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Evaluating the Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff TNA Era

The Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff era in TNA Wrestling started off without a lot of hype, carefully worded expectations, and a ton of doubt. Three years later the era has officially ended and I think it would be fair to call it a bust.

[adinserter block=”1″]Dixie Carter looked like she was an autograph session when she posed for pictures flexing with Hogan back in the fall of 2010 as she announced their deal. Hogan was not only coming to TNA to be a part of the show, but Hogan was going to help run it. Hogan brought his buddy Bisch and three years later TNA is no better and fairly worse for it. Both made carefully worded promises, never once that I can recall citing specific benchmarks or metrics they hoped to achieve to be successful. In hindsight the lack of tangible goals is telling and should have had anyone vested in TNA worried from the start.

The big idea of the era was to put TNA on Monday nights head to head with RAW. Bring back the Monday Night Wars! TNA went all out and spent money like no tomorrow bringing in high priced free agents like Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, and the n.W.o. to go head to head with Vince McMahon. Vince never blinked and this “war” was over fast with TNA running back to Thursdays with their tails between their legs.

Their second big idea and this has Hogan and Bischoff all over it was to take Impact on the road. How did that work out? It turned out to be disastrous. Disastrous to the point that it hurt the company so bad financially that TNA now finds itself for sale but I’ll get to that later. The attendance was terrible and the live and/or arena feel did absolutely zero for the ratings of TNA. All it did was hurt the company financially and likely put a strain on its relationship with Viacom.

Speaking of ratings let’s talk some numbers. I always tell fans when I debate a point I made in a blog or tweet that the numbers don’t lie and in this case the ratings don’t lie. All I have to do is go back to the month before they signed Hogan. In October 2011 the company averaged a 1.25 rating for Impact. The company did a record low 0.82 this past October so that tells you all you need to know about well the ratings turned out.

I want to make a point about the ratings. I hate to say it but you have to give Vince Russo some credit. The ratings have been on a decline since he left the company and while they have sustained lately, they aren’t improving. Like him or not you have to give the guy some credit. Do not be surprised to see him come back now that Hogan is gone and quite honestly you really can’t blame TNA if they do go down that road.

If you take a look at the ideas that Hogan had (I don’t know what to credit Bischoff for so I’ll give him a pass) they were a lot of darts being thrown against walls and none stuck. Remember those Fortune vs. Immortal angles? Remember the scenario with Abyss and Hogan’s “powerful” WWE Hall of Fame ring? Remember those ridiculous promo segments with a bird in the room? Aces & 8s was Hogan and Bischoff’s version of an invasion angle in 2013. Aces & 8s has been a complete and abysmal failure. As a matter of a fact you can look back at the ratings and see the steady decline once this angle kicked into high gear. I never liked it and I feel that the story exposed how completely out of touch Hogan and Bischoff are with their fans.

The coup de grace of the Hogan era had to be the AJ Styles-Claire Lynch-Dixie Carter storyline. The angle was both hilarious (unintentionally I am sure) and really an embarrassment to anyone who sacrificed two hours to watch Impact. I don’t know how much Hogan was responsible for but it was under his watch and he was the head cheese at the time. That angle and this says a lot about TNA, that angle may be the worst in company history.

The company was doing twelve pay per view events when Hogan and Bischoff arrived. Today they are doing four a year. Can anyone put a positive spin on that? The idea of Hogan and Bischoff in charge of creative was to get the ratings up, thus increasing interest in pay per view buys. Not only were they unable to bring new fans on board, they lost the ones TNA had! A company that has the exposure TNA has on Spike TV every week should be able to create compelling content for more than four pay per view events a year right? Not only did Hogan and Bisch not bring anymore additional revenue to pay per view, they cost them the money they were bringing in. I’d call that a big fat fail!

Hogan also talked about getting new guys over and creating new stars when he came into TNA. Who exactly is better off today as a draw than they were in 2010? I would give him credit for Bully Ray who has turned out to be a heck of a heel. Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, Christopher Daniels, James Storm, Magnus are all bigger TNA stars today but not one of them have meant a thing for business. Is AJ Styles any more over today than he was when Hogan took over? I’d say he is worse off today than he was going into 2011. It is sad to say because those guys are incredibly talented but none of their pushes meant a thing when it comes to money. Oh and let’s talk money.

