"WCW competed with and nearly put the WWF out of business not because they had the better storylines and workrate. They had the cash to raid Vince's talent pool and in turn steal away their fans."
WCW did have better storylines when they first got hot. And they had way way way better workrate, just not in main events, until Benoit & company jumped. And they didn't steal the WWF's fans. Raw's ratings stayed consistent while Nitro grew its own huge fanbase -- they didn't split an audience.
There are a lot of positives about TNA's business approach thus far. They've started local, much like ECW and all other indies before that, they've developed their home turf, where every week you can come see them for a very reasonable price. That's the best traditional wrestling business thing that Jerry Jarrett has brought to the picture. Secondly they haven't and still aren't rushing into anything. They're keeping the books balanced and slowly increasing the turnover, they started with the initial internet fanbase to start them off and soon they'll be going for bigger things.
So what is the next step in turning a local show into a big show?
WCCW used to have a national cable television deal and occasionally toured, this is surely the blueprint for TNA. First they're gonna get their name out there with a national cable deal and spend craploads on promoting that show, then they're gonna start running tours, if all goes well then they'll be huge.
One thing about WCW that people don't remember is that they weren't really a business. They were owned by a billionaire who was losing millions on it year in, year out but didn't care, so it's hard to make any comparisons business wise.
Another point is that if TNA was on head to head with Raw, I have no doubt at all that TNA would right now be beating them in the ratings, I truly believe that people are dead set ready to watch any other wrestling company at the drop of a hat.
But it all comes down to creative at the end of the day. When ECW started they created a buzz, not just by being a quality show, but by having an inbuilt angle into the very existence of the company, that being that they were Hardcore Revolutionaries. What is the TNA angle?
When ECW started they had their franchise players, Shane Douglas, Sabu, Terry Funk and Cactus Jack. These guys represented everything they were about, who represents what TNA is about? What is TNA about?
TNA needs a theme which is absolutely distinguishes them as something new and cutting edge in the wrestling world. WCW caught fire with the nWo because it was new, it was cutting edge and it was indeed a revolution. The problem is, you can't force a revolution when there's none to be had. Anything goes now on television, there's titilation and profantiy on every lame mainstream show out there these days, so that makes it hard for any wrestling company to use that as shock tactics like they used to.
So basically, TNA needs to find a theme which is cutting edge for the entertainment business as a whole, ECW did it wtih the violence and profantity, which lead to South Park and WWF Raw is War being the two biggest entertainment phenomenas of the late nineties. So what is there?
Trad wrestling? Old school? After three years of HHH and Kurt Angle and massively reduced business, I would suggest not.
Even more excessive violence and profanity and titilation? Since they make anal masturbation jokes on Will & Grace in a family hour on free to air, I would suggest that there's not too much further to go in that direction.
During May and June 1998, Giant came to the ring smokin'. Here's an example from the 15.6.98 Nitro: CHRIS ADAMS v. SMOKIN' GIANT - hey! This is a no smoking facility! It runs like this: Adams: "C'mon, let's fight!" Giant: