When your son or daughter is working for you, often good business sense flies completely out the window. You love them so much that you'll give them chance after chance to become competent at their role, even if all signs point towards them never truly getting it. You allow them to take foolish risks that no-one else would have been able to talk you into agreeing and when they backfire, you're the one left picking up the tab. But at some point you just have to put your foot down and tell them enough is enough.
Jerry Jarrett, the founder of TNA Wrestling in June 2002 with his son Jeff, has admitted to that being his Achilles' heel. Despite his misgivings, he helped bankroll the crazy idea of running live weekly pay-per-views without any free television exposure and allowed Vince Russo to be brought in to book the promotion despite having hammered a bunch of nails into WCW's coffin. However, when his main financial backer, HealthSouth Corporation, pulled out of the deal, he quickly was forced to tap out, as the small fortune he had amassed as a territorial wrestling promoter was in danger of being completely blown by keeping TNA afloat.
But the Jarretts struck gold when they discovered that their marketing guru and publicist Dixie Carter was the heiress of Panda Energy International, a privately held company worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite knowing next to nothing about the wrestling business, she could see the obvious gap in the marketplace for a competitor to WWE and convinced her parents to buy controlling interest in TNA. Jeff would still be heavily involved in the day to day running of the company, had last say on all booking decisions and be pushed as their top star (at least until he lied about sleeping with Kurt Angle's wife, Karen), so it was a win-win deal for Jerry. Now, it was Bob and Janice Carter who were on the hook to fund his son's dreams of proving the naysayers wrong, that he was WWE headline material all along, as well as their own daughter Dixie's flight of fancy.
According to Jerry Jarrett in an interview this September, it wasn't long before they too were sick of the losses and predicted that TNA would be in business until the day Bob died because he couldn't ever say no to Dixie:
"I am amazed, because when I was there, Bob Carter called me at least two to three times a week and said "I can't lose any more money, Jerry" and I said, "You're needing to talk to your daughter, not to me. She's running the place." So I'm amazed that they are in business. I think at this point, it's safe to say that TNA will continue to be subsidised by Bob Carter until he dies. Then I think TNA will go the way of ECW and the territory days."
However, Jerry might be proved wrong, as the recent decisions to stop taping Impact on the road, stop running house shows and savagely cut talent costs, point to the Carter family being ready to throw in the towel, cut their losses and sell to the highest bidder.
Indeed, Dave Meltzer revealed the big TNA secret on his radio show today that they've been wanting to get out of the wrestling business for several months now, after they've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at trying to turn the ship around, only for every big move made to yield no return and just get them further into the red:
"There's a lot of moves being done behind the scenes. There are, no matter what anyone is gonna say right now, big things behind the scenes as far as the future ownership of the company and at that point God only knows where it goes.... There's people looking at getting it and I think the Carters are looking to get out. They've lost enough money and all that and as far as what that means, who knows? But they've been looking to get out for awhile, now everyone is going to scream at me and all that, but that's a 100%, but that's the stuff they don't want you to know.... They've been looking to get out when they stopped, you know, when it became incumbent, when they didn't want to fund them anymore...."
Meltzer didn't divulge, apparently because he doesn't know, who was foolish enough to think this was a smart investment, but you have to think that the likes of Eric Bischoff (with Hulk Hogan) and Jeff Jarrett are scrambling to find backers as we speak. Given that they've purchased Bellator and Impact continues to be one of the higher rated shows on their Spike TV network, Viacom may be interested in too, if the Carter family can't find a buyer elsewhere. Failing that, Vince McMahon could always add the carcass of TNA to his trophy cabinet. I'm sure he would take great glee in firing Jeff again.