Part 1 | Part 2
For me most of the excuses you hear don't hold water. Most historical historical evidence (Smackdown and Thunder) suggests the more TV hours you have the more it overexposes your product. People get sick of so much TV (and one show will be invariably viewed as the 'B' show no matter how hard you try to keep both strong) and it just serves to dilute interest and effectiveness over the long term.
TNA don't need more TV, they need to use their 85 minutes or so every week much more effectively. TNA have that time every week to turn viewers into paying customers, to get people to actually care about TNA, and most importantly to create stars. If TNA puts together a TV show without considering any of these then I have no idea what they're trying to achieve. They can argue they're trying to focus on ratings but make a constant, concerted effort to create and focus on stars and the people should come.
The other big excuse thrown out is that TNA run too many PPV's. The bigger problem is that TNA rarely actually builds towards PPV, but rather throws most of the card together with little thought (and occasionally the main event is announced far too late). There's a reason TNA operates the model they do (ie. twelve PPV's a year built up with TV) because for years it was an effective model. But TNA neglect really trying to convince people that their shows are worth buying. TV should build to peak at PPV's and if you do that right then TV ratings and PPV should both rise (if you can convince people to buy a PPV I think you can take it for granted that they'll watch the TV). TV and PPV are symbiotic not independent.
TNA (and wrestling in general really) need to try much harder to sell their shows. Throwing two people in a random segment where they interact on the go home show is more often than not not good enough. Look at the build to Bound For Glory, the only segment that remotely resembled a hard sell in the five week build was the Sting and Bully vs. WTTCOTW match. Nothing else came near hitting the level of excitement and intensity needed to sell the show. Hardy and Aries' promos (and feud in general) were underwhelming and Storm and Roode weren't even given the opportunity to deliver anything special. Generally stuff that's really good at selling PPV's also makes for tremendous TV. TNA need smarted TV not just good TV (and for the record I mostly enjoy IMPACT every week, you just have to take a look at my Last Night On IMPACT column for the last eight months to know that). And if that doesn't work then the number of PPV's is a legitimate issue
There's no doubt that there's been some mitigating factors in TNA's failure to grow since 2007 despite a drastic increase in star power (Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair, Booker T and Mick Foley should have drastically helped TNA grow). The global economy's been terrible in the last few years (and PPV's are overpriced), WWE's own failures to create stars in the last few years undoubtedly have some impact on TNA, and wrestling is a cold industry (though that is mostly due to the industry's own failures). Plus TNA grew at a pretty strong steady rate for their first few years (even considering the increase in the size of their audience alone). I don't buy piracy as a major issue as big UFC and boxing PPV's still do very good numbers (people will still pay to see stars fight).
I have no doubt that some will (and already have) dismiss me as a jaded hater (an approach personally I hate) but I love TNA. I haven't missed an IMPACT in nearly six years (and I've gone back and watched the ones I've missed), I'll attend TNA's show in Dublin in January and I usually spend a reasonable amount of money on TNA every year, TNA is still a brand that I believe in the potential of. In all likelihood I wouldn't be a wrestling fan anymore had I not stumbled across TNA one night.
This article comes from a place of frustration more than anything else. TNA teased us with something much better earlier this year with no 'big angle' that was going to change everything. They were delivering a grounded product based on believable, relateable characters. They were by no means perfect (six months of focus on Garett Bischoff and the beginning of what turned out to be Claire Lynch) but the likes of James Storm, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries were riding waves of legitimate momentum. TNA had a strong, well built direction (even wackier stuff like Bully Ray/Joseph Park was well crafted and brilliantly delivered). But for some reason they abandoned those plans for the worse (and in some cases what appears to be no plan whatsoever) and TNA has suffered a lot since.
TNA need to stop trying for the next big angle, especially when that big angle is so blatantly modelled on Sons of Anarchy and it's rooted in one of the most overplayed stories in wrestling over the last fifteen years (the hostile invading force). TNA need to get back to basics and do their best to turn some of the most talented, diverse wrestlers in the world into legitimate money drawing stars. And most importantly when they find a direction that's actually working, they need to be patient enough to stick to it through to the end.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this article (especially those who read all three parts), it was largely a cathartic process on my part, and more importantly I appreciate the comments and feedback.