There was a time when TNA/Impact Wrestling was looked upon as the #2 wrestling company in America. Unfortunately, Ring of Honor has passed TNA in the US, and if they can get themselves together, Lucha Underground has a good shot at passing TNA as well. While these other companies are growing, TNA is floundering, and many of the company’s problems are the company’s own doing. A lot of mistakes were made, and these mistakes have hurt TNA’s chances at growth.
It would be easy to blame all of the company’s problems on the sale of the company to the Carter family, which gave Dixie Carter power that she could not handle, but the company’s issues run deeper that Dixie’s mismanagement. There have been a lot of things that TNA has done wrong that has hindered the company’s progress, and many of the problems compounded upon one another.
Impact Wrestling, under new management again, can recover and grow, but recognizing the problems and admitting that the problems exist are the first steps to solving the problems. So now, here’s hoping that after reviewing this list of mistakes that have been made over the company’s lifetime, TNA Wrestling can realize what it has done wrong, and can right the ship before it’s too late.
15. Filming Television From Universal Studios
When TNA initially secured a television deal, the company decided to film television at Universal Studios Florida, following in the footsteps of WCW. While the quality of the broadcasts was superior to the early ECW shows, the mistake was in the deal that was struck with the theme park.
The agreement that was reached was that the company would not charge for general admission seating. Because of this, the audience was filled with random park visitors instead of wrestling fans, which produced dead crowds at many of the shows. This also meant that TNA was not making much money from their television tapings and PPVs that were held at the park, which made it difficult to continue funding the company.
14. Allowing Jim Cornette and Raven to Leave the Company
It’s no secret that Jim Cornette and Scott “Raven” Levy are exceptional talents who belong in any and every wrestling Hall of Fame that exists. However, in addition to being outstanding performers, Cornette and Raven are two of the most creative minds in the business. Cornette was the booker for Smokey Mountain Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling, and Raven helped create many iconic characters within ECW, including the Dudleys and the BWO. At one time, both of these men were employed by TNA.
TNA brought in a number of individuals to help with booking, including Dusty Rhodes, Vince Russo and Scott D’Amore, but when the company was beginning to falter, Jeff Jarrett could have leaned on Raven and Cornette to help to make the shows more interesting. Though they might not have been able to overcome the bad decision that was Universal Studios, the television product might have increased ratings, which would have increased sponsorships revenues, which would have made more money for the company.
13. Ending Their Association with Ring of Honor
At one time, TNA and Ring of Honor had a working relationship that saw talent from each company appearing on the other company’s shows. Unfortunately however, when TNA started to grow, the company decided that it didn’t want its talent to appear on ROH shows. While this is no different than what is done in WWE, the issue is that TNA allows their talent to work on other indy shows, and many of these have PPV or DVD deals, so ROH shows should not have been an issue.
If TNA had continued its agreement with ROH, the TNA talent might have had the opportunity to work with New Japan as ROH talent does. Imagine how intriguing an Eli Drake vs Tetsuya Naito match, or an LAX vs The Bullet Club storyline would be.
12. Losing Faith In Samoa Joe
When Kurt Angle arrived in TNA, he immediately targeted then TNA champion Samoa Joe. Joe had dominated the TNA roster, and Angle wanted to take down the top dog. While it was a mistake to put Kurt Angle over Joe, it’s not what this is about. The mistake was the company losing faith in Joe.
If Joe had gone over Angle, because of his skill and his resume, Angle would easily have recovered. However, with Angle going over Joe, the company made Kurt the face of the company, and Joe was forced to be the heavy hitter in a number of failed factions.
Joe, like Kurt, is great on the mic, and can have a great match with anyone, so making Joe a multi-time champion would mean that a top talent would be pulling the company’s wagon, and not wasted in the mid-card. Kurt was great, but Joe was younger and would have been around longer. Joe leaving TNA was one of the company’s biggest losses, from which the company has never recovered.
