If you want to know which WWE wrestlers are swell guys and girls to their colleagues and to their fans, you’re sure to find a ton of information on it. But Impact Wrestling? We often like to poke fun at how the company has been such a hot mess for most of the past few years, but for some reason, there just isn’t enough backstage dirt on Impact’s talents, or an abundance of stories on fans meeting their favorite (or not-so-favorite) wrestlers from the now-Anthem Sports-run company.
This site has brought you a number of lists that focus mainly on the jerks and the sweethearts of the WWE — as WWE lives up to its name as the “worldwide leader in sports entertainment,” who can blame us? This time, however, we’re heading to the ‘E’s leading North American rival, for better or for worse — Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA) — as we find out who’s a sweetheart and who’s a jerk in that company. And by that, we’re mainly looking at backstage/offscreen behavior and fan interactions, though there may be some other qualifiers here and there that make a wrestler a sweetheart or a jerk.
One important note before we begin: taking into account the fact that Impact Wrestling’s roster seems to shrink with each passing week, we are opening things up to include some people who worked for the company when it was still known as TNA, mainly those who were a bigger name in TNA/Impact than anywhere else, and those whose last major promotion experience was with TNA/Impact, but haven’t joined WWE as of this writing — that last qualifier means you won’t be seeing The Hardy Boyz or Drew McIntyre in this list.
20. Sweetheart: Cody Rhodes
Now your mileage may vary on this one — due to Cody Rhodes’ outspoken nature, he’s tended to rub some people, including a lot of fans, the wrong way. But otherwise, he seems like someone who hasn’t made a lot of enemies backstage among his fellow wrestlers. And unlike his big brother Goldust, he hasn’t been especially abrasive on social media — remember the times Goldust would seemingly push his Christian beliefs down his Twitter followers’ throats?
As far as fan interactions go, Rhodes has always found time to sign autographs and pose for pictures with his fans, though there’s one thing you might not want to do if you’re watching him perform on Impact or anywhere else he’s booked to wrestle at. As one Seattle fan found out the hard way when Cody flipped the bird at him, you should never, ever call him Stardust, now that he’s freed himself from WWE and the gimmick that arguably held him back.
19. Jerk: Scott Steiner
There’s no way you can list down the top jerks in TNA/Impact Wrestling history without mentioning Scott Steiner. I mean, where do we begin? You can start with his reputation for being way too stiff in the ring for comfort, and also mention those insane shoot promos he’d cut, and his unconscionable crimes against the English language. Oh, and how can you forget his rambling Twitter rants against the companies he worked for, TNA included? We’d also tell you he’s probably the worst math student in the world, but for the purposes of this list, that’s neither here nor there.
It may have been years since Steiner last worked for the company, but you just don’t forget an ill-tempered, unpredictable sort like Big Poppa Pump. He’s clearly burned his bridges with both WWE and Impact, and even if he’s still actively wrestling in his mid-50s, we don’t see any chance either one of those two major promotions would want him back.
18. Sweetheart: Abyss
When he’s got the mask on, he’s often booked as Impact’s answer to Kane — the demon version, that is, and not the corporate version. And while WWE has done its best to lure him away from the promotion, this TNA original has remained a loyal company man even during TNA/Impact’s toughest times. And, as many fans have related, he’s a down-to-earth guy when he takes off the mask. Even with that daunting size of his, he’s as approachable as they get, and not at all shy to show his sense of humor.
With all that said, it would seem that Abyss is even more of a Kane-alike (considering Kane’s “real-life good guy reputation backstage) than many of us could have imagined. And for his undying loyalty to Impact, and the fact that he’s consistently been one of their better workers, he should be considered for the company’s Hall of Fame if and when he retires.
17. Jerk: Miss Tessmacher
Although she’s almost exclusively known for her time in TNA/Impact, Brooke Adams did appear briefly in WWE in 2007, using her real name. Unfortunately, her time in WWE stands out for the wrong reasons, as she did have some notable backstage heat with renowned heat magnet Melina, while being far from a saint herself behind the scenes. And when she signed with TNA in 2010 as Miss Tessmacher, things weren’t too different for her, as she wasn’t getting along too well either with her fellow female wrestlers.
Given how she made her share of backstage enemies in two major wrestling promotions, it’s a testament to Impact Wrestling’s desperation to fill out its ever-changing, often-depleted roster that she is once again working for the company, this time wrestling under her first name. Here’s hoping she’s somehow mellowed with age, now that she’s one of the more veteran women in the Impact locker room.
