We are talking about the departures of Roode and EY, what this means for the company, how they replace them and where the company moves from here. And we're off...
Both of these departures definitely hurt the product. Beer Money just reunited and won the tag titles. They didn't actually get a full match against The Wolves. That was a feud that I was looking forward to. That probably won't be happening now.
Eric Young was doing some of the best work of his entire career in 2015/2016. He feuded with Roode, Angle, elevated Melendez and was feuding with Beer Money and Hardy. He has someone very similar in Bram who can pick up his scraps but its a loss nonetheless.
Wake Chambers: Without question, these two are big losses. You’re losing two of the best in-ring technicians; two of the best mic workers; two of the best psychologists; two of the best sellers; two of the most recognizable faces; and two of the most TNA-iconic performers in the company. It also comes at a time when one of the greatest wrestlers of all time is leaving the company just a couple months earlier, and yet another knowledgeable veteran in Mr. Anderson—though veritably justified in that case. Grizzled vets are a hot commodity in TNA at this point.
All that are really left are James Storm, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, and Bobby Lashley. That’s a limited stock. Just a few years ago, TNA was filled to the brim with a quality roster. Right now, it is extremely thin. With EY and Roode, I would have said TNA was still in a good position to build up talent of less experience. I am not as sure without them. I don’t think fans that stick through thick and thin of the company’s turmoil exactly realize what we are losing without these two on the roster. It is incredibly difficult to build the depth of talent these two possess beyond natural raw talent. It is something that takes years to master.
But that said, I see some bright spots on the thin roster we do currently carry in guys like EC3, Drew Galloway, the Miracle Mike Bennett, Bram Stoker, Jessie Godderz, and Eli Drake. They are some quality talents that need to find those final touches. So losing Roode and EY is reclaimable, but much more difficult without them. I am not terribly positive right now without them because that knowledge cannot be passed on to the younger talents now. It also does not help when there is a reliance on formulaic writing in the product. But I do feel it can be overcome with quality pairings and hard work from the young guns.
Old School Heel: In regards to Roode, keeping one of the top guys in your company, who is still in great shape, and more over than most of your roster, seems like a good idea. Roode has done it all, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see him do again. For Eric Young, TNA finally took the lifelong comedy character and made him a legitimate serious character. He worked his butt off to get to this point. Fans finally accepted him as a serious talent, and TNA lets him walk. Too often have we seen TNA develop a talent to the point where they are worth something elsewhere to just let them go elsewhere. It’s almost as if TNA has become a developmental territory for ROH, NXT, and NJPW. I’m speaking in hyperbole.
Jason Blade: Losing Young and Roode is disappointing and no, I don't think it was time for them to move on, I think they had plenty more to offer TNA but management clearly has a procedure in place for how it deals with talent and in particular how much money those talents demand. While it would have been nice for them to do a little more to keep the veterans, I applaud TNA for standing their ground on the issue and it shows for certain that TNA is on a definite youth movement. As far as the impact on the company, the biggest one things like this have is that it allows people to start the whole "locker room morale is bad" thing all over again which is never good.
Raven Effect: Yes, they should have done a lot more to keep them. There is only so much talent that we can watch leave and not be replaced before it becomes too much, and honestly we’re a handful of talents away from being down to nothing worth sticking around for. If anyone in the company deserved a raise it was Bobby Roode and Eric Young. Eric Young got stuck with a shitty hand for about ten years of his TNA career and everything he was given and asked to do, he not only did it, but made everything work and made it great. The guy is such an underappreciated talent.
Bobby Roode is the best overall talent on the roster. Three factors for a wrestler: In ring, look, and promos and nobody in the company had a better blend of all three than Roode. This was hands down the greatest world champion in TNA history, he had such an unbelievable first reign and unforgettable fueds with Storm, Lashley, Angle, and EY. I think Roode vs Aries should have been TNA’s Cena vs Orton. We never got Roode vs EC3 and that is the definition of a missed opportunity.
