The death of World Championship Wrestling in March 2001 left a massive hole in the professional wrestling landscape that has never since been filled. Multiple would-be opponents of World Wrestling Entertainment have popped up over the years. Independent company Ring of Honor has had its ups-and-downs since emerging on the scene. ROH has not only remained afloat. That company has managed to ink multiple television deals and it is currently featured on national TV in the United States via station Destination America. How long that will remain the case has yet to be seen, but that ROH made it to that level in this market is impressive.
Of any potential replacement for the deceased WCW, it is Total Nonstop Action Wrestling that has come closest to matching what WCW accomplished during the 1990s. TNA never, of course, reached the heights of WCW when they were the hottest wrestling company in the world and an organization that was within reach of putting the WWE out of business. While TNA has more so survived than thrived since it first launched, the company has provided jobs to many within the wrestling business who could not earn paychecks from the WWE for one reason or another. It is not a stretch to suggest that TNA has even been a blessing for some.
The harsh reality of the situation is that it is unlikely that TNA will manage to resurrect itself to even where the company was back it the days when A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe were all fighting over the world championship. TNA not only needs to borrow and even steal concepts that were utilized by WCW during the 1990s. It is a must that TNA modifies those concepts for modern wrestling fans, people who watched WCW in the 90s who now have children of their own. None of those concepts will mean much of anything for TNA if the company cannot first land that which put WCW on the worldwide wrestling map.
15 Billionaire Investor With Television Connections
TNA Wrestling will likely die a death, perhaps unofficially before the end of 2015, if the company cannot first land this must-have. WCW had this in Ted Turner, a man who was willing to dump money into WCW via wrestling contracts and television slots that could have buried that organization had somebody else been responsible for cutting the checks. Turner was convinced to take risks regarding pro wrestling. They paid off for some time. TNA needs somebody who is both willing to make similar investments and who would also be able to learn from the mistakes that resulted in the death of WCW. Good luck.
14 Eric Bischoff 2.0
We do not mean that TNA needs to (once again) turn to the actual Eric Bischoff for help in resurrecting the company. TNA needs to instead find this generation's answer to Bischoff. Bischoff worked his way up the ladder in WCW until he was entrusted with the duties of company vice president. From there, Bischoff convinced Turner executives to give him a slot on Monday night television. It was Bischoff who changed the wrestling world by getting Hulk Hogan to link up with WCW. While it won't be an easy task, TNA may not have much a future without finding this era's Bischoff.
13 One-Hour Impacts
Long before editions of Raw aired live for over three hours on Monday nights, both Raw and WCW Monday Nitro were hour-long shows. There was no overrun. Writers had to keep things short and sweet because they had roughly 42-44 minutes of actual programming for every Monday show. One hour a week alone is probably not enough to keep TNA afloat. By making editions of Impact 60-minutes in length, TNA could, with the proper story-telling, leave fans wanting more. The company could also utilize another WCW concept that helped that company grow in popularity.
12 Saturday Show
One thing the pro wrestling world has been missing has been entertaining Saturday programming that would cater to both adult viewers and also younger fans. WCW used to have multiple Saturday shows; one that aired in the morning and WCW Saturday Night that was televised early Saturday evening before younger viewers had to call it a night and before older fans began their weekend adventures. TNA can still produce two hours of original programming every week. Having a show on Saturday would give the company the option of splitting those hours up in two different days.
11 Relationships With Other Promotions
There is no reason at this stage of the game that TNA should not actively pursue linking up with other promotions for shows and for talent exchanges. WCW had a working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling back in the day and it helped WCW acquire talent that became necessary during the “Monday Night Wars.” TNA and ROH coming together, if not necessarily joining as one major promotion, should have happened years ago. What's done is done. Those two entities could use each other right now, as the WWE attempts to build its own “independent” brand in NXT.
Unless you were a diehard wrestling fan who read newsletters and called 1-900 telephone numbers, the names of wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Juventud Guerrera, Dean Malenko and so many others were foreign to viewers until they popped up on WCW television. With the right money available to spend on such talent, performers such as Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and others should be signed to the main TNA roster rather than being forced to work their way up NXT before they maybe see a chance of being pushed as something serious on WWE programming.
