Hulk Hogan, Aces and 8s: 10 Suggestions to Fix TNA
Over the past year, most fans would agree that TNA programming has seen an improvement in quality.
Yet the ratings don't reflect it at all.
The first Impact after Bound for Glory drew a lackluster 0.99 rating. That's the worst rating the post-BFG show has drawn in years.
Besides the better shows, the amount of talent that TNA has acquired in the past few years has been staggering.
Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Mr. Anderson, Mickie James, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff and most notably Hulk Hogan have all come on board.
But all of those names haven't meant anything to the ratings.
So what gives? Why aren't more people watching?
Here are ten suggestions for TNA that could help fix their program and, with some time and patience, build on their audience as well.
I'll try to avoid the obvious ones like getting rid of Bischoff and Hogan, as that isn't going to happen anytime soon.
Some of these are minor changes that could be fixed in no time, while others would take a bit more work.
Here are 10 suggestions to help TNA make it to the next level.
#10: Pair Brooke and Garrett Together
Apparently 2-Headed Shark Attack didn’t make Brooke a movie star.
Unlucky for the TNA Knockouts, Brooke is now in charge of the division for some reason.
Garrett on the other hand is taking up TV time, and seems like he could be involved with Aces and 8s.
Fans, though, see right through why Brooke and Garrett Bischoff were hired. Their daddies wanted them on TV.
TNA often loves to play off of real life stories (Mr. Anderson's concussion, Jeff Hardy's personal troubles) so they should go all out on this one and make nepotism a part of the act.
To get some heat, turn these two to heels and put them in the same act. If nothing else, it's better than watching her canoodling with Bully Ray.
We know that Brooke and Garrett aren't going anywhere as long as their dads are in power.
But don't take it out on the fans.
If Hogan really knows best, he should put these two together. At the very least it would cut their TV time in half.
#9: No More Insider Comments
Vince Russo is long gone from TNA, so why does the company still break the fourth wall so often?
What does it matter if Matt Morgan can cut a good promo within the context of a TNA show? Shouldn't his chance at TV time and titles just depend on his win/loss record?
What did Kurt Angle mean when talking to Wes Brisco, when he told him that success in wrestling was all about capturing the crowd in the palm of your hands?
Add in Austin Aries tearing up his script, and the company is steering dangerously into a shoot-story mode that just never pays off.
Again, success in wrestling should just be about winning. That's it.
The company needs to go back to what works, and present what happens on their shows as "real" and not some segments being more real than others. It just doesn't make any sense, and there are just too many questions asked when a wrestling company delves into the shoot territory.
TNA often just makes this much more difficult than it needs to be.
#8: Tone Down Aces and 8s
For awhile, Aces and 8s was the best thing going in wrestling.
Then it kept going...and going...and going, without any answers. The first big reveal of the group was Devon.
It was a terrible choice.
Besides Devon, the other big problem is the extreme level of violence that Aces and 8s carries out.
I'm fine with their attack angles, but they should draw the line at kidnapping a man for weeks, torturing him, filming it and airing it on TV without any sort of repercussions.
Why would Joseph Park ever show his face in the Impact Zone again? What's stopping Aces and 8s from kidnapping him again, or Hogan or Dixie Carter?
If the law isn't going to get involved they could do whatever they want.
There's just a certain level of believability that promotions have to abide by, and TNA goes way past what's acceptable in the context of a wrestling show.
It wouldn't be hard to bring it back to a level of normalcy, and they should before things get too out of hand and we see Hogan try to pull out another wrestler's teeth with pliers.
Oh wait, that already happened.
#7: Rethink Gut Check
I like the idea of Open Fight Night, I like new talent, but Gut Check has been awkward in its execution.
First of all, where are all the winners? We've only seen them once since they received their contracts.
Joey Ryan, who the judges voted no on, has been on TV more than all of the winners combined.
Second, and this may sound mean, but in the context of competitive fighting why should the judges care that a wrestler wants a contract more than anyone else? Why do they deserve a contract because of their personal tragedies in life?
Winning Gut Check should be about how tough a wrestler is in the ring. That's it.
Take American Idol for example—which is clearly what they're doing a take off of—the winners of that show won because they can sing, not because of their personal history.
The Ultimate Fighter may make you care about the fighters as you find out about their personal lives, but the only way they make it on the show is by winning. It didn't matter what happened in their past, it all came down to beating their opponent.
Also, Gut Check has produced some embarrassing matches, most notoriously the one involving Kris Lewie.
It was truly horrendous, and possibly the worst televised match in years.
TNA needs to make sure that the talent is ready for national exposure, so they don't make their company look any more minor league than it already does when compared against WWE. This point brings us to...
#6: Leave the Impact Zone Whenever Possible
I’m usually not as against the Impact Zone as many wrestling fans are.
But over the past year, you could probably fill the seats with a bunch of mops and the reaction for the matches would be about the same.
Taking the show on the road probably wouldn't clear up as many problems as the company thinks it will, but filming in different arenas could definitely help their perception.
The London shows that TNA did looked fantastic, and made their wrestlers seem like a big deal. If it's financially feasible, the company should do it more often.
Right now, moving the show out of the Impact Zone is the last big excuse for why TNA's ratings aren't growing.
After landing on Spike, their excuse was that the show needed to get off Saturday nights, then they needed an extra hour, then they needed to be on Monday nights, then they needed to go live.
