"You know Dixie, the only way to make money is to spend money, specifically on me." - ImpactWrestling.com
Hulk Hogan told the UK's Daily Star yesterday: "Is Dixie Carter really in the wrestling business, or this is just a hobby? You either make the move or you don’t." Personally, I hope she sticks to her slow and steady tortoise approach, because last time she ran with the big dogs she was torn to shreds.
One gets the sense that Hulk Hogan may be becoming a little bit frustrated with the limited progress TNA has made as a company in the last three years since he's been onboard the ship as a TV character and behind the scenes influence.
The quality of their programming has broadly improved since Vince Russo was removed as head writer in Oct. 2011 and left the company altogether in Feb. 2012, but this hasn't been reflected in any business indicators. Their ratings remain stuck in the 0.9-1.2 range, whilst house show attendance seems to be at their lowest levels in history. Putting the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on Jeff Hardy in Oct. 2012 did boost their pay-per-view buys slightly, but not by a large enough margin to make live monthly PPV events a viable option.
The Hulkster surely believes the company continues to tread water because Dixie Carter has ignored his vast wisdom and cagey advice about how to turn the venture around. He's been a big proponent of taping Impact live on the road ever week since the very beginning, thinking that's the answer to the majority of the promotion's problems.
Until recently, Carter had only cautiously dipped her toe in the water by experimenting with such changes due to the cost involved. However, last week, she finally took the big plunge of announcing that they were permanently bidding a fond farewell to the Impact Zone in Orlando's Universal Studios, their home base for almost nine years, in order to allow fans from around the country to attend Impact TV tapings in their own hometown.
The current plan is to hold tapings every fortnight, going live for two hours and then recording the matches for next week's episode, which isn't an optimum solution, as the fans may become burnt out during the second show and consequently have less enthusiastic reactions than if it was taped in front of a fresh audience.
That may explain why Hulk Hogan still seems upset with the pace of change in TNA, which he indicated in the UK's Daily Star yesterday by telling Dixie Carter to stop treating her company like a hobby:
"It’s either hold ’em or fold ’em. You’re either in the wrestling business or not.
Is Dixie Carter really in the wrestling business, or this is just a hobby? You either make the move or you don’t.
You’re at that point now. It’s the same place we were with WCW – you either run with the big dogs or be a little dog and stay on the porch.
The destiny of this company is in her hands. It can stay TNA, a powerful little company, or she can make the decision to move on to greatness."
Let's just forget that eventually WCW went out of business with massive debts due to their reckless spending decisions!
The problem is Carter has already tried running with the big dogs and got bitten to pieces. Three years ago, she went on a spending spree to sign Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson, in order to recreate the success of the Monday Night Wars boom period in wrestling. Even having invested in so much extra star power, Impact still got crushed in the ratings and it only took Spike TV nine weeks to pull the plug on the sorry affair.
I really think the slow and steady tortoise approach that Carter has chosen is the wiser decision. There's no game changer on the horizon that would take her to the promised land of being competitive with WWE. Going live more often and taping outside of the theme park may aid the aesthetic appearance of TNA's programming, but won't have any immediate impact on ratings or their other business streams. I think making the move slowly and cautiously is much more likely to pay off in the long run than Hulk Hogan's bull in a china shop philosophy.