TNA: From Charity to Business?

Nick Paglino

AJ StylesThe current formula at TNA is simple: When your contract runs out, take a minimal offer or take a hike.

Manik stayed, but couldn’t even negotiate a way out of his awful gimmick. A.J. Styles signed a short-term extension, but his “since day one” tenure at TNA won’t win A.J. financial favor. Brooke Hogan couldn’t dodge the ax. Perhaps she’s headed to Las Vegas to work as a female impersonator.

Bully Ray really did get the hot Brooke. Wonder how Robbie E feels about another man’s tongue in his girlfriend’s mouth?

Oh, I forgot: It’s only acting. Roll over, Daniel Day-Lewis, and tell Marlon Brando the news. Brooke, meet your new co-star, James Deen. What? Oh, don’t worry, Robbie…it’s only acting!

TNA is doing the right thing. Perhaps they really are pursuing the Memphis model, where company profit was guaranteed by minuscule paydays for the boys.

I got no problem. It’s a business, not a charity.

Styles has been a cornerstone of TNA since the company’s origin. But his departure wouldn’t cause TV ratings to dip one bit. The same goes for anybody at TNA. That includes Hulk Hogan.

Hogan’s TNA contract expires soon. He’s got to go. Hogan has been taking out more than he’s brought in since 1993. His brand name doesn’t make a difference anymore. His ego won’t let him play a support role, and he’s too physically infirm to have a match. Hogan is a waste of TV time, and a waste of money.

If TNA lets Hogan walk, he’ll spin it as going to greener pastures, teasing WWE even if it’s not true. Hogan will disown any responsibility for TNA’s failure: “It’s minor-league, brother!”

It was a bit surprising to see Eric Bischoff take Hogan’s side in the WWE 2K14/Take Two video-game drama. Bischoff will never work in wrestling again after departing TNA. His brief run of insane success brought him many extra chances, much like Vince Russo. But now he’ll be blackballed, much like Vince Russo.

Bischoff made his bones with Hogan, or at least thinks he did. Bischoff will go down with Hulkamania instead of trying to buy more time at TNA by cutting that umbilical cord.

As for the WWE 2K14 video-game debate, of course Hogan cut his own deal with Take Two (not WWE). WWE doesn’t own Hogan’s likeness rights or trademarks, as Bischoff claimed. Hogan does. I got no problem. Hogan is 60. Let him cash out.

If that’s a slap in the face of TNA, maybe it’s about time somebody gave TNA a crack in the mouth.

TNA has existed since 2002, has lost hundreds of millions of dollars and, despite that investment, is nowhere close to providing a legit challenge to WWE. It’s not even a feeder system. WWE doesn’t want TNA performers.

That’s why TNA can (and should) lowball performers when contracts come due. Styles doesn’t have any place to go, not really. Maybe he can piece together a similar payday with ROH, indies and overseas work. But maybe he can’t. And Styles won’t be on TV as much, so his profile will dip.

TNA should build around Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy. Pay them decent money. Give them security. Feud those two. Blow it off. Then build back to matching up those two again. Other lesser-paid performers come and go. But it keeps coming back around to Bully Ray vs. Hardy. In the unlikely event somebody else catches fire, deal with that then. Otherwise, stick to a simple formula.

Wrestling companies aren’t supposed to be your daughter’s plaything. They’re supposed to make money. Show profit any which way you can, but show profit. Don’t worry about loyalty, the IWC, catching WWE, or serving agendas. Just show profit.

When you run anything like a business, the product gets better. You start to think in terms of success.

Is it just me, or is Taz starting to resemble (and sound like) legendary DJ Wolfman Jack? Taz is following in the footsteps of Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund and Jesse Ventura: When you work for the B-list promotion, turn into a B-list announcer.

I saw that first-hand with Bobby and Gene. They thought working for WCW was beneath them, so their performance declined. They sure kept cashing those big paychecks, though.

Follow Mark Madden on Twitter: @MarkMaddenX

Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report? Submit it now!