MITCHELL: Total Stop Action – Why market forces driving TNA out of business years ago would have been better for the industry

By Bruce Mitchell, senior columnist


I kind of figured something was up last Friday night at Dorton Arena when I got a look at Jeff Hardy in the Big Time wrestling main event. Hardy was playing wrestling’s most sensational innovation, Brother Nero, and while he seemed to be all-in, even singing the Obsolete song a-cappella, I noticed he was chewing gum.

Staff11Mitchell_120He must have known the gig was up.

You’re going to hear sadness at the news of the final end of TNA, at the fact that people are going to lose their jobs, that the number of places to work full-time in the professional wrestling business, few even now, was now going to shrink even further.

You’re going to hear nostalgia for TNA innovations like the six-sided ring, Beer Money, the X Division (“Its not about weight limits, it’s about no limits”), and A.J. Styles. Series like the one between Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle, or the ones between America’s Most Wanted and whoever it that they wrestled will be dug up and praised for their virtues. It’s human nature to become a little sentimental at the passing of something you’ve been familiar with for a certain amount of time.

Don’t fall for it. TNA has been a blight on the professional since it was founded on the foolish notion that weekly pay-per-view shows were a sustainable economic model. The wrestling business would’ve been better off if market forces had been allowed to have their way with this company years ago. Because Panda Energy kept pouring millions into a company which created content fans rejected, TNA kept making the same mistakes over and over again because their wrestling welfare money was never going to run out.

The list of foolish. money-losing notions that TNA spent millions of dollars to market would take more space and patience than I have here  to complete. This is the company that spent years and millions of dollars  unsuccessfully trying to prove that entitled perennial mid-card act Jeff Jarrett was somehow owed the main event because his father felt guilty about their troubled relationship and he was next in line to be the King of Memphis, only Jerry Lawler turned out to be the last one.

Every washed-up WWE Superstar who wanted or needed an annuity was hired to put over and/or give the rub to Jarrett. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Sting, Ken Shamrock, Randy Savage, Jeff Hardy, Christian, Booker T, The Dudleys, Billy Gunn, and Kurt Angle are only some of the expensive talent wasted on the effort.

TNA only stopped pushing this failure when its owner, Panda Energy owner Bob Carter’s daughter Dixie Carter, felt betrayed that Jarrett lied to her about his relationship with the wife of the company’s most expensive star, Kurt Angle. It figured. The amount of strange, shady behavior behind the scenes that damaged this company over the years has never been completely revealed.

This is the company that pressured a retired Randy Savage into making his embarrassing last in-ring appearance, the place that sent an under-indictment Jeff Hardy into the ring where he was unable to perform. This is the place that promoted Roddy Piper on live TV accusing Vince Russo of being responsible for Owen Hart’s death, the place that made A.J. Styles act in a series of skits so dumb that the actress opposite him quit in embarrassment. This was the place where Kevin Nash somehow couldn’t make his main events and yet was re-signed to contract after contract. These were the people who took in an Olympic Gold Medalist who was struggling with his addictions so much that he was dropped by WWE.

This is the company whose all-time best -selling t-shirt was that of a referee who betrayed one of his closest friends in the business, then got fired for selling bootleg – you guessed it – t-shirts, so he had to go work in TNA. These are the people who brought in Pac-Man Jones after a strip-club melee he incited led to the permanent paralysis of a security guard, the ones who brought in the arrogant rock star Billy Corgan, the ones who pushed their untalented owner on TV years after year after year.

Then there were the carnies, the ones who saw a money mark to charm and fleece. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff teamed up to spend millions to use TNA to promote their untalented children, and of course pay themselves. That loser Vince Russo kept conning his way back in, even when Jeff Jarrett had to lie to his father Jerry about it, even on a booking committee with, of all people, Jim Cornette, even when Dixie Carter lying to their network about it helped get them kicked off their programming.

So pardon me if I’m not shedding any crocodile tear over a place so pathetic you had to grade their pay-per-view efforts on the TNA curve. I’ll shed one over the sad fact that one of the greatest wrestlers I ever saw, Kurt Angle, through his own fault, spent too many years doing stellar work for them that most fans never saw.

