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TNA Wrestling Reportedly Losing Spike TV Contract

TNA Wrestling is literally on life support. Multiple reports indicate that Spike TV will not be renewing their contract with TNA. TNA will have the next sixty days to secure a new deal or face a grim situation in the near future.

TMZ.com was the first to go on record and report that Spike TV have opted not to renew their agreement with TNA Wrestling. Negotiations have been ongoing for months with many believing that a deal was imminent. Unfortunately a big email blunder looks like it may have tipped the scales and given Spike second thoughts on pursuing future business with the company.

Dave Meltzer reports on F4Wonline.com that Spike TV/Viacom were very upset when news broke that Vince Russo was employed by the company. Meltzer reports that there is heat there and the Spike folks don’t like Russo. While it is unfair to blame Vince Russo entirely for the lack of a TV deal, he will certainly come out of this looking like a buffoon.

Many including Meltzer had inclinations that Russo was back in TNA for some time now, yet none were able to confirm this. Those suspicions were confirmed when Russo sent Mike Tenay and Tazz production notes through an email and mistakenly copied Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com. Johnson broke the story, Russo denied it making it worse, and eventually Russo was reportedly forced to admit his mistake and his employment with TNA.

Russo is getting a lot of the blame today but again, that is unfair. This email was only recently revealed by Johnson. Spike has had months to renew their deal with TNA, yet for other reasons they opted not to do so. I predicted earlier in the year that Viacom was going to make a play for the WWE although that has never been confirmed. Russo’s email almost certainly sealed TNA’s fate, but there were other issues at play here, none yet which have been identified.

Whether you are a fan of TNA or not, the move is very surprising on Spike’s end. TNA do bring in over one million fans a week, a pittance compared to the WWE, but yet a significant bargain related to the cost to Spike. Spike is now in the MMA game and always appeared to have seen TNA as an opportunity to promote the MMA shows. This could simply be a story of Spike wishing to rebrand itself with pro wrestling on the outside. Finding advertisers could have also been an issue. I would even ponder that the major talent cuts (Hogan, Styles, Sting) were an issue. Just the perception that Spike was involved with a company in financial duress may have been enough to sever ties altogether.

The big question is what happens to TNA now. According to most reports, TNA cannot survive in its current state without a television deal comparable to the one with Viacom. Seeing the lack of success the WWE had in attracting serious bidders for their brand isn’t a good sign. Sure, there are hundreds of cable channels anymore but how many are willing to ante up Viacom money for a pro wrestling company with only a handful of recognizable stars?

Any television executive doing his or her due diligence would see a number of red flags during negotiations. One, the creative team should be an immediate red flag. The head of the team is inexperienced and has a track record of losing viewers throughout the broadcast. Two, their house show attendance is evident that there is not a loyal following here. Would any of TNA’s current viewers even go out of their way to follow Impact to another station? Three, there are only two recognizable stars and one’s contract is up this fall. Should I keep going?

I think the person to blame here for this debacle is Dixie Carter. I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone mismanage a pro wrestling company at that level to the extent she has. She has hired all of the wrong people, supported all of the wrong people, and doesn’t have a clue as to what her fans truly want out of her company. Don’t blame Vince Russo for telling Mike Johnson he was in TNA, blame Dixie Carter for him being there altogether and lying about it.

She never ceases to amaze me. Meltzer reported on his latest F4Wonline.com podcast that Dixie was telling people within the company that it was her decision to leave Spike TV. If that were true and I don’t (neither does Meltz) believe it for a second, she is even dumber than I thought. This goes back to a history she has had of lying to her employees. Keep in mind that this is a woman who came from the world of public relations.

Unfortunately the loss of TNA impacts everyone who is a wrestling fan whether you watch TNA or not. You are stuck with one national company that can do whatever they want. Exciting talent that had an alternative to the WWE will now have fewer options than ever before. It has to be incredibly disheartening to be an independent wrestler who may not fit the WWE mold. The WWE talents as well have to be disheartened in that they now have zero negotiating leverage when their deals are up.

Do I think TNA will survive this? I think they will be on life support for a long time. I could envision a scenario where they drastically cut costs, operate as an independent wrestling business, and exist in name only to fulfill international obligations.

But the TNA that you see on Thursday for the next two months will cease to exist unless the right television deal is secured. Unfortunately the chances of that happening are about as good as Dixie Carter looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for her failures as an owner.

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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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Welcome to the Camel Clutch Blog. The CCB was born in 2007 and features blogs from over 50 different writers. Articles from the Camel Clutch Blog have been featured by some of the world's most respected websites including; CNNSI.com, Foxsports.com, Yahoo News, Business Insider, MSNBC, NBCsports.com, and more.

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