The three-hour TNA show earlier this month was a lot of fun to watch, to be sure. But far too often, it also resembled the train wreck that was WCW in its dying days.
The storylines — largely scripted by former WWE and WCW writer Vince Russo — were often hard to follow. Characters like Hogan and Bischoff also really blurred the lines between good and evil. One minute, Hogan is the guy who is there to save the company, and the next Bischoff's character, who is paired with Hulk, is firing fan-favorite Mick Foley and portraying himself as the same sniveling little shit he did in WCW. Good guys? Bad guys? Beats the hell out of me.
In wrestling, the lines between babyface and heel must always be clearly defined. The one thing you don't want to do is confuse who it is the fans are supposed to be cheering for and booing against. TNA is going to need to sharpen these stories, and define the characters better if they are going to succeed long term.
The other problem right now with TNA is that the older stars — many of whom are wrestling long past their expiration date (and look it) — threaten to overshadow the many young talents TNA will need to develop in order to compete with WWE. Right now, the promotion really just looks like the old WCW with a new name.
In addition to Hogan, Bischoff, Flair, Waltman, Hall and Nash — guys like the Nasty Boys, Jeff Jarrett (who helped start the company with his father), Sting, and Scott Steiner also have spots on the roster. WWE and ECW castoffs like Team 3D (the former Dudley Boys), Jeff Hardy (who arrives following a recent drug-related arrest), and even Kurt Angle (with a history of neck problems) complete the very familiar looking locker room there.
These faces should give TNA a short-term ratings bump for sure once the fans find them. But eventually, younger fans in particular are going to realize that Hogan and Flair are old enough to be their grandfathers.
The younger, hipper stars of WWE like Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio already have devoted followings not unlike the Rock and Austin once did in the nineties. WWE is also busy developing the next generation of talent with people like C.M. Punk, The Miz, John Morrison, Kofi Kingston, and current champion Sheamus. In order to succeed, TNA will need to do the same.