Recently I started watching TNA again, for two reasons. The first one is that I’m taking over the TNA roundtables, so it seemed like the right thing to do. The other is that friends told me that TNA is good again.
After watching the last two editions of Impact, I can agree, TNA has been delivering the goods, especially when it comes to in-ring action. But what’s new? TNA always had good wrestlers and when they set them free in the ring we got good matches. So it doesn’t really matter, TNA still has a long way to go before they can earn the viewers’ trust again.
TNA’s weak point has always been the booking. Granted, they had a very good period on the creative side in late 2009, but ever since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff it took a nosedive. Hogan and Bischoff lived down to everyone’s worst expectations. They treated the original TNA stars as minor league because they were not big (or small) WWE/WCW stars, brought back useless former stars because they were friends and ruined some of TNA’s strong suits, namely the Knockout and tag divisions. Hogan and Bischoff actually managed to get the TNA die-hards to rebel against the product, something I never thought I’d see.
And on the surface, it seems like TNA listened, at least partially. They got rid of guys like Sean Morley and the Nasty Boys. They went back to putting more emphasis on quality, in-ring action. But there are still some deep, hard problems.
Let’s start with everyone’s new favorite asshole, Mr. Anderson. I can understand why he’s catching on, but I think that the enthusiasm about him is going overboard. People are raving about the great matches that he had with Kurt Angle. You know what? Having great matches Kurt Angle only shows that he’s as good as a broom. I didn’t find his match with Jeff hardy as good as the Angle matches. And then comes the face turn. If TNA goes full on with this face turn it would be the biggest mistake they can make right now. He wasn’t a big enough heel that a face turn will mean as much now. What they should do is dip once again into the WWE booking archive (Something that TNA is used to doing anyway) and do what WWE did with The Rock in 1998. They teased a face turn for several weeks, because it seemed like they were listening to the audience, only to turn him back heel at Survivor Series, making him one of the greatest heels of all times. If TNA does the same thing here and have Anderson turn on Hardy at Slammiversary, only then they will be able to turn Anderson from another WWE castoff to a true main event heel.
Another problem is the way they handled AJ Styles. His alignment with Ric Flair actually achieved the opposite of what TNA tried to do and downgraded Styles. From the biggest star that TNA created on their own, a bona fide main eventer, he became an assistant and a protÃ©gÃ©. It was no longer about Styles, it was about Ric Flair. He still delivered it in the ring, but he was no longer the face of TNA. He was a Ric Flair rip-off. Granted, there are worse things to be than the second fiddle to the greatest wrestler of all times, but it was still several steps backwards for Styles, since at this stage of his career he shouldn’t have been looking up to any wrestler, other wrestlers should be looking up to Styles. His recent feud with Kaz and Jay Lethal was probably designed to elevate them to his level, but instead they dragged him down to the lower-mid card. Now, I’ve read spoilers for the upcoming show and it seems like they’re on the way to redeeming Styles, but it’s impossible to give TNA credit based on only spoilers, so I’m not going to trust them to do the right thing.
But it also goes beyond the booking itself, it has to do with management. It’s nearly impossible to defend Vince McMahon’s management style, which is ruthless and shows no mercy. But he did build a wrestling empire and rules the North American wrestling scene. Sometimes managers have to take difficult steps, and that includes firing wrestlers. We keep hearing that TNA wants to hire new wrestlers that were fired by WWE, like Shelton Benjamin or Carlito, and TNA has been bringing in new wrestler on a periodic basis. Yet we recently heard that Dixie Carter is refusing to fire wrestlers that were loyal to TNA. That’s truly admirable but this is bad business. WWE is making money, TNA is bleeding money. I applaud Dixie Carter for trying to be loyal to those who were loyal to her, but how many wrestlers on the pay roll does TNA need with only two hours of TV and how long can they continue to pay people who hardly work?
I haven’t even talked about The Band, Orlando Jordan, the excessive use of Eric Bischoff and the booking inconsistencies (Just last week Bischoff made a tag-team match on his own, but a minute later said he did not have the power to change that match into a four way) and so many other faults that TNA still has. But with all the bad, TNA makes some sounds like the promotion is trying to turn the clock back and return to what its fans liked. But like I wrote in the past, every time that TNA did the right thing, they turned around and ruined it. For every three months of quality booking we got six months of utter crap. Should we give TNA the benefit of the doubt? Should we give TNA the twentieth second chance, or are we just setting ourselves for another disappointment?
For more on recent events in TNA, check out Paul Marshall’s 10 Points and the latest Pulse Wrestling rankings for TNA.
Tags: AJ Styles, dixie carter, Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Jay Lethal, Jeff Hardy, Kaz, ken anderson, Kurt Angle, mr anderson, Ric Flair, The Rock, TNA