First and foremost before the people start sharpening their pitchforks let me say that I’m a TNA fan. In no way is this an article meant to simply bash on TNA, but to say that their recent direction has turned me off would be an understatement. Like many, we want this company to succeed but it’s painful sometimes to see so much wasted potential. Are we experts? Do we know how to fix TNA? Hell no. The most we can offer through this article is a simple fan’s perspective of what once made the product entertaining and why it isn’t working for us at the moment.
The Difference A Year Can Make
Not everyone will agree with this but from where we’re standing, 2013 was a fun year to watch TNA. Why was it a fun year? Because the company had direction. TNA had a clear path in 2013 which they planted the seeds for in 2012 and they stuck to it. Last year was all about finding out who would stop the Aces & 8s. TNA knew that was the end point and they wrote out almost an entire year worth of storylines from there.
Everything revolved around the Aces & 8s storyline but it managed to showcase many different characters and it had quite a few plot twists. From the Bully Ray heel turn at Lockdown, to AJ Styles as TNA’s silent defender to Chris Sabin becoming TNA Champion, everything revolved around that storyline and it was clear that the company was building toward the pay off at Bound For Glory.
On top of that the tag division would often steal the show with teams like Chavo and Hernandez, Gunner and Storm, Bad Influence and Bobby Roode with Austin Aries. Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell showed the world that the women can hang with the men and the X-Division although probably the weakest part of the show last year was still in decent shape.
Fast forward to today and there is basically no tag team division and the X-Division is a complete afterthought. The Knockouts division is decent but hardly as compelling as it was a year ago and as soon as you finally find something to grasp on to in the main event scene, the rug is pulled from under you.
Pick Something And Stick With It
TNA keeps touting this new direction but it’s becoming more and more obvious that they have no idea what their new direction is. The company can’t seem to decide who they want to push as their champion and that’s a problem. TNA spent months building up Magnus and for what? Magnus is a great talent but what purpose did it serve to give him a World Championship reign only to bring in his friend Bram and put him in a tag team? All of the time and effort TNA put into convincing us that Magnus is a main event level talent seems to have been all for nothing and that’s a shame.
Now the company seems to be doing the same thing with Eric Young. The fans were clearly behind Eric Young as the TNA World Champion and just as his title run started gaining some momentum, it was over.
TNA has a track record of putting talent in the main event and then dropping them back down the card for seemingly no reason. James Storm was on fire in 2012 and never got the title run he deserved. Aries was the best thing going in TNA two years ago and since then he’s struggled to find a solid spot on the card. Gunner looked like he would be booked in the title picture for months to come not too long ago, now he’s nowhere near the main event scene. The list goes on and on. Don’t even get us started on Samoa Joe.
The point is, if you want the fans to get invested in your characters, you need to stay the course. Pushing a wrestler to the main event and then not following through will only alienate your already alienated fanbase.
Too Many Character Changes
TNA changes their characters from face to heel back to face back to heel again more than the weather changes in New England. The truth is that it’s exhausting trying to keep up with all the changes and it completely diminishes any emotional impact (no pun intended) a character change should have on the fans.
When MVP came to TNA as the mystery investor it built a buzz around the company. Dixie Carter’s on screen authority figure is hard to watch and MVP was a breath of fresh air. It took no time at all for TNA to turn him heel and now he’s nothing more than a male version of Dixie Carter. Now instead of having someone to be the the opposite of Dixie we just have two versions of the same character. What purpose is that supposed to serve?
Austin Aries seemingly turned himself heel when he aligned himself with Dixie Carter at Lockdown. Now he’s raging against MVP who plays basically the same character as Dixie Carter and Aries is a face again, we think. A few months ago Abyss was Joseph Park who was a face then he found out he’s really Abyss who then aligned himself with Magnus as a heel. Now he’s in a tag team with Jeff Hardy and we think he’s supposed to be a face again. Are you still with me?
The evolution of a character is important but timing is everything and changing a wrestler’s character too often just defeats the purpose.
What Will It Take?
TNA has one of the best rosters on the planet and all the tools it needs to put on a great show. All TNA needs to do now is give us a reason to care. You can’t please everyone all the time and everyone knows that wrestling fans are VERY hard to please. The truth is as fans we just want something to latch onto and TNA isn’t providing that because everything changes so frequently.
Enough with the heel turns, enough with hot potato title runs and stop ignoring the tag team and X-Division. Like Tommy Dreamer told Dixie Carter on Impact:
“Remember what we want to watch. Do the right thing.”