the proverbial lightning in a bottle.

  34. I believeTNA is too infatuated with WWE. I understand that they are the cream of the
    crop and what not, but you don’t have to try to compete with them. It would honestly
    be imprudent to even try to at this point. I'm not saying that it is a bad idea
    to do things that they don't do; i.e. longer feuds, paying attention to having
    angles with a start, middle, and end without any plot-holes, the tag-team and
    X-Division. Nevertheless, you do not have to fascinate yourself with them to
    the point where you spend bundles of cash on WWE rejects or stars way past
    their prime.

    Understandably, at first you want people to have a reason behind watching your
    product, so yes bringing in past-timers and slotting them into the main event is not a bad idea in doing so. However, after a while, you have to pass the torch to the talented mid-cards. It's been 11 years of their existence and they still have older guys lurking around in the main-event. Hell, the PPV tomorrow is main evented by Brother Ray and Sting - someone who got the torched passed more than two decades ago. And for fuck sake, not too long ago, they kept calling Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels the future of TNA.

    Yes, Kurt Angle was a huge pick up, and so was Sting (although they have no
    idea how to book him correctly without him losing his aura). However, look at
    how many irrelevant former WWE or WCW wrestlers TNA has aimlessly blown money on that did not help spike the company one bit. The list goes on: Ken Anderson, Bobby Lashley, Test, Rikishi, Booker T, Mick Foley, Scott Hall, etc.

    And, look no further than Hogan and Bischoff. They were supposed to elevate TNA
    to the next level. They went on Monday Night's and got a great rating, but after
    that the ratings kept sinking because it was evident that the product didn't
    change all the much. If anything, the show became worse. Then they spent little
    time caring about the PPVS, the exact same thing Bischoff was doing in WCW, and
    the buyrates took a major spill to the point where they only do 4 now. The most
    amusing thing about their fascination with being superior to WWE is that they
    have become a carbon copy of WWE, without even realizing it. Look at their
    previous writers. Vince Russo learned how to write in WWE, so did Bruce
    Prichard and David Lagana.

    TNA should have had one goal: stick to what got them this far
    and please their original fans who supported them for so long.
    Instead of getting Ken Anderson, sign five people for the same price that have
    the utmost potential of being 10x better than Ken Anderson or RVD or Kevin Nash
    or so on an so on.

    I used to know people who were passionate of TNA and were spreading the word

    about them, telling other wrestling fans that they should check it out. Now
    they do not even bother to watch the show. Truthfully, you honestly could not
    get bigger TNA marks than Bill and Doug (Rvdtito4life). They would defend
    anything TNA would do, even the death bed match, electric cage match, blindfold
    match, poor treatment of Samoa Joe, Pacman Jones, Hardcore Justice
    name it, they would try to defend it. Even they don't like the product anymore.
    Enough said there.

  35. 1. End the relationship with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
    2. Stop banking everything on one main/big angle (Aces & 0.8's).
    3. Never give away potential PPV caliber matches on free television.
    4. As a genius friend of mine once said, give everyone a reason for wrestling each other. Someone that WWE seems to be teetering on right now is actual rankings (Power 25) and before they pull the trigger and make something official happen, TNA should steal the idea and go all the way with it. Every sports fan likes numbers, whether it's calculating stats, weighing win/loss records against each other or boasting how many championships a person/team has won, THEY LOVE NUMBERS. Exploit this. Once such a system is established, you can make matches that would otherwise be nacho breaks seem interesting and, most of all, important. No match that is booked would be considered filler.
    5. End the Knockouts division. Female wrestling in North America will never be marketable as long as porn exists.
    6. Less matches, longer matches. Impact should see three or four 15-20 minute matches each week. Why have short matches on TV and long matches on PPV? Anything to help the realism of your company you should be doing, not the other way around.
    7. Let wrestlers be themselves. Push according to who gets a reaction. Jeff Hardy is himself, and he's a unique, marketable persona (if you ignore the drug abuse). Instead of having the same person/people come up with gimmicks for everyone, let the talent decide who and what they want to be on camera. The two biggest wrestlers of all time were just being themselves with the volume turned up. Who in their right mind wouldn't want to try and copy that success?
    8. Stop acting like you are a big deal, that your wrestlers are a big deal, that your TV show is a big deal and that your PPVs are must-see. You are beneath WWE and nothing they do is must-see. A large part of why people are sick of them is because of their holier than thou attitude. Being the opposite of that would go a long way in turning bored WWE fans into happy TNA fans.
    9. Stop pushing talentless muscle-heads. Be the opposite of WWE. They are not setting the world on fire with their brand of superstar, so why imitate them?
    10. Do something new. A stable of bikers trying to "take over" isn't new. Cruiserweight style wrestling isn't new. Notice how the fans booed Hogan out of the building when he mocked the six-sided ring? That's because the fans liked that ring and felt a sense of ownership with it. More things like that will help make your fans happy, make you stand out and make you marketable.

