Is Impact Wrestling For Sale?

According to an article in the New York Post that was published last week, Billy Corgan, currently the president of the Impact Ventures, is trying to become the majority owner. There was speculation about ownership of the company last month after Corgan’s new title was announced so the status of his involvement isn’t much news.

However, it’s extremely interesting to note that the article mentioned that both the WWE and Sinclair Broadcasting made bids to buy the company. Obviously, nothing was announced publicly, but what would happen if TNA is finally sold?

As I wrote previously, Billy Corgan deserves credit for trying to make a difference and it speaks volumes to his passion for the sport, but it’s doubtful that a Corgan-owned Impact Wrestling would be much different than the product right now. More than anything, TNA’s problem is lack of brand identity and overall viewership of its show. One person, regardless of who it is, isn’t going to be the key to the company becoming profitable.

This is where a potential WWE or Sinclair purchase could actual benefit the future of the organization. Both options bring increased production value and advertisement resources, which are extremely important on the national level. Granted, that would depend on if either company would be willing to invest the money into TNA to make the necessary improvements.

If Vince McMahon bought Impact, it would be very similar to the WCW sale, in terms of the major acquisitions would be the video library and select talent signings. Don’t expect Total Non Stop Action to have its own show on the WWE network. McMahon is trying to establish three separate brands right now with the extension, and adding TNA even a year or so from now would unnecessarily dilute the product. Plus, the letters TNA don’t have the same level of recognition among WWE’s audience that WCW did during the original sale so the Impact “brand” wouldn’t resonate among much of WWE’s causal fan base. With the amount of former TNA talent that are signed to WWE deals, the video footage of their careers on Impact is a legitimate asset, but other than the library, there’s very little the WWE would do with Impact Wrestling. Management certainly isn’t going to invest the time and resources to promote Dixie Carter’s failed project. Plus, as history has shown, the WWE isn’t exactly careful with how it presents entities that it didn’t create. So, if the WWE bought Impact, they would close the company and cherry pick the commodities that they wanted to use toward WWE productions.

Sinclair Broadcasting, the television group that bought Ring Of Honor in 2011, has spent five years in the wrestling business and while they haven’t made ROH a household name, they’ve kept the promotion running, which is always a good thing for the industry. While ROH has expanded its TV and pay-per-view reach along with finally making some major production improvements, it’s still very much a small subsidiary of a major corporation. Some might be unaware, but Sinclair is a billion dollar company so theoretically, if they wanted to attempt to compete with the WWE, they have the cash to do so, but it became clear within a few years of the Sinclair purchase that the group views ROH as a source of original programming for their stations, not an attempt to provide competition. There’s nothing wrong with that either because from a business prospective, it makes sense, considering that pro wrestling is relatively cheap to produce compared to other genres and it delivers consistent viewers. Basically, Sinclair knows that WWE dominates the market of sports entertainment and for them, it’s much easier to run ROH on a budget for the content it provides the syndicated stations than it is to attempt to challenge Vince McMahon. That translates to the future of ROH being secure, but the downside is that the level of its success is essentially limited to the amount of resources Sinclair executives want to invest into it. It’s ironic that in some ways, Ring of Honor is actual more financially stable than TNA despite being the smaller organization.

This is where a Sinclair purchase would create an interesting scenario because the company would own two wrestling promotions, which provides unique opportunities for each show. That said, if a Sinclair buy is going to make a difference toward the status of Impact Wrestling, there would have to be a different ideology applied to TNA. If Impact is just going to be used as more original programming, it will remain stagnant because it takes several resources in many different aspects to establish a brand on the national level. One of the biggest criticisms in the past is the lack of advertisement for TNA in almost every aspect. It was very rare to see commercials for TNA on other networks and house shows weren’t promoted well in local markets, which resulted in laughable attendance for live events. If Sinclair is willing to invest the money into the promotion to make it possible for Impact to be perceived as a major league product then a potential deal could make a difference to the future of the company. Otherwise, the show will generate a similar amount of viewers that it does now and it will remain a secondary product.

So, will there actually be a change in ownership?

It’s tough to say at this point because there are many rumors about the possible results on the table. It also must be taken into account that multiple investors own shares of TNA, which could complicate the sale process exponentially if the shareholders aren’t on the same page. The New York Post mentioned a $40 million sale price, which is ridiculous. If Impact Ventures is sold to an outside group, it won’t be for more than a few million dollars and considering the very public financial struggles, Dixie Carter doesn’t have much leverage for the negotiation. If the WWE buys the company, it will be for pennies on the dollar, which is something that would be possible if Dixie couldn’t get a deal for any other organization. The potential for Sinclair really depends on their intentions for the project, if they want to attempt to become a contender in the industry, they would be willing to pay more for the sale, but if they are just looking for original content then they would offer a lower number. The bottom line is, nobody is going to pay $40 million for Impact Wrestling so a lot of the process will be determined by what the shareholders are willing to take for their stake in TNA. Another aspect of all of this is if Dixie Carter still wants to play TV star because as unbelievable as it sounds, her appearances on TV have halted sale negotiations before, most notably when Toby Keith attempted to buy the company a few years ago.

Just as a guess, if Dixie Carter is willing to finally sell her vanity project, I would say that Billy Corgan buying the promotion entirely is probably the most realistic option. If Sinclair wanted more involvement in the wrestling business, they would do more to establish ROH, and their intentions for a purchase of TNA would be geared toward content, not competition so they won’t pay an initial asking price. As mentioned, if WWE buys Impact, they would close the company, make money from the video library, and sign select talent. Despite all the departures in recent years, TNA still has a mostly solid roster and there are performers that would do well in the WWE. Ethan Carter, Drew Galloway, Jade, Marti Bell, and others could be good additions to any of the WWE brands. More specifically, the Knockouts could add depth to the women’s divisions that are being featured more prominently on WWE TV. That being said, if TNA shuts down, it would set wrestling back a decade and nobody, not even the WWE, would benefit from one national company existing in the industry.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta