Is There Anyone In TNA That Will Tell Hulk Hogan No?

Hulk HoganHave you watched Impact Wrestling lately? If not, you are not alone. TNA drew its lowest viewership of the year and its lowest audience in nearly seven months last Thursday night. The show was watched by an average of 1,104,000 viewers on Spike TV.

As the weeks go by I continue to grow less and less optimistic about the future of TNA Wrestling. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the company is facing impending doom like World Championship Wrestling. They’ll continue to be around for as long as Panda Energy agrees to bankroll them, however, will they ever become more than what they are?

Everyone has their theory about what is holding TNA back and while there are a multitude of things we could examine, there is one person I want to focus on in this article – Hulk Hogan.

If you have watched Impact at all recently then you know the shows are dominated with segments featuring the 59-year-old pro wrestling icon. Prior to writing this, I had a little fun by going through our Impact Wrestling results and just seeing how many times the name “Hogan” came up on each show. It’s mind-boggling. Segment after segment, show after show – it’s all about Hulk Hogan.

Pittsburgh radio personality Mark Madden interviewed Kurt Angle recently and said he wants more Angle, not Hulk Hogan. Below is an excerpt from our coverage:

Madden said he watches Impact every week and what he wants is more Kurt Angle and that he should be the one battling Aces and Eights, not the guy that can hardly walk (referencing Hulk Hogan). Angle said he’s gone back and forth with creative and he was the staple of TNA for the last five years, up until the last year when they’ve been trying to use younger talent.

Madden interjected, “like Hogan” and Angle responded by saying, “that’s a touchy subject.” Kurt said he “loves Terry” but it is about younger talent and having them work people such as himself in the main event. He said hopefully in the future they’ll start doing that more often.

There’s a line I want to examine. “That’s a touchy subject,” uttered by Angle before affirming his friendship with Hogan. Why is it a touchy subject? Because TNA is full of Hogan yes-men. When Dixie Carter brought Hulk Hogan into TNA Wrestling in 2010, the changes were immediate and they were widespread.

Bubba the Love Sponge was doing backstage interviews, the 6-sided ring was scrapped and a slew of other pro-Hogan guys were featured. Heck, The Nasty Boys even got back on television.

As the time has passed, so have the names but promotion is as Hogan friendly as ever. Let’s just look at some of the public support:

Even after thanking his boss, TNA creative team member Dave Lagana wanted everyone to know just how much Hogan’s compliment meant:

There’s nothing wrong with this. Hogan’s the biggest name in the history of pro wrestling and his compliment is a ringing endorsement.

However, is there anyone in this company that will tell Hogan “no” or “that’s not such a good idea” or “why don’t we push someone else?”

Dixie Carter answered questions from fans on Twitter recently, where she admitted her first favorite pro wrestler was Hogan. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, and probably a sentiment shared by many (who are honest), but is this good for TNA?

Hulk HoganOne of the things I’ve always been told about Vince Russo is that he had so much success in WWE as a writer in the Attitude Era because he had Vince McMahon as a filter. McMahon would tell Russo no.

Dixie admitted, in the same Twitter Q&A, she has vetoed storylines but how hard of a stance is she taking with Hulk Hogan?

From my perspective it seems Hogan operates as he wants to operate. The workers he wants pushed, get pushed. I was told recently that Matt Morgan had cosied up to Hogan and that Hulk felt he was the future of the wrestling business. However, not close enough as it’s still Sting – not Morgan – getting the title shot at Slammiversary.

Hogan got upset when I questioned his motives, calling out WNW on Twitter before blocking us.

The Hulkster is free to bury me or anyone else that questions him. I know for a fact not everyone in TNA is on Team Hogan. I spoke with numerous workers – some on live radio – last year about Hogan calling the shots in TNA and they weren’t optimistic. Coincident or not, at least one of those names is no longer under contract.

My point in writing this is not a manifesto in attempt to bury Hogan or anyone else but an article asking an honest question. Is there anyone that will tell Hulk Hogan no?

