Hello everyone. Today, I would like to talk about a stigma that continues to manifest itself in GFW’s reputation. I remember when I started watching the product about ten years ago. While it was an exciting alternative to WWE’s predictably bland shows, you could look online and find as much hate as we’ve seen in recent times. How could that be? When the company did a great job at featuring talents like AJ Styles & Samoa Joe while pushing exciting concepts like the X-Division and Knockouts?
While the product was enjoyable, it often insulted WWE and some fans came to resent it. Not only that, but Jeff Jarrett’s World title dominance showed the booking heavily relied on making the owner (Jarrett himself) look strong. Much of the criticism centered on Jarrett holding the young talent down to further his own career. Not only that, but Vince Russo working as head of creative sometimes sparked controversial moments, as familiar match types would send fans in to “Fire Russo” chants. And then there’s the “WWE rejects”, those who worked in WWE before being released. This came to include a long list of names, such as Kurt Angle, The Hardys, The Dudleys, Christian, Rhino, Tyson Tomko, R Truth, The New Age Outlaws, and many more.
Before 2010 I like to believe much of the criticism was made by diehard, loyal WWE fans feeling a little threatened. They didn’t like the fact TNA had an alternative product with many amazing talents which made WWE’s product seem dull. TNA was making good use of former WWE/WCW/ECW stars along with newer ones like AJ and Samoa Joe. TNA dared to be edgy, and it was nice to see a product catering to adults while WWE transitioned to PG.
However, there were reports of the company struggling with money. They’d signed many big names, and apparently they weren’t making much from live events or taping shows in the Impact Zone. And crazily enough, people believed it. People wanted to believe TNA was struggling as they enjoyed the idea of it closing its doors so they could see guys like AJ in WWE. When reports came out suggesting the promotion was in trouble, fans couldn’t help but click on it and speculate.
It turned in to a running joke among TNA fans. “Every year the company is going to die .. til next year, when someone will claim the company is going to die, til the next year, when someone will again claim the company is going to die.” It became an endless cycle of clickbait designed to give TNA haters what they wanted to hear. The reports served one point with another point, with a side helping of conjecture, to make out the promotion was a sinking ship. And it was easy to believe because those who reported it, did enough to make fiction sound like truth.
Nothing made it worse than Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff popping up in 2010. Now TNA didn’t just have those who always hated them, they also alienated loyal fans who blamed management for bringing them in and changing everything; including scrapping the six-sided ring and abandoning the X-Division. Dixie Carter appearing on television more, made it easier for disgruntled fans to place blame on her shoulders. She got involved in storylines, but her inexperience was painfully clear. News reports suggested Dixie’s inexperience translated in to the business world as well, so decisions (like bringing in Hogan, Bischoff, and Flair) had drained their coffers to the point the company was on life support.
There were repeated reports of TNA being at death’s door in 2011, but it kept going despite the barrage. Somehow the reports would suggest TNA’s financial status like they had firsthand information. This isn’t possible though, as TNA/GFW has always been a private company which does not disclose its finances in public. Let’s say an accountant working on the books decided to leak information to outside sources; if they were found out, it would be a criminal act and they’d face prosecution. Therefore, reports claiming TNA/GFW’s status has to be bogus unless an employee decides to break the law. At no time however, did the reports give specific numbers .. only that the company was low on funds and was looking to sell up.
Fast forward to the end of 2016 and it was reported Dixie Carter and Panda Energy were looking to sell TNA Wrestling. Unlike previous reports, these were true because it was confirmed by officials. It became real news of a real situation, which for me was refreshing. Anthem Sports took over (despite reports Billy Corgan was definitely getting it), and almost immediately they brought new people in, as well as bring some old people back, to “make TNA great again”.
Does anyone remember what happened in 2016? The Broken Hardy gimmick took over. The new owners didn’t want to give them fat contracts with creative control, which told me 1) they didn’t want to pay more on top of what they were already paying them, 2) they wanted to show who the bosses were, which meant not having WCW-like contracts where talents end up with control over the product, and 3) they desperately needed to cut back on outgoings, as it was unhealthy to keep the relationship going if it was going to cost the company too much in the long haul.
