OK, I know that the title of this column could piss a lot of people off but just hear me out until the end. TNA, or Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, has been around for 13 years. Today it is referred to as Impact Wrestling but I refuse to call it that since the name sounds idiotic and since it’s still listed as TNA in most places. Before this article, I always viewed TNA as an indy. Part of the reason for this was because it isn’t the biggest wrestling promotion in the business, WWE. That was when I was younger though. Now, I know it is more complicated than that. There are a lot of things that go into a company being an indy. I am going to analyze all the reasons and decide, unbiasedly and without favor, if it is an indy or not.
The first reason it could be called an indy: It is not WWE. This is the main reason people view any wrestling promotion as an indy. WWE is the main promotion, and most likely, always will be. It’s a Fortune 500 company and is owned by a billionaire. WWE is watched by millions of viewers every week and is in the mainstream media constantly. It has a two weekly cable shows, Raw and Smackdown, on a major cable network, USA which is owned by CBS. Like I stated, it is the largest wrestling promotion in the world. Now, why shouldn’t that help TNA’s case as an indy? Because now every single wrestling promotion ever is labeled under the indy name. Promotions such as World Championship Wrestling, WCW, which competed, and at times defeated, WWE in the late 1990’s. This cannot be the sole criteria as to why a certain wrestling promotion is independent but certain aspects of WWE will help us decide if it’s an indy or not.
Money. It is the sole reason that any company is in business and the only way a business can stay afloat. Now, for a wrestling promotion to be called independent that means that it cannot have big company money or be backed by a large corporation. The reason for this is that this certain promotion can keep screwing up and this corporation will keep putting money into the product and keeping the promotion afloat instead of making it stand on its own two feet and make a profit all alone. So, no corporate backing or no big money seems like criteria for being an independent promotion. Most indies started from the bottom or was started by a professional wrestler, or a few of them, and have over the years made profits. These indies have fought to stay alive in a world controlled by the WWE. Only problem with TNA being viewed as an indy: it does have corporate backing and big money. TNA is owned by Dixie Carter, of the famous Carter family. The Carter family owns Panda Energy, a Fortune 500 company that runs eco friendly power plants. Dixie Carter, CEO of TNA, is the daughter of the owner and CEO of Panda Energy. Panda Energy literally owns TNA. TNA is owned by a huge corporation that keeps feeding money into it. It has been reported over the years that whenever TNA has had trouble with making a profit, which is a lot, that Panda Energy will come in and keep feeding money into the promotion. This hinders TNA case as an indy. Even though TNA never makes a profit, like literally never, it is still afloat. If it was a true indy promotion, by now they would have went bankrupt and gone out of business. One strike for TNA.
More criteria for a promotion as an indy is it has wrestlers that are home grown, meaning they are from that promotion and came from it, and only bring in other indy stars and every once in a while bring in a ex WWE star for a short run or for a show or two. Even top indy promotions, like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and EVOLVE, never really bring in ex WWE stars unless for a major show. Most cannot afford them and instead they want to use their own talent. Not the case for TNA. Actually, it’s the exact opposite case for TNA. TNA mainly gets their talent from WWE. They have had big wrestling names like Kurt Angle, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, The Hardy Brothers, Kevin Nash, Booker T, Scott Steiner and many more. I mean for years there main wrestler was former WCW champion and star Sting. And with home grown talent, most of them move on to bigger promotions and cut ties with TNA. Stars like Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Austin Aries, who had some of the best matches ever for TNA, are with WWE. Other wrestlers go to other indy promotions like Jeff Jarrett, who was the founder and former owner of TNA, went on to start his own promotion just to get away from TNA. Most major wrestlers from WWE just do stints at TNA until they realize how much they miss WWE and actually getting a paycheck. And there homegrown talent want to get paid and become a big star so they leave for a big indy promotion or for WWE. So, another knock against TNA.
OK so I have realized the error of my ways. TNA is in fact not an indy. Oh you don’t believe me? Ok well look at these facts also: most indies, except Lucha Underground and Ring of Honor which is the major indy promotions, don’t have TV deals. TNA has always had a TV deal, if it’s on FSN Midwest or Spike TV or Destination America or now on the Pop Channel. If you didn’t notice, they keep changing channels because they can’t make a profit and can’t keep viewers. But they do have weekly TV programming so that’s another knock. Another knock is that every once in awhile, unlike an indy, TNA is in the media. It’s usually for something terrible like one of their ex WWE stars gets arrested for drugs or something terrible or that there arena caught on fire, or that there is a fight backstage between wrestlers (which just happened this week). Now, TNA is hardly ever in the spotlight, and when they are it is usually for something terrible, but they are in the spotlight every once in awhile. Ok I hope I have convinced you by now that TNA is not an independent promotion. So they are not an independent promotion and they are not WWE. So what are they?
Remember that company that I mentioned earlier? WCW? The one that competed with WWE in the 1990’s? When they went out of business, one of their wrestlers started his own wrestling company to compete with WWE again. His name? The previously mentioned Jeff Jarrett. See, back in the day, WCW and WWE were rivals. They competed in the same time slot every monday and fought over ratings and stars. WWE guys were jumping ship to go to WCW because they got guaranteed contracts which guaranteed a wrestler a certain amount of money (a practice TNA also does) and because everybody else was jumping ship. WCW was also backed by a big company, Turner Broadcasting. This company owned the Atlanta Braves, the news outlet CNN, and other TV channels like TNT, which WCW Monday Nitro was featured on, and many other business entities. If you havent noticed, WCW and TNA have a lot in common. Many reading this would even state that TNA is WCW 2.0. Oh but the only mistake in that logic? At one point in time, WCW was competing, and for a while beating, WWE in aspect of ratings and the wrestling product overall. TNA has never been on the level of WWE and has never competed with them. TNA doesn’t have the wrestling product or the ratings or the booking ability to compete with WWE. They have never beat them in ratings or PPV draws and have never had as good of a wrestling product as WWE. As you can see, TNA is no WCW or WWE. TNA is a fools WWE and a wanna be WCW.
I have laid out all the facts. From money to former stars to TV programming, TNA is obviously not a indy. To call it an indy, to me, would be a disgrace to all other independent wrestling promotions. It doesn’t have the great wrestling or storylines an independent promotion has. And it also isn’t WWE since they aren’t mainstream enough or have enough ratings or has any good wrestling product. So TNA is a wanna be WCW. It is a terrible product that has no good wrestling most of the time and cheesy storylines and terrible booking. TNA is a company that should have gone under a long time ago but due to their money backing, has not. TNA is not a good wrestling product to watch and I cannot recommend it to any wrestling fan, especially an indy fan. TNA is definitely not an indy.