The Wrestling Observer is reporting that TNA's annual Slammiversary pay-per-view brought in 13,500 buys, a number 7% down from the previous year.
The show was headlined by 'The Icon' Sting challenging Bully Ray for the World Heavyweight Championship. Sting was ultimately defeated through outside interference and lost the opportunity to wrestle for the title in the future.
Clem's Take: It appears as if the plan to reduce the number of pay-per-views and raise their importance hasn't quite taken hold (yet). All three "major" shows so far (Genesis, Lockdown and Slammiversary) have yielded much the same results as their 2012 predecessors, if not less. It'd be interesting to see if the One Night Only specials are pulling in similar numbers to the monthly pay-per-views they replaced. I suspect the company will be paying very close attention to how October's Bound for Glory performs and plan their 2014 strategy accordingly. If they are showing no discernible gain by the end of the year, I wouldn't be surprised to see them return to the original monthly structure. With the recent usage of Destination X and Hardcore Justice as special editions of Impact Wrestling, that eventuality may be closer than we know.
After a troubled few weeks for TNA Wrestling, President Dixie Carter has released a statement via ImpactWrestling.com addressing any concerns for the company's well-being.
In the 11+ years that I have been with TNA, I am still amazed by the passion of pro wrestling fans. That passion – both positive and negative – is remarkable and something that all of us at TNA values.
With that said, I asked for questions from you like I have done many times in the past, but I didn’t provide a timeframe by which I would answer you. I know I have frustrated you all, and I apologize. Beginning next week, each Thursday, I will answer legitimate questions from you on a weekly basis. I will not, however, address outrageous or hurtful questions/posts.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to provide perspective from inside TNA – where we stand and where, with support from our current and future fans around the globe, we are going. What is being shared with you now is what was shared with the IMPACT roster before our phenomenal Destination X show from Louisville, KY last week.
This has been a big year for TNA. We took IMPACT LIVE on the road, exactly where it needs to be – where you’ve asked us to be – in your backyard. We also changed our Pay-Per-View schedule, shifting from 12 to four live Pay-Per-View events each year, in order to increase the value of these events for you. To grow TNA, these are moves that needed to be made. And, part of changes like this, includes structural changes within TNA to align with this new business model.
Many of your comments and questions reference our recent roster changes. The relationship that fans have with wrestlers is unique and one of the many great aspects of the wrestling business. And, for this reason, releasing talent is never easy – not for you and not for us. But, bringing in fresh faces and the best wrestling talent in the world is what you expect, and what TNA will always strive to deliver. Recently, we have brought back some talent favorites (Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams and Homicide), and you will continue to see this and new talent that we are excited to introduce you to in the coming months.
TNA has always been, and will continue to be, a place where you can interact with the superstars, whether in person at a live show or via social channels, like Twitter and Facebook. We are constantly exploring new and interesting ways to take this interaction to another level, and you will see this unfold in the coming months. I appreciate each of you taking the time to share your thoughts, opinions and ideas. Your input and feedback helps us create a better product. I hope you will join us when IMPACT LIVE comes to your area.
Clem's Take: She makes a lot of valid points, ones that deserve paying attention to. Having seen Dixie's Twitter stream since she asked fans for questions, I've been downright disgusted at the bile some people have thrown in her direction. She's spending her own hard earned money to give us a show and this is the gratitude we have for her? Show some respect. If not for the business woman, the person. Even with all it's flaws, TNA is the closest we have to a viable alternative to WWE, who would otherwise hold a monopoly on Professional Wrestling. I, for one, am grateful for the choice she gives us every week.
Tonight at TNA's Destination X, the company will be debuting a new look X Division Title belt.
President Dixie Carter revealed on Twitter "Huge showcase for #XDivision tonight on #ImpactLIVE. We'll unveil a new X Title Belt! Follow me for a 1st look before the show @SpikeTV 8 ET"
The former design was surrendered to General Manager Hulk Hogan at the close of last week's Impact Wrestling, with outgoing champion Chris Sabin cashing in his title for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship.
The new design will debut as X Division stars, past and present, battle it out in a tournament to crown the new champion.
Clem's Take: I don't really see the point in creating a new title belt at this time. The current X Division Championship is a wonderful design and has the legacy of the past decade behind it. If any belt needed a new design, it's the Television Championship. Not knowing if that division is still active, I guess TNA's attention has turned to the next best thing.
UPDATE: The new X Division Championship belt
Over the course of the past several days, TNA Wrestling have continued their company restructuring and released several notable talents.
Tara, a five-time Knockouts Champion and one-time Knockouts Tag Team Champion, was released from her contract yesterday on 16th July 2013. After a brief hiatus from TNA programming for the past several months, Tara reappeared two weeks ago managing Jessie Godderz and Robbie E. Her final singles match was a losing effort against ODB on a recent episode of Xplosion.
Drew Hankinson aka D.O.C., a long-time member of the Aces & Eights faction, revealed yesterday that TNA had allowed his contract to expire on 12th July 2013, with no intention of renewal. Hankinson was one of the first members of the heel faction to be revealed and had anchored the group for over a year. On a recent episode of Impact Wrestling, there appeared to be dissension among the group, as Hankinson refused to eliminate himself from a Battle Royal to determine which member of Aces & Eights took a spot in the Bound for Glory Series.
Bruce Prichard, the Head of Programming and Talent Relations, was among those asked to restructure their deal in the wake of company changes, however, rather than accept the new deal, Prichard declined and is believed to be on his way out. Prichard had also long been a member of the Gut Check Challenge judging panel, often offering the most unpopular decision of the three.