Hulk has called out Dixie Carter in public, came off as downright senile on Twitter, yet he becomes more and more powerful. All the while, TNA’s audience remains relatively flat or in decline.

The idea in bringing Hogan to TNA Wrestling in 2010 was simple. He helped bring the WWE to mainstream significance, played an integral role in making WCW a contender, could he do again?

Not only has Hogan been given the TV time but he’s been given more power than ever before to call the shots behind-the-scenes and so far, nothing significant has happened. TNA has grown, taking small strides, but they aren’t anywhere close to competing with WWE.

Things were really put in prospective for me when Hogan hosted a bush league Q&A event in New York over Wrestlemania 29 weekend. While his former employer prepared for a show where over 80,000 would attend, Hogan answered questions in front of a meager crowd at The Beacon Theatre.

Have the mighty fallen or is this the calm before Hogan pushes TNA to mainstream relevance?

The question almost seems rhetorical, with the mainstream interest in Hogan having more to do with a sex tape with his ex-bestfriend’s wife than his work in TNA Wrestling.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Hogan, TNA and anything else worth mentioning.

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  • Luke

    Hey Richard,
    You know when I wrote for the site a few years back, I would always comment on the steps needed for TNA to take strides to become more mainstream. It's eerily similar to how WCW was when their decline started; it's a Hogan-centered show. I thought the Aces & Eights storyline was good. It was unique. But who is battling them? Not a stable of young guys lead by Kurt Angle but Hulk Hogan. Why can't a group like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, or some others be the backbone of the TNA group with Angle as the leader be the driving force against A&E? It's like the Alliance vs. WWE invasion angle. While Stone Cold was relatively still hot, there were younger guys getting their break in the stable like Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho. Fast forward to the Survivor Series winner-take-all match, Jericho, Angle and RVD were getting the rub from these "main event" guys before being given a huge push. Look at CM Punk with DX. While everyone knew DX, some audience members still didn't know CM Punk. I haven't watched TNA in a while because it's a Hogan-centered show. I just soon not watch. I mean, credit Vince McMahon. He does go through times of Vince-centered storylines that dominate everything else but he knows when to get out of the way. Hogan hasn't.

    • Richard Gray

      Good point Luke and great to hear from ya man.

  • PainOfDemise

    Hogan needs to get off the screen and put Dixie back on. IMO, THE worst thing that Hogan has done so far was get rid of the 6 sided ring. It was one of the only things that separated them from WWE in a good way, and he took that away.

  • tom

    I was reading the fine line by alex and kendra ther e and tna using part time talent was brought up, and how they have too much talent already. I honestly think that this is a potential solution to tackling a few of tna’s problems. No one new has to be hired. Sting made a comeback there last week, and thats arguably his 3rd one since thestart of the year, its over done at this stage and not a big deal. Now I don’t watch WWE and I don’t give a rats when people say that TNA is ripping them off but there is no harm in borrowing formulas that work, WWE do it quite a bit from them. WWE is a very different place from when I last followed it. If i turn it on I don’t recognise halfthe faces, but I, like many others tune in at certain times, mainly at the WM build up and possibly SS. Because thats when the boys come back! I remember in 01 & 02 Taker used to clog up the main event with sloppy matches and if he wasn’t there he was burying someone else. Fast forward a decade and he is having brilliant matches a few times a year and the IWC is buzzing all year round about when he will come back. That should be the role of Sting. And tna has a unique opportunity here with the 4 annual ppvs too. The can start making special episodes of impact too between the ppvs. Remember the hype when sting came back in march 2011? Hogan can do similar. Now he can’t work so have him in a role similar to that of Foley at the moment, where he can be brouhht out every so often to give more steam to a really important feud. Maybe if he has a lot of rest instead of trodding up and down the ramp 8 times a night he could be fit enough to work a fight similar to the one he did with sting at bfg 2012 every year and a half. I don’t like seeing him in the ring but no one can deny that that was one of the craziest crowds for a match in recent history.

