Ever since TNA announced a Monday night Impact on Jan. 4, people have wondered if this was going to be a permanent thing. With the fourth having come and gone, and the show scoring its highest rating ever, the questions have changed from "if" to "when."
Now that it has been made official that TNA Impact will be a fixture on Monday nights, it leaves me with the question as to whether or not they are really ready to compete with the WWE.
On paper it looks like they are. They appear to have the full support of their network. They had their best ratings ever on their first foray into Monday nights. Heck, it would be hard, if not impossible, to argue that TNA is the most popular it's ever been.
So you're probably thinking, “With all the aforementioned positives, what's up with the headline? "
If life has taught me anything, it's that how things look on paper and how they end up playing out in real life can yield two completely different results. While I admit that popularity wise, TNA is riding a high, I still believe that there are a lot of problems in TNA that have yet to be addressed.
If we take a critical look back on the Jan. 4 show, you don't have to watch very long to find some of the problems that took place on the biggest night of TNA's eight-year history.
TNA's opening match was a giant debacle. A DQ finish in the Steel Asylum match because no one in the match could climb out of the cage. Then, as the "bulls***" chants started and subsequently got louder, they sent out their newest free agent acquisition, Jeff Hardy, in what can be described as the worst debut of a talent this wrestling fan has ever seen.
Now, again on paper, one could argue that TNA has corrected that mistake by scrapping the six sides and the Steel Asylum. However, I don't believe that those moves fixed the bigger problems with what went down.
How, on the biggest night of your existence, do you make the opening match of your show a match where none of the participants can actually win. You know, last I checked, wrestling was supposed to be scripted, so problems like this, rarely, if ever, occur.
I mean, if I'm not mistaken, they had what, over a month to plan the show? You would think that in that time, you would have made sure that the wrestlers in the match could actually accomplish, what it takes to win the match.
Now, I would be willing to give the benefit of the doubt if this was done by people who don't have experience with live wrestling television. However, these decisions were made, planned, and excused by Hogan, Bishoff, and Russo: guys who aren't exactly what I would call rookies in the wrestling business.
For this to take place in the first fifteen minutes of a show, that has been in the works for over a month, is something that should concern anyone who wants to see TNA succeed in the long term.
Then, as a way to quell the increasingly angry audience, TNA brings out Jeff Hardy in a manner, that was strikingly similar to a Family Guy episode where Adam West brings out his keys so that the jingling might distract the angry crowd.
Again, I understand that mistakes happen and that it was their first Monday night show. However, when you factor in the time they had to plan the show and the experience back stage, it leaves this fan with questions as to how they will cope on Monday nights for the long haul.
While I could go on and on about the rest of the mistakes that happened on the fourth, this article isn't just about the mistakes of one night. This article is about whether or not TNA is making the right decision moving to Monday nights at this time.
Since the beginning of the Hogan/Bishoff era, and especially since the Jan. 4 show, there have been many other mistakes that have occurred, showing a disturbing trend.
I'm not talking about questionable bookings, peculiar heel turns, burying of TNA original talent, or awkward in-ring and backstage skits. No, I'm talking about the increase of needless negative press and contradictory comments being made by some of the people who have been at the forefront of TNA.
I don't think anyone has to be reminded of the insensitive comments made by Bubba the Love Sponge in regards to the earthquake in Haiti. Now yes, he did apologize for them. However, the fact that one of your newest and most vocal employees would make such a careless comment, especially when your organizing a fund raising campaign for the disaster, is bad press that should have never happened.
That bad press didn't end there, though. No, it was made worse by the dust up between Kong and Bubba days later. Now, I will give TNA some credit here for keeping both of them off TV for awhile to try to let this blow over. However, some of that credit gets taken back when Hogan goes on Bubba's show and tries to make jokes about it.
You know, when you represent a company, you're supposed to address problems in a way that diffuses the bad situation so everyone can move past it. You don't make the situation worse by making comments that just add more fuel to the already out of control inferno. The whole "controversy creates cash" theory is nice, but it doesn't always work, and in this case, it didn't.
Next, let's look at the whole Hogan, Bishoff, Russo situation. As has been well documented, both Hogan and Bishoff have had problems with Vince Russo and vice-versa. Now I understand that many times in life you have to work with people you don't like. However, most places keep their grievances and opinions with one another behind close doors, but not these three.
It seems that I just keep reading stories with comments that are just plain confusing. You have Hogan and Bishoff airing their opinions and criticisms on about Vince Russo, which seem to change on a week to week basis. Then you have Russo deflecting any and all criticism, from anyone, anywhere.
Finally, you have all three of them reliving the whole WCW debacle and rehashing the whole, “Who's fault was it for WCW failures” argument. Can someone please explain how any of this is suppose to help TNA grow and produce a better product that will have them surpass WWE?
The bottom line is that none of this does. All it does is illustrate that none of these guys are really on the same page, which explains why there have been so many perceived problems in TNA.
This is why I believe (given the current state of affairs in TNA) a Monday night showdown might have more success if they fix the continuity issues first, rather than throwing themselves in the fire, hoping for a miraculous rise from the ashes.
I must add that, even though I believe they need more time, time itself might not be enough to solve their problems. If we look at the fact that TNA had over a month to plan for Jan. 4, and it was riddled with problems. Then, we look at the fact that the three guys in charge haven't gotten along going back to their WCW days.
Add this up, and what are you left with?
You are left with a disturbing situation that right now doesn't have an end in sight.
A while back TNA declared a war on the WWE, but for this to actually happen they need to end their own civil war that is seemingly being waged backstage by the people entrusted to help grow TNA.
I, as a wrestling fan, hope that things get better, that all involved in TNA get on the same page and the self-inflicted wounds stop. I, like many wrestling fans, want not just competition for the short term, but a company that will rival WWE for decades to come.
However, until these things are corrected, I believe Monday night Impact will be nothing more that a cover up for a dysfunctional group that is on a collision course doomed to repeat its own past failures.