TNA: 15 Years Later
For me, the recent TNA/GFW merge has been interesting not because either of them are spectacular organizations separately but because GFW was basically the holding place for all the talent TNA had squandered. The recent Slammiversary had a roster that accurately reflects some of the top stars from the early days of TNA and some of the newest stars they have built over more recent years. I think it was one of the best shows they've done in a long time for that reason but it also showcased one of the glaring errors of TNA history. They never used to cared enough about their "TNA Originals".
While I'm not a huge fan of Moose, I do appreciate that he is a talent that wasn't well known on the national stage that TNA has been trying to establish as one of their own. They've also taken EC3 and kept him relevant longer than any other star they've built on their own. This is a testament to EC3's keen understanding of the entertainment side of wrestling but also TNA's willingness to finally commit to a push with the future in mind. Abyss (aka Joseph Parks) and Lashley have also benefited greatly from this new focus on allowing talents to get over in the longterm instead of throwing them in the main event one minute and then completely forgetting about them the next.
This new focus is a net positive all around and the difference has never been clearer. With stars like Sonjay Dutt, Low Ki, and even James Storm, these are guys who have been a part of the TNA family for a long time but because TNA was always focused on Kurt Angle and the other flavors of the moment, these guys just don't seem like the big stars they deserve to be despite the excellent performances they put on. When you look at Moose, EC3, or Lashley you see guys that have been around when other big stars were around and they weren't made to take a backseat to them, this makes them more valuable now that those big stars are gone, while the older TNA stars have that stigma and they sadly still have a long way to go to reach the same point again.
There is good news however. While Alberto El Patron may be a crazy, controversial, potentially unreliable figure, he does seem like he will genuinely never go near the WWE again (or, at least, not for a very long time) and that means TNA can safely bring in this guy who has a lot of intrigue (even if it is for bad reasons) while being fairly certain he will deliver for them and them alone. He is a guy who fits into the TNA environment rather than overshadowing it, who has a lot to offer if his goal is to show he is the best wrestler in the world with or without WWE. This addition, along with the return of some famous figures from TNA's past, means the company now has an excellent pool of reliable talent that can draw money if given the chance.
In another positive move, Sienna. Just, in general. She is a woman that doesn't have the proportions the WWE likes while still being beautiful and kickass. From the moment she stepped foot in a TNA ring it was clear she was leagues ahead of everyone else in the organization and to see TNA finally starting to rebuild the Women's Division around her is the smartest thing they could do. With a plethora of fresh characters coming into their own, and with the welcome return of a few female TNA originals as well, the company is perfectly set up to compete with WWE's currently declining women's division.
In fact, right now, TNA has all of the tools necessary to be relevant again. They are using veterans like Scott Steiner in appropriate roles, having fun with their personalities rather than pushing them like top stars. While a lot of people were skeptical of the new creative team, they are doing a solid job of using talents to their strengths and not trying to force them into positions they simply don't belong in. They are diversifying their product so they aren't just a one trick pony (to varying results) but they are at least taking the risks and trying to carve out a new identity for themselves again.
While I was once on the doom and gloom train with TNA, I think Dixie Carter leaving was the best thing the company could have asked for. She was too obsessed with established stars and not interested enough in making new ones. While they are being a bit petty with the Hardy thing, I can understand why, and it is good that they're establishing that the WWE isn't the only one who can throw their legal weight around. WWE is the king of petty bs and it has been a tool they've used to weaken their competitors for their entire existence; TNA's new owners knowing how to play that game is a good thing.
Overall, I think TNA is in a strangely similar place to where they were 15 years ago. This apparent re-launch as Global Force Wrestling (even though they NEED, NEED to get rid of the Impact name for this to feel like a fresh reboot) could lead to renewed interest in the company. They may not have the big names anymore but they do have a lot of the great talent that has been flying under the radar (much like they did when they first launched) and, if they focus primarily on establishing every star they have in the best way possible then we could see GFW become a legitimate #2 organization again.
This newer direction has been consistent, those making the decisions have a very different mentality from the self-destructive tendencies of the past, and if they can find a way to spice up what they are doing and create some must-see tv then they can easily be bigger than they have ever been before.