The history of TNA/Impact Wrestling featured a hit list of talented wrestlers that were never able to fulfill their potential. TNA legends like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode all found recognition and star power in the promotion, but they even found their way on the underrated side of things with the presentation on television. Even though TNA got called out for wasting those major names, there were talents even more underutilized on the roster.
The secondary talents that struggled to get any momentum in the booking were essentially C-listers for most of their stints in Impact. Management did not view them as valuable enough to receive any opportunity to move up to the top of the card. We will look at just how badly Impact missed with some of these extremely talented performers. All ten of these wrestlers should have been huge for TNA but were instead C-listers.
10 Petey Williams
TNA fans fell in love with Petey Williams during the Fox Sports days of their first television deal. Williams won over fans in the Impact Zone and watching on television thanks in part to the incredible Canadian Destroyer finisher.
The first X-Division feud for TNA during their expansion into monthly PPVs featured Williams and AJ Styles having classic matches. Williams proved he could hang with some of the best wrestlers in the world, but he never had a chance to shine outside of the X-Division.
The women of TNA wrestled in the Knockouts division as one of the better aspects of the promotion. TNA gave their female performers a platform to have entertaining matches when WWE failed to do that in the late 2000s.
Daffney was one of the more beloved wrestlers in the Knockouts division. Between her character work, promos and occasional hardcore matches, Daffney deserved to get a bigger push at the top of the division. TNA instead underutilized her and eventually released her after injury.
8 Lance Archer
Lance Archer is currently a rising star for New Japan as one of the main players in the G1 tournament this year. The ability to mix it up with wrestlers of all sizes and styles as a big man makes him quite valuable for what NJPW is trying to accomplish.
TNA had him under contract in their early years on television under the name of Lance Hoyt. The fans brought signs that said “Hoyt Mania” and cheered loudly for him each week, but it did not lead to much success. TNA primarily used him in tag team action until he left the company for good.
7 Chris Harris
TNA original Chris Harris teamed with James Storm as the America’s Most Wanted tag team in the first few years. Harris exhibited great potential, and there were some moments where TNA tried to elevate him. The feud with Christian Cage was his only real shot to move up and it didn’t work out.
Harris eventually left after TNA lost interest in him and had a short stint with WWE. The run in WWE as Braden Walker was even worse and destroyed his career. Harris’ best chance should have come in TNA during his peak run as a wrestler, but he was just a C-lister to them.
6 Kenny King
TNA signed Kenny King away from Ring of Honor during his ROH Tag Team Championship run with Rhett Titus. King received a bigger offer and a bigger platform with TNA still on Spike TV at the time during the regime of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
The main role of King was in the X-Division, but he rarely received chances to work against the bigger names. King was just a secondary performer to TNA despite his upside. The run did not see him ever get into the world title picture and King is now a main star for ROH once again.
5 Christopher Daniels
The long run of Christopher Daniels in TNA never featured him in a true top role. Daniels often worked with main event talents like AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe in different runs, but TNA just never viewed him on the same level as those names.
Most of the success for Daniels would come in the X-Division and tag team division each. Daniels worked as hard as anyone in TNA without receiving similar opportunities. The move to join ROH would see Daniels finally have his first world title reign in wrestling, and he’s now a part of the AEW roster.
4 Amazing Red
Amazing Red is one of the most underrated wrestlers in recent wrestling history. TNA’s early years featured Red as a top X-Division star in matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn and Low Ki to great success in creating the new division.
Many future stars were influenced by Red. WWE’s Ali filmed a video of him along with many other WWE stars thanking Red for his inspiration ahead of his retirement from the ring. Despite his peers respecting him, Amazing Red always remained a secondary talent in TNA throughout each of his runs.
3 Kazuchika Okada
The former relationship between NJPW and TNA featured some fun talent exchanges. AJ Styles, Christian Cage and Kurt Angle were some of the names to appear in Japan. TNA received great Japanese talents like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada.
The problem with the Okada run is that he was sent there to learn more styles before returning to NJPW as a top star. TNA buried Okada with the embarrassing Okato gimmick parodying the Green Hornet character.
NJPW cut off all ties with TNA and still holds a grudge with them today for this. Okada luckily didn’t suffer as NJPW still pushed him and he’s the current face of the company for the foreseeable future.
2 Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal signed with TNA at the young age of 20 years old following a fun stint in Ring of Honor. The hope was that Lethal would evolve into a future top star, but he would remain in the mid-card picture for most of his run.
Lethal had a few great breakout matches against main eventers like Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett and even Ric Flair, but nothing noteworthy would come from it. TNA fired Lethal shortly after the impressive Flair feud and he found more success in Ring of Honor. Lethal is currently the face of ROH despite TNA thinking he could never hold down a top spot.
1 Alex Shelley
The TNA run of Alex Shelley gave us many tremendous matches in singles action for the X-Division and tag team work as half of the Motor City Machine Guns with Chris Sabin. Shelley had a truly unique in-ring style and put more effort into things like his gear in a way that influenced many of the stars of today.
TNA did not understand this and rarely ever viewed Shelley as a special performer. Sabin had a short TNA Championship reign, but Shelley never received a singles push at that level. NXT’s Jordan Myles recently posted an appreciation post for Shelley on behalf of the generation that valued him as a top star even though TNA viewed him as a C-lister.