Sunday Sermon: TNA, is the end nigh?

Craig Wilson, Brian Damage, Kenneth Richardson and Jamie Lithgow

(Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of

This week another on screen talent left TNA, this time being Mickie James. Over the past few months various performers have left the company including the Gutcheck winners, former Aces & Eights such as Devon and D.OC as well as, more controversially, Jesse Sorenson.

They say that desperate times call for desperate measures and that certainly appears the case with it appearing that Dixie Carter turned heel this week on Impact and AJ Styles new angle being that he is wrestling without a contract. In this Sunday Sermon Craig, Brian, Kenneth and Jamie look at TNA in general terms and the various problems the company is suffering from.

Craig: It’s fair to say there’s plenty to cover in this Sermon. The whole Dixie Carter turning heel is quite ridiculous. Last week, before I read the spoilers, I sent an idea for an article to list really stupid things that surely even TNA would book. Right at the top of that list was Dixie Carter turning. That says a lot.

The company’s roster has certainly been depleted in recent months but there has to be a time when that stops, right? I mean, they need some on screen talent. Take the knockouts division, with James gone and Taryn Terrell on maternity leave the company have four female wrestlers. That’s not a division, that’s a small group.

There’s still some good talents on the roster: Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, Magnus, James Storm etc but they surely can’t keep cutting actual wrestlers. I mean, it’s rumoured Christy Hemme earns $150,000 a year and I’m curious to see what happens in relation to renewing hers and Hogan’s contracts when they are up.

I don’t want to put the boot into the company but you’ve got to wonder exactly what is going on.

Brian: I really think this is TNA’s last shot to right the ship. They are hurting with attendance….ratings…revenue…etc. A part of the problem is TNA comes off as a cheap knockoff of the WWE. This reboot is needed…they have the talent with guys like Austin Aries…Bad Influence….Bobby Roode…Samoa Joe…Magnus…Manik…Sabin and Styles. A more wrestling centric product is needed and lately they have been returning to that format.

Kenneth: Short answer…no. The cranes have enough money to cover the loses if need be be, the question is for how long? The company is hemorrhaging money and the 5 biggest contracts in that company (Bichoff, Hogan, Hemme, Sting, Angle) have yet to be renegotiated or dropped. Plus, they’re taking on these MMA contracts that are probably quite pricey themselves. I’m not saying it’s as badly managed as WCW was in it’s last days but it’s pretty close.

A heel Dixie Carter, yeah that'll work...(Image courtesy of

A heel Dixie Carter, yeah that’ll work…(Image courtesy of

Brian: Good point about the contracts Kenneth…as long as Dixie’s daddy is willing to put up the money for Dixie’s project…TNA will be fine. They need to cut their losses with Hulk Hogan and Chrity Hemme because realistically, offer nothing to TNA right now. Sting has been a good and loyal hand for years, but it’s time for him to be shown the door as well. Now is the time to push the younger talent and focus on wrestling first. The ratings the last couple of Impact shows have improved because wrestling has been more heavily featured.

Jamie: I can’t really speak with any authority on TNA matters because I very rarely watch the product, which tells me all I need to know about it. I’ve tried to like it, lord how I have tried, but every time I give TNA a go they somehow manage to turn me away.

TNA have shown glimpses of being a promotion I could get into, before quickly reverting back to a poor man’s WWE as soon as I get invested in it. If I want to watch has-been MMA fighters I’ll watch Bellator, if I want to watch a heel owner storyline I’ll watch WWE, if I want to watch Hulk Hogan I’ll watch WWE shows from the 1980’s.

TNA’s main attractions, i.e. where they spend most of their money, can be found done better elsewhere, so why would I watch TNA? It truly doesn’t offer me anything. If and when I feel the need to mix up my wrestling intake I gravitate towards to old school WCW, ROH, PWG, Chikara and Japanese promotions. I honestly don’t consider TNA as an alternative, just a poor man’s version of WWE. Granted the matches are decent, but I’ll find better from any of the other sources I listed.

Brian: To be completely fair to TNA…I think they are starting reboot itself. The pieces are starting to be put in place. The way they are doing it is by trimming the fat so to speak. Cutting talent they had no use for. Yes Jesse Sorenson is sadly, one of those people. The match quality has improved vastly over the last two weeks. I think right now though, there is a negative stigma attached with it…that it hadn’t had when the Jarrett’s were running the company….the Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff stigma. Until Dixie makes the tough decision to cut them loose…I fear TNA will never truly get ahead.

Kenneth: Brian and Jamie…you’ve both hit nails on the head. Bischoff and Hogan need to go. For one that’s nearly 4 million in payroll your saving and two this company does need to focus on the Storms and Arieses more than the Hogans and the Stings. As Jamie said all it looks like right now is a poor mans WWE.

Could we see the return of Jeff Jarett sometime soon? (Image courtesy of

Could we see the return of Jeff Jarett sometime soon? (Image courtesy of

Brian: Word is starting to dribble out now that Jeff Jarrett might return to run the day to day operations of TNA. If true, that could be both good and bad. Good because Jarrett and McMahon have a mutual dislike for one another stemming from Jarrett’s last WWE tenure…so he’ll look to really compete. Bad because they went down this road before when he owned the company and nearly went bankrupt…..although, he didn’t have Dixie Carter’s money backing him last time.

