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   September 16, 2014



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Mat Matters: Does Spike cutting TNA mean the end of the line?
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Dixie Carter and Rockstar Spud in a recent TNA storyline.

Earlier today, TMZ reported that SpikeTV has let TNA Wrestling know that it is cutting Impact from its broadcast schedule, effective this coming October.

Now this would not necessarily be a concern for a company in good standing whose product could easily be sold to another network, but this is not healthy times for TNA.

Between the recent cuts to the likes of Frankie Kazarian, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and tapings that happen months in advance, the signs of trouble in TNA have been mounting.

The comparison can now be drawn to WCW and ECW and the strife that occurred over a decade ago with those promotions, but really, there is only one comparison.

First, WCW, and see how it's different.


WCW, near its end, was running in the red to the tune of eight figures. Long-time talent was retained like Sting and Ric Flair, but others like Hulk Hogan were let go while new names like Sean O'Haire were being built up.

Ultimately, when Time Warner was sold, WCW programming was going to be axed from TNT and TBS. Though finding a new network may not have been a problem, the red ink was a mile wide and the company was enough of a bargain that Vince McMahon was able to swoop in and purchase the competition. Sure, Vince could've run WCW as an independent agency from WWF as UFC has occasionally done, but this was not the intention.

Now as far as ECW goes, this was a much different problem. In short, the company was bleeding not because it was losing money due to low revenue, but it couldn't compete with WWF and WCW on the production schedule (including producing weekly TV and monthly pay-per-views), while its talent wasn't being paid at times for months on end. ECW's case is more eerily similar to that of TNA, where we've heard rumours for a long time of talent not being paid on time and other similar issues.

What killed ECW, ultimately, was the loss of TNN broadcasting -- or as it's known now, SpikeTV. All the vehicles could've kept running for ECW but without the lucrative TV agreement the company was sitting in limbo. ECW, like TNA, had cut costs on talent, letting some go for greener pastures (pun not intended) and working with a more skeleton crew of competitors who stuck with Paul Heyman through it all.

So here's where TNA's biggest dilemma is now -- does Dixie Carter have enough of the locker room on her side that they'll stick around while, possibly, the company looks at another TV opportunity. Certainly, one far-reaching network or another will want to take TNA's rating and produce a TV show, likely on a soundstage like had been the case at Universal.

WHAT YOU THINK
Do you think Spike TV cancelling TNA Impact Wrestling will be the end of the promotion?
Absolutely - 60%
Not sure - 23%
TNA will carry on - 17%
What Dixie faces that Paul E. didn't was the challenge of a new organization fronted by a former colleague -- Jeff Jarrett. Say what you will about the former Double J but the guy is charismatic and a fantastic networker. I wouldn't be surprised if GWF gets a spot on SpikeTV to be honest.

In that respect, it's Jarrett that is more akin to Heyman than Dixie. Dixie has been described as a sweet person, but does she have the ability to make the believers drink the Kool Aid that Paul did? I'm not so sure.


Ultimately, TNA's survival, more than ever, rests on the shoulders of Dixie Carter, and there will be only so much more money that its parent company of Panda Energy International will put into the company; and even if the money is invested, it may not matter if talent floats away.

On her Facebook page and through Twitter, Carter insists the deal with Spike isn't even dead: "Negotiations with Spike TV are ongoing."

I hope for the sake of the wrestling community that TNA can come back, but I'm not convinced that Dixie is ready for the challenge of flying without Spike's support. She has time to plan, re-think, and get a new TV deal set, but ultimately we could look at October 2014 as being the end of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

RELATED LINKS

  • Previous Mat Matters Editorial columns

    Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! Wrestling since 2000.