Professional wrestling is a lot like other professional sports. There is usually one league that is considered the top within their sport. For American football, it’s the National Football League. Along with the NFL, you have Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association. Not all major leagues/associations are based in North America. England features the Premier League for the best football, or what Americans call soccer.
Wrestling is a unique industry where the biggest promotion is World Wrestling Entertainment. Based in the United States, it’s a global promotion. Not a lot of promotions can top their revenues and roster. Many do try and have found their own level of success – New Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan and Asistencia Asesoría y Administración in Mexico.
But for TNA Wrestling, they’ve fallen more and more in terms of relevancy in the wrestling world. They were once a proud young company starting up through a partnership with the National Wrestling Alliance. It featured stars like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode. Over recent years, the roster has seen an influx of former WWE superstars and other global stars.
Some have worked out, like Ethan Carter III. Others were on the last legs of their career. TNA Wrestling might also be in the same condition. Being considered a wrestling graveyard also doesn’t help as TNA tries to stay alive. The following 15 wrestlers saw their careers die under TNA.
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15 Wes Brisco
The Brisco family has plenty of success overall. Unfortunately for Wes Brisco, he wasn’t able to replicate anything close to the success his uncle Jack and father Gerald were able to accomplish in their careers. Wes Brisco was part of a championship tag team with Xavier Woods during a WWE developmental deal before being released in 2011. After some time away from television, he came to TNA Wrestling as part of the Aces & Eights faction.
While he had some victories over the likes of Kurt Angle and in some tag team matches, Wes Brisco just wasn’t up to the caliber that was in his family name. After a loss in a six-man tag team match, Brisco was cut from the group and released after not being on television for four months. He has since worked on the independent circuit, but isn’t likely going to work on television again.
14 Mike Knox
Mike Knox didn’t really get a great creative direction during his time with the WWE from 2006 to 2010. Essentially, he was a large man that pushed 300 pounds and had a large beard. Knox was a powerhouse without a lot of charisma or character. After being let go from WWE in 2010, he was off television a few years before going the Aces & Eights in TNA Wrestling in 2012. But he was just a muscular pawn in the group named Knux.
It wasn’t until 2014 that he was put as the lead in his own faction called the Menagerie. It was quite the collection of circus freaks that brought us Crazzy Steve, Rebel and a guy literally called the Freak. The dark carnival type gimmick could have had a chance to work, but the TNA creative team dropped the ball as they let him leave in 2015. He’s found some success working under the Inoki Genome Federation in Japan, but his wrestling career might have peaked already.
13 Jimmy Rave
Jimmy Rave began to draw some rave reviews before a four-year run with Ring of Honor. Early in his career, he was a two-time National Wrestling Alliance World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He might not have won a lot of championships in ROH, but he was hoping to find a regular role on television through TNA Wrestling. Unfortunately, the TNA writing staff dropped the ball again with a poor creative direction.
Rave was placed in a musical parody faction with Lance Hoyt and Christy Hemme, called The Rock ‘n Rave Infection. The team got over in their own way, but they weren’t given the right direction, as both Hoyt and Rave were eventually released. Since being let go from TNA and enjoying a small run in ROH, Rave admitted he had drug problems that caused him to struggle in the ring. His career hasn’t improved after his TNA release.
Sometime in the 1990s, Bret Hart met a guy named Andrew Martin while he was at a restaurant. This led to Martin being asked to train with him and other great Canadian wrestlers. A few years later, he debuted in WWE as a bodyguard who would slowly develop into a singles star in his own right. While he had some tag team title reigns with Booker T, he also won the Intercontinental and European championships.
A spinal fusion surgery led to his first release from the company and he came back to WWE looking more muscular than before. He had issues with the Talent Wellness Program before his 2007 release. He would work for TNA Wrestling shortly after, but there were concerns with his physical size as the promotion was being investigated at the time later that year. Drugs were an issue as he died from an accidental overdose of oxycodone in 2009.
11 Val Venis
The Attitude Era had a lot of charismatic superstars that filled the entire roster. Beyond the main event names, the mid-card featured some unique characters that include Val Venis. The suggestive persona was a hit with the female audience and led to him winning the Intercontinental Championship twice and the European Championship another time. After being let go from the WWE in 2009, he would find himself making the jump to TNA Wrestling.
Competing as Sean Morley, he didn’t last long in TNA Wrestling before he had a scheduling conflict that led to his departure from the company. It was probably for the best because he just didn’t have the same charisma outside of the Val Venis character. Sometimes, its best to try and go out on top.
10 Orlando Jordan
During his three-year run in the WWE, Orlando Jordan was mostly known for his time as a sidekick member of John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s Cabinet faction, but when the group disbanded, he quickly fell to the low-tier part of the card and mostly appeared on Velocity. His 2006 release led to him working over in Italy, where he had a rare match with the Ultimate Warrior.
His time away from WWE allowed him to be free with his in-ring persona. This allowed him to bring a bisexual character to TNA Wrestling. His debut included an eccentric entrance wrapped in caution tape. The segment left fans more confused than anything else. His in-ring work was just about as forgettable as his time in WWE. Since leaving TNA in 2011, he hasn’t been seen wrestling on television.
9 Elijah Burke
Elijah Burke was certainly a very well-rounded athlete when he came up to the ECW brand in the WWE in 2006. After dropping the dead weight in the form of Sylvester Terkay, Burke was able show his true abilities from his boxing background. He had some singles success, but never won any championship before he was eventually released from WWE in 2008. It was a shame and it looked like TNA Wrestling had a real star on their hands.