    Using this formula, TNA could transition the likes of Angle, RVD and Hardy into this role, returning every so often for a big match with the likes of King Mo or James Storm (I wholeheartedly believe if booked right he can be one of the future’s biggest faces) or Magnus, Aries, Morgan, Joe, Aj or Roode.

    Stara like Abyss, Bully and Anderson can transfered into this role later down thw line. Could you imagine a super 3 hour imapct, or whatever the hell they want to brand it as, in september a couple of years down the line. Its the bfg series finals. The main is a WHC match, last one before Bfg. Sting hasn’t been seen since the previous BFG, Angle since lockdown and hardy since Slammiversary. Hogan has been off tv for a while, possibly over a year and they are announcing the newest inductee to the HOF that night. There is an open challenge tv title match and a no1 contender match for the xdiv to open the show. A cocky heel is tv champ, say Magnus and Angle answers his challenge and beats him. Sting returns to issue a challenge to someone at bfg, hardy runs in to save a face from a heel beat down and hogan returns to announce that the next inductee tote hof

  • tom

    Is Jarrett. Thats the return of 5 big stars which you would only have to advertise 2 or 3 and it creates massive interest in the next few shows leading up to the ppv. Thats how the building weeks to their 4 ppvs should feel; special! No doubt there would be a massive boost in ratings as there would be more available cash to market the product as the big names arent collecting paychecks all year round. Sting angle and hardy could have great matches as their bodies anrent getting battered each week and young stara benwfit from more time for character development which enables them to have more credible storylines with the veterans and we benefit from actually being excited to see sting, hogan and hardy. Even, when/if Jarrett returns, watch the reaction, it’ll prove how absence makes the heart grow fonder

  • markbyrn

    The author claims that TNA is getting it's lowest ratings and infers that Hogan is the cause. That's not the case; when you look at the quarter hour break-downs, the segments with Hogan typically get the highest rating – even higher than TNA's best numbers. The lowest rated segments are for hardcore fan favorites talent like Austin Aries and other so called TNA originals that have been given many opportunities but really haven't made it to the next level and certainly not to the main stream. When Aries was champ, the main event segments featuring Aries tanked and it shouldn't be surprising. He's serviceable as a mid-card x-div personality but he's not main event material in TNA and would be lucky to get a spot on WWE NXT.

    What hardcore fans like and what casual fans like are two different things and even though he's past his prime, Hogan brings in the casual fans with the increase in ratings. TNA should focus on brining in already established talent just as WCW did in it's day.

    • _JIM_

      I totally agree that TNA could get a shot in the arm by bringing in more of a mix of established talent to get their originals over, and to make them more recognizeable. People don't watch TNA because they don't know who these guys are. Which is kind of a shame because for the most part they are incredible workers. Guys like Somoa Joe and AJ Styles are big time stars in the making, but they just don't have anyone to make them. WCW had the formula and worked it to perfection when they were on top. They started losing ground the second McMahon decided to basically rip off ECW and go with their more of an adult themed type of show. Once WWE went that direction it was basically over for WCW because their hands were tied being on a Turner Network and being owned by AOL Time Warner. Neither of which would allow WCW to do anything near what the WWE was getting away with every single week. TNA could go this route and put on a edgier show, but I still don't think anyone would watch because the simple fact remains that the majority of your average fan has no idea who 90% of the TNA roster is.

    • _JIM_

      So for me it comes down to them getting realistic and taking a hard look at their roster, and then cutting the guys and girls that they know just aren't going to be much help in making their company a competition for the WWE. Then go out and sign the best and most recognizeable talent that they can get their hands on. Once the word gets out that so and so is back on TV the average fan will tune in to see what they are up to now a days, and in turn they will be introduces to the top talent that TNA already has but is wasting away. You need established talent to get your younger workers over, and Sting and Kurt Angle can only work so many matches.

      I disagree with your opinion on Aries though. WWE would sign him in a split second. He's not the biggest guy, but his in ring is amazing and his mic work is second to none in TNA. He's like a young version of Jericho IMO. But Aries is suffering the same fate as everyone in TNA. No body watches because there isn't anybody there to establish these guys as the starts that they can be. Why do you think the WWE keeps people around for so long if they possibly can? Just for that reason.