11. Bringing in the Hogan/Bischoff/Russo Regime
One thing that Jeff Jarrett liked to do was to bring in big names in order to create buzz for the company. His biggest gamble was in bringing Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff (The Regime) into TNA, and in giving them decision-making power. These men, along with Vince Russo, contributed to the demise of WCW, a company with a much bigger bank account, so it might not have been the best idea for TNA.
The new regime came in and attempted to strip TNA of its identity, in an attempt to make the company more like WWE. However, the biggest gaffe was in the presentation of the old talent that came in with the Regime at the behest of the young stars that TNA had created.
Bringing in The Nasty Boys, and the unreliable members of the nWo (all of Hogan’s friends), set the company back in ways that the company has struggled to overcome. There were other changes that this group made that were erroneous (which will be discussed later), but in total, bringing in these guys was not wise, given their histories.
10. Moving Impact to Monday Night
When the Regime came on board, one of their first moves was to convince Spike TV to move TNA’s television show to Monday Night, directly opposite WWE’s Raw. Since Bischoff was in charge of WCW during the Monday Night War, he should have known better, but he didn’t learn from his mistakes, so he repeated them.
As mentioned, WCW had a bigger bank account, so that company was able to match WWE in terms of talent and production value. With TNA broadcasting with a dead crowd (#15), featuring the Nasty Boys, Orlando Jordan and the nWo (#11), and having a show that looked more cheaply made, it was clear that TNA was inferior in every way to WWE. In short, the decision was a disaster, and the show was soon moved back to Thursday.
9. Pushing WWE Castoffs Over TNA Homegrown Talent
As mentioned, Hogan and Bischoff brought in a number of older talents, but the real issue was the number of other WWE castoffs that were brought in. The problem was not their joining the company, but that they were all pushed to the top of the company over the established stars.
When the Regime came to TNA, so did Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy and Ken “Mr. Kennedy” Anderson. While these were all great talents, they were let go by WWE because they were useful mid-card stars, and WWE had plenty of younger versions of those.
Within a few months, Jeff Hardy and RVD held the TNA World Title, and Anderson got it soon after. This helped to bury the talent that TNA was developing, and it is a practice that continues today. Drew Galloway, Bobby Lashley and Matt Hardy were never considered top guys, but in TNA, they were world champions.
8. De-Emphasizing the X-Division and the Tag Team Division
Vince McMahon sees tag teams as a means of evaluating future singles stars. Eric Bischoff sees them as a waste of time. Eric also sees “athletic” wrestlers as a waste of time, so when he joined TNA, he de-emphasized the X-Division and the Tag Team division. Unfortunately, TNA was built on the backs of these two divisions.
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe came from the X-Division to become the faces of TNA, and now, they are two of the faces of WWE. The Motor City Machine Guns and the Addiction, both teams that were featured in TNA, are among the top teams in ROH and New Japan. These talents could be headlining TNA shows around the world if the company had done right by these men (more on that later). However, they are starring for other companies, and TNA is struggling to survive.
7. Mindlessly Creating New Titles
Having a second singles title for men is a good thing because it gives mid-carders a title to pursue as they work their way up or down the card. TNA understood this, and the company created the TNA Legends Championship. This title morphed into the Global Championship, then into the TV Title, and then into the King of the Mountain Title before it was replaced with the Impact Grand Championship. Each name change brought with it a new set of rules, making the titles difficult for fans to care about.
In addition to the men’s secondary title, TNA created a women’s (Knockouts) tag title. The problem with this was that since there were barely enough women to compete for the Knockouts title, it was impossible to sustain a women’s tag division.
Both of these titles were good ideas, but neither was conceived with any forethought. The company was not able to sustain these divisions because there was no thought put into how they would be presented.
6. Low-Balling AJ Styles
When AJ Styles left TNA, his biggest complaint was that whenever the company needed to be stabilized, they would put the belt on Styles, and would make him the focal point of the company. However, when it came time to pay AJ for all of his hard work, TNA was either unwilling or unable (or both) to give Styles what he deserved.
