TNA Wrestling And Paul Heyman Almost Had A Deal: Here’s How The Company Botched It

TNA Wrestling ratings are in for the highly anticipated table bump company owner Dixie Carter was set to take.

While the bump went off without a hitch, and the ratings inched upward, it isn’t likely that the climb will be enough to improve TNA’s current situation, nor its future bargaining power.

Since TNA debuted on Spike TV in October 2005, its ratings have improved, but not much as of late. With Spike TV reportedly canceling the show, rumors have started to whirl that TNA would go out of business.

While those rumors don’t seem to be true in the immediate future, they don’t bode well for Carter’s ability to attract other networks and negotiate the best deal. (And according to her, other networks are interested, though there haven’t been any names mentioned at this time.)

With the table bump episode, TNA Wrestling fortunes improved slightly from last week’s 1.383 million viewers to 1.411 million, according to Lords of Pain. And that was after quite a bit of promotion and a hot news cycle for the company where it started turning up on search lists more often than usual.

While it’s pretty hard to lose money when you have 1.4 million fans, the key issue is this: Carter has dreams to expand TNA Wrestling to a level that she’s just not pacing at — to give you an example, the show debuted on Spike TV with a 0.7 rating. After eight years, the number has risen to only 1.0.

Losing the Spike TV deal so publicly — if that is what’s happening — is going to lead to a lot of low-ball offers from interested networks. And you can’t attract or keep the best talent with low-ball offers.

(They’ve already lost AJ Styles, and that’s never a good thing.)

I do believe that TNA can stay in business with its current numbers, but it’s pretty clear that Dixie Carter needs some help that isn’t named Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, or Vince Russo.

Paul Heyman had spoken to TNA Wrestling in 2010 about a possible deal. In a recent interview with Cageside Seats, Heyman described the terms of that deal.

In 2010, after Brock Lesnar choked out Shane Carwin, there was a discussion that I had with TNA that involved Spike TV. Ultimately, because TNA had been trying to get me on the phone from the day I left WWE in 2006 and I never took the phone call. We finally got into a conversation because Spike TV had reached out to make that happen.

Ultimately, the story of this is, if I was going to do it, I wanted the Dana White deal. I wanted complete control, I wanted a piece of the company and I wanted the ability to, when the time was right, to take it public. I wanted to do the programming completely different than the way they had been doing it and Spike TV signed off on it. The concept was a very youth-oriented, youth-based, youth-marketed promotion. A complete contrast to the way WWE does things. A complete and utter alternative to WWE at the time.

While the ruling family in TNA had no problem with my salary request, my ownership demands, my concepts, etc. etc., they didn’t want to implement as much of a youth-oriented product as I was looking for and I balked at it. I have no regrets about that. At the end of the day, they were happier being a WWE-lite promotion than they were branding themselves something different as TNA.

So that was the last flirtation I had with doing my own thing…In regard to doing my own thing in sports entertainment, I kinda do my own thing now with Brock Lesnar and I’m very happy doing it.

Running a whole show is a 24/7 and 365 commitment, and you would need an enormous amount of financing and very strong distribution set up front to get me to the table to even consider such a task. Otherwise, it’s doomed to fail.

So that’s how TNA Wrestling botched bringing in Paul Heyman, according to him. While Heyman was never much of a business man when he ran ECW, he completely gets branding and the creative side of the business.

Needless to say, wrestling would be a different world with him calling the creative shots. Do you think TNA Wrestling is doomed, or do they still have life in them?