Another earth-shattering change for TNA? Or just more talk from Dixie Carter?
The TNA president announced Thursday on Twitter that TNA would be “going live” on Oct. 7. It’s not known whether that edition of TNA Impact, coming only four days after TNA’s first house show in the Lowcountry, would be originating from its familiar environs at Universal Studios in Orlando.
Along with that announcement, Carter reiterated a familiar line, regarding TNA “about to change forever.”
The last big change — TNA going head-to-head with Raw on Monday nights — didn’t fare too well.
Let’s hope this latest tease turns out to be a little more successful.
“Stay tuned,” says Carter.
The upbeat TNA boss’s first hint at an upcoming “big change” came in June. “It’s 6:30 a.m. Been up for hours. So excited I can’t sleep. TNA’s about to change forever. Can’t wait to share it with you, my staff, the talent,” she posted at that time.
Carter could be setting up her loyal TNA fan base for another disappointment. Unless, of course, her surprise might involve Paul Heyman coming in to take creative control of the company.
While there have been negotiations, the former ECW guru has publicly stated he has other interests beyond TNA, and that includes a possible future in the flourishing MMA industry.
“I’m on the periphery here, and it’s a fascinating movement to me. It’s fascinating. Fascinating. And it hasn’t even scratched the surface yet of it’s potential,” Heyman recently said of MMA.
“They’re not ready for me. They’re not there yet,” Heyman said of TNA. “I kind of have self-justified my own interest in TNA as a network of stock and ownership. I left pro wrestling in December 2006 and I haven’t done one shoot DVD, one convention appearance, one cameo. I haven’t done anything on wrestling.”
Give Carter credit, though, for her optimistic outlook concerning the future of her company. Despite unimpressive pay-per-view buy rates and mediocre TV ratings, TNA continues to receive solid backing from Spike TV.
There was a time, not that long ago, when TNA had been practically written off as a viable competitor in the wrestling industry. Its partnership with Spike, thanks to the efforts of Carter and her father, Bob Carter, who own Dallas-based Panda Energy International Inc., has been the difference.
The 45-year-old Ole Miss grad has helped guide the company from near bankruptcy to an unchallenged position as America’s No. 2 wrestling promotion.
She’s done it, in part, by bringing in a group of established stars such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Kevin Nash and Sting. Some critics have gone so far as to call the company “WCW Lite.” And with Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo in major management and creative roles, the comparison is a fair one.
She also realizes that to reach that highly coveted younger demographic, however, that a new generation of stars has to be created and nurtured, and that a blend of youth and experience has to be developed.
Carter has said on numerous occasions that she doesn’t play favorites. That’s a tall order given the fact that the roster boasts some of the industry’s finest when it comes to political chess games.
I don’t care if you’re Kurt Angle or the newest guy on the roster, you’re gonna be treated with the same level of respect, and I expect that back,” she said in an interview earlier this year. “To me, that’s the easiest way to keep individual egos in check, because I’m not playing a game with different people or favoritism.”
Unlike some company heads, Carter feels her employees will work harder if they are happy, rather than if they’re motivated through fear.
TNA has had its share of detractors. The addition of Hogan and Bischoff, in particular, has been questioned by a number of critics.
“Hogan and Bischoff sold ‘em a bill of goods,” former TNA official Jim Cornette said earlier this year. “From what I understand now, Dixie is starting to see through Hogan. Of course, she has yet to see through Russo, which has been her bigger problem for a lot longer, but now you have a company paying a fortune in salaries — probably two or three times more than what they were paying a couple years ago — to do ratings half as good.”
Cornette sees the cost of bringing in such high-priced talent as Hogan as having an overall negative effect on the company.
“It’s a shame for the guys who have been down there giving their all working their hardest to build this company. It’s a shame for all the office people who have worked so hard and creative has let them down. It’s a shame that this mark, little Southern belle with her rich father started this company that had the only chance of anybody chasing Vince McMahon.
“They have to pay some of the senior citizens on the payroll. And everyone knows when Vince Russo is involved with a failing proposition, he’s not going to blame creative, so the wrestlers are going to take the brunt of the blame. Just like the comedy writers in WWE. ‘Oh, we don’t have anything for these guys, so we’re going to fire them.’ Fire the creative. Fire Vince Russo, fire the over-the-hill gang, and get back to wrestling,” Cornette said.
Bischoff has called Cornette a “washed-up icon to the five percent of the people that makes up a television audience.”
“Jim needs psychological help. I know it must be tough getting up in the morning and looking at yourself in the mirror and realizing you look like 240 pounds of sausage stuffed in a 12-ounce polyester bag .... but Jim needs to move on. The television business passed him by many Big Macs ago.”
Bischoff also referred to Cornette’s current company, Ring of Honor, as “a backyard vanity project for marks.”