What was the bottom line financially of the Hogan and Bischoff era? Well the company is for sale today so that certainly can’t be a good sign. When you come into a company, take it over, and leave the company in such financial distress that the owner wants to sell, I’d say you did a pretty poor job.

[adinserter block=”2″]As I said above the numbers don’t lie. The ratings are worse, they are doing less pay per view events, they lost their shirts on Impact road events, and the company is reportedly being shopped. I don’t think I need any more evidence than to tell you that this era was a complete bust and you’d have to be a fool to let Hogan or Bischoff near your wrestling company (internally) from this point forward.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. The Almighty Hulkster is better as a special attraction rather than a booker. I would still pay money to see Hogan vs Cena, regardless of the Hulkster's health. Hogan can still get pops, like it or not, but he and Bischoff should stay away from the director's chair from now on.

  2. Hogan and Bischoff brought no new ideas to TNA. None. Their first big move was to relive the nWo (again) and form Immortal, complete with an abysmal Jeff Hardy heel turn. Despite the angle failing almost immediately, they kept that awful faction around for a full year. Once it finally died, they went back to the well AGAIN to create Aces & Eights, which is essentially the nWo crossed with Sons of Anarchy. That faction has also stuck around WAY too long, even though TNA has already moved on to the heel Dixie Era. And the heel Dixie Era is really just another stale retread of Austin vs. McMahon and the Summer of Punk. Like I said, they brought nothing new to the table. Good riddance.

  3. For people to say that Hogan and Bischoff coming in did nothing is asinine. As kevenroulette said, the production of impact after Bischoff came in was definitely better. Hogan himself was on TV trying to put over a few talents as well (which surprised me, well cause it's Hogan we're talking about) Other than that, yeah it was pretty bad. But to say it was ALL bad is just dumb. Also, Bully has always been a fantastic heel. Roode is a bigger star now than ever and will help TNA in time. Also A double too.

    • No you are wrong. They did plenty. They lost millions of dollars taking Impact on the road, they lost 8 pay per view events a year, they killed the Impact ratings, haven't created any drawing stars so no, you are wrong. They did plenty.

      • I'm not saying they didn't do those things. I'm just saying the people who said they came in and did nothing GOOD are dumb. But yes, overall it was bad.

        • But the bad things they did outweigh the good things in such a massive way, that it's a complete irrelevance to look at the positive side.

          TNA invested multi-millions in both their contracts, and their ideas. They've been left in a sorry state because of it.

          If TNA go out of business, are you going to be sitting there thinking – well at least they had better production values between 2010 and 2013?

          No, Hogan and Bischoff don't deserve recognition for the very minor positive influence they had on the company. They deserve recognition for the very obvious disastrous effect they had on it.

  4. This whole TNA forsale is getting old!!! I thought production was better with Bischoff and Hogan always got the biggest pop of the night

    • I agree that the production improved a lot, and that's almost certainly thanks to Bischoff – got to give him credit for that.

      But you can't only give him credit for the good. Bischoff pushed for the Monday night move. He pushed for them to drop 8 revenue making PPVs without replacing that income, and also pushed to send them on the road doing live TV in the same year that they threw those revenue generating products in the trash.

      It can't be denied that he put his influence behind these disastrous decisions, as he publicly called for all of them.

      They've been giving away PPV quality episodes of Impact for free (not sure if that was Bischoff idea or not), so at this point they've commoditized their own product; even if they start doing 12 PPVs a year again, are people really going to shell out $30 for something that in the previous month was free?

      I totally agree that Hogan consistently gets the biggest pop of the evening, but does that alone justify the $35,000 appearance fee? His name clearly wasn't selling tickets on the road, and it hasn't resulted in anything but the most temporary of ratings bumps either. Think about that fee – if Hogan appears on only 29 episodes of Impact in a year, he's netted himself over $1,000,000.

      When you boil it down, what return have TNA had on their significant investment in Hogan and Bischoff? Improved production values (which they could have paid for without hiring them) and a big pop for Hogan every night. Whoop-di-doo.

      I used to be right behind Bischoff and Hogan for the exact reasons you mentioned, but after the ludicrous state they've left the company in, I've got to say I was so wrong in supporting them. So very wrong.

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