And the news isn’t good.
To realize the dire straits in which TNA finds itself, go to the “tickets” tab on TNA’s Web site (the poorly named ImpactWrestling.com) and look for tickets. There aren’t any. There aren’t any tickets because there aren’t any events.
TNA’s live events consist almost exclusively of television tapings over several days in the same location. Without any live events, TNA has basically become a television organization.
Achilles Heel will give TNA credit for putting on good television programs. Since switching to POP TV, TNA seems to have stepped up its game in terms of putting on good matches. Without any pay-per-views to promote, TNA is putting its top matches and feuds on its weekly show. That’s good for fans, but it’s bad for the company.
Wrestling organizations depend on revenue streams. Live attendance is one source of revenue. Pay-per-views, whether through cable or the Internet, are another source of revenue. TNA doesn’t have either of those sources of revenue.
Merchandise sales at live events also bring in revenue. Without any live events scheduled, that’s another revenue stream TNA is missing. The contract with POP TV and online merchandise sales seem to be the only major revenue sources for TNA.
In the “shop” section of TNA’s Web site, the major promotion, consisting of full-length advertisements on both sides of the site, is for “The essential AJ Styles collection,” a four-disc set that includes more than 30 matches. Styles, of course, is in WWE. There is also a lot of promotion to purchase items relating to Kurt Angle, who recently completed his farewell tour with the company.
This brings up another problem. TNA is hemorrhaging talent.
The wrestlers see the writing on the wall, and they’re starting to jump ship. Austin Aries left for NXT, where he will join TNA alum Samoa Joe. Bobby Roode and Eric Young, two long-time TNA stalwarts, left the company after the most recent television tapings. It should be noted that Roode and Young both held championships when they gave their notice. You will see Roode and Young on Impact Wrestling for a while longer, but expect both to end up in other organizations, with Roode, who had been with TNA for 12 years, likely to go to WWE or NXT.
There are still some talented wrestlers in TNA. Drew Galloway, Ethan Carter III, Jeff Hardy and Gail Kim are terrific, as are the Wolves (but Davey Richards is sidelined by a knee injury). Lashley and Matt Hardy carry name recognition and can work a good match. Rockstar Spud consistently produces exciting matches. As the roster or top talents shrinks, however, the fewer possibilities there are for top-notch matches. How many times can fans get excited for the same matches?
Some of the best matches since TNA moved to POP TV centered around Kurt Angle’s farewell tour. Without Angle, that well for terrific matches has run dry.
TNA is trying to supplements its roster. Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis have been brought in from Ring of Honor. (Note to TNA: Have someone find the time to update the roster section of your Web site.) TNA recently signed five wrestlers, including Pepper Parks and Cherry Bomb, who have been frequent competitors for Combat Zone Wrestling.
Nobody wants to see a wrestling organization go out of business. Each organization provides jobs for wrestlers and competition with other organizations, which usually translates into better quality wrestling for the fans.
But it’s getting increasingly difficult to see how TNA can survive in its current state.
NEW CHAMPION: A bright spot on TNA’s sinking ship is Drew Galloway. He was rewarded with the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, which he won from Matt Hardy by cashing in his “Feast or Fired” briefcase for a title shot. Achilles Heel thought it was a mistake for WWE to release Galloway, who wrestled as Drew McIntyre, and always thought he would excel elsewhere before returning to WWE.
Galloway should be a terrific champion for TNA. He won’t be good enough to reverse the organization’s decline, but he should continue to stand out as a bright light amid TNA’s gloomy outlook. Galloway has already indicated he will defend the championship against anyone, heels or babyfaces. Given TNA’s limited roster, that makes sense from a booking standpoint. Making good on that promise, Galloway defends the title against Jeff Hardy this Tuesday on Impact.
SHOW BEFORE THE SHOW: Two WrestleMania 32 matches have been moved to the pre-show. The 3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has been moved to the pre-show as part of a one-hour simulcast with USA Network, which will begin at 6 p.m. The tag team match between the Usos and the Dudley Boyz will also be part of the pre-show.
FEATURED MATCHES: With two matches moved to the pre-show, there are seven matches set for a four-hour show. That leaves plenty of time for each match. If anything, the Greek God of Wrestling wonders if it leaves too much time, which could lead to a lot of non-wrestling developments. I love The Rock, but how many times can he come out and deliver a 15-minute monologue and still have the same impact.
Triple H defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns in the main event. Brock Lesnar battles Dean Ambrose in a no-holds barred street fight, while Undertaker takes on Shane McMahon in a Hell in a Cell match. One match that Achilles Heel is happy will receive additional time is the Divas Championship match between Charlotte (champion), Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.
Other matches are The New Day squaring off with League of Nations in a 4-on-3 match, Kalisto defending the United States Championship against Ryback, and Kevin Owens defending the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match against Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, The Miz, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara. It’s likely that a Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles match will be added to the card.
Achilles Heel will have a complete rundown of these matches next week in his extensive WrestleMania 32 preview.
