Walk Before You Run: TNA Losing Focus While Trying to Run with WWE

Bill LCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2009

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 27:  TNA President Dixie Carter and wrestler Hulk Hogan attends the launch of his book 'My Life Outside the Ring' at Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

I wrote this piece about things I felt TNA should consider before worrying about a full-on Monday Night War with WWE a few days ago.  After some reflection and watching tonight’s iMPACT broadcast, I want to elaborate on a point I briefly made in that article regarding the focus of the organization.


One thing I have started to notice is that TNA’s focus has shifted.  From where I see it, this shift in attitude corresponds with timing of the announcement of Hulk Hogan as a new partner.  They are losing their internal focus and beginning to become WWE-obsessed.


Over the past several months, we have watched TNA begin to take strides in the right direction.  They have begun to focus on younger homegrown talents over the stars they signed away from WWE or WCW. 


AJ Styles became champion, Desmond Wolfe came in and had tremendous matches with Kurt Angle, and we saw a little more X-Division action.


We’ve seen several on-camera interviews by Dixie Carter in probably her most substantial on-screen time yet.  She has made the comment in the most recent interview that she is not satisfied with where they are but happy with how far TNA has come in the past seven years. 


She hopes to focus the talent on the goal of being the biggest and most successful company in the wrestling business, which is an honorable objective.


Dixie said that she believes the focus on younger talent will not change with the introduction of Hulk Hogan to the TNA organization.  She believes that adding the Hulkster will give the young talents the most experienced and recognizable pro wrestling mind to turn to for advice and help them grow. 


Again, this is noble and I certainly hope it happens that way and not like how things happened in the now-defunct WCW.


Judging by the press this has received on the Internet and in other media outlets, the partnership between Hogan and Dixie Carter is big news.  It is certainly worthy of the attention and raw publicity it has gotten.


My concern is that it, and subsequently competing with WWE, should not become the sole focus of the company. 


Yet almost like subliminal advertising, we get to see video clips of The Hulkster in every iMPACT broadcast or something related to Hulk Hogan's impact on the company. 


Tonight's program left me feeling like there was no pay-per-view event coming up, in part because of that.


As we all know, the most recent announcement of going head to head with Raw on Jan. 4 made major headlines around the wrestling world and has been billed as many things. 


Some in the Internet Wrestling Community jumped to call it a renewed Monday Night War era, while others called it simply a “test run.” 


I believe it is only a test run, but again the media coverage around this show places the focus squarely on competing with WWE rather than on the TNA product.


A giant billboard is up in Times Square promoting the TNA show on Jan. 4.  The words "IT'S ON, BROTHER!" are emblazoned across the top.  The announcement that Hogan made on the Ultimate Fighter finale pointed squarely to competing with WWE, with little mention of the TNA product.


Expectations are high for that live show, and maybe unrealistically high. 


In a recent radio interview on the "Right After Wrestling" program on SIRIUS 98, Hulk Hogan predicted that Nielsen ratings would triple to a 3.0 on his debut appearance on TNA Impact on Monday, Jan. 4. 


As much as I hate to say it, I suspect Hogan may have been hit on the head with a chair a few too many times to make that comment.


Hogan has definitely generated a lot of publicity, but sadly it’s not focused on the TNA product in my opinion. 


If anything, there has been more attention paid to him and to the WWE’s response instead.  Making matters worse is that WWE has no real concern with the program on Jan. 4 according to this quote on TNAWrestlingNews.com:


“From talking to people in WWE, there is said to be ‘no concern whatsoever’ in regard to TNA’s iMPACT going head-to-head with Monday night RAW on Jan. 4, 2010.  There is such little concern about TNA that WWE is not even looking to move RAW to three hours, though there is talk of lining up a strong guest host for the first two weeks of the New Year.”


“Among those in WWE, the general feeling is that TNA President Dixie Carter is ‘incredibly naïve’ and that TNA is in for a massive disappointment come Jan. 5 when the ratings come in.”


Even Jim Ross called this one night of simultaneous airing “an opportunity for the smaller organization to become more relevant and nip at the big dog.” 


I think he’s speaking with some level of truth when he says “become more relevant.”  It really speaks to where TNA fits in the professional wrestling landscape at the moment.


From keeping story lines coherent with minimal swerving to having true heels and faces, there’s definitely room to improve the current TNA product already and make TNA more relevant in the landscape.


It seems at times they are doing that and having success with it.  But keeping that momentum going requires continued focus on the TNA product, and not “the machine in the northeast.”


Wanting to be the best in your chosen industry is noble and should be every person’s goal.  Being the best is not dependent on focusing on someone else’s game or their accomplishments though; that comes from focusing within. 


The single best thing TNA can do internally right now is to focus on their own stars and their own product, and the success will come.