16. Sweetheart: Maria Kanellis
Last month, Maria Kanellis and husband Mike Bennett became two of the latest casualties of attrition in Impact Wrestling, and it would seem that she’s very loyal to her life partner, offering support by joining him in and out of wrestling promotions. But it wasn’t always like that for this former WWE Diva, who lived a bit of a wild lifestyle during her time working for Mr. McMahon, and was linked to John Cena and Dolph Ziggler, aside from her being one of CM Punk’s many exes.
These days, Kanellis appears to have mellowed down now that she’s married and in her mid-30s, and it’s also good to know that she’s made sure to have a Plan B away from the wrestling world. Shortly before she and Bennett left TNA, Maria was quoted as saying she was planning to retire soon, so she could go back to school and study for a master’s degree. Now that’s something you don’t always see in the world of professional wrestling.
15. Jerk: Crimson
As one of several wrestlers in here who have long left Impact, Crimson was only a big deal on Dixie Carter’s programming, but not anywhere else. Wait a minute. You mean Crimson wasn’t even big on the old TNA? Okay, noted.
Try as they did to make this guy into a present-day version of Goldberg, Crimson’s long winning streak ultimately meant nothing when it was obvious he didn’t just not have the skills, but also ended up rather short on charisma. And when that streak ended, he was jobbed out into oblivion.
Crimson gets jerk status in this list mainly for something he did well after his ultimately underwhelming TNA run was done. Last year, he was arrested after allegedly headbutting his wife during a drunken argument. And while charges were ultimately dismissed, there were witnesses who claimed they did see the ex-TNA bust in the act of physically abusing his wife in public.
14. Sweetheart: EC3
Last year, Ethan Carter III became one of many ex-WWE wrestlers to take potshots at his old employer, making a surprise appearance on Evolve 61 and cutting a worked-shoot promo on the old NXT rookie search and Triple H himself. We’ve got to agree with him on the former point – when the original NXT jumped the shark, all those challenges and redemption points became an utter waste of time. But does EC3 really hold his lack of WWE success as Derrick Bateman against the company?
Fortunately, the answer is no. While others openly blame WWE for their disappointing tenures with the company (we’re looking at you, Ryback), EC3 has taken the opposite route in shoot interviews, putting the current NXT (the promotion, not the rookie search) over for having a great product. He’s also been cited as an “insanely nice” person when it comes to treating his fans, which means he’s totally not like the “one percenter” he bills himself as when working as an arrogant, entitled heel.
13. Jerk: Bram
Many wrestlers only play heels when they appear in television, yet instead turn out to be the complete opposite of their onscreen character when you meet them in real life. As for Bram, it seems that he’s just as mean and violent in the real world as he is in the ring. And if the name still doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the ex-husband of WWE’s Charlotte Flair, and was arrested in 2015 for beating a woman identified as his girlfriend — contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t Charlotte, but rather another woman with the same real-life first name, a certain Ashley Allen.
Prior to that incident, Bram had racked up quite an arrest record, having picked up a DUI in 2011 and having been charged for battery of a police officer and disorderly intoxication a year later. He’s obviously not someone you want to piss off, as you can see from his similarly heelish conduct away from the ring.
12. Sweetheart: Eddie Edwards
Unlike his old tag team partner (and current rival) Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards has been the exact opposite, maintaining a good backstage reputation in the companies he’s worked for, including Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling. While Richards was openly complaining about the booking in ROH, Edwards was keeping his lips sealed, preferring not to cause any controversy until both American Wolves bolted for WWE, then Impact after their WWE tryouts didn’t go as well as expected.
By all accounts, Edwards hasn’t encountered any backstage issues in his three years with Impact, as he’s one of those babyface wrestlers whose off-screen personas are consistent with their on-screen characters. And while anyone could have been tempted to shoot negatively on Impact during its darkest hours in 2016, “Mr. Anything Is Possible” has always tried to stay as positive as possible about the company he works for, which is certainly commendable in this day and age of brutal shoot interviews.
11. Jerk: Davey Richards
While hardly anybody has a cross word to say about Eddie Edwards, the opposite is true for tag team partner-turned rival Davey Richards. “Unprofessional” is a word you’d often hear when describing him, and one of his most infamous moments came in 2012, when he and two other ROH wrestlers (including Kyle O’Reilly, no less) threatened a promoter for $350 and no-showed the match he was booked to appear in, literally taking the money and running. And while O’Reilly showed remorse for his actions, Richards issued a long statement boiling down to one thing — he paid the guy back, and he wasn’t going to apologize for anything.