Unfortunately, the company was unable to capitalize on what they had with “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero. He could have easily been built up to become a potential world title contender -- maybe a run with the X Division Championship at the very least. This led to him choosing to resign in 2013, but he has since returned to TNA, though only in the form of a color commentator. It sort of feels like a waste of a good, athletic talent.
8 Shane Douglas
Throughout the 1990s, Shane Douglas had short stints with WWE and WCW, which included a run as Dean Douglas. Consider it similar to Damien Sandow, but not as good. Douglas was better known for his time with Extreme Championship Wrestling and holding their world heavyweight championship a total of four separate times. He showed a lot of passion and was a top draw for ECW back then.
Douglas had plenty of television time when working in TNA Wrestling from 2003 to 2007, which included a feud with his ECW rival, Raven. Douglas was usually a manager for the younger wrestlers like the Naturals, but Douglas just didn’t feel as relevant while under the TNA brand as he would fade away not only in 2007, but for a second time in 2009.
7 Matt Morgan
The WWE was known for their love of very tall and very muscular athletes. That’s why many physically appealing “wrestlers” were given contracts and failed miserably. Matt Morgan is an exception. While he was still a little green during his run from 2003 to 2005, Morgan actually developed quite the following working in Japan and Europe. His abilities improved by the time he joined TNA Wrestling in 2007.
For about seven years, Morgan was growing into a superstar. He was evolving in front of the fans every time he came to the six-sided ring. Unfortunately, the TNA writing staff didn’t do his talents justice with questionable booking. Morgan should have had more gold beyond two runs with the TNA World Tag Team Championship. When he left the company in 2014, it felt like there was a lot left unaccomplished in his career.
6 Mr. Anderson
Maybe his career struggles have more to do with Ken Anderson having one of the worst attitudes in recent professional wrestling history, but the one thing for sure about him is that he was a missed opportunity in the WWE. As Mr. Kennedy (pause), Kennedy (sorry), he had the charisma and natural charm one would want from a world champion. He had the chance to do that in 2007, but a misdiagnosis led to him dropping the Money in the Bank.
Constant injuries led to him being released from WWE in 2009. From 2010 until March of this year, he competed under the name Ken Anderson and found some moderate success. Anderson did win two TNA World Heavyweight Championships, but his attitude led to him being released in March, which led to the viral video of him saying what he really thought of TNA. That might prevent him from finding work on television again.
Except for the one moment when he was thrown off the top of Hell in a Cell back in 2000 during a WWE Championship match, Rikishi was barely involved in the main event picture. But he was always an entertaining superstar who was a mainstay in the mid-card with multiple tag team titles and a run with the Intercontinental Championship. Still, Rikishi was released after not wanting to lose the weight they asked him to.
When Rikishi went to TNA Wrestling, he was sent into the main event picture with some feuds involving Christian, Bobby Roode and others as part of a Fight for the Right Tournament. But he left TNA after only a month due to not getting the pay raise he felt he deserved. Unfortunately, Rikishi wasn’t seen on television for about five years. He made brief appearances with the WWE since 2012, but his active in-ring career pretty much died in TNA.
4 Petey Williams
Petey Williams might be one of the best cruiserweights that TNA had to offer within their X Division. He was a unique superstar with the devastating Canadian Destroyer flip piledriver -- a highlight in his move set. Even when he was just starting out with Team Canada in TNA around 2004, he was still a favorite among the fans. For more than a decade, he was one of the best in TNA’s X Division.
But the creative team ruined his character by making him a sidekick to Scott Steiner. Williams went from a fan favorite high-flyer to “Little Petey Pump.” It was just as unfortunate a nickname as “Maple Leaf Muscle.” The gimmick change pretty much ruined Williams’ career. After leaving TNA in 2009, he was rarely seen on television. At age 32, he decided to retire after an indie show in Michigan two years ago.
Raven was certainly one of the most tenured journeymen in professional wrestling through the 1990s and into the new millennium. After short stints in WCW and WWE in the early 1990s, he became a main event star for ECW with feuds against names like Tommy Dreamer. We saw Raven evolve into a depressed and sociopath character that was known for a hardcore wrestling style. He had championship success in WCW before going to WWE and struggling in the lower-tier of the card.
While competing in TNA from 2003 to 2010, he had one reign with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but Raven never really got over as a top villain. There were several attempts with the Gathering and Serotonin factions, but they fell flat. Raven would eventually leave TNA and has since been working only independent bookings since then.
2 Booker T
Booker T is another man who competed for a long time. He was a stable for WCW during the Monday Night War as a five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion. While he had a unique energy that accompanied him to the ring, that persona grew when he came to the WWE after WCW’s closure in 2001. We saw a serious King Booker (pronounced Book-AH!) and one that was part of a comical tag team with Goldust.
But from 2007 to 2009, Booker T was lost in the shuffle in TNA, aside from winning the TNA “Legends” Championship and a tag title run with Scott Steiner. He went back to the WWE after things didn’t work out for him, but Booker T was placed in the commentary role for the RAW pre-show on the WWE Network -- sort of a fall from grace for one of the most decorated champions in wrestling history.
1 Kurt Angle
No other former amateur wrestler was able to make the successful transition into professional wrestling like Kurt Angle did. After winning a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Angle was brought into WWE. He worked his way up the totem pole and won every championship in WWE, including five world championships and the 2000 King of the Ring tournament. He had a great gimmick, good microphone skills and was one of the best technical talents in WWE.
But Angle was released from WWE as there were concerns with his health. He made the jump to TNA Wrestling in 2006 and continued to work as full of a schedule as he could. While he won every championship in TNA multiple times, fans could notice that his health wasn’t what it used to be. While he’s now working independent dates, he may have stayed in TNA too long and reduced his chances of going to WWE.
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