Are Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff about to relive history? Is a national wrestling organization going to be pulled under once and for all because of their incompetence?
We may be inching closer to the end of TNA.
These are troubling signs that all is not well in Dixieland. The company may not only be in trouble, but it may have been injected with a lethal dose of poison that will pull it under.
For fans familiar with wrestling history, they've seen this play out before. WCW was the No. 2 wrestling company in the country for years (briefly No. 1). Near the end, ratings had dropped, but they were still nearly three times that of TNA's. The plug was then pulled.
Suddenly, there was one company left standing.
Despite all Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff did for WCW, they also had a hand in putting it out of business. They played politics, brought in their cronies, dished out big money contracts and didn't know what talent to push when times got tough.
Here are five ways that we may be seeing history repeat itself, and why Hogan and Bischoff may end up putting another wrestling company out of business.
Since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined TNA, they've given a bunch of big pushes to various talent, only to just as abruptly stop those pushes.
Orlando Jordan, Rob Terry, Jay Lethal, Crimson, Rob Van Dam and Abyss (who Hogan infamously described as the next John Cena) were the duos' hand-picked choices to become stars. None of them panned out.
We also haven't seen a lot of new faces join the company either, and what we have seen hasn't been encouraging.
Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff are two prime examples of their cluelessness. Garett simply wouldn't have a job if it weren't for his father. If TNA let him go today, it's incredibly doubtful that WWE would ever come calling.
Brisco meanwhile has a legendary last name, but he was let go from WWE developmental. He should have had every chance in the world to join the WWE roster, but he never made it. If they didn't want him, you can only guess what was wrong.
While in charge, Hogan and Bischoff also haven't been shy about bringing in some of their good pals. Jason Hervey (Wayne from The Wonder Years), The Nasty Boys and Jimmy Hart all landed jobs with the company. Coincidence?
Meanwhile, Desmond Wolfe, Amazing Red, The Young Bucks, Alex Shelley, Winter, Daffney, Hamada, Cheerleader Melissa, Elijah Burke, Awesome Kong, Douglas Williams, Madison Rayne, Jerry Lynn, Angelina Love, Matt Morgan and others have all departed under the duo's watch.
If the two had their head in the game, they could have signed so much outstanding independent talent, but one-by-one, WWE got them instead. Guys like Samuray Del Sol and El Generico could have been theirs for the taking, but they'd rather have cast-offs.
Don't forget, Eric Bischoff is the same guy who let talent like Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, X-Pac and The Big Show leave WCW while he was bringing in guys like Brian Adams, Vincent and The Ultimate Warrior.
Leaving the Impact Zone in Orlando has long been a goal for TNA. It is definitely something the company should have done... when it was ready.
It was not ready.
Hulk Hogan always seems to think that the company is just one step away from competing with WWE: they just need to go live, they just need to be on Monday nights, they just need to leave the Impact Zone.
Dixie Carter has granted all those wishes, and the ratings have not improved one bit.
TNA is stuck in the same spot it's been in for years. Now though, the cost of producing Impact has gone up dramatically since they now have to travel across the country, rent out arenas and air the program live.
Because of this, TNA ends up filming two weeks of shows, one after the other, to save money. The problem is, by the second show the crowd is noticeably quieter. The excitement is gone. It's exciting to see Hulk Hogan the first time, but when you see him six times over the course of four hours, it's a lot less novel.
The shows are also far from sell outs, which makes you wonder how long the company can continue down this road.
Aces and 8's, "They," The Bound for Glory Series, Immortal, Fortune, EV 2.0, the restructured X-Division, defending the TV Title every week on TV, Gut Check and Open Fight Night.
These have all been grand concepts that TNA has introduced the past couple of years. Too bad none of them have succeeded.
Eric Bischoff was the brain child of the NWO, but it's starting to seem that was one of his only good ideas.
TNA makes things overly-complex when they don't need to be. For example, WWE does a Royal Rumble to determine who is going to compete at WrestleMania. One match. Easy to follow, easy to get excited for.
TNA though, has a four-month tournament with various levels of points to determine who competes for the title at Bound For Glory. Added onto that are various gimmick matches that will award the winner 25 points.
