In the 2000s, a new wrestling company was making headline across the wrestling world. Total Nonstop Action (TNA) was a show that showcased both new and veteran wrestlers. It was an entertaining show for their first few years, but nowhere near the same level as WWE.
But 2006 brought promise to the company. The year was a turning point for TNA, and a near failure for WWE, which looking back over both, made TNA far more entertaining.
TNA was a very entertaining show every week, the ‘Icon’ Sting had come out of retirement and joined the company, Christian was a major main event player, and the company managed to sign Kurt Angle after he parted ways with WWE. The TNA roster also consisted of such other talent as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, Jeff Jarrett, the Dudley Boyz, Eric Young, Beer Money, Raven, Rhyno, Gail Kim, Alex Shelly, Chris Sabin, Jay Lethal,Consequences Creed,LAX, America’s Most Wanted, and many more. Even legends like Kevin Nash, Booker T, and Scott Steiner were contributing the company in very positive ways.
Angles and storylines such as L.A.X, Jeff Jarrett vs Sting, Kurt Angle’s arrival and feud with Samoa Joe, Paparazzi Productions, and the rise of Christian Cage were all far superior to what WWE had to offer. Almost everything TNA did in 2006 was far better than what WWE was putting out. I think you could argue which company was better in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In the mid 2000s to 2009, Most fans would watch TNA over WWE because it was a great alternative product to watch. It was a new exciting and most importantly different. Where else in the world would you see a six-sided ring, and have insane matches in the X-Division and women’s division that WWE wasn’t doing. TNA made many memorable matches and moments in the early years and some that people still talk about.
The Triple Threat match with AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels at Unbreakable 2005 is still my favorite match in TNA to this day. Daniels was working as a heel, and he walked into the match as the longest reigning X-Division Champion at that time with a record of six months in his reign. This match was the beginning of this feud, and it showed with the chemistry that all three men had. You saw incredible moves, insane dives and athleticism, extraordinary chemistry between the 3, the building block of the X-Division was made.
We still talk about some of these movies that we’ve seen such as Samoa Joe flying through the ropes at his size, AJ Styles backflip over the top rope down to the floor onto both superstars, and Christopher Daniels athleticism, these three made a huge name for themselves with this match and put TNA on the map for many more years to come. It is considered by many to be the best encounter that these three men ever had and the best match in TNA history. For the X-Division Championship, this match seemed as if it was as important as the TNA Championship. It made the X-Division stand out from the WWE. This match made TNA become much more popular. It would help the company grow for many more years as we saw more feuds with the likes of The Main Event Mafia, World Elite, Motor City Machine Guns vs Beer Money.
TNA had all of the top talent to give WWE a big run for its money. But what went wrong?
What made TNA less relevant? Once Jeff Jarrett left the company, Dixie Carter took control and brought in the likes of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, along with a host of former WWE and WCW talent. Thereby moving away from what made TNA successful in the first place. The first mistake that Hogan made was getting rid of the six-sided ring. This was TNA’s backbone, it made it stand out from WWE, and now with the four-sided ring, it didn’t add any extra flavor to the show. Along with Hogan and Bischoff, Vince Russo, who was still the creative head, started making some bad decisions, which included storylines that didn’t go over with the fans. While Hogan’s association with TNA brought a few eyeballs in the initial few months, the interest started dwindling, and the people within the company began to look after their own interests. Then, TNA decided to go head to head with Monday Night Raw by having shows Monday’s on Spike TV. This was the worse move they did as ratings went straight down because people were tuning into Raw much more.
Soon, Dixie found out that offering big contracts to legends such as Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Booker T was not the solution to their problem. This prompted the release of many TNA originals such as AJ Styles, Chris Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. Soon the TV deal with Spike was in jeopardy as the ratings plummeted.
All-in-all, here’s how TNA fell apart.
Dixie was giving way too much money to Hogan, Flair, Foley and other legends while forgetting about what made TNA stand out and that was the number on growing talents within the company. Having Vince Russo work behind the scenes and secretly book matches behind Spike’s back really hurt them. Also trying to go up against WWE on Monday’s was dumb, as it hurt the ratings extremely.
But TNA is a big piece of WWE right now. AJ Styles is fighting for the Universal Championship. Samoa Joe is the U.S. Champion. Robert Roode, Eric Young, EC3, Xavier Woods and many more are on the main roster.