26th Jun2018

Opinionated: TNA Has All the Impact It Needs

by Nathan Favel

opinionated-tna

Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling was originally named Tits and Ass Wrestling. You might already know that but, for those of you who are still in the dark, TNA Wrestling was never meant to be any-thing more than a fun lark for Jeff Jarrett and Vince Russo. Based on pushing the WWE’s Attitude Era to its limit, TNA was going to be chaos for the sake of chaos, with every ridiculous idea that would have been repressed any-where else be given the spot-light. How-ever, a call from the remnants of the once great National Wrestling Alliance changed the plans at the last minute, because the NWA wanted to offer its title belts, especially the greatest and most important wrestling title in the sport’s history, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, for its roster to wrestle for. At that moment, Jeff Jarrett made a deal with the NWA that would turn Vince Russo’s wet-dream into, as the controversial writer would call, a “straight wrestling promotion”. TNA Wrestling, which was born to be the black sheep of the profession, was now charged with championing the cause of professional wrestling itself, which was and is to present this fake, yet some-what real sport as if it was nothing less than absolute reality. Vince McMahon, who had just conquered his grand competitor, World Championship Wrestling, just a year before, believed that wrestling should be presented as a farce, with a focus on bizarre humor, quick matches and broad, simple characters with as little nuance as possible. With TNA Wrestling, Jeff Jarrett could do what so many could only desire, which was to save wrestling.

In the coming years, Jarrett would lose and gain Russo. Russo’s booking strategy of absolute havoc didn’t sell tickets, but his experience as the WWE’s head booker made him an easy name to call when other bookers failed for TNA, including the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Jeremy Borash, Mike Tenay and Scott D’Amore. After losing funding from a deal with HealthSouth, Dixie Carter, who had been handling the public relations for the company in the first months, offered to buy the large portion of the company and alleviate the financial burden the Jarrett family had already incurred. With the introduction of Dixie Carter, TNA had a new president and owner, one who had no knowledge of how to make money with wrestling.

Carter would turn to any-one who made an offer she couldn’t refuse, including the likes of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, as well as Bruce Pritchard, Dutch Mantell and Vince Russo (who would also go on to campaign behind the company’s back to gain control by pleading with the various television studios that aired TNA programming). After years of success and failure occurring at the same time, the balance was finally tipped in favor of death when bad management caused major stars like Austin Aries, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles to leave for greener pastures. A deal was made to bring famed musician Billy Corgan into TNA as an investor as well as its new president, in light of the financial ruin the company was gradually attaining. After Dixie Carter was found to have cheated Billy Corgan out the contractual control he had been promised, a lengthy battle in court left TNA in dire straits, straits that could only be alleviated by new money from a new investor. If only Dixie Carter and Panda Energy, the former investors and owners at that time, knew what this would really mean for their tenure in wrestling.

The Carter family, in an effort to make some of their money back, sold Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling to Anthem, a Canadian entertainment company that had done business with the wrestling league for years. Now, TNA is under new management and under a new name, Impact Wrestling, which was a trend that was started during the Hogan/Bischoff regime. A brief union with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling almost led to a different rebirth, but Jarrett proved to be a bad fit for his own company, once again, and was fired. Through it all, the brand name was the one to suffer the most, with its obvious connection to sexism and the years of broken promises led to utter paranoia about TNA’s leaders. This is a company that has fallen on hard times and is now, with the management of Don Callis and Scott D’Amore, looking for an upswing in business and profile. The problem with Impact Wrestling, no matter the circumstances, is that it will always be a lie.

Before I go any further, I have a bit of confession to make, because I have played a small part in the history of Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling. I started watching the company in 2006, with the first TNA main event I ever saw being a match between Samoa Joe and Rhino. The whole card was much different than any-thing the WWE was doing, with short simple promos and fast, explosive fights that got right to the point. Seeing the likes of Sting and Christian Cage in a different environment was new for me, given that I didn’t watch wrestling until the very end of the Monday Night Wars, so the concept of a change in scenery was an odd, yet exhilarating experience. Of course, there was AJ Styles, the most important person in TNA, whose reputation preceded him to the point that I thought I had already seen his work, despite the fact I had never even gazed upon his face until watching him on Spike TV. After viewing TNA Impact for the first time, I had become hooked and my perspective on wrestling would be altered, forever.