Even if the company was hurting for money, it was necessary that AJ Styles was retained, because he is a talent who can be the anchor for a promotion. When he went to New Japan, he was made the leader of the Bullet Club, and he carried the IWGP Heavyweight Title. In WWE, he opened and closed 2017 as World Champion, and only Bruno, Backlund, Hogan and Cena had done that.
5. Low-Balling Other Talents
Even though TNA couldn’t or wouldn’t pay AJ Styles, some of the other “TNA Originals” should have been paid, especially when they were being courted by WWE. WWE wasn’t signing talent in order to strengthen their own company. The company was signing TNA talents in order to weaken TNA, as WWE does to every other company. Knowing this, guys like Bobby Roode, James Storm, Eric Young, Samoa Joe and The Addiction should have been treated like royalty so that they would be willing to stay in TNA.
TNA has a history of allowing contracts to expire under the guise of financial problems, only to turn around and sign more WWE castoffs. While this is going on, still viable talents are going other places, and are becoming bigger stars while TNA is floundering.
4. Replacing Mike Tenay with Josh Matthews
Mike Tenay is one of the most knowledgeable wrestling commentators in the business. His knowledge of Mexican and Japanese wrestling makes him an asset, especially in a company that featured many foreign-born wrestlers. Josh Matthews is a Tough Enough runner-up who couldn’t cut it as a wrestler, and was transitioned into an announcer’s role. Matthews split from WWE at a point when WWE was in need of announcers, but he was given the role as Mike Tenay’s replacement on TNA television. This was a mistake because Matthews is not good at his job.
When TNA decided to replace Don West with Taz, fans were outraged until they realized that Taz and Tenay had really good chemistry, and didn’t step on the broadcasts. Hiring Matthews not only took Tenay off of the telecasts, it cost the company Taz because of heat between Taz and Matthews. Today, Matthews’ over-the-top, mini-Vince style is annoying, and makes TNA Wrestling hard to watch with the sound on.
3. Favoring Reby Hardy over Awesome Kong
When the Hardys were signed in TNA, the men were veterans, and knew how to behave in the locker room. However, Reby Hardy allegedly went into the women’s locker room and showed little respect to the TNA Knockouts. As the story goes, this lack of respect rubbed Awesome Kong the wrong way, but when friction arose between the two women, TNA sided with Reby in an attempt to make the Hardys happy.
The cost of this to the company was losing Awesome Kong. Kong, like Samoa Joe (#12), was not featured as she should have been, but her presence made the Knockouts division more interesting. Either as a monster heel to be vanquished, or as a monster baby face who maintained order, her loss was a big one for the company. In hindsight, the Hardys were a top act for TNA, but there had to have been a way to have the cake and the ice cream.
2. Allowing the Hardys to Leave
When the company was in a state of flux, the Hardys came in and became a top attraction for TNA. Their battles with the Wolves and the Dudleys were stellar, and the “Broken” storyline was legendary. Unfortunately, as was the case with many talents, The Hardys’ contracts expired, and the family left for greener pastures.
The Hardys “Broken Brilliance” storyline made Impact Wrestling must-see television, but not only did the company not reach an agreement with the family, the company attempted to claim ownership of the components of the “Broken” gimmick.
1. No Pipeline for New Talent
WWE has the Performance Center, and New Japan has the New Japan Dojo. Not only does Ring of Honor have a training center, ROH takes their top graduates and places them into a Top Prospect Tournament, which allows the talent to get their feet wet while working against talent on an equal level. Perhaps the biggest mistake that TNA makes is that the company has no pipeline for future stars. The company has no training center, and does not feature young talent on their shows.
Without access to new young talent, the company is forced to depend on transplants to fill out its roster. While this is not always a bad thing, it allows TNA to continue to depend on WWE castoffs (#9). A wrestling academy would give TNA a constant source of new talent, and imagine how good the talent would be if they were trained by Eric Young, James Storm, Samoa Joe, The Wolves, Gail Kim, Angelina Love and ODB.
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