TNA had been in the news so often in the past few months that many fans were just about ready to dig its grave and bury the promotion six feet under, right next to WCW and ECW. But that wasn't the first time it happened, and the folks over at Taimapedia were there to gladly document it all on their "LOLTNA" page. But is it really all bad news for TNA at this point in the promotion's existence?
On the plus side, TNA programming is the most watchable it's been in quite some time, at least for this writer. Matt and Jeff Hardy (and Reby Sky, "King" Maxel, and Senor Benjamin) are very entertaining in their current roles. A number of young-ish ex-WWE talents are making the most out of their move to TNA. And the company's just gotten a new financial lease on life. But TNA continues to deal with a number of other negatives, and the company has experienced quite a lot in 14 years that it wouldn't want its fans to remember. Here are 15 of these things, events, and people, and why TNA likely wants them, to quote the "Broken" one himself, DELETED.
16 EXPLOITING ORLANDO JORDAN’S BISEXUALITY
Look at how WWE treated Darren Young after his much-publicized coming-out on TMZ. Sure, he’s barely on TV these days, but when he came out as gay in 2013, it didn’t affect his push as one-half of the Prime Time Players. His sexual orientation was not made a big deal of in storylines, except maybe for that one-time, off-the-cuff "rainbow" reference in a Prime Time Players promo. Now look at Orlando Jordan, who came out as bisexual in 2010. Well, he did admit to suggesting using his sexual orientation as a gimmick during his time in WWE, but when he debuted the gimmick in TNA, it was done in a rather tasteless manner.
The gimmick, for one, involved Jordan squirting himself with a semen-like substance, while staring at the good-looking, muscular Rob Terry. Take note that the angle debuted right after Jordan came out, and take note of how stereotypical it appeared. If you want a TNA example of why wrestling hasn’t always handled LGBT gimmicks with sensitivity, there you go.
15 UNDERTAKER, KANE, AND PAUL BEARER v2.0
So Abyss ended his relationship with Father James Mitchell, who then announced the arrival of his kayfabe son, the similarly "Sinister" Judas Mesias. And in the end, it's revealed that Father Jim was Abyss' dad all along, thereby making Mesias his half-brother. Sounds familiar? That's because WWE did something very, very similar with The Undertaker, manager Paul Bearer, and Bearer's illegitimate "son" Kane. And they did it much, much better than TNA did.
Once the feud with Abyss had ended, Judas Mesias was gone from TNA, and currently works in Lucha Underground as Mil Muertes. Mitchell was released soon after, as he quietly disappeared after making his big reveal. Abyss remains a part of TNA as a member of the Decay stable, and his brief feud with his kayfabe half-brother is something he, and TNA in general, would probably want to forget.
14 BAD SECOND-GENERATION WRESTLERS
WWE has Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Charlotte, Natalya, and other past and present second- or third-generation wrestlers who have all made an impact in the company. TNA, on the other hand, had Garett Bischoff (son of Eric), Wes Brisco (son of Gerald), Lacey Von Erich (daughter of Kerry), and in its earliest years, Charlotte’s older half-brother, David Flair. All of these are second-generation wrestling talents who were bad in the ring and/or accomplished only a fraction of what their far more famous fathers had achieved in professional wrestling. And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the Hulkster’s daughter, Brooke Hogan, who was pretty bad in the ring and as an on-air authority figure. And got a LOT of screen time.
Of course, WWE has had second-generation wrestlers flop as performers and/or in terms of push. (See: Dallas, Bo, Axel, Curtis, DiBiase, Ted Jr.) But given its much shorter history, it seems as if TNA's been especially cursed with some underwhelming sons and daughters of pro wrestling mainstays, Cody Rhodes' recent arrival notwithstanding.
13 TONS OF AWFUL PRO ATHLETE CAMEOS
Just because WCW did well enough featuring untrained NBA stars Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone in its nWo storylines doesn't mean it would also work in TNA.
The company seemed to have a thing for signing non-wrestling pro athletes, and back in 2007, we saw Adam “Pacman” Jones take advantage of his one-year NFL suspension by testing the TNA waters. MLB star A.J. Pierzynski managed a tag team featuring Dale (f.k.a. KISS Demon) Torborg, Sonjay Dutt, and Chris Sabin in 2005. MMA standouts Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson were involved in the Aces & Eights vs. Main Event Mafia storyline in 2013. None of those pro athletes drew a dime for the company, and none of them lasted long enough to make a real impact.
That’s just a partial list of non-wrestling pro athletes who have made brief TNA appearances, and if it’s any consolation for Dixie Carter and company, it’s a good thing they never hired Grumpy Cat as an Impact Wrestling guest host.
12 THE JOHNSONS
And so we start out with one of the worst gimmicks in the history of wrestling, and one from TNA's earliest days.
