Hello there, wrestling fans. I don’t write many editorials these days, but when I do, I hope they are substantial. Today, I’m thrilled to discuss something I’m passionate about, although I wouldn’t say I follow it blindly. I have been an Impact Wrestling fan for over fifteen years, and I love thriving alternative products—whether it’s TV shows, drinks, bus services, or whatever. Regardless of the product, as a buyer, you really don’t want to see it monopolized. The consumer is always the loser in that scenario.
All Elite Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and others provide alternatives for us to enjoy. And that should always be celebrated because not only do the fans win, but the wrestlers have more places to work. There are more platforms for talent and staff to get noticed. The professional wrestling business is healthier when promotions thrive. It resonates throughout the industry.
Searching For Alternatives
From 2002, WWE held a monopoly on wrestling. As a young kid growing up with the Attitude Era, it was clear that having competition was best for everyone. By 2007, and especially 2008, my love for WWE was beginning to wane. Living in the UK, I dedicated many nights staying up from 1 am to 3 am watching episodes of WWE RAW & SmackDown.
I had enjoyed an edgier product for years, and then it became clear that WWE was reverting to a more family-friendly approach. It pushed new stars like John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton, who were guys I didn’t particularly care for. The next 6-7 years were some of the most painfully dull times I can ever remember. I just kept holding out with a hope it would get better, but Vince McMahon and his creative team kept churning out the same old steaming pile every week.
I had heard of TNA Wrestling and how exciting it was, but I had no way of regularly watching it. There used to be something over here in the UK called “The Wrestling Channel”. It would sometimes feature matches from TNA Wrestling, ROH Wrestling, and others. I remember seeing guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels for the first time, and thinking man… I want to see this more. But I’ll tell you now, it wasn’t just about the talent. Those who never really cared for TNA won’t understand that there was more to this product, although those homegrown stars obviously helped a ton.
While some see TNA as a rude acronym, I saw Total Nonstop Action as a promise. It never occurred to me that people used the acronym sexually, but perhaps it was more of an American thing? I don’t know. Either way, when I heard it was called Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, I assumed each show would be full of action. And it was! Aside from some cringeworthy moments, I remember TNA Wrestling for showing me what was possible in a professional wrestling ring.
Forget about hardcore because ECW had already done that. TNA Wrestling was showing fans who had become so accustomed to WWE’s product what is possible when there are no restraints. It definitely took me back to a time when wrestling products were edgier, and I welcomed that with open arms. I don’t necessarily need hot assets shaking around a ring rope, but I wasn’t complaining about it.
While WWE was producing shows for kids, TNA was doing its best to cater to a mature audience. And no, it didn’t draw enormous crowds or have anything close to WrestleMania, but I didn’t need any of that. Its appeal wasn’t about grandeur, production, history, or numbers. The only thing that mattered to me, as a viewer, was that I had a completely different type of wrestling product I could watch each week. That was literally the only thing that mattered.
Reclaiming The Spirit
The six-sided ring stood out, but the way it looked on TV wasn’t the selling point. I’m glad they aren’t bringing it back because it wasn’t what defined TNA Wrestling (and the wrestlers hate it). What mattered more was how so very different TNA Wrestling was to anything I had experienced since the end of the Monday Night Wars.
2010 hit, and this marked the end of what made TNA Wrestling special. Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff, along with Dixie Carter, made some business decisions to push TNA to become “competition to WWE”. And it was stupid because they didn’t have the resources. I knew right away that it wouldn’t last because it was nothing compared to WWE. It would be like RC Cola going on a campaign to bring down the big, evil Coca-Cola corporation. They wouldn’t get anywhere, and that’s what happened to TNA. They changed everything that made the product unique to appeal to casual wrestling viewers. It may have popped a few ratings, but as soon as the money dried up, it was going down.
