Posted by Alex Barie
TNA Wrestling was born in 2002 where the first show was created on June 19th of that year. The company was founded by Jeff Jarett and his father Jerry Jarrett. However, the company did not have a secure financial backer in they were in dire straits to find one. Without one, the company would die before the Jarrett’s eyes… and the world’s eyes before even seeing the product. Dixie Carter found out about TNA Wrestling and reached out to her parents who own and operate Panda Energy. Dixie saw that the wrestling business is around a $1 billion dollar industry with only one competitor… WWE. Janice and Bob invested in TNA. They secured 71% of the company. Dixie Carter became the President as she now has majority control. Jeff Jarrett, who co-founded the company, owns 29%. Dixie Carter saw the potential, and Janice and Bob must have too. Did they… or were they really just giving Dixie want she wanted. In other words, can she be dubbed as a “spoiled brat”?
First off, let me say that I respect Dixie Carter. Dixie should be admired because she stepped into, what others call, a “man’s world”. She jumped into the professional wrestling scene and became one of the most influential and powerful woman in the industry. However, that does not mean we can’t question her and her family in regards to TNA Wrestling.
Plain and simple, when Dixie entered TNA Wrestling, she did not have the wrestling mind. Even more, her parents, Janice and Bob, did not have the wrestling mind. Ultimately, they had no idea what they were getting into. The Carters saw one thing and one thing only when they looked at the professional wrestling scene. That one thing was money. They saw one company making all the money. So, why couldn’t they step in, make a dent and get a fraction or even the same amount of money? It’s just like owning a restaurant. People create and own a restaurant because they see money in it. People create a product because they see money in it. Money is the driving force. It will make people do almost anything. The sad thing is, the people who get that money… who make a dent in a particular market are the ones who understand that market and know how to run the business they have or how to expand the product they make.
Vince McMahon is truly one of a kind. His family have been involved in the sports market for over 60 years. It runs in Vince’s blood. When you think of professional wresting, you think of the name “McMahon”. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean there can’t be others. What about the Bischoffs or the Heymans? The difference there is that they found a career in the wrestling business. The wrestling business found a career in McMahon. See the difference? The same thing with Dixie Carter. Dixie found a career in the wrestling world. Dixie, however, did not have any experience in the wrestling world before. Eric Bischoff worked his way up. Paul Heyman worked his way up. Dixie Carter went straight to the top.
The wrestling business is like a never ending tunnel. You drive your car into the tunnel to begin your wrestling knowledge. As you keep driving, you learn more and more. You think you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You drive toward that light while learning more and more. You never reach the light though. There’s always something to learn. Things always in the business and you have to learn those changes. On the flip side, as you learn more about the business… as your knowledge grows… so does the ego. Let’s face it, the more knowledge we gain, the bigger and powerful our ego gets. It’s just like success. Look at Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, and Paul Heyman. Successful and knowledgable people in the wrestling business, but if you check out interviews there were in, ego is running rampant. At the end of the day, as Dixie learns more, the more powerful she thinks she is. She has never been involved in the wrestling business before, so once something “cool” or “big” happens, her ego grows. The ego grows and becomes more powerful, but TNA Wrestling doesn’t.
We very well know Dixie Carter has the final say in whatever happens in the company. She has the final say in terms of what happens on the television show (to an extent) but ultimately has the final say in regards to the company as a whole. She had the final say when TNA Wrestling went live. She had the final say when TNA Wrestling went on the road. She had the final say when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came into the company. As she made these decisions, her ego became larger. She saw TNA Wrestling “growing”. She saw the company tape their shows in Universal Studios every single week or two and now she sees the product going live and traveling across the United States. She was became that kid in the candy store with their grandparent who buys them anything. She kept picking candy after candy. She became happier and happier. At the end of the day, does that piece of candy do anything? Does that piece of candy make the moment or the overall picture mean anything more? That piece of candy only racks up the bill for that grandparent. Dixie Carter was doing the same thing with TNA Wrestling to her parents.
There is one phrase the business world that every business must know. That is, “Growth eats cash.” When a company wants to grow they need to realize that it will cost them. In order to grow, the company must fork out the money for those expenses. However, the company plans on making that money back and much more. That’s why a company grows. Dixie Carter, being that kid in the candy store, wants to expand her candy bag. She adds the “going live” piece of candy. She then adds “acquiring Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff” piece of candy. She adds the “going on the road” piece of candy. It racks up. The expense is huge. She, however, sees a payoff once the candy is purchased. She sees that the candy bag is better off as well as herself. She eats that candy… just like the candy ate the cash. At the end of the day, what did that candy really do to help her or that bag? It just added weight. It just added sugar to the consumer. It may have made Dixie happier as it supplied fuel to the ego, but it didn’t help others. Going live, acquiring Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, and going on the road ultimately didn’t help the company.
