Bound for Glory, the Wrestlemania of Total Nonstop Action, is only a few weeks away.
This should be the biggest, most talked about time of year for TNA, but on this particular site, there hasn't been an article written about the other pro-wrestling show in four days.
Is that the sound of the TNA locomotive losing steam?
I had to take my car in to shop the other day because it was making one of those innocuous "noises" that can be anything from a loose hose to a dying transmission (thankfully it was the former).
While I was paying and signing my 30th form (giving me sole custody of the hose), I overheard two guys talking about WWE and TNA.
The mechanic mentioned that he was taking his son to Night of Champions to make up for missing Raw the last time it came through Chicago.
After they spoke for a few minutes about it, I could tell that they were casual fans, but fans none the less. Then I heard this exchange which, to me, completely summarizes the loss in TNA momentum:
Mechanic: "Hey have you heard of that other promotion? What is it... T...N...A?"
Customer: "Oh? Uh...yeah! That one they've got Hulk Hogan and all those old guys."
Mechanic: (laughs) "Yeah it's like the WWE from the 90's or WCW or whatever."
Customer: "I haven't seen it but I heard of it. It's like a throw-back thing, right?"
Obviously, these two don't speak for all fans casual or hardcore, but it just amazed me that two strangers that appeared to only be fans in passing, knew enough to draw this opinion of TNA. This is the external view of TNA, the surface view.
Apparently, when casual fans look at TNA, they think of Hulk Hogan and retirement home wrestling. To them, WWE is fresh in comparison.
To them, TNA is not AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Generation Me, The Guns, Hernandez, Matt Morgan, Desmond Wolfe, Douglas Williams, the X Division, the Knockouts and so much more.
To them, it's a "throw-back thing." I was honestly a little floored when I overheard this. I wanted to chime in and say "yeah but they have some young guys in that promotion that..." But I didn't. What's the point? TNA has been headed down this long, dark road for months now.
A glimmer of hope here, a sliver of potential there, but for every two steps forward TNA has taken in the last year, they've taken ten steps back.
For every MCMG vs Beer Money, they have EV2.0, the NWO, the incomprehensible Sting/Nash/Jarrett... Feud?
For every amazing match that Kurt Angle's involved in, where he appears to leave 10 years of his life in the ring afterwards, we get shoddy booking where Samoa Joe gets kidnapped, with no resolution to the storyline.
We get a half hour of Hulk Hogan coming out to tell us how cool this is or how cool that is, because I generally listen to a 60-year-old man's idea of "cool."
I'm telling you, there are so many symptoms of the greater problem in TNA that I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was when I overheard these guys. it's honestly amazing that Dixie Carter doesn't see it herself.
The ratings have leveled off after years of slow but upward momentum. The Internet is no longer drooling over the potential stars that TNA has and we've heard seemingly endless rumblings from unhappy talent.
For the Internet's part, I've read articles about this misused star or that (I even see a newer one about AJ Styles) but even the criticism; the frustration over TNA's lack of desire or inability to market their true talent, has leveled off.
Perhaps people simply believe that this is all we're going to get. At the end of the day, when TNA was looking like a viable contender with so much promise, the sharks smelled blood in the water and they rushed in, taking the spots of many young stars in the process.
Apparently we as fans just have to accept the fact that older guys want to go out to the ring and talk and talk and talk ad nauseam.
Perhaps at the genesis of this decline, Dixie Carter, Eric Bischoff, and Hulk Hogan simply felt that going with more established names would bring greater notoriety and recognition from the fans.
Sure, there's recognition alright. "That one they've got Hulk Hogan and all those old guys." There's your recognition TNA fans. That's the casual audience talking and I for one don't like what they're saying at all.
Not one bit.
Bound for Glory, TNA's biggest Pay Per View of the year is only three weeks away and its so quiet on the Internet, you could hear a proverbial pin drop. This last year has been a glorified science experiment for TNA.
They added any name that they could find and then watched as the fans, who generally love great wrestling, waned in their enthusiasm, predictably due to the increase in bad wrestling, bad story lines and bad booking decisions.
So this is what it's like to see the buzz wear off, to see something peak and begin to fall.
TNA, one last time, I'm begging you: Please use the talent that you have to build your company from the ground up. Stop relying on has-beens that can't wrestle.
No one even wants to hear them talk anymore because the wrestling payoff in no way even remotely justifies the time lost to their endless theater.
TNA's strong suit has always been the wrestling. When building off of that, TNA was finding their audience. Heck, they found me back when I had no idea the WWE even had any competition anymore.
They were like a rumor that I read on the Internet, and when I tuned in, just in time to see Petey Williams flip pile-drive someone, I knew that I'd found a new home for wrestling.
Continue to ride with Hogan, Foley, Sting, EV2 and the rest of these older guys and that's a short road that leads nowhere. While they're at home, counting their money and reliving their greatest matches, TNA will never enter their thought process.
Dixie Carter, meanwhile,will be left wondering why everyone stopped caring all of a sudden.
I still care, but just barely. I'm sick of watching a promotion that has so much talent do so much to step on their own feet. When the WWE was left with Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker and not much else back when WCW raided their pantry, Vince built from within.
The WWE turned Hunter Hearst Helmsley in to Triple H, the Game. They made Steve Austin in to the Rattlesnake and they made happy-go-lucky Rocky Maivia in to The Rock.
They built from within, the built upon their strengths and they used their superior athletes, their superior booking and their superior overall wrestling business acumen to put WCW, who had been resting on the laurels of their NWO storyline on their knees and then out of business.
I fully believe that TNA has the superior wrestling talents. Now they have to build on that and get off of this detour in to the Jurassic era and give the fans what brought them to TNA to begin with: Great wrestling.
If the lack of buzz around TNA and Bound for Glory isn't enough of an indication to Dixie Carter that her company is on its knees, then maybe she should go out there and listen to a few of those casual wrestling fans that I was fortunate enough to overhear at my car service station.
It's time to pull the plug and end the experiment. If TNA doesn't change soon, there might not be a Bound for Glory next year.