Vince McMahon is like a grumpy old grandpa when it comes to holding grudges. The cold and calculative businessman can be as crooked as they come, as he shows no remorse for his enemies and plans to exert total dominance towards his competitors and ends up buying those who threaten his product. So it comes as no surprise what one has to go through when they join his competitor's product, as we’ve seen so many failed WWE superstars join their direct competition in Total Non-Stop Action (TNA).
After WCW’s demise, TNA rose to be the promotion which competed for the top spot in wrestling with the WWE and had become quite popular in the mid 2000s because of their unique structure, and this attracted many of the WWE’s failures or those who felt underwhelmed to flock to the other boat. Even some of the WWE’s most ‘loyal’ prospects who had been in the company for many years had decided to make the move with hopes to gain more attention in TNA and this obviously infuriated Vince who saw his employees leave for another budding promotion.
But after TNA started losing momentum , Vince seemed to show some heart and took back the wrestlers who had once deserted his company in hopes of greater success. We’ve seen so many former WWE guys who wrestled for TNA return in the past few years and be given some role on WWE TV too. Obviously, Vince’s disgust towards his enemy's products still remains as no former TNA guy went on to win the WWE Title after joining WWE, and the same goes for these wrestlers who were forgiven by Vince.
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15 The New Age Outlaws
The New Age Outlaws are definitely one of the most entertaining tag teams of all time, as Road Dogg and Billy Gunn had that amazing chemistry and mic-skills which could electrify any set of fans in any place. The Outlaws were extremely over during the Attitude era as part of DX, as they had the 3rd most merchandise sales during the time after Stone Cold and The Rock. After a glittering career in WWE where they won the Tag titles as well as winning singles titles, they separated after being released. They reunited in TNA years later and their TNA career was highlighted when they did a mockery of DX and even issued a ‘Million Dollar Challenge’ to McMahon to send his DX guys to fight them. It seemed the end of the Outlaws' relation with the WWE, but surprisingly Vince forgave and called them back for RAW’s 1000th episode where they appeared in DX’s reunion. They would continue to make periodic appearances as a tag team, often putting other young guys over and also