The story of TNA has become one of the most depressing tales in wrestling history. A company viewed as the last chance of a viable threat to WWE with the hopes of filling the void left without WCW and ECW is now irrelevant. TNA is still alive and kicking but they are in a lame duck situation with a tiny fan base and very little momentum. The hopes of being able to thrive as the main competitor to WWE are not only dead but been buried deep. Many poor decisions and culprits have contributed to TNA’s fall from grace.
TNA currently is in a terrible spot. WWE still holds the industry in their hands. WWE’s smaller brand NXT has replaced TNA as the hot new product that features exciting young stars. ROH is viewed as more of an alternative for the wrestling fan and Lucha Underground has a unique feel for those wanting something completely different. Independent promotions like PWG and EVOLVE are even developing more buzz than TNA in 2015. Stars are leaving TNA left and right. They have very little house show dates booked and they struggle to sell tickets for the few they have. Their recently scheduled India tour has been canceled. Things aren’t going well at all for them.
The last hope for TNA is being able to regain some trust with the audience and build a stronger brand. The potential of that happening is very limited with their weekly television show taking place on Pop TV. TNA will debut on this new network in 2016 but it is not an ideal scenario. Very few people have heard of Pop TV and TNA doesn’t have enough buzz to bring enough fans over to make a difference in their bottom line. How did TNA fall this far? Various people have played a part in the decline and many decisions have added up to the company being in this sad state. These are the fifteen people most to blame for TNA’s downfall.
15. Booker T
Booker T was one of the first high-profile veterans in TNA to be seen as not taking the job seriously. Rumors circulated that the locker room believed Booker wasn’t working his hardest because he viewed TNA as beneath him and it showed in his work. Despite spending a couple of years with the company, Booker was rarely a part of any memorable matches or segments. The mindset of not giving full effort in TNA due to its smaller size played a large role in the company becoming less respected by both the wrestlers and the fans.
14. John Gaburick
TNA hired John “Big” Gaburick in 2013 for a role many feel he was not worthy of holding. Gaburick worked as a producer in WWE and played an on-air role on the early seasons of the Tough Enough reality show. TNA gave him a pivotal position in both creative and talent relations. While it may just have been poor timing, TNA mainstays A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian all left the company shortly after Gaburick’s debut. Styles has delivered harsh words for Gaburick in shoot interviews claiming Gaburick played a part in his desire to leave the company and claims he has no business making important decisions.
13. A.J. Styles
There’s no question that A.J. Styles is the greatest wrestler in TNA history. Anyone who watched the promotion for a long time will admit that Styles gave more to the company than anyone else and was the face of the franchise. A.J. made the bold decision to leave the company in early 2014. It turned out to be a great move for him, as he’s become a main event star for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor, but his loss hurt TNA far more than anyone could have expected. The company has dealt with bad news for years but Styles leaving the company gave things a different outlook. The self-made fan favorite was no longer there to keep the goodwill of fans and the company has been sinking consistently since his departure.
12. ECW Stars
Following the success of WWE’s ECW One Night Stand reunion PPVs in 2005 and 2006, TNA decided to try their luck with the same concept. Hardcore Justice 2010 was a show dedicated to the history of ECW with the former extreme athletes being given a full three hours. There were many problems with this idea. WWE actually owns the ECW brand, so they were able to use the names and show old footage from the library. TNA just had ECW wrestlers participate in hardcore matches under a bizarre dark lighting. The execution came off cheap and embarrassing. It was another example of TNA showcasing old stars from other companies rather than relying on their own young talent.
11. Bubba the Love Sponge
You can’t truly blame Bubba the Love Sponge for the downfall of TNA, but at the core, he represented the problem that took the company down. As a radio host and close friend of Hulk Hogan, Bubba the Love Sponge was brought in with Hogan to play an interviewer. From day one, Bubba was a pain as both a terrible broadcaster and horrible person. Bubba ranted about other employees on his radio show and actually got into a fist fight with female wrestler Awesome Kong backstage at TNA. Bubba then ranted on his show about it, using racial slurs to demean her. TNA fired him afterwards but employing someone of that character and minimal skill to appease another person easily demonstrates why TNA has eailed.
Sting was a great help to TNA as arguably the biggest star to spend a long time period as one of the faces of the company. The legend even delivered some of the best matches of his storied career during his time in TNA, but his time there was not without flaws. Sting was one of the highest paid performers in the company and worked the least amount of dates. Only appearing on television tapings and PPVs, Sting was not at any house shows and it hurt the brand. When you pay to attend a live show, you expect to see the same product that you see on television but a main event star and often world champion wasn’t a part of the house show loop.