Some things though, aren't very well explained. Why is a submission worth more points than a pinfall? And since it is worth more, after a wrestler hits his finisher, then why wouldn't he automatically go for a submission on his downed opponent to pick up those extra points?
Right now, if you're watching Impact and you're not into Aces and 8's or the Bound for Glory series, then there isn't much for you.
WCW revolved around the New World Order so much so that nothing else of importance really happened on Nitro. After the group ran its course, Bischoff (with Vince Russo) revolved the company around The New Blood vs. The Millionaire's Club.
After the two joined TNA, the shows then centered on another gigantic faction war with Immortal. Is this all sounding too familiar?
Without a doubt, the person who takes up the most time on TNA Impact is Hulk Hogan.
This is a huge problem.
Hogan may be the biggest name in the history of the business, but his wrestling days are well over. Yes, he may have one or two matches left in the tank, but it's not worth the time devoted to him.
He opens Impact, he closes Impact, he gets involved in nearly every storyline. There's no satisfactory payoff, and there never will be because Hogan can't fight the people he's feuding with.
Sure, Hogan and Bischoff don't actually sit down and write Impact, but they sure have the power to veto anything that airs.
It's hard to know where to begin to critique the current booking, but let's try anyway. Here's what we have:
- Emo babyfaces like James Storm and A.J. Styles that are hard to root for.
- Crimson making his return after a year away and jobbing in two minutes to Joseph Park in his return. Then he was released.
- Abyss finally returned... and then disappeared again.
- Suicide becomes Manic, everyone knows who he is, and he decides to keep the outfit anyway.
- A heel No. 1 contender for the Knockouts Title who is set to face a fellow heel.
- The Hogan/Matt Morgan feud that went absolutely nowhere.
- D.O.C. and Knux doing absolutely nothing in Aces and 8's.
- Samoa Joe's inclusion in the Main Event Mafia had no mention by Sting that he was a former member.
Speaking of the Mafia, apparently we're supposed to forget that Sting was kicked out of the original heel group. Now they're a group of babyfaces and he's the leader. That's some quality writing!
To top if all off, Brooke Hogan was inexplicably named the head of the Knockouts division. You have to wonder if the company exists solely to star the Hogan family.
When you used to compare TNA to the WWE, there were basically three things that the TNA faithful could boast about: he tag-team division, he Knockouts division and longer, more athletic matches.
No longer can those be bragging points. It's hard to distinguish what separates TNA from a minor league WWE.
Heck, even the six-sided ring is gone!
Long gone are the days of exciting teams like Beer Money, Triple X, L.A.X. and Christopher Daniels and A.J. Styles. Now, there's hardly any division to speak of.
The Knockouts Division is easily better than WWE's Divas division, but they're still a far cry from when Dutch Mantell was booking it.
The company used to take great pride in the X-Division, but it's hardly a focus anymore. Homegrown talent like A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe were stars in the division and were elevated to World Heavyweight Champions. That was a long time ago.
Perhaps most damaging, half of the roster in TNA is WWE and WCW castoffs.
If you watch Impact, Bully Ray, Chavo Guerrero, D.O.C., Devon, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Mr. Anderson, Knux, D'Lo Brown, Taz, Mike Tenay, Sting, Gail Kim, Mickie James, Tara, Miss Tessmacher, Taryn Terrell and Hulk Hogan all came from WWE or WCW.
The company also used to hype their in-ring product as superior to WWE. For awhile that may have been true, but right now that's heavily debatable. With Raw being three hours, we're seeing some long, very good matches every week.
Meanwhile, TNA often has matches under five minutes, even if they are Bound for Glory series contests. That's just not enough time to build something exciting.
TNA desperately needs to build an identity and relying on recognizable talent from another company won't help create it.
In the end, Bischoff and Hogan probably aren't bad people. They're probably not trying to bring TNA under. They probably even think their ideas are good.
But they're not.
The two are doing a lot of damage to a company that has hundreds of employees. A lot of people depend on TNA to stay in business for their livelihood.
But the current creative regime just can't cut it. Hogan and Bischoff have had over three years to get the job done. There's no other way around it: they have been an absolute, unmitigated failure. They're out of excuses and it's time for them to go.
If Dixie Carter doesn't put someone else in creative control, we could soon have a WCW-like situation on our hands.