TNA Slammiversary | June 2 on PPV TNA celebrates its 11-Year Anniversary in Boston. On this night, Sting will challenge Bully Ray in a No Holds Barred Match for the World Title. If Sting loses he will never get a World Title shot again. Also AJ Styles vs Kurt Angle, the TV and World Tag Team Titles on the line, Taryn Terrell vs Gail Kim, Ultimate X for the X Division Title and so much more. Join us in Boston!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
A History of TNA's Inability To Grow: Part 1
This article comes from my frustration at the recent worrying turn in the quality and focus of TNA's product. They went from seemingly turning a significant corner, moving in a positive direction with some legitimate momentum (particularly behind Aries, Roode and Storm) to throwing it all away in a matter of weeks for what I'm sure is considered their 'next big angle' that'll finally change things. Instead of focusing on strong, well developed relatable characters, they moved to a long overplayed invading force angle and then milked it for all it's worth without out advancing the most important elements; who and why?
The result was a move away from the logical, well built Storm and Roode story and an abandoning of one of the best, most entertaining angles of the year just as it was getting to the good bit in Joseph Park and Bully Ray. The reason I mention these two angles in particular (aside from the fact that they put a lot of time into both only to drop them (or drastically reduce their importance)) is that they were both easy to follow angles (even considering the content of the Park/Bully story) which had a clear end goal that could be built to. Moving away from them is fine if you have something better in their place, but TNA didn't. They didn't know how to capitalize on Austin Aries and Aces and 8s lacked any real oomph from the very beginning (going back to the initial unconvincing beatdown of Sting). TNA has essentially been rudderless since.
And unfortunately TNA have a rather extensive history of being unable to either capitalize on opportunities or even create them in the first place. Since 2006 TNA has seen an influx of some of the biggest names in wrestling, past or present. Kurt Angle, Booker T, Mick Foley, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam all came on board on lucrative salaries and yet TNA never grew like they should have. TNA never received the return on investment which that kind of star power should give. And the blame for that lies squarely on TNA's shoulders. They were never able to capitalise on that name value and use it to launch themselves to a new level (while launching their own new stars on the back of it). Any star power that came was eroded (sometimes far, far too fast).
On the homegrown front TNA have failed time and time again to create new stars. It's a sad reflection on TNA that in their ten years they've created a sum total of zero sustainable long term stars. Anybody who's gained some amount of momentum has been either overlooked or quickly booked into the ground. Kaz was gaining some traction in late 2007 but then quickly shoved into a feud with Black Reign and a tag team with Super Eric. Tomko was beginning to get over in early '08 when he began to move away from Angle but that was squandered when he needlessly swerved on Christian. LAX were red-hot in 2006/7 but by the time TNA did anything about it in 2008 they had cooled significantly.
The potential of the X-Division as a feature attraction has been neglected and ignored, even though it has a history of feeding guys into the heavyweight division with momentum. Samoa Joe was long past his peak in terms of his monster aura and crowd support when he won the TNA title in 2008 and then had one of the worst booked, most underwhelming title reigns ever. In terms of the tag division, for every Triple X/AMW, Styles and Daniels/LAX, and Beer Money/Motor City Machine Guns there was there was significant slumps in between, TNA could never follow up.
In mid 2009 TNA began pushing Eric Young, Hernandez and Matt Morgan as upper midcard acts and look at all three now, they're all worse off than they were then. Pope should've been the breakout star of 2010 on his star making promos alone but TNA never followed up his initial run with anything and pointlessly turned him heel. Jay Lethal should have come flying out of his feud with Flair (never mind the numbers of times he should've been elevated before that) but they did nothing with him and he was gone by April the next year. Gunner and Crimson are both much worse off now than they were this time last year. Austin Aries had bucket loads of momentum after Destination X that was all wasted by shoving him into the background and being unable to build off it (and now they've gone as far as pointlessly turning him).
I'd keep going but I've already done more than enough to prove my point. TNA have categorically failed over and over again to get the most out of their talent either out of reluctance to push somebody or just sheer incompetence. Despite all these years they haven't learned from their many mistakes, but what's worse is they've failed to learn from any of their success. Instead of seeing the Kurt Angle/Samoa Joe match at Lockdown '08 as a template for success they just ignored it. They never saw the need to attempt to replicate any potential successful formula instead constantly going for the same poorly booked, car crash style TV which has done nothing but decrease the audiences willingness to pay for TNA's product (with no other trade off to make it worthwhile). Any company that can't even learn when they succeed is doomed to fail.
In the next part of this article (which you should see around this time next week) I'll take a look at TNA as a brand and their inability to ever decide on their identity, plus the damage that's been done over the last few years.
Part 2 | Part 3
Posted By Garrett Kidney
A History of TNA's Inability To Grow: Part 1