Mike Tenay, the former “voice of TNA Wrestling” and “WCW’s professor,” recently appeared on The Ross Report with Jim Ross podcast to discuss his new sports betting podcast as well as his time in WCW.
But one particularly interesting topic of conversation that arose concerned his leaving TNA wrestling and the subsequent downward spiral.
Unlike many talents, Mike Tenay did not have much derogatory to say about TNA owner Dixie Carter and the management there, commenting that he kept his departure low-key intentionally, in part because the company “paid me every cent they owed me.”
“I decided to take the high road as much as I could, and just dig into my sports betting podcast,” he said, adding that some checks came “later in the month than others,” and that it could be difficult getting reimbursed for expenses.
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However, he added, “I do feel sorry when I hear the stories continually of the people I worked with not being up to speed on their pay, and I have to admit it is difficult to watch the TNA product, but I do still DVR Impact Wrestling and stay on top of things with TNA and other companies.”
From there, JR asked Mike Tenay what he thought it would take to make the product viable again as well as when he thought the product was at its hottest.
Taking the latter question first, Tenay singled out the time from 2005 to 2008 as TNA Wrestling’s best years, holding up the talent roster of Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, James Storm, the Hardy Boyz, Austin Aries, Jay Lethal, and Eric Young as evidence.
“I could go on and on about that roster,” he said. “I think we had the best tag team division, the best women’s division, the best lighter weight collection with the X Division, but the potential for the company never came close to being realized.”
The reason for that, Mike Tenay said, was that the company wouldn’t “pull the trigger” and spend money to raise awareness with general audiences, though it did not have a problem spending money on talent acquisition.
“They just didn’t spend the money they needed to to increase awareness of the product,” he said, remarking that TNA was relying then more on social media to raise brand awareness.
Good things, “but in order to take the product past the niche stage and to really get it to the next level where you could be viable competition to the WWE… I just don’t think people outside of the bubble of professional wrestling really knew that much about TNA and the opportunities for them to watch the product,” he said.
Holding up UFC as an example, Mike Tenay said that he’d had meetings with the company when the Fertitta brothers and Dana White first acquired it and that they were willing to spend on advertising in Sports Illustrated, Maxim, and other premium target publications — something in retrospect that TNA should have done.
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As for whether TNA can make a comeback at this point, Mike Tenay sounded pretty pessimistic, saying that it would be “extremely difficult at this point,” though he stopped short of saying it would be impossible.
“It’s an awfully tough situation when so many years go by from what you (Ross) and I would consider the peak of the organization, and that’s sad to say,” Tenay said.
While TNA has definitely seen better days, having lost two television contracts thus far, the company has survived for longer than many thought that it would. That said, what do you think, readers?
Is Mike Tenay right to be pessimistic about the promotion’s future, or could it one day rise again? Sound off in the comments section below.