The Much Needed Transformation of TNA Wrestling


***This article may contain spoilers from last night’s Impact Wrestling episode. It will not include spoilers for upcoming episodes, and I am unaware of their outcomes, nor do I want to know their outcomes***

I have been watching TNA Wrestling since 2009, and in that time, I have seen a lot of changes. I have gone back and seen TNA before 2009, and I think most of us can agree, the golden era of TNA is generally considered to be between the years of 2002-2009. TNA was cool back then. Yes! I said it … TNA was actually cool to watch at one point in time. It had a cult following, it had wrestling fans who wanted an alternative to the WWE. The fans were happy with TNA, of course, Vince Russo was around and would sometimes book a crazy match (or everyone would blame him for a crazy match even if it wasn’t his doing), but as a whole, TNA was fun to watch. They had the right people in place, and these people were TNA originals, mixed in with some former WWE/WCW/ECW guys. TNA has always been about giving wrestlers a place to work, no matter where they worked before. It was intense, it was total nonstop action, it had adult themes, and promos were done quickly and to the point. And then the dreaded day came, January 4th, 2010 promised change in TNA Wrestling, and the change was felt immediately..


When I originally saw this, I didn’t know what to make of it. Hulk Hogan was clearly past it and was far too injured to wrestle again, so what was he going to do? I felt like Hogan was going to fit into TNA like a skunk at a dinner party. Hogan has always been a mainstream guy, and now he was coming to hype up the alternative product. It didn’t sit well with me, but I was willing to give it a chance and see where it was going. I wondered whether Hogan was going to change himself to suit the product, I wondered whether Hogan was going to have any control, and I also wondered who would follow him.

Before Hogan came in, TNA was running a storyline involving many different stables, including the TNA Front Line, the Main Event Mafia, and the World Elite. The stables were fighting for dominance, and I was really enjoying it, especially with Eric Young being the (heel) leader of the World Elite. It was war, and I was enjoying it a whole lot more than the John Cena & Randy Orton (WWE) show. I actually stopped watching WWE around this time as their product had grown seriously predictable and stale, while TNA reminded of how wrestling was several years prior.

I decided to tune into both WWE and TNA on January 4th, 2010, and I was really surprised. Not only did the WWE counter with the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart segment, but I also saw that Eric Bischoff had accompanied Hulk Hogan. I still remember that promo they made, it was really bad for the hardcore TNA fan. They both stormed in there and changed the product to suit them. while Dixie Carter just agreed to all the changes as she was clearly star struck that someone as big and famous as Hulk Hogan would sign a TNA contract. The only problem was, they gave Hogan and Bischoff too much power, and they immediately let it go to their heads without examining what made TNA …. TNA. The video below isn’t of the greatest quality, but you should watch and hear the crowd reactions. “We want six sides” starts at 3:10.

Instead of coming into TNA and seeing what made the company what it was, Hogan and Bischoff was on a mission to make TNA the new WCW, or WWE-lite, as some like to say. They changed the ring, much to the dismay of fans, and former WWE/WCW/ECW wrestlers such as Ric Flair, RVD, The Nasty Boyz, Val Venis, Matt Hardy, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman, all decided to follow suit. TNA would enter into what I like to call … the “year of hell”, as Hulk Hogan, Bischoff and Flair formed the stables of Immortal and Fortune. AJ Styles was defeated rather quickly by Rob Van Dam for the title, and even up until 2014, AJ Styles never made his way back to the top (except briefly in late 2013/early 2014), he was demoted almost immediately.

The product became unwatchable as Immortal (who soon became the stable to keep the “anti-christ” Jeff Hardy at the top) continued to dominate every episode with run-ins, and ambushes on wrestlers who were not in the stable. They had Bubba the Love Sponge running around, thinking he was cool, but his comments on Twitter annoyed Awesome Kong so much that she attacked him backstage. Fans despised Bubba with a great deal of passion, and even more so after the incident with Awesome Kong. When haters talk about how bad TNA is, they only appear to reference the product during 2010. There were some good moments in 2010, but they were rare and usually had nothing to do with the incoherent main storyline. The TNA originals were used to form stables like Fortune (or be buried) who served under Ric Flair and Immortal. Basically, the guys who built the company was now cannon fodder for Jeff Hardy, Hogan, Bischoff and Flair, and that didn’t sit very well with a lot of fans.

The X-Divison became non-existent, and whenever they had the X-Division, it wasn’t highlighted as being important. Bischoff continued to talk down to X-Division wrestlers for being too small, and although I could understand he was trying to garner heat, he was actually sticking a huge middle finger up at the legacy of the X-Division and its fans. He just didn’t get it, and neither did Hulk Hogan. They tried to move away from the X-Division being important (even giving the division with “no limits” an actual weight limit … ) so they could take the airtime for more promos and backstage segments that were poorly done. Can you remember those segments? Almost every week, a cameraman would follow someone like Flair to Bischoff’s room, and although Flair would tell the cameraman to get lost, Flair would enter the room, and the cameraman would peek in from the outside after Flair “accidentally” left the door open. Flair and Bischoff would discuss the current agenda … until Flair or Bischoff would notice the cameraman and shut the door. So many little things insulted the fan’s intelligence, and TNA was no longer TNA. It was transformed into Impact Wrestling, the show where the fans were not allowed to chant “TNA” (producers asked fans in the Impact Zone to stop using boisterous chants as it came across poorly on TV, in their eyes), the ring was no longer six sides, the Knockouts didn’t matter, the X-Division definitely didn’t matter, and the booking was so poor I almost stopped watching altogether.

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