5 Colossal Mistakes TNA Has Made
The sky is falling. Fast.
The Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling we've come to know over the years is crumbling before our very eyes.
Even those in management are holding on for dear life. D’Lo Brown is gone. Bruce Prichard is done. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff remain comfortably employed, so there’s always that.
(Actually, Hogan is even feeling the hurt with late paychecks.)
Things started off innocently enough with the departure of announcer Todd Keneley. Little did we know what was to befall the company.
It became a landslide.
Tara, Crimson, Matt Morgan, D.O.C., Christian York, Madison Rayne, Taeler Hendrix, Joey Ryan and Jesse Sorensen all became unemployed.
This isn’t the WWE where wrestlers are released to make way for new talent. These wrestlers are gone, thanks to cost-cutting measures. It’s doubtful anyone will be taking their place soon.
If only this could all have been avoided. Oh wait, it could have!
There have been countless mistakes made in TNA, big and small (just like any company makes). But TNA has never learned its lesson. It continually makes error after error without any gained sense of self-awareness or willingness to change.
Here are just five of the biggest mistakes that TNA has made during the course of its existence.
Consider this part three in the (possible) TNA death watch series.
No. 5: Letting CM Punk Go
Who would have guessed that CM Punk would become one of the biggest stars in wrestling?
TNA sure didn't, but it's too bad that someone in power didn't try to hold onto him.
Back in 2005 Punk was a member of the TNA roster. Along with Alexis Laree (the future Mickie James), he was basically relegated to one of Raven’s lackeys. Granted, it wasn’t a bad spot to be in at the time, but no one in the company saw his potential.
That’s too bad.
Had Punk been groomed in TNA he could have helped bring more fans to the organization with the right push. He could have had incredible matches with Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle. He could have been their No. 1 star.
Instead, he was a small footnote in the company's history and a big part of WWE's.
Imagine Impact fans having something to hang their hats onto when arguing with WWE fans. "Your top guy is John Cena? Well, ours is CM Punk!"
Right now, the argument stands at "Your top guy is John Cena? Well, ours is Hulk Hogan, brother!"
No. 4: Letting Dutch Mantel Go
TNA once had a thriving Knockouts division on TV, and America's favorite wrestling bigot was the man responsible for it.
Sure, the division is still probably better than WWE’s, but what is that saying? TNA only has six women in the entire division! One of them (ODB) is a referee.
At one point, the Knockouts were the best part of TNA. We had a popular babyface in Gail Kim, the unstoppable Awesome Kong and entertaining co-stars in Daffney, Hamada, Alissa Flash, Sarita, The Beautiful People and Roxxi.
This era of the Knockouts division stressed athleticism over looks. It was the brainchild of Dutch Mantel, better known to the WWE audience as Zeb Colter.
Mantel's main problem was being an ally of Jeff Jarrett's. When Double J was removed from power in TNA, Mantel went with him.
Vince Russo then became responsible for the division, and we saw nonsense like the lockbox match, where the Knockouts Title was randomly given away in a box. Imagine a world title being subjected to that.
A few years ago, the Knockout segments were often the highest rated of the show, even though the talent was earning a mere fraction of what guys like Sting and Kevin Nash were.
Instead of going with what was clearly working, Mantel was ousted, Russo was in and the division has never recovered.
No. 3: Dismantling the X-Division
The X-Division is still around, but it’s become more of a gimmick than a legitimate drawing card.
When the company first started, Jerry Jarrett (one of the founding members of the company) was thrilled with the X-Division. He wanted the title to be as prestigious as the TNA Heavyweight Title.
The company brought in guys like Amazing Red, A.J. Styles, Jerry Lynn, Kid Kash, Sean Waltman, Senshi, Christopher Daniels and a plethora of other international talent.
The division was deep and filled with incredible athletic matches. You couldn't find anything else like it on WWE.
Over the years, the title and the division became less relevant. Seemingly every pay-per-view began with high-spot fests often filled with four or more X-Division wrestlers. These matches gave us no character development. They were just wild train wrecks that were quickly forgotten.
Most recently, TNA has become more gimmicky with the division and made the rule that every title match must have three men competing in it. But why?
Eric Bischoff, of all people, should know better. He made the Cruiserweight title in WCW one of the most exciting aspects of the show. It didn't need completely unnecessary rules to get fans excited. It just needed incredible talent.
TNA should go back to basics with the X-Division. Once again, it messed with something that was working.
No. 2: Not Hiring Jim Ross
As Jim Ross would say, "business is about to pick up!"
Well, it should have picked up, but instead it went the opposite way because the company didn't hire him.
Sometime in the future, we may look back at 2010 as the year that TNA began to dig its own grave.
It was the year that the company had big dreams. It was going to go up against WWE in a new Monday Night War. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were there to take the company to new heights. It was an exciting time to be a fan.
Too bad that the experiment failed miserably.
While everyone was talking about Hogan and Bischoff, one of the lesser known stories of that year was that of the failure to bring in Jim Ross.
Ross was on the outs with WWE. He had been removed as the announcer of Raw and was no longer under contract.
TNA didn't go for it. Ross eventually went back to WWE.
The company could have had not only one of the greatest announcers of all time, but he was largely responsible for assembling the WWE roster during the Attitude Era. His eye for talent is second to none.
You can only imagine how much more Jim Ross would have improved the TNA product than guys like Rob Van Dam, Mr. Anderson, Matt Hardy, Val Venis, The Nasty Boys and countless other talent the company brought in.
No. 1: Not Hiring Paul Heyman
Here's another extremely bad TNA decision from 2010.
Paul Heyman almost joined the company that year, but the company failed to bring him in.
Not only would Heyman finally have created a vision for TNA that separates it from WWE, but it would have kept him off of WWE television.
Heyman immensely adds to Brock Lesnar’s act, he adds to CM Punk's act and he's the best talker in the business right now.
But most of all, Heyman is a star maker.
He supplied so much talent to WCW and WWE that he should still be getting paid for it. Just try to imagine the careers of top talent without Heyman’s influence: Taz, Rob Van Dam, Steve Austin, Rey Mysterio Jr., Mick Foley, Eddie Guerrero, Raven and so many more.
What stars did Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff create in WCW? Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page. That's about it, despite the massive budget and hours of prime-time TV they had behind them.
Basically, Dixie Carter hired the people who stole stars from others and didn't know how to create their own.
Dixie put her money in the wrong hands and didn’t study wrestling history. Sure, Heyman did eventually usher ECW out of business, but that’s because of bad business decisions and constant talents raids. With Dixie controlling finances, she would still have had the final say.
Heyman wanted to cut the budget. He wanted to invest in youth. He wanted to "chop the heads" off of anyone over 40.
He would have gotten rid of the big names who were hogging the spotlight and the big checks.
Instead, for the past three years, we're watching an uninspired mess of a show that stars a nearly 60-year-old man.
Now that's extremely disappointing.