Now, many people believe only a few major things made TNA decline. Most people just put it off on Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff is coming into the company, but there is more to that, much more to that. That’s why I am here, to give you the run down to what all went wrong with TNA. Let’s get into this.
Now for this to all work, I’m going to go back to 2006. Many people wonder, why 2006? Well many people consider this TNA’s prime year. Now we are going to work our way up to current day and see, year by year, how it went wrong. So it’s 2006, Sting and Samoa Joe are running the main event scene along with a few inter-changing people. The mid-card is being run by the high-flying X-Division superstars and everything is swell. Business is going up, the product is good, it seems that TNA may actually be competition to the massive empire of WWE. Then came Kurt Angle, skipping his way into the company. Many people wonder, wasn’t Angle is coming in good? I mean he did bring in name value and brought many fans over to TNA…which are all fair points. However, this isn’t as good as everyone thinks it is because this would soon bring in a chain reaction of old ex-WWE guys in the company. And yes, I know, the Dudley Boyz did appear on TNA about a year before Angle, but they weren’t big players in WWE, especially when compared to the likes of Kurt Angle. BUT, this doesn’t hurt them yet. So throughout 2006, TNA is good.
For this part, I’m going to lump ’07,’ ’08, and ’09 together. I’m doing this because not many major events happened in this year. 2007 would still be hot due to the major success in 2006. The company would expand in multiple ways. In one way of expansion, it would launch a podcast-type internet show. It would also expand it’s weekly show “TNA IMPACT!” to 2 hours this year. In 2008, TNA went HD. This included a new set to adjust to this which included more lighting and several large screens. TNA would also release a video game which was not the greatest game, but did well in sales, being a positive for TNA. In 2009 TNA would start an online subscription service that would allow users to view older TNA content like special events, DVD’s, etc. Everything was still good.
This is the year that everything went bad. It would be this year when TNA would bring in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff. Bishoff would serve on the company’s creative team. They would drastically change things up, with most being for the worse. Granted Bishoff and Hogan didn’t DIRECTLY make this happen, they just heavily lobbied for these things to happen. The biggest thing that upset fans was the removal of the 6-side ring. Yes, TNA “sold out” and went to a 4-side ring, opting for a more “traditional” look. This would upset fans because the 6 sides are one of the core things that made TNA different from its counterpart in WWE. However, the next thing they did would be the one that killed the company financially. This would be the signing of multiple ex-WWE “stars”. The word star is VERY expandable here. You had your Ric Flair, who was a star. You have Jeff Hardy, who was a star on his way out, constantly being in the main event scene. Then you have Rob Van Damm, who at the time of his signing was mid-card, falling into the low-card but was still popular from his ECW and early WWE run so his contract was fair enough. Then you have Mr. Anderson (Known as Mr. Kennedy in WWE) who had never been in a major title match, or a major feud in retrospect. Involving himself in drugs and injuries would ruin his WWE career and would ruin his TNA career, but we’ll get there. This hurts the company because the contracts given out were huge, with Bishoff acting as WWE wanted these guys when in reality they were let go for certain reasons with drugs being a reason for three of the four listed. Things can’t get worse…right? Of course they can! In early 2010, TNA and Spike made a new deal which would move, TNA Impact to Monday’s…at the same time of WWE Monday Night Raw. Now many feel this could have been good, if not for the night that it debuted on Monday’s. The Monday TNA chose? It was in the midst of a return by WWE Legend Bret Hart, who hadn’t been on WWE TV in 17 years. And the thing is, TNA knew that Hart was returning, as Hart made his return in January and would be on TV until early April of that year. TNA did have a Jeff Hardy return that night, but the way he returned was lackluster and very confusing to say the least. A short 2 months later TNA would return to Thursday’s. They would also debuted a new “post-show” for TNA Impact in the summer, which would fail soon after it’s debut. 2010 was a very sour year for TNA.
When Hogan and Bishoff came in, the things that made TNA different were soon out of the window. The X-Division was pushed down the card and made a joke, the 6-sided ring was gone, and now the weekly TV show was going to be re-branded. On May 3rd, 2011 Dixie Carter announced that “TNA IMPACT” was now going to be “Impact Wrestling”. This was, to many, one of the last straws and the fans were on edge. This would, fortunately, be the only major event in 2011 for TNA and the rest of the year would go on without a huge incident. TNA, however, would get a positive in agreeing with Ohio Valley Wrestling to be their name training company.
This year would be the first year that viewership would go down for TNA. First, in late May, TNA expanded to a live show, moving back to the 8PM/EST and would remain there for the rest of 2012. However, in the middle of July, Viacom and DirecTv would hit roadblocks as far as their relationship goes. DirecTv would soon block 17 channels, one of which was Spike. Spike, of course, carried TNA. This would hurt because a surprising amount of TNA viewers were DirecTv users. However, 9 days later the channels would be added back as relations improved.
2013 was a year of up’s and down’s for the company. In early 2013 TNA announced that they were traveling for their weekly show. This seemed a good move when first announced, however it would soon turn out to be a very, very bad move. The cost of going on the road would prove to be too much for TNA. However, they couldn’t go back to Orlando, Florida because they terminated their contract with Universal Studio’s. A few up’s, however, were that TNA formed a stable relationship with Japan-promotion Wrestle-1. TNA would also be able to say money by creating a universal stage, which they used at all shows, therefore not having to make a new one every show. This is where the up’s end, though, as TNA lost its contract with Ohio Valley Wrestling. The end of the year would turn out to be very bad for TNA, as AJ Styles would leave the company in December of 2013. This was huge as AJ Styles was a core member of TNA, dating back to the Nashville days of the company. Another core member would leave in December of 2013 and that would be Jeff Jarrett. This is huge considering Jeff Jarrett CREATED the company. They would lose one more big name in Hulk Hogan which seems good based off his description in this article right? Well, no. Because Vince McMahon and the WWE are geniuses and signed Hulk and made money off him. WAY more money than TNA did for sure.
These years are clumped together because they basically have the same story. It was all negative. They would lose many veteran members (Sting, Chris Sabin, Hernandez, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, and The Dudley Boyz). They would also go on to lose their TV deal with Spike TV. They would soon move to Discover America, who would terminate their TV deal not even a year later, moving on to Pop TV. This sounds good as many people have Pop TV, but of course this is TNA and it can’t be good. Pop TV recently put out their current look at their shows for this fall and TNA’s name was not present. Pop TV also ended the re-run of Impact on Saturday’s. Many people feel TNA has disappointed since leaving Spike which isn’t all that false. They have rarely, if ever, cracked a million viewers since leaving Spike. Talent leaving would not end in 2014, however. In late 2015-early 2016 we would see the last of Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, and Velvet Sky (long time stars) leave the company.
It’s truly sad to see what has happened to TNA. For many years it was a feel-good story. It went from a small indie promotion to a nationally seen TV-show and being compared to the empire of WWE. It would crash down to the point that many people feel it will never be able to climb back to its success of 2006. Many people expressed that TNA is hopeless and should pull the plug to which I do NOT agree. While it all looks bad for TNA, they are still on national TV. They still have good talent. There is no reason to give up now. Sure they may never come close to touching WWE ever again; they are still in a good place compared to some companies. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Image Credit: TNA Wrestling