On one hand, I can see why letting go of The Hardys was an incredibly dumb idea .. but on the other, I can’t say anything as I wasn’t a fly on the wall in those meetings so I don’t know what happened. The Hardys claim they were insulted, while Anthem & GFW claim they had to do what’s best. It’s easy to side with The Hardys as they’re popular stars to many .. while Ed Nordholm and Jeff Jarrett are nothing. It’s easy to believe Reby’s rants because they are so entertainingly brutal. The #F**kThatOwl trend did exactly what The Hardys wanted .. which was to carry the old TNA stigma over to GFW. It told fans that the new management are just as corrupt and idiotic as the previous. GFW wanted to put the initials TNA and its stigma in the past, but by not giving The Hardys what they wanted .. they made sure fans would keep hating.
Don’t get me wrong folks! I don’t blindly follow TNA/GFW and defend every decision they make. Far from it actually, I’ve called ’em out on their crap many times. But just like any company in any part of the world, mistakes are bound to happen. WWE has made plenty of mistakes too, and are still making glorious ones despite being in operation over half a century. The fact GFW still exists after all the mistakes? And after all the criticism? I think it’s telling of their determination to overcome the stigma which seems so firmly ingrained.
I don’t know how they do it, but they keep trundling along. Inspiration for this piece comes from the latest “report” about GFW’s inevitable demise. Apparently Jeff Jarrett taking a sabbatical means the company is going to close? I don’t see how. You simply put someone in his place til he returns. Jarrett leaving for personal reasons has nothing to do with finances, it just means someone has to do his job of running shows. Scott D’Amore, Jim Cornette, Dutch Mantell, Jeremy Borash, all are more than capable of running shows without him.
And then there’s the other news about GFW cancelling live events. While it is true that live events are generally the main source of income for a wrestling promotion, we have to remember that before Anthem took over, the company hadn’t done live events for a long time. This meant that when GFW hosted live events recently, they likely weren’t very profitable as it takes time to build a loyal fanbase in specific areas. It doesn’t mean they weren’t profitable at all .. but what I believe is more likely is they analyzed everything and figured it wasn’t operating efficiently enough to go out and do more right away. This doesn’t mean there won’t be more live events in the near future. It also doesn’t mean the company is in any trouble.
Anthem took over with enough money to keep it running despite expected setbacks. They ain’t stupid, they wouldn’t invest their millions in something they were going to have to sell a few months later. They knew the company needed better direction, and they came in with a plan to make it healthier. And from what I’ve seen, the company is expanding, and the product flows as well as it ever has. It’s reached out to other promotions like NOAH and AAA for talent exchange. It’s reached out to many wrestlers and legends, to see GFW in to a new era without the Carter family at the helm. The changes have been subtle and plentiful, but they were necessary as Impact Wrestling in 2016 was literally the Broken Hardy show, featuring Lashley and others you probably don’t care about.
So I’m going to wrap this up by saying .. don’t believe everything you read. Yes, the hypocrisy of an article writer on a dirtsheet site telling you not to believe everything you read. Oh boy .. how much hate am I going to get for this? For somewhat defending a company from years of clickbait? I mean, it’s pretty obvious that a select few hate the company so much .. that no amount of quality shows will change their minds in to thinking GFW “isn’t that bad actually”. Not that the current product is the best thing out there .. no, but I think it’s improving, and I think Anthem will get better at managing it with more experience.
Presently, I wouldn’t be surprised if some secretly want it to die, so ROH or New Japan can get more business. Also wouldn’t be surprised if they want WWE to buy the video library so they can watch old AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels matches on the WWE Network. I think it’s cruel on the people working for GFW to wish death on it, and I think clickbait reports will always happen as long as there’s gullible, hateful people, waiting for the “inevitable” news that GFW has closed its doors forever and sank like the Titanic. I’ve been a wrestling fan formulating opinions, and you .. I hope, have been a wrestling fan who feels like they won’t jump to believing everything they read on the internet. Have a good day everyone .. and cheers for reading! Here’s to Impact Wrestling in 2018 .. fingers crossed.