My Two Centsss - Is TNA Nearing It's End Of Days? (for real this time)
By Super Chrisss
Mar 2, 2014 - 2:22:37 PM
(Tom Jenner is the man!)
If you would, allow me to preface today's column by saying that for years, I've been one of TNA's biggest defenders around these parts (i.e. Lords of Pain). Sure, I've heckled them and gave them shit for a lot of their decisions - booking-wise, content, backstage happenings, etc. - but I've also done the exact same thing for WWE too many times to remember. Personally, I'm more of a "WWE guy" than anything else, but I've never been hesitant to give props to TNA when they get something right, and rip WWE for their apparent mistakes. And vice versa.
That being said, how can I consider myself a "TNA defender" after admitting seconds ago to prefer the product being put out by Vince McMahon & Co. more so than the Carter family? Simple; for the longest time, members of the Internet Wrestling Community have been predicting TNA's demise, saying, "TNA won't last the rest of the year," or, "The company is going under - they might as well sell it to Vince while he's still interested." People have been saying that for years. Even before I started watching Impact every Thursday night (due to Spike TV not being available in my household), every other comment someone made about TNA would include the words "bankruptcy" and/or "failure". But like I said, this is a trend that has been going for a decade - if not more - yet they're still there.
I for one have never bought into the "TNA is dying" rumours. For the longest time, there was no reason to. "TNA only drew 700 fans for a house show? Oh, they're going under." "Impact fell from a 1.0 rating to a 0.9? R.I.P." However, the majority of these people were over-looking (or unaware of) several facts. For starters, consider the cable channel Impact is on every week - Spike. Believe it or not, Impact's consistent 1.0 rating is actually one of their highest-rated shows on a weekly basis. As a result, it would make no sense for Spike to pull the plug on one of their best-drawing shows. Dwelling into the financial side of things, prior to last year's 'experiment' of taking Impact on the road, for many years TNA taped several episodes of Impact at Orlando's "Impact Zone". This saved them a lot of money, as opposed to booking arenas across the country - a gamble which did not pay off for them. Finally, there was the later-confirmed rumour that TNA talents weren't paid anywhere close to what WWE paid their employees. As you can see, cost-saving measures all around, and I believed Dixie Carter when she used to say the company was turning in a profit.
Key words being, "was turning in a profit."
In my humble - and not-so-expert - opinion, I sadly think TNA's time might be coming to an end. Why the sudden change of heart, you ask? Take a look at all the major happenings backstage - and to a certain degree, on-air - in the past six months or so:
A hefty loss of big-name talent. If you've been a fan of TNA from the very beginning, you probably couldn't imagine Impact Wrestling without Aj Styles. For over a decade, he's been the 'face' of TNA, and consistently one of their top guys. Whether he was being booked properly or not, many TNA fans considered Styles someone who's name was basically in sync with the letters 'TNA'. Much how WWE fans associate John Cena with WWE, that's the kind of impact (no pun intended) Styles had on TNA. Love him or hate him, a WWE without Cena is almost unimaginable, and the only way Cena won't be with WWE is because he's too injured to keep wrestling (like Edge), he retires, or he dies (knock on wood).
You have to assume TNA are suffering financial problems if they lost their version of John Cena not because of any of the above reasons but due to...failing to come to terms on a renewed contract. When you're not able to pay one of your top stars - a guy who has been loyal to you from the very start - a reasonable salary, there's something seriously wrong. Aj wasn't the only one to fall victim to the TNA budget, of course. In 2013, the likes of Styles, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Rob van Dam, Eric Bischoff, Devon, D-Lo Brown, Douglas Williams, D.O.C., Knux, Chavo Guerrero, Mickie James, SoCal Val, Taeler Hendrix, Christian York, and Kid Kash (and the list goes on, by the way) all wrestled for or appeared on TNA television that year. As of March 2014, none of those names are still there. That's a loss of some huge stars, some up-and-comers, and some veterans all in the course of a year. Keep in mind that TNA's roster is nowhere near the size of WWE's, by the way. However you wish to look at it, that's an incredible change of TNA's landscape.
The future of TV tapings appears very uncertain. As I mentioned earlier, TNA took a gamble in 2013 and decided to consistently leave the Impact Zone for the first time in almost ten years by taking the Impact tapings on the road. It made sense - they were never going to expand their audience by performing in front of the same crowd in the same city in the same building every month. Unfortunately, those in charge managed to screw it up by booking Impact in cities not well-known for being wrestling draws (even WWE struggles to get a decent crowd in the west). Furthermore, TNA management decided to book Impact and Pay-Per-Views at large arenas that they had no hope of selling out. The result? A huge loss in revenue, and TNA had to quickly return home to Orlando. The problem is, there wasn't a home to return to, as it appears Orlando Studios might not be able to host Impact for the remainder of 2014. TNA has secured a set of TV tapings in March, but then what? They were forced to film nearly three months of Impact while overseas on their tour of the United Kingdom!
Contracts are coming up, and wrestlers are reportedly being forced to take pay cuts. Recently, we've seen new faces grace Impact Wrestling, most notably Ethan Carter III (the former Derrick Bateman), The
American Wolves, Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards, and of course, MVP. But there also several big-name contracts set to expire, and I have a bad feeling they won't be renewed. Both members of Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) are weeks away from their contracts running out, and there have been rumours that TNA won't re-sign them (which would be a HUGE mistake). Another big contract set to expire in September is Kurt Angle, and I'm calling it right now: Angle will be back with WWE by 2015. Kurt knows his in-ring days are almost over, and he's expressed many times his interest in returning home and ending his wrestling career inside a WWE ring. Another top star who I feel won't be with the company much longer is Jeff Hardy, especially if he's going to be 'asked' to take a paycut. Much like Kurt, I think Jeff wants to follow in the footsteps of Hogan and RVD and return where he belongs.
TNA is simply not growing. I'll never forget a comment former WWE star John Morrison once made in an interview last year, while discussing TNA. In regards to TNA, Morrison said, "I think they're a nice little start-up company..." Start-up company? TNA has been putting on Pay-Per-Views for over ten years! They've had some of wrestling's biggest names appear for them, from Hulk Hogan to Ric Flair, to Kurt Angle to Sting, and what do they have to show for it? They toured for the majority of 2013, and all it resulted was in a huge loss of money. Their ratings are still stagnant (hovering around that 1.0 mark), PPV buys haven't seen a large increase despite being reduced to about four live ones a year, and live event attendance is still pretty low for a wrestling company with a national TV deal. I just don't understand how TNA has been unable to improve in at least one of those areas.
At the end of the day, I'm still a wrestling fan and I enjoy TNA's product. Is it perfect? No, but neither is WWE's. They each have their faults, but they also have their moments of greatness. I would hate it if TNA were to go under, as competition is always a good thing, and so is an alternative. But something tells me that TNA just might be on it's final legs. Hopefully I'm wrong, but it's impossible to ignore all these "changes" in such a short amount of time.
Your Two Centsss: Do you think will make it to 2015? Are they in danger of going under anytime soon?
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