DR. TNA: An Open Letter to Dixie Carter

by David Roberts

Following this week’s iPMACT, I was part of an interesting conversation with some of my fellow Inside Pulse writers:  Matthew Michaels, Chris Biscuiti and Tom Daniels.  I wanted to first acknowledge the role of my colleagues in this week’s column, as the following is an open letter to Dixie Carter, President, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), which grew out of that conversation.

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July 16, 2010

Dear Ms. Carter,

I would like to first complement you, Jeff Jarrett, Jerry Jarrett and everyone involved with the founding and/or day to day operation of TNA wrestling.  Many people, including myself, enjoy your program each week and are appreciative of everyone’s efforts to bring us this product.  I personally enjoy TNA Wrestling more than its competition.

That said, I feel that as with any organization, if leadership is not looking to grow and improve the product, it will stagnate and eventually fail.  You have the ability to ensure that this stagnation does not happen, thus I appeal to you to consider the suggestions that follow. I believe their consideration could improve your overall product, thus improving the fan experience, and ultimately the experiences of your employees.

First, and foremost, TNA is desperate for consistent story lines and new fresh angles.  Too often angles are brought up and dropped without any resolution.  For instance, early in Thursday’s episode, Kevin Nash made reference to what he was going to do at 10 PM.  Well 10 PM came and went, without any signs of Kevin Nash.

In another example, Samoa Joe was kidnapped weeks ago.  There was footage shown to fans of this kidnapping and he was gone for some time.  Later when Samoa Joe reappeared, there was no explanation as to what happened and little discussion of those events.  He merely came back and started wrestling again.

Admittedly, I suppose that these gaps can later be explained, but inconsistencies such as these leave fans confused.  Also it makes it difficult for fans to invest themselves into future angles as one is unsure of if that angle will be resolved.

I’d suggest to you that the only real way to ensure that this happens is to shake up your creative team.  Making changes in personnel is never easy.  Many times it involves leaders negatively impacting the lives of people in whom they have previously invested, both personally and professionally.  However, consider in the alternative that if you fail to make necessary personnel improvements, you negative impact all of your employees.

The wrestling talent you have on staff is arguably the best mix in wrestling.  You have blended veteran and new talent in a way that, by all appearances, has them working very well together.  Just imagine what could be done with some new, fresh angles that would be carried through multiple episodes.

To that end, I also would encourage your new creative team to think carefully about how, and especially when, they schedule big events.  I understand your business model is a mix of live and taped shows.  I suspect this is a tremendous tool in controlling your costs.  However, with that, the creative team needs to understand this and schedule accordingly.

In Thursday’s episode, fans finally saw the ECW invasion that was hinted to through weeks of episodes.  Unfortunately, this occurred during one of your taped episodes.  As a result, news of the invasion, as well as fan reaction to it occurred well in advance of its airing.  Leaks of big news can help to build anticipation and viewership.  However, a full reporting of the event does not help build viewership.  In fact, by taking away the element of surprise, you remove the much of the upside of an event.

I understand taped shows must break news as well.  I’m not suggesting that you allowed taped episodes to merely be place holders that people do not believe they need to watch to see angle development.  All I’m suggesting is that perhaps turning a new chapter in a “main event” type story line should happen live.

I shall conclude this letter by simply saying that with these two modifications – changes in creative and thought given to the timing of events – I firmly believe TNA can take major strides towards continuing its growth into the product I suspect you and your colleagues envision.  I look forward to seeing what you and your team are able to accomplish in the future.

Sincerely,

David Roberts

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