What better way to say goodbye to the year 2010 than to count down the 10 biggest stories of the year in professional wrestling?
This 10-part series is designed to do exactly that, and each installment will be dedicated to the stories that fueled the very Internet fodder that makes the dirt-sheet media world go round.
No. 2. TNA Impact Moves to Monday Nights
Total Nonstop Action wrestling has been much maligned throughout its eight year history. Always fighting an uphill battle against cynicism and skeptics regarding viability, creative direction, and roster utilization (to name a few criticisms), TNA's very existence in today's landscape of professional wrestling is an accomplishment in and of itself.
TNA's brief history has seen the company experience a steady growth to the point where they are now the number two national wrestling company in the world, albeit a very distant number two to WWE. TNA's Thursday Night Impact program had seen a consistent string of satisfactory ratings upon landing a TV deal with Spike TV and subsequently earning a two hour time slot in prime time.
Although TNA was comfortable in its safe position as a distant second to WWE, TNA President Dixie Carter decided it was time to compete and push the small company to its limits in hopes of gaining mainstream exposure as well as a larger share of the pro wrestling audience.
In December of 2009, Spike TV used its synergy between two of its higher rated television partners (UFC, TNA) to make an announcement that was supposed to change pro wrestling forever.
The shocking announcement would involve Hulk Hogan, the most recognizable wrestling personality of all time who had recently signed with TNA, appearing on UFC's Ultimate Fighter finale and announcing that TNA would feature a Monday night telecast for its first show of the year.
The telecast was to air directly against WWE RAW, thus recreating the Monday Night Wars of the late nineties.
The inclusion of Eric Bischoff in yet another new regime in TNA did nothing but heighten prevailing skepticism about TNA and its creative direction. Bischoff and Hogan, while successful for a significant stretch of the Monday Night Wars, were also at the helm for WCW's eventual demise.
As was TNA's head booker Vince Russo.
The principles involved were cause for legitimate concern about the potential of TNA actually competing with WWE on Monday nights. Under Vince Russo, TNA had given pro wrestling some of the most creatively inept storylines, angles, and matches that the industry had seen since - well - WCW's dying days.
In any event, TNA debuted on Monday Night on January 4, 2010 in a Monday Night broadcast slotted for three hours and airing one hour before RAW.
A loaded show, packed with surprise (unadvertised) appearances by Jeff Hardy, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman would go on to draw the biggest rating in TNA history despite being crushed in the ratings war by a RAW show that countered with the return of Bret "the Hitman" Hart after a 13 year absence from the company.
TNA would return to Thursday nights, however the huge rating had given TNA the case of the itchy trigger finger, and it was only a matter of time before the trigger was pulled on a permanent Monday night timeslot.
TNA would return to Monday nights permanently on Monday, March 8 2010, with the show being highlighted by a surprise (unadvertised) appearance by popular wrestler Rob Van Dam.
The show would also see Ric Flair's return to in ring wrestling after a much ballyhooed retirement following his standout match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24.
With more bells and whistles being featured on the March 8th Monday night episode, and riding the momentum of the biggest rating in company history from its previous Monday night show in January, TNA's return to Monday night television would draw a disappointing 1.0 rating.
The ratings news would only continue to get worse with TNA dipping below a 1.0 rating for the first time in years, eventually bottoming out with a painfully minuscule .56 rating for its March 29th broadcast.
With ratings at historical lows for the small wrestling company, the writing was on the wall for TNA's Monday night campaign. A strategic timeslot change, to avoid going head to head with WWE, was too little too late for TNA and the company would go on to announce that it would be moving back to its regular Thursday night timeslot just a few months into its foray into Monday nights.
The Monday Night Wars of 2010, if successful, could have been one of the biggest wrestling stories ever as competition between wrestling companies have proven to be good for business.
However these Monday Night Wars served as a tale of TNA's failed experiment on a large platform as we learned (through comparatively low WWE ratings despite significantly outdrawing TNA) that the pro wrestling audience had eroded to some degree.
What was TNA's fatal flaw on Monday Nights?
2. TNA Impact Moves to Monday Nights