9 Limited “Special Events”
This is not just a concept that was just used by WCW decades ago. It was the way that the majority of promotions planned storylines and feuds. WWE uses this method of writing now as it pertains to the NXT brand. Any wrestling company such as TNA Wrestling that is trying to obtain and keep fans needs to have months – plural – of build before any pay-offs are presented at a big show. TNA presenting any more than four “special events” per year is overkill. Heck, the company may even be able to get away with having only three to really make those shows feel like can't-miss TV.
8 Be Different
One way that WCW got over with fans who were watching the WWE product was that WCW was so different. WCW eventually strayed away from the more cartoon-nature of gimmicks that were being presented on WWE programming. Whoever is tasked with resurrecting TNA needs to first thoroughly examine the WWE and see what is working and not working for that company. For starters, the new TNA could decide to forevermore bury the idea of the heel authority figure. It has been almost 20 years since Eric Bischoff turned on WCW and joined up with the New World Order. Leave the memories alone, everybody.
7 Streaming Original Content
Pro wrestling fans of a certain age may think that we are referencing the WWE, specifically the WWE Network, here. Believe it or not, WCW was responsible for streaming original wrestling content at a time when many fans had either dial-up or no Internet in their homes. While the idea was somewhat revolutionary at the time, it is one that had its flaws back in the 1990s. TNA needs to bring this WCW concept back as a way to distinguish itself from the WWE Network. The best way to do that would be for TNA to make this content, which could be anything from a handful of matches to a weekly 30-minute program, free for all.
As with some of the other ideas that were posted in this piece, using celebrities to attract attention from wrestling fans and from people who pay little to no attention to the product is not just a WCW concept. Andy Kaufman had his famous feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler. The WWE had “Rock 'n' Wrestling.” WCW used stars such as Dennis Rodman and Jay Leno for certain shows and pay-per-view events. Making deals with stars is not enough. TNA would have to locate the right stars who would be interested in working with the company and who would generate the right kind of press.
5 Recap Shows
The WWE has the perfect platform to air such shows. With that said, the WWE Network comes at a cost to subscribers. WCW ran “up all night” programming as ways to educate fans about prior feuds that had occurred throughout the history of the company and also to introduce newer viewers to current storylines. Best of all was that the WCW shows aired on cable, so they could be recorded and re-watched for free. TNA could run similar shows twice a year and then hope that wrestling fans would either watch them as they air or view them via DVR and other devices.
4 Simplistic Storylines
Things got out of hand in WCW rather quickly during the second half of the 1990s. Before the company spiraled out of control, storylines presented on WCW shows were rather easy to understand. Dean Malenko and Rey Mysterio both wanted to be Cruiserweight Champion because the title-holder was recognized as the best wrestler in that division. The World Heavyweight Championship was the top prize in all of the wrestling world. Even the New World Order wanting to destroy WCW was a basic invasion angle at first. Wrestling fans like classic wrestling story-telling. That is one reason NXT shows receive such positive reviews.
3 Great Wrestling
Those who watched the product at the time will recall that WCW became such a force in the 1990s because of the New World Order, Hollywood Hogan and the stories that surrounded those entities. As important as the nWo was to building WCW, Nitro held viewers because the company had better overall wrestling than the WWE. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and others were given a national platform to entertain fans, and viewers were entertained by what they saw. Pro wrestling fans like to watch good pro wrestling. What a concept.
This is maybe the hardest task that TNA would need to complete to experience a full resurrection. WCW would not have grown to what it became without the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and others. TNA has to find a way to sign such proven stars. Kurt Angle was a great signing for TNA years ago, but the company eliminated the figurative shine from that apple quickly. John Cena is not jumping ship to TNA. Maybe, however, a TNA that has a blank checkbook could sign talents such as Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan (if Bryan is cleared to wrestle).
If No. 15 is where a rebirth of TNA begins, this is the step that the company has to take after getting an investor. WCW went through several “re-brands” over the years; first as a company that broke off from the National Wrestling Alliance and later as an organization that experienced a “reset” of sorts. The TNA brand is tarnished, maybe forever. There is nothing that can be done about that heading into 2016. A fresh start that includes the company having a new and professional name is needed. To resurrect what was known as TNA, that version of the organization must first be buried.