This is part one of a planned three part piece on where I see TNA at now that they've been around for over ten years. I am striving to write this from the "fan" perspective, and leave my "smartness" of writing on a pro wrestling site out of it. I'd love your thoughts and feedback, either here or on Twitter!
Despite the fact that I’ve written for a professional wrestling website since 2009, I am simply a fan. I’m a fan of a product that enthralled me as a child when I watched Hulk Hogan slam Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3 and when I watched Ric Flair battle with Dusty Rhodes over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. I’m a fan of a product that gave us The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Booker T, Kurt Angle, the NWO (led by Eric Bischoff), Paul Heyman, Rob Van Dam, and a host of other colorful characters through the 90’s. And I’m a fan of a product that today gives us John Cena, Samoa Joe, Magnus, AJ Styles, Bully Ray, Randy Orton, and others as we look to the future of the business.
You might call me a smart fan, but none the less I am only a fan. I am not an insider, a journalist, or a disgruntled talent on the independent scene.
Lately, I have been thinking a bit about the progress of TNA Wrestling in their ten years of existence. Has the company achieved all that it can to this point in its existence? Is TNA ahead, behind, or right on the progress curve?
I could open up by blasting Dixie’s leadership of the organization, stomping my feet and saying “TNA SUCKS!” without substance. I could throw out snide remarks and cutting insults. Instead, I’m going to start by taking the approach that credits TNA for the things that have gone right.
In 2002, Panda Energy stepped in and invested a 71% stake in Jerry and Jeff Jarrett’s fledgling new promotion. There has been hardship and a lot of turmoil, especially lately. TNA has survived since, and I respect that. TNA has created a number of memorable moments through the past ten years. The talent works hard, and it shows.
We all know about the fall of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). When you watched them as a fan in their last days, you could see that guys were mailing it in. There were guys that were simply “fat and happy” and along for the ride. It was a lost cause. A select few were working hard, but most weren’t. Nothing was left in the tank.
I do NOT see that in TNA, and that is to their credit. The talent still takes pride in the company and in their work in and out of the ring. With all the recent turmoil that has gone on, they could be walking around with their heads hanging and being discouraged. They could be mailing it in. But they don’t appear to be. The effort in and out of the ring looks like it is still there, whether or not I agree with the show’s creative direction every Thursday night.
TNA has made themselves an international brand. The product has television deals in the United Kingdom and some other international markets. The company took the place of WWE as the wrestling brand on Spike TV. Pay per view buys and television ratings aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, but they’re consistent. At Lockdown, the company drew nearly 10,000 to the AlamoDome in San Antonio. There are signs that good things could happen for TNA.
But the sad fact is that this company is behind the curve of where it could be. With all of the financial investment into this promotion by Panda, TNA Wrestling could be more than it is today. There have been bad choices made that have hurt the company.
In the second part of this series, I’ll break down more of what I feel is wrong that has prevented TNA from reaching the goals they should have by this point. Stay tuned!