SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following guest editorial was published on PWTorch.com 15 years ago today (11-29-2017). It’s fascinating to see what suggestions were made back then that either were incorporated into the product or still could be to help, and what some of the same complaints are after all of these years…
There’s some good news and some bad news. First the good news: NWA TNA has survived past their first six months, and is still promoting shows on a national stage. They’ve outdone both the WWA and the XWF despite the dark predictions of many internet pundits. The quality of the recent shows has drastically improved from early weeks, which is another good sign. But the bad news is that while they’re surviving, all accounts seem to indicate that the promotion is not thriving like many had hoped. There three reasons this, and they are certainly not beyond repair.
The main problem of NWA TNA is that despite occasionally featuring the X Division Belt, the main focal point of the promotion is the NWA World Championship. Unfortunately for the Jarretts, no one in the world can compete with the heavyweights of the WWE. As long as Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, the Guerreros, and the remaining cast of characters are still putting on four star matches on free television, TNA has no real chance of competing with them with their heavyweights. Like it or not, Ron Killings, Jeff Jarrett, and B.G. James are nothing more than lower mid-carders in the current WWE even with the brand extension. So any plan that NWA TNA has for expansion can not revolve around the heavyweights, instead they have to carve their own niche.
It’s fairly common knowledge on the small community of internet wrestling fans that the cruisers of TNA’s X Division are putting on matches that are every bit as good as anything on WWE television. But your average wrestling fan doesn’t have a clue that these people even exist. TNA needs to do something to get these wrestlers exposed to the average wrestling fan, and the way to do it is through commercial videos of “The Best of the X Division.” Ideally they would have been marketed before Christmas, but simply getting these videos in to movie stores is great exposure. The hardcore fans of your product already will buy them, and hopefully pass them along to their friends. Losing a few dollars in pirated tapes would actually be a good thing in many ways, as the real goal here is to sell $10 weekly PPV shows, not $20 tapes. People will get exposed to the best part of TNA’s product, and then start buying the weekly shows. The fanbase will expand through underground tape trading, similar to the way ECW’s fanbase was built before the promotion went national.
That’s step one. Step two is getting the people hooked once they start watching. NWA TNA needs a big hook that will keep people involved for several programs and stop them from making the decision to order or not order week to week. The best idea I can come up with is a best of seven series with two of the world’s best and most versatile workers. My picks would be Jerry Lynn and Christopher Daniels, as they’re both familiar with different styles of wrestling and would be able to put on different looking matches every week, but you could plug several workers in to those slots. Once you get people interested in that best of seven, they’ll be hooked for the duration and will hopefully get invested in other storylines that are going on and continue to order the product.
Step three is to reintroduce the women’s division. I wrote this before, but it is still true today. The women of the WWE have certainly improved, but until the WWE makes a real commitment to the division there is certainly room for competition. And fortunately for TNA, they have the advantage of the freedom of PPV to get away with some more risque behavior than would be allowed even on cable. Trinity has made a fantastic showing of herself so far, and there are a number of very attractive, talented unsigned women out there. Beyond Trinity, there are some outstanding women like April Hunter, Jasmin St. Claire, and Tough Enough’s Taylor Matheny who could all be legitimate players in a fully developed women’s division. Any one of these women would probably love to have a chance to shine on a national stage, and could provide another avenue for TNA to have a product that stands out above the WWE.
The key at this point for NWA TNA isn’t to pop a buyrate, it’s to sustain them. The writing hasn’t been outstanding lately, but it’s certainly been good enough. What they need to do now is get people hooked, and they’re not going to do it with the heavyweights. A best of seven series between two of the world’s best like Lynn and Daniels, and the reintroduction of the aborted Miss TNA storyline they had going with Jasmin before the whole Bruce debacle could be two ways to draw in that audience that is looking for an alternative to the WWE. Watching B.G. James, Jeff Jarrett, and Ron Killings cut promos and put on matches that wouldn’t even make a PPV for the McMahons is not the way to go.