Universal Studios Florida. Six-sided ring. Don West and Mike Tenay. The X-Division. The Knockouts Division. Entrance tunnels before entrance tunnels were cool.
The glasses for TNA nostalgia are as rose-tinted with these memories as the mat that was stained by the wrestlers who made that name last.
January marks a return to where it began. Will it be the same? Will it bring something new? Only time will tell, but I say the future looks bright regardless.
Can you blame people for being excited? Admittedly, it is silly; the legions of fans have been happily sharing fond memories, hopeful of the future, all because of a logo and name change. For others, the company needs to back up just why this is significant.
When I saw the talent react to this news, however, I knew this meant something to them. This is everything to a lot of people. So much of the goodwill under Impact Wrestling has been built back, and fans still chant ‘T-N-A!’ to this day, regardless of promotion. The name of Total Nonstop Action is undying.
God, I wish I could wax poetic about this longer. This is where I was reminded that there’s more beyond WWE. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Abyss, Beer Money, Motor City Machine Guns, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, and Mickie James all graced my screen in my teenage years. To see the name carry on, it’s wonderful.
Fickle fan I was, I always had a soft spot for TNA. I used to be of the mind that if someone didn’t come from WWF, WCW, and ECW, they weren’t of note – TNA Impact changed that. TNA was a haven for the rejects, the outcasts, and those who were just sick of the big kid in town. It may have received a negative reputation for that, but it stuck to its guns. Setting itself apart from WWE was the goal.
How could one not see that, looking at the X-Division? The young, hungry workhorses of the company fought for the gold to prove who was a standout or not, without a weight limit. This was the division you’d want to see if you wanted to see someone like Vader or Bam Bam Bigelow mix it up with the WCW cruiserweights if this were WCW. If anyone wanted to work and sweat and suffer, this was the belt to own.
I’d be remiss to not mention the Knockouts Division as well – with all the struggles women have had to face (and still do), turning on Spike TV to see women kick each other’s asses like their male counterparts did to each other, this was refreshing. The storylines, action, and aura were refreshing for those who felt that WWE’s Diva’s Division wasn’t for them. To this day, the Knockouts Division is hailed as some of the best in North American women’s wrestling, with close competition from WWE’s NXT. How major companies have failed to learn from TNA and Impact’s handling of women wrestlers is beyond me.
Others see how efficiently the program treats their women. Stardom and Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling took notice in recent years post-COVID; Giulia and Miyu Yamashita have crossed paths with the women who carried the Impact flag. If the bigger companies don’t take notice, the demographic that longs for women’s wrestling to thrive in North America will be fed well.
TNA was also where fans got to see old favorites, like Raven, Diamond Dallas Page, Sting, Kurt Angle, and The Hardy Boys. Though WCW and ECW were in the library of WWE, what once was lived on through TNA. Some of these familiar faces, and those that came through from McMahon’s empire were able to reinvent themselves.
Without TNA/Impact, we wouldn’t have gotten the refreshed talents we see on AEW and WWE, like Christian Cage or Drew McIntyre. How fitting is it then that the company itself returns to form after its reinvention?
The names that made the brand may be gone, but the name is still here. Originals such as the Motor City Machine Guns, Frankie Kazarian, and Mickie James are still there. New talents have come up or are growing, from Trinity to Jordynne Grace to Joe Hendry to Mike Bailey and more, including the freshly debuted Sonny Kiss – the future is bright.
These are wrestlers in the company who want to succeed. Matt Rehwoldt and Tom Hannifan’s voices are keen to shine. Scott D’Amore is set to take the product in a new direction. This is the heart that beats, and it beats in the Impact Zone. (Yes, you can laugh. I see you rolling your eyes.)
I’m not saying the company is going to be competition for AEW and WWE – yet. But there is a place for it that is going to be hard to kill. It only has to be itself and use what TNA brought to the dance in the first place. It has to do what IMPACT has been doing in recent years while continuing to respect the past (well, the parts we look back fondly on).
With new or soon-to-be free agents on the horizon both soon and later, there’s every chance TNA becomes the ECW to the WWE and AEW’s WWF and WCW. The little engine that could, TNA wrestling will do its best to produce some of the best among the best if you look hard enough beneath the big names.
There are still going to be LOLTNA jokes, likely in the replies and shares to this article, so it’s up to TNA to silence them with quality. It’s not enough to pick up the name, we need to be reminded why the name meant so much to fans in the first place. Seeing the talent and crew’s passion, there is hope.
Hope that this renewed vigor brings about something special in 2024. Hope that the feeling is not only restored but evolved. Hope that TNA Wrestling doesn’t aspire to be more than the “third largest promotion in the United States”, but to be “the only Total Nonstop Action Wrestling”.
I don’t know if this means we get the program back on Spike TV or some other channel, if we get the same notoriety we used to expect once upon a time, or if it’ll enjoy some of the relationship-benefits that AEW does.. I certainly don’t expect Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels or Motor City Machine Guns versus Beer Money. I don’t expect the second coming of Monty Brown. But I do know that so long as the name of TNA flies through everyone’s veins, its spirit will be unbreakable.
Let them prosper. Let them do what brought them here. Let’s see what’s to come.
Welcome back, TNA Wrestling. It’s about damn time.