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Dixie Carter: 'I feel sorry for the wrestling business if TNA's not around'

Dixie Carter speaks to Grantland and exposes herself to be a pro wrestling dilettante in denial, who isn't willing to publicly grapple with the realities of the dire situation her company TNA is truly in.

Dixie Carter: only has great respect for celebrities and entrepreneurs?
Dixie Carter: only has great respect for celebrities and entrepreneurs?

Things must be bad for TNA! Grantland, which rarely deems TNA worthy of coverage, has done an in-depth story about the company's uncertain future featuring quotes from Dixie Carter, Jeff Jarrett, Vince Russo, Jim Cornette, AJ Styles and Bobby Roode amongst others. It didn't fill me with much hope, even though Dixie talks a good game, as it was full of the positive spin that you would expect from someone whose background is in PR and marketing, without grappling with the realities of the dire situation the company is truly in. So let's dissect in greater detail some of the talking points raised in this article:

  • In the past, my former colleague Sharon Glencross exposed how although Dixie Carter seems like a good natured Southern belle on the surface, when you dig deeper she's a pro wrestling dilettante, more concerned with her celebrity and ego than doing what's right by her employees. This article does nothing to dispel that image with her showing off some of her favourite things to writer Thomas Golianopoulos, like a psychedelic painting of Jeff Hardy's called The Charismatic Apology, signed baseballs from MLB stars, a bobblehead of her buddy Frank Wycheck, her jangling bracelets and the largest diamond ring he had ever seen. The irony of that picture, of course, is that she would never have received it if she hadn't shown such a laissez-faire attitude to The Artist's substance abuse issues that they spiralled so out of control that he turned up impaired for his Victory Road 2011 pay-per-view main event against Sting. She even smiled as she talked about recent layoffs arguing that: "We were overstaffed in certain cases. Certain times you have to take a step back to take a massive step forward."
  • Dixie Carter is still insisting that TMZ's report in late July that Spike TV had already informed her that they wouldn't renew Impact Wrestling was bogus: "TMZ asked me, ‘Hey, is this story real, should we run with it? I was watching a movie and didn’t see it until some little wrestling site ran it. Then I gave TMZ a quote, which said we’re still negotiating. That never made it to print." I'm sure TNA's workforce will appreciate this anecdote of Dixie doing the equivalent of fiddling whilst Rome is burning, as the rumors ran wild.
  • Dixie's answer to TNA's problems is that she needs more hours and more programming: "We will die a slow death on the vine if we just stay as one two-hour show in the U.S.. I have big decisions to make. I want this to be a big play. I don’t want this to be a status quo play." I guess this is their latest golden carrot idea, a foolhardy errand to look for magical things that they don't have that will instantly turn the company around but instead only serve to increase costs for little gain, like "we need to run head to head with Monday Night Raw" to "we need to run live" to "we need to leave the Impact Zone". Of course, they once had an extra show on Spike TV, TNA Reaction, but it was cancelled after only six months due to poor ratings. So no, this doesn't sound like it'll be a game changer either.
  • Bobby Roode for one is sick and tired of all the negativity about TNA: "I’ve [worked] 95 percent of the shows this company has run, and from day one the Internet, the public, has tried to bash TNA. We’ve been here for 12 years and after all the negativity and all the bullshit — ‘They’re going down, they’re going under, they’re done’ — we’re still here." Ask him again when his contract comes up for renewal whether the recent negative reporting was justified.
  • Vince Russo was more obnoxious than ever arguing a strawman that hardcore fans want to remove all interviews and angles from wrestling shows: "The Internet wrestling community thinks in-ring wrestling action should take up every minute of every show. That’s what they believe the business is. That’s what they are fans of. I mean, they rate fake wrestling matches on a star system. The matches are fake! They are not real!"
  • Russo's comments regarding star ratings would be like a filmmaker complaining about movie critics doing the same thing. They reveal a real condescending attitude to anyone who takes wrestling seriously and may be the main reason why his storylines often don't make any sense. The sloppy attitude of "who cares, it's just fake anyway". At least Jim Cornette was on hand to point out his toxicity to the business.
  • Golianopoulos claims that the theory that Russo's rehiring was kept secret because Spike TV hated him has been debunked, because Spike TV's Senior Vice President of Communications David Schwarz recently claimed otherwise and because Russo gave him an alternative explanation: "It’s because Dixie was afraid of what the Internet was going to say. She puts heavy stock into the Internet wrestling community and all of the dirt sheets from day one. She’s obsessed with reading them, reading what they say about the show and what they say about her. She didn’t want the backlash of hiring Vince Russo, who the Internet hates."
  • My reaction to that is what would Schwarz say if he really did hate Russo? Saying that Russo meant "less to Spike than gum that gets stuck on the bottom of a sneaker" is pretty disparaging for someone you claim to be ambivalent about. Dave Meltzer on his message board was very cutting about what Russo's denial: "Spike TV hated him. [Wrestle-1's Keiji] Muto hated him. The talent that had even the slightest grasp of history thought he was a fraud. But Dixie kept it a secret and told everyone who knew to lie because she thought Wade Keller hated him. Makes perfect sense to me."
