You have to give some credit to TNA. They have managed to last almost 14 years, which is about 13 years and six months longer than most gave them when they first started in 2002. They have been counted down and out numerous times yet managed to continue onward. However, “survival” is not the same thing as “success” and it’s clear that in terms of being a truly stellar wrestling company, TNA has failed. Oh, they may offer some good talent and the occasional great match but in terms of making themselves stand out, TNA has failed. Which is a shame as they had the ingredients needed to rise up, especially with fans complaining about WWE becoming so poor today.
TNA had so much going for it, especially in 2005 when they offered truly great action and a rising talent base. But the company kept shooting itself in the foot time and again with some of the dumbest ideas imaginable. Attempts at a “New Monday Night War” led to them getting crushed in the ratings, fans turning on them big-time, even their most loyal and long-lasting workers fleeing for WWE and other places. With talk of terrible finances, losing multiple network spots and more, TNA is still falling apart and seems unlikely to recover. So many times, they’ve had a chance to take off only to sabotage themselves as just being “not WWE” is not enough to make a company work.
Here are 15 of the biggest reasons why TNA are in such a state and the company failing to work as well as it should. Here are the top 15 reasons TNA has failed.
15 The Name
From the start, it just seemed off. First of all, the connection with the NWA meant the company was mostly known as NWA-TNA for its first two years, a mouthful of a name. But really, the title has never really worked, “Total Nonstop Action,” no mention of wrestling or some sort of organization and you can insert the “T- N-A” jokes easily. Plus, it was pretty laughable during those periods where an “Impact” episode showed barely 20 minutes of actual wrestling in a two hour show.
It’s hurt them getting into the mainstream and the attempts to be known as “Impact Wrestling” have never worked thanks to how they still use TNA as their main name. So many issues with this company but the fact they have a name that doesn’t even have “wrestling” in it doesn’t speak a lot to how they can work as a successful wrestling company. Which leads to…
14 Not Taking Advantage of WWE's Shortcomings
It’s no secret that WWE has been in a rough spot the last few years, going further back than most think. Fans turned off by the “sports entertainment” aspect, the guys on top, bad storylines, etc... This was a prime opportunity by a competitor to take advantage, sway the fans that wanted something different and rise up more. Instead, TNA has been copying so many of the mistakes of WWE and WCW with pushing the wrong guys, doing dumb gimmicks and promos and even blatantly using WWE storylines for their own (see Eric Young as a bearded popular champion).
Instead of going for the future, TNA just copies the past, seeming to make the exact same mistakes and pushing “sports entertainment” far more than actual wrestling when fans want it. TNA has assumed just “not being WWE” is enough to take off but if they had gone ahead to push themselves more as what fans wanted over WWE’s show, they’d be a lot better off.
13 Need For New NWO
Fans may complain about WWE using the “evil owner” bit but that’s nothing compared to TNA’s obsession with an “evil bunch of heels trying to control the company.” The Kings of Wrestling, Immortal, the Main Event Mafia, the Beatdown Club, Aces & Eights, Matt Hardy’s group, the list goes on. Yes, the New World Order was a big deal but that was in 1996 and the fact TNA has often used the exact same guys to try and replicate that is even more ridiculous. This has hurt TNA constantly, fans sick and tired of seeing these groups form, the “shocking swerves” of guys going bad, the talk of “we’re taking over!” sounding again and again, it’s ridiculous.
It wastes time and money and has burned fans out on the entire “supergroup of heels” concept and that TNA can’t see it’s time to let it go is more evidence of why they can’t rise up more.
12 “Celebrity” Involvement
When a company is struggling to make ends meet for their workers, spending money for celebrities seems nuts. It’s more so with TNA as their choices for “stars” have been ridiculous. Johnny Fairplay was given $100,000 just because one of the main guys in charge at the time was a huge “Survivor” fan. Ditto for Jenna which resulted in her infamously horrendous match with Sharmell. Folks from “The Jersey Shore,” Pacman Jones and various MMA guys, have come in with huge fanfare and boasting of TNA getting on top and every time, it just makes the company look like a joke.
To blow so much money on so little payoff is just bad business and the lack of reason in these is a key reason workers have fled a company who cares more for a pop for a C-list “star” then their own guys.