Going live on Monday Nights to oppose RAW was one of the most laughable things I have ever seen in a TV setting. TNA got absolutely destroyed, and deservedly so. The biggest drain on the funds was TNA going on live tours when it didn’t have the infrastructure to maintain it. Impact has only just got back to touring the UK after so many years away, which is lovely to see! The UK fanbase has always appreciated TNA, probably more so than any other country. However, it isn’t the only country that does. It is loved worldwide, but it largely goes unnoticed. There are many fans around the world who appreciate what TNA does, and that is reflected in its business model.
Hard To Kill
I sometimes see people asking how this company makes money. How can it make money when its crowds are so small, and the owners (Anthem) own AXS, the TV Network it broadcasts on? I can answer that in three words. International TV deals. Last year, Impact Wrestling announced a deal with DAZN to air in over 170 countries worldwide. Even before that, the company aired in hundreds of countries for years. Much of its money comes from those deals.
So, while Impact Wrestling likely makes nothing on AXS (it doesn’t cost ‘em either), it is making plenty of money from those deals. Also, it has social media, merchandising, live event tickets, and in other ways of making it. Nobody leaving TNA complains about their pay. And even if someone can’t watch the product on one of those channels, the company has a streaming platform called Impact Plus that fans can subscribe to.
In the latter days of Dixie Carter’s reign as president, the company was hemorrhaging money. The company was very close to death’s door before she sold it to Anthem. They appointed guys like Scott D’Amore and Don Callis at the top, to build the company gradually out of the hole it had dug itself. And yes, it was painful. I remember those few years after the sale, when they had to let go of many top talents out of necessity. The production values reached an all-time low. After officially becoming Impact Wrestling, I never felt like I should stop watching. There was always something about the product that kept me entertained. Although I understand how much of a turnoff it could be to some, I focused more so on the positives.
The company had such a terrible reputation after the Dixie Carter era. TNA always had this thing where certain “wrestling fans” would predict its demise every year, only for it not to happen. It’s a minor miracle that this company is still around. That is testament to the current management, the talent who do everything they can to put on the best show every night, and the loyal fans. The ongoing support has kept it alive. Despite it becoming Impact Wrestling, for many, it never stopped being TNA Wrestling.
This passion for the product translates into the locker room as well. Guys like Josh Alexander and Will Ospreay have mentioned several times how they grew up on TNA Wrestling. They appreciate the company for believing in them and providing a platform to be professional wrestlers. The backstage morale has been high for a long time, and there are rarely any controversies. Not only that, but Impact’s partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling shows how much faith they have in the current management. Even after sorely mishandling upcoming talent like Kazuchika Okada, there is a great deal of trust in their partnership. It is one which I feel is far more equal than anything AEW has done with them.
Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken
So, after providing all of this background information, what does it mean to change back to the name of TNA Wrestling? I can tell you that with Scott D’Amore as president, with Anthem’s backing, I am expecting a drastic shift. While WWE & AEW are forever playing it safe with their products, I believe TNA will be about pushing the limits again. Back in the day, the product was intense, and the Impact Zone’s passion reflected that. I think they want to get back to how energetic those shows could be. And yes, they will have some glorious fails here and there, but you can’t hit the middle of a target without shooting first.
My guess is it will cater to a more mature audience while encouraging a quicker pace. Impact Wrestling hasn’t been like that for years. More recently, I’d say it kept shows methodical without becoming predictable. The product has had a sweet balance and flow for a long while. With how Scott D’Amore and the wrestlers introduced it, I am expecting to see more cursing, more skin, more action, and more intensity. While doing so, it will do its best to keep the positives of what Impact Wrestling has become known for in recent times.
No, it won’t have AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Sting, or Christopher Daniels. But what it will have is a similar formula that allowed tag team wrestling, the X-Division, and the Knockouts to flourish. I am sure that is what they are aiming for, but whether they can pull it off remains to be seen. TNA Wrestling is going back to being the true alternative that it was, to be something that was never broken to begin with. It never needed fixing, and Scott D’Amore’s current roster will want to prove they can capture the same magic. Thanks for reading!