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By Mike Johnson on 2024-02-08 13:01:00

As the dust settles on the Scott D’Amore firing, here are some updates based on what has been able to ascertain:

TNA is not going away.  

One question we received from a few readers is whether this was just the beginning of Anthem doing away with TNA.  That is not the case, we are told.  Anthem is fully prepared to keep moving forward with the promotion.  Remember, the company was prepared to make big offers to Will Ospreay (who told that it almost made him reconsider going to AEW) and CM Punk.  That means Anthem was and is ready to move forward and spend money on the right talent or event.

Why was D’Amore fired?  

There were a lot of people assuming something salacious happened to lead to D’Amore’s exit but we are told by sources close to Anthem that wasn’t the case.  While no one is clear as to why this decision was made, over the last day, the belief seems to settle on the idea that Len Asper, the head of Anthem, and D’Amore came to a cross-road where they disagreed on how TNA should be operated and only one person was going to win that butting of the heads - Asper.   

The word making the rounds over the last day or so is that at some point in recent weeks, D’Amore approached Anthem with an offer to buy TNA outright from Anthem, said to have been backed by a letter with a major banking institution, but it was rebuffed.  We have heard from some on the Anthem side that it was seen as a legitimate offer that was worthy of consideration, but the decision was made not to accept.  If Anthem wanted to do away with TNA, they could have just sold it off to D'Amore or sought bids from WWE, AEW, etc.  There's been no evidence of that.

If he was making an offer to buy the asset and walk away with it, that means D’Amore knew the clock was ticking on the job and wanted to try and keep something he felt was important to him personally.  Like Eric Bischoff once trying to buy WCW, D'Amore made an effort, but it didn't happen. 

We are told D’Amore was aware at least a week to ten days ago the change was coming, so this wasn’t a shock firing out of nowhere, even if it was announced yesterday and shocked everyone.   This was something coming over several weeks, as we had first gotten word of it a few weeks ago and were working to confirm the story. 

We are told there were lots of meetings to plan out how things would work post-D'Amore and that Anthem took a look at everything internally they could improve upon by integrating TNA under their entertainment wing.  This wasn’t some knee-jerk reaction to something evil that “had happened”, but that hasn’t stopped some from assuming that because Vince McMahon was exposed, that something "surely" happened with D’Amore - even if that’s not rooted in reality.

Who is Anthony Cicone? 

In asking around in the entertainment industry about Cicone, we are told that he has the reputation for being a stand-person and a really smart executive who will listen to feedback as opposed to “just bulldozing the room”, as one person told me.  He was a top exec at The Score in Canada when WWE moved there, so he has some working knowledge of what pro wrestling offers to its partners and we are told he has been overseeing some internal changes coming to AXS TV in the weeks ahead.  We have been given nothing but positive comments about him from those who have had past experience working with Cicone.  Although he has never run a pro wrestling company before, the expectation is he will lean in on the expertise of others and consider their thoughts.

What does an integration with Anthem look like? is told that there's already talk of cross-pollinating TNA stars on AXS TV programming and possibly even in future films distributed by Anthem's Gravitas Ventures.    Anthem believes that folding TNA under the entertainment banner will bring them more opportunities for the brand to maximize money for each side.

Who’s running creative? 

The current belief among TNA talents is that the remainder of Scott D’Amore’s creative team and support staff remain in place.  Gail Kim and Tommy Dreamer ran the initial Zoom meeting yesterday informing the talent of D’Amore’s exit.  Those are two veterans who command respect with talents.  There were no exits yesterday or today, which means RD Evans remains with creative, Lou D’Angeli remains in marketing and working on logistics, etc.

Was anyone offered a release? 

I don’t know where this started but in talking to sources in Anthem and the TNA locker room, we are told that was never brought up in conversation in either company meeting yesterday.  It’s possible a talent, while frustrated, blurted out they wanted a release, but we are told that no rep for the company issued an offer for anyone who was signed to be released from their current deal.  Could someone request and receive one?  It’s always possible, just like any other company would handle talent on a one on one basis, but in terms of a blanket release, that’s not happening.

Is TNA Moving to Canada? 

Is the Nashville office closing?  

These were questions we were asked a lot over the course of yesterday.  TNA sources insist the Nashville office isn’t going anywhere and there’s always a possibility they could tape at Skyway Studios again, as they have in the past.  Anthem is a Canadian company and they obviously get good tax breaks locally for utilizing Canadian staff and talent, but if there’s a plan to pull up stakes and only run Canada, that would pretty much be throwing in the towel for building TNA even further and while there is always a possibility, I don’t get the sense that’s where Anthem’s head is in the game right now.

What next? 

TNA has the No Surrender PPV and a TV taping in New Orleans at the end of this month.  They are running Windsor, Ontario (which may lead to some awkwardness with the live crowd to be sure) and Philadelphia in March.  We are told that the company was working on their game plan for April and beyond this week.  There was a hope among some they could pivot to live TV on AXS TV eventually.  Whether that happens or not, the remaining team will push forward to create content and, if all works out, continue to maintain the consistency TNA has brought to fans the last few years.  Everyone moves forward and continues to do their jobs and eventually, becomes used to the new normal, just as all of us would if and when there are changes at our places of business.

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