A lot of people may not know this but wrestling started as a sideshow for carnivals and vaudeville. Athletics and theatrics. Wrestling in the United States grew into the territories with wrestlers traveling around and working different promotions. Some would get TV but that TV was local and not national. In the 80s Vince McMahon Jr. bought his fathers promotion and set out to create the first truly national wrestling promotion. Vince picked a number of the top wrestlers from the various territories, he utilized video cassette, added more showmanship and gave it a rock n’ roll vibe. World Wrestling Federation became a major player. Other wrestling companies would fall. Sure NWA is still around but they have not been relevant in decades. No-WWE crushed and then purchased much of their competition. From AWA to WCW. WWE is #1 in the World, and definitely #1 in the States. Untouchable in the states.
It was just reported by TMZ what many had been saying for years that the #2 promotion, TNA Wrestling, will have their Impact program cancelled by Spike. Or rather not renewed. Founded by wrestling family the Jarretts in the wake of WCW and ECW’s closing, TNA has struggled to establish it self as a true rival. Using PPV and some time Fox sports, eventually landing on Spike. The company got a major cash influx when purchased by Panda Energy-a company that builds power plants. TNA had a TV slot and money. So how did TNA fail? A company that has hired talented wrestlers and well known wrestlers? Why could they not close in on WWE? Only being #2 promotion by default? It comes down to quality.
TNA wrestling has had years to build an audience and instead found themselves convincing fans they were not the alternative they wanted. Writers out of touch with the current wrestling fans, unable to appeal to the hardcore WWE audience. Booking decisions that threw young and promising talent under the bus for older wrestlers or hackneyed storylines. Take Samoa Joe for example-a huge buzz indy star and TNA started to feed him to former WWE and WCW stars. They had a buzz wrestler and killed the momentum. TNA could have something start working and then find a way to damage it. Their Knockout Division was spiking their ratings but multiple bad decisions and incidents screwed it up. Amazing King walked out, Daffney got hurt and then screwed over, talented women getting fired because they “don’t have the right look.” Forcing their wrestlers who were not making good money to abandon independent bookings that film, thus taking on shows that paid less then the top indy promotions. By doing that TNA lost a lot of hardcore fans. A lof of these fans didn’t follow these wrestlers to TNA, they stopped watching. They were angry TNA would do that and they knew these athletes would not be truly utilized. TNA found a way to alienate hardcore wrestling fans, curious WWE fans, and casual wrestling fans. The future of TNA is bleak with no idea of if they can land another TV deal or where they would go without one. TNA was already cutting contracts and salaries which lead to the exits of several well known TNA wrestlers including current New Japan star AJ Styles, who is holding the companies IWGP heavyweight title.
So who steps up to be #2 in the states? Technically Ring of Honor would be #2 as they were a very distant 3rd. Their TV program is only shown on the East Coast but thanks to internet, DVD shows, and now national PPV they are still a force in wrestling. The problem is that ROH is owned by Sinclair broadcasting and have limited resources to grow. While TNA was nowhere near competing with WWE a national TV deal still made them a known quantity. ROH is company that’s really on the line between indy and national, but leaning more indy. Then there is the new Jeff Jarrett project Global Force. Jarrett was a founder of TNA and left last year, now he’s been hyping this unknown project. Making deals with companies around the world. still, there is very little information as to a start date, where it will be available, and how it will look. Hopefully Jarrett will learn from his and TNA’s mistakes.
I love wrestling, I want it to be big. I’d love to see WWE have some competition in the US. I don’t see it happening.
On a final note. New Japan Pro-Wrestlings G1 Climax tournament is happening. Featuring NJPW’s top stars plus a bevy of foreigners including Davey Boy Smith Jr., Shelton Benjamin and AJ Styles. Maybe check those out if you can.