Pro wrestling would have been better off if Dixie Carter hadn’t bailed the Jarretts out all those years ago. Maybe the good ol’ American capitalist system could have forged another real competitor to WWE in the space that TNA wasted.

(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Friday night at 7 ET with Travis Bryant at The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years and is part of over a dozen VIP exclusive audio shows that run usually daily or weekly that online members have access to with their VIP password. His columns over the years have usually been published exclusively in the VIP PWTorch Newsletter paper copy and online PDF editions. If you have a question you’d like Bruce Mitchell to answer on his VIP Audio Show, send that question to for consideration on a future episode.) ###

16 Comments on MITCHELL: Total Stop Action – Why market forces driving TNA out of business years ago would have been better for the industry

  1. TNA has still entertained me far more over the years than WWE has. I loved WWF as a kid but fell out of love with wrestling throughout the late 90s and early 2000s and it was TNA that made me enjoy it again. Not enough to put up with McMahon and years of boring Cena (I tried but WWE is so bloated with mediocrity and overlong shows it takes far too long to filter out the few bits actually worth watching) but certainly to enjoying TNA’s own talent and I still do every week.

  2. I doubt this will get through but we will see…

    If it wasn’t for TNA, Bruce wouldn’t have anything to write about or get people to click the site for.

    Also, I wouldn’t close the TNA casket before making sure there’s a body in there, Bruce.

    See you next week at the TNA tapings.

  3. I agree. From what I understand, Panda Energy has basically been drained because of TNA. I am watching the show and they act like nothing is going on and that Bound for Glory is a given. NOT.

  4. This is absolutely the biggest piece of garbage I have ever read on a wrestling site. WCW existed for YEARS because of funding when it was losing money. Would wrestling have been better if it was never around? ECW? What a ridiculous thing to say. You are no wrestling fan at all

  5. This is the best thing I’ve read all week. Bruce Mitchell pulls no punches and speaks his mind without fear or filter. I wasn’t a Bruce fan when I first started listening to and reading The Torch, but now he’s one of the only opinions I hold in high regard when it comes to wrestling journalists.

    That being said, hes right about TNA. It was a great option for talent and folks who work in the biz but its time for something new. If Corgan buys it, he needs to re-brand and drop the TNA name.

    Best case, WWE buys the pre-2016 library and name. Corgan buys the rings, contracts and time-slot. Corgan takes a month or three off to refocus and kicks it off in January with a new name, cutting edge ideas and a better focus.

  6. I don’t care what they did in their past. WWE has made some of the dumbest decisions in the past as well. They still make dumb decisions now.But to rejoice in the closure of a potential place for wrestlers to work and thrive? An alternative for fans who grow weary of the 3-hour Monday marathon featuring the 25th year of McMahon family drama?

    I don’t deny anything you say about TNA and I will not attempt to defend it. All I can say is that I’ve been watching since the world title series and the Pop TV debut, and I’ve enjoyed every episode. All these ‘WWE rejects’ have found new life and are doing the best work of their careers. Just ask Triple H, who is trying to send feelers to Matt Hardy.

    Regardless of the blunders of the past, the most recent output from TNA has been solid and I would hate to see them swallowed up by WWE.

    Jeez, Mitchell. You wrote this as if Jarrett stole YOUR wife from you.

  7. I agree with the suggestion that TNA sells the pre-2016 library to WWE and Corgan buys the rest and takes a few months off and rebrands in Jan 2017.

    Brilliant idea …..

    Maybe even “merge” what’s left (after tape library) with ROH (Corgan on board perhaps a respectable “minority” shareholder with creative input.

  8. Amen, Bruce, amen.

    You’re not hard enough on TNA, though. The brand name itself ought to have been the first clue that TNA = trash.

    All you TNA fans, stop lying to yourself. TNA is a vanity project that has always been a money-pit. That segment of American culture which birthed TNA is slowly dying and the audience, that is, the money-paying audience, is dying with it. The median age of a TNA viewer tells that story.

    Four times over the years I turned on TNA and each time found myself offended by many things. Wrestling doesn’t have to be that way. This is not about WWE or ROH being better (they both have their own problems), but if TNA is both out-of-date AND a debt-machine, then there is no reason to root for it to continue.

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