With the recent focus in the wrestling industry centered on CM Punk and his WWE walkout, attention has turned from another recent hot topic around the industry:
The sale of TNA Wrestling.
News that the company was for sale broke late last year in a time when the company seemed to be in for some serious changes. Hulk Hogan looked to be on his way out, there was a great deal of uncertainty that the company would be able to retain the services of AJ Styles, and the annual Sting free agency loomed.
When the story first surfaced, the said reason that the Ryders and the Carters, the principal financial investors in the company, wanted to get out was because the company was annually losing money and they were tired of bankrolling it’s losses. The big price acquisitions of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff hadn’t paid off financially, and they had become tired of continuing the pay the losses of the company.
Secrecy abounded in the aftermath of the news. Super secret buyers were said to be interested, and TNA publicly denied the rumors, though weakly, mainly through the Twitter feed of TNA President Dixie Carter. An internal company memo surfaced online from Janice Carter to all TNA employees making clear that the company was in fact not for sale.
Still, the rumors of it’s for sale status continued. Billy Corgan, “The Smashing Pumpkins” frontman, was rumored to be the lead candidate to purchase the company. A deal was reported to be nearly done, and then all the word about the deal went silent. Weeks passed with no news of a potential sale.
The next serious bit of TNA news came in the form that Jeff Jarrett, the man who founded TNA with his father Jerry and still remains a minority owner of the company, was leaving the company. Since then, rumors have run rampant that he is starting a new company with country music star Toby Keith after the pairs bid to buy TNA fell apart.
How much of all of this is true? Is TNA for sale? Were Jarrett and Keith potential buyers, and did their deal fall apart because of creative differences? Breaking this down and looking at it logically seems to call into question many of the things reported about the sale of the company in recent months.
Was/is TNA actually for sale?
TNA never officially confirmed or denied the rumor. Dixie Carter made light of the news on her Twitter feed, and rumored buyer Billy Corgan did as well. The lack of official denial either way by the company itself makes the water murky when it comes to assessing whether or not the company is for sale.
Consider this: when you have an item you want to sell, do you,
A) Do nothing at all to let anyone know said item is for sale, and try to conduct a sale under a cloud of secrecy
B) Let potential buyers know your item is for sale so that free enterprise takes over and a sale is made?
Unless you’re selling illegal drugs, the answer you picked would most likely be B.
If TNA was for sale because the Ryders and Carters are annually losing money and they have grown tired of it, why not actually make an attempt to sell the company? Even when AOL-Time Warner put WCW up for sale over a decade ago they made it public they were looking to unload the asset. So if TNA was really for sale, why wouldn’t they be a little more proactive about getting the word out?
It was reported early on that Vince McMahon and the WWE had zero interest in purchasing TNA.
Personally, I find this hard to believe. McMahon, obviously, is a very smart businessman. He made his money back on the purchase of WCW in about 10 minutes. McMahon is still cashing large WCW funded checks over 10 years after the purchase, and there is no end to the profit in sight.
While a TNA purchase wouldn’t have yielded near the profit that the WCW deal did, if anyone would have been able to maximize the profit, it would have been Vince McMahon and the WWE media machine. The TNA tape library is expansive, and includes a lot of great content. WWE makes the most of that content, and they could have easily done the same kinds of things for TNA that they have done for ECW and WCW. As long as the price was in reason, WWE interest in the promotion made good sense. But yet it was reported that there was none.
Did a deal with Jeff Jarrett and Toby Keith fall apart over creative reasons?
The most recent chapter in this saga seems to raise yet even more red flags.
It was reported that Jarrett and Keith had been very close to finalizing a deal to purchase the company when Bob Ryder made a request that caused the potential deal to fall apart. Reportedly, Ryder bargained that as part of the sale, Dixie Carter would get to keep her position both backstage and on-screen. The pair didn’t want to inherit a company with any creative limitations and decided then that it was just as good an idea to start their own company and pull out of the running to buy TNA.
The notion that Jeff Jarrett and Toby Keith were trying to buy the company makes sense. It makes good sense. Jarrett founded the company, he has experience in the business, and Keith has the money to broker the deal. Not to mention Keith has appeared for TNA in the past. It would also make sense to believe that they were close to finalizing a deal. Beyond that, however, it starts to make a little less sense.
While it is logical to believe that Bob Ryder would indeed ask that Dixie be kept on, because she legitimately seems to have a passion for the business, would he demand that she be kept in her current roles? That seems highly unlikely. You wouldn’t sell someone a car, but only on the condition that they never drive above the speed limit and always keep a pine scented air freshener in the mirror, so why would Bob Ryder arrange a sale with specific demands that common sense would let him know were unreasonable? He may have asked that those things happen, but demand that they happen? That seems quite far-fetched.
And if they are so ready to sell the company, why would they let a deal that was close to being worked out sink over that? If they really wanted out they wouldn’t be making audacious demands, and letting deals nearly done die because they aren’t accepted.
The reports indicate that Keith and Jarrett felt that it was just as cost effective to start their own new company rather than remain in the running to buy TNA.
While that is likely true, that doesn’t make it the best business decision. TNA has 12 year’s worth of history and image. They have grown into an internationally known and recognized business in that time. That is not something that is easy to accomplish in the wrestling business today. Even if Jarrett and Keith can start their own company for the same price they could buy TNA, they still have a hard road ahead if they hope to grow their product to the level TNA is at currently.
It could also be a risky move by Keith. The Ryder’s and Carters invested in TNA because the Jarrett’s mismanagement of the company had nearly shut it down. Who’s to say that Jarrett won’t repeat previous mistakes with a new company?
The risk of starting a new company as opposed to buying TNA outright doesn’t seem to be worth it.
How much of the story is really true, like most stories in the professional wrestling industry, will likely never truly be known. Analysis of the reported chain of events seem to suggest, however, that there is more to the story than what has been reported so far. Much more.
Or possibly, just possibly, less.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.