There is a thread on the main board asking if TNA is the worst promotion in history. The thread was started six years ago and I never commented on it. I figured I would post my thoughts here to avoid accusations of trolling because my opinion may not be a popular one.
TNA is not the worst promotion in history. In fact, I believe it is better than the sacred cow known as the original ECW.
I've watched 154 of TNA's PPV's and all Impacts so I feel confident in this statement. Granted, I haven't watched any 2010-current TNA and I've heard the stories, but just based on 2002-2008 period I feel good about this comparison. Just a few highlights of how I came to my conclusion.
Time in business: ECW = 10 years (February 1992-January 2001) // TNA = 11 years + (June 2002-Current) == Advantage: TNA
National television exposure: ECW = 14 months on TNN (August 1999-October 2000) // TNA = Approaching 8 years on the same network (Spike) (September 2005 - Current) == Advantage TNA
PPV Buy rates: It's hard to find definitive information here, but it looks like ECW averaged 85-100,000 buys per PPV while TNA is in the mid 20k's. == Advantage: ECW
Live Attendance: TNA averaged around 900-1000 during the Asylum and Impact Zone PPV's which were almost exclusively free tickets. However, When they took PPV's out of the Impact Zone they drew 3 to 6,000. ECW is almost identical to those numbers and their arena shows sold tickets more than giving away, but I don't think they drew that much on PPV's. For the sake of argument I'll give this one to ECW as well. Advantage == ECW
So on the Business end I'd say they are tied. When it comes to talent, it's a no contest.
The Top Five Tag Teams in ECW History (Arguably and in no order): Dudleys, Eliminators, Public Enemy, The Gangstas, Pitbulls
Those ten individuals are almost exclusively terrible workers. I'd give Ted Petty distinction as the best.
Five Tag Teams from TNA that are better (by far IMO): AMW, LAX, MCMG, Beer Money, XXX.
Same thing here. In ECW, I'd say the top ten were Sabu, Sandman, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Shane Douglas, Taz, Justin Credible, RVD, Jerry Lynn, Rhyno
Sandman and Tommy Dreamer may be candidates for the worst wrestler ever IMO. I really have no problem with the others, but to say any are super workers would be a stretch.
For TNA: Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Christian, Sting, Abyss, James Storm, Bobby Roode
Only Jerry Lynn would be able to compete (and mostly exceed) with this list in terms of talented worker. Most of the guys below this level in TNA would already be on the ECW list such as Raven, Rhyno and RVD.
ECW has a major advantage here as when they were at their peak (late 1994 to Barely Legal 1997) wrestling for the big two were old, stale and cartoonish angles and characters being showcased. Paul Heyman was at the right place and right time being able to showcase the NJPW Musketeers, the Luchadores and mix popular music with cutting edge gimmicks. Given the talent above he truly made chicken shit into chicken salad. I will give them the innovation edge, but coming a decade later sure does help there.
For TNA, they've had their share of absolute shit, but once they got Spike and ran monthly PPV's up until what I've seen it really has not been that bad. Sure, bad stuff is on the shows and there hardly are any outstanding matches but the same can be said for ECW especially if you take away matches from the guys passing through for short stays (Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero, Rey, Juvi and Psicosis). the advantage here is that TNA is consistently average with flashes of greatness while throughout ECW history is hit and miss for the entire decade.
So for overall talent and entertainment value TNA is victorious. While it may not be by much, TNA is/was a better promotion than ECW at least during the same time period.