11 Obsession With Ex-WWE Stars
At first, TNA wasn’t bad with the occasional WWE guy like Sean Waltman coming in. But starting in 2005 with the Dudley Boyz coming in, the company became obsessed with grabbing any WWE cast-off they could. Not just big names like Booker T, Kurt Angle, Christian, Ken Anderson, but even minor guys like Rikishi were snatched and then pushed hard. Angle broke Samoa Joe’s unbeaten streak, a very bad move and the title runs for himself, Anderson and Christian didn’t quite help the company as they should have.
Sting, a man long past his prime, was given multiple runs as champion with Mick Foley likewise given a belt when he was in no condition to be champion. They thought fans were jumping for an ECW revival. It continues as in 2016, Matt and Jeff Hardy are in a main event feud with Drew Galloway, a mid-carder in WWE, as champion. TNA makes a big deal out of being better than WWE but when so much of your roster is comprised of those guys over actual home-grown talent, it just makes you look more like a copycat.
10 Failing To Find a Working Formula
From the beginning, TNA has been marred by their inability to decide what they want to be. At first, they seemed to be a small but growing company, not unlike the early ECW with a push on young and talented workers. Then they elevated to thinking they could be WWE-lite when they weren’t ready. Since then, TNA has bounced between touring on a huge basis and then sticking to their Orlando crowd, going from huge stars to secondary guys and not figuring out their own identity. A fan clicking onto TNA is offered a mix of stuff that comes off very bad, an occasional good match but then so many promos and rough storylines that it’s a turn off.
Not to mention how they constantly copy WWE like turning comedy worker Eric Young champion in 2014 just to capitalize on Daniel Bryan's momentum. It was worse during the Hogan/Bischoff era with their attempts to replicate 1996-era stuff. TNA has failed to forge their own identity.
9 Not Using PPVs Right
It’s a joke that’s been around for a while but holds true: TNA is the only wrestling company that uses their PPVs to promote their free weekly TV show. From the start, the company was attempting to use the model of a weekly PPV, an idea pretty damn crazy for 2002. They truly thought they were going to get a huge audience against WWE and seemed amazed they lost so much in their first year. They would switch to monthly PPVs in 2004. It did fine at first, but the toll soon began to grow harder as TNA seemed to fail to understand how to properly build to PPVs and then off them, using them with endings that played into the weekly TV shows more. This was really showcased during Bischoff’s run as the man still seemed to think it was 1996 where ratings proved who was winning and thus obsessed with pushing all the stuff on TV.
With finances so down, TNA basically suspended all PPVs in 2014, costing them a key point of revenue, continuing to think just doing weekly shows is enough. To fail to understand a key part of the current wrestling business model just stands as a glaring example of TNA faltering as a company.
8 Lack of Mainstream Presence
They’ve tried but TNA has failed to gain the mainstream attention they need to become a successful national company. They tried with Hogan but it ended up failing majorly and hurt the company more and their tries to get attention with NASCAR drivers and Chicago White Sox players haven’t worked out either. The biggest, of course, was getting Pacman Jones but had him holding the tag titles, despite not wrestling. Meanwhile, the attention it got was a joke as folks actually said the company was a step DOWN for a guy suspended for shooting someone.
Meanwhile, when Robbie E and Brooke Tessmacher got on “The Amazing Race,” an Emmy-award winning network hit, TNA made no mention of it whatsoever as they continued to push themselves as something big despite a laughable time slot and low network. Video games, toys and other attempts have faltered as it’s hard for TNA to boast being so top notch a company when practically no one outside the wrestling business has any idea who the hell they are.
7 Hiring Russo
Given how horrible his work in WCW was to slam the company down, that Russo got a job anywhere else is astounding. But TNA made the mistake of hiring him on the results are terrible to say the least. It is no coincidence that TNA’s best creative years were when Russo wasn’t around. The years of 2005-06 were great on various levels. But when he returned in 2007, things went to hell with terrible angles and bouts , “shocking swerves” and just got worse when Hogan came around.
It wasn’t just the quality however as Dixie openly lied about Russo working for the company when it was totally obvious he was and when Spike TV found out, they axed TNA from the network, shoving their chances down lower. He may be gone for now but Russo’s effects are still felt at TNA as he may be able to boast having helped put two wrestling companies into the coffin.
6 Not Paying For Talent
The key proof of how TNA is not a viable company is the utterly horrible way it has treated its workers. When Jesse Neal tweeted about qualifying for food stamps, fans slammed it for a bad joke until he proved it was true. Taylor Wilde, the Knockouts Champion, was so embarrassed when she was recognized at her second job at a Sunglasses Hut that she quit the company the next day.
