26 November 2013

Has WWE Undermined TNA's Ability to Sign Free Agents?

I wrote an article last week on how I think it's a good time for TNA to pounce on free agents and indie talent but I'm afraid that might be easier said than done.  I'm starting to sense a troubling trend that I suspect is affecting TNA's ability to sign free agents and not because TNA can't afford to sign new talent.  TNA can and will have the resources to sign new wrestlers.  However, I'm sensing that the WWE has put an obstacle in their way that will essentially make it difficult to pursue and eventually sign free agents, particularly the talented wrestlers in the upper indies.

Now, let me be clear...I'm not privy to any inside information nor has there been any official report confirming my theory.  I've simply been monitoring the signings and negotiations of indie talent with the two companies the last several months and I have a suspicion that the WWE could be suggesting to any talent who works or signs with TNA that he or she is officially "off limits".

This is the reason, I believe, that several Ring of Honor wrestlers, most notably the American Wolves and the Briscoes, have not signed with TNA - for fear that they will be blacklisted by the WWE.  This is also the reason why, I believe, that Chris Hero will not sign with TNA - he's still hopeful, judging by recent comments, that he could return to the WWE.

What's most troubling about this is the WWE can not sign every indie talent but by taking this approach, they've essentially immobilized a good portion of the upper indie community.  So many young wrestlers aspire to one day work for the WWE.  How many of them would ultimately sacrifice a chance at their dream for one appearance on Impact?  Or even a contract with TNA?

It's not all doom and gloom, however, as there are still quite a few options available to TNA.  Firstly, they can pursue any developmental talent who's been released by the WWE.  We've seen recently how effective this option can be, judging by the fans' response to Ethan Carter III.  The simple fact is that the WWE can not promote every developmental talent to the main roster so this talent pool will remain a viable option for many years.  As will the field of overlooked wrestlers in the lower indies.  This particular group is still a huge, untapped market that can be highly beneficial to TNA with the proper scouting and patience.  Samuel Shaw is certainly evidence of this.  So is Lei'D Tapa.  And lastly, TNA can pursue international talent, primarily from Japan, Mexico, and the UK.  Although the logistics of signing international talent can be complicated, TNA are in an ideal spot.  Due to their working relationships with AAA and Wrestle-1, they can frequently swap talent and consistently bring in fresh faces from all around the world.  If it's one thing that this year has shown us, it's that constantly replenishing the roster with new talent is smart and highly effective.

So with this in mind, I look for TNA to get creative in the way they pursue free agents in the future and perhaps begin the process of finally creating their own stars, from the bottom up.  In recent weeks, we've seen the emergence of Ethan Carter III, Lei'D Tapa, Norv Fernum, Dewey Barnes, and Samuel Shaw, all of whom are outside the box thinking by the TNA writing staff.  And in the upcoming weeks and months, I'm sure we will see new characters surface and old familiar faces return.  Like I said, it's not all doom and gloom.

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