Change in wrestling can manage to be a good thing or a bad thing. Normally it means there is an effort to improve the position of a performer within the company, to increase their exposure and generate buzz. In the world of wrestling, change is a fairly common practice. In the case of Impact Wrestling, the company itself has undergone a number of changes, whether you're talking about changes in ownership, changes in creative direction and changes in talent. While change can't always be forced upon an individual, it is usually encouraged in an effort to help them stay relevant and be someone fans will can connect with.
Another word that means something similar to change is transformation. Several wrestling personalities in TNA have undergone transformations for the reasons mentioned above. Others didn't undergo any changes until they left the promotion. In those cases, change may be tied to having a fresh start with a different company. It became important for them to adapt a new look and style. Here are fifteen TNA stars past and present that have undergone a transformation within the last half decade.
15 Aron Rex
If you were watching TNA's Impact Wrestling within the last year, then you saw a complete 180 made on the part of Aron Rex. While in WWE as Damien Sandow, Rex was handed various gimmicks that were parodies of other characters then ones that reflected his own identity. When he first arrived in TNA, he didn't have a distinct character, despite receiving a significant push.
However, recently, when he began to be accompanied by Spud and started wearing a lavish fur coat and make up to the ring, it was a clear indication that Damien ‘Mizdow was gone, and the flamboyant Aron Rex had arrived. What is gone is the beard, and the belief that he can educate the masses. With his Liberace-like character, Rex has shown his ability to work in very different, eclectic scenarios, and provide fans with a number of entertaining storylines that simply scratch the surface on what he can do in Impact Wrestling. Rex's transformation over the last five years have proven to be among the most surprising.
14 Ethan Carter III
If you saw EC3 about five years ago, you saw a completely different person than what you see today. Before, he was the well-dressed ‘nephew' of TNA owner Dixie Carter. He was clearly born into money, and his in-ring look was a reflection of that persona. However, when he was part of the WWE as part of their developmental system in NXT, Carter was in search of an identity and bounced around with different looks and styles that pale in comparison to what we see today.
He competed in the WWE primarily as Derrick Bateman, sported long, curly hair and was essentially playing the part of a scientist and leader of the ‘Bateman Institute.' Today, he has transformed again, with his transition to being a babyface (not to mention the departure of Dixie Carter) meaning the trappings of wealth and privilege being discarded. To see Carter now compared to his WWE days would be like seeing two completely different competitors.
13 Matt Hardy
A veteran of the ring for over twenty years, Hardy has often reached out to fans in a sincere effort to connect with them. During his career he has used various means to showcase his commitment in the ring and his commitment to his character. While he was in WWE, Hardy established the V1 character, which implied that any version that preceded that edition of Matt Hardy never counted. He was incredibly engaging, and his character was one that fans gravitated towards.
After leaving WWE and competing for ROH and TNA with some success, it has been over the last year that Hardy has regained his fan appeal once again, with the debut of a new persona. ‘Broken' Matt Hardy is among the hottest characters in wrestling, and Hardy's look is certainly a drastic change from how he once appeared. He has white streaks in his hair, and sports a beard and mustache that appears unkempt as well.
He has been known as the monster Abyss for essentially his entire tenure with TNA. However, in his near fifteen-year member of the promotion, Abyss has seen his share of changes and transformations. He played the dual role of both himself and his kayfabe brother Joseph Parks, he feuded with Dr. Stevie while undergoing counselling with him, and has walked around with a hood and a 2x4 with nails protruding from it.
One recent change that appears suit him aesthetically is that his mask is now no longer covering his face. As part of the faction known as Decay, he is now teamed with Crazzy Steve and Rosemary, all of whom sport smeared and creepy looking face paint. The look of the three suggests something dark and menacing that they are a group that will bring pain and anguish upon all they encounter.
11 Al Snow
The former WWE hardcore champion and beloved ECW competitor today is very different from what he is most remembered for. Snow outside the ring has usually been a rather mild-mannered man that doesn't resemble the crazed man with long hair that called the JOB squad his home. At 53, Snow appears to be in the best physical shape of his life. As part of TNA, Snow has been part of his share of betrayals, including beating down former champion Mick Foley.
More recently, he created a faction known as The Tribunal, made up of Baron Dax and Basille Baraka, who competed in WWE's NXT brand as Sylvester Lefort and Marcus Louis, respectively. Snow's time as a full-time competitor may be behind him, but he certainly appears to be set to put younger competitors in their place given his impressive physique.
She is the TNA Knockouts champion, and arguably the most notable female competitor currently with the company. When Rosemary first came in alongside Crazzy Steve and Abyss it was impossible to ignore her impact, given her painted face, black and red attire and overall frightening presentation. It wasn't always this way with Rosemary, however.
Before joining TNA, she competed on the independent circuit as Courtney Rush, most notably with Shimmer where she won the tag team championship alongside current NXT trainer Sara Amato (Del Rey). When she was working in these promotions, she had long dark hair and appeared pretty on point with everything she did in the ring. However, a feud with Cherry Bomb is Canada's Smash Wrestling caused Rush to snap and lose everything that once made her liked by the fans in attendance. Thus, was her current persona born. Rosemary is almost unrecognizable in comparison to how she used to look.
9 AJ Styles
He calls himself the face that runs the place, and was referred to as the champ that runs the camp. The Phenomenal AJ Styles has seen his share of changes inside and outside the ring. The man we see today looks much different from the one that we knew about five years ago. While we could see that changes were happening with Styles' appearance toward the end of his run with TNA, today he looks quite different with his hair grown out, and a beard to accompany it.
