Nearly 20 years ago when I started playing in this internet wrestling space, most of the opinion columns were focused on how the columnist would book either WWF or WCW if they were in charge. I generally tried to stay away from that type of stuff, but I do find myself compelled to write about TNA and how I would run the promotion if I were in charge. While I’ve spent decades (literally) avoiding this type of speculation, I think my years of high-level business experience give me an interesting perspective on what might work for the TNA team.
If I was in charge of TNA wrestling, here are the top 5 areas I would focus on in no particular order.
Money Matters. Unlike the losers who are desperate for your clicks and subscriptions, I readily admit that I don’t know a thing about TNA’s finances. Incidentally, those losers don’t know anything about TNA’s finances either, but they need to use false stories based on plausible conjecture to get your clicks and sell you a subscription for even more of their fake news. What I do know an awful lot about, though, is money and what it takes to run a successful business.
Believe it or not, running a successful business has major similarities to running a successful household. You don’t spend more than you take in and you always operate with a reserve – just in case. For TNA, I’d operate with a minimum of 9 months worth of salaries, expenses, and production costs sitting in a reserve. Let me be clear – I don’t believe any of the stories about TNA workers not getting paid because so many guys who are under a full contract with the company have disputed those rumors as bunk. I do believe, however, that part-time and one-off employees may not understand that TNA appears to operate on a net 30 basis, which is common in business (i.e. they pay their expenses within 30 days of the bills being due). Even if TNA wants to continue operating on a net 30 basis, if I were in charge I’d use my reserves to pay all individuals on either a set schedule (i.e. the 15th and last day of each month) or with 5 business days of their completing a job. As revenues come in, they could replenish the reserve.
In this world, perception is reality. TNA encourages its talent to interact with the fans on social media presumably because they believe that social media has some drawing power. Well, I would not let the perception of a few part-time workers pollute the social media water because they don’t understand a net 30 payment. I’d operate TNA with a substantial reserve and I’d start that immediately. With a financial behemoth like Panda Energy behind TNA, establishing a 9 month reserve should be easy.
The Name. Look, you can’t go around saying that your show is IMPACT Wrestling and your company is TNA, but every time you brand your company you use your show’s name. Not only is that amateur, but it’s just plain confusing for the audience. TNA needs to grow up and stop this nonsense of having a dual identity. If I was running the company, I’d call the show TNA IMPACT and use the letters “TNA” more often. Being concerned about the whole “tits and ass” thing is a throwback to the late 1990s/early 2000s when it might have been cool to use those letters as slang. It’s not cool any more so no one with any sense us going to care if you call yourself by your name.
After I definitively changed the name of the company back to TNA Wrestling and rebranded the television show as TNA IMPACT, I’d get to work on that website and change it back to TNAWrestling.com instead of IMPACTWrestling.com. Part of this name clarification would be telling the employees that if they’re going to use our name in written material for the website or on their social media, then they would have to use a certain style. In other words, I wouldn’t accept seeing the name of the sow written as “Impact” when the name of the show is actually all capitalized as “IMPACT.” Further, I wouldn’t accept someone writing “IMPACT” if I wanted the show to be known as “TNA IMPACT.” Coordinating the way your brand is visually consumed is a critical element of running a successful business.
House Shows. TNA doesn’t need to run a full house show schedule like WWE. Nor does the company need to operate a house show tour across the country. TNA may have tremendous success internationally, but they’re not well-positioned to parlay that international success into domestic, non-televised success. But the company can surely harken back to what built the professional wrestling business and operate a territory. TNA is based out of Nashville, Tennessee – hell, run a monthly house show somewhere in Nashville! Maybe one month you pop over to Memphis instead of Nashville. Then you run one or two Louisville shows in Kentucky, but that’s it. There’s no reason for TNA to not operate a small, quick house show schedule that is both well-received by the fans and profitable for the company.
If I were in charge of TNA, I’d take one or two backstage agents and put them in charge of this aspect of the company. I’d ask them to run the entire, local house show program and instruct them to run house shows for one weekend each month (Friday – Sunday shows). If the first shows drew in 300 people, then that’s fine. It gives me and my company a base to start from and it gives me a base to judge the agent(s) in charge of the house shows on. You drew in 300 fans this month? Alright, I expect 400 when we go back to that town the month after next, and then 500 when we go back again, 750 the time after that, etc.
Creating A Home Base. I’ve written it before and I’ll always believe it – I utterly dislike the tourists who crowd into the IMPACT Zone and give absolutely nothing to the wrestlers when they’re working their hearts out in the ring. However, from a business perspective it makes sense for TNA to strike another long-term deal with Universal Studios (or a similarly situated television production studio). Not only does TNA get paid to operate an “attraction” for the Universal Studios theme park, but with a long-term deal they can begin to transform their studio into a “home base” for the promotion. This doesn’t mean that corporate offices need to be set up there, but it does mean that the look and feel of the interior of the studio can be customized to showcase the entire TNA brand. Posters hanging from the rafters, promotions on the ring mat, advertising your website on the ring apron – I’d make that studio our home!
The TV Show. Anyone who is honest about what is going on each Wednesday night on Destination America has to admit that when you watch Ring of Honor, it feels like you’re watching a bootleg copy of an old ECW show on a videotape from the Madison Square Garden Network. The production value of TNA’s programming blows Ring of Honor out of the water. However, TNA isn’t where it needs to be with the IMPACT Wrestling television show… yet. Earlier this year they turned the lights out over the audience to, presumably, showcase the performers in the ring. Well, okay – can we just chalk that up to a nice idea with good intentions that, unfortunately, makes the TV show look low rent? TNA shows from the mid-to-late 2000s were visually stunning displays of color with lots of reds, oranges, and yellow colors drawing you into the show. TNA in the 2010s had primarily been visually stifling – even optically boring. There’s no need for that in the year 2015. If I were running TNA today, I’d instruct my team to turn the damn lights on over the audience and go back to the red color scheme.
Those are the top 5 areas that I’d focus on if I were in charge of TNA. However, there are other items I’d work on (for example, I’d keep spinning off high-priced, 10+ year talents in favor of lower cost, brand new talents). What would you do if you were in charge of TNA? Feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below!