Over the weekend, I discovered an entire Wiki dedicated to TNA Wrestling's awful and often laughable history. It chronicles, sometimes in great detail, every major and minor misstep that America's #2 wrestling promotion has made since its inception in 2002. Someone's gonna make a book out of it one day. Perhaps soon.
With these many blunders (time to revisit that LOLTNA list), TNA has become WWE-lite at best and late days WCW at worst instead of being a true alternative to the competition that they claim to be. So I guess it was no surprise to me when this little nugget came floating from the Interwebs: Hulk Hogan will likely return to TNA, and may have a deal worked out in time for him to appear at Bound for Glory this Sunday. It should be worth noting that it's not official as of yet, but don't be surprised if it does become official within the next few days, maybe even hours.
Reportedly, it came down to you guessed it: money. WWE, despite having him appear in WWE 2K14 and wanting to be in a prominent role at Wrestlemania XXX, lowballed Hogan compared to The Rock and Brock Lesnar (let's be honest: what can he give other than his name? He can't perform in the ring any more), and TNA is reportedly backing up the truck for him. Hogan was getting reportedly $35,000 an appearance plus creative control over his character (thus explaining how Hogan left TV a couple weeks back). His new deal gives him a raise, plus that same creative control he enjoyed in his first run and a few other perks. Really?
Well, TNA, I'd love to feel sorry for you, but...that's what you get. This mindset is what has held you back for your entire existence: cater to the old guard instead of building new stars from within. TNA's two Hall of Famers had their best years somewhere else. Guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels should be much bigger household names than they are now. Yet, here you are, about to back the truck up for yes, the most recognizable name in wrestling history, but also a man whose relevance has long past its expiration date. And worst of all, you're in the exact same position you were in pre-Hogan. I quote Larry Csonka in 2007:
You have gotten everything that you have said that you needed to succeed. Everything you needed to compete, to be the best wrestling company in the world. October 4th 2007 will come and go, and you get a grace period because one week means nothing. But after 6-8 weeks come and go, and if you are still doing a 1.1 rating and 20,000 PPV Buys, I don't want to hear anymore excuses. What could you possibly say? You have gotten everything you "needed." Two hours, mainstream attention, a great roster, prime time, monthly PPV, star power, you got it all. You are now officially out of excuses. I stayed with you and supported you through out all of this, and will probably be here until the end, whenever that may be. But this is it; this is the time. This is your time. If you cannot succeed now, don't blame the fans that have supported you through the years. Don't blame others or myself for a harsh review. Don't look any farther than where ever you may be sitting, because you have no one to blame but yourself.
Here's Csonka again, this time from 2012:
The ratings did not deliver (in reference to their ill-fated move to Monday night in 2010), they dropped through out, and they went back running to Thursday nights with their tail tucked between their legs, and they are pretty much back where they started. And that is a shame, considering all we ever here is that it was all they needed.
And at the end of the day, that is the worst part. They cried about, "this is all we need to be competitive, to be a real alternative," and they failed and failed hard. They didn't fail due to lack of talent, they failed because they were not prepared to go against WWE. WCW had names, and they had the loyal Turner network fan base, along with the MONEY to do battle. TNA had talent, but they didn't have a loyal audience willing to choose them over WWE, and the Carter's were not going to get into a financial pissing contest with Vince and company. And on top of that, the sad thing is that this situation has happened before.
And look out, it's about to happen again, except this time, TNA is in a financial pissing contest with itself, and only Hulk Hogan will come out ahead. And the timing couldn't be worse. Bound for Glory is this Sunday. It will go up against Peyton Manning's first game in Indianapolis since leaving the Colts and possibly a deciding Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, meaning the buyrate for this show will likely be pretty low.
The main event Sunday should be about the culmination of (1) the interminable Aces and Eights saga and (2) AJ Styles' road to redemption after being a virtual outcast since losing a #1 contender's match last Novermber that left him banned from competing for the world title until this Sunday (real quick: has this little fact been mentioned even once?). Instead, it's not about AJ (whose contract expires again in December). It's not about the champion Bully Ray or what's left of the Aces & Eights. It's not even about Dixie Carter and what role, if any, will she play in the main event. It is once again, as has been the case for four years, about answering one question: WWHD: what will Hogan do?
To paraphrase what Kevin Nash once said on PPV, TNA's been in the same spot for eleven years and nothing's changed.
TNA has everything it needs to succeed except the two things a company needs most to succeed: money and competence.