Once upon a time, there was a wrestling company whose reputation was about as shifty as desert sand. This company was known best for taking talent that was given up on in the bigger leagues and turning them into viable and marketable figures. However, with those talents and the time invested into them, also came questionable booking, slap shod storytelling, and often baffling turns from heel to face and vice versa.
Now I bring this all up because of my call for their rebranding about 6 months ago. As some of you who've been reading this blog for any length of time will know, I'd written a column back when Jeff Jarrett made a number of appearances and even in storyline put his share of the company on the line for controlling interest. In it, I was hopeful that TNA would fold into the Global Force Wrestling banner and get a proper rebranding. Why? Plain and simple, TNA is getting a bad reputation for a couple of things right now and these are deal breakers and both are money related.
1. Paying performers/talents late.
This kind of thing is unforgivable. When you own a business at ANY level, wrestling or otherwise, you need to have enough money to pay people and if you don't, you need to do a better job of budgeting. When news of late pay for backstage personnel and wrestlers alike broke, it was a facepalm moment for me. This is so basic that there is no excuse for it. You work for a company and you need to pay your bills, so you want to find yourself somewhere that will put your family's well being at top priority by doing the right thing and paying on time.
2. Rewarding loyalty.
Every company that makes a profit should do a few things...you give out discounts or credit for money spend on the product or service you offer and you reward your employees for a job well done by compensating them with a raise. Now, if you're not making a profit, a few things could be the culprit....ticket sales, ad sales, bookkeeping errors....it could be a list of things, but if revenues are up, you pay out a raise to loyal, hardworking employees. Simple as that. The cost of living goes up each year and so you adjust and work to put some of those dollars earned into the the pockets of people who have helped keep you at the top of your game.
TNA has gotten an awful reputation for not doing or doing BOTH of these things and they've paid dearly for it. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, and now Eric Young and Bobby Roode. These aren't small losses people...these are MAJOR players in the recent past. AJ Styles was THE FACE of TNA for over a decade, but when he asked for a raise, he was offered LESS. That is no way to do business. If Hulk Hogan wasn't bringing in money for the company within 1 year, he needed to be cut loose. Same with Flair. Same with Bischoff. Same with just about everyone who came into the company during their tenure. Hogan and Bischoff were a good idea, don't get me wrong, but it isn't hard to tell where things turned south.
This marked TNA's vacation from the 6 Sided Ring; their trademark. For anyone who wasn't watching when this event took place, here's the climate for the night:
There was NEVER any warning concerning the departure and there was a bridge leading from the top of the stage to the ring, cutting down on the usable space around it. The problem with these things was TWO-FOLD.
1. The venue everything was shot in was already small to begin with and the departure from the usual ramp and ring set made for a HUGE loss in space and it showed on every level. From match pacing to crowd size all the way to the quality of the presentation as a whole.
2. When you take something as integral from TNA as the shape of their ring, you NEED to tell the fans. This isn't something small and that ring was a part of the identity of TNA as it had been for 6-7 years leading up to that point. You don't mess with that kind of longevity and expect longtime fans to thank you for it. I wrote here about this at length that there needed to be an explanation of the change in terms of a storyline or something for the audible to even make sense, but no explanation was ever given.
Once the shots were fired and the Hogan regime began asserting their creative muscles, things began a downward turn. Mercifully, things did begin to turn around as time wore along, but the damage had been done and the money had been spent. There simply wasn't any way to recoup the losses.
Hindsight is 20/20 and history continues moving, being shaped by current events. I don't blame Hogan or any person on their own for choices made, because there is plenty of blame to go around. I am saying, however, that the costs of those days created this mess we have today. Partnerships with new networks is good, every kind of marketing TNA can do on an upward climb is good, but it means very little if you lose out on the talents and personalities who made the company into the marketable success it is changing into.