It was not even close to being time to move on, the roster was paper thin with them on it, and both had a lot left to give. I think people over-exaggerate the term “they’ve done all they could do in TNA” because they didn’t, there was plenty left for both. It has a huge impact on the company. This site has the most loyal fans out there and we saw multiple people quit watching and haven’t been back. I’m even still considering it but these tapings sound very good and I want to see what happens. I’ve never seen morale so low around here. It affects the company because two of TNA’s own just left leaving really only two homemade originals left, it just damaged the heavyweights and literally just decimated the finally improving tag team division. We also have seen TNA fail to replace most of the talent they lose, and more often than not the replacements are undesireable talents like Grado, Melendez, and Shera.
That stability we’ve looked for has still not come. Our favorites are still leaving. Couple this with the slowing in-ring style that TNA has been focusing on and I’ll say that TNA is definitely stagnant.
Talon: The product has been its best in years. While its not blowing people away, its very consistent, has some good storytelling, characters and promos. They seem to be moving through feuds and segments at a good pace as well. More importantly, they are providing moments that fans remember.
With that said, the business side of the company has been in decline for the past few years. I can't remember the last time they showed real growth in any aspect of their company. They're on a smaller network, have lost almost all their star power, don't run Live Events, have cut down on PPVs, run marathon tapings once a month, don't have any real merchandise and have a skeleton crew of staff doing multiple jobs and more.
For any wrestlers/fans who were around when TNA was doing their thing in 2005-2012, it might be disenchanting to see where the company is at now. There are also no signs that TNA will ever return to the place they were. It doesn't mean they can't get out of their current position but they have to start doing so fairly quickly.
Raven Effect: On screen and on air I would say it’s been the best TNA since 2009. This last show with the gauntlet battle royal was the only bad show they’ve put out all year (other than Rivals). EY was being used better than Roode the past couple of years. EY and Bram together was a long time coming. The Beer Money reunion was great every single time they were on TV, and never failed all year. I think Roode was severely under-used since January 2015 and it stunk. I wanted at least one more world title reign for Roode and Storm each but Beer Money was still a breath of fresh air this year.
Business wise it’s a different story, and there’s no sticking up for incompetency. I literally see TNA like being in love with or loving a son, parent, family member or friend that has a severe drug problem. You can be one of the few who stick around despite this person ruining their relationships with so many others; you can show support, only want the best and keep hoping to see them beat their demons after showing some glimpses of being the person you know they can be or used to be but then it gets to the point where you see they just won’t change. You cannot help those who don’t want to help themselves and that’s what Dixie and TNA management have become. It’s more frustrating when it’s either basic common sense or when it’s insulting. TNA promised changes and stuff that’s never been done but we’ve seen none of that; the show has been easily the best wrestling product in the U.S. but ratings are low because Dixie doesn’t bother to try and let people know they exist, that they’re not out of business, that they’re on a new channel, what time and day that they’re on, etc.
It’s no wonder why they don’t make a profit or grow as a company. They could earn money off of ONO but they can’t even make these shows tie in to the weekly program nor do they even mention the shows on Impact, it’s free advertising and it doesn’t get mentioned. March is almost over and Jokers Wild (one of their best ONO shows every year) hasn’t been mentioned once yet trying to sell a DVD for someone now in the WWE gets mentioned every week and now has a commercial that ran twice.
TNA promised new merchandise and that was also a way to pay talent more money but that’s not very frequent only three months in. Decay merchandise could sell well but outside companies are capitalizing not TNA. We don’t even get all ONO shows on DVD, their DVD’s come out insanely late in contrast to the PPV air date, they don’t even make Blu-Rays, no compilations get made for wrestlers unless they leave TNA for the WWE and then it’s insulting to themselves, their fans, and the current talent on the roster. The fact that a “Best Of” series for Storm, Roode, and EY is yet to be made just blows my mind. Maybe a DVD set could have been a reason for both men to stay around in TNA.
Wake Chambers: As a company, TNA has obviously stagnated. They are limited in what they can produce for a product, sign for wrestlers, and develop for storylines, apparently. TNA’s current status has a lot of similarities—with some obvious differences—to the old WWF, circa 1995: 1.) Much of the top talent leaving for greener pastures, often for more money at another company; 2.) Struggling ratings in a down time in wrestling; 3.) Relying on formulaic storylines; and 4.) Being in a state of having several talents ready to be on the cusp of the main event.