Stories are growing more and more of wrestlers either given low payment or even not paid at all, despite their loyalty and hard work. It’s not just them as production and ring crews have also been public over working for months without proper payment. Meanwhile, the company has no problem shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for some C-list “celebrity” to come in for a bad appearance and Hogan alone was making more than the entire roster at the time. It’s still continuing and a key reason TNA is failing and for all the talk their defenders can make, when you can’t pay your own guys on a regular basis, you can’t call yourself a successful company.
5 Ruining the X Division
The best thing TNA had going for them when they started was the X Division. Boasting a great bevy of workers who pulled off amazing moves, the division was what got TNA real attention, with great athletes like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and others, putting on unique matches like Ultimate X and really making TNA stand out with the work rate. But then TNA had to ruin it with gimmick bouts, pushing guys in wrong directions and then allowing the X Division to have guys like Abyss as champion.
Combine that with TNA’s horrible treatment of talent and no wonder so many guys backed off from getting into the company, the hot young talents of the X Division figuring ROH or even NXT were a better place to show their stuff than here. Today, the X Division is a shadow of itself.
Taking on Hulk Hogan does get you attention and fame. But it also means taking on a massive ego of a man who needs to be the center of attention. Such was the case in 2010 when TNA hired him on and after actually saying he’d be a light presence, Hogan was soon front and center of all things. Not only did he set himself up first as the evil boss then the hero once more, Hogan pushed his completely untalented daughter Brooke as “Knockouts Boss” and the ridiculous storyline of her and Bubba Ray getting married.
Perhaps the top had to be when Hogan talked online of Bobby Roode not being ready to be TNA champion, thus forcing them to ruin months of build by having Angle keep the belt and a baffling turn to cover it. All so Hogan’s big “face turn” wouldn’t be overshadowed. In the end, Hogan just walked out on the company with the pitiful sight of Dixie literally clinging to his legs begging him to stay. TNA thought Hogan would be the key to success but instead he may have done irreparable damage.
3 Planet Jarrett
A lot of TNA’s issues can be tied in to its founder. Jarrett is a decent talent but has the problem in that he thinks he’s on the same level of fan heat as Hogan or Rock. At first, he was good gathering talent and pushing stuff but in 2003, Jarrett’s need to be the center of the company really started to get out of control. For over three years, he made sure just about every main event program revolved around him, usually as champion, a move that had fans annoyed. Jarrett was cutting off guys and pushing himself hard to a point that made HHH or Hogan look humble, keeping the belt over more deserving guys and truly seeming to think TNA needed him on top to work. He cut back due to personal issues but later returned and basically used TNA to boost his own GFW promotion to make the company look worse in the end.
Jarrett is not the first owner to push himself as top dog but one has to wonder how TNA might have improved had he worked to put other guys over more than himself.
2 Dixie Carter
Where to begin? She seems to have little idea how the wrestling business works and thus made the key mistake of listening to Bischoff and Hogan on how to run things. She totally bought the idea of how huge TNA could be, evidenced when VKM issued a million-dollar open challenge to DX and Dixie actually froze the money and waited for WWE to call. It’s been shown how Dixie is completely inept in how to handle this company, making one bad move after another and then bold-faced lying to fans and the wrestlers themselves on the situation.
Throw in the constant spending for bad workers or celebrities while her own workers and even ring crews are fighting to keep afloat with bad wages and it’s clear how she’s a failure. That’s not getting into her on-air persona of an “evil boss” that makes her look more foolish and shows how her “leadership” is a clear reason TNA is in the bad spot it is and treating this company like a toy her daddy bought her has hurt the promotion massively.
1 Wanting to be WWE Instantly
The biggest problem of TNA is that from day one, the folks in charge have been under the delusion that they’re keeping Vince McMahon awake at nights when in truth, WWE has barely even acknowledged TNA exists. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a success and if TNA had taken the care to slowly build up their base with talent, they might well be in a great spot. But their obsession with becoming WWE level right now is what fails them every time. Rather than push their strengths, TNA makes all the mistakes shown below to try and become as huge as WWE instantly, which just isn’t possible.
They had the talent, the quality of matches, the fan appeal to make this work and with time and patience, they could be in a position to really challenge a troubled WWE. Instead, TNA leaps way too far (see the “New Monday Night War”) and it backfires to weaken them further and further. Wanting to be a big deal is good and all but TNA believing they could get on that huge level in no time is the key reason they’re in such a bad state and their desire to be #2 right off could end up being their epitaph.