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Spike, TNA Near Deal

6/17/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

New York— World Wrestling Entertainment will depart this fall, but Spike TV evidently won't go without grappling.

Sources close to the network said the men's-targeted service is finalizing a deal with Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling for a weekly late-night run.

Just two weeks ago, it appeared as if TNA was moving toward a pact with Superstation WGN, but sources said those negotiations broke down late last week.

Spike officials would say only that is in “continuing discussions” with the upstart pro-wrestling outfit. But sources said Spike is targeting a one-hour, late Saturday night time slot for TNA, which has been without a network outlet since its one-year agreement with Fox Sports Net expired last month.

Under that deal, TNA leased time on FSN for its weekly Friday-afternoon series.

It's unclear if TNA would pay Spike for carriage. Representatives from the organization could not be reached for comment by press time.

In April, Spike opted against renewing the WWE's highly rated Monday-night Raw franchise — which will return to USA Network this fall — in favor of upping its investment in original programming.

Spike has also made a major commitment to the combat-sports outfit Ultimate Fighting Championship, renewing the UFC's freshman reality series Ultimate Fighter and agreeing to run six live UFC events over the next two years. It will also telecast 26 one-hour episodes of a still untitled series featuring classic footage of UFC events.

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