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TNA report: Still playing the waiting game

Although TNA is still going out of its way to pretend that it's business as usual, there are some ominous signs as they wait for TV execs to determine their destiny.

Bully Ray: learnt from Paul Heyman how to give dying promotion pep talks
Bully Ray: learnt from Paul Heyman how to give dying promotion pep talks

It's now been almost three weeks since TMZ reported that Spike TV had opted against renewing TNA Impact for the fall season. Another week has gone by with no announcement of a new television deal by TNA. Time is not on TNA's side, as in just six week's time they may be without a television partner in the United States. Basically, TNA are playing the waiting game, as their destiny is now out of their hands, instead being determined by the whims of the television executives they are talking with.

Consequently, there's still a tremendous amount of uncertainty about TNA's future. There are still some signs for optimism, but most of which can be spun negatively too. Let's break down all the latest information provided by Dave Meltzer in this week's subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter and then we can let you the reader be the judge of how rosy TNA's picture looks.

Good: Before the television tapings on Aug. 6th, Bully Ray and John Gaburick apparently held a meeting with talent telling them that the company wasn't closing, they were working on a bunch of deals and everything would be fine. The latest word is that TNA performers have been told to expect a big announcement within a fortnight.

Bad: A couple of weeks earlier, TNA had emailed their performers to refute the "Spike TV cancels Impact" rumors going round and gave them the impression that positive news would be announced at the NYC shows. Given the amount of times TNA management have reassured their underlings that their TV negotiations were going well without anything concrete to show for it and with time now rapidly running out, you can't help but think that TNA management are constantly bluffing and that they have no secret tricks up their sleeves left.

Good: The day after Bully Ray's pep talk, Spike TV's President Kevin Kay attended the final night of tapings and talked to some of the wrestlers, which means that at the very least the two sides are still talking and are on good terms.

Bad: It doesn't sound like the talks with Spike will lead to a new contract and are probably more to do with making the divorce with TNA as amicable as possible. There may be a willingness on Spike's end to continue to air episodes of Impact after their deal together has expired for awhile in order to allow TNA as much time as possible to find a new television partner and ensure a smooth transition between stations, but finding a willing suitor will be very difficult for TNA in the current market. There's no concrete evidence that corroborates the rumor that either Spike TV are just driving a hard bargain and would be willing to keep TNA on their network for a much cheaper price, or they are playing hardball as leverage to gain ownership of TNA.

Good: TNA has building holds on the Manhattan Center for TV tapings in September, November and December, and they've also informed wrestlers of their planned future house show schedule. It's believed that the United Talent Agency (UTA) are working with TNA to evaluate their current live event strategy, which could lead to changes in routing, presentation, etc.

Bad: Apart from the UK tour in late January, TNA are not advertising any future dates on their website after Sept. 7th. This to me suggests that TNA are hedging their bets. If they were confident in signing a new TV deal, then surely they'd already be selling tickets to their next set of Impact tapings already? It's also worth bearing in mind that these NYC tapings are believed to be big money losers. Would Bob and Janice Carter be willing to bankroll them if there's no rainbow on the horizon?

This is just bad full stop: Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, a couple of senior executives have already given notice and found jobs elsewhere: Rafael Morfi, TNA's Senior Director of Live Events, and Jayme Sharp, their Production Chief Engineer.

Meanwhile, the production staff are again believed to be way behind in getting paid, just a few months after they threatened to walk out before a TV taping if they weren't paid what they were owed. Hopefully Dixie Carter remembers to bring her check book at the next set of tapings, she'll probably need it.

Fox Sports 1 are believed to have no interest in spending money to acquire TNA Impact, even though Impact this month drew about five times FS 1's prime-time average viewership and would be much cheaper to get than other sports franchises. The perception of pro wrestling, along with the rock bottom advertising rates their shows can generate, is a killer. If FS 1 aren't interested, then who else will be?

Conclusion: In my opinion, fans and workers alike should prepare for the worst and be very thankful if TNA survives this rocky patch into 2015.

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