The Salvation of TNA

Mark Madden

TNAWhat wrestling needs more than anything is a viable No. 2 company. Lack of competition allows WWE to indulge agendas and air a product that’s mostly horrific. Compared to TNA, however, WWE = Mid-South in its prime. (Note to Bruce Mitchell: I’m kidding. Don’t write another nine-part review.)

ROH is better than TNA. It’s good episodic TV.

But TNA has had more exposure and, despite emanating an ungodly stench, has more elements in place for success.

TNA and ROH are both no-hope situations. WWE has a death grip on the biz, which means WWE will get worse and worse. That equation is odd, but true.

But, if TNA wants to give it the old college try, here’s what Dixie Carter could do. She won’t, because she’s a mark. But here’s Aunt D’s best bet:

*Make Jim Ross an offer he can’t refuse. Pay J.R. whatever it takes. Then give him absolute control over every element of TNA. Hire and fire, creative direction…if you want to raise the price of soda at the Impact Zone, Ross has to approve. Ross will surround himself with people of wrestling pedigree that he trusts. Too many wrestling companies are hindered by internal battles. Eliminate that possibility.

Put Ross behind the mic, too. When Eric Bischoff ran WCW, he wasn’t a good announcer. But, as Nitro got established, Bischoff’s announcing got things pointed in the right direction because Bischoff knew exactly what that direction was. Ross is the best announcer. The best storyteller, too. Let Ross tell his own stories.

*TNA should be a replica of real sport. A.J. Styles left with TNA’s world title. TNA is having a tournament to crown a new champ. That new champ needs credibility. He needs gravitas if the eventual showdown with Styles is going to mean anything. So why are matches in the TNA world title tournament all stipulation bouts determined by “the Wheel of Dixie”? That’s absurd.

Consider, too, the annual Bound for Glory tournament. Each competitor ends up wrestling a different amount of matches. Stip matches, three-ways, matches worth different amounts of points. BfG should be something to look forward to. Instead, it winds up being farcical. Japanese promotions do legit-style tournaments all the time. Eight participants, round-robin, post standings on TV and at the dot-com. Have the top four finishers in a playoff, if you want. But don’t allow it to be silly.

TNA Needs to Be a Different Product

TNA is a cheap knockoff of WWE. TNA needs to be a different product. If TNA just does bargain basement-level “sports entertainment,” it’s B-movie fake wrestling.

*Phase down WWE and WCW retreads. Use them to build home-grown guys. TNA originals. Sting should never win another match. Jeff Hardy isn’t a star anymore. Impact’s ratings, live attendance and buyrates would be higher if he was. Hardy needed the machine. TNA needs to build its own machine. Kurt Angle’s clock is ticking. Bully Ray might as well be a Dudley brother again.

Sure, marks like those guys. I like them, too. But they’re on top, they’ve been on top, and TNA hasn’t made any headway.

Had James Storm been pushed as long-term home-grown babyface world champ when the company was poised to do so, I don’t know if it would have worked. I do know TNA should have tried it. Or maybe given Chris Sabin a longer run with the strap. Using WWE’s rejects and has-beens as top guys just screams second-rate.

This is a tough column to write. Where do you stop? Almost nothing about TNA is even decent. Everything sucks. Here’s a few smaller fixes:

*Start Impact with immediate action. Go right to a match. Raw usually begins with a 20-minute talk segment. TNA should never do that. A) TNA should want to be different and B) TNA has no one who can pull off that sort of soliloquy.

*Develop legit black, Latino and Asian stars. No stereotypes, no cartoon characters. Main-event level. Smaller entertainment companies need wider/niche demographics, and it’s certainly an advisable move in terms of PR and media.

*Employ a quality-control booker: Someone who reads each script/format prior to execution, then corrects flaws in logic and fixes contradictions with prior events and/or character development. Vince Russo ignored things like that. “It’s only wrestling,” he would say. No more. The quality-control booker has final say.

*Use squash matches to build new stars. A short squash match showcases a wrestler's strengths, conceals his flaws and gets over his finish. It's a format that worked for decades. By the time that new wrestler gets to "competitive" matches, he's already seen as big-league. See Allen, Terry. Or Blanchard, Tully.

*Get rid of TNA’s “faces of failure.” Those who are most readily identifiable with how bad TNA stinks should be immediately banished. To start, Dixie Carter should never again be on TV. Not for one single moment, or under any circumstance. Her change-the-channel heat is overwhelming.

OK, so that’s a start. The morons reading this now have a choice: Use the comments section to insult me – and boy, I am fat – or make legitimate additional suggestions regarding the salvation of TNA. I’m betting on stupid. Happy Thanksgiving.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

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