Clem's Take - These roster cuts are beginning to look like a massacre. TNA have basically eliminated their entire undercard with these wholesale changes and compromised several angles/divisions in the process.
Tara, while I'm sure Jessie can manage coming down to the ring on his own from now on, was a vital piece of the Knockout puzzle for the longest time. The recent 'State of the Knockouts' segment on Impact revealed the severely depleted roster, made up entirely of Mickie, Velvet, Taryn and Gail. Only four women wrestling and they choose to release a touchstone of the division? However, I do expect to see her back sooner or later. It wasn't that long ago that Tara was released the last time, only to reappear as Madison Rayne's mysterious biker bodyguard.
Hankinson is another cut that genuinely takes me by surprise. Not because he's that big a part of TNA programming, but simply because of his affiliation with Aces & Eights. The faction are in a heated feud with the resurrected Main Event Mafia and this is the worst possible time to be seen losing a member. At the very least, they should've played up his arguments with Mr Anderson for several weeks, before finally ejecting him from the group. Frankly, if TNA are looking at members of Aces & Eights to release, Wes Brisco, Garret Bischoff and Mike Knox would've appeared on my radar well before Hankinson.
Prichard is probably the biggest surprise in the bunch, even if he is the least well-known as an on-air personality. Being such an important member of TNA upper management, losing that cog in the machine could cost the company in the short term while they scramble to replace him. However, this wasn't so much a case of him being pushed, as him jumping. The new deal wasn't to his liking and he's going elsewhere as a result. Being his choice, that puts him ahead of every other talent released in the past few weeks!
The 'DNA of TNA' is no longer.
TNA Wrestling have announced via Twitter that they have granted Matt Morgan a release from his contract.
Morgan was last seen on the June 13th episode of Impact Wrestling in a losing effort against Magnus, Rob Terry and Kenny King.
It's reported that Morgan has been requesting his release for some time, after being used infrequently in the past several years. His last major push saw him lose to Sting in an Impact Wrestling main event for a shot at Bully Ray's World Heavyweight Championship.
Clem's Take - I can't really blame the guy. TNA have always loved Morgan, but never entirely known what to do with him. His strongest period was the series of pay-per-view main events against a heel Jeff Hardy, but despite the faith of the company, Morgan failed to build up any significant momentum and the Title ultimately remained with the Anti-Christ. However, my personal favourite angle was when he became Tag Team Champion and began systematically wiping out every replacement partner the company sent in his direction. Recently, his being gifted Hulk Hogan's cloak hinted at something bigger in the pipeline, but he was quickly placed in a makeshift tag team with Joey Ryan and promptly forgotten. It's a shame they never found a niche for him, but I won't be missing him either.
It's been reported that TNA plan to retire their Television Championship, much like the Knockouts Tag Team Championships were last week.
With the added focus on Aces & Eights, the Main Event Mafia and the X-Division, there has been little airtime for the once weekly-defended title.
Starting out as the Legends Championship back in October 2008, the title then became the Global Championship exactly one year later, before finally settling upon the Television Championship in July 2010.
The current Television Champion is Abyss, who won the title from Aces & Eights' Devon at Slammiversary XI on June 2. Much like the honor itself, the character of Abyss has been seen infrequently for the past several years. Neither the Champion, nor the belt, have graced Impact Wrestling with their presence since the victory in question.
Clem's Take - This genuinely disappoints me. The Television Title could've been an invaluable stepping stone to the main event scene (much like WWE's Intercontinental) and I've been a strong supporter of the concept since it's debut.
Unfortunately, TNA do not feel the same way, frequently ignoring the Championship for months at a time, before throwing a random defense on pay-per-view with no build-up. I fear it's constant rebranding permanently damaged the title's credibility and it's struggled to recover throughout the entirety of it's existence. What little promise the concept did show, was quickly squandered by also-ran Champions such as Robbie E and Devon.
With a new belt design and a respectable Champion, this title could've easily been the envy of the wrestling world. For instance, a neglected talent such as James Storm, who had his own problems with booking this past year, could've spent the best part of 2013 making the division a staple of TNA programming. They attempted something similar with Samoa Joe, but the Submission Machine's disappointing lack of momentum and Devon's surprise rehiring led to the title disappearing into the depths of the Aces & Eights angle.
There does appear to be a glimmer of hope for the Championship in the future, with every news item noting that TNA are open to pulling the title out of mothballs, should they ever need it. I just hope they're serious about using it when they finally do and not regarding it simply as an overgrown prop for lesser talents.
In the past few days, TNA Wrestling have released several notable talents from their contracts and allowed others to lapse, with no intention of renewal.
Names include Joey Ryan, Crimson, Christian York, Madison Rayne and Taeler Hendrix.
This comes amid worrying rumours that TNA have fallen several weeks behind on payroll and their working relationship with OVW is troubled at best.
Clem's Take: A bout of releases in quick succession definitely lends itself toward confirming the money troubles. With a handful of top tier talent drawing gigantic paychecks for relatively little activity, I can't help but think TNA are coming at this problem from the wrong end of the roster. Rather than cut up and comers who weren't costing much anyway, eliminate their main problem - Hulk Hogan. Rumoured to rake in as much as $75,000 for every appearance, he's being paid a small fortune to bumble through promo after promo. He hasn't popped the ratings one bit and after three years, TNA have reaped all the benefits they're ever going to get. Cut Hogan from one show and you could pay Joey Ryan for an entire year. I know which option I'd prefer.