Why write about this now? Well, it just seems right. As in typical TNA fashion, where you go "it can't get any worse, right?" they find a way to do just that. Their biggest pay-per-view of the year, Bound For Glory, is on the horizon with only one title match for the X-Division Championship—a belt which for the good majority of the last few years has been demoted to a glorified cruiserweight title. I can appreciate that they record their TV taping weeks in advance, but that's no excuse. They've had this date for the show established for some time and even still, the geniuses planning it didn't have the insight to book around this and think more carefully about taking MULTIPLE titles off guys during their recordings? It's stuff like this that leaves me wondering how a diehard TNA fan can truly defend this company. That's the way TNA has been for quite some time, too...
To pinpoint where TNA's decline began, I'd have to go back all the way to Kurt Angle versus Samoa Joe in 2006. Kurt Angle definitely gave the company a boost in interest and quality, but it ushered in a new mentality that shaped the rest of the company for years to come. The guys like Samoa Joe and AJ Styles who had been previously established in TNA for years were swept aside so WWE's talent could be showcased as the stars instead. Feeding your homegrown talent to WWE's old guard is not how you build a roster. It not only pisses all over your hard work from before but it also pisses off the guys who have bled and sweat for you as well as a portion of the cult following of fans that you gained by using those guys.
This mentality hurt the product and Impact became unwatchable. They had lost their identity as an alternative to WWE and instead, became WWE-lite. Just think—for a period of time, Mick Foley was their champion. To their credit, now and again they'd strike gold with particular feuds and match-ups like Kurt Angle versus Desmond Wolfe. But these were far and few between to make a difference. This steady decline in quality eventually would lead to one crucial moment on January 4th.
One of TNA's many mistakes were constantly trying to compare themselves to WWE even though they could never match them, but that's a lesson they never seemed to learn. They began competing with Raw on the same night and the initial show was a great success. Between Hulk Hogan's debut, Jeff Hardy's surprise return and Ric Flair joining company, there were definitely reasons to be excited. While that's all well and good, it means nothing if you can't deliver in the following weeks as people will just stop tuning in. Of course, that's exactly what happened. TNA soon left their spot on Monday nights and wound up back on Thursday due to the ratings drop.
As the years went on, we suffered through Bubba The Love Sponge, Jeff Hardy whacked out on drugs in a pay-per-view main event, Claire Lynch and a storyline that never seemed to end from Aces & Eights. TNA squandered all their opportunities and the well ran dry. Mommy and Daddy Carter lowered Dixie Carter's pocket money. Following that, multiple cuts happened and TNA's roster (which could be argued as one of the best) became not-so-great. Dixie Carter hugging Hulk Hogan's leg—begging him to stay—is a fitting image for that women. It's a shame she just never did it for the true face of the
company, AJ Styles.
So where does TNA Wrestling go from here? They have only two options left. Either they join a smaller network for considerably less money or they close up shop and call it a day. For me, I think the company is doomed to die. The only thing they have to leverage a good TV deal is their claim to draw a million viewers, but let's face it, Spike TV can play reruns of Cops for less money and establish the same audience. I think what we're going to find is that there are a lot less TNA fans in the world than they think and that a good portion of that audience were going to tune in regardless of what was on, quality or not.
So those were my thoughts on TNA Wrestling for those who didn't already know them from listening to me on the MPR Monday Night Raw Post-Show or on Smack Talk. Regardless of you agreeing or disagreeing, I look forward to hearing your thoughts, comments and feedback in the comment section below.