By Jonathan Foster
2014 has been an interesting year for TNA. We have seen the departures of several longtime mainstays and the rise of new talents. We have witnessed a rebirth of the amazing in-ring action that separated TNA from its competitors. Most importantly, we have been faced with some serious questions of TNA’s future on American television. The coming months are going to be pivotal in its stance in the pro wrestling scene, and in this three-part series, I want to discuss how we got to where we are now and look at the positives and negatives of TNA as we head into the future.
It’s an awkward stage; TNA has an ugly track record for these things. For instance, they love signing big names in hopes of getting a buzz, and they love recycling old angles that never seem to end. TNA over the last few months has been a breath of fresh air, and yet they have come up on tough times. Too much criticism right now would be like kicking an opponent when they're down. The success, or lack thereof, of the Hogan/Bischoff experiment is neither here nor there.
With that said, we have to look at what that experiment cost TNA. Prior to Hogan/Bischoff, TNA was, from all accounts, making money. The television show was doing roughly the same numbers as it is now, and TNA’s touring was successful enough that they expanded overseas. While all of these things were given a giant rub when Hogan came along, TNA was growing domestically and internationally just the same. With Hogan came an overhaul of TNA, from new talents to new production to a live, touring television broadcast. A lot of these were major positives for the company, but they came with a price.
Once Hogan departed, we started to see TNA tighten the purse strings. We started to see a scaling back of the live shows and less touring, as well as prolonged tapings from different venues. This brings us to one of the key points: the departures of TNA mainstays. The first name that comes to mind when we think of TNA is AJ Styles. While his official departure from the company came in December, we entered the year wondering if both sides could come to terms on a new deal. With TNA in such dire straits financially, they weren’t able to compensate AJ the way he felt he should have been, and he decided to part ways.
Another name that parted ways with TNA in late December to early January was Jeff Jarrett. On screen this wasn’t a big loss as Jarrett hadn’t been seen for quite some time, but behind the scenes this was a major blow and quite the shocker, to say the least. A lot of guys were close to Jarrett and, frankly, Jarrett leaving his baby, the company he founded, is still a bit weird. But things change and people move on, and I wish Jarrett the best with his new company.
The losses piled with the departures of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. Now, Daniels has been in and out of TNA over the years, but he has been a key player along with Kazarian since the beginning. I was more disappointed that it came when Bad Influence could have been used to get the Wolves over as a dominant tag team. How much more effective could the early part of the Wolves’ title reign have been if they were trading wins with Bad Influence instead of the BroMans? But I digress; Kaz and Daniels are gone and, like AJ, I hope they return to TNA someday, as their presence in the tag division is sorely missed.
Finally, Sting decided to move on after spending nearly a decade of his career in TNA. No doubt Sting is a huge star and an icon in the wrestling industry. While he did a lot of good for TNA over the years, it's time he has that one final run with WWE. He deserves it. There wasn’t much more that he could have done in TNA, anyway.
With all of these departures, it began to pave the way for a new crop of talents to appear in TNA. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss the rise of these new talents and the return of the action packed, wrestling based format…