The People’s Column: How TNA Can Change Wrestling Forever

Columns, Features, Top Story

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So another week has gone by and WWE has surprised everyone multiple times. However, one of the least talked about things in wrestling this weekend was Dixie Carter’s promise of a major surprise to change TNA. Now this surprise was not Tommy Dreamer showing up, although that was a surprise (and a bad one at that). Dixie has said that this surprise would be a gradual thing over time and that Spike TV has signed off on it.

The fact the the network had to sign off on it hopefully means that it will be a major change in the company. Before I go on, I must say that this column is based on hope and not fact. In a month, I could quite possibly be wrong, but for now I will hope. TNA has a chance to change not only their own company, but the wrestling business itself over time.

TNA can do this by ditching the monthly pay per view format in favor of TV specials. To most, this will seem like company suicide, since pay per view is seen as the life blood of the industry. Pay ore view provides WWE with a very wide profit margin, both at the arena and at home. Even 100,000 buys will easily cover the expenses for putting an event on. For WWE, pay per views make sense (even though concept pay per views don’t, but that is another column). However for a company like TNA, do pay per views really have a place?

Most sources state that TNA pay per views are consistently coming in around 25,000 buys. These numbers are not official, since TNA is not publicly traded and does not release their buy rates, but there are a few sites confirming those numbers.

Take a look at it this way. TNA does not charge admission to their events. There are a few fans who have paid to be let in early to all events (a season pass, if you will), but beyond that, there is no charge. They do not make a single penny from the gate at the event. On top of that, they are paying for a very top heavy talent roster. Hulk Hogan, Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, AJ Styles, Ric Flair and many others are being paid top dollar to wrestle in the company. There is a lot of money that is being spent to have all of the talent there.

There is also great cost in producing a live show. There is a reason that TNA did not switch to just being a live show on Thursday nights. Spike TV did not want to pony up the money for a weekly (or bi-weekly) live show, after the Monday night experiment failed so horribly. There is still great cost in these live pay per views (even more cost since money is being paid to cable companies for carrying the show). TNA is not making a ton of money off of these shows when all the talent and cable companies have been paid. Isn’t it possible that they would make more money in a deal with Spike TV to produce monthly or bi-monthly live specials on a Saturday or Sunday night.

This business model has been compared to Clash of the Champions and Saturday Night’s Main Event, but it could be more. TNA has a chance to reduce their pay ore views to just a few a year. In doing this, they could make the shows much more important and truly build to grudge matches on pay per view that people are willing to pay $40 to see. In my imagination, it is actually possible for TNA to make more money and have less pay per views.

Wouldn’t getting 75,000 people to order one show every two to three months be a better situation than 20,000 or less (some reports have buys as low as 12,000 on occasion) buys per month. Spike TV would also gain a special program to show on occasion. Imagine if this formula worked.

Eric Bischoff changed the wrestling business when he upped the number of pay per views in a month. He eventually went to the monthly model, and WWE soon followed. What if TNA led a revolution and declared that less is more? Having fewer shows in a year would also enable TNA to take their pay per views on the road more often than they are planning to at the moment (twice a year). Being on the road means that they can break away from the toxic and product ruining Impact Zone crowd and really see what is working.

TNA could conceivably rock the wrestling world just by doing a little less. They could also get more eyes on their product by occasionally building up and giving away marquee matches, not as a hot shot, but as a well built program. Perhaps then fans would not be as angry with TNA’s strategy of booking run INS and non-finishes in main event situations.

That’s all from me this week folks. I have some fun posts planned on the blog this weekend, so be sure to check back at!

Will is a 23 year old graduate student at UC Irvine. He is going to school for Stage Management and has always been passionate about pro wrestling. He began writing "The People's Column" in 2009. In 2010 he started his own wrestling blog, which is growing at an alarming rate. He is married to a beautiful woman (pictured on his profile) who accompanies him to most wrestling events that he goes to. Will is thankful for everyone who reads and interacts with him on Pulse and on his blog.