The Crow's Nest - What's Next for TNA?
By The Crow
Aug 2, 2014 - 3:07:05 PM
1) What's Next for TNA? (08/02/14)
Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you've likely been following (or at least heard passing mention of) the recent news to hit the world of TNA. Despite the fact that Impact Wrestling has consistently ranked as the most viewed show on the network, Spike TV has reportedly decided not to renew their contract, leaving TNA without a home for their weekly broadcast. If the reports are true, TNA has until the last week of September or the first week in October to secure a new broadcast deal with either Spike or another network.
Whether or not you are a fan of the TNA product, it's never a happy day when so many men and women are on the verge of losing their jobs. There's a lot of very talented wrestlers on the TNA roster that have, sadly, been screwed over by mismanagement and poor writing from the creative team. Then there's the backstage employees, from the bright-eyed intern to the video editing team. I will admit that the only people I think deserve to lose their jobs are whoever was complicit in deciding to rehire the cancer that is Vince Russo, despite knowing that their network did not want him anywhere near the business. Whether or not that's the reason Spike is not renewing TNA's contract is besides the point, that was just a needless risk to take.
So the big question that remains is this: what does TNA do if Spike doesn't renew their broadcast contract?
Well the first, perhaps most obvious answer is that they find a new network to broadcast Impact on. With Global Force Wrestling aggressively seeking a television deal as well, it's going to be interesting to see who gets the "better deal". TNA is an established company, true, but they also have a track record of losing money. GFW is an entirely unproven entity, but has tied itself to some fairly recognizable names (Hermie Sadler and David Broome) and already has deals in place with international wrestling companies as well. Any network that signs either company is going to be taking a risk, but such is the nature of the television industry.
Even if TNA were to sign a deal with a new network, that is absolutely no guarantee that the product's quality would improve, because the same people would still be involved in much of the day-to-day business. That means the same writing team, the same creative minds, and the same Dixie Carter. Plus, since the new deal would likely be with a smaller network than Spike, there is a very good possibility that the fan base would shrink simply because fewer people would be able to watch.
What if TNA adopted a sort of iPPV model, going back to a modified version of their roots? Turn Impact Wrestling into a purely subscription based online service, airing weekly shows and, perhaps, monthly "special events"? That would get rid of the network deal problem, though they would then have to find an online host for their videos. It would be a risky idea, but one that could also make sense for a company like TNA. They're big enough that people know who they are and have a decent demand for the product, but not big enough that they can even dream of competing with WWE's production value. I'd be willing to subscribe if they adopted this model, assuming the price was reasonable.
But I think TNA needs a much more drastic change than a simple change of scenery. They need a major personnel change.
So what if Spike (or Viacom) were to buy TNA outright, as has also been rumoured? Sure they would be on the hook for everything related to the company's finances, but they could also replace or get rid of much of the dead weight that's currently there. They would have complete control over the creative booking decisions, who was or wasn't employed, etc.
It's not like this would be completely out of character for them, just look at what they did with Bellator MMA. Back in 2011, Viacom purchased a majority stake in Bellator, moving it to Spike TV for regular broadcasts in 2013. I won't pretend to be an expert on the company since I've very rarely actually watched it, but from what I've heard it's a pretty solid program. Bellator has only been around since 2008, and they've grown exponentially since then. Imagine what Viacom could do with TNA, which has been around since 2002 and already has an established presence and fan base?
Of course that option comes down to whether or not Viacom and Spike TV think that TNA can generate sufficient revenue to be worth the initial investment. I believe that it could be, if the company was managed properly. One of TNA's biggest problems has always been that they don't seem to listen to their fans. Ever. The decision making process has always seemed to be "we know better than you do", which can be true in some cases, but can be disastrous in others. For all of WWE's faults, they know (sometimes, at least) when it's time to listen to their fans. Guys like Daniel Bryan or Seth Rollins may have never gotten a chance to shine had the WWE turned a deaf ear to the demands of the WWE Universe. Sure, there's a pretty vocal minority that hates on John Cena, but the WWE knows that Cena is, for now, still a cash cow. Other guys are being established right now, which is going to leave WWE in a decent spot, even after Cena hangs up the boots.
And finally we have to acknowledge arguably the darkest possibility of all: TNA simply ceases to exist as we know it. Without a major TV deal in the United States, it's unlikely that TNA could survive as anything more than a leading indy promotion. If the company just dissolved, that frees up a lot of wrestlers that could find success elsewhere. Maybe a couple could end up in WWE, others could likely head overseas to Japan, some could end up with GFW, and some might have to either slum it on the indy scene or leave wrestling altogether.
TNA ceasing to exist could be looked at as either a good or a bad thing. Bad for the obvious reasons: the closest thing WWE has to competition would be dead and gone. I'm a huge believer in the "competition makes for a better product" theory, and without TNA, WWE becomes an even bigger monopoly in the televised wrestling world. On top of that, as I've already mentioned, a lot of talented men and women are going to be out of a job. I'm sure most of them would land on their feet one way or another, but some could just as easily be screwed.
But the good side of TNA going out of business is that it opens up the door for somebody new to step up to the plate and become the new #2 company in North America. TNA had the chance to be a viable alternative for mainstream wrestling fans and they, for the most part, blew it. That's not to say it's been all bad (I've been a pretty vocal cheerleader for TNA pretty much since the beginning) but much of the success has been short-lived. For every Destination X 2014, there's a handful of Victory Road 2011s (which for those of you that don't remember is the show that Jeff Hardy came to the ring in no condition to wrestle, forcing Sting to forcibly hold him down for a pin after just a minute or so). While every promotion is entitled to their sub-par shows (WWE has certainly had a few) it can't become a regular thing, especially with the limited PPV schedule that TNA has. If TNA disappears from the mainstream, somebody else could step up to the plate. Maybe it will end up being Global Force Wrestling, or maybe Ring of Honor, or maybe even promotions like Dragon Gate USA or CHIKARA.
As a big fan of TNA, it hurts to see the company facing disaster like this. I always hoped that TNA would find their groove and put on a product worthy of being called the "#2 promotion". I doubt they ever would have reached true WWE competition status, but there's nothing wrong with being in second place. They could have become a place for wrestlers to get a real second chance at success, or in the case of wrestlers who were never WWE guys, a place for wrestlers to establish themselves as future stars. While some wrestlers certainly got their second chances in TNA (Christian, Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle come to mind) others have wasted their time for very little career progress (AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Matt Morgan come to mind).
At the end of the day, it's really anybody's guess where TNA goes from here. If the reports are true, they have 2 months to secure something new before their deal with Spike expires, which really is not a lot of time. Especially when you consider that TNA is still reportedly trying to get Spike to reconsider. I'm stuck on where I hope this situation ends up because I could argue pros and cons for any side. But at the end of the day, professional wrestling will still persevere, even if TNA doesn't.
Get In Touch With Me