The warden stepped through the narrow doorway, staring into the two-way glass pane in front of him. He could not tell if anyone was on the other side but he strongly assumed so, as many wanted to see this execution take place. To his right was the doctor that had worked at the prison for years.
Strapped to a six-sided table in the center of the room was the guilty party. The warden saw no guilt or remorse in the eyes of the soon-to-be-executed. Warden drew a breath and began to read a prepared statement about what was going to happen when the phone rang.
It was the Governor.
An appeal was not only upheld but the prisoner would be leaving Death Row and the prison altogether. A free man.
There would be no execution tonight.
A new lease on life for someone that was a “Dead Man Walking”.
Such is the case with Total Nonstop Wrestling, who was pulled from the execution chamber just days ago, seemingly moments away from its earthly demise. Without a home on Spike TV, TNA was doomed but now, Destination America, part of the Discovery Networks, will be where TNA calls home.
A collective sigh of relief in Nashville now leads to questions. What do we do now? How do we proceed? What do we change? Do we change?
How do we avoid the death penalty again?
- Stop trying to be WWE Lite – this is what got TNA on death’s door to begin with. Political consultants lose elections for their candidates trying to find independent voters and wrestling companies die slow, painful deaths trying to book to gain favor with the “casual fans”. It’s why WWE has surrendered the ratings domination they once enjoyed. The Attitude Era is dead, ECW is dead. Stop looking backwards and start looking forward. Build stars that wrestling fans dig and guess what? CASUAL FANS WILL COME BACK!
- Don’t forget your history but erase the past – clean slate time here, folks. Get rid of the six-sided ring. Change the look, feel and presentation of the program. Move on from Mike Tenay and give Josh Matthews the ball. Go back to basics. Blocking, tackling… establish clear lines between good and bad. Simplify things. Don’t worry about writing Shakespeare. Let heels get some heat, build toward big events. Fundamentals.
- Market the brand outside the channel you appear on – if no one knows the show is on, how will folks watch? Secure an outside talent agency to market stars and the brand itself outside of TNA. Don’t expect the world to turn upside down overnight. It will take time to establish a new identity but it is vital.
- Here’s the Book, Mr. Hardy – Don’t diddle around with writers (sorry, Lagana) or executives (sorry, Big). Let Matt Hardy drive the bus on creative. He knows what works and what doesn’t. Not only has Hardy been on the biggest stages but he also has been on the front lines of the independents for a couple of years now. He has his finger on the pulse of what works now. Flip the book to Tommy Dreamer six months from now and then back to Hardy six months after that. Easy.
- Set realistic expectations with Destination America – I wonder if there is a comparison between TNA’s new home and ROH’s former home, HDNet. They are both small cable networks in about half the homes in the country and they are friendly landing places for wrestling companies. HDNet wanted ROH live events on TV, while ROH wanted episodic TV to build to big live events and iPPV’s. Eventually, HDNet moved on from ROH, with little or no gain for Ring of Honor, despite their presence on “national” TV. Make sure Destination America knows what they are getting.
If TNA does these five things, they will be successful. If not? They could wind up on death row again, with no stay of execution to save them.
What do you think TNA should do? Tweet your thoughts @RealKevinKelly