I quit, that was Hulk Hogan’s answer to Dixie’s proposal to take a ride on “Dixie’s train”. I will assume that by saying these two simple words Hulk Hogan’s relation with TNA is over, so as Deep Purple said on their new album: “Now What?!”. Some fans are trying to make Hogan the main reason behind the problems in TNA, a scapegoat in other words. To be honest, when someone says such a thing, he/ she doesn’t know a thing about business. TNA is an organization that has a team of managers, agents and bookers. There is no such thing as it is Dixie’s fault or Hogan’s fault. When something wrong happens, all of the team should be blamed. I really do think that before moving on and see what to do after Hogan’s era we should take a minute to see what went wrong. To see the lessons learned, the real question that should be asked is why should the fans go and blame Hogan? Are TNA’s problems recent?? These two question are the core of the article, in other words, I’ll try to describe and state my opinion on what is really wrong with TNA.
The WWF/WCW experience:
1) If you want my opinion, TNA’s problems started when the company tried to follow the WCW/WWE formula. TNA brought names like Kevin Nash, Booker T, Christian and others. On paper that was a really great idea. Bringing massive names like the examples that I mentioned equal gold, but the results were not as expected.
TNA brought stars whose hearts were not with TNA. They came to TNA to get a nice paycheck and satisfy their egos. If we go back to WCW’s history, one of the things that brought the company down is the ego of some wrestlers like Kevin Nash. TNA focused more on these massive names and ignored building young stars for the future.
I prefer the idea of having a balance between big stars and new fresh ones and for a company that only has two hours a week, it is a tough task. TNA should have been more picky regarding who to bring into the company. In the world of business, if your heart isn’t with the company, you won’t give 100% to that company. Some of these big stars used TNA for their personal satisfaction, to play boss and fuel their egos, something that they couldn’t do with Vince.
In WCW, when people like Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash began to interfere more in the booking and when Vince Russo took the car keys without filtering his ideas, sh*t hit the fan because there wasn’t a strong “central management” that controlled things and knew what to do which takes me to my next point.
2) One of the negative things about the wrestling business in general is that almost all of the companies don’t have a strong management system that has the ability to control things and keep an eye on the car. The only company that has such management is WWE.
WWE’s management is more stable and Vince has the ability to filter things so the company survived for more than 60 years (WWWF, WWF, WWE). The thing about TNA is when the company decides to bring a new authority figure or a new booker, like when Vince Russo was brought in, TNA just throws the car keys to whoever this person is and that is it. “Here you go dude, do whatever you want to do, it is all yours”. So in the last, I don’t know, 7 years maybe, TNA experienced tons of ideas and regimes. Through these different regimes and experiments, I didn’t get the feeling that someone back there was keeping an eye on things. No one is filtering whatever is going on, who to bring on board, and how the stories are going, so there is no clear direction.
This leads me to the Hogan/Eric Bischoff era. These two were brought in and the company had no certain direction and, as usual, TNA took the keys from Vince Russo and gave it to Eric and Hulk to give it a try. You don’t need a brain to see that both of them had strong influence when they first came to the company.
Eric and Hogan decided to do what made WCW a massive name. They brought well known names like RVD, tried to do some sort of nWo reunion, turned Hogan into heel, and created controversy. Even though I enjoyed most of these things, if you ask me, there were several things that were missing:
- A lot of people tend to forget that WCW was a lucky company. WCW was owned by Ted Turner, a TV God, the guy owned the network itself!!!! Ted had the network and the money, not even WWE had these privileges!!! So he basically controlled everything.
- Back in the 90′s, WWF was getting dumb and boring, so WCW and Eric Bischoff brought something new and unique to the table. No one expected Hogan to turn heel!!
If TNA had a strong management that knew what to do and how things work, these two points would have been considered. So if things did not work out as expected, then it is TNA’s fault, not Hogan’s, because at the end of the day Hogan is just an employee in the company, he is not the boss.
Another thing is TNA didn’t market Hogan and RVD. For example, to the casual wrestling fan, RVD went back to the WWE they didn’t actually know where he was in the last 6 years!!! WWE made a one minute promo, or maybe less, and it made RVD look like pure gold!! So imagine what you can really do with Kurt Angle (who I really respect; the guy’s heart is with TNA), Sting, Jeff Hardy and Hogan. Take the international market for example. TNA has a massive international fan base, especially in countries like the UK. Fans love to see Hogan and RVD because we all know that these guys won’t be there for ever so seeing them = seeing history.
