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Earl Hebner will join Sting, Kurt Angle, Team 3D and Jeff Jarrett into the TNA Hall of Fame becoming the first referee to ever enter the Hall of Fame. Congratulations are out to Hebner for the achievement. This is the first time that more than one person has been inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame in one year. In this case, I understand it.
Judging by this decision and the segment between Bully Ray/Brian Hebner about a month ago, my guess is that Earl plans on retiring. The man looks ready to retire so it makes sense for him to go out on top. It will likely save TNA money as well.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Dixie Carter confirmed that the Destination America deal will hold them to the end of the year. TNA is currently in discussions for TV in 2016. Clearly, the DA deal ended early. While many expected this to end at the end of September, it looks like TNA will get a few more months to get their affairs in order.
I am willing to bet that TV for October-December will be a mix on specials and footage taped on July 22-25th. I am tentatively calling these “filler” shows the “TNA Championship Series.” As of now, it looks to be a much larger version of the BFG Series where the first portion is a round-robin tournament with the winners advancing to a singles elimination tournament. From what I’ve read, there were some good matches on these shows. While we won’t get a lot of story advancement or variety, the action will likely be good. This is like the off-season for TNA while they get ready for the New Year.
Gail Kim vs Awesome Kong has been announced for Bound For Glory. This revisits their classic feud from late 2007-early 2008. I have no doubt that this will be a strong match but I am disappointed that the planned Gail vs Taryn blowoff never happened. Both Velvet Sky and Brooke have said they aren’t scheduled for Bound For Glory. At this point, I am thinking that the IMPACT before BFG “Countdown to Glory” will feature matches that could have been on that show.
We learned that Jeff Jarrett is no longer a minority owner in TNA. TNA bought out his shares which included his Hall of Fame induction, promotion for GFW, usage of TNA talent at GFW events and more. I was told years ago that Dixie Carter would take issue with fans who credited Jeff for TNA’s success. With TNA becoming more independent of Panda, I could see Dixie trying to end this thing with Jeff as well so his presence wouldn’t haunt them anymore.
To think that Jeff Jarrett no longer is a part of TNA is wild. I thought the night that Jarrett was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame was great closure for Jeff’s time in TNA. The hostile takeover storyline wasn’t necessary. I’m hoping that there is opportunity for a TNA/GFW relationship down the line that will benefit both companies.
Kenny King returned to Ring of Honor at All-Star Extravaganza in what looks to be his TNA departure. King was one of the rising stars that TNA needed as it planned on rebuilding. By himself, King isn’t much of a loss but as part of the growing list of people who have left TNA this year, the company continues to take hits.
When the Beatdown Clan fell apart following the Hernandez incident, Kenny King was left with nothing. A number of segments where he was heavily featured were scrapped. I saw some potential when King returned with a promo and new attitude. In the end, it’s a sucky situation. While Kenny King will surely do fine with his ANX partner Rhett Titus in ROH, TNA has another roster spot to fill.
While I am sure TNA will find a new TV deal, the question is what form the company will be in heading into 2016. While they moved to a smaller network in Destination America last year, the first six months were solid for the product. It wasn’t until June that things really started to crumble.
Imagining that TNA lands on a network equal or better than what they have now, there are a number of things I feel they need to do to move forward. They can’t have another year like this, they have to rebuild.
*First things first, they need to audit themselves. Evaluate the company from the top down. What areas aren’t working? What areas need more manpower? Who isn’t performing? Only until TNA recognizes what they need to work on will they actually improve. The big issues this year came from behind the scenes. If they want fire on all cylinders, they need to do so backstage as well.
*They need to clear up their identity crisis. They seem to be accentuating the TNA brand more, which I am fine with. Rename the TNA site, put the logo on merchandise and have the show go back to just the IMPACT name. Having one solid brand to build around is easier than building numerous inconsistent brands.