With the intent of showing a much edgier personality, Styles certainly doesn't appear much like he did in TNA with the brighter coloured attire. A leather jacket now has taken its place, along with a much cockier attitude. The days of the clean cut and short haired Styles are long behind the former WWE heavyweight champion.
8 Eric Young
If there was ever a performer that saw his look constantly reinvented, it has been Eric Young. Once considered a funny character that appeared out of place in the ring, Young has been able to adapt to whichever persona he is presented with, investing time and commitment to his character. Much like other TNA alumni, the clean cut baby face look of Young has been replaced with a darker-toned, more muscular look.
Young also grew a long beard to illustrate his change in character. While that new look began a few years ago, it has become integral to his character as leader of sAniTy, where Young appears in post-apocalyptic gear and in no way resembles who he was in TNA. He even appears to have adapted a bit of a Mohawk, like something that fans would find in the film Mad Max.
The sweet and innocent Allie has certainly looked the part, in her role as assistant to Maria Kanellis-Bennett. During her brief time in TNA she has looked every bit the part of a lackey that is fortunate to be there as part of the TNA roster. However, Allie is very much an accomplished wrestler who has been busy earning her keep while travelling on the independent circuit.
While on the independents, she competed under the name Cherry Bomb, and was one half of the tag team known as The Kimber Bombs, alongside Kimber Lee. Allie's look has changed primarily through her ring attire, but her hair colour has changed a bit as well. While she has been developing her character, Allie has gone from wearing tights to wearing business like attire. It's incredible how something as small as hair colour can transform a wrestler's overall look.
6 'The Miracle' Mike Bennett
Fans are familiar with ‘The Miracle' and his impact on TNA since arriving with the promotion. When he arrived, Bennett debuted with a look similar to what he had just before departing Ring of Honor, but a new nickname. However, Bennett's undercut hairstyle and well-groomed beard is unlike how it was a few years ago. When Bennett was aligned with Brutal Bob Evans, he had a crew cut and was clean shaven.
Bennett's in-ring ability has also improved over time, as with time any wrestler develops their craft and improvements will be made. However, Bennett's aesthetics aren't like they once were. They aren't bad, simply different and that could be dueto a number of different reasons. A person's change in character and their maturity are among the primary reasons why such things would change. The Miracle's changes have been progressive in nature, and reflect his growth as a performer.
5 Reby Hardy
The current Mrs. Broken Matt Hardy appears much different from she once did. Reby's place in TNA has been less about being a wrestler, as she has also taken on the role of valet and manager to both Broken Matt and his brother, Brother Nero (Jeff). Throughout Reby's career, she has often changed her look, whether it is the way she wears her hair, the colour of her hair, and her past careers as a model and actress has brought about changes in her attire because that is often the nature of the business.
As a former belly dancer and Playboy pictorial model, Sky has come a long way both in the ring and out. Sky now sports much darker hair, and of course her look will change now that she and her husband are expecting their second child.
4 Rockstar Spud
Although he has not been a part of TNA for a long time, one performer who has seen changes in his character is Rockstar Spud. When he first won the British Bootcamp, Spud showed that it had meant everything to him. When he was brought in as part of Dixie Carter's entourage, he dressed in outrageous coloured suits that were as flamboyant as his character was intended to be.
What fans saw after that was someone that embraced the look and feel of the 1980, sporting sunglasses and a leather jacket and calling himself a Rockstar. Spud's long, well taken care of hairstyle was replaced with a much shorter hairstyle, emblematic of a young wrestler still searching to find his identity. Much like Eric Young, he has shown a comedic side in the ring, but also has a quality that fans have learned to gravitate towards.
3 Frankie Kazarian
As a former tag team partner alongside Christopher Daniels, Kazarian has undergone a number of different changes. As his character has transitioned from his time alongside AJ Styles and Samoa Joe in TNA to working side by side with Daniels as either Bad Influence or The Addiction, Kazarian has undergone a number of different looks. After all, with time a wrestler evolves both in the ring and as a character. His long locks and shorter tights have been replaced with a nearly shaved head and punk rock like attire.
The look actually ties into the fact that Kazarian is part of a rock band, Vex Temper. Now that he is a member of the Bullet Club, Kazarian's look will once again be changing as he is aligned with the single most popular group in wrestling outside WWE. It's a group that has had success all over the world.
2 Matt Sydal
While he was mostly used as a jobber during his run in TNA, he did take part in their first ever PPV, Victory Road. Before he was ‘reborn,' Matt Sydal went by the name Evan Bourne as part of WWE. During his time with the company, he showed fans just how much of a high flier and risk taker he could be. During this time he teamed up with Kofi Kingston to form the tag team Air Bourne, and captured the tag team championships. It was a great time to see really well developed wrestlers come together and achieve the highest form of recognition within the company. It was also during his time in the WWE when Bourne sported much shorter hair cut and a clean-shaven face. After departing the WWE, Sydal grew out his hair and accompanied that with a well-groomed thick beard. The new look fits Sydal well, and is a welcome change from the clean cut babyface that fans had become accustomed to seeing.
1 Mick Foley
The current General Manager of Raw has undergone a few changes since his departure from TNA years ago. If there is one glaring difference between his look now and then it is the huge weight loss he has undergone quite recently, coinciding with his tenure as General manager. He also now sports a short haircut, dispensing with his long and shaggy hairdo that wasn't very becoming.
Also, though it may not be as readily apparently since Foley has such thick facial hair, his beard was reduced to a goatee, cleaning up his look to go along with his new hair style. While it may not seem like much of a change, the fact that he has lost so much weight and made a concerted effort to improve his overall health says a lot about the former WWE champion.