  • The Boss

    Those who focus solely on TNA's U.S. ratings have no idea how to rate success. And those who compare TNA (a 10 year old pro wrestling company) to WWE (a publicly traded B-movie studio that has been around for 70 years and 4 generations) doesn't know how business works. And finally, anyone who says that the six sided ring brought in even a single viewer is just stupid. No one watches wrestling to see the ring. That's like claiming that people go to a football game to look at the field.

    Look at the improvements TNA has made. Because of Hogan's name TNA has been able to acquire more and larger sponsors. They are now a world wide company (that gets even higher ratings than WWE in the UK). As a result of this additional revenue they were able to start broadcasting their flagship program Impact Wrestling live and more recently take that show on the road. These are great improvements as TNA continues to grow.

    And what many fail to realize is that TNA is FAR bigger at 11 years than WWE was at 11. It seems to me that they are doing pretty well.

  • Brutal Honesty

    A year before Hogan took the reigns so to speak, Matt Morgan was primed to be the future of TNA but since then it's been just about everyone else getting an opportunity. Hogan believes anything he does is good for TNA while giving the public this illusion that he's this great guy when in reality he only pushes who he wants. It was nice seeing both Roode and Aries be champions but not to long they went back to the same wrestlers who Hogan believed was a better choice and I had no problems with Hardy being champ and I'm happy for Bully but it's the same repetitive garbage that no one wants to see in a 50 year Sting getting another title shot. There's reason for this and it seems that Hogan doesn't have any faith in the other performers which is sad because TNA has a good amount of talent which is a much more logical choice. The problem also is that Dixie is blinded by her own ignorance believing Hogan is still relevant and so because she can't run the company herself, she hands it over to Hogan who along with Bischoff and company is giving the company any progression. If you look at the ratings from before Hogan was even making mostly about what he does, they stayed the same but we actually saw more workers getting a chance to show. The homegrown talent hasn't been doing much besides Roode and the womens division has become so repulsive it's almost sad to watch. Just the general idea of letting them degrade themselves is ridiculous. Basically whoring themselves out to the public much like Hogans' idiotic daughter does by wearing the short skirts she does and would rather care about how she looks than anything else. Both Hogans don't contribute nothing except how much they can make the show about them and that every choice only matters when they make a decision. It's rather nauseating. TNA has been around for over 10 years and have yet to compete with even WWE's SD!, isn't it about time to make some changes that will help them be more competitive instead of worrying about filling Hogan's already universal ego? The only thing I can think of is once Panda stops putting up the money they won't have a leg to stand on. Once or if Dixie ever realizes that her choices on keeping Hogan and certain others around, it'll be to late. Fans such as myself get sick of seeing the same rhetoric weekly and look for actual alternatives. There are a good amount of companies out there that may not be as big or rather known like TNA but I'd rather spend money on them, knowing I'm helping the company out in some way to make a name for themselves then buying into a company that is being overshadowed by ignorance without any real leadership. The ones that helped carry TNA and were the actual backbone (Styles, Daniels, Storm, ect) are all watching their company be run by a dictator who's going to make it seem that he cares for what's good for the company and even the talent but who's only out to make himself look good while at the same time making his name not seem so irrelevant. It's only matter of time before it all goes down in flames. Some of the more known talent only stick around and put up with the bs politics because they don't want to go back to the Indy scene but there are others that were once with the TNA that just not want to have anything to do with them and it's mainly because of who's in charge. It sure as hell isn't Dixie. Don't believe me? Just ask Kong or Lethal.

  • David

    On my mind the shows and stories are really good aces and eights VS TNA is fantastic. The Matt Morgan situation is quite clear for me, he came back as heel, he can’t be TNA savior, in fact aces and eights has to get rid of Hogan’s player and hogan himself. Matt Morgan and guys such as AJ Styles has to become what was Sting in the beginning of the NWO story.

    About the numbers of viewers does the playoffs in hockey and basketball have a consequence on the lower ratings?

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