My Message to Dixie Carter Part II – How to Rebuild TNA!
Welcome to the second part of “My Message to Dixie Carter – How to Rebuild TNA”. In this second part we will take a look at how to rebrand the promotion, restructuring the roster, and my thoughts on the return of enhancement talent. For those that missed Part I, you can read it by clicking here.
REBRANDING THE PROMOTION
Time and time again the name Total Nonstop Action makes no sense at all and just sounds like a cheap porn name that you can pick up at your local adult books store. The name needs to be changed as it has nothing to do with wrestling and something that Jerry Jarrett thought he was being clever with.
There are many approaches that can be taken to rebranding the promotion in a way where it is done with no fan fair slowly changing the name like Turner did when he bought Crockett NWA or take the more extreme approach like how ECW and the USWA were created. I would take the ECW and USWA approaches with creating some type of shocking storyline approach to dropping the TNA name. I would look at adding “wrestling” somewhere in the name of the promotion.
Once the storyline has reached its end, I would consider closing out the final show with the TNA set being torn down by the winning faction putting up the new banner with name of the promotion and Paul Heyman coming out saying that he is the new owner of the company. Programming will be shut down for a month’s time and that in one month, the new promotion will return on SpikeTV. This is the opportunity for Dixie and Paul to rebuild the set in Orlando going away from what Hogan did with the ultra dangerous ramp and possibly going back to the six-sided-ring which made this promotion unique. During that month’s time, they can run spots on SpikeTV for their return and on their web site. This would allow for a clean slate and ridding some of the bad with the TNA brand.
RESTRUCTURING THE ROSTER
Over the years I have seen promotions with rosters that have been filled to the brim with talent, none of them were badly underutilized as the roster in TNA. Currently I count over 70+ spots on the roster between talent, agents, etc. For a promotion that has not found its footing yet after 8.5 years later, this is a huge problem. Granted some of this talent is contracted, while the rest is on a pay-per-basis model. This is still an issue considering that there are plenty of guys on this roster making close to $1 million dollars a year and they are not producing.
The goal with the roster is to not only reduce the amount of money being spent in payroll, but also provide more opportunity for talent to make more appearances by slimming down the roster.
Who stays, who goes?
I will start with the talent that is going to have their contracts terminated due to either under performing or not living up to their expectations.
Hulk Hogan – Hogan brought hype to TNA for about a week and made it sound that there were changes coming for the better, yet he brought many of his cronies along, which 50% of them are gone from the roster. He has not brought the right publicity to the promotion and Hogan can barely get to the ring, let alone stand.
Eric Bischoff – Bischoff as an on-air personality is great, but tends to go into business for himself more often than not. We saw the selfishness come out over the first 6 months of Impact with him taking up way too much television time. He brought some production value in changing a few things in this area, but was he worth the price?
Kevin Nash – his value as a mentor and possible commentator would be great, but he wants to keep wrestling. At his slow lumbering pace and age, he is of no value in the ring with the young, quick talent of 2010.
Rob Terry – terrible in the ring and seems lost 95% of the time……..scratch that, 99%.
Sting – Is the $500K a year worth it at this point? Provide him with a nice retirement send off leading towards the end of his contract and wish him well.
Jeff Hardy – Yet another talent for the money just appears to be going through the motions to collect a paycheck and only in TNA to spite WWE and CM Punk for how he was treated during his last run.
Orlando Jordan – I am sick of his lifestyle being incorporated in storylines, at times it has been utterly disgusting.
Shannon Moore/Jessie Neal – Two guys with the same exact gimmick, yet their in-ring work leaves a lot to be desired.
ECW Crew: Steven Richards, Raven, and Tommy Dreamer – all threer of these guys have taken up enough time on TV and their act has grown tiresome. No more “nice surprises”, doctors, tortured souls, etc.
Ric Flair – I like Flair, but he has no business in the ring at 62 years old. It comes down to Flair always either wanting to wrestle or be the centerpiece on the mic of an angle……….I see that as a cancer to holding down other talent. He would be best as a mentor, but we know he does not want to give up the spotlight.
Brian Kendrick – Kendrick is great in the ring, but he looks like he is half baked in the ring. Not only can that cause injuries to himself, his opponents, but it sends off the wrong message. At one point in the WWE I thought he had a lot of potential, especially with Ezekial on his side and he reminded me a lot of Shawn Michaels and Brian Pillman.
Eric Young – I liked badass Eric Young when he was riding with Kevin Nash as a heel. The problem at this point is that his character has been so damaged over the course of the last few years; there is no way of salvaging it……….taking him off TV for sometime and a return as a heel could be a possibility.
Christy Hemme – When I found out what she is earning yearly, time to say goodbye.
Mick Foley – I once respected Foley for all he has done for wrestling and what he has put himself through. Like Nash and Hogan, Foley is broken down who pushes himself in the spotlight way too much than he should be in 2010.
Samoa Joe – Joe may not have a chiseled physique, but is a guy that fans want to see kick ass and win his matches in the process. One of the main event guys that the promotion would be centered around.
A.J. Styles – Get rid of the baby Flair gimmick and let him go back to who he was before all this non-sense.
Kurt Angle – I am all for Angle sticking around on the roster as a full-time wrestler, but a little bit more than one month off would help. He is probably the best wrestler of the last decade and hopefully TNA can get a few more years out of him as he said he would like to finish his career in TNA.
Rob Van Dam – RVD is a good acquisition, yet TNA has been lax with him since his arrival. His matches have been good, but not great and not what they used to be. His passion died 10 years ago when ECW died, but he is in a new place where he can be much more than what WWE offered.
D’Angelo Dinero – I’m not a huge fan of the pimp gimmick, but it is working for him and has given his character new life. Dinero caught my attention in WWE/ECW as Elijah Burke and has taken himself to that next level in TNA.
Desmond Wolfe – He is damaged goods. At this point, I would take him off TV for a month or two, let him grow his hair back and go back to his former name Nigel McGuiness reintroducing him because TNA screwed his character up big time.
Ken “Mr.” Anderson – TNA has been lucky to get the better version of Anderson which WWE didn’t quite have. Between Dinero and Anderson, these are two guys the WWE failed on a bit which should be TNA’s gain. It is time to get rid of that “Asshole” gimmick which is just horrid.
Matt Morgan – A former WWE talent that has been slowly improving and needs that added nudge to get to the next level. His mic skills need some improvement and he needs to pace himself better in the ring. He can play that big man monster role rather well with a bit of improvement in the ring.
Abyss – As a heel he is great and entertaining when he has someone like Father James Mitchell at his side. Abyss as a face does not work as we have seen in the past. Pushing him in the main event was done a few times already and the end result wasn’t that good, he would be good in the upper mid-card.
Rhino – he has proven that he can work as a good utility man and every so often be tossed into a main event if given the right program to work with. Rhino is still young and has the charisma to move up the ladder, he just has not been given that right opportunity.
Both the X and Television divisions in some ways contradict each other. If they are treated differently, then I would be in favor of them staying as separate divisions. I would take into consideration of rebranding the X-Division championship since it does not make any sense as to what the X-Division is about…… “There Are No Limits”. If it is a title for light heavyweights, then I would be changing the division to signify that.
Doug Williams – He has it on the mic and is very talented in the ring to be in the upper mid card for years to come.
Brutus Magnus – see Doug Williams……except I can see him make his was into the main event at some point.
Kazarian – Kaz has shown promise since returning to TNA albeit being a bit on the pudgier side as he has put on weight, but it helps him look like a heavyweight now. I would continue with the Fortune gimmick for him as it makes him look much more serious with the shades and suit. He just needs to rid that goofball looking attitude.
Amazing Red – I really like Red and he is a notch below Mysterio, but can really go in the ring. My only issue is that he is like the MCMG’s with his spot fest style that needs to be toned down.
Jay Lethal – Ever since Lethal ditched the “Black Machesmo” gimmick, he has been on fire and pound for pound one of the better wrestlers. He has skills on the mic, with the right program he can be a huge force in the X or TV Title divisions.
The tag team division in TNA is rather healthy, but having LAX reform and possibly bringing in a new team like Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin can breathe some life into the division. This is probably the most stable division in TNA right now, but needs a bit of tweaking.
LAX – Both Homicide and Hernandez have been lost since they were split apart with Hernandez getting a semi-push that went nowhere. Homicide was recently released….bring him back. It is time to bring back one of TNA’s greatest teams.
Motor City Machine Guns – They are yet another great team that did not see respect. I would have them have a lengthy title run and asked to tone down the spot fests.
Beer Money – I would not break these guys up yet and they still have mileage in the tag team division. It would help to introduce a new team or two to the division as things are getting a bit stale with the same teams.
Team 3D – Over the five years in TNA, the brothers Dudley have gone into business for themselves plenty of times (which I hate) but also have put over a lot of talent in the tag division.
Generation Me – I would repackage these guys giving them a new name, gimmick, and look. The current one is just not working for them…….but they remind me a lot of what made TNA so good during the early days.
All of the Knockouts contracts would become null and then they would get new ones with better pay. Currently they are the most underpaid talent in the promotion working as hard or even better than some of the male talent. I would try to hire Awesome Kong, Sara Del Ray, and Mickie James to round out the Knockout Division. The Knockout Tag Team titles would be vacated and put away since there are way too many titles in this promotion and not enough time to showcase all the champions.
Angelina Love – I enjoy watching Love in the ring as she has decent talent and great mic skills. Love would be the Knockout that I would be building the division around.
Velvet Sky – I would have Sky return with Love as TBP feuding with Rayne and her new found faction. Sky can be sloppy at times in the ring, but she is passable to have decent matches.
Hamada – She is very talented in the ring which can be used in a similar role that Awesome Kong was in terms of being that brute looking woman if Kong can’t be resigned.
Madison Rayne – Her new look and makeover has blossomed Rayne into an even more beautiful looking woman with a serious agenda. She has broken away and is more of a leader like which would work well with another heel faction terrorizing the face Knockouts.
Tara – During her first run in TNA, Tara looked to have the passion that was missing while her final run in WWE. Bad booking really screwed up her career path and that needs to be corrected with the new regime.
Sarita/Taylor Wilde – Both women need a bit of an overhaul with ring gear and the direction of their characters.
Lacey Von Erich – She is beautiful eye candy, but horrible in the ring. I would consider turning her into a valet for one of the male wrestlers.
Christopher Daniels – I would have him return to TNA probably in the X or even Television Title divisions.
Father James Mitchell – Mitchell was such a great manager for Abyss and many others in the TNA locker room during his previous tenure. Bring him back!
Awesome Kong – Kong is one of the pioneers of the Knockout division with Gail Kim. She was a force to reckon with and made for some interesting match-ups.
Tomko – Travis has only gotten better since returning from Japan several years ago, but his last stint in TNA was a bad one. He looked out of shape. I would give him 3-4 months to get himself into shape and if he meets the criteria then a return to television would be in the works. He is talented and can help a lot in many areas.
Taz – I would pull Taz out of the booth and use him as a manager. I thought TNA had something good going with him and Samoa Joe as Joe reminds me a lot of Taz.
Enhancement talent started to slowly die with the Monday Night Wars. With the death of enhancement talent it has caused all wrestling product across the board to be watered down with almost 52 weeks a year worth of television, 12+ PPV’s a year, and several hours’ worth of wrestling on TV. Each episode of Impact will have at the minimum of 2 matches that include enhancement talent. This will allow for TNA to build up the core talent, but also not water down the product with blockbuster match after blockbuster match. At that point you begin to run out of fresh match-ups to sell on PPV.
If TNA management would follow similar roster cuts, they would be able to almost trim their roster in half and still maintain a credible bunch of impact players to keep the promotion moving forward. This would also shave off millions of dollars from the books. The roster I have put together is very similar to the one TNA had before Hogan and Bischoff showed up, except there are a few of their buddies that get to stick around since they have proven themselves.
With these simple changes made to the overall structure of the company, TNA can turn things around. It does not take rocket science to have a vision or goal for this company and stick