Upstart TNA (Total Non-Stop Action) Wrestling has done some impressive things. They took a small independent show, in the information age, and got themselves on television in a very short amount of time.
They took Christian (Cage), who floundered as a tag team partner in WWE in the early 'oughts, and made him a seasoned singles competitor. They got some of the most influential veterans (Sting, Ric Flair, Jeff Jarrett), and independent heroes (AJ Styles), and made it good.
But good is not great, especially not lately. Victory Road '11's incredibly sad ending was only one indicator that TNA needs a tune-up.
While the show is known to let their performers say what they want, and do what they want (allegedly), there are still problems with the overall cohesion of the show. But how to improve?
- TNA needs to stop making the same mistakes that WCW made. TNA Impact! is almost exactly the carbon copy of WCW Nitro, down to the cast of characters: Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, et al. TNA is also borrowing the "NWO" concept, now repackaged as "Immortal" complete with a WWE upstart (Jeff Hardy playing Kevin Nash's role), and including original performers being verbally ticked off about it. A decrease in Eric Bischoff/Hulk Hogan mike time might help, too.
- TNA needs to stop borrowing WWE's bad habits, too. I am referring, first, to TNA's newly-acquired 20 minute opening monologue to supply storyline support for each episode. The storyline hasn't changed much, so shave it down some. Also, we don't need to include real-life romantic drama in the show: though the Kurt Angle/Karen (Angle)Jarrett/Jeff Jarrett triangle happened in real life, it didn't add much to the show, considering Kurt and Jeff had feuded previously. Not only did it seem to crib from the real drama between Matt Hardy/Lita/Edge that WWE mined for their show, TNA borrowed from another WWE storyline, trying to award custody of Kurt and Karen's kids to Jeff, which had been done between Rey Mysterio and Eddy Guerrero over Rey's son. Hell, they're even using Abyss as Mankind 2.0!
- Do something different with your women's division. Currently, all the Knock-Outs division seems to do is fight the same fights over and over: Beautiful People vs. whoever isn't in Beautiful People. Mickie James and whichever Beautiful People member it is this week. They recently added a couple of upstarts, including Cookie (a riff on Jersey Shore's Snooki) and brought back Daffney. Maybe that will help, but the factions need to be split. If the Chyna thing can ever happen, that might be fun, too.
- TNA needs to develop new talent. Most of the roster either has languished in the independents, or has been imported from WCW or WWE. One lesson WWE learned during the Monday Night Wars: when your talent walks out the door, get some fresh blood. A big portion of your roster is either pushing 40, or has pushed past it. Bring in some hungry new players, and see if business doesn't pick up.
- Stop indulging the 'stars.' Eric Bischoff is not a performer. Hulk hasn't wrestled in a while. Ric Flair doesn't wrestle anymore. Please for the love of God, get them off the mic. Unless one of them is actually going to hop in the ring, they do not need mike time. The whole thing of the show being left to the 'stars' is also what killed WCW. Sure, they're invested financially and personally in this show, but they should want to put on a better show than this. Let someone else have the floor, unless Bischoff, Hogan, and Flair have something new to add to the show.
- Okay, Ken Anderson, we get it. He's got "A**hole" printed on his shirt, his hat, he yells it into a mike, brags that he is one...and that's his schtick. I get that. But except when he's directly challenging someone to a fight, his "a-word" speeches have gotten old. Let it go.
- Implement a (better) drug testing policy. Just sayin'. Jeff Hardy should never have been in the ring on Victory Road, and that gave the promotion a black eye. It never should have happened. Period.
While none of these things are guaranteed, any or all of them might give TNA a push in the right direction. Here's hoping they listen.