TNA has been trying to find it’s niche in the wrestling business for years now. And in the past few months, it looks like they are finally hitting some bad times. Hulk Hogan and (reportedly) Eric Bischoff are no longer with TNA, the company has decided to stop running as many house shows, and they are renegotiating, if not releasing, many of their long-standing talents (My collegue Vinny Murphy recently spoke about this in his article here on DoG!). The rumor mill is on fire with reports that Dixie Carter and her family are looking to sell off TNA Impact Wrestling either in full or a majority of the of the company. Despite a leaked memo from Dixie Carter’s mother, Janice, who is handling the business side of the company, there are still reportedly talks with interested parties about negotiations for TNA’s sale. Who could be, at least, the new majority stockholder? Let’s consider the possibilities: some known, and some who may have yet to come out of the woodwork…
This is almost a given, so we may as well start with off with them. After picking up WCW and ECW for incredibly low prices and then making millions off of their tape libraries alone, it makes sense that Vince would want to buy TNA just to use footage of Sting and other guys (Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, etc) who have been in between WWE and TNA. If WWE was interested in any TNA talents they probably would have persued them already, so I don’t see Vince planning to keep the company running if he were to purchase it. The WWE already has NXT to build up younger talent, so using TNA for that would be pointless. And the way the WWE is about creating homegrown talent, I don’t see them trying to bring in guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, or Abyss. For those reasons, it’s probably not in Vince’s best interest to buy the company right now. The WWE competing for TNA against interested parties who want to make something out of it isn’t something that would benefit them at all. If TNA is having financial problems, Vince’s best move would be to wait it out and try to get it for as cheaply as possible just to strip it like he did with WCW.
Many people think that because he is the president of the company, Dana White is also the owner of UFC, when, in fact, he helped broker a sale and only owns 9% of the company. That might not sound like a lot, but with the business the UFC makes with pay-per-view sales every month, White does pretty well. It’s thought that the UFC is one of the reasons wrestling PPV buyrates have declined over the years. And despite plenty of crossover appeal between MMA and pro wrestling fans, some people can’t afford to pay $44.99 twice a month. Anyway, why would White be interested in buying a wrestling company, you ask? Well Vince McMahon and Dana White have met on several occasions, despite never coming to any deals. Could that be a sign that White IS interested in the business of “sports-entertainment?” If it’s a company he could solely own, then why not? Especially since MMA stars consider moving to wrestling after their MMA career is over. Brock Lesnar went back to WWE (although in a limited capacity), and Tito Ortiz & Quinton “Rampage” Jackson were recently involved in a storyline in TNA. Buying a wrestling company would be a great progressive move for White. He could take his retiring MMA superstars that have built a following and move them into his wrestling company. Not only would he keep making money off of them, but he could cross-promote the product on each show. If anyone was going to buy TNA to really build it up, it would be Dana White.
Let’s backtrack for a moment to look at some history. When AOL merged with Time Warner in 2000, WCW (owned by Time Warner at the time) was losing money by the millions. Add to that the incredibly low television ratings and terrible buy rates the pay-per-views were receiving, and the decision was made to dump the company. Eric Bischoff and a group of investors reportedly came extremely close to buying WCW until Turner pulled all WCW programming from its networks, so the investors backed out and Vince McMahon bought WCW for a reported $14 million. Fast forward to 2010 Bischoff and Hogan’s arrival in TNA. Eric took on the role of executive producer, and despite his repeated claims to the contrary, former and current TNA employees have come forward and admitted that Bischoff had his say in the creative side of the company. Backstage at a recent TNA taping, Dixie Carter told the roster that Eric is now working from home and will not be attending any more tapings. Many people see that as the company letting him ride out the rest of his contract and he’ll be gone from the company when it expires.
So why don’t Hogan and Bischoff team up, buy the company, and create their WCW2? With full creative control they could bring in all of their friends and put them over the younger guys…just like the old days! Bischoff has to still be bitter about WWE beating WCW in the Monday Night Wars and then buying the company he wanted to own himself. When he and Hogan went to TNA, they were all about making the company competition for WWE. They failed. Miserably. Now with Hogan gone and Bischoff reportedly on the way out, they might think twice about purchasing the company after the letdown of the WCW sale. But if the rumors are true about WWE not really wanting to bring Hogan back to the company, he has no place else to go to make the amount of money he’s been making for years, so he might take a chance on going in to buy the company. Bischoff has his production company with Jason Hervey (of The Wonder Years) and they produce reality shows, but he might see this as an investment and a chance to use it to market his other productions.
Of all of these, this one’s the biggest longshot. Fans have been vocal (and not in a positive way) about Russo for over a decade now, but this might be a way for him to possibly silence a good majority of them. Russo was let go from TNA in 2012 after being an on-again/off-again/on-again, etc. writer for TNA’s creative staff. He has since said in interviews that he no longer wants to be part of the business and wants to move away from it. But if Russo were to buy TNA, he could have full creative control with no buffers like Vince McMahon, Dixie Carter, Jeff Jarrett, and whoever he had to run ideas past at WCW. You can say what you want about the man, but he wrote great TV during a time that fans still pine for: The Attitude Era. With Russo in charge of the company, surrounding himself with writers who have fresh ideas, and keeping around entertaining workers that the writers could build up, TNA could finally become the company everyone hoped it would be and not just an unopposed wrestling show on Thursday nights that loses in the ratings to stupid reality shows. That last sentence could really be used to describe anyone, but if anyone has something to prove to fans, it’s Vince Russo…and this would be a great opportunity to do that.
The Smashing Pumpkins frontman already runs his own fed, Resistance Pro Wrestling in Chicago, but who’s to say he wouldn’t be interested in having a bigger company? While I was writing this piece, the rumors about Corgan being interested in TNA began to hit. ECW original Lou D’Angeli (Sign Guy Dudley) who is a friend of Corgan’s, posted these two messages on Twitter on November 2nd:
Since then, the tweets have been removed. So either someone who is considered a friend of Corgan’s posted false information, or was asked to remove it to possibly keep Corgan’s interest a secret for now. We’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, Corgan could do the same as ROH and just integrate his company into TNA. TNA already has a larger fanbase, TV time, and ppv’s set up with cable providers.
This would be pretty much the same story as Billy Corgan and his Resistance Pro Wrestling, except ROH already has a weekly TV show…even though it is only on very few local stations in scattered local markets. They’ve been around for a decade and have had some great workers go through their company, not to mention still having some on their current roster. Buying into TNA could give them a spot on a real cable network during prime time, and they could combine their rosters to have some of the best workers in the business today.
And let’s not forget about the possibility of a mysterious person/group that isn’t on anyone’s radar making the highest bid and buying the company. No one saw Jeff Jarrett branching off to create NWA-TNA just over a decade ago, so there is always a chance someone new might come into the fold of trying to re-establish TNA as a competitive company in the wrestling world. Just like the old saying goes in the business…”Never say never.”