Cornette countered that Bischoff is living in a glass house.
“If ROH is a ‘backyard vanity project for marks,’ what is TNA, since TNA has lost tens of millions more than ROH has lost in the exact same time in business. Doesn’t that mean that ROH is behind WWE but ahead of TNA? Do we grade by gross revenue or total profit? WWE has created an environment where WWE draws as a show, like the Harlem Globetrotters or Holiday on Ice, and the stars on a particular card mean less than they ever have.
“To truly have guys in the business who ‘draw money’ again, we would have to pitch out the dreck like Bischoff and others who don’t respect or understand wrestling, who think they are Emmy award-winning ‘real’ TV producers, ditch the comedy writers like Russo and Stephanie McMahon’s comic-reading college kids, and push wrestlers who win, lose and chase championships. People will watch what wrestling is now on TV for free, and a few hundred thousand might buy the PPVs, but ticket sales for wrestling will never approach what they once were without taking those steps.”
-- Kayfabes Commentary pushed a new shoot interview with Jim Cornette with a release last week that Cornette has challenged Vince Russo to a fight at the third annual Ring Roasts being held Oct. 15 at the Crowne Plaza in New Jersey.
Of course, this scenario would never actually materialize, unless perhaps the two accidentally crossed paths.
Cornette released a promo on the Rings Roasts website in which he offers to donate his end of any purse money to the WHAS Crusade for Children in Louisville, Ky., an organization that helps disadvantaged children.
Ring Roasts is an annual comedic tribute co-promoted by Kayfabe Commentaries and Legends of the Ring. Tickets and more information about the roast is available at www.ringroasts.com.
-- TNA co-founder Jeff Jarrett and Karen Angle, ex-wife of TNA star Kurt Angle, have tied the knot.
The secret got out when Karen Angle officially changed the name on her Twitter account to Karen Jarrett and posted wedding photos on her Facebook page.
Jarrett’s late wife, Jill, with whom he had three daughters, Joslyn, Jaclyn and Jerlyn, passed away in 2007 at the age of 38 from breast cancer.
Karen’s divorce with Angle was finalized in October 2008. They have two children.
-- Eric Bischoff told the Monday Night Mayhem radio show last week that Bret Hart’s return to WWE had little to do with TNA failing in its Monday night time slot earlier this year.
“Bret Hart is a little preoccupied with the legacy of Bret Hart,” said Bischoff, noting that he still admires the Hit Man. “The move to Monday night was a miss, and I’ll take as much responsibility for that as anybody else. I don’t think any of it had anything to do with Bret Hart. I think if Bret Hart would have never come back to WWE, the outcome of our Monday night effort would have been exactly the same.”
Bischoff also discounted reports that he and Hogan were “running” the company.
“Nothing is farther from the truth. We have nothing to do with the strategy of the company. We have nothing to do with the marketing of the company. Nobody talks to us or asks us about talent acquisitions or people getting fired. We have little to do with the day-to-day operations of TNA. The same is kind of true with regards to creative. I work closely with Vince Russo, I see the formats, I give my suggestions. Vince and I have a great working relationship, and in regards to chemistry, I would say besides my partner Jason Hervey and Hulk, there’s no one better that I have a working relationship with.”
-- Next week’s episode of TNA Impact will be pre-empted on Spike TV. TNA’s replacement program will be a “Bound for Glory Kickoff Show” on TNA’s website in the regular Impact time slot at 9 p.m.
The webcast will be hosted by Jeremy Borash and will feature a Q&A session with Dixie Carter answering fan questions.
-- Jim Ross reported on his blog at jrsbarbq.com. that WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter (Robert Remus) has been released from the hospital after becoming “lightheaded” last week.
The 62-year-old Slaughter was hospitalized Wednesday night after feeling ill. He earlier had participated in the filming of a WWE Legends Roundtable at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
“The cause of Sarge’s discomfort was low blood level, which was addressed, and he should be good to go as I write this,” Ross said in his Friday blog.
“Sarge was in great spirits Wednesday night after receiving medical care, but was kept overnight for observation, which is the norm for a matter such as this. Bottom line is that the WWE Hall of Famer will be fine after a few scary moments.”
-- More details have surfaced concerning the untimely death of former pro wrestling star and valet Luna Vachon.
Vachon’s 80-year-old mother found her dead in her Florida home the morning of Aug. 27.
A sheriff’s report said the 48-year-old Vachon, listed in the report as Gertrude Elizabeth Hurd-Nash, was found facedown, keeling in front of her couch, with her face positioned on a piece of pizza.
Deputies reportedly found chalky blue debris next to a small sniffing straw in the kitchen, along with a small lockbox with a prescription of blue oxycodone pills. Several prescription bottles were found in the master bedroom, with more blue chalky substance as well as a silver metal straw in an open dresser drawer.
Vachon’s mother, Rebecca Vachon, told deputies her daughter had complained of fatigue when they ran an errand the day before her death.
She said she tried calling her several times the next morning but couldn’t reach her, so she drove to her daughter’s house.
According to the police report, she heard a TV but no one answered the door, so she drove back home thinking her daughter was sleeping. She later returned and discovered her daughter’s body.
Rebecca Vachon said her daughter suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, and had difficulty sleeping.
Born in Canada, Vachon grew up in a wrestling family, including her stepfather, Paul “Butcher” Vachon, and an uncle, Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon. Her late aunt, Vivian Vachon, was a top women’s star during the ‘70s.
Vachon’s house had caught fire several months ago, and she lost all her wrestling memorabilia.
“She had the kindest heart you ever met,” her ex-husband, David “Gangrel” Heath, told The St. Petersburg Times.
Every day was a battle for her, to fight the darkness, in dealing with her mental illnesses, he said.
“She was a tremendous survivor,” said Heath.
-- Chris Jericho revealed last week that he turned down an offer to be part of this season’s Dancing With The Stars.
“Didn’t work out scheduling wise, but I hope I can be a part of DWTS in the very near future,” he posted.
-- WWE workhorse John Cena told CBS News last week that he’ll balance pro wrestling with acting, and has no plans to leave WWE.
“I’ve filmed three movies now with not sacrificing my WWE schedule at all. I have a system that makes it work,” Cena said. “The first movie I filmed was in Australia. And I still flew back and forth and made all of my WWE commitments. So, if I can be that far from home, and still not miss anything, I know it can be done.”
Cena was interviewed by CBS News to promote “Legendary” coming out Sept. 10. He also said he’ll be filming more upcoming movies trying to stretch himself as an actor.
“You’ve got to kind of handle life 24 hours at a time. It just takes time management. I enjoy my career at the WWE so I won’t be leaving anytime soon. I am going to do more movies. I can’t wait to kind of explore the possibilities and capabilities of my acting. But, certainly you’ll be able to see me on all WWE programming,” he said.
-- WWE issued a statement on the suspension of WWE Diva Tiffany (Taryn Terrell), the wife of WWE wrestler Drew McIntyre, following Terrell’s arrest in California last month.
“WWE are aware of the situation and have taken appropriate disciplinary action,” WWE told the Daily Record newspaper in Scotland.
Terrell was suspended by the company following her arrest on Aug. 8 and has not been on TV since then. The outcome of her legal proceedings will likely influence when and if she’s brought back to TV.
Terrell’s arrest stemmed from an alleged incident with McIntyre where authorities were called to their Los Angeles-area hotel after a party. Terrell reportedly assaulted McIntyre, but McIntyre has claimed in interviews that it was a “misunderstanding.”
-- The WWE website reported that Vickie Guerrero has already fired her NXT season three rookie diva.
The 6-9 Aloisia recently was signed when WWE decided to do an all-diva version of NXT for the five-show season three.
Guerrero will debut a new protégé on NXT this Tuesday.
-- Not every Hollywood personality is a good fit to guest host Monday Night Raw.
Such was the case with actor Justin Long who, along with co-stars Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, appeared on WWE’s flagship show to promote the romantic comedy “Going the Distance.”
“In no way am I being self-deprecating when I say that was a disaster,” Long told Metro News. “It was just not the audience to be promoting a movie like that to. We were so out of place.”
“It was just awkward,” added Long. “They’re all fired up to see guys pummeling each other, not to see three nerdy comedy guys do some bits. They played the trailer for this crowd and it just silenced them — and not in a good way.”
The 32-year-old actor is a longtime fan of WWE but, like many guest hosts before him, this one just didn’t work.
“You just commit to it as best you can. We were in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, and the only time we really had the audience on our side was when we were praising the Lakers. And before that I think the majority of them were contemplating throwing things at us. There were a few homophobic remarks. I don’t want to generalize it, I know some wrestling fans. But it’s just not the audience.”
-- Longtime St. Louis personality and TV announcer Mickey Garagiola recently died of cancer at the age of 88.
Garagiola, the brother of baseball’s Joe Garagiola, gained local fame on St. Louis TV as the ring announcer on the old “Wrestling at the Chase” show.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at (843) 937-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Cornette has challenged Vince Russo to a "street fight" for charity.×
The happy couple: Jeff and Karen Jarrett.×
Sgt. Slaughter was released from the hospital Thursday after feeling "lightheaded" at WWE Legends Roundtable taping.×
Luna Vachon hugs "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at Cauliflower Alley Club event in Las Vegas.×
WWE Diva Tiffany (Taryn Terrell) was suspended by WWE following her arrest in Los Angeles.×
Actor Justin Long had a less than pleasant experience guest-hosting Monday Night Raw.×