One thing we both spoke about is how events of the past few years have impacted the product. Whether it be loss of talent, timeslot changes, network changes, financial cutbacks or a lackluster product, it will take time for TNA to rebuild their fanbase. Their arrival on Destination America was supposed to be a rebuilding period for the company but unfortunately there were a series of setbacks. TNA hadn't hit the bottom of their fall yet. Thankfully, the downward spiral seems to have stopped and TNA is growing again.
The current product is very enjoyable. To me it is must-see TV that I want to watch on a weekly basis. I have spoken about the things I like in past columns so I won't dwell on it here. As a company though, TNA has to make good business decisions that help improve the product instead of hindering it. Two things TNA needs right now is consistency and stability. I honestly believe those two things will lead to success. However, the business-end of the company needs to accentuate the product-end of it.
This is why I don't get caught up in week-to-week ratings. The ratings jump up and down on a weekly basis. In reality, one should look at long-term patterns. Right now, TNA is drawing between 250,000-350,000 fans on a weekly basis. That may change months from now but it is where TNA needs to build on. The company, their partners and their fans should use patience.
* One area that needs to be evaluated is TNA's roster. Excluding Kurt Angle (leaving), Angelina Love (maternity leave) and Micah (disappeared off the face of the Earth), TNA's roster is at about 40 names. Two of those names are non-wrestling personalities Reby Hardy and Gregory Shane Helms.
Let's break down the remainder of the roster then. There are currently six active Knockouts in the division. On top of that, there are three other Knockouts (Maria, Rosemary and Raquel) who are on TV but aren't active competitors yet. That leaves 29 male wrestlers on the roster.
Based off the past few months, a number of those 29 wrestlers have been treated as fodder or used as bodies in multi-man matches. This includes Robbie E, Mandrews, DJ Z, Aiden O'Shea and Chris Melendez. Andrew Everett has yet to make an appearance this year. Mr. Anderson could be an asset to the heavyweight division but he has made one IMPACT appearance since the beginning of the year. He could fill a void left by the departing Kurt Angle.
The good news is that TNA has added some fresh names like Mike Bennett, Maria, a returning James Storm, Rosemary, Reby Hardy, Raquel and possibly Jimmy Havoc. The division that is biggest need of new blood is the Knockouts Division. I would suggest at least one new face and one new heel. This Dollhouse vs Beautiful People feud isn't inspiring television.
TNA also has to start utilizing some of its talent better. Mandrews, DJ Z and Andrew Everett would all do good things for the X Division. Either pairing Robbie E with DJ Z or treating him as a more serious competitor could help TNA create another start. Aiden O'Shea would be a fun mercenary character.
*On the Fastlane pre-show, AJ Styles called TNA minor league. As I mentioned in TNA Weekly, this is counterproductive for EVERYONE involved. Its a shot at TNA, is disrespectful to its roster, doesn't make AJ Styles look good and in many ways is a shot at the WWE mythology. Whether AJ (and WWE fans) want to admit it or not, AJ Styles became a name in TNA. That is where he grew up. Calling it a minor league says that AJ was a big dog in the minor leagues which diminishes who he is as a wrestler.
On top of that, AJ Styles beat a number of wrestlers who are currently associated with the WWE. Names like Booker T, Kevin Nash, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Austin Aries, Bully Ray and Sting are all names that WWE has under contract, has in its Hall of Fame or possibly will be looking at. Saying that AJ got his name in the minor leagues (beating these people in the process) makes all of these names look bad.
Calling the WWE the NFL is one thing. It is that. It is the company that fans associate with wrestling. Its where the biggest crowds, biggest shows and biggest paychecks come from. With that said, NXT is WWE's minor league. TNA, ROH or any of the other companies would be the equivalent of CFL or Arena Football.
I am actually proud of AJ landing a job in WWE and working in front of the largest wrestling crowds in the business. It says something that someone who was built by TNA can be successful in the largest wrestling company in the world. No matter how hard WWE or he tries to minimize his time in TNA, the company and its fans know the truth.
* In retrospect, the World Title Series could and probably should just be wiped from our memories. This lame-duck period probably did more damage than good. While there were some good matches and while TNA could try new things, the whole concept was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. TNA could have just announced a BFG rematch between EC3 and Matt Hardy on January 5th and we could have gotten the same result.
The WTS should be treated like the One Night Only Series in the past. Things like James Storm "returning" to TNA just weeks after he left, Manik wearing his mask after being unmasked, Shera wearing his Khoya gear and none of the booking actually meaning anything were just some of the issues with it.
I would like to see the World Title Series return in much smaller form. Maybe decrease it to 16 competitors and have it occur on episodes where other storylines are being advanced. The WTS enveloped the entire product in 2015. I think that was a mistake. It should occur alongside the remainder of the product. The winner should earn a World Title shot at some point in the following year.
* Lockdown is this week. It is the second time that the show is being brought to free TV. Even though the show last year had the issue of not being long enough, it still had its share of good matches and memorable moments. I am hoping this year tops last year. I am mostly interested in EC3 vs Hardy, Bram/EY vs Beer Money and the X Division Championship Match but Lethal Lockdown could be better than expected. I hope you join us for the show.