Through its existence, TNA was a company every fan should have wanted to flourish. After WWE became a monopoly in America – via purchasing its archrival WCW – no other company has been a legitimate threat to dethrone WWE as the number one company. Granted, wrestling fans could follow other wrestling companies as a replacement. Ring of Honor (ROH), for instance, catered to hardcore wrestling fans who wanted longer and more compelling feuds and wrestling matches. Of course, WWE, though, knew ROH was no threat to them. Conversely, TNA actually possessed a large enough budget to compete with WWE. They had a good network deal with Spike TV and a good talent roster. It was combined with a good mixture of top-stars of yesterday and talented hungry wrestlers of the new era. However, because of egregious management decisions, TNA incensed their supporters more often than not. For those reasons and more, TNA never became serious threat or a worthy alternative to WWE.
Because of former TNA president Dixie Carter’s incompetent decisions, she copied a lot of the same decisions WCW made that lost them millions of dollars. She allowed Vince Russo to be the head booker for over 5 years, even though the most loyal TNA fans hated his booking and chanted “Fire Russo” on a number of different occasions. She doubled down by allowing Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to take over the company, and despite their optimistic promises, they made TNA their own vanity project. They allowed themselves and their past-their-prime friends to become the focal point of the show. She continuously made her wrestlers of today look inferior to former WCW or WWE wrestlers. She was also obsessed with TV ratings, thus her shows had short-term vision. The company consisted of blatant knee-jerk and perfunctory decisions from hot-shotting championships on wrestlers all the way to bringing in former WWE wrestlers who did not even draw in WWE. She way too prematurely moved Impact to Monday nights to compete with Monday Night Raw. After that failed miserably, she tried shortly after taking Impact on the road despite business under Hogan and Bischoff’s supervision was rapidly dwindling. As a consequence to so many unfulfilled promises, always moving the Impact’s time slot around and so much more, Spike TV cut ties with Impact wrestling. In the network’s eyes, Impact cost too much money and showed no signs of improvement.
Under Dixie Carter’s tenure, TNA failed to be the mainstream alternative fans were looking for. It was too dependent on nostalgia, hoping to be like WWE and WCW in the 90s. Its booking made fans scratch their heads. It made terrible PR decisions like allowing Jeff Hardy to wrestle high out of his mind, or signing PacMan Jones, after being suspended from the NFL for a year for slapping a stripper, to a 250,000 dollar contract even though he couldn’t wrestle. TNA did this because of its “any publicity is good publicity” logic. It made a mockery out of the X-Division, which was the division that made the company so unique and different.
There was no doubt TNA had its high points. Before Vince Russo took over head of creative, the company was actually headed in the right direction as a wrestling-oriented show with serious angles and gimmicks. Even when Dixie Carter took over the company, TNA still had its high points. It never kept them going on a consistent enough basis for the product to gain stability, though.
After too many years of unfulfilled promises, insulting its fan base’s intelligence and inconsistencies within the product, TNA is FINALLY trying to be something unique and worth watching. It is mostly because Dixie Carter is no longer a part of the creative decisions. She looks to be on her way out of the company too.
In her place is Billy Corgan, the frontman of the Smashing Pumpkins, who, despite being inexperienced at day-to-day wrestling operations, understands the wrestling business and what wrestling fans want more than she ever did, and it is worth mentioning he ran his own indie wrestling company called Resistance Pro Wrestling. There is no doubt that he has an intellectual mind. Even looking past some of the great songs he wrote with the Smashing Pumpkins, he came across as a thought-provoking, deep-rooted thinker in a ton of interviews he has done. He has also talked about wrestling too, and in those interviews, he came across as someone who’s been in the wrestling business for a decade.
The direction of TNA Wrestling under his wing has been consistently effectual. He is not chasing ratings week after week. He has long term plans of where he envisions the company to be years from now. The product has logical, consistent, carefully considered and planned angles that build week to week all the ways to its culmination. The product is developing interesting characters and also allowing its wrestlers to have creative input regarding their characters. TNA is now a wrestling-oriented show that takes its wrestling and angles seriously (e.g. it is about championship titles having prestige and credibility, and tries not to diminish its titles by treating them as if they are props).
Although TNA has a number of WWE “rejects”, they are not caricatures of their once former-self like before. Because of their character development and overall improvements, they are revolutionizing and ameliorating themselves in the company. Bobby Lashley has become a more experienced wrestler, improving both in and outside the ring, learning more about in-ring psychology, storytelling, ring awareness and execution in addition to how to cut a wrestling promo. ECIII has aged into one of the most complete package wrestlers on the wrestling scene, and Drew Galloway is way more experienced and polished too. Matt Hardy has transformed himself into one of the most interesting personas, thanks to how dedicated he is to his deranged persona. He is continuously coming up with inventive ideas to help make the character elevate to higher levels and to also keep the character unadulterated and riveting.
Surely, TNA still has its problems. The roster could use more depth. Bringing in more wrestlers, who could add something to the product, would help, although its budget deficiencies make it hard for that to happen. Impact is on a network that does not pay them to run their shows. The company only has two real PPVs a year, and neither gain enough money to break even. The company holds all its shows in the Impact Zone, a place that is free of admission. Therefore, no matter how much TNA improves from a creative and wrestling perspective, all of it is pointless if it cannot generate a cash flow. Truthfully, it is hard to think of ways it could make money at this point in time, but maybe Corgan’s outside-of-the-box creative ideas carry over into the promotional side of things.