But as for stagnating as a product, the stagnation for me is what they consistently create. It is something that could be changed with some creative thinking, instead of trying the same sort of things over and over again. The same sort of faces and heels. The same sort of segments. The same sort of attempts at being surprising or giving away big matchups way too quickly. That’s where the stagnation roots itself, in my humble opinion. About the only thing that should not change is the same high quality wrestling, which for some reason is one of the things they tend to waiver back and forth on.
Another major problem is for most months of the year now TNA does not have any event to build toward. Builds to story lines feel more random and less special as a result. It would behoove TNA to create some events beyond specially-themed Impacts to regain this mantle that is so incredibly important. One way to avoid stagnation is finding that point in time you build to. It is not there right now.
Jason Blade: I actually think this year has seen some of the most consistent programming in years. impact isn't setting the world on fire by any means but every week the wrestling is solid, the storylines and angles are progressing and the characters are mostly good. Another wrestling site recently called impact the most underrated wrestling show on tv and I agree, it is. The only thing I think they have really stagnated on is the structure of their shows, I would love TNA to have bi-monthly PPVS or specials that aren't just a weekly impact, that the storylines can blow off at because at the moment for me, that's the one gaping hole, there just isn't that big payoff show every other month. Aside from that, i'm loving a lot of the new signings the company is making and it bodes well, at least in ring, for the future of the company.
Wake Chambers: No. The right man right now is EC3 as the World Champion. I believe Galloway should be there at some point but not right now. TNA had handled EC3’s character about as well as any company could have for the past few years. EC3 was the biggest thing in the UK, and it fell apart upon coming back to the US. Without question, EC3 should have been a long term reigning champion coming out of his feud with Matt Hardy. He was the hot hand, and that is something that needs to be ridden all the way through to completion. Additionally, Galloway’s character is currently one-dimensional, and it just won’t work as a champion.
Talon: I'm a fan of Drew Galloway and believe he could be one of the core guys that TNA builds around. I do feel its pretty early to give him the championship, knowing that he has only been in TNA for about a year. I did think TNA needed to shuffle things around because the Matt Hardy vs EC3 feud was getting stale. I am taking a wait and see approach to Drew Galloway as World Champion.
Raven Effect: Simply put: No! Galloway is gaining ground for me but he’s just stale as a character. His gimmick hasn’t evolved and while his matches with Kurt Angle elevated him a lot more for me, it just wasn’t the right time. But, TNA has been hell bent on making him champ since the day he stepped foot in the company. I prefer him over Matt Hardy but this needed to wait.
I think a heel turn would have been the best move here. He could have pushed his rivalry with Bennett out further and either wrestled and lost to either Lashley or Bennett and Slammiversary but then cashed in at the end of the show. Let’s say we got a main event of Jeff Hardy vs EC3 for the belt at Slammiversary. EC3 gets a hard fought victory over Jeff, he’s celebrating and then gets blind sided with a briefcase to the head. Galloway drags EC3 back into the ring and does that DDT that Orton does through the ropes on EC3 with his head smacking the briefcase. Galloway then becomes the first man to physically pin EC3 and in a cowardly, heelish way and I think the guy gets made. Right now only EC3, Jeff Hardy, James Storm or maybe Lashley should be world champion.
Old School Heel: I’ve never been sold on Drew as a face. He bores me on the mic, but I like him in the ring. Though, when looking over the roster, who else would TNA put the title on? There’s Jeff, but Jeff doesn’t look 100% and it’s risky to put the title on him because of that. There’s James Storm, but Storm is temporarily with Bobby Roode. Then there’s Lashley. Lashley is the most legit guy on the roster now. But, with the way everything’s been built, giving Lashley the title at that time wouldn’t have made much sense. Of course, Bobby Roode, like Storm, has been wasting away for a while now. Imagine Roode taking the world title away from Matt Hardy.
