Welcome to our final Rasslin’ Roundtable! I apologize for the lateness in this post, but alas here it is. The first week we discussed the top five biggest mistakes and successes of the company. Week two the writers assembled to discuss the best and worst moments of TNA’s past. Finally, last week we talked about the biggest and worst acquisitions over the past ten years for TNA. Today, we will discuss the past ten years of TNA and will it survive another ten years. Without any further delay…
Thoughts on TNA Surviving Ten Years and Will It Survive Ten More
Not being one who got into TNA early on – mainly because the only way I could watch the weekly PPV concept was online – I was still one who hoped TNA would succeed, if only because WWE is so damn predictable and usually quite boring. However, there were, as I saw it, three things going against TNA in the early days:
(1) Jeff Jarrett;
(2) everyone remembered how WCW whimpered out of existence not that long before; and
(3) WWE had the absolute monopoly on televised wrestling and non-independent companies.
What I think TNA should have done was spend a year or three as a non-televised indy fed (or with local TV coverage) to get themselves established, work out what they were like and what they wanted out of wrestling, and then used their names and probably a groundswell of support to get that TV deal – even the weekly PPV concept, or (by then) iPPVs – and maybe we wouldn’t be so stunned that they have lasted 10 years.
Because it is stunning. Even after all the stupid characters, stupid storylines, stupid feud blow-offs, ratings stuck in or under 1.0, wrestlers coming and going, it is still there, defying logic. But without TNA people like me who enjoy actual wrestling (and never “got” the Attitude Era, because that was the start of soap opera inanity) could not have enjoyed real wrestling, like the tag teams scene which TNA has consistently done better than WWE, that brief period when TNA took the Knockouts seriously, and AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and others like that were allowed to just go balls-to-the-wall.
I even think TNA has influenced WWE. Because we now see Bryan Daniel and CM Punk – smaller guys who can actually wrestle – being allowed to be showcased on WWE TV. It’s been a weird ride, but bravo for them holding on for the whole time.
To be perfectly honest, I think it will survive. Okay, sure, in 1997 we said the same thing about WCW and five years later there was nothing left of it except a failed InVasion angle on WWE TV. As long as Panda energy (does anyone see the irony in Panda energy saving TNA while the pandas of WWF screwed WWE over?) decides it doesn’t mind losing a bit of money, then they should be okay. But in today’s economic world, saying any company is going to remain as it is now in two years’ time, let alone ten, is a pretty big ask.
But even if TNA goes to being an indy fed without a TV deal, they seem to be able to survive. Sure, they might lose some of their bigger names, but they will be known because of their past TV exposure, and they’ll be there, I’m sure, kicking around in ten years, even if only to make the brains of IWC members explode at the merest thought.
Who would’ve guessed that TNA would have survived as long as it has? It seems with every great thing they do, they also have five insane ones. The reverse battle royal comes to mind. With that said, TNA is absolutely neccessary right now as we need an alternative to the WWE. Without it, WWE has no reason to do anything risky or anything to change their product. Also, it gives superstars like Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Mr. Anderson, The Pope an alternative place to work where audiences can see them. We, as viewers, need choice in our product or we either lose interest in it and quit watching or we watch on dully with no choice in the matter.
Overall, I’m slightly surprised that TNA has survived ten years. However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise because I think there’s always going to be SOMEONE watching the show. As long as no other company gets to the level of TNA with a TV deal, I think TNA will continue to survive as an alternative to the WWE. Because think about it, no matter how bad WCW got before going out of business, there was always someone watching. Isn’t that right WCWidro?
The history of TNA is a checkered one, with a seemingly equal number of highlights and lowlights. For every amazing Samoa Joe or AJ Styles match, there’s been a Scott Hall or Jeff Hardy incident to cloud over the sunshine. I legitimately didn’t think the company would last this long, and overall I’m glad that they have. They frustrate me to no end sometimes, but I do think they provide a necessary alternative, and at times has been a great showcase of guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, the X Division, and a thriving tag team and Knockouts Division. Those things have been done with varying degrees of success over the years, but when TNA is good, it is very good. Unfortunately, when it is bad, it is VERY bad, with some of the worst, most nonsensical booking ever (Samoa Joe kidnapped, Abyss versus Sting). They have also had trouble sustaining their hot streaks, so hopefully that’s something they can rectify going forward.
Will it last another ten years? Why not? No one thought it could go the first 10 so I see no reason why it can’t go another. If they can hang on to talents like Bobby Roode, James Storm, and Austin Aries, salvage something from guys like Samoa Joe and Chris Sabin, and make an interesting X Division, Tag Team, and Knockouts division, TNA could really thrive.
I’m surprised TNA has lasted ten years. I re-watched all of the Raven (and I guess CM Punk) stuff quite recently and those early days had a sort of magic to them. Things weren’t fantastic (Shane Douglas vomited fifteen times during one match), but the show had a real charm to it. The Asylum looked small, but things like the cages for the dancers gave off a certain vibe.
They had some good acquisitions over the years that’ve kept the audience relatively interested in what’s going on, but the last two years or so (which was when I really got into iMPACT) have been rough. They lost that charm and most of their identity…
The X-Division is almost non-existent, the six-sided ring is gone, the stronger language is gone, the mixture of stiles has largely vanished, the whole branding of the company has changed… Dixie talks about the Asylum days being rough for the company, but from where I’m sitting, the past few years have been the roughest. So much money has been thrown down the toilet by bringing in Hogan (who does have some value in the wrestling business, but not in the way they’ve used him) and all of his chums, half-heartedly re-branding the company and turning iMPACT into one of those staged “reality” shows. Networks love “reality” shows because they are cheap and easy to make, TNA is neither of those things.
ROH has a bit of an identity crisis as well. Their wrestling is WWE-lite with slightly more emphasis on technical stuff, but the shows look pretty rough. The entrances are laughable, that black ring looks horribly dirty, the arenas look pretty greasy… If they’d use a white ring and stop lighting the crowd, it’d go a long way to making their shows represent what the company is about. Competition is always a good thing and it’s a crying shame that Chikara hasn’t been picked up by a TV station, but TNA won’t be seriously considered competition until they decide what kind of show they want to be.
A decade from now, I’d like to think they will have found what they are good at and stuck to it.
I think the focus on hiring ex-WWE guys will have subsided. I wouldn’t want to see anyone on RAW or Smackdown wrestling in ten years time, especially considering most of them entered their 30′s before becoming main-eventers. Other than that? I have no idea.
Well that wraps it up for this Roundtable series. Be sure to check in next month as we discuss the ten year anniversary of four of the biggest stars in WWE history’s debut. Thanks for reading all of this series and feel free to leave comments in the section below on reminiscing on the ten year history of TNA and whether or not you think it will last another decade.