Now that he's been forced out of his job as a TNA consultant, Vince Russo is finally free to speak his mind publicly, which he ensures us all is worth so much more than the dollars he will lose out on. Yeah, he's shooting brother! Well, for those willing to pay $2.99 a month to gain access to the VIP section of his new Pyro & Ballyhoo website he is.
His first target for criticism is unsurprisingly Spike TV in a blog post where he discusses four potential scenarios regarding the future of TNA and pro wrestling in general on the channel. In the column, Russo blames Spike TV for TNA's recent lack of growth and claimed that "Spike TV has NEVER correctly promoted TNA since they've been on their network for the past 9 years". It's also an opinion that, rumor has it, is privately shared by Dixie Carter and other members of TNA management.
Russo doesn't attempt to justify that statement, just passes it off as a commonly accepted fact. The problem is that TNA's history on Spike TV paints a completely different picture.
First of all, if it wasn't for Spike TV giving TNA a one hour late Saturday night time-slot in the autumn of 2005, then the company would have died, full stop. For those of you who don't remember, TNA lost a ton of dollars from May 2004 - May 2005 through paying Fox Sports Net a weekly fee to air Impact, and when they decided to cancel their contract with FSN, Impact had to be shown on the Internet whilst they looked for another, better television deal. Going from a very poorly rated cable channel that TNA had to spend money to be on to one that was comfortably in the top 25 prime-time viewership rankings every single week and were willing to pay TNA for their content was a major step up.
Moreover, Spike TV didn't keep them in a dead end time-slot when they drew good ratings in the position. In April 2006, Impact was moved to Thursday night prime-time. In October 2007, Impact was extended to two hours, as Spike TV continued to reward TNA for further viewership growth. They even went along with TNA's kamikaze mission to go head to head with WWE's flagship show Monday Night Raw in the spring of 2010 and quickly moved Impact back to Thursday nights when they inevitably got massacred.
Spike TV is also believed to have paid part of the salaries for Sting and Hulk Hogan, who TNA couldn't have afforded to bring in full-time on their own, and also made some contribution towards the costs of taping Impact on the road, a failed experiment which did nothing to significantly boost ratings.
However, it shouldn't be any surprise that Russo knocks Spike TV given that they weren't fans of his and they didn't want him back working in a creative position for TNA.
That said, Russo still thinks that there's a 75% chance of TNA signing a new deal with Spike TV for a reduced rate, even though they're such awful people to be doing business with, which seems wildly overoptimistic from what our sources are telling us.
But what Russo really wants to happen is for TNA to find "a prince charming to come riding in on his white horse to save the day", i.e., a new network that would treat TNA right, lovingly embrace them and promote the hell out of them. The fairytale imagery is apropos as this enters fantasy territory. Where was this Prince Charming to save the recently axed WWE Main Event or Saturday Morning Slam? There doesn't seem to be any interest from other stations in TNA Impact, and even if there is, due to the lack of negotiating leverage, the terms will be worse than their existing deal with Spike. Nevertheless, Russo thinks that there's a 50% chance of TNA finding a new home. What can I say, maths isn't his strong point!
Rounding up his odds making, he thinks that there's a 10% chance of Spike TV signing a deal with Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling promotion and gives a 50% chance of Spike TV starting up their own wrestling promotion headed by Eric Bischoff (or buys TNA from the Carters), even though this is pure speculation on his part. The latter isn't impossible, as Bischoff was well liked at Spike TV and they did buy their own MMA promotion Bellator, but as Dave Meltzer put it in this week's Wrestling Observer, "there is nothing even to the extent of smoke that we can find in that direction past rumors within TNA".
Remember, one scenario that definitely won't occur is TNA going out of business and Spike TV getting out of the wrestling game!