For the first time in four years, World Wrestling Entertainment will be facing meaningful competition in the form of Total Non-Stop Action, a wrestling promotion affiliated (though now, pretty loosely) with the famous National Wrestling Alliance. October 1st, 2005 will mark TNA’s return to national television with a weekly show entitled, Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½IMPACT.’ What does this mean for WWE and the United States professional wrestling scene as a whole? Is it marking the beginning of anything at all? We’ll, let’s find out.
TNA was founded in 2002 by pro wrestler Jeff Jarrett and his father, Jerry Jarrett. In the beginnings the company was barely able to survive with weekly Pay-Per-View shows which fan’s purchased for ten dollars each. It wasn’t a very profitable business scheme and nearly two years later, found heavy financial backing with Dixie Carter who’s wealth came from a Panda Energy group. They scrapped the weekly PPVs and for a short time had a weekly show on national sports syndicate, Fox Sports Net. The Friday afternoon show was a godsend although it was soon canned, which was expected with such a poor time slot. For months on end, TNA had no national television exposure besides a weekly show that was taped live in Orlando, Florida and aired on their Internet site (tnawrestling.com).
Rumors were abound that TNA was on the verge of coming to terms with some national network. Networks like WGN, Spike TV, USA Network, TNT and even Fox Sports Net were all rumored to have some level of interest. In 2005, the ongoing agreement between Spike TV and WWE was coming to a close and the two sides had grown distant from each other. With their deal ending and Spike still wanting to be in the (as Ted Turner would say…) wrasslin’ business, they struck a deal with TNA. With the final WWE broadcast on Spike this week, TNA’s relationship will begin next Saturday night.
It’s been a long and questionable road for the “little engine that could” form of a wrestling promotion but they’re now ready to expand into the big time. For those who have never seen a TNA event, at first you’ll be confused, excited and remember some of the past superstars of WWE, WCW and even ECW. Starters, their ring is not your standard squared-circle, it’s a six-sided wrestling ring. The roster is a mix of older stars who have been made famous in the past and a core group of some of the most talented up and coming stars fresh off of the independent and international scene. Some of the main
names: Jeff Jarrett, Raven, Jeff Hardy, Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, Abyss, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christoper Daniels, James Storm, Chris Harris and the Dudley Boys (although they’re not known by that persona anymore).
New fans may see the roster and think it’s nothing but a bunch of WWE rejects and a group of nobodies. It’s hard to argue with that thinking but all you have to do is watch a couple of shows and you’ll be hooked. Stars like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Christoper Daniels made their names in independent promotions such as Ring of Honor and are quickly growing their own legends. TNA can boast something for every kind of fan. If you’re the type of guy who likes lightweights and high flying action, the X-Division is for you. It’s TNA’s answer to a cruiser-weight division only it’s their bread and butter. The NWA World Title is currently held by Jeff Jarrett, much to the dismay of many Internet fans, but he is one of the biggest names in the company.
WWE has not had any real competition since the late 1990s. By the turn of the century, World Championship Wrestling had been in a total wreck that was unfixable. TNA, of course, will not be able to directly compete like WCW did in 1995. For one, TNA just doesn’t have the same resources that WCW did. The big challenge will be to carve its own niche into a wrestling country that has long craved some competition.
Many fans believe the action of WWE, RAW/Smackdown! has grown stale in recent years with nothing but the same Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ol things going on week to week. House show attendance’s, pay-per-view buy-rates and TV ratings have all decreased rapidly over the past few years and there has been no end in sight. WWE doesn’t see TNA as a company that it needs to fight against, and it shouldn’t…not yet at least. However, the seeds are there for a mini-war. For starters, weeks ago the legendary Mick Foley was in negotiations with TNA to join them as they prepared to grow. However, WWE President Vince McMahon pursued Foley heavily, offering him millions of dollars and (rumored) creative control to stay away from TNA and return to WWE. Just this past week, the team formerly known as the Dudley Boys, Buh Buh and D-Von, agreed to contracts with TNA. The team was among a plethora of wrestlers fired from WWE a couple of months ago. They have been forbidden to use the Dudley Boys persona, name, gimmick, clothes, glasses, etc. Obviously it was a legal attempt to disrupt TNA and any promotional items they planned on pursuing.
However, this October things should be on the up and up. WWE returns to the USA Network and is boasting a debut three-hour episode featuring such mega-stars as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Triple H and many Hall of Famers. Meanwhile this October, TNA will debut on Spike TV and try to begin to change the wrestling scene for the better.
As a second wrestling promotion leaps back into the national view, the only things fans should do is sit back, relax and thank the heavens that a second team is back in town.