With Richards having burned his bridges with ROH, he appears to have toned down since signing with Impact Wrestling. Still, it would seem that he’s having a hard time shaking his “jerk” reputation from his indie days.
10. Sweetheart: Jade
One of the very recent Impact Wrestling departures in this list, Jade was a former Knockouts champion during her two years with the company, and rumor has it that she’s one of the entrants in WWE’s upcoming women’s tournament. Last year, she had also made the news after sharing her heartbreaking story of physical abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, a fellow wrestler whom she had declined to identify by name. Props to her for having the courage to share her story and raise awareness of domestic abuse.
I would also be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention my own personal experience dealing with Jade, back when she was working the indie circuit as Mia Yim. In 2014, she appeared in a show co-promoted by the then-nascent Philippine Wrestling Revolution (my friendly neighborhood promotion), and had spent time after the show talking to fans and having her picture taken with them — that dork on the extreme right happens to be this very writer. She’s an absolute sweetheart away from the ring, and you can take my word for it.
9. Jerk: Mr. Anderson
And here’s another name from Impact Wrestling’s recent past who made a bigger splash for them than he did for WWE. Judging by how much he failed to live up to expectations in WWE, to say little of his poor attitude and reputation as an unsafe worker, we don’t think Ken Anderson will be calling himself Mr. Kennedy anytime soon, if at all. And once again, his TNA/Impact run went much better than his WWE run in terms of individual accomplishments.
Unfortunately, Mr. Anderson was just as big a head case as Mr. Kennedy was, and he still loved the taste of his own foot, as he’d keep making dumb comments in interviews. He also would show up to events stoned and/or drunk, and that was, in fact, what got him fired from the company in 2016. Still, we have to somehow give him credit for the memorable way in which he announced his release — bellowing “F**k TNA!” when he appeared at an Insane Championship Wrestling show.
8. Sweetheart: Rob Van Dam
Well, we did say that we’re not limiting this list to present-day Impact talents, but also including ex-TNA guys who made a bigger impact, no pun intended, for Dixie Carter and company than they did for Mr. McMahon. As such, we’re probably cheating a bit when we include Rob Van Dam here, but let’s face it — his last WWE run was a dud, and he did win two straps in the old TNA — one World Championship and one X-Division Championship, to be exact.
As far as we know, RVD is a genuine, down-to-earth guy when away from the ring, someone who truly enjoys hanging out and sharing war stories with the fans. And one can say that he’s one of those wrestlers who still remembers how it’s like to be a fan, just like a lot of us do remember a then-skinny, short-haired 16-year-old named Rob Szatkowski kissing the Million Dollar Man’s feet on WWE television in 1987.
7. Jerk: Bully Ray
We understand that the last time we saw Mark LoMonaco working for a major promotion, he was on a one-year “nostalgia tour” in WWE as one-half of The Dudley Boyz, putting over younger stars and getting shown the way out by The Club after the Dudleyz’ “retirement speech.” But LoMonaco experienced his biggest success as Bully Ray in TNA, and not as Bubba Ray Dudley in WWE, so we’re still featuring him here as one of TNA/Impact’s biggest real-life jerks of all-time.
Aside from his known reputation as someone who’d stiff you in the ring if he didn’t like you, he also isn’t much of a fan of meet-and-greets, reportedly refusing to look fans in the eye and looking like he’d rather be anywhere else but there. Just ask his longtime friend, kayfabe half-brother, and tag team partner D-Von Dudley, who would have been in this list as a sweetheart had he not remained in WWE as a producer — Bully Ray will be the “first to tell you he doesn’t like people.”
6. Sweetheart: Chris Adonis
Who, pray tell, is Chris Adonis? If you haven’t been paying attention to Impact’s recent hires, Mr. Adonis is none other than the wrestler formerly known as Chris Masters in the WWE, or Chris Mordetzky in real life. And while you may not like the fact that he ran into trouble with his old employer for Wellness Policy violations, you’ve got to dig the fact that this impressive physical specimen loves his mother. And is willing to risk his life for her.
In 2013, Adonis used his impressive physical strength to uproot a tree and use it to save his mom from a crazed neighbor who had barricaded himself in her Los Angeles home and set the house on fire. With the help of local police, he used the tree to break his mom’s windows open and get her out of the house. Luckily, Diane Mordetzky escaped uninjured, and save for a few cuts, Chris was also unharmed after performing his heroic deed.
5. Jerk: Jeff Jarrett
As a younger man competing for several promotions, most notably WWE and WCW, Jeff Jarrett’s jerk resume wasn’t that fully filled-out. Then in October 1999, he held up Vince McMahon for a cool $300,000 so he could extend his contract one more day and drop his Intercontinental Championship to Chyna at No Mercy. Years later, he shacked up with good friend Kurt Angle’s ex-wife Karen well before the ink on their divorce papers was dry. Then came Global Force Gold, a barely-disguised Ponzi scheme that he encouraged GFW fans and backers to sign up for.
As you can see, Double J’s character has been on a downward trajectory since his last WWE departure, and now that he’s back in Impact as an “executive producer,” you can’t help but wonder if he has a hand in the legal dispute that’s preventing Matt and Jeff Hardy from being as “broken” as they want to be.
4. Sweetheart: Bobby Lashley
For the uninitiated, Bobby Lashley’s muscular, imposing frame makes him someone you wouldn’t want to approach the wrong way, lest he call you a “bathturd” for your troubles. All references to that infamous WWE promo aside, the reigning Impact World Heavyweight Champion is as much a teddy bear outside the ring as he is a vicious, punishing sort inside the squared circle.
Reddit threads focusing on real-life interactions with pro wrestlers often mention Lashley as one of the nicer guys when it comes to the fans, always available to talk with them and sign their items. That’s the way he’s been during his runs in both WWE and TNA/Impact, and one can say he’s truly deserving to have accomplished what he has, both in the worlds of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts.
3. Jerk: Alberto El Patron
While we aren’t quite sure whether the allegations of Alberto El Patron (formerly Del Rio) being a bad influence to Paige are true, we do know that he’s been taking his hatred of his fiancee’s employer (and his former employer) a little too far in recent weeks, not to mention his disdain for internet wrestling fans, whom he generalizes as “keyboard warriors.”
Most notably, El Patron cut a series of videos on Periscope where he went on a drunken, profane rant at WWE and the “one with the big nose” (Triple H, of course), possibly blaming the company for allowing Paige’s private photos and videos to leak out like they did. Worse, this all happened as Paige tried in vain to get Alberto to pipe down and stop embarrassing her.
Yes, Alberto. We get it, you hate WWE for the Wellness Policy suspension, Mex-America, League of Nations, etc. But now that you’re in Impact, shouldn’t you be giving it a rest and focusing on how to make your run with the company better than your last WWE run?
2. Sweetheart: Sting
Although he did finally join WWE in 2014, only to find himself jobbed out in each of his few singles matches and legitimately retired upon his 2016 Hall of Fame induction, we’re including Sting because he was, whether you like it or not, a bigger name in the old TNA than he was in WWE. As TheSportster mentioned in a previous “jerks and sweethearts” article, no less of an authority than Ric Flair put Sting over as one of the nicest guys in the business.
Even before he became a born-again Christian in the late-1990s, Sting was always known as someone who’d willingly interact with his fans. And now that he’s approaching his sixth decade on Earth, he’s still as popular as ever outside the ring, always happy to sign autographs and look back on his long and storied wrestling career.
1. Jerk: Josh Mathews
Okay, so Josh Mathews is technically not a wrestler. But we’re including him anyway for reasons any present-day Impact fan should find obvious. For one, he’s working a similar heel announcer gimmick to Michael Cole’s divisive gimmick from 2010 to 2012. But while Cole was playing a character (albeit an oftentimes annoying one), many have argued that Mathews is pretty much being himself and not even bothering to turn it up to 11 like many wrestlers tend to do with their real-life personas.
Want examples of how Mathews carries himself like a jerk? Well, his social media snipes at Jeremy Borash cross the line between work and shoot, he’s blocked ex-colleagues like Shark Boy, and he once said he’s even better than the great Gordon Solie as a play-by-play announcer. Worse, he told Jim Ross in 2015 to “go away,” as both men argued about how a UFC Fight Night special beat the NFL’s programming in the ratings.
Josh Mathews might not be getting as much heat from wrestling fans as a certain WWE announcer from Texas currently is, but as far as Impact Wrestling goes, he’s arguably the biggest jerk they’ve got.
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