I will be the first to say that we don’t know TNA Wrestling’s financial books. Only select few in the company know the money they are making or losing. However, we do know a category of numbers that help us to determine growth. This category of numbers are called ratings/viewership. We can clearly see how many people are viewing Impact Wrestling each week and the cable rating it draws. We can use those numbers to analyze and determine growth. The fact is that going live, acquiring Hulk and Bischoff, and going on the road has not helped viewership and cable ratings. Sure, we see ups and downs each week, but overall, they are hitting the same ratings/viewership as they were in 2008. Is that growth? Is that being “better off”?
When expansion of a company doesn’t work, there need to be discussions. There needs to be someone who looks at what the company is doing and decides what is working and what isn’t. The company needs to make adjustments in order to grow and succeed. As Dixie Carter does her “expansion” she expands the money her parents have to fork out. Recently there has been an uproar within the Carter family. Janice an Bob are finally seeing that she is putting way too much candy in her bag without making it mean more. She is eating that candy all by herself instead of sharing it with others. Now she has to get rid of some candy, but she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t know what to get rid of. She tells them that she will change as she will start supplying the candy to others.
Back in late 2009, the company released a video showing Dixie Carter address the superstars and officials of the company. She talked about risk and the choices she is making. The stated that everyone should stand beside her. She also stated, “It’s time to swing for the fences”. Dixie Carter just signed Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff and they made it official in a huge conference in Madison Square Garden. Hulk stated that they will make TNA Wrestling the number one wrestling company in the world. Dixie believed it. 4 years later and it’s not exactly how we pictured it would be. As stated, this is Dixie’s first run in the wrestling business and it’s a huge run. She was seeing slow but steady growth. So was her ego. It exploded when she was able to sign Hulk and Eric. There’s no doubt that I would have signed Hulk and Eric too. I mean, who wouldn’t? The thing is, it was handled wrong.
Dixie once stated that she was a huge fan of Hulk Hogan. Sure, who wasn’t? She signed him and the ego became an entity. She was loving it. It was a new era in the company. Let Hogan in and do his work. Dixie let him slide through the cracks with her inexperience. You can have the best wrestlers, the biggest names, the best matches and stories, but, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the numbers of how many people are watching. You can have the best show in the world but only have 100 people watch it. That’s not doing anything. Dixie lacked advertising and marketing. Without her keeping an eye on Hulk, he was free to do anything. He appeared on American Idol and did not mention ONE SINGLE THING about TNA Wrestling. He was employed with the company at this time. He was right there involved in producing the shows. Yet, we didn’t hear one single mention of it.
I wrote about the wrestling minds in this business up above. Certainly, no doubt about it, Hulk Hogan has that wrestling mind. He has been involved in the business for decades. He has been right there with Vince McMahon. However, Hulk will do what is best for him. Sure, he would have loved to see TNA be the biggest wrestling company in the world while working there, but Hulk will do what is best for him. Hulk did not own the company. Hulk was collecting a paycheck. The details of the paycheck are unknown, but he wasn’t in that percentage of owning the company. We all love money and power. Hulk was getting the money. He also had “power”, but he lost power as time went on. So, without power, what’s the point of making anything worth while?
Dixie Carter has the power. On the flip side, her parents have the money. They also have the power…. the power of limiting Dixie Carter. Without supplying money, power decreases. The Carter Family had no idea what they were getting themselves into. They saw money. They didn’t see the business though. After 11 years of supplying money and “growth” they realize the reality. Professional wrestling may produce scripted television shows, but the business is real. The business is challenging. They should have expected it.
TNA Wrestling has experienced growth. There’s no doubt about it. They went from only airing pay-per-views to being prime time on Spike TV every week. Where’s the fan growth though? Where is the rating growth? Truth be told, it’s hard to increase ratings. It takes time to increase your fan base. Dixie Carter implemented different scenarios to grow the company and ultimately the fan base. It didn’t work.
TNA Wrestling was experiencing slow and steady growth from 2006 to 2009. I stated in a previous article about going on the road that if something works it shouldn’t be fixed. Ego controls the mind which controls actions. Actions were taken with no payoff. The Carter Family was brought in to be the financial backers of the company… not the wrestling mind. Dixie Carter helped grow the company. Without her and her parents, TNA Wrestling would be nothing. However, Dixie’s decisions on growing and false promises can lead to a TNA Wrestling downfall. Watch the expenses. Watch how the company is growing. Leave the wrestling mind for someone who actually understands and knows. The Carter Family realized that the wrestling business is more than producing a scripted television show. It’s a real business with many challenges.
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