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Rebuilding TNA Wrestling Part 1 – A Booking Change

Hulk Hogan and Dixie CarterMeet Dixie Carter-Salinas, a 46-year-old marketing agent born in Dallas, Texas. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi, Mrs. Carter-Salinas stepped into the world of professional wrestling as a publicist for a failing wrestling promotion and upon hearing about the company’s financial problems, convinced her parents, owners of an energy company in Texas, to purchase 71% of TNA stock.

This is what people in the wrestling business know as a “money mark”, or a person who doesn’t know the inner workings of a business but will filter money into it. These type of promoters have been around the business for a very long time with the most popular one having been Ted Turner, former owner of the now WWE-owned World Championship Wrestling. Turner’s a shining example of how the right people can make you a number one promotion… But at the same time those very same people can destroy that promotion.

But before we get to all of that, let’s rewind and take a quick history lesson on the bright spots of TNA. In the beginning, TNA started out as a weekly PPV that showcased wrestlers that the WWE would not use. Any high profile WCW and ECW reject that didn’t find a home in the WWE found their way to TNA wrestling, the flagship NWA show. But the way they did this was in a very creative way in order to get fans money. Instead of throwing all of these superstars onto the show at one time a la an indy federation, they would have the guys popping out of the woodwork and making surprise debuts, something that professional wrestling hasn’t provided in a very long time.

Then there is the X Division, a hybrid of the WCW Cruiserweight division mixed with the innovative high flyers that ran their local independent promotions as well as Ring of Honor stars. This division has been the bread and butter of the show from the beginning and is still the reason why many people still tune in today. These workhorses have put on show-stealing matches and even recently had a standalone pay-per-view that came close to outselling other pay-per-views that included the promotions’ “stars”.

The last shining light that TNA had and eventually lost was their knockout division. There was a time when this division was the highest-rated segment on the television shows and included compelling wrestlers and storylines that fans loved and wanted to tune in for. Talks of having a spin-off Knockouts wrestling show had even been considered by Spike TV before TNA messed up and lost their big money draws in Gail Kim and Awesome Kong.

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Now that the bright spots in the young wrestling company have been identified, the question is now posed as to how TNA can make itself a true competitor with World Wrestling Entertainment. Unfortunately the days of surprise debuts and the TNA knockout division are in the past. Even if the stars would align and there was a deep Knockout talent pool to choose from as well as a Randy Orton or Sheamus who defected and received huge money to come to TNA, there isn’t a creative mind on the booking committee to write for them.

The first change TNA needs to make is the people in charge. Eric Bischoff stole many ideas in his WCW run that I will give him credit for but he has shown himself as running out of ideas and rehashing the same idea over and over again with less pizzazz. The same can also be said about Vince Russo as he is believed to be the person behind the zig-zag booking that can now be seen on TNA programming that includes unnecessary screw jobs, heel/face turns almost every Pay-Per-View and a general lack of commitment to any storyline. Dixie essentially hired the demise of WCW and has let them run the company.

So if these men were let go by TNA tomorrow, who would fill their spots? Well, the number one answer is and always will be Paul Heyman. Will this ever happen? Probably not but never say never. Heyman’s concept of pushing the youth is what people not in TNA have been saying since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came in with their friends in tow. Bringing in Heyman with his mind for the business and creating that “rebellious group” would create a different TNA and possibly a true competitor. Remember, this is the guy that put in motion the greatest wrestling angle in recent memory when he gave CM Punk the opportunity.

If Heyman is not available, whom else can we turn to in order to create a better TNA? Well the beauty of the WWE having a revolving door of creative writers who come and go, why not snatch some of them? In the past several years, the WWE has let go of a plethora of talent including guys like Dave Lagana, Chris Roach, Court Bauer and several others. Hell, there is an entire podcast of these guys who sit around and talk about booking. The issue with TNA’s current writers is they are a 90s mindset writing in a post-millennium world. Having some of these new players writing TNA could be the fresh breath that is needed.

The only advice to TNA Wrestling in picking a new booking committee for the promotion is to not let them become on-air personalities and keep them solely as backstage entities. We see where that goes and it simply isn’t a good idea. Let them write and leave them as simply that so there is no favoritism shown for certain angles or partnered personalities.

This is part one. Stay tuned for part two of “Rebuilding TNA” and make sure to follow me on Twitter at @iFightGiants to hear more from me!

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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