Have you watched Impact Wrestling lately? If not, you are not alone. TNA drew its lowest viewership of the year and its lowest audience in nearly seven months last Thursday night. The show was watched by an average of 1,104,000 viewers on Spike TV.
As the weeks go by I continue to grow less and less optimistic about the future of TNA Wrestling. Now don't get me wrong; I'm not saying the company is facing impending doom like World Championship Wrestling. They'll continue to be around for as long as Panda Energy agrees to bankroll them, however, will they ever become more than what they are?
Everyone has their theory about what is holding TNA back and while there are a multitude of things we could examine, there is one person I want to focus on in this article - Hulk Hogan.
If you have watched Impact at all recently then you know the shows are dominated with segments featuring the 59-year-old pro wrestling icon. Prior to writing this, I had a little fun by going through our Impact Wrestling results and just seeing how many times the name "Hogan" came up on each show. It's mind-boggling. Segment after segment, show after show - it's all about Hulk Hogan.
Madden said he watches Impact every week and what he wants is more Kurt Angle and that he should be the one battling Aces and Eights, not the guy that can hardly walk (referencing Hulk Hogan). Angle said he’s gone back and forth with creative and he was the staple of TNA for the last five years, up until the last year when they’ve been trying to use younger talent.
Madden interjected, “like Hogan” and Angle responded by saying, “that’s a touchy subject.” Kurt said he “loves Terry” but it is about younger talent and having them work people such as himself in the main event. He said hopefully in the future they’ll start doing that more often.
There's a line I want to examine. "That's a touchy subject," uttered by Angle before affirming his friendship with Hogan. Why is it a touchy subject? Because TNA is full of Hogan yes-men. When Dixie Carter brought Hulk Hogan into TNA Wrestling in 2010, the changes were immediate and they were widespread.
Bubba the Love Sponge was doing backstage interviews, the 6-sided ring was scrapped and a slew of other pro-Hogan guys were featured. Heck, The Nasty Boys even got back on television.
As the time has passed, so have the names but promotion is as Hogan friendly as ever. Let's just look at some of the public support:
Even after thanking his boss, TNA creative team member Dave Lagana wanted everyone to know just how much Hogan's compliment meant:
There's nothing wrong with this. Hogan's the biggest name in the history of pro wrestling and his compliment is a ringing endorsement.
However, is there anyone in this company that will tell Hogan "no" or "that's not such a good idea" or "why don't we push someone else?"
Dixie Carter answered questions from fans on Twitter recently, where she admitted her first favorite pro wrestler was Hogan. Again, there's nothing wrong with this, and probably a sentiment shared by many (who are honest), but is this good for TNA?
Dixie admitted, in the same Twitter Q&A, she has vetoed storylines but how hard of a stance is she taking with Hulk Hogan?
From my perspective it seems Hogan operates as he wants to operate. The workers he wants pushed, get pushed. I was told recently that Matt Morgan had cosied up to Hogan and that Hulk felt he was the future of the wrestling business. However, not close enough as it's still Sting - not Morgan - getting the title shot at Slammiversary.
Hogan got upset when I questioned his motives, calling out WNW on Twitter before blocking us.
The Hulkster is free to bury me or anyone else that questions him. I know for a fact not everyone in TNA is on Team Hogan. I spoke with numerous workers - some on live radio - last year about Hogan calling the shots in TNA and they weren't optimistic. Coincident or not, at least one of those names is no longer under contract.
My point in writing this is not a manifesto in attempt to bury Hogan or anyone else but an article asking an honest question. Is there anyone that will tell Hulk Hogan no?
The idea in bringing Hogan to TNA Wrestling in 2010 was simple. He helped bring the WWE to mainstream significance, played an integral role in making WCW a contender, could he do again?
Not only has Hogan been given the TV time but he's been given more power than ever before to call the shots behind-the-scenes and so far, nothing significant has happened. TNA has grown, taking small strides, but they aren't anywhere close to competing with WWE.
Things were really put in prospective for me when Hogan hosted a bush league Q&A event in New York over Wrestlemania 29 weekend. While his former employer prepared for a show where over 80,000 would attend, Hogan answered questions in front of a meager crowd at The Beacon Theatre.
Have the mighty fallen or is this the calm before Hogan pushes TNA to mainstream relevance?
The question almost seems rhetorical, with the mainstream interest in Hogan having more to do with a sex tape with his ex-bestfriend's wife than his work in TNA Wrestling.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Hogan, TNA and anything else worth mentioning.