As we reported yesterday, Maria Kanellis and Mike Bennett are on their way to WWE. While the duo is expected to make their debut on SmackDown Live, this serves as a worrying sign for Impact Wrestling.
Not too long ago, the company promised to bring the best independent talent and give them a platform, to showcase their skills. Not long after, Dixie Carter relinquished her position in the company. While a change in management was initially met with approval from all corners, not everything has been rosy with the talents.
‘Broken Matt’ and ‘Brother Nero’ brought a different dimension to the company’s product last year. In fact, their storyline garnered attention from all corners. Mainstream media started picking up on what the deranged duo were doing. At the same time, the fans and critics lauded the company for thinking outside the box.
As it turned out, Matt and Jeff were far from impressed with the new management. Once the new powers took control of the office, the ‘Broken Universe’ started imploding. Soon, both sides found themselves on opposing ends of a legal battle, for the rights to Matt and Jeff’s characters.
If that wasn’t ominous enough, Drew McIntyre announced his return to WWE, and is currently competing on NXT. In WWE’s developmental territory alone, there are multiple talents who jumped ships from TNA. Eric Young, Bobby Roode and Austin Aries – all former TNA World Champions, decided to ply their trade in WWE.
While Superstars often change promotions, either due to the financials or the flexibility to work lesser dates, this is a worrying trend for TNA. This isn’t something that started last year, nor will it be a rare occurrence.
Impact Wrestling losing its identity
A decade ago, Impact Wrestling – then TNA – had an identity. The promotion garnered a cult following, mostly because of its emphasis on wrestling, rather than entertainment. While it is true that the focus solely on wrestling stunted its growth, TNA has since moved away from what made it popular to begin with.
Other than just the product, Impact Wrestling has also let go of stars that were associated with the promotion. A prime example for that was the promotion letting go of AJ Styles. While AJ became synonymous with TNA, he was let go by the promotion, as they did not want to give him a pay raise.
It becomes important for promotions to keep hold of home grown talent. Much like what WWE does with talent churned by the ‘machine’, Impact Wrestling needs to tie down stars to longer contracts. However, in the past 8 years, Impact Wrestling has lost its identity, and the company has been put through the meat grinder.
Whether it was the Hogan – Bischoff debacle, or the Dixie – Billy Corgan PR nightmare, Impact Wrestling hasn’t done itself any favours.
Why talents choose to work for WWE over Impact Wrestling
When there’s a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the talents, regarding the future of the promotion, it is only a matter of time before they leave the company. For years, TNA (now Impact Wrestling) has been subjected to ridicule, concerning their debts or inability to find funds for their TV tapings.
While Spike TV ending its relationship with the company was seen as the final nail in its coffin, Impact Wrestling persevered. A big reason for that was the talents’ willingness to take pay cuts or late payments. However, it has become increasingly difficult for the talent to believe in the company’s project for the future.
The new management has brought back the likes of Jeff Jarrett, and the company is once again going back to the formula that worked in 2008. While it was amusing to see a relatively young promotion call out WWE, it does nothing for the promotion or the talent a decade later.
With the way the company has taken one step forward, and three steps back, the mass exodus of Impact Wrestling talent doesn’t surprise many. Impact Wrestling has a locker room full of hungry wrestlers, willing to prove a point. However, until the management gets sorted, and more emphasis is given to building future stars, this trend of talent leaving will unfortunately continue.