TNA has a paper thin roster that is lacking a lot of talent anymore. I’d invest in getting in more talent especially in the tag team division and in the X Division and push hard to return both divisions to their previous glory.
Old School Heel: One thing that hinders TNA is their taping schedule. The live shows tend to be more exciting simply because we truly have no idea what is going to happen. Taping weekly would be fantastic, but it’s not feasible. As an investor, you aren’t looking to give TNA more money than you believe you can recoup. You’re looking to double or triple your investment. The cost of frequent tapings will not help you meet that goal. I believe that bringing back the element of surprise, at least on a more regular basis is something that all fans can appreciate, and can help get more viewers to tune in each week.
Maybe a 3 week schedule would suffice. I see a number of potential upsides here. The talent will still have plenty of time to be booked elsewhere. Having only 3 tapings, 4 if there is a ONO, will help the talent stay fresher, longer. It would benefit the crowds by not exhausting them to the point to where they become lethargic. Just these two things can elevate the on-screen product and possibly help move things forward.
Jason Blade: Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! Since day 1, TNA's biggest single issue has been it's inability to find an identity and promote the hell out of that identity. The marketing and branding of the company has been historically bad and if i'm a new investor that is the one area that i'm focusing on. In the ring, TNA has mostly ranged from good to excellent throughout its life but what does that matter if no one knows about it? ECW built a brand on being "Extreme" in all respects, NXT has built one on being "The Future of WWE", ROH has built one on "Honor"... TNA has never had anything to brand itself with and as such, people have a hard time explaining who they are. If i'm investing in the company then i'm going to look at its business model from top to bottom to see what works and what doesn't and see what we're not doing that we should be and in terms of marketing and branding, it is almost non existent. That needs to change.
Wake Chambers: In such an instance, the funny thing is the one area I would put the most effort into is one of the least capital intensive forays I could possibly think of. It goes back to the second question. I have thought for a long time now storytelling in professional wrestling is formulaic and stagnant. I have, myself, put in a lot of effort in the subject area in my columns. It needs a breath of fresh air.
In that case, I would search far and wide for exceptional writing and creative talent that have some fresh ideas for the wrestling industry. I would search for people with an eye for continuity and will not let the quality of wrestling matches falter in their attempts to freshen up the product. TNA is in such a position where success will only be bread by quality shows for many consecutive years. Because at this point, that is the timeframe it looks like so-called wrestling fans will take before they finally give the show a chance, even when it has been pretty good overall since being on POP. The issues that make enjoyment difficult for me, again, are lack of continuity, formulaic storytelling, and lack of variety in the storytelling. That is what I would focus on improving.
As for intensive capital expenditure, focus on creative marketing and branching out the product into non-television media would be it.
Talon: It all begins with identity; what is this company. The first thing I would put money into is creating a brand/business strategy that capitalizes on things the company is currently doing. This strategy would include detaching itself from the "TNA" name and going all in with the "IMPACT Wrestling" brand.
Jason Blade mentioned above about how all of the biggest companies have a theme associated with it whether it be NXT, EC3, ROH or something else. I feel using IMPACT Wrestling makes sense. The product is built around the "IMPACT" TV show. IMPACT could refer to hard-hitting action, promos or the impact the show has on its fans. We talk about how young fans leave IMPACT shows changed forever and that can work into the new brand. It makes sense to move forward in a consistent direction.
The next area I would work on is monetizing the current brand. For example, why isn't their merchandise for many of the top stars? Why aren't they capitalizing more on the history of the company? Merchandise should be sold at every taping. I also find it strange that ROH and ICW have a Video on Demand section but TNA doesn't have one. I would try and find a way to bring "IMPACT on Demand" back. It would be a smaller version of the WWE Network showing past PPVs, the Asylum Years, Xplosion Xclusive Matches as well as some original content. You could also integrate compilation series on past IMPACT stars such as Team 3D, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Magnus and more.
