The TNA Identity Crisis
Professional wrestling is a business that has to remain on the cutting edge. It has to be one step ahead of the curve to keep fans excited and wanting to see more. Professional wrestling needs to adapt and make new stars whenever any wrestler begins to show signs of popularity. Any successful company can tell you that if you give the consumer the product they want, they will continue to come back and pay for it.
With that said, there seems to be an identity crisis over at Total Nonstop Action.
Now, when the company first started off in May of 2002, they were a small upstart company trying to make a name for themselves. Understandable that they would go to other companies and secure stars from yesteryear to fill out their main events. I mean, if you think about it, no one will pay to watch a new wrestling promotion that has a bunch of names that no one recognizes.
So TNA begins pulling in names like Jeff Jarrett (co-founder and owner), Ricky Steamboat, Raven, AJ Styles, and other names from other recognizable companies to fill out the main event. With old WWE, ECW, and new ROH stars on the rise, this is a great way to bring in a new audience to watch your shows and hopefully capture their attention with the younger guys on the mid card. Once the mid card begins to expand, move them to the main event so they can become the face of your company.
But TNA didn't really seem to grasp this concept too well. Now, TNA has a lot of talented people on their roster, but it seems that anyone who is TNA branded will never get their shot in the company. It seems that whenever someone leaves WWE, TNA is bending over backwards trying to get them on their show.
Best examples are Kurt Angle, Booker T, Christian Cage, Bobby Lashley, Chris Jericho, and most recently, Mick Foley. Now, TNA has been riding a solid 1.0 to 1.1 rating on Impact for maybe two years now. In this time, we've seen several WWE main eventers show up to TNA and the ratings never increasing.
So why would TNA keep spending money on talent that isn't improving the show?
We've seen many guys hold the title on TNA that have been huge names in other companies. Kurt Angle and Christian Cage both came from the WWE. Ken Shamrock was big in the UFC. Sting and Jeff Jarrett made a name for themselves in WCW. Rhino and Raven were huge in the old ECW. Fans recognize Samoa Joe and AJ Styles from ROH more than any other company.
It would seem that the only two stars that TNA made themselves and became champion were Ron Killings and Abyss. Out of the 11 different world champions they've had, only two of them were homegrown talent and the last time one of them held the title was in 2006. This is their world title, and it's suppose to represent the company. So far, it looks like the company represents other companies stars.
Now, it's not just the list of champions but a list of all the people who get pushes as well. We see people like Booker T, Team 3D, and Jim Cornette getting all the attention on TV. Almost the entire women's division comes from Shimmer, were they've already made a name for themselves on the independent scene, which TNA fans are familiar with.
What doesn't make sense about all of this is the fact that TNA has a very solid roster, possibly the best overall roster in a wrestling company today. But they don't want to push anyone they already have.
The Wild Cat Chris Harris was an amazing worker and knew how to draw in the crowd, but TNA never gave him his due and he left the company. Robert Roode was named by Pro Wrestling Illustrated as a man who will one day main event Wrestlemania but he's stuck in go nowhere story lines when he should be fighting for the World Title. Petey Williams is an amazing athlete but he's stuck with the Scott Steiner gimmick that isn't helping him become his own person.
Granted, some of their homegrown talent has won the tag team titles and the X-division titles on many occasions, but people aren't buying the pay per views to watch the X-division anymore. So these titles are coming across as placement holders to keep the locker room from rioting because they never get their chance at the big time.
Kurt Angle coming in ended anyone's chance of ever getting a proper push. When he walked into the company, the first thing he did was beat Samoa Joe's winning streak. This showed to everyone that the WWE makes better wrestlers than TNA.
Now, people will argue that Angle is a Olympic gold medalist and it makes sense that he beat Joe. But think about this, Angle hasn't been in the Olympics for 10 years at that point. The only new training he has in was pro wrestling. His body is far more damaged than it was in the summer of 1996.
Angle beating Joe came off as a very big mistake. Then, to top it off, Angle pins Joe three times in a 30 minute Iron Man Match. So the guy who is undefeated for 18 months somehow loses three times in 30 minutes. Ever since this booking, anyone who comes over from the WWE has always come out on top and pushed straight to the main event.
The bottom line is this. Whenever anyone looks at TNA all they can think about is the WWE because that's were most of their main event comes from. TNA has some incredible wrestlers on the roster, but their refusal to push any of these men to the main event will eventually become their down fall. It happened with WCW and history will repeat itself again.
Hopefully, TNA can solve this problem soon and actually provide some legitimate competition to the WWE.
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