STAN THE MAN: Because the Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers, he waited until after the official announcement this past week or RAW to congratulate Stan Hansen on his induction to the WWE Hall of Fame. Hansen is a rough-and-tumble Texan who gained fame for breaking Bruno Sammartino’s neck. Hansen is considered one of the most highly respected foreigners ever to wrestle in Japan. The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Saturday night (8 p.m.) and will be broadcast live on WWE Network.
TAKING OVER DALLAS: As part of WrestleMania weekend in Dallas, NXT will present NXT Takeover: Dallas on Friday night (WWE Network). NXT champion Finn Balor will try to successfully defend the title against Samoa Joe, just as he did at NXT Takeover: London. Samoa Joe earned a rematch by beat Sami Zayn in a two-out-of-three-falls No. 1 contender’s match.
In other matches, Shinsuke Nakamura makes his NXT debut against Zayn; NXT women’s champion Bayley defends her title against Asuka; the Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) defend their titles against American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordon); Austin Aries battles Baron Corbin; and Apollo Crews faces Elias Samson.
SOMETHING TO PROVE: Combat Zone Wrestling presents “Proving Grounds” on Saturday night (March 26) at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. Matt Tremont defends the CZW World Championship against Devon Moore in a barbed wire death match. There also will be a fatal four-way between Joe Janela, Dave Crist, David Starr and Lio Rush. Previously announced matches of Masada vs. Sami Callihan, and A.R. Fox vs. Mike Bailey have been canceled.
CZW will be part of the WWN Live Experience in Dallas on Friday, as independent organizations try to capitalize on all of the wrestling fans descending on Dallas for WrestleMania 32. The seven-match “Welcome to the Combat Zone” will feature Masada challenging Tremont in a no-ropes-barbed-wire match for the CZW World Championship. AR Fox has issued an open challenge, and the Nation of Intoxication will battle the Amazing Gulaks and Chuck Taylor in a six-man tag team match. Also on the card, Cherry Bomb defends the Women Superstars Uncensored World Championship against Jessicka Havok.
WWE IN TRENTON: WWE will present a house show, one of the final few shows before WrestleMania, at the Sun National Bank Center on Saturday (March 26) at 7:30 p.m. If you missed Monday’s RAW at Wells Fargo Center, this is your final opportunity to see WWE live locally before WrestleMania 32.
HOGAN STRIKES IT RICH: Hulk Hogan has been awarded $140 million – yes, million – in his civil lawsuit against Gawker for posting a sex tape with the wife of his friend, which was recorded without Hogan’s knowledge. Gawker will likely appeal, but Hogan appears to have struck it rich – assuming Gawker can afford to pay even a portion of the settlement.
INJURY CONTROVERSY: On last week’s RAW, Neville fractured his left ankle during his match with Chris Jericho and is expected to miss 2-3 months. For all of the high-risk moves Neville does, the injury occurred on a simple baseball-style slide. Fans would be surprised how many injuries occur on what appear to be simple moves rather than high-flying maneuvers.
The interesting part about this injury is that, after Neville bravely attempts to continue with the match, Jericho and Neville go to the finish, only to have referee Charles Robinson stop the count when Neville’s shoulder comes off the mat. Jericho then pushes Robinson for the disqualification and engages in a colorful exchange which can be viewed here.
HARPER INJURED: Neville isn’t the only wrestler apparently knocked out of WrestleMania 32 by an injury. On this past Monday’s RAW from Wells Fargo Center, Luke Harper suffered a knee injury in a dark match. WWE has not made an official announcement, but Harper was not with the rest of the Wyatt Family on Smackdown when they attacked Brock Lesnar.
If Harper is sidelined for a prolonged period of time, it will hurt the quality of the Wyatt Family’s matches. Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan are impressive individuals, but Harper is the one who does most of the wrestling. Achilles Heel hopes Harper’s injury is not as serious as the rumors say. Harper is one of the most underrated wrestlers on the WWE roster.
BRYAN TAKES LEAVE: Daniel Bryan was supposed to be honored at several events this week. Instead, he has taken a leave of absence. The Greek God of Wrestling wishes Bryan the best as he continues to battle with health issues and a premature retirement.
SUPER CARD: Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor X, which will take place Friday night in Dallas, is sold out. The main event pits the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) against the reunited Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin). Ring of Honor world champion Jay Lethal defends the title against Lio Rush. Other matches include Adam Cole vs. ACH; Christopher Daniels vs. Bobby Fish; Roderick Strong vs. Moose; Matt Sydal vs. Kyle O’Reilly; and the Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark) and War Machine (Ray Rowe and Hanson) against the All Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King), Silas Young and the Beer City Bruiser.
HOMESTOWN WRESTLING: You don’t have to go to Dallas to see professional wrestling during WrestleMania weekend. CHIKARA has two events, “Phone Home” and “Disk,” on Saturday (2 and 7 p.m.) at The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia. The events feature the Tag World Grand Prix tournament, with the quarterfinals to take place during the afternoon show and the semifinals and finals during the evening show.
CHIKARA has announced that King of Trios will take place Sept. 2-4 in Easton.
LION KINGS: Congratulations to Penn State, which captured its fifth NCAA team wrestling title in six years last weekend at Madison Square Garden. Achilles Heel knows it’s not professional wrestling, but it’s still wrestling.