The fall of ECW and WCW:
One of the things that really destroyed the wrestling world and made it hard for companies like TNA and ROH to compete with WWE is the fact that Vince monopolized the wrestling business for a long long time. You see, when you control the market and buy the competition then you really don’t have something to be afraid of because you are the only alternative out there. You have the biggest names, the best visuals and the company survived for more than 60 years. What did this lead to??
- The idea of being unique began to die – same people, same ideas and companies failed to make mega stars like Hulk Hogan. Everyone knows Hogan, even non-wrestling fans.
- Companies like TNA began to experiment with some WWE ideas, not story wise, but the way they manage things like bringing big names and people who helped WWE to survive. Even though it somewhat worked in making more people aware that there is an alternative, what TNA really missed is having someone like Vince who gave WWE an identity and to keep an eye on things. In other words, TNA failed in protecting its own identity when all of these names were brought to the company.
TNA is learning. TNA is taking baby steps by experimenting with things. Some stuff worked and some things missed. The absence of competition made it hard for companies like TNA to establish its own identity and instead it gives the car keys to whoever is brought to the table because, well, it worked in the E.
But let’s not forget history. Going back to the Monday nights War, Vince Russo helped WWF launch the Attitude Era, but when he went to WCW, he took away what made WCW unique and made the show look like Raw. Put this along side the egos in the backstage and things went south and WCW collapsed when Warner pulled the plug! So from being one of the masterminds behind the Attitude Era to bringing WCW down shows that the lack of strong management is the reason behind the collapse of a lot of wrestling companies.
Some people say bring Heyman, but they forget that Heyman was the reason behind the death of his own creation (ECW) and his ideas need strong filtration. Let me ask you something… why do I, as a company, have to depend on the same names again and again?! Why Heyman?? Why say Vince go and buy TNA?? Why go and give EB and Hogan the car keys when they came on board?? Why don’t I, as a company, establish my own system and filter the things that could work and suit my direction?! Hogan is an asset, but was he used the right way?? I really don’t think so. If I was in TNA’s shoes, I’d have brought Hogan for three things:
- Market my product.
- Prepare a young and fresh generation of wrestlers.
- Use him as a manager or something like his role as Impact’s GM.
As for Eric Bischoff, it is a great idea to use his knowledge in production and the wrestling world in general, like what TNA is doing with him now. I really do think that TNA finally realized how to use him properly: he makes Impact look like gold on TV.
That’s it, but trying to apply some ideas from the past and stuff like that?? Nope. On the other hand, I believe that the IWC is just overstating things. If TNA gave the car keys to Hogan to control everything then, in my opinion, this didn’t last for more than a year.
I believe that after Bound for Glory 2011, Hogan and EB’s influence began to decrease, Immortal began to slowly die, EB got out of the picture, and Hogan’s influences faded. In my opinion, it began to decrease slowly till 2013 as his influence was somewhat limited. He couldn’t even save his daughter’s job. She got released when TNA saw that she wasn’t needed. The real reason for bashing Hulk Hogan is that the IWC loves to bash TNA. The IWC just loves to make TNA look bad. Some fans are sitting there and waiting for TNA to collapse. Some fans are waiting for Vince to go and buy TNA.
So let’s sum things up:
a) For a long time, TNA tried to apply a lot of models and ideas so its identity was lost. (No I’m not saying bring the 6 sided ring. Who watches wrestling for a ring?? It is like watching porn to see a plot and solid directing.)
b) Hogan and EB, they were given the car keys when they first arrived to TNA without having strong management to control things and the results were shaky. Because of this, both of them became scapegoats for whatever is happening in TNA.
c) Focusing on big stars caused ditching the TNA originals and the young stars.
d) TNA forgot the things that made WCW click and work, being unique, not only story wise, but how the show itself looks like.
e) Forget about competing with the E; TNA is not ready yet for this step.
f) The IWC sucks.
But let’s be frank, TNA began to take notes. Their new direction is good. TNA is progressing. Someone realized that something is wrong and that something should be fixed. As for Hogan, he is an important asset and bare in mind, you can’t go bigger than Hogan. He is Hulk freaking Hogan. TNA is learning, TNA is progressing, mistakes were made, great matches were done, awesome moments were created, and that is why I’m a TNA fan. I’ll end this article with a song called “Lesson Learned” by Alice in Chains
Just another lesson learned
Wear a scar, a bore repeating
Take a simple fateful turn
Opened up to stop the bleeding.