Monday, 2 December 2013

TNA Analysed 30 - Anyone want a cupcake?


For those of you who don't understand the suffix there, it relates to a recent bit of news from TNA about some new road dates released over the weekend.  Yeah TNA are still going out of the Impact zone every now and then, much like they did in the past before the full time road schedule but this time it is a little bit different.  You know when you watch Botchamania or some other wrestling shows on things like youtube and you see these indie promotions running events in high school gyms, well TNA are doing that.

This pretty much represents a new low for the company.  In the past when the show went to other states or different arena's they would hire a proper location for their show and even if the attendance was poor they at least had the disposable income to hire out those locations for a show.  The end result of this was to promote themselves in new areas and get more fans but unfortunately this new high school gym direction only further reinforces the rumours that the company is in dire financial straits.

What makes it worse is that one of the events has it's tickets available from a local cupcake shop.  This means they can't afford to sell their tickets through the usual vendors for all of these events.  It's a sorry state of affairs really, but with the way the company has been pissing away money it was only a matter of time before this sort of thing started happening.  TNA can hardly call themselves the #2 wrestling company in the United States when they are running house shows in the same places as some indie promotions.  The only reason indie promotions run their events in gymnasiums and community centres (another TNA location by the way) is because they lack the money to hire a real arena.  TNA have no excuse for this really since the evidence of poor management is clear everywhere you look.

Of course this new set of events will only create more buzz around the company being sold off to new owners or potentially another round of cost cutting measures, although I struggle to think what else they could cut outside of dropping the most expensive talent on their books and charging a dollar to everyone who attends the shows at Universal.  They have already:

  • Cut their PPV numbers down to four a year and even they struggle to make money with Bound for glory 2013 having sub par attendance despite being a decent show.
  • Dropped numerous wrestlers including most of the gut check winners making the entire segment pointless.
  • Cut ties with OVW so they no longer have a means to train, develop or bring up new talent of their own.
  • Forced several members of the current roster to take pay cuts although no doubt people like Sting, Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy will still be making way more than they should.
There are probably some I have missed and likely many more not yet reported but if after all that they still cannot stay buoyant financially, I say it's time to pack it in and let someone else have a shot.  The main issue with TNA was that instead of focusing on making a core wrestling product that fans would want to see week in, week out, they decided to blow money at every opportunity to try and be as extravagant and self important as the WWE.  The problem with that though isn't so much the difference in money between the two companies, it's the brand.  WWE is a world wide brand recognised by fans everywhere.  Watching an episode of Top Gear a few years back I remember them driving across Romania and in one segment when moving through a particularly poor part of the country, one of the children inscribed in the dirt on the cars rear windscreen "John Cena rules".  TNA will never have that kind of branding with the way they are now.  The fact that in such a far away place with that level of poverty you have kids who are John Cena fans is pretty remarkable and something TNA doesn't know how to achieve.

WWE got to where they are not because of incredible spending and grandiose arena's (Although they certainly help) but through it's characters and it's ability to get people interested and invested in them.  Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Bret Hart, Shawn Michael's, The Undertaker, Kane, Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, Triple H and so many more have made an impression on fans over the decades and that is what makes the company successful.  We as fans want to see those wrestlers and see them wrestle because we enjoyed their characters and essentially their brand.

TNA have absolutely zero branding as far as their roster goes.  They could have done this of course and for a time they did before 2010.  Samoa Joe and AJ Styles could have been those kinds of characters, TNA's Rock and Austin, Bret and Shawn, Hogan and Andre.  But instead they piss away a fortune on hiring people who WWE couldn't make a brand out of.  Don't get me wrong these people aren't bad wrestlers but they aren't the thing WWE want that makes them special, that makes them memorable to a majority of fans.  Jeff Hardy, Mr.Anderson, Chavo Guerrero, Luke Gallows even Sting are all people who never made that lasting impression.  The number of times I have heard WCW staff say that Sting was useless and they had to have him hide in the rafters for a year so he would get over only further proves that in reality Sting was a failure.  Kurt Angle only joined TNA because he was offered more money and was on bad terms with WWE when he jumped ship, while Hulk has since washed his hands of the company to probably make a Wrestlemania appearance next year.

TNA need to wise up and start making themselves into a brand and back that up with some genuine TNA talent created by them and marketed by them.  Fans will watch what you have when you actually show some initiative and start making a wrestling product that doesn't rely on Z list celebrity appearances, MMA fighters, NFL players and ripping off WWE/WCW storylines.

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