"A smaller group of wrestlers and promoters who are always looking to take the next step to becoming legitimate competition to WWE but always seeming to fall short."
In that one sentence from Geno lies the great question of TNA.
I've watched Impact since 2007. While not from its inception, '07-'08 is now in retrospect a creative peak due predominantly to Dutch Mantel and, yes, Vince Russo.
At this time, TNA had a very good shot of becoming the competitive upstart. Not because they were aiming to take WWE out but because they were aiming to have an identity. After some time I wanted to start a blog critiquing the strengths and weaknesses, but the disruption occurred: Hogan and Bischoff.
I started the blog, (its remnants found here), but became so disappointed with their direction so quickly, they tapped the care right out of me. When TNA would do the right things, such as some production moves Bischoff-Hervey brought, it would give a sense of hope.
And nothing's worse than false hope.
The final straw, for me and about a million other viewers, was 10/10/10. The overhype for that show and the subsequent nothing it amounted to was embarrassing and insulting for the fan as much as the company.
Over time I would still watch, but by DVR. In fast forward. After reading recaps. I would stop to check out certain parts, but would end up amazed by the constant train wreck decisions. How they couldn't solve the little things, such as "what value does Eric Young really have", became face-twitching annoyances.
So one day I started a post for CSS detailing the major mistakes, and somewhere in the middle of "Lose Awesome Kong Over Ass-Clown Nobody", I realized the fans perspective on TNA is based on our expectations, not the companies actual goals
The fact was, and still is, we have no real idea what TNA has been after. We have guesses based upon marketing and PR, but when you consider Dixie's field of expertise is as a hype coordinator, and then add Bischoff/Hogan to mix, the decisions made these past years are no longer incoherent.
Simply put, because Dixie and Hulk have said they're looking to compete against WWE, we've assumed that's true. But what have they actually done?
When you break out every major decision, a pattern forms rather quickly. For instance, we assumed the TNA attempt at the Monday Night Wars was a shot across the bow. Yet, what they've done is erase every distinguishing mark that could differentiate TNA and present that to an unfamiliar WWE audience.
And we've seen this pattern play out in decision after decision, to where the TNA of '07 and the Impact of '13 could be run concurrently and the only give away they were the same company would be some long-term talent.
TNA has done everything possible to blur the line with WWE so to appear as WWE's Thursday night product. In other words, they are not, nor have been, looking to compete with WWE. They just want a piece of WWE's action.
Does TNA think it can do RAW numbers? If so, how were they going to achieve that by going head-to-head with RAW? Bischoff must have, should have, known the RAW base carries about an extra million WWE devotees who were never going to watch Impact.
That leaves anywhere from 500K - 1 million wrestling flippers; people who stop by for the names and cheap thrills...and that's who TNA was after, and that's why pretty songs were sung from Orlando every time TNA came close to those ratings. So while we've been told the goal was to be Nitro Reborn, it's actually been Thunder Returns.
And this decision is the heart of TNA's problem.
By not being honest with the fans about what their objectives truly were and opting instead to follow Bischoff/Hogan into Hypeville while Dixie patronizes the crap out of us because some mouth-breathers think she's "hawt", TNA set themselves up so every decision made carried about twice the weight and significance it should have.
Again, back to TNA '07-'08 when the company went about its business building characters and storylines and in that process, they created a Knockout and X division WWE could not compete with, plus some attention-holding main event angles. It worked and the ratings bear that out because Jarrett didn't oversell the company in the process.
In TNA's current state, there's no way out of this dilemma without massive reconstruction, and cutting Ken Anderson or whoever else is not it.