Total Nonstop Action: The Most Hated Promotion in Professional Wrestling?

Jamie JohnsonContributor ISeptember 12, 2010

What's happening with the house AJ Styles built?
What's happening with the house AJ Styles built?

While watching the RoH pay-per-view last night, I heard a lot of negative chatter from fellow watchers about TNA. I also hear negative chatter while watching WWE events with a crowd. This has led me to make a broad generalization which certainly holds a lot of truth to it: the more an individual dislikes TNA, the probability of said individual being an RoH or WWE mark increases.

Hang with me, let me explain how it works. My intentions here are not to offend anyone, but to figure out why TNA can't seem to catch a break from the IWC. Let me break down the reason the other two promotions are doing so well, then get back to how it directly affects TNA.

Ring of Honor is king of the indy promotions, without question. Aside from the quickly rising Dragon Gate USA, there's no competition in sight. The promotion has built itself solidly on DVD sales, and almost from its inception went on the road to promote themselves. They pride themselves in their match quality and it pays off. Its fanbase is arguably the best in the business. The fans love RoH because of its no-nonsense storylines and the fact that they fully utilize its talented roster.

World Wrestling Entertainment - the monolith, the giant, the most successful promotion in the world. The adults today grew up with it, and its programming is child-friendly to reel in new watchers while they're young. It's an excellent strategy, to be quite honest. Regardless of how watered down the WWE becomes, regardless of the ridiculous angles it has pursued, WWE's adult watchers will continue to watch because they've been conditioned to be lifelong fans and its younger audience will laugh it up and enjoy the mild violence their parents allow them to watch. The WWE has four programs a week, as well as monthly pay-per-views. They've travelled to every corner on Earth. They promote, and do so extremely well, to ensure high turn-out at every show.

This leads me to conclude that most professional wrestling fans seem to fall into one of two categories: those who watch for the "soap opera" aspect as Linda McMahon calls it, and those who watch for the match performance.

Total Nonstop Action lays somewhere in the middle of these two promotions. Once upon a time, TNA appealed more to an RoH-type of audience. The two promotions even shared wrestlers years ago. TNA had a more extreme style, however, and featured the best women's wrestling in the business, which made them stand out from the other two. That was TNA's bread and butter, if you will. That was TNA's place in the professional wrestling scene, and they did it to perfection.

TNA started growing, attracting the attention of many. Instead of sticking to their formula of success and converting the WWE-type fans with their incredibly entertaining match style, they decided to go more mainstream. They signed on big names such as Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to beef up potential storylines. Since then, it's been one piece of "shocking" news after another. The move to Monday nights, and airing live every other week, to directly compete with WWE. The revivals of nWo and ECW. Signing a lot of previous WWE talent. Going back to airing live.

With TNA management putting so much focus on captivating storylines and signing familiar wrestlers that will appeal to the 18-35 male demographic who are regularly watching WWE, the very foundation of TNA has been ignored, forgotten, and chipped away at. The Knockouts division has seen significant losses in talent, and the X division has all but been swept under the rug.

What does TNA have to show for this effort? Not much. WWE fans have, for the most part, laughed at TNA's attempt to attract them. They might tune in for the big events, such as The Whole F'n Show edition of Impact, or to check up on previously beloved wrestlers from their past, but that's about as far as their viewership goes. RoH fans need not change the station these days to see their favorite TNA wrestlers in action anymore. After acquisitions such as Homicide and Christopher Daniels, it's left many wondering what other TNA wrestlers will leave to be picked up by the company.

And the most important fan of all to be discussed here are those who have been loyal to TNA for years. We've been left in the dust while TNA figures out which audience it wants to try to go after next. After constant remodeling of the company, one has to wonder why TNA hasn't decided to go back what got them to where they are now. The WWE audience won't respect them as long as they keep pandering to them, and the RoH audience won't either because of the swift decline in the number of matches along with match quality.

But we're still here, TNA. Your fans, your supporters. The others might not appreciate you, but we do. We get excited when we hear an actual X Division wrestler is going to hit the ring. We feel pride when we see our women wrestlers perform in matches that last longer than three minutes. We call our friends when a great tag match is coming up. As TNA continues chipping at the blocks of its foundation, all of these things that get us excited are fading away. And I can say with a high amount of certainty that we aren't going to be here for much longer if you continue losing your voice. Please don't make us hate you, too.