The Unexpected Rise of TNA: How it is Challenging the WWE

Cec Van GaliniAnalyst IIIAugust 19, 2010

12 Jul 2000: Vince McMahon talks during the XFL Press Conference at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California.Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport
Tom Hauck/Getty Images

It is important to note that the WWE remains firmly in the lead. Their production is slick and professional - Wrestlemania is a clear indication of this. However in terms of content, is TNA beginning to close the gap?

Few could have imagined this during the horrific first few months of the Hogan era where the Nasty Boys were on show. The sight of Scott Hall and Sean Waltman making an estimated $3000 a night for doing practically nothing was another example.

However in recent times, TNA seems to have turned a corner, and recent viewer figures of 1.2 and 1.25 seems to suggest that its audience is growing.

Compared with a 0.50 early in the Hogan era, fans are beginning to take notice of the underdog in the south.

What has caused this interest can be found within the actual content of the show. I for one might even conclude that TNA in terms of action is actually beating the WWE - contraversial perhaps but compare it to Smackdown in particular, and TNA is showing better quality matches.

The recent Tag Team series between the Guns and Beer Money is easily better than anything else in WWE where the Harts face little to no competition. Its arguable as Mike Tenay believes that the series stands as one of the best wrestling series in history.

The title reign of Rob Van Dam too has given the TNA title a sense of legitimacy. As one B/R commentator has said this week, WWE reigns simply do not last long enough. Van Dam held the title for several months before the Abyss attack.

Relinquishing the title has robbed the fans of a possible showdown with Kurt Angle but the tournament will generate fan interest.

TNA is beginning to punch above its weight. It may still look like a small time indie promotion but it is beginning to develop a global presence and an increasing audience. In contrast, the WWE seems to be struggling, a company in transition, seeking desperately to replace its previous generation.

Maybe the TNA of today is Bischoff's dream of where he wanted to take WCW before executives intervened? An edgier programme took that company to the heights of the wrestling world, which in turn forced WWE to create the Attitude Era simply to survive.

The PG era is not a problem, but poor matches are. Summerslam featuring an IC match and a WWE title match with poor finishes? Four weeks of preparation and storylines only to see interference and a very poor DQ?

Reaction to this PPV have been critical and rightfully so. Only the Nexus match had any interest for me with even the excitement of an Undertaker return being botched.

TNA is not going to challenge the WWE anytime soon. It has markers it needs to achieve first. The pursuit of that all important 2.0 rating is its first major landmark. The neighbour in the north will continue to dominate but has WWE complacency begun to cost them some support who are now beginning to pay attention to TNA?

Continue with high quality matches and TNA will grow. Utilising its best talent and giving them chance to succeed, and TNA will grow. Advertisers and TV companies looking for something to take a gamble on - TNA might just begin to grow more than anyone might have predicted.

The WWE is not concerned by TNA just yet. But maybe to avoid history repeating itself, it needs to realise now, that ignoring a problem simply will not work. If Bischoff has truely realised the mistakes of the past then maybe, just maybe, TNA has something.

And if he does, how long will it be before TNA secures that historic 2.0 rating?