Over the space of just a few weeks, TNA has took quite a tumble. The company has been treading water for a couple of years, but at least it seemed like a safe alternative to WWE for those wrestlers that had fallen out of favor with the McMahon family or weren't on their radar screens.
However, the foolhardy decision to leave behind the safety of the Impact Zone in Orlando's Universal Studios to tape Impact on the road has caused costs to escalate without any additional financial benefit coming TNA's way. With Dixie Carter's parents Bob and Janice unwilling to pick up the tab again for their daughter's profligacy, the result has been pandemonium.
Reports are that TNA are 1-2 months behind on payroll and this has even affected some of their biggest stars on their roster. Unsurprisingly, TNA management are doing everything in their power to reduce the money spent on talent as a consequence.
Expendable talent that was rarely being used have been fired. Even former WWE stars Lisa Marie Varon, aka Victoria and Tara, and Drew Hankinson, aka Festus, Luke Gallows and DOC, have been axed despite having a significant onscreen presence
Company officials aren't safe either with both Bruce Prichard and D-Lo Brown being forced out of the company, likely because they weren't compliant enough about having their contracts restructured. Prichard also makes a convenient fall guy for all the recent financial difficulties, given that he was working as TNA's Head of Talent Relations and was responsible for handling contract re-negotiations and performer disputes. Clearly, he was put into a very difficult situation thanks to decisions out of his control and didn't deserve all the heat he inevitably got by always being the bearer of bad news.
No wonder then that Sting has sent feelers WWE's way and Matt Morgan asked for his release to almost certainly test those waters too. Privately a lot more are believed to be following suit. This really does feel like the rats are preparing to leave a sinking ship, if they're lucky enough to be able to do so.
However, TNA's current bloodletting seems to be the equivalent of putting plasters on a huge, gaping, life threatening wound and fails to solve the root causes of their current malady. The wrestlers who have been fired are innocent victims who are paying the price for their boss's incompetence. Even the management figures that have left are largely only guilty of following orders. So who should really go?
- Hulk Hogan. Though Hogan likes to paint himself as above the fray and sincerely having TNA's best interests at heart, he's really a creative meddler that has egged the star struck Dixie Carter to take stupid risks that predictably proved to be expensive. He was one of the geniuses behind the idea to bring in all the stars outside of the WWE fold to TNA and start the Monday Night Wars Part Deux. At least then TNA could quickly move Impact back to Thursday nights with their tail tucked between their legs when they inevitably got massacred by Raw. However, the same cannot be said for the Hogan inspired decision to tape Impact on the road permanently. Someone else already has the lease at Universal Studios for the former Impact Zone, so returning is not an option. He's also caused creative chaos by forcing upon the writing team several last minute changes to long term storylines (most notably, his decision to have Bobby Roode loose to the injured Kurt Angle at Bound For Glory 2011 and rush the Canadian's heel turn on tag partner James Storm). Moreover, Hogan at age 59 is still pushed as the biggest star in the promotion and sucks up far too much television time that could be better spent trying to get younger talent over. The same could be said about all the efforts to give Brooke Hogan the opportunity to demonstrate her limited acting range. It would be one thing if the Hogan family drama was drawing ratings, but the reality is that TNA's television audience is at their smallest level in years. Given that so much energy has been put into building the Hulk Hogan vs. Bully Ray feud, The Hulkster shouldn't be forced out of the company immediately, but once that match has been done, it really is time to bid him a fond farewell.
- Eric Bischoff. We asked what on earth had happened to him, two and a half years ago, yet he's still picking up a paycheck doing who the hell knows what. Indeed, he clearly cares much more about the reality shows he produces with Jason Hervey than putting all his brainpower into turning TNA around. He may have helped improve the pacing and production of Impact, but creatively the only ideas he seems to offer are half baked copies of the big angles he helped cultivate during the heyday of WCW Monday Nitro. Bischoff is clearly just Hulk Hogan's consultant crony, backing all of his harebrained schemes mentioned earlier that have blown up in Dixie Carter's face. Like Hogan, he's also used his power to give his son an undeserved spot on the roster. If you have to keep Hogan, then at least weaken his influence by getting rid of his biggest ally in the company.
Dixie Carter. Speaking of nepotism again, only a beloved daughter could screw up so much by listening to the wrong people and burn through so much cash without being kicked to the kerb (see Stephanie McMahon and her many years of creative incompetence too, though at least she seems to have matured with age and learned a bit from experience). We've profiled her in detail in the past and all the nightmares that happened under her watch too. Two years on and she's still blundering on, still listening to Hogan and Bischoff, even though they helped kill one company and proven time and time again that they are just copying the same mistakes all over again. Once supposedly breaking even after bleeding tons of money keeping the company going while running unprofitable weekly pay-per-views and buying TV time on Fox Sports Net, Dixie has brought the company to its knees again where the only hope for the Carter family to recoup some of their investment is to sell TNA to Viacom, like Bjorn Rebney did with Bellator. Well, they could always sell to WWE for chump change. Either way, it seems clear that the biggest problem with TNA is still its erstwhile controller Dixie Carter.