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By Mike Johnson on 2024-02-07 13:07:00

Just weeks after the company held its most successful weekend in years, Hard to Kill in Las Vegas, Scott D'Amore is out as the TNA President, can confirm.  D'Amore has been terminated by TNA parent company Anthem Sports and Entertainment.  The belief among those we have spoken with is the decision came directly from Anthem owner Len Asper.

TNA parent company Anthem Sports and Entertainment will be stepping in and taking a much larger role in the day to day management and strategies of the promotion.  TNA will be folded into Anthem’s entertainment arm going forward, as opposed to existing in its own corner of the company.  The idea is that this will allow TNA to become embraced more by Anthem and have a stronger synergy, in order to maximize what each side has to offer the other.   As part of that integration, D’Amore has been removed from power and is gone, effective immediately. 

TNA staff and wrestlers will be addressed today regarding D’Amore’s firing, is told. had been chasing this story over the last week and after multiple requests for comment, received the following statement minutes ago, confirming today that Anthony Cicone, Anthem's President of Entertainment, has been named the new President of TNA Wrestling and will run the day to day of the promotion: 

Anthony Cicione Named President of TNA Wrestling 

Anthem Sports & Entertainment Inc., a global multi-platform media company, announced today the appointment of Anthony Cicione as the President of TNA Wrestling. 

The move aims to further integrate TNA Wrestling into Anthem’s Entertainment Group, of which Cicione is the President, leveraging the entire Company’s resources to add more value in areas including production, distribution, marketing, viewership, customer acquisition, digital revenue streams, ad sales and sponsorships, digital tech operations, and more.

Cicione replaces Scott D’Amore, whose contract with Anthem has been terminated. D’Amore has been a part of TNA since 2003. He held many key leadership positions and played a vital role in the growth of the company leading to its strong industry reputation today, including the successful return of the TNA Wrestling brand in 2024. Anthem thanks him for the commitment he brought to the business, the talent, and the people who work outside the ring.

In addition to these duties as President of Entertainment, Cicione will now manage the day-to-day business operations for TNA Wrestling. He brings more than 30 years of executive-level management experience to the organization. Cicione has been with Anthem for the last 16 years, managing technical operations and multiple cable and digital channels. Prior to his time with Anthem, Cicione was a producer of sports content including catapulting The Score to success by bringing WWE to the channel.

There had been some quiet rumblings for several weeks that change could be happening among some in the company after several Anthem execs including Cicione and Ariel Shnerer, Vice President of Business Development had been reaching out to both TNA staff and roster members to get a better understanding of how the actual promotion operated while getting feedback on the company.   The fact Anthem execs had reached out to talent raised talk among some given how out of character it was, but it appears Anthem was preparing for life without D'Amore and getting the lay of the land as they shift TNA’s positioning internally in their company.

While obviously there could be additional changes over time, currently D’Amore is the only executive who has departed the company.   We are told that while Ed Nordholm will be stepping back from overseeing TNA as Cicione takes control, he remains with Anthem.

On the surface, his termination has to be seen as shocking as he led the company, over time, from what may have been its lowest ever point back in 2017.  The promotion was all but dead in the water, limping financially from taping to taping.  Finally, Anthem called in its debt marker to switch ownership positions with Dixie Carter, acquiring the brand outright.    That acquisition saw the company name change from TNA to Global Force Wrestling to Impact Wrestling and then at the onset of 2024, revert back to its original name in what can only be described as a celebratory moment for the company and its fans.

D'Amore originally joined TNA in 2003 as a manager on screen and an agent behind the scenes.  In 2005, he was promoted to the head of creative for the company and held that post through 2008, helping to establish the Knockouts division that is still one of the true hallmarks of the promotion.   He exited, only to return in 2009 as an agent.  He left again in 2010.  

In 2014, D’Amore began working for Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling after Jarrett and Toby Keith failed to purchase TNA when Keith refused to accept some of the terms involved, including retaining Dixie Carter.  As it turned out, D’Amore at the time was also trying to acquire the company, which led to Jarrett and D’Amore speaking and out of that, they aligned to launch GFW, which led them back to TNA after a round of tapings in Las Vegas and some smaller scale live events.

In 2017, after the TNA acquistion, Anthem brought Jarrett in with D'Amore as part of Jarrett's team.  When Jarrett was later let go, D'Amore remained and was back as Head of Creative.  He was named Executive Vice President in 2018 before finally being named President of the company.  

Over D’Amore’s tenure from 2017 on, TNA went through a very slow process of finding itself again and rebuilding faith with its audience, slowly over time.   For a promotion at its level, TNA had been consistently well produced and in its best moments, presented entertaining TV and matches, over the last several years.  Had it been broadcast on a larger scale cable network, it certainly would have built a larger following much faster.  Part of the strategy in going back to the TNA letters, which was planned for a long time, was to bring back some familiarity to the brand as the idea was that fans knew what TNA was, but not Impact Wrestling.

There is a great irony in the fact D’Amore is gone from the same company that brought him to tears during an in-ring promo just a few weeks back.  The timing is a really strange, sad twist of fate given TNA had just invested a lot of money in upgrading the Nashville production facilities at Skyway Studios and had their most successful weekend in forever and now, everything behind the scenes is back to being reshuffled.

To answer the question I am sure everyone will be writing to me asking: was there some specific cause that led to D’Amore’s termination?  The honest answer is I’ve been unable to not only ascertain that answer, but no one I have spoken to has given me any clarity on that question either.  I don’t know whether this was something brought on by a behind the scenes issue or unhappiness with TNA’s financial state or a pending Martian invasion of Canada or some other unknown factor.  No one (who we've spoken with) seems to know any specific answer, not even to the point where they are privately voicing it in confidence.  This literally could be exactly what was stated, that it was just a corporate restructuring that left D’Amore lost at sea in the corporate game of musical chairs.    

The belief, at this moment (but not 100% locked in stone as there is a lot still in flux as I write this) is that the remaining members of TNA’s creative team are still in place and will work as the liaisons between Anthem management and the TNA product, following the lead of what Anthem Execs want going forward.   Exactly who would be the person at the top of the chain directing the creative remains to be confirmed, but the buck for the overall promotion will now stop with Cicone, who does have some connection to pro wrestling on an executive level as he brought WWE to The Score in Canada many years ago. 

Cicone currently oversees AXS TV, HDNet Movies, Game+, The Fight Network and other broadcast outlets for Anthem and spent a decade overseeing The Score.  Before that, he was a sports producer for The Global Television Network.  So, he has a strong TV background. 

It is expected that most of the behind the scenes logistical and production staff, if not all, will be remaining as well.  We have heard nothing about talent wanting out because D’Amore is out, but certainly whenever there is a changeover like this, there are bound to be changes to the roster, especially the ones comfortable with the way things were before the changes.  One would think anyone signed to a deal would be remaining.  As of this writing, Anthem has yet to address the talents, so we will have to see how it plays out.  The expectation is they will hold a call with talent and staff later today.

It could be that everything is being done to help benefit Anthem overall by integrating TNA into Anthem, similar to WWE and UFC each being streamlined to work better with each other under TKO Group Holdings.    That certainly is what is being said - that this is all to make TNA stronger by enhancing it through Anthem’s Entertainment wing.

Could this be a situation similar to Sinclair Broadcast Group cutting back on (and in their case, eventually selling) Ring of Honor in part due to a financial squeeze brought about by outside factors?  If it is, no one is stating that.  For Sinclair, the pandemic and other financial concerns, such as the Diamond RSNs putting a major financial beating on the company.    Anthem has made some acquisitions in recent years, including AXS TV, the Invicta MMA promotion and independent film distribution company Gravitas Ventures, but nothing that would immediately stand out as the type of issues that put a hurting on Sinclair.

There has been some talk over the last week that the company could cut back on touring this Spring.  Others have directly and specifically denied that will be the case to    The promotion has TV tapings and PPVs currently set for New Orleans, Windsor, Ontario (Scott D'Amore's hometown, which won't be awkward at all) and Philadelphia through March with nothing officially announced as of this writing, but they could obviously announce new tapings anytime.

We are told there were a lot of meetings over the last week or so to work out future strategies and how the shift into Anthem’s entertainment wing will work.  One of the plans for TNA in 2024 was to do big tentpole PPV events in major markets like NYC, Toronto and Las Vegas.  There had also been loose talk of doing live weekly TV on Thursdays.  Whether those plans live on after this management shuffle remains to be seen.

Another question yet to be answered is what this all means for the fledgling relationship between TNA and WWE that began with the Jordynne Grace appearance at the 2024 WWE Royal Rumble.  The belief is that Scott D’Amore was heavily involved with building the potential relationship between the two sides.  If and how it continues to develop remains to be seen but TNA will have to tap someone else to continue to build that rapport with Paul Levesque and the rest of WWE.

Obviously, the entire fabric of TNA itself will change without Scott D’Amore there, but a changing of the guard for the company’s central figure has become as much a TNA tradition as anything else related to the company.  From Jerry Jarrett to AJ Styles to Jeff Jarrett to Dixie Carter to Hulk Hogan and beyond, focal personalities in front of and behind the scenes have changed over the years - and somehow, TNA has always survived and weathered those storms.  How the promotion fares this time will play out in real time in the days and weeks ahead, starting at the New Orleans events at the end of this month.

It seemed a new chapter had launched for TNA with Hard to Kill, but that chapter is over. There will obviously be creative changes, because how could there not be?  Every booker or producer or writer has their own sensibilities and everyone books what they like and believes will work best for the audience.  What those changes will mean and how they will inform what the TNA product is going forward will start to be answered when TNA tapes in New Orleans at the end of the month.

The reality is that the company has had a great camaraderie as a locker room and as a product, everyone has pretty much been in sync.  Now, there’s chaos today and how everyone will feel, not just today, but going forward, remains to be seen.  There’s going to be a lot of work that needs to be done to keep everyone marching forward to keep the product strong and to keep fans, especially online, from reverting to the old “LOLTNA” reactions.

The firing also obviously means a new chapter for Scott D’Amore and it will be a very abrupt change, given TNA was very much D’Amore’s life 24/7.  All signs are this was likely a turn of events he couldn’t have seen coming.  There was upward mobility for the promotion - certainly creatively - and no true sign of burnout from the outside.  All signs are the live gates and PPV revenue and streaming service numbers were doing well for a promotion of TNA’s size, so the last thing anyone likely figured to be the next step was D’Amore’s firing.  

If and when he’s free and clear to continue on in professional wrestling is unknown - if he’s even interested in doing so - one has to think there would be at least feelers put out by AEW, WWE and/or New Japan Pro Wrestling to see whether D’Amore could bring something to their respective companies.  There were rumblings yesterday he’s going to be represented by Barry Bloom going forward, which means at some point, he’s going to be ready to field offers.

Efforts to reach Scott D’Amore for an on the record statement were unsuccessful as of this writing.

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