A decade ago, TNA achieved something that took other organizations more than a decade. When we talk about WCW and ECW, both the organizations were a part of the NWA before they separated and became independent entities. WCW and ECW, in essence took more than a decade to become the global juggernauts they were during the mid 90s.
TNA however achieved cult status within the first five years of its inception. TNA gathered some of the best talents from the independents; wrestlers such as Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and later, Christian made the promotion one of the best wrestling companies in the world. TNA understood its fan base; what made the company so appealing was the fact that the promoter and the performers embraced wrestling.
While entertainment was also an integral part, the wrestling aspect of it was never compromised. TNA also had the best tag team division in the world, with factions such as Team Canada and America’s Most Wanted putting on excellent tag team matches almost every week. A couple of years later, the Knockouts’ division gathered the best female wrestlers, and soon enough, the promotion boasted of some of the best wrestlers the wrestling world has to offer.
Every organization needs to evolve; how the evolution comes about is something that needs to be carefully assessed, and slowly implemented. In 2010, TNA wanted to reach the next level; they say you should never forget your roots, and unfortunately, TNA believed that the same individuals who made WCW a global juggernaut would help in elevating the company.
Any wrestling fan would want the organization to grow; like the wrestlers, the fans would gain from more number of promotions doing good business. However, TNA might have done too much too soon, with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff becoming more prominent on and off – screen. While the younger wrestlers waited in the wings for an opportunity, the three veterans got more air time – even when Hulk Hogan could barely walk after a back surgery!
It does no good to dwell into the whys and whos – instead, it would be beneficial to focus on the future, and learn from the past mistakes. While Bischoff and Ric Flair gained a lot from working for TNA, the same cannot be said for the company. In a recent installment of his podcast, Flair talked about working for TNA.
“Yes, I do [regret wrestling again after WrestleMania 24]. There [are] a couple of things I regret. Number one was ever going to work for TNA. That’s my own fault. It was just a lot of money to wrestle 65 days a year, right? 65 days and make a lot of money. Do you know what I mean? Not WWE money, but pretty good money to do nothing. And I made a lot of friends.
I like Kurt Angle very much and I like [James] Storm and [Bobby] Roode. I liked AJ [Styles]. Everybody treated me great. I mean, I don’t have any bad things to say about TNA or the people there at all. After being in the WWE, it’s pretty hard to work any place else because you’re always comparing them no matter how hard you try not to.”
As a journalist, you have to remain neutral, and be objective about issues. However, when someone says he worked for an organization only for the paycheck, it doesn’t bode well for the aforementioned performer, or for the organization to keep him under contract for three years. The same can be said about Eric Bischoff, who recently appeared on Main Event Radio to talk about his time with the organization.
Regarding his time with TNA, Eric remained tightlipped, saying, “I try to put them both out of my mind so I couldn’t tell you. No comment. I’m in the middle of a lawsuit with them so I can’t really comment.” He also mentioned that the doesn’t have any positive memories during his time with the organization, and said he was happy for Joe, Styles and Bobby Roode, who’re now in WWE.
It doesn’t take much to understand someone’s intentions. However, TNA needed the right people to be with them in 2010. While Flair, Bischoff and Hogan are legends in the business, one would’ve thought twice before giving them any sort of authority or making them an on – screen personalities. Hogan was in the midst of a sex scandal, and his personal life was crumbling down.
The damage is done, and the company has once again returned to its roots – bringing some of the best wrestlers, and creating their own stars. Every organization goes through a bad patch; the only difference is the learning from their mistakes. Ric and Eric embody TNA’s past mistakes, and the fans can only hope that the organization has learned from the past, enabling them to grow as we move forward.