    I literally have hundreds more from over the years, but these ten relate to the TNA of here and now.

  36. Your_Favourite_AssholeJune 2, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    WHat he meant by TLDR was "Total Loser? Damn Right!" referring to himself

  37. Uh huh.

    Territories are dead and dead forever. But I still believe that there is a place for niches. One company cannot and should not do everything.

  38. Dixie balked because thats not a plan and thats certainly not "laying" anything out.. "I'm going to get rid of all the old guys and build all new stars" thats been every internet bookers plan for the last 15 years. Of course we want to see that but look at the WWE. Ziggler is World Champion, Punk had a 400 plus day title reign, Anotonio was US Champ for an extended period of time. Danielson is one of the most over guys in the company. If thats not pushing "young" and "new" talent I don't know what is and yet people on here still complain about them. So its more than just "getting rid of the old guys".

    Flair was 43 when he was WWF Champion, and a year later he was still a franchise player at 44 defeating Vader for the World title. Nash was 37, Hall was 38 and Hogan was 43 when they formed the nWo.

    Notice how Heyman didn't say HOW they were going to be golden, he didn't say HOW he was going to build these new stars. Everyone on this board, hell everyone in this thread has said they would "push the young guys". I don't know who these "young" guys are. AJ Styles is 36 years old. He's done everything and been everywhere in TNA. Honestly he's over exposed in that tiny company. What young guy is there to carry TNA? What guy is being held down that deserves a run? There is nobody.

  39. That was basically my point. No one in TNa, even the ones I like, can save them anymore.

  40. I'm not all that up on my memes, what's the TD? Also, fuck you, hater. You used to be cool, man!

  41. Exactly, Bischoff was on a mission to destroy Vince back in '96, and look where it got him. He ran WCW into the ground. Stand out, and be your own company.

  42. If all he did say was "gettin' rid of the old folks and going with young guys", that's not a full plan. However, I'm going to give Heyman more credit than that. First off, that was only one thing of various things he proposed. Second, the entire plan probably wasn't going to be released as it was probably more nuanced than that. Third, he didn't say there wasn't a place for veterans but TNA in 2010 needed to build from the bottom up. The card was littered with the same old same old. I see your point though.

  43. I think there is a lot of talk of TNA doing the same rating for the last few years and I agree it is staggering just how on point it is every week but I think a lot of people forget that RAW sits right at around four million viewers a week every week as well. Its not like RAW is moving the needle up and down much more than TNA is. In today's wrestling world atleast for the time being its brand recognition that brings in the viewers. People don't watch the WWE for John Cena or The Shield or anyone else. They watch just to watch RAW. Same thing with TNA. If John Cena showed up on TNA after a month of promotion it wouldn't matter. Wrestling is in need of a makeover and whoever and whatever that makeover is clearly isn't here yet and until it arrives these numbers will stay the same on both sides if not decline.

  44. The answer is stop trying to compete with the WWE. TNA needs to do what they do best, and concentrate on being an alternative. The niche they have is a good spot to have.

  45. I think positive relationships between companies help rather than hurt. And Vince is a prickly bastard. Don't try to "attack" him. Make nice.

  46. The key problem is that almost since TNA started, they have operated under the delusion they keep Vince up at night when the truth is that WWE barely acknowledges TNA exists. Watch them in 2005 (when they really did have a great program going) and you keep hearing them boast of "This is wrestling, this is what the world watches!" and they're barely breaking even.
    Another issue is that too many of their fans are fanatics who honestly seem to think TNA is about to put WWE out of business. We all accuse ECW guys of drinking the Kool-Aid but the way some TNA fans act about the company being on equal terms with WWE is insane.
    Flair is fond of saying that if Crockett didn't try competeing with Vince in New York or such and just stuck to the South, he'd still be in business. TNA is much the same, they can be good on their own terms but this insane belief they can be on equal terms or above with WWE causes them to make mistakes that just shoot themselves in the foot. Just see how they tried to go on Monday nights and got their asses kicked yet they still claim they're doing great. Hate to say it but maybe a bold move like above is what's needed but far more important, the people in charge have to accept that they're not going to magically catch up to WWE with just one big angle, it takes time, just accept what they have rather than what they want to be.


  48. I just say get rid of Hogan, Bischoff and Sting as soon as there contracts allow and offer that money to Scott D'Amore, who is the best booker TNA has ever had, and then let him work his booking magic once again.


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