On forums across the net, I hear predictions about the potential of TNA losing ground to NFL games as far as ratings are concerned. What strikes me as interesting is that on a night that pitted Impact against the very first NFL game in the season, there was precious little change in viewership. If there is a link between NFL and the viewing of Impact or Monday Night RAW, it SHOULD be fairly easy to predict which weeks in the schedule would pose a sizable change.
In any case, historically, RAW has rarely been faced with significant dips due to NFL play Monday nights, at least not in the time span I spent most of my time viewing (2002-2009). In more recent years, may show something different, but those numbers would likely be attributed to the quality of the show, which despite what some fans believe, has become a shadow of its former "Attitude Era" self. That, however, isn't what this column is all about.
I DO have a few suggestions for TNA officials in the coming months.......
1. Stay the course.
Some TNA fans have given some heavy-handed criticism to the Aces and Eights storyline, inferring that WCW's nWo storyline was one of the only stories lasting as long. Does anyone remember which stable in WWE lasted from 2003 until 2005? That's right....Evolution. During that time, one feud consumed the bulk of Triple H's time.....Shawn Michaels. In fact, Shawn and HHH had more PPV bouts than any other pitting during that time. My suggestion is to simply put the story to rest without rushing its conclusion. Few things will cause more whiplash than ending a story without a place for the characters to land.
2. Secure talent.
AJ Styles is the premier TNA talent and securing his contract NEEDS to be priority one. Aside from his contract, making sure all talents are under contract beyond 2015 has to be high on the "to do" list. In my humble opinion, certain talents need to be approached about a long term return to the main roster. Case in point? Taeler Hendrix. Another name? Ivelise Valez. The idea HAS to be in rebuilding the Knockouts Division with more young talents that can perform at a consistently high level. The X Division is secure. The World Title picture is as strong as it's ever been. The number of promising upstarts is still reasonable.
3. Stand out.
Since TNA was so determined to assimilate into the wrestling mainstream by setting the 6 Sided Ring to the side, they now need to find another way to assume an identity OTHER than WWE-lite. I've said before that maintaining a good, consistent storyline that brings a cohesiveness to the brand is a good start, but it takes visibility, strong marketing, security for talent, and stable growth to truly build TNA into the kind of empire that COULD divide the wrestling audience the way WCW did during their peak. TNA is TV-14; WWE is PG. TNA has a workable Women's Division; WWE's simply does not. TNA has a specialty division that has merit, depth, and a meaningful place in the brand; WWE does not. What TNA lacks is a stage large enough to make some headway and for the loyalists to the WWE camp to give them a second look as a fan instead of a critic.