In recent weeks, the National Wrestling Alliance and Impact Wrestling made moves in pursuit of growing their respective brands. But rather than take a bold step forward, each company decided to embrace its past in trying to resurrect its former glory.
It began earlier this month when NWA President William Patrick Corgan announced the revival of the promotion’s territorial system, its attempt to foster collaboration, unity, and the development of future wrestling stars. That announcement came days before the NWA had reportedly signed TV deals with The CW.
Then, on Saturday (Oct.21), at its Bound For Glory pay-per-view event, Impact Wrestling announced that it was changing its name back to TNA, Total Nonstop Action.
Starting with the NWA and its endeavor to return to a territorial system, their concept at least makes sense. As the NWA seemingly prepares for proper television distribution, it stands to reason that it will need as much talent as it can get its hands on. One way to do that is to work with other promotions who can provide them with warm bodies in exchange for TV exposure.
The question moving forward, however, is whether such an alliance will be mutually beneficial to the NWA and its potential partners or just the NWA. In the old days of the NWA and the territory system, the idea of talent sharing and streamlining rules and champions helped make each promotion profitable. At the helm was the World Champion (whoever that may be at the time), acting as the driving force by legitimizing up-and-comers, local champions, and legends.
But when the NWA Champion refused to drop the title to select competitors or made limited appearances in a particular region, cracks in the foundation began to grow, and rival organizations sprang up. It’ll be interesting to see what Corgan and the NWA can do differently to avoid a similar fate in modern times. Considering how low the NWA ranks in the public’s consciousness in 2023 makes it worth the gamble, but its likelihood of success may be limited when the ultimate goal for most rising performers is to get to WWE or AEW.
Ultimately, time will tell for the NWA.
Regarding Impact Wrestling, the decision to return to its previous TNA name after being seven years removed from the stain associated with the moniker is beyond puzzling. The name began as a joke, thanks to Vince Russo, who took credit for naming the company after a crude reference to the chest and buttocks region of the female body.
And a joke is what TNA became after several creative blunders earned the company the dubious nickname of LOLTNA. While it’s debatable that the TNA brand has more recognition than Impact Wrestling, the acronym remains a vulgar and primitive reminder of bygone days in the wrestling industry when the value of many female performers was based solely on their appearance.
In defense of the change, some within wrestling forums suggest that the company’s most valuable commodity is its tape library, where much of the original branding is as TNA. While that may have some merit, one only needs to look at WWE and how it survived after being forced to change its name from the World Wrestling Federation following a legal dispute with some pandas at the World Wildlife Fund.
WWE existed as the WWWF and WWF for almost 40 years, so their sudden name change wasn’t easy, and it took nearly a decade for WWE to figure out what it could and couldn’t refer to from its previous library. Impact Wrestling has no such obligations, which makes this sudden change more perplexing.
Regardless, change is in the air, and only the future knows if these changes are a step in the right direction for the NWA and Impact Wrestling. For now, these decisions appear to be a sizable step back.