One Step Forward, Two Giant Steps Back

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again, until the company is gone.  Every time TNA takes a step forward, they take two giant, mind-boggling steps backwards.  Every time they give you a reason to think “Wow, these guys may FINALLY have a chance to grow,” the folks in Dixie Land give you as many reasons as they can to make you wonder what you were thinking.

I was legitimately excited this week when I read about TNA’s plan to launch a 24/7 content platform, in order to more fully develop its characters and connect with its steady-but-stagnant audience.  I was less excited when I continued reading, and realized this “24/7 programming” would be broadcast on…Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  The company that’s struggling to pay its employees and cutting costs everywhere it can… is launching a content drive it can’t monetize.

But still, I see this as a step forward for TNA.  There’s only so much you can do in two hours of Impact.  Right now, the show is monopolized by Aunt Dixie, AJ Styles, Bully Ray, and the same five knockouts you’ll see every week.  Utilizing social media correctly could allow lower-card and part-time guys to more fully-establish their characters and connect with their fans.  It worked for JoMo and The Miz.  It worked for Zack Ryder (until it totally stopped working.)

It can work for TNA, too.  For example:

We know Manik is talented, but why the hell do we care about him?

Austin Aries, Chris Sabin, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, Kenny King… all missing from this week’s Impact.  Where were they?  Why were they too busy to come fight for championships?  Are they hurt?  If their absence isn’t acknowledged, they’ll eventually fall victim to that whole “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.  This can help keep guys relevant, even when there isn’t something all that relevant for them to do.

So that’s the step forward.  Ready for the steps back?

TNA has released the seating chart for an upcoming house show, or tour, or something.  Doesn’t matter.  What matters is the seating chart accounts for a six-sided ring.

Remember the six-sided ring, which instantly made TNA visually different from its main competitor?  Remember the six-sided ring, which many wrestlers complained was too small to work in, and awkward to adjust to?  Remember the six-sided ring, which Hulk Hogan abolished, and subsequently buried in front of the live PPV audience?

Now there’s talk that the six-sided ring will be coming back.  Because at TNA, we second-guess major decisions that impact our public image IN PUBLIC.

Let’s make one thing clear: TNA’s problem is not, and never was, the shape of its ring.

The six-sided ring was cool, but you decided to get rid of it.  Instead of looking back and wondering “what if?” like some loser ex-boyfriend, look to the future.  Think about NOW.  Your problems include half-assed booking and terrible business decisions.  Instead of worrying about your ring, worry about fixing your creative department.  Worry about making your business profitable.  Worry about getting a few extra fans to tune into Impact this Thursday.  If the action is good and the writing is logical, they’ll tune in regardless of how many sides your ring has this week.

If you change back to a six-sided ring, all it says to your fans is “sorry guys, we were wrong.  You know better than we do, and we won’t make that mistake again.”  Stand firm, and move forward.

The other step back?  TNA is moving back to Universal Studios.  It’s not the Impact Zone (because the Impact Zone is hosting a haunted house) but another sound stage.  Same difference.  Same terrible audience.  Same problem.
TNA needed to escape the Impact Zone because of the crowd.  The crowds spent no money.  The crowds cheered whoever they wanted to.  The biggest problem?  The crowds grew complacent seeing the same stars every week.  They learned to stop appreciating the Hogans, Hardys, Angles and Joes, instead cheering whichever indy darling received the latest tryout.

It stifled TNA.  It caused them to make terrible booking and business decisions.  And now, they’re going back.
The thing is, TNA NEEDS to make this move to survive.  Taking the show on the road (another Hogan/Bischoff directive, mind you) has cost the company MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (and not in a fun Prime Time Players kind of way).  Taking the show on the road has cost talented, underpaid guys their jobs.  Now the company is publicly saying it was all for naught.

No one wins.

Come to think of it, that should be TNA’s motto.  The fans? The boys? The financial backers?

No one wins.

If only pro wrestling was that honest.

So for now, I look forward to seeing what TNA can pull off with its new 24/7 gimmick.  Maybe it can even find a way to monetize it and make it profitable, by signing up various sponsors and partnership deals.  It’s possible.  WWE made its YouTube channel worthwhile, and TNA can do the same here.

I’m dreading the return to Orlando.  I might stop watching altogether if I see a six-sided ring.

Let me know what you think @AndyMillerJMS.

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