This year would mark officially 10 years since Total Nonstop Action was funded as a Wrestling organization. Throughout the past 10 years We’ve been introduced to some really great feuds, matchups and potential fresh faces that can be big steers for Pro wrestling’s future. What made TNA also stand for a long period is that the organization gives older wrestlers who couldn’t handle the WWE’s grueling traveling schedule another option to wrestle less with more pay.
We’ve seen guys like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Robert Roode, Eric Young, Jay Lethal, Abyss and others emerge as homegrown talents along with being introduced to innovative concepts such as 6 sides of steel which is a PPV dedicated to cage matches, The X Division which gives young cruiserweight a opportunity to really shine and the TNA Knockouts division which proves to be one of the best hard-hitting women division I’ve ever seen in wrestling is the products biggest draw. But despite all of these attributes, Problems continue to plague. Low ratings, Lower attendance, confusing storylines, and a feel which flows like WCW in its dying days. All of this could be directed to two men. Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan.
Whenever you want to admit it or not. Nobody can take away Hulk Hogan’s contribution to the sport of professional wrestling. His name will forever be synonymous to the sport and will always be recognized as the key element to Wrestling big economic boom and popularity heights in the 80s. But as a figurehead and an Booker. Hulk Hogan is one of the worst ever. His track record speaks for it self so when the news broke that Hulk Hogan signed a contract to TNA, It was like the WCW chapter being revisited once again. Yes Hulk Hogan’s signing has given them more publicity then the company has ever gotten and Yes it gave them a potential chance to really stand out as more of a serious company. The problem is that Hulk Hogan hasn’t learned much from his mistakes in the late 90s and he along with his buddy Eric Bischoff brought those same tired concepts and ideas into the equation and the company has been on a true downward spiral since.
One of Hogan’s problems is that his ideas are stuck within the past. The difference between 1994 and 2010 was that the demographic within the Wrestling audience has changed tremendously. They tried to bring back Old timers, They tried to rehash the Wolfpac, They tried ridiculous heel and face turns every couple of weeks and proceeded to even have old timers like Mick Foley, Sting, Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, and even Hogan himself main event PPVs while the rest of the newer and homegrown talent had to sit on the sidelines. The formula may have worked back in 1997 but the problem was that the drawing power that these guys had have decreased and the fans were awaiting for something fresh and new.
The problems with TNA are clearly evident and obvious to point out but in the minds of Dixie, Hulk, and Eric, They are doing the best business they have in years which is a clear understatement. TNA is full of talent that can really take this company to the next level and bring the interest that they clearly lost in the midst of the Hulk Hogan era. It isn’t too late and the fat lady isn’t singing just yet because within a few steps. I’m gonna explain how TNA can rebuild and become a serious contender in the world of Wrestling.
1. STOP competing with Vince McMahon
Since emerging, TNA has always thrown swipes at Vince McMahon and the WWE. Going back to 2006 when the then fired New Aged Outlaws spent segments and interviews throwing shots at Degeneration X and Vince McMahon. They even changed their name to Voodoo Kin Mafia and were announced as VKM(Which was Vince’s initials). The promos were vicious and were actually funny but it didn’t do much to stop business from growing in the McMahon organization. Ironically enough they would re-sign with the WWE years later and basically act all buddy buddy with Degeneration X once again.
The biggest mistake that TNA did was actually trying to reinvent the Monday Night Wars. Hogan’s ego got the best of him and nobody even tried to tell him to reconsider. Hogan declared war on the WWE and pulled out all the stunts during their Monday Night debut. They signed Ric Flair, They signed Jeff Hardy, They had Kurt Angle and AJ Styles wrestle almost a 30 minute classic, and even brought back Eric Bischoff along with the NWO Wolfpac in the mix thinking that it was 1996 all over again. The Monday Night show was the last peak of interest TNA really had as they would once again be overshadowed by the already established WWE. The WWE cleverly counter acted the NWO’s quarter-hour return by bringing back the legendary Bret the Hitman Hart, The Calgary Wrestling legend who’s been in exile from the WWE since the Survivor Series Screwjob in 1997. Bret’s return helped the WWE CRUSH TNA’s quarter rating and that was gonna be the results in the later months until eventually Hogan stopped the bleeding and moved back to Thursdays.
