by Brian Phelps
Over the last few years, I've begun to notice that Vince McMahon fears TNA Wrestling. Vince McMahon DOES see TNA as a legitimate threat. Vince can say all he wants about not seeing TNA as a threat, but I'm not buying it. I have seen too much evidence that points to the contrary. Now, many of the naysayers will read this and laugh citing that Monday night RAW averages around a 3.0-3.3 rating while Impact garners a 1.0-1.3 average. The anti-TNA contingent always cite ratings. Those that argue only ratings are completely missing the bigger picture. There have been signs that WWE fears TNA all over the place. I'm going to bestow the compiled evidence upon everyone to prove my theory correct. Vince McMahon sees TNA differently than the fan does. TNA began as a snow flake, that became a snow ball, that is now almost a full blown avalanche of momentum.
1) Reports circulated online that Vince McMahon was allegedly reluctant to release Matt Hardy due to his fear of a Hardy Boyz reunion in TNA.
2) Jan. 4, 2010 - Vince McMahon brings in Bret Hart as a DIRECT answer to Hulk Hogan's TNA debut when TNA went live on Mondays
3) Dec. 2010 - Reports circulated that WWE changed a divas match to a Tables match at TLC 2010 as a DIRECT answer to TNA's now classic cage match on Impact between Mickie James and Tara.
4) WWE packaged Michelle McCool and Layla together as Lay Cool as a DIRECT answer to TNA's Beautiful People as rumor had it that Vince felt TNA's girls were making his look bad
5) Reports circulated online that WWE decided to go ahead and let Maryse go once they knew she had no interest in going to TNA
6) Vince allegedly begins to question releasing certain wrestlers out of fears they will go to TNA
7) Recently, reports circulated that Vince pulled a Zack Ryder t-shirt that said "Take care, Spike your hair" out of fears that people would misinterpret "Spike" to mean "SpikeTV" (SpikeTV is TNA's network)
8) Vince pulls Ric Flair, Mick Foley, and Hulk Hogan from the opening signature of their shows after they sign with TNA
9) TNA begins luring big name talent away from WWE. Over the last several years TNA has managed to lure guys like Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Kennedy, Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair, Taz, Booker T, Bobby Lashley and Christian away from WWE. This means that WWE now has to worry about how releasing a superstar could benefit TNA because now wrestlers have somewhere else they can go to make a living.
10) I remember when TNA was nothing more than Jeff Jarrett and a roster full of nobodies. Now, look at TNA in 2011. Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Scott Steiner, Mr. Kennedy etc. WWE has to always asking themselves "Is this next guy going to be the one that gets TNA over the hump?"
11) TNA is now starting to go on the road. Getting out of the Impact Zone is a sign of growth.
12) Younger stars are emerging. 2011 is the year of James Storm and Bobby Roode, and AJ Styles is always a viable threat.
13) This next one is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, and no one wants to admit. The anti-TNA contingent NEVER mentions this. WWE is in a state of decline, while TNA is in a state of growth. WWE's ratings have been in a consistent state of decline for YEARS now. I remember when Smackdown used to garner 4.0 ratings. Smackdown is a success story now if they hit a 2.0 rating! WWE also just posted their 2nd worst ppv numbers in company history! For the last couple of weeks, RAW has been losing ratings in the 2nd hour of the show. TNA has steadily been on their way UP. Recently, TNA posted their HIGHEST rating ever for a Thursday night (a 1.4). In 2010, TNA posted their highest rating ever (a 1.5). To put this in perspective, about 6 years ago when TNA Impact was airing on Fox Sports Net they averaged a 0.3 RATING! Now, they are averaging a solid (1.2) rating. Also, merchandise sales and attendance are up across the board in TNA. While WWE is putting tarps over sections of the Smackdown shows, TNA has been increasing their attendance and begun to leave the impact zone. All signs say that TNA is in a period of growth, while WWE is in a state of decline. These are not opinions. These are FACTS. The anti-TNA contingent and naysayers cannot refute that.
14) TNA just landed a deal with Ohio Valley Wrestling (WWE's former developmental territory before FCW). Now, TNA has their own developmental territory, and have even hooked up with Jakks Pacific (the former toy maker for WWE). Once again, all signs point to TNA growing while all signs point to WWE declining.
Here is a time line documenting the momentum that TNA has been on since it's inception:
- 2002 - Jeff and Jerry Jarrett found TNA Wrestling
- 2002 - Panda Energy International purchases a controlling share in TNA
- 2002 - TNA sells weekly pay-per-views as its main source of income
- Nov. 27, 2002 - TNA launches its first weekly television series "TNA Xplosion"
- 2004 - TNA lands a television deal with Fox Sports Net and thus "TNA Impact" was born averaging a 0.3 rating
- 2005 - TNA leaves Fox Sports Net, and lands a better deal with SpikeTV
- 2005 - TNA signs Sting and Christian
- 2006 - TNA signs Kurt Angle
- 2007 - TNA Impact expands from one hour to two hours
- 2007 - TNA signs Booker T
- 2008 - TNA signs Mick Foley
- 2008 - Midway games releases TNA's first video game "TNA Impact!"
- 2009 - Taz debuts
- Jan. 2010 - Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Mr. Kennedy, nWo (the Band) and Jeff Hardy debut, Impact goes live on Mondays, Impact posts its highest rating ever with a 1.5 rating
- 2010 - TNA lands toy deal with Jakks Pacific (formerly WWE's toy maker)
- May 2011 - Namco Bandai releases TNA video game for mobile phones, iphone, and ipad
- 2011 - TNA begins to take Impact on the road
- 2011 - TNA Impact scores highest rating ever for Thursday nights 1.4 rating
- Nov 2011 - TNA Wrestling lands deal that makes Ohio Valley Wrestling TNA's developmental territory (OVW was formerly WWE's developmental territory)
In closing, am I saying that TNA will defeat WWE today in the ratings war? Absolutely NOT. Am I saying that TNA is going to put WWE out of business? Absolutely NOT. Let's not get things twisted. All I'm saying is that Vince McMahon knows in his heart of hearts that TNA is a train that used to be hundreds of miles off in the distance, and now it's just a few miles down the road. The avalanche that is TNA is coming for the WWE. It's on its way. Book it. It's only a matter of time. TNA has grown from 0.2-0.3 ratings to as high as a 1.5 rating. TNA is going on the road more now. TNA is landing toy deals, developmental deals, video game deals. TNA is beyond the shadow of a doubt on their way UP.