Yet every one of those moves got them nowhere. The ratings stayed in the same range. They need to realize that the creative direction is much more important than what arena it's filmed in.
Still, leaving the Impact Zone whenever possible would be a step in the right direction.
#5: Add More Tag Teams
One of the things in the past that fans could point to in a WWE vs. TNA argument was that TNA had the better tag division.
Granted, neither company has a flourishing division, but TNA’s is now virtually non-existent.
It’s sad to see, as they’ve had some great teams over the past ten years.
America’s Most Wanted, Triple X, Team 3D, The New Church, Beer Money, The Motor City Machine Guns and L.A.X. have often been the highlights of the show.
Currently, Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero have the tag team titles.
Sorry, but that's just not very exciting.
Sure, Hernandez worked in L.A.X., and Chavo was great with Eddie back in the day, but there's just nothing really interesting about the duo.
The relatively inexpensive thing for TNA to do is hire some tag teams on the independent scene to breathe new life into the division.
Eric Bischoff did a great job bringing in young, athletic wrestlers for the Cruiserweight division in WCW, and TNA could use some more talent to fix the tag division.
All it would take is a couple more teams to give fans something to brag about again when it comes to defending TNA.
#4: Limit Hogan's Appearances
Hulk Hogan may be the most famous wrestler of all time, but in 2012, Hulk Hogan should not be the star of a wrestling show.
TNA needs to cut his TV appearances per show in half.
Hogan shows up between roughly four and eight times on every episode of Impact. The novelty of seeing him interact with the roster was gone within the first month of his run in TNA.
Does it get much worse than wrestlers pleading their case for a title shot to him while he just spouts off one cliche after another?
Those segments just make everyone seem like a cry-baby, and end with Hogan choosing someone for some random, arbitrary reason.
TNA should make him more like the Vince McMahon character in WWE. While he should remain a face, he should only show up when he has something important to do.
Instead, it's often about him.
At Bound for Glory, he single-handedly took out most of Aces and 8s. He doesn't wrestle anymore though, and he doesn't go to house shows. There's just no reason to have him physically go over anyone at this point.
Hogan can still be valuable to TNA, but he doesn't need to be pushed at the expense of every one else on the roster.
#3: Focus More on the Knockouts Division
This is an obvious one.
The talent is there for the most part, but the division is a long way off from where it was in 2006-2008.
Over the past couple years, the title has been handed from one woman to the next (Winter, Mickie James, Gail Kimm, Madison Rayne, and Tara). And somehow, once someone new gets the title, they're suddenly unstoppable.
Meanwhile, the woman who just lost the title becomes a jobber and goes to the back of the line.
Tara used to be jobbing to Kimm, now it's reversed with no real explanation.
It's a shame that the Knockouts these days have to be incredibly beautiful to have a job. The men don't have to fit that standard (would Abyss and Bully Ray still have jobs if that rule were put in place?).
To help differentiate more from WWE's Divas division, they should add more pure athletes. Don't focus on their looks as much, just give fans good matches instead.
Much like the tag division, there just aren't enough women in TNA to make it feel like an actual division.
In the past few months, there have been seven different women competing in the Knockouts division. One of those was a Gut Check winner.
Winning the title when there's basically five others vying for it just doesn't feel very prestigious.
With Knockouts segments often drawing the highest ratings in the past, they could use a minimum of a half-dozen other women to breathe new life into it.
#2: Stop Giving Away so Much
Much like the WWE, TNA overexposes their talent.
When Hardy, Angle, and James Storm compete nearly ever week, it makes it harder to justify shelling out the money for a monthly show.
During the days of WCW (which many in TNA's management should be familiar with), the roster had about 90 wrestlers under contract.
Now, that's way too many for TNA to take on for a two hour show a week, but they definitely need a few more.
There are basically two tiers in all of TNA.
Tier 1: Austin Aries, Kurt Angle, James Storm, RVD, Bobby Roode, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray, Mr. Anderson, Samoa Joe.
Tier 2: Everyone else on the roster.
Besides Robbie E., there are really no jobbers. Every show has a card that is seemingly interchangeable with a pay-per-view.
There's no dominant wrestler on the roster, as all the top guys just trade wins with each other (just check out the Bound For Glory series).
The problem is, they don't take on guys who are lower on the totem pole often enough, so no one really stands out as special.
Since the company doesn't compete head-to-head with WWE anymore, they don't need to throw big matches out every week in fear of their viewers flipping to the other company.
The ratings remain the same no matter what big match TNA gives away. They should pull back and actually build to big showdowns, and see if they can make money that way instead.
#1: Just Rename the Company Already!
You can just picture a kid asking his parents to take him to a house show.
"Hey mom, will you take me to a live Total Nonstop Action show this weekend?"
The TNA initials are idiotic, they're embarrassing to say, and they sound like a porno company, not a wrestling company.
With this name, you can imagine it would be harder to get licensing deals for toys and video games (by the way, why hasn't there been a TNA video game in years?).
When TNA Impact was renamed Impact Wrestling, it looked like they were finally going to do away with the TNA initials. But they didn't...well, not really.
It's never fully been explained why the company sometimes refers to itself as Impact Wrestling and other times as TNA.
Seriously, what is it?
Maybe this is controversial, but they should just go all in with Impact Wrestling, and then add the word Federation, Organization or Championship at the end.
Sure, it may confuse some people at first, but at least it doesn't sound like a company that was named by a 12-year-old.
Agree? Disagree? Anything else that you would fix? Sound off below!