It might sound like an interesting premise at first — nerdy manager, now all grown up, wants to take revenge on his school bullies by parading them in an embarrassing gimmick. But what if those bullies were billed as a pair of wrestling penises? It didn't help either that manager Mortimer Plumtree's charges had the least subtle of ring names. That's right, these two wrestling male appendages were named Richard (or "Dick" to family and friends) and Rod Johnson, and their latex bodysuits were purposely made to resemble giant condoms.
This celibacy-inducing gimmick ran for a fortunately short period of time in 2002, as Mike and Todd Shane, the twin brothers who played The Johnsons, left TNA right after appearing on the company's first-ever pay-per-view. They later resurfaced in WWE as Gymini, a.k.a. Simon Dean's bald-headed henchmen.
11 EVERYTHING SCOTT STEINER
Let’s admit it – Scott Steiner in his “Big Poppa Pump” persona was very entertaining, may it have been intentionally or unintentionally. Even when his body began to fail him, he still had a great look and charisma up the wazoo, and how can you not forget that display of his mathematical genius, as he cut a promo on Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle for their 2008 match at the Sacrifice PPV? He comes from a highly-educated university, after all!
Steiner is also a man who loves burning his bridges, with no love lost for WWE and TNA alike. A look at his Twitter account shows him ranting about both companies, their executives, and their talent on a semi-regular basis, and since we’re talking about TNA here, we should mention that the company sued him in 2012 for those offending tweets. Steiner was far more successful post-WCW in TNA than he was in WWE, but he's probably someone either promotion would rather not talk about in-depth.
10 THE CLAIRE LYNCH STORYLINE
Few storylines epitomize the hashtag "#LOLTNA" better than the Claire Lynch storyline of 2012. So what was the deal with it anyway?
The storyline was bad enough to be a runaway winner of WrestleCrap’s 2012 Gooker Award for the year’s worst wrestling storyline, character, or whatnot. And it all started with an ostensible affair involving AJ Styles and Dixie Carter and the scheming tactics of Christopher Daniels and Kazarian. Eventually, the main character in the storyline – an actress (not a wrestler) playing a drug-addicted woman named Claire Lynch – was introduced, and Daniels and Kazarian would soon reveal that Lynch was carrying a Phenomenal baby. In the end, it was revealed that Lynch was paid off by Daniels and Kazarian to lie about the whole thing, and the storyline was over, much to the relief of fans who threw up on it on a regular basis.
As it turned out, the actress who played Claire Lynch (and a rather wooden one, at that) backed out when her real name became public knowledge on the dirt sheets, as she felt it might compromise her chances of getting work.
9 TNA AS AN "OLD FOLKS' HOME"
As you'll see in another entry below, TNA's roster has become younger in recent years, hiring mostly young talents from WWE after they failed to make the expected impact in Vince McMahon's kingdom. That's also because the likes of Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, The Dudley Boyz, Rob Van Dam, and Booker T have long departed the company where they still got main event-caliber pushes despite being over the age of 40. (Or, in the case of the first three names, 50-and-above.)
The prevalence of older talents in TNA's upper card gave the company a rather unsavory reputation as a "retirement home" where the graybeards of the wrestling world could still be relevant, and even compete in the ring on a regular basis if their bodies could take it. It was like the latter years of WCW all over again, though as you may have noticed from the above examples, the old guys getting the breaks younger wrestlers should have been getting were even older.
8 ALL THOSE NONSENSICAL STORYLINES
Instead of naming more than a few TNA storylines in specific, why not include TNA storylines in general?
On a per-year basis, TNA doesn’t come close to WCW circa 1999-2001 when it comes to storylines, angles, and championship reigns that make absolutely no sense to any sane wrestling booker or fan. But the LOLTNA page on Taimapedia has them all documented in bloody detail, and there are a whole lot of them TNA would prefer that you erase from your memory. Want a random sampling, beyond the particularly bad and/or tasteless ones we’ve mentioned above?
Consider the fact that the very obviously male Eric Young was once co-holder of the TNA Knockouts tag team belts with ODB. Or that burly heavyweights Abyss and Samoa Joe were X-Title contenders. (Abyss had even held the title for some time.) Now how about Brooke Hogan’s wedding to Bully Ray, and how Aces & Eights, which could have been the next dominant stable in pro wrestling, devolved into a confusing mess? We could seriously go on here.
6 JEFF HARDY VS. STING AT VICTORY ROAD 2011
These days, Jeff Hardy is doing pretty well for himself as "Brother Nero," but he was once way over his head in drugs and booze, and it was that and injuries that led to his exit from WWE in 2009. And he was still very much into his vices when he was scheduled to face Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Victory Road 2011. If you were a TNA fan then, you know what happened there — Hardy was so wasted and in no condition to wrestle that the decision was made to have Sting win the match in less than 90 seconds. It remains one of the worst matches in TNA history, and at a pay-per-view event at that.
It was a close call for someone who was at risk of throwing away his wrestling career at a relatively young age, but he's cleaned up his act since then. As we mentioned, he's a major part of TNA programming, thanks to his storyline with his brother, "Broken" Matt Hardy. But his Victory Road match from 2011 is something the company would certainly want to DELETE, DELETE, DELETE!