As time went on, I witnessed the trials and tribulations of TNA. I saw TNA Wrestling become the number two promotion in the world, while struggling to meet the standards and expectations of a major wrestling league. After accruing such incredible athletes as Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle, you would assume that nothing but success was on the horizon for TNA, but this assumption would be wrong. TNA fell into disarray, due to lack of money management and inconsistent booking, among other things. With a tremendous amount of failure on its record, TNA lost most of its name stars and was forced to rebuild, again and again.

It was the beginning of 2014 when my very miniscule role in the history of TNA occured. I had made a New Year’s resolution to try and achieve my dreams in life, after several years of unemployment, due to the tumultuous economy. I had always wanted to be an author/screen-writer and a film/television director, as well as a professional wrestler. I’ve written a couple of novellas, one being a joke book and the other a farcical story about a mature cartoon show I’ve worked on for years called Down the Hatch, but any major achievements in any of my desired fields of employment have eluded me, so far any-way. Mere months before I wrote my novellas, I decided to do two things out of haste and a fear I wouldn’t have the balls to do it later, the first of which being that I tried to get a film funded for $200,000, while the second was I tried to get funding on Indiegogo for several million dollars to… buy Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling. Yeah, I know what I just wrote and you read it right. I had a plan to fix TNA, some of which I would still use if I had been successful in getting the funding, but it was all for nothing, because I only got two dollars. Quite a few people had seen my two Indiegogo campaigns and assumed I was running some sort of elaborate yet moronic con to bilk people out millions, even though it would have been much easier to just create a couple of campaigns built around paying for my sick kid’s surgery or some-thing like that. Any-way, what I learned a little bit later, was that the majority of people that saw my TNA campaign had actually liked my plan and were willing to give an unknown a chance to own a wrestling league. The surprise reason I didn’t get the funding was not a lack of trust, but a desire by each person to be a symbolic supporter, not a financial one. It’s the same principal as window shopping, if you like.

I should also mention, as more of a funny story, that about a month before I started the TNA campaign, I sent a message to Dixie Carter’s email to be a part of TNA’s booking staff. Of course, no one from TNA called me back, but after seeing a string of awful Impact cards combined with years of maddening decisions from this woman and her acolytes, I sent my email to Dixie Carter again… fifty times. In my one and only attempt at paying her back for the years of distress she caused for the company’s fans, I’d like to think that she saw my lame attempt at pay-back and had her eyes pop for a few seconds.

I look back on my attempt to raise the money to buy TNA and see one mistake that numerous members of the management, both former and current, are making now that should be rectified, immediately.

Impact Wrestling, despite being a good, solid company, is simply a retcon of a better, yet more abused league that accomplished more, despite so much working against it. I bet you and your mother and your dog and who-ever else that you can think of, that only one out of ten people could even admit to knowing of the existence of Impact Wrestling, but five out of ten could acknowledge the existence of TNA Wrestling. Despite the uneven run, TNA achieved great success, even with the acronym that typically means tits and ass. Impact Wrestling is a company that, for intents and purposes, has existed only since 2011, and only featured big stars for a few years, to little effect. Impact has been seen as nothing but a failure, even with the Hardy Brother’s Broken Universe taken into account. Impact is a small time player that had to break the rules just to get noticed, while TNA is a known wrestling league that stumbled along the way, but touched the glass ceiling on numerous occasions and even cracked it few times. I understand the need to reinvent your-self, but doing so at the expense of every-thing that TNA and its numerous wrestlers have worked so hard to build is not the way to do it. Impact needs to embrace its history and its deficiencies. Hiding the past is not the answer, but embracing it is. TNA needs to return, not as an entertainment property, but as wrestling with a vengeance. Actually, I think that would be a great tag-line for TNA’s return: Wrestling With a Vengeance. It’s certainly better than the WWE Lite, whipped cream sounding thing Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett kept trying for. TNA itself was never the problem, but the intentions and agendas of those who just wanted to make a quick buck off of some-thing that so many others, especially the wrestlers, believed in.

Thanks for reading and always remember to take a chance on the important things in life, even if you’ll look like an idiot if you do so.

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