In the last column, I made a promise to bring a few things up that could help put out the house fire. One guy made a striking comparison of TNA being a house fire that officials are trying to put out with water pistols. You know who you are and you won't get any arguments from me on that front. To that end, I'm going to put those grievances on display here AND what TNA can do about it.
1. There's too many copycat stories between TNA and WWE.
Let's face it, if one company has some success, it seems only natural that the other will want to cash in on the innovation REGARDLESS of who holds it right now. Nevertheless, TNA has got to be stopped from venturing down the same road as their competition, so they have to pull the plug on the similarities and that may mean going off script and sharply turning away.
2. People leaving in crowds makes the company look bad.
Hernandez, Kazarian, Daniels, AJ Styles, Sting, and Chris Sabin all leave in the first 5 months of the year and Austin Aries is about to be right behind them. This is NOT the kind of impression to leave with the fans of the product. Yes, you may be bringing up new stars. Yes, you may be trying to overhaul the brand, but it shouldn't be at the expense of losing out on pivotal members of the roster; ones who have been difference makers in feuds and in the forward movement of the product. Losing out on members who have been HUGE factors to the X Division in the history of the brand is a big deal because they can be re-integrated into the division to bring up those up and rising stars who can raise the banner and, much like the problem had been with WWE, without of those homegrown veterans to do that, you have a crop of untrained, unproven recruits who haven't earned ANYTHING in the eyes of the fans.
3. TNA is still invisible.
In spite of having been around for over a decade, TNA is STILL not on the casual fans' radar. My question is "Why not?". The answer is that TNA has been trying to get by on their reputation alone, which is a dangerous thing. Anyone who goes to a site like NoDQ.com or Lordsofpain.net or any other news site that has a columnist on staff will tell you that TNA does NOT have the best reputation in the business right now and with good reason. The sad truth is, TNA's street cred went down shortly after Samoa Joe was put down by Kurt Angle and thus was fed to the Streak Curse or at least that's where I mark the turn. I can get more into that elsewhere, but the point is, without a true moneymaker who believes in the product anymore, it's going to be tough to convince the casual fan to stick around for long...unless they can do some SERIOUS promoting and that leads me into.....
4. Put the positives on display!
It's tough thing when some of the best X Division performers leave all at once, because it makes it INCREDIBLY difficult to accentuate the positives of TNA's most innovative division. Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles, Petey Williams, Low Ki, Sonjay Dutt, Michael Shane (Matt Bentley), Kazarian, Daniels, and the list goes on and on of the pioneers of the division, most of whom are gone or are on an appearance by appearance basis. I really pulled for this division with its "no limits" mentality and with Austin Aries bringing in the "option C" hinge pin, making it possible for smaller guys to get a shortcut to cut their teeth on the main event scene. The problem comes when the X Division is merely a cardboard cutout of its former self. It frustrates me that the format TNA has chosen to run with as it relates to their division make virtually no mention of the X Division in any form.
5. Knockouts or Valets?
In TNA's case, you CAN'T have it both ways. You either have valets or you can have Knockouts.....this means that TNA doesn't have the money to spread around to women who can't get things done in ring. If we're trying to cut waste, this is one place to start. Look, I'm not opposed to a woman who is easy on the eyes walking her man to the ring, but if you're only going to be eye candy, take a number and sit down behind the curtain. Christy Hemme got lucky and was injured in the right place at the right time and was able to segue into ring announcing and, ultimately, into a place on the creative team, but there aren't many women who get that kind of shot. That said, you need to pick which you want.
This is where I ask the second half of the question: Is the Carter family willing to do what is necessary?
Think about this: If anyone wants to defend Dixie Carter now, consider who has been at the helm of negotiations for domestic network presences the past few years. For years, it was Jeff Jarrett. Then, when he was shown the door for misconduct, Dixie stepped in. When it became clear she was having trouble, Hogan and Bischoff stepped in and helped negotiate terms with Spike to solidify their presence there. Now that Bischoff is gone and Hogan has turned to Vince, who do they turn to? Dixie turned to a talent agency to try and help smooth things over with Spike OR shop the product around to other networks to try and secure another home before the contract runs out this fall.
There is no one else who has a better chance of securing TNA's assets than Jeff Jarrett. His 35-ish percent of the shares in the company make him the BEST shot of ensuring the well-being of the roster once they've worn out their welcome with Spike....which may be sooner than later, if things don't change soon.