Craig: What does that mean for Angle, if Jarrett returns?

Also, worth noting that Hulk Hogan’s contract expires 1 October. Does the full reboot start then?

Kenneth: This is good. Except for the occasional hiccup (Samoa Joe getting kidnapped by ninjas for one) TNA under his direction was quite solid.

Brian: It also seems they are going back to one arena for tapings…yet another smart move…crowds will be loyal and familiar with the TNA talent…I have to say TNA is trying to do what it necessary to succeed.

Kenneth: Hopefully it’s near louisville,ky. Both for the easy access to developmental and being close to a more passionate wrestling crowd than they got in north florida.

Brian: All I can say is this might be their last shot…so they need to do it slow and do it right. Fans can take a company’s mistakes for so long before totally abandoning the product. The Knockouts division has been decimated, the X Division has been virtually non existent and I can’t remember when the tag titles have meant less than the WWE tag titles. These were all divisions at one time that set a standard. They put TNA on the map and as of now mean little.

Jamie: If TNA are going to press the reset button and, hopefully, go back to basics, then I may be inclined to watch. I tuned out around the time when they took the company on the road, Bully married Brooke and the focus shifted even more towards Hogan instead of the wrestlers. A company that revolves around Hogan in this day and age has no room to grow. Everyone knows who he is and anyone who is remotely interested in him will have already clocked that he’s in TNA, so how can he attract new fans? Everyone knows him, but only a select number of people care.

I’d like to see the old TNA again, to see if it can grow. A promotion full of young guys without the label of WWE rejects or has-beens, along with a light sprinkling of veterans, competing for a passionate and loyal crowd has room to attract new fans.

Kenneth makes a good point too. If they are going to stay in one location then they had better make it a good one. Too often when TNA was filmed in Florida did I see audience members who clearly had no idea what was going on.

Oh, and one last thing. As a potential interested party in a ‘new’ TNA, I do not want to see the heel owner angle. It’s so over done. Plus, the fact that WWE are managing to make it work so well right now will only make TNA look like a poor imitation.

Brian: I somewhat agree about the heel owner storyline Jamie. While it may come off as a rip off and recycled nonsense…it may still work simply because fans generally HATE Dixie Carter right now. If she starts a stable of “corporate” wrestlers…it could elevate those particular wrestlers to greater heights. I’m thinking of a guy like Magnus who could use that type of rub or Austin Aries to further push him as “the face of TNA.”

The biggest (no pun intended) impact Hulk Hogan can have right now, is to allow one of these wrestlers to take him out and brag about killing off Hulkamania…without Hogan making a victorious comeback. It’s time for Hogan to really pass the torch and walk away.

No one doubts Hogan's importance in wrestling history but should he feature so prominently in 2013? (pic courtesy of

No one doubts Hogan’s importance in wrestling history but should he feature so prominently in 2013? (pic courtesy of

Jamie: I somewhat agree with that too. The heel owner angle would probably go over well with TNA’s existing fans. The problem comes in attracting new viewers. Why would Joe Public want to watch TNA’s main storyline when WWE’s is doing the same thing, only better?

I guess it’s slightly unlucky in terms of timing, but you do have to walk before you can run. By that I mean they should probably present an angle that existing can get into, before looking to cast the net further afield.

Brian: You are correct in that it is poorly timed…and luckily not too late for them to back out of it as a one time blow up by Dixie. Regardless of the “corporate” angle, TNA is obviously moving forward with hitting the reset button…which is a good thing. There is a ton of indie talent and recently released NXT talent they can still sign to strengthen their roster. In my view, not the beginning of the end for TNA…the beginning of a new beginning.

Craig: One of the big problems for TNA though is their lack of development territory though. Look at WWE, they can take a top indie talent and fire them into NXT till their ready to go on TV but with TNA they pretty much have to sign guys that are good to go straight away. I guess, in part, that’s why they’ve tended to go with tried and tested guys that invariably have just been released by WWE. Although, as we’ve started to see, that’s not been financially viable for them to continue to do.

Brian: Actually if I’m not mistaken, TNA has a working agreement with OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) run by ‘The Nightmare’ Danny Davis. OVW use to be the WWE’s number 1 developmental territory until they moved everybody to Florida. Some of the previous “Gut Check” winners like Lady Tapa and Sam Shaw are working down there. They have a system in place, just need to replenish it with top indie guys like say Kevin Steen, Mike Bennett, The Briscoe Brothers etc…

Craig: Then surely that’s worse. What are they with it then? I knew they previously had something with them but assumed that had ended.

Jamie: I was under the impression that this relationship had ended too, but the internet is telling me otherwise. I guess there is every chance that we may start to see some of OVW’s talent over the coming weeks and months. Also, as Kenneth said, basing TNA near OVW would be a smart move too. It would just make sense for TNA to set up a wrestling hub in or around a traditional wrestling territory. I know times have changed, but surely there is more appetite for a WWE alternative in the Kentucky area (which is closer to the companies Nashville headquarters) than Orlando?

All previous Sunday Sermons can be read here.

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