5 BILLY CORGAN
Due to recent developments, Billy Corgan is a "zero" for TNA and its officials. For three months in 2016, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman was a rat in Dixie Carter's cage, serving as the company's president and giving fans some hope that the promotion was in good hands. Aside from his status as an alternative rock mega-star, Corgan is also a lifelong wrestling fan, and he described his appointment as TNA President as a "dream come true."
That dream soon turned into a nightmare, as Corgan left TNA in November 2016 over loan repayment issues, sparking a fierce legal battle between both sides. And with TNA and Anthem Sports & Entertainment having settled with Corgan in recent weeks, the latter company’s words say it all – the arrangement allows TNA to “put this behind them.” In other words, TNA doesn't want you to remember the time they once had a rock star as their company president.
4 VINCE RUSSO IN CREATIVE/ORIGINATOR OF THE TNA ACRONYM
Vince Russo might not have run TNA to the ground, just like what many people believe he did to WCW. But he had a substantially long "reign of terror" in the company, having three separate stints in the company, the most recent of which was a "secret" role as consultant from 2013 to 2014. And, if you ask him, he's also the guy who had thought of the acronym "TNA" to begin with, as he wanted it to be a play of words on what the letters normally mean. (As a bonus, that's also something the company might want you to forget! It's Total Nonstop Action, not you-know-what and you-know-what!)
To be fair, TNA won't have Russo's "Crash TV"-style storylines to blame if the company does go under; it was probably for the better that he never, as he claims, had true creative control in the company. But he did spend an awful long time in TNA, got booed by fans on repeated occasions, and came up with his share of silly ideas for the company, including a stable he briefly led, called Sports Entertainment Xtreme. The acronym pretty much sums up what's on the man's mind quite often, as viewers of his shoot interviews may have noticed.
3 THEIR RATINGS
In its 14-year-run, TNA has never beaten WWE’s ratings. Even with WWE losing a lot of fans in the 2000s, it wasn’t like those fans wanted to see men and women fight it out in a hexagon-shaped ring. A lot of them had flocked toward the Octagon, or had tuned out on wrestling and not followed unscripted alternatives such as UFC. If all those fans who stopped watching WWE after the Attitude Era had switched loyalty to TNA, then by all means – TNA would be kicking WWE’s butts in the ratings game. But since only a comparative few did, Impact Wrestling has traditionally lagged far, far behind Monday Night RAW (and even SmackDown) in terms of ratings.
Of course, that's something TNA wouldn't want to admit, as the company wants to accentuate the positives (something that's getting harder to do these days) rather than admit that its flagship wrestling show's ratings regularly get annihilated by WWE's top two television programs.
2 MANY WRESTLERS WANT OUT, OR HAVE LEFT
Giving credit where credit is due, TNA has, in recent years, turned WWE's "garbage" into gold. Drew Galloway (McIntyre), Ethan Carter III (Derrick Bateman), Aron Rex (Damien Sandow), and Cody Rhodes all compete in TNA nowadays and are enjoying much better pushes than what they usually got in WWE. But what about guys such as AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, and TJ Perkins, all of whom have moved over to WWE or NXT and may all be part of the main roster at some point next year? Even Mickie James is back in WWE now, although she just lost to Asuka in the NXT Women's Championship match at the most recent Takeover.
For a lot of TNA mainstays, the company's current situation has made them have second thoughts about whether they want to stay with the company. Recently, Maria Kanellis expressed her intent to leave pro wrestling to focus on her plans for higher education, and while this is a valid reason for someone to step aside from the ring, the timing was curious — the announcement came after Billy Corgan lost his lawsuit against TNA. Her husband Mike Bennett didn't appear too thrilled with the development either, having hinted at such in a tweet around the same time.
1 THEIR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS
And now we're down to the daddy of them all, the number one thing TNA wants you to forget — the company is hanging by a thread financially. It's actually been that way for a while, but to refresh your memory on TNA's latest round of financial jeopardy, the promotion now has a "credit relationship" with Anthem Sports & Entertainment, with the latter company funding TNA's operations, but obviously being another one of their many creditors. TNA is also being chased by the state of Tennessee for unpaid taxes, and back then, it was reported that paying those back taxes could potentially put the company out of business.
But wait, there's more. Much more. Impact Wrestling has had a nomadic existence, jumping from network to network, from time slot to time slot. Wrestlers, especially former Knockouts such as ODB and Taylor Wilde have had to take second jobs because the company doesn't pay them enough. (Or on time, as reports claim.) Zema Ion and Jesse Sorensen both had to pay their own medical bills. And going back to Billy Corgan, some of his most recent tweets suggest Anthem has yet to repay him per the terms of their settlement. Even with Anthem's help, TNA is still swimming in a sea of financial problems, but if you ask them, everything's all warm and fuzzy in the land of Impact.