From Rebel to wrestling

Ben Robinson

Issue date: 4/5/07 Section: Arts & Entertainment
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Upon first speaking with Ole Miss alumna Dixie Carter, she may not seem like a typical wrestling promoter. Her sweet demeanor and cheerful attitude set her apart from the usual stereotypes associated with professional wrestling, and because of this, she is a much-needed breath of fresh air in the wrestling industry.

Carter, a 1986 Ole Miss graduate, has been the president of TNA Wrestling since 2002, and TNA is the company that she hopes will change the way people view professional wrestling.

"Pro wrestling has a bad stigma about it," Carter said. "We are working to change that every day through our personal relationships with fans and our television programming."

TNA prides itself on being a different brand of entertainment. From having fan-interaction festivals before big shows to allowing guests at Universal Studios to attend TV tapings for free, TNA embraces its fans in many ways. Which wrestlers are featured on shows and many of the decisions made by TNA are based on fan reactions rather than what any one person in the company wants.

TNA is also the home of some of the best and most athletic wrestlers today, from Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle to agile, big men like "The Monster" Abyss and the high-flying stars of the "no limits" X Division.

Carter has a hands-on role in everything TNA related, whether it involves the creative direction of its TV shows or the business end of the company. She attributes all of her success to her time spent as an Ole Miss student.

"I was very involved on campus," she said. "I had a broad experience. I was a Kappa, a member of the Student Programming Board - I had a lot of good experiences. My career after Ole Miss was like an extension of what I had already been doing on campus."

As a member of the Student Programming Board, Carter was involved with booking entertainment acts to perform on campus. She even booked a wrestling show to come to Ole Miss.

Upon graduation she quickly began her marketing career, working alongside actors like Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason and musicians in the Nashville area. She soon made a name for herself in the country-music world, running her own public relations and marketing firm. She also represented many professional athletes.

In 2002 Dixie came into contact with old friend Jeff Jarrett, a former WCW and WWE champion who had started his own wrestling promotion. Carter saw a tremendous amount of opportunity in the upstart promotion, and her family's company invested in TNA as a financial backer. Carter was soon appointed president of the company, and it has grown by leaps and bounds since she has taken the reins.

TNA now airs globally in more than 140 countries. In 2005 the company secured a deal with Spike TV, where TNA Impact currently airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. TNA holds its live TV tapings at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. It has released a CD and DVDs and sells apparel through its Web site. It also has a deal with Marvel to produce action figures and is working with Midway games to create the first TNA video game. Carter is personally involved with all of these ventures and said more big things are happening all the time.

Carter said no two days are ever alike for her, and she is constantly on the go, whether it is meeting with Spike TV officials to negotiate for a bigger time slot or traveling overseas to plan for upcoming tours of Asia and England.

Of course, Carter also loves returning to the place that she called home during her college years. She has been to campus to speak to marketing classes within the last few years and also attends football games when her schedule allows.

The connection Carter has with North Mississippi, coupled with the fact that there is a large wrestling fan base prevalent in the Mid-South area, made it an easy decision for TNA to choose to run a show in Corinth.

The live event, which is taking place Saturday at the Crossroads Arena in Corinth, will feature TNA stars such as Angle, heavyweight champion Christian Cage, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, "The War Machine" Rhino, X Division champion Chris Sabin and many more. Tickets can be purchased online .
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