TNA don’t have the Ted Turner money, muscle, or backing to really compete with Vince McMahon at this moment. The WWE been the big dog in town for the past 12 years, So this move made TNA look like a small fish trying to charge at a shark and the ratings would prove it. They even tried to throw shots at Stone Cold Steve Austin by creating a character named Shark-Boy. All of it is bad business
2.The X Division
The X Division was what made TNA standout when they were first developing in the mid 2000s. This is where TNA can really revolutionize their style and standout among the WWE. The High Flying, High risk style isn’t nothing new but the way TNA presented this concept made the company stand out. Guys such as AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe had a 5 star classic acknowledged by the Wrestling Observer thanks to this match. The X Division can be a key factor to showcase talents of younger guys whom are high flyers and Cruiser-weights considering the WWE has abandoned its cruiser-weight division all together.
3.The Tag Team Division
Its pretty clear that the WWE has abandoned the Tag Team division all together despite having all of this potential emerging talent, This is where TNA can take advantage to exploit. Over the years TNA have had Team 3D, Beer Money Inc, America’s Most Wanted, L.A.X., AJ and Daniels, Consequences Creed, The Motor City Machine Guns whom had stellar feuds and matchups. Re-focusing on the Tag Team division which is a lost art in today’s wrestling market would be a perfect way to gain interest along with creating new stars.
4.Simple Stories with better wrestling
This was a true Paul Heyman recipe. Heyman knew he didn’t have the money, the distribution and marketing muscle WCW and the WWF had. He instead compensated by focusing on building realism among characters and showcasing better wrestling matches. A tactic that Heyman learned from Jim Crockett in the 80s. The Stories weren’t over the top, cartoonish, or far-fetched like the WWF which is why people flocked to ECW and they developed a cult following. The fans saw themselves through the wrestlers characters and the story lines were identical to those that normal people experienced. Everything from the Sandman losing his family to Raven to Pregnancy angles involving Tommy Dreamer’s Girlfriend Beulah. Heyman not only connected the audience with his characters but he also introduced the cruiserweight and lucha libre into the states mixed with the scientifical aspect of Benoit and Malenko. Heyman focused more on his assets instead of liabilities and I feel thats where TNA needs to market.
TNA could market the disgruntled Wrestling fans that are sick and tired of seeing John Cena every week smiling and goofing off or tired of seeing the rated PG cartoony that the WWE continues to push. Focusing more on hard-nosed no holds barred wrestling would not only regain the fans that the WWE have lost in the midst of going politically correct but they would also possibly re-gain new ones as well which would make them further standout.
5. Rebuild the Homegrown Talents.
The Homegrown Talents are the key recipe to TNA’s success. It shouldn’t make sense for guys like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe to be lost in the shuffle because old timers are hogging the cards for another Payday. Guys like Petey Williams who’ finisher is one of the most unique and original I’ve ever seen is the reason why TNA stood out from the WWE. The 6 sided ring was what I also made them unique and looked different from any wrestling company at the time. If they’re gonna use the veterans, They need to use the veterans who can not only still work matches(Kurt Angle) but also not afraid of giving guys the credibility that they truly need to become a star. Kurt Angle is one of the few veterans that can go in the ring with the best of them today. Despite a broken neck, personal problems and aging, Kurt is still putting together solid performances and talented enough to make one of these guys a new star. Bully Ray is another prospect that rejuvenated his career with another heel run and being champ. Bully is not only talented in the ring but he can also connect with the crowd and truly make them despise him.Pushing Bully Ray as a front man of the company would be a fresh look because this is his first push and just imagine the matchups that can be thought of to make his run as champ very enjoyable.
Guys such as RVD, Hogan, Sting, Jeff Jarrett and others have NO business main eventing today. These guys can used as behind the scenes characters or some sort because long as these guys are hogging the spot, Theres never gonna be any room for newer guys to come through so they shine within their own right. The WWE did a smart move by capitalizing on the talents of CM Punk and giving him one of the longest runs in WWE history which showed now that their willing to open the door to give opportunities to younger and smaller guys.
TNA could have exploited that option by pushing Austin Aries but by the time he won the title, People saw him as nothing more than a CM Punk knockoff and TNA playing monkey see monkey do by giving the title to an Indie guy.
These are the 5 steps that TNA gonna have to make if they want to make it into another year. The only reason their hanging on is because of Panda Energy’s long money still finding ways to market and profit off it. Its gonna be a serious problem if Panda stops backing it so TNA need to take heed on whats being said if they want to make it as a serious contender. They shouldn’t market no video games, magazines, or anything extra until they find their core following.