The final part of stage one is making all current TNA programming stand out. Right now, IMPACT is the only real show that matters. Xplosion is irrelevant, One Night Only is irrelevant and the two PPVs (Slammiversary and Bound For Glory) feel secondary. I would make One Night Only stand out more by connecting their themes more to the current product. Imagine World Cup, Joker's Wild, Gutcheck and the others feeling like bigger annual traditions. I would return Lockdown to PPV and have all the major shows feel special. Each PPV would have a unique look and take place outside Universal Studios. Why should fans care about these shows if management doesn't?
Beyond that, I am not sure who are realistic. But what I know is they need quality X-Division talent more than any other area. I would sign Will Ospreay in a heartbeat if that is a realistic proposition at this point. I would try to re-sign TJ Perkins. I would try to re-sign Anthony Nese. And I would try to sign Trent Beretta and Jigsaw/Rubix, . Beyond those wrestlers, I think TNA need to employ good scouting to find some under-the-radar X-Division talents that exhibit amazing athleticism and technical skill. And maybe trying to tap ROH a bit, if possible, might find some other potential signings.
Old School Heel: Reno Scum: TNA needs tag teams. These guys have a good look and are enjoyable in the ring. They need some help on the mic, but that can be remedied with a manager. Tommaso Ciampa: How cool would this guy be with Bram? How much better would he be with Bram and EY?
Jimmy Havoc: We got a glimpse of Havoc while on the UK tour. I don’t think TNA fans got a great look at what he is all about. He’s edgy, dirty, and calculated. Havoc is a tremendous villain. The hard edge that he shows in Progress is something that he quite bring to TNA. But, Jimmy Havoc showed that he can adapt to TNA.
Zac Sabre Jr: He’s a solid technical wrestler who’s style enables him to wrestle a wide range of talents.
Jason Blade: What I loved most about this week's signings is that from those 5, we got a Heavyweight, an X Division guy, a Tag Team and a Knockout. All bases were covered and i'd love for them to take this approach going forward. Build your roster like you build a sports team, hire good young talent to fill the positions you need most. With that said, the names i'm going to throw out are all female just because I think the Knockouts Division still needs more new blood. I'd love to see them sign Allysin Kay, Jennifer Blake, Santana Garrett, Nikki Storm and Veda Scott.
Talon: I think taking an approach of adding talent to each division like they just did is a good one. I don't have a great knowledge of independent wrestling but I do know that TNA's product caters more to stronger mic workers, grounded wrestlers and characters. Former NXT stars seem to be right up the company's alley. It seems like they are looking for inexpensive talent which eliminates a number of potential names. I do think they should be strongly scouting anyone willing to come in. Names like Killer Elite Squad come to mind. I'm hoping that if they have an opportunity to sign someone who will make an impact with the company (like Wade Barrett) that they jump all over it.
Raven Effect: Well we found out who they were. Not one of them is game changing by any means. Cherry Bomb is hands down the best signing of the bunch. Unfortunately, it’s so hard because all divisions need help. Weeks ago the Knockouts seemed like a neglected bunch but now it’s almost like they’re better off than all of the others but they still need a lot of help. TNA just brought in five talents but they really only give us four acts since one is a tag team. I truthfully feel like even with these four acts TNA still needs about ten or twelve more additions to the roster, and they also need to cut ties with Velvet, Shera, Melendez and Grado.
I am leaving out Wade Barrett because nothing is confirmed; I could name a lot of Lucha Underground talent but they are not available; Trent Baretta would be a top three choice for me but I don’t know he is available. I also have a wild card name that I am waiting to reveal at some point on the show that most TNA fans probably don’t think of or realize the potential this person brings to the table.
My top choices would be: Killer Elite Squad, Matt Taven (works for tag team, main roster and can fit in the X Division if needed), Veda Scott (valet and manager), Shynron and Jigsaw/Rubix.
Other targets that I’d be ecstatic to have: Magnus, Mickie James, Matt Sydal, Carlito, Jimmy Havoc, Chris Hero, Candice LeRae, Allysin Kay, Jennifer Blake, Shelton Benjamin, and even Ra’Shad Cameron to team with Pepper Parks as I don’t know how far Parks goes on his own and also is a body for the X Division.