TNA and the Reality of Aging Stars

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Nash missed Genesis with a staph infection and Scott Steiner’s back is in terrible shape. Awesome Kong’s got a bad back as well and Christy Hemme’s neck requires surgery. Sting’s knees are hurting and the list seems to grow. Jeff Jarrett was hurt on the PPV and Kurt Angle competes at a high level despite a chronic neck condition.

When injuries happen in bunches, it compromises the product. How can you win fans if the athletes you rely on to perform can’t go because, in the case of all but the women, they are starting to break down as all athletes do once they pass 35?

Same goes with sports and veteran-laden lineups. If a baseball team signs a bunch of veterans to supplement or supercede youngsters and help the team win now, disaster ensues when the disabled list grows.

But TNA needs Kevin Nash now. They need Scott Steiner now. They are relying on these two vets to help carry the load and draw viewers until they can figure out which of the young stars the company can bank on. If Kurt Angle or Sting have to miss time, TNA would really be in trouble in the short term.

The Tampa Bay Rays were one of the worst teams in MLB until this year. They made it to the World Series and showed that young athletes can win in the Majors if they are given a chance.

But Tampa Bay would never have succeeded this year if they didn’t suck for so long. All those years of "suckitude" earned them top draft picks. Revenue sharing allowed the Rays the opportunity to sign some veterans to perhaps compete sooner but instead, the organization chose to sink valuable resources into scouting and player development.

So, what does this have to do with TNA? Let’s face it… they need young stars. AJ Styles is great but he’s been featured since day 1 and still isn’t on the tip of the casual fan’s tongue. Samoa Joe had lightning in a bottle but casual fans look at Joe and don’t see a Randy Orton or John Cena.

Randy Orton, John Cena, John Morrison. All three are products of the WWE Developmental System and are going to be asked to carry the ball for years to come. Throw in all the Legacy members and many others and you can see how the WWE has set themselves up for long-term success.

While Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, Batista, JBL, Jericho, Regal and Triple H all are on the downslope of their active careers, there are so many young performers being prepped for the next generation of success that the WWE will continue to generate revenue for years to come.

TNA doesn’t have that. They have a veteran-laden lineup built to win now. The money those veterans make for the company is being used to sign more veterans. But the company needs to be thinking about the future.

If I were advising TNA, I would implore them to start a Talent Development System as soon as possible. They have to look to the future and the future can’t be the continued pattern of signing veteran after veteran.

Yes, a Talent Development System is a money loser in the short-term but we are talking about the long-term here. Athletes signed today are at least a year away in the best case but this is an investment in the company’s future.

Terry Taylor is a brilliant man and a wonderful executive. He has a remarkable eye for talent and can put the right people in place to train the next generation of TNA athletes. As the Director of Talent Development for TNA, Taylor must be given the resources to build a solid foundation for the TNA house of the future.

I recently read a blog from Missy Hyatt and she talked about how Ken Mantell was brought in to book World Class Championship Wrestling and was instrumental in creating a bunch of rock stars. Young twenty-somethings that were pushed and created a phenomenon. TNA can create that too.

But the time to act is now. Create the next generation of stars and make a bunch of rock stars. Tampa Bay has rock stars now in Evan Longoria and many of his Rays’ teammates. Season ticket sales are at all-time highs and a new stadium is in the works.

Give Terry Taylor a budget and let him go to town. The time to act, TNA, is now. You can’t afford to continue to watch your main event stars fall apart without long-term plans to replace them.

Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report? Submit it now!
monitoring_string = "851cc24eadecaa7a82287c82808f23d0"