The fate of TNA and Impact Wrestling, despite some reports, is still undecided as of late this afternoon. There have been rumors circulating for the last couple of days that Spike TV had decided not to renew the contract of Impact Wrestling when it expires in late September or early October which puts the future of TNA in jeopardy. Executives at Spike are said to be unhappy with the ratings and the inability of TNA to finally “turn the corner” and provide, at the very least, an alternative to the WWE. Late this morning it was thought Spike and TNA were still negotiating, though many believe any further talks to be futile. Some reports have indicated that TNA CEO Dixie Carter decided to sever ties with Spike TV and explore other options while sources within Spike TV say that the decision belongs entirely to the cable station.
Though Impact has been consistent where ratings are concerned, hovering around a 1.0 weekly, Spike TV executives do not feel they are getting enough out of TNA to justify continuing to pour a reported $30 million a year into the wrestling company. The reliance on controversial “writer” Vince Russo is also said to be a concern for Spike TV. TNA and Russo have tried to keep his involvement under wraps and both sides have denied repeatedly that Russo is not part of the company. Russo has been somewhat of an “independent contractor” where Impact is concerned and reportedly offers storyline ideas and advice for existing programs.
TNA has taken drastic measures to cut overhead including not renewing contracts for high priced talent like Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Sting. The company has also released a lot of mid-card talent and they have signed or tried to sign others to lesser paying contracts which resulted in popular former champion AJ Styles leaving the company with Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian following shortly thereafter.
Other cost cutting moves have been to cut down the number of TV tapings as well as reducing the number of live PPV events to just four a year. House show attendance has been abysmal for TNA with many shows drawing as few as 150 people and with an average of 300-500 people which makes doing live shows, which is an integral part of the business, another monetary abyss.
Spike TV had tried to do some cross promoting by featuring stars of the MMA group Bellator making crossover appearances but those mostly failed, especially with King Mo. Impact had been a decent lead-in for Bellator but that has cooled drastically in the last few months.
One of the problems plaguing not only Impact Wrestling but also the WWE is the inability to create new stars though the WWE has had more success now that Bray Wyatt has caught on and programs involving The Shield are garnering “water cooler talk.” TNA had a working relationship with Ohio Valley Wrestling to help develop new stars, much like OVW had done for the WWE. A number of prospects in OVW were reportedly ready for the next level but TNA but creative never could find a role for them.
Spike TV gave notice to TNA months ago that there was a possibility the contracts would not be renewed and that TNA was free to start looking for another possible outlet for their programming. The international deals that TNA has are not enough to fund the company and keep it viable. At one point it was reported that TNA lost over $60 million during a quarter and that Panda Energy, the parent company of TNA, had to step in to keep the company from going under then. In comparison WCW had lost $60 million in a calendar year which forced their closure.
Some of the talents that were released from TNA have gone back to their roots or are making a decent living on the indie scene. As mentioned Daniels and Kazarian have returned to Ring of Honor while Styles has been doing well on the indies and in Japan having won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship making him one of few American wrestlers to have won that title.
If TNA is not able to find another television outlet and they are forced to shut down, a number of careers will be in jeopardy if not over. While the indie scene is viable in some areas the influx of talent coming from TNA could create a conundrum of sorts with wrestlers vying for a spot and that could mean lower payoffs and an overabundance of talent available. There could possibly be too many workers and not enough work and what work that is available might not be as profitable for the wrestler. Promoters could and most likely would play the “if you don’t want to be on the show for ‘x’ amount of money then this other guy will.”
I would certainly seem like TNA Wrestling has its shoulders on the mat and the referee is about to hit the last time for the three count.