  • To this very day Dixie Carter can't bring herself to criticise Vince Russo publicly, even though she recently fired him over appearing on Jim Ross's podcast, The Ross Report, against her own orders: "He’s a lightning rod. People hate him, but sometimes people love what he does but they don’t realize he does it. He’s a really talented guy."
  • Dixie's petulance comes through recalling her reaction to the whispers behind her back that she was a money mark who didn't know the first thing about wrestling: "Did I hear, ‘Well, you don’t know wrestling’? I just wanted to say, ‘I understand, you don’t know business.’ I chose not to be bitter about it and just do my job. I don’t need people to tell me what I know and don’t know. At some point I said, ‘If I hear that again, you may not have a job'." Of course, 12 years of running TNA has exposed that her business acumen isn't that great either. If we ever saw TNA's books, then it'd likely make Paul Heyman look like Richard Branson.
  • This greater respect for entrepreneurs than great wrestling minds might explain why Dixie Carter gushes with praise for TNA founder Jeff Jarrett, despite their bitter falling out in 2009: "I will always give props to Jeff. Out of the thousands of wrestlers out there he’s the only one who decided to create something with his own money. I have mad respect for that, always have and always will. I love Jeff as a person. I wish him and his precious family nothing but success." I'm sure those feelings are genuine, as without Jeffey creating his own personal wrestling fiefdom, Dixie would never have got to play at being a pro wrestling promoter, something she dubiously professes that she wanted to do growing up. However, it's ridiculous to act like Jeff is the only wrestler to ever start his own business up.
  • As expected, Jeff Jarrett gave his increasingly fishy and sketchy Global Force Wrestling sales pitch: "We are in the midst of negotiations on every level with networks, with sponsorships, with venues — everything that goes into launching a wrestling organization." Of course, if this was true, then shouldn't we have heard some rumours of who he's talking with? The only thing Jarrett has delivered is a list of promotions around the world who might supply him with talent if this project ever gets off the ground. Even Golianopoulos thought he might be being worked when Jarrett gave a rather weak answer as to why he could buck the trend and land a good TV deal when TNA, even with their track record of delivering a reliable 1.0 cable rating every week for years, is struggling to find any decent offers: "Wrestling is Shakespeare for the masses — storytelling, good vs. evil — and that has always worked on television and will always work on television. I think there is room for three or four wrestling shows on television. I think it’s narrow-minded to say there is only room for one. Competition breeds success, and the only winners will be the fans." Dixie Carter was equally as dismissive of the GFW: "Don’t know what it is, don’t understand it, and don’t need to."
  • An interesting note is that Eric Bischoff refused to talk to Golianopoulos, likely because BHE TV, Bischoff and Jason Hervey’s production company, still produces Impact.
  • Dixie Carter shedding some crocodile tears over AJ Styles departure was amusing: "I hate that we lost AJ. Are you listening? I hate it. I felt like we gave him a great offer. I really did. I felt like we gave him a great offer and I think he made a mistake." As Styles reveals, this great offer amounted to a 40% pay cut for a loyal performer, which he rightly found insulting: "For a guy who’d been a staple of that company for 11 years, who busted his tail, never got in trouble, never did anything to embarrass your company, and what [Carter] offered me was enough for me to go, ‘I’m not working here.’ I loved that company. I did. I put everything I had into it." It's hard to call AJ's move a mistake when he's comfortably making more money this year than he would have done so in TNA by working a stacked schedule of dates for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring Of Honor and other independent promotions.
  • Despite having seen little return on her substantial financial investment in Hulk Hogan from 2009-2013, Dixie still believes that to be a smart business move: "I think having Hulk Hogan as part of your company can never be a bad thing. To me, it was a great investment."
  • The article ended with a plea by Dixie Carter for wrestling fans to get behind her flagging company where jobs and livelihoods are on the line: "All these people say, ‘I hope you go out of business’ — why would you ever want that? You don’t think we make wrestling better just by exposing more people and giving people more options? It’s the most ludicrous, shortsighted thing — the sheer absurdity and stupidity of it blows my mind. I feel sorry for the wrestling business if we’re not around." My feelings on this are that TNA's track record suggests that they'll never be a financially viable proposition or a credible alternative to WWE or an artistic success. I would never want anyone to lose their jobs, but TNA's presence in this industry has become an opportunity cost. They're a damaged brand, a zombie promotion that should by all intents and purposes be dead, but simply won't die just because Dixie can somehow convince her parents to sink more bad money after good into her vanity project. They take up space on cable TV that could potentially go to a new upstart wrestling company who may have a better vision, create more compelling episodic television and treat their wrestlers better than TNA does. The wrestling industry may need to take a short term hit through the death of TNA, in order to have a healthier long term future, as an offshoot company rises out of the ashes of TNA and eventually surpasses what they ever hoped to achieve by limping along and never learning from their own mistakes. What do you think, Cagesiders?

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