"So much money, I could buy you out ten times over.."
Writer's Note: In case you haven't already seen it, we're smack dab in the middle of Hustle Madness, trying to find the best "talker" that the wrestling business has seen in the last 30 years. We've gone through two rounds already, and the Sweet Sixteen is taking place this week. If you haven't already done so, click the following link to go and check out the matchups and get your vote on..
Writer's Note Part Deux: Also, don't forget that the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable will be doing a live "Fantasy Draft" on our Livestream page. We'll be starting up our very own promotions, and every living wrestler on the planet is a free agent. We'll be building our rosters live, and we need you, the listeners, to be there to be the "peanut gallery". Cheer for the good selections. Boo the bad selections. In the end, it'll be up to you to choose who put together the best promotion. Join us at the following link on Tuesday at 8pm EST..
By now, you've all read the report that TNA is going through what is being referred to as "financial difficulties". In case you missed the article, let me get you caught up with a quick summary..
- Some TNA employees are being paid late.
- Dixie Carter's mother, Janice, controls the finances in the company after Panda Energy wanted Dixie's spending sprees to come to an end.
- Janice Carter only allows TNA an amount of funding she feels is "necessary" to keep the company's financial losses to a minimum.
I don't know about you, but when I read that, I didn't take "TNA IS GOING TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS ANY DAY NOW" from the article. It's certainly not good news, but as we've seen through the years, paying employees late is much better than not paying employees at all. Ask the ECW "originals" about that. However, I just can't help but notice the fact that TNA is losing money on a regular basis. Sure, Janice Carter is trying everything in her power to keep those losses to a minimum, but even then, they're still losing money. Their television ratings haven't improved in what seems like years. Their pay-per-view buyrates are poor. Their ticket sales (when the company takes the show on the road) aren't fantastic. When you add all of that up, and throw in the occasional reports of low backstage morale, it can equal to some big problems.
As I've said on numerous occasions in the past, I don't want TNA to go out of business. I've had quite the roller coaster relationship with the company through the years. I'll love something they do, and then hate the next two things they do, followed by loving the next two things they do. In the end, though, I want them to succeed. I want them to become a bigger name in the world of wrestling. I want them to put pressure on Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment at some point. One thing we all know is that we can't always get what we want. With each passing month, the possibility grows stronger and stronger that TNA will never become legit competition for WWE.
Remember the last time Vince McMahon had a situation like this? A promotion wanted to compete with him, and they tried and tried and tried to do so. That promotion had problem after problem until they couldn't go on anymore, and Vince stepped in to buy them out. It remains to be seen if Vince will buy TNA. It remains to be seen if TNA will even reach the point where they'll be up for sale to anyone. However, it hasn't stopped the internet from going crazy today with the idea of Vince stepping in, just like he did in 2001 with WCW, and purchasing his closest competition.
What if Vince McMahon does buy TNA, though? Would it be a good idea or a bad idea? That's what I want to look at here. I'm not going to put together an "Invasion 2.0" storyline (or "Invasion 2: Orlando Boogaloo", as LoP's very own Mazza called it on Twitter) or get too far into any sort of fantasy booking scenarios. I'm here to try and answer the question I just asked.. would it be a good idea or a bad idea?
Bad Idea: History wouldn't be on WWE's side
When WCW was bought out, I distinctly remember an incredible amount of excitement in the world of wrestling. It sucked to see a once-proud organization reduced to nothing (the company and the tape library was purchased for a total of $4.2 million, which is absolute chump change when you consider where WCW was only a few short years earlier), but everyone was amped to see the "dream matches" that we weren't able to see before then. All of the WWF VS WCW matches that were mere pipe dreams until that point. We'd finally get to see The Undertaker VS Sting. We'd finally get to see "Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS Goldberg. WWF's Cruiserweights VS WCW's Cruiserweights. The list went on and on.
It didn't really work out the way we wanted it, though. It didn't really work out, period. Vince McMahon's ego was simply too much. He couldn't resist the opportunity to really run the WCW name into the ground, in a final attempt to show that he had triumphed over his opponent. WCW wrestlers were booked to look weak and inferior to the WWF talent almost from the beginning, and the only real time that the WCW "brand" looked good was when WWF wrestlers "jumped ship" and joined them. To this day, a full 11 years after the purchase of WCW, the entire thing remains one of the biggest missed opportunities in the history of wrestling. Vince's ego cost him millions. In fact, I don't think it's too far-fetched to say it could have even cost him billions, with the popularity of wrestling at the time and the gold mine that he was in possession of.
Hell, if you want to go back even further, there are still plenty of old-school wrestling fans that will swear up and down that Vince McMahon made a huge mistake by bringing the territorial system to an end in the 80s. Like the entire WCW situation, it was Vince's ego that people feel clouded his decision-making and caused nothing but problems for the wrestling business. Whether you agree with that line of thinking or not, it really does come down to Vince's ego. It really shows that history isn't on his side. If he does buy TNA and brings various TNA workers on board, does anyone really think he'll use them "correctly", or do you think it will be yet another chance to say "hey, look at how much better my guys are", as he books the TNA talent to look inferior on a regular basis? The odds of something positive coming in that regard aren't very high, in my opinion.