*One way TNA could keep consistency is to tap into their mythology for their 13+ year history. TNA has created a long list of concepts and brands that they should be using on their shows. Much like New Japan Pro Wrestling does with their yearly traditions, TNA should be using their traditions as well. Here is just a short list of concepts created or used by TNA in the past:
Bell to Bell
Bound for Glory
Bound For Glory Series
Feast or Fired
Full Metal Mayhem
Gauntlet Battle Royal
Gold Rush Tournament
King of the Mountain
Maximum Impact Tour
Six Sided Ring
Six Sides of Steel
Open Fight Night
Option C would be renamed the Destination Xchange. Here, the X Champion could trade in the title for a World Title shot.
The Bound for Glory Series would be rebranded and take place after Bound For Glory (like this year). 16 men would compete in four blocks. The highest scoring wrestler from each block would advance to a final four singles tournament. The winner of that would get a title shot of their choosing anytime within the next year. As I called it in this column, the tournament would be called the “TNA Championship Series.”
*Right now, TNA has a skeleton crew on the roster. I feel they are in need of new blood. GFW temporarily filled the gaps with their crew but more long-term wrestlers need to be brought in. Every division is in need of new blood so one or two new names won’t do.
The first way to improve the roster is to utilize the people you have on it. Currently, Madison Rayne, Jessie Godderz, Robbie E, Tigre Uno, Mandrews, Micah, Eli Drake and others aren’t being used to their full potential. TNA needs to give these characters depth. For example, bring Haku in to give his son a rub. Elevate Eli Drake with a push and some pretapes.
They are going to have to bring people in from outside the company. Some names I mentioned include Crimson, Trevor Lee, Tomasso Ciampa, PJ Black, Grado, Aiden O’Shea and more. TNA recently tried out Chase Owens and Jason Kincaid. While TNA may be limited due to their current status, there are a lot of prospects out there that could add to the company.
Eventually, TNA should try and bring back guys who left including AJ Styles, James Storm, Austin Aries and others. Time and effort will heal all wounds but TNA needs to build themselves up until that point.
*I admire what Lucha Underground did this year. The one thing I think TNA should take from them is their approach at backstage segments. John Gaburick is in charge of TNA and his specialty is production. TNA should put more into their backstage pretapes. I have previously proposed limiting in-ring promos and advancing stories through pretapes. TNA should get creative like they did with the Aces and Eights funeral, the Hunt for Willow and more. This could be the way TNA advances the wrestling industry, presenting themselves as a rope opera. Building characters and stories through unique backstage scenarios could be a way TNA sets themselves apart.
Something I don’t want to see anymore of is takeovers or abusive authority figure. Both have definitely been overdone in TNA. I proposed having Joseph Park play an authority figure. Use him in backstage segment (not overdoing it) to advance stories. He wouldn’t abuse the role. It would be a good way to keep the character interesting.
*One of my biggest issues for TNA this year was how far in advance they taped. I would like to see them cut it down to monthly tapings. On top of that, I would like to see them streamline their PPV events. Lockdown, Slammiversary and Bound For Glory would remain three hour traditional PPVs but One Night Only would be presented differently.
Gutcheck, World Cup, Joker’s Wild, Knockouts Knockdown, Xtravaganza, Gold Rush and more would just be some of the One Night Only events. I would also air them on a traditional date, giving them more importance. If you air them at a certain time, you can build off of them. Make these shows stand out more by having their results mean something on TV. A person wins a contract at Gutcheck and can appear on TNA TV not too much later.
*In a perfect world, a new TV deal would lead to IMPACT, Xplosion and other TNA programming airing in the United States. While not necessary, additional programming could help increase awareness while giving the product more time to develop characters.
*One final suggestion is to continue their relationship with Global Force Wrestling. Have TNA stars and GFW stars work for both companies. Possibly have a talent exchange. Once a year as a One Night Only event, give us a TNA vs GFW interpromotional show featuring the top stars from both companies going at it.