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TNA has a new direction, and they want everybody to know about it. Whether it is the video package that they show during every Impact that promotes everything as being new, or the constant talk of things changing, or the fact that many top names in the company have left over the last few months, chances are that you knew too, that TNA is trying to change, again. What will these changes mean for the forever polarizing company? Will TNA finally compete with WWE (the much anticipated idea) or will TNA finally go out of business (the other much anticipated idea)?
The best thing TNA has done over the last few months was to go away from the older, former WWE/WCW stars that were supposedly the backbone of the company. Instead of Hulk Hogan, Sting, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray and others dominating most of the storylines, younger, home grown stars like AJ Styles, Magnus, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode have assumed a greater role in the company (well, except for AJ) and the numbers have looked good so far.
Samoa Joe contending for the world title is by far the best idea TNA has had. Nobody in wrestling has been booked worse than Samoa Joe over the last few years, which is very sad to say since he is a world class talent. Samoa Joe has always had a good connection with the crowds, and his unique style mixed with his impressive aura as a complete ass-kicking machine make him one of the most intriguing wrestlers in the world. Joe is also one of TNA's best talents on the microphone, although he has rarely gotten the chance to use that talent over the last few years. Samoa Joe is a guy that can draw fans that are dissatisfied with WWE to TNA, which should really be TNA's goal at this point. So far, Joe in contention for the world title has led to higher ratings for TNA, so hopefully they will continue to push him forward.
Another nice improvement TNA has made recently has been that they have taken the money that they saved by letting expensive talent go, and gone out and invested that in younger, more promising talent (for the most part at least). Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards were signings that fans can get really excited about, as they were top independent wrestlers that are pretty much overqualified to be in anything but a major role. Richards and Edwards were introduced strongly and appear to be a major part of TNA in the immediate future. A problem TNA has faced over the last few years is that they will sign promising young talent, and then kind of forget about them for long stretches of time. That can still be a problem for TNA (let's all try to find Kenny King and TJ Perkins), but at least with Richards and Edwards, TNA looks like they know what they are doing.
Although TNA has made some major strides recently, they still have a long way to go if they want to accomplish anything significant. An issue I have found with TNA over the last few years is that they always seem to be relying on some enormous storyline to drive everything in the company. First it was Immortal taking over TNA, then it was Aces & 8s, and now it is Dixie Carter and Magnus. These storylines in the past never achieved anything significant and helped kill ratings. They also lacked a lot of logic and never ended making a lot of sense. All the storylines seem to feature a lot of matches that "decide the fate of TNA" and they have become so frequent that they are repetitive and grating to most fans.
The decision to bring in MVP to be the headliner of this new storyline where Dixie Carter is evil and ruining her company is highly questionable. MVP has a lot of the same qualities that past TNA mistakes have come from. MVP was a mid-carder in WWE and probably did everything he could in that company. He has been removed from the American wrestling audience for a couple years now, yet TNA is bringing him in, building a huge storyline around him, and will hope that fans will connect with MVP and cheer for him as the savior of TNA. It all seems like a very big stretch for such a small figure in wrestling. As bad as Hulk Hogan and Erich Bischoff's time in TNA was, at least they were major figures in professional wrestling; the same cannot be said for MVP.
Another significant problem is that TNA still seems lost on a lot of its booking. Austin Aries is the man who has suffered the most recently. In 2012, Aries became a bona fide star in TNA and had a lot of support from the fans. Recently, Aries has been regulated to mid-card status, going from heel to face to heel back to face. Aries is relatively young, charismatic and can make anybody look good in the ring, yet TNA doesn't seem to have a lot of faith in him going forward.
TNA is looking to change things up, and as they change the face of their company on TV and behind the scenes. TNA still has a good source of talent on their roster, and with competent booking anything is possible. The question still lingers on whether TNA can get to a level beyond where it peaked in 2010, but at least they are finally trying to do it with some younger faces.