9. Rob Van Dam
For years, fans hoped for a Rob Van Dam run in TNA due to his style and caliber of in-ring performances. TNA had similar wrestlers to Van Dam and the fit seemed perfect on paper. The signing proved nothing is guaranteed in wrestling as RVD was a complete bust for TNA. His matches were quite disappointing due to a mix of his older age and his lack of complete effort. Van Dam also criticized the younger talents and passed blame elsewhere for TNA’s lack of growth when he was the world champion.
8. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle would make a list of the top TNA stars of all time but he also contributed negatives on a couple of different occasions. While he did give the company numerous great matches and a credible main event star, Angle was positioned as “the guy” in a way that was to the hindrance of others. Just a couple of months into his TNA debut, Angle won the World Championship and had a heel title reign similar to Triple H’s WWE title reign in 2003. Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles were shoved to the side in support of Angle winning the strap. It harmed the upsides of both Joe and Styles in the long run when they were later pushed in top babyface roles.
7. Jeff Hardy
The signing of Jeff Hardy should have propelled TNA to a huge amount of success. Before Hardy left WWE in 2009, he was the second most popular performer in the company only behind John Cena. He returned to TNA in early 2010 on the same night as Hulk Hogan’s debut. It was meant to be the start of TNA truly competing with WWE, but it flopped in embarrassing fashion. Hardy was disappointing in the time TNA needed him most. The most disgraceful moment in company history involved Hardy coming to the ring for a main event against Sting under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Hardy cleaned up and became a great help for the company during the more recent years but his past troubles damaged them.
6. Karen Jarrett
One of the biggest moments in TNA history was the fallout of the Karen Angle/Jarrett, Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle love triangle. Karen became an on-air personality as the real life wife of Kurt when he signed with TNA. She was a natural heel and actually did well in her role. After becoming a member of the roster, a story broke that she left Kurt for Jeff Jarrett (seriously? Jarrett?). Dixie Carter sent Jarrett home and it started a big change in the upper echelon of the TNA decision makers. Many believe the loss of Jarrett caused a negative effect on the television product and was the first sign of the big troubles coming.
5. Jeff Jarrett
As the original founder of TNA with his father Jerry Jarrett, Jeff Jarrett tried to think of a game plan to create a second wrestling promotion after WWE purchased WCW and ECW. Jarrett gave many tremendous talents their first noteworthy breaks in wrestling on television with TNA, but he also set the company back severely. Jarrett booked himself as the champion quite often during the early years of TNA instead of a chance on other, more talented wrestlers. The aforementioned love triangle with Jarrett, Kurt Angle and Karen Angle (now Karen Jarrett) also created big problems for the company that he was unable to ever rebound from until leaving TNA and starting Global Force Wrestling.
4. Vince Russo
Over the last twenty years, few people in the pro wrestling industry have met as much criticism as Vince Russo. At the lead writer during the early stages of The Attitude Era, Russo achieved success with his ideas that strayed away from traditional wrestling. Russo failed to deliver the same results in WCW and then TNA. His ideas such as the Reverse Battle Royal (get inside the ring to win), the Reverse Ladder Match (climb the ladder to hang the belt) and the Electrified Steel Cage Match (I can’t even explain this one) all led to TNA looking like a second rate joke. There are rumors that the final straw in Spike TV canceling Impact was finding out TNA secretly employed Russo behind their backs.
3. Eric Bischoff
The duo of Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan were given power to make big decisions in TNA when they came aboard early in 2010. Bischoff and Hogan promised they would be able to spark another wrestling war and give TNA the minds it needed to get as big as WCW. From the start, Bischoff showed his arrogance by snubbing anything TNA accomplished before he arrived. They removed the six-sided ring and chastised fans that missed it. The new regime delivered horrible ideas like trying to reform the New World Order by turning Jeff Hardy heel and pushing Eric’s terrible son, Garett Bischoff.
2. Hulk Hogan
The second member of the duo promising to take TNA to the promise land was Hulk Hogan. Dixie Carter decided to give the biggest star in pro wrestling history control of the direction of TNA. Well, Hogan was a bust and delivered on none of his promises to take the fight to Vince McMahon and WWE. Between calling Abyss “TNA’s John Cena” and publicly burying TNA’s most talented stars like A.J. Styles and Bobby Roode, Hogan did more to hurt the company than help. Hogan wrestled was is likely to be the final match of his career against Sting and it was a questionable decision. He worked hard to put out a good performance but he was also taking away the spot of a young and healthy talent on the card with a match that ended up being quite bland and boring.
1. Dixie Carter
It all starts and ends with the boss. Many of the people on this list made horrible decisions that led to the downfall of TNA but one person could have stopped all of them. Dixie Carter has control of TNA at the end of the day and the blood is on her hands. Carter let others influence her into making choices that caused the looming death of TNA. It didn’t help matters that Carter was also talked into becoming an on-air character and seemed to enjoy the star power of being on television every week. Dixie’s heel character was poor, but was given more screen time than any wrestler. Dixie Carter is ultimately the person most responsible for TNA’s downfall.
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