Looking to catch up on some old NCAA Football games, I decided to watch the SUN Sports Channel for a few hours. As the day passed and the aroma of fumbles, touchdowns and sacks overclouded my mind I witnessed a new phenomenon.
As your typical WWE Fan, I was surprised to see that they amassed a small challenger in this company called Total Nonstop Action.
With no Internet at the time, I had no prior knowledge of the company but remembered the familiar voice of Mike Tenay as he called a match between two guys named AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.
The Fallen Angel and The Phenomenal One battle for 30 minutes straight.
With both displaying some of the most innovative offense I’d ever been witness to, AJ Styles caught Daniels with the Styles Clash after a failed Angel Wings attempt. I was star struck by the match but there was one problem, I was weeks late.
It was December 2005 and this match had occurred months before at TNA’s annual Bound for Glory pay-per-view event. No matter the timing, I was already hooked on the entity known as Total Nonstop Action and I was anxious for more.
As the days passed, I became aware that TNA had begun airing on Spike TV but unlike its competition, it was only an hour.
I learned more about TNA and noticed that its talent was allowed to utilize all of their abilities unlike the watered down antics of WWE Talent. AJ Styles had become a household name and he teamed with foe, Christopher Daniels, to take on America’s Most Wanted on New Year’s Night.
Unlike the years before, I didn’t watch the ball drop in New York City, I was in my mom’s room, watching AJ and Daniels square off against James Storm and Chris Harris. Though the match ended with Shannon Moore costing the duo the titles after an attack on Styles, my TNA viewership was cemented.
Along with that, I got a special surprise later in the evening. As a longtime WCW Fan and one of Sting’s biggest fans, I was shocked to find out that he had already wrestled with the company before and he was making his return at the upcoming ppv.
Even if the tag match wasn’t enough, the addition of the Icon was the proverbial icing on the cake.
As the years passed, the additions of former WWE Talent in Christian, Kurt Angle, RVD, Booker T and Team 3D made TNA my favorite wrestling company at the time.
Besides the WWE Veterans, I picked up AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, Daniels, Samoa Joe and Petey Williams as favorites. With this level of talent, one thing was almost set and stone.
The match quality
From AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe to Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle to Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett, TNA was delivering in the wrestling department. They had the X Division, which blew the Intercontinental, United States and Cruiserweight divisions away with ease.
They had yet to establish a Women’s Division but Gail Kim and Awesome Kong ushered in the Knockouts Division and for the earlier years of its tenure, was better than the WWE Diva’s Division.
The one thing that TNA did that amazed me the most was the dare to do different antics. The six sided ring, Ultimate X Match, lack of Owner angles and opportunities for younger stars made TNA a pleasant alternative to the WWE.
Fact is I enjoyed each aspect of Total Nonstop Action until late 2009 rolled around. TNA President, Dixie Carter, announced that Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff had signed with TNA and were going to work with her on a full time basis. Like most of the general fan base, I shrugged the signing off and decided that Hulk wouldn’t be involved on screen too much.
Hogan later announced that he would be debuting on TNA Impact on January 4, 2010. He and Bischoff assured fans that they would flip TNA upside down and it came to fruition.
As the months passed, guys like Ric Flair, X Pac, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, the Nasty Boys, and Bubba The Love Sponge, made their debuts on TNA Impact.
Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Mr. Anderson and Rob Van Dam would later join the company but things took a sudden turn for the worst. Instead of focusing on the original TNA talent, Creative decided to focus on Hogan, Flair, Bischoff and the NWO knockoff, The Bad.
AJ Styles was dethroned as World Champion and Samoa Joe was taken off TNA Programming while Daniels had been released months before.
While most TNA fans ignored it, I noticed that Hogan and Bischoff had become the exact same thing they had become to WCW.
Teaming with former cohort, Vince Russo, the trio left a trail of messy storylines including the match results, Jeff Hardy being allowed to wrestle intoxicated, and the head injury to Mr. Kennedy. They drove the TNA Originals straight into the ground with the Fortune stable and began copying the antics of the WWE.
Mimicking the 2/21/11 promo of the Undertaker with the 3/3/11 promo of Sting, TNA had seemingly written itself into a corner. Jeff Hardy was allowed to compete intoxicated in a World title match at the Victory Road and could’ve seriously injured himself or Sting.
I took that notion as the final straw and I officially discontinued my viewership of Total Nonstop Action.
After more than five years of watching TNA, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were able to convince me to end my viewership only a year after their debuts in the company.
TNA needs to return to their roots and turn the company around immediately. Step one in this plan would be to remove Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
Step two would be to reinvest their interest in their original talent and discontinue the shots at the WWE and its programming. The Creative should focus on expanding their talent and making the X Division relevant again.
The one thing TNA should do is eliminate the older stars and build on the newer guys. They worked wonders for AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels. And perhaps the most important step of them all, TNA should focus on being TNA not the WWE.
If it continues down the same path, TNA will be the next WCW instead of the WWE’s Successor.
As a fallen fan, I wish to hear those faithful words “and the new TNA World Champion, AJ Styles!”.