Back in the beginning of January, I wrote an article posing the question if 2017 would be TNA’s year, you can read that here. As I reread that article yesterday certain things started to pop out at me, specifically some of the names that I mentioned in the article as being the “reason” that I felt were having the biggest “Impact”, see what I did there, in TNA. If you’re a fan of wrestling and read the news you probably read that earlier this week news broke that Drew Galloway, Matt and Jeff Hardy, Jade as well as Maria and Mike Bennett are all leaving TNA and would most likely not be appearing in the next round of TV tapings. These were some of the biggest names in TNA and they were all involved in major angles on the show, so what will this mean for TNA going forward? (Editor’s Note: There are spoilers out there about what TNA did at the Impact tapings, but I will not be discussing them.)
One of the things that I thought TNA could make up some lost ground was that they were allowing their top talent to appear for other promotions. The examples that I gave were Drew Galloway, who still holds multiple titles on the independent scene, and The Hardys, specifically Matt, who has been drawing great crowds whenever he appears. For me there are a number of reasons why this was a good strategy for TNA, the biggest being that it kept their talent happy and kept them in the public eye. Also these guys and girls for that matter aren’t losing when they’re on the road they’re in the main event of nearly every card that they appear on so they make your wrestlers look like even bigger stars. It has to be said that the “independent” wrestling scene right now is probably the biggest and best it has been since the territory days of the 1960’s – 1980’s and TNA isn’t really going out and touring.
Now, if rumours are to be believed, under TNA’s new management new contracts essentially stated that TNA wrestlers could no longer appear in independent promotions or they would be required to give TNA a portion of their earnings. Clearly this is a big deal as wrestlers under TNA contracts would either have to give up all the money they make on the road or give TNA a cut, with TNA essentially doing nothing to earn it. The argument could be made that TNA gives their wrestlers a platform to “stardom”, but all of the wrestlers, with the exception of maybe Jade, were known commodities in the wrestling industry before they ever joined TNA. I have no idea what any of the wrestlers were making either on the road or with TNA, but I would have to guess that for people like Galloway and Matt Hardy that a sizeable chunk of their earnings were coming from their independent bookings. This decision by the new management, if it really is the case also sets a precedent for other talent, I’m thinking Cody Rhodes in particular, as to whether or not talent sign or re-sign with TNA in the future.
There are a couple of theories floating around the IWC as to why TNA would be willing to lose so many of their top starts, especially with them all leaving at the same time. The first idea is that this is just a cost cutting measure. The names that are leaving all had contracts that were created under the old management regime and were likely costing TNA a lot of money. The new management under Anthem Sports could be trying to clean house in a way to get TNA into the black after years of it bleeding money. The second theory that I’ve heard is that TNA wants to transition more towards younger talent. (Spoilers would say this isn’t the case) This could be true as the Hardys aren’t the youngest anymore, but Galloway and the Bennett’s still have a lot of mileage left in their careers in my opinion. Ultimately, the truth is likely some combination of the two.
Regardless, TNA is now in a situation where they are going to have to completely re-work their tag team division and have several story lines that will now come to an end without any payoff, looking at you Laurel Van Ness vs. Maria. This isn’t the first time that TNA has seen big names leave, Samoa Joe, Eric Young and Bobby Roode all left last year, but it is the first time I can remember that they’ve had a reigning champion leave while still holding the title. It will be very interesting to see if TNA starts brining in a lot of new, younger talent to fill the void that has been left by this recent round of departures. As for those wrestlers who’ve decided to leave, there are a ton of opportunities out there including the WWE or ROH. Let’s see what happens when the dust settles.
Image from matt hardy’s twitter.