Good Idea: Fresh names, fresh feuds
Even if Random TNA Name #2574 ends up losing his feud to Random WWE Name #1906, it's still something different to watch for the time being. One of the biggest problems of the current WWE product is that we see the same people facing each other every week. With the weak enforcement of the brand split, we can often see the same people have a match on Raw, and then go on to have another match on Smackdown, before being involved in a tag match on the next Raw, before having another match on Smackdown, before facing each other at that month's pay-per-view, and so on and so forth. This is especially prevalent in the midcard scene. Ted DiBiase and Hunico, for example, faced each other in one-on-one matches on five of the first six episodes of Smackdown in 2012, and if DiBiase didn't get injured, they'd probably still be feuding.
Bringing a number of TNA workers, both male and female, into the mix would at least shake things up a bit, especially if it comes to guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode and James Storm, who haven't been working with WWE, so they don't have dozens and dozens of matches against people like John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus and Cody Rhodes. The WWE product could really use the shot in the arm that new talent would provide. Of course, this could lead to another problem..
Bad Idea: An overcrowded roster
If you look up and down the current WWE roster, you see a group that is far too big right now. There are just way too many people right now, and that isn't counting FCW, which is about as loaded a roster from top-to-bottom as any of the top indy promotions in the world today. Counting "special attractions" like The Rock and inactive names like Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, the current WWE roster features a total of 56 male workers and 15 female workers. That isn't counting the managers, valets, "dancers" and authority figures that are around. The current FCW roster features a total of 40 male workers and another six female workers. Count them up.. that's 117 people. TNA, if they were acquired, would bring another 41 male workers and 12 female workers. 170 people. Wow.
I know, I know.. if TNA were purchased, and if Vince McMahon made the decision not to keep them as their own "brand", not all of the workers would be kept. There would be a bunch of TNA workers who would see their contracts bought out completely, making them free agents. On top of that, if TNA were to be brought into the mix, you'd see some current WWE workers get their proverbial pink slips to make some room. Even with all of that said, unless 50 names are kicked to the curb, there would still be way, way too many people on the roster. Let's not forget that there's only four hours of WWE programming on television a week, with another two hours a week airing on the company's website. There's only so much time to go around, and with rumors being hot and heavy that several FCW names will be called up to the main roster in the months following WrestleMania, that makes television time even more scarce.
Good Idea: Helping with the post-WrestleMania "lull"
In this scenario, I had to do a little more "fantasy booking", of sorts, going with the scenario that Vince purchased TNA at some point in the next month or two, and not way down the line.
It's no secret that the WWE Creative Team puts in their best work during the first part of the year. In the time leading up to the Royal Rumble, all the way through WrestleMania, that's when the company tends to bust out the heavy artillery. They bring in the big names from the past. They bring in the celebrities to help "sell" the product. They put together the biggest matches and feuds. Once WrestleMania is over, though, they usually start to pack it in, creatively, and that begins with the very next pay-per-view. No matter what it's called through the years, that's usually the event that has pretty much the same exact card that we saw at WrestleMania, only this time with some new match stipulations and gimmicks thrown in. From there, it only gets worse. If TNA was bought out, it would give the Creative Team something new to work with for at least a few months. Maybe it would give them the motivation they would need to not put out subpar programming once WrestleMania is over. It's the type of thing that could realistically carry the company for the rest of the 2012 calendar year, right on into 2013 for the road to WrestleMania 29, if done correctly. It gives SummerSlam a bit of a new "hook", to go along with a rumored match involving The Rock. It gives Survivor Series that "team VS team" focus that it really needs. It gives the Royal Rumble match some added star power. It adds to WrestleMania 29, and maybe.. just maybe.. a few new stars can be made out of the entire thing to carry the company moving forward, and not just for one storyline.
Bad Idea: No competition
This one is actually the major point. We've seen what happens when a Vince McMahon-led promotion has its backs against the wall, and they have to come out swinging. We've also seen what happens when a Vince McMahon-led promotion has nothing to really fight for, because they don't have any competition to go up against. The ratings for Impact are a mere one-third of the ratings for Raw, and approximately half of what Smackdown generally brings in. If a WWE pay-per-view gets less than 200,000 buys, people start to panic a bit. TNA pay-per-views usually struggle to crack the 10,000 mark. TNA is still the closest thing to "competition" that there is for WWE right now. If they're taken out of the picture, all of the pressure falls on Ring Of Honor, but they're already failing to bring in new fans, and are actually driving many of their old fans away with the direction of the current regime.
In my previous point, I said it would help WWE's post-WrestleMania "lull" if they had TNA to work with, but chances are, the more likely outcome would be that the company.. from the executives to the writers to a lot of the wrestlers themselves.. would simply get complacent. As the only mainstream wrestling option out there, they wouldn't have to work very hard, because they would know that the fans would continue tuning in. Where else would the fans go?
It's that last point that brings me back to what I said in the beginning of this column.. I want TNA to succeed. Each and every person reading this column right now should feel the same way, whether you're a huge TNA fan or someone that has never seen a single second of TNA programming. The better TNA does, the more it pushes WWE to do better themselves. Now, I'm not here with a call to arms, telling everyone to watch Impact every week or to order TNA's pay-per-views every month to help boost them. They still have a lot of work to do before they "deserve" the money of wrestling fans across the globe, but we should all be rooting for them if we're fans of the WWE product, knowing that WWE will only improve if Impact's ratings go from the usual 1.0-1.2 range to a 1.5, and then to a 1.75, and then to a 2.0, etc.
As things stand right now.. as much as I'd love to see Samoa Joe on the WWE roster, or for Matt Morgan to get a real chance to be this generation's star "big man" worker.. I have to say it would be a bad idea for Vince McMahon to purchase TNA, and I'm really hoping that it never gets to that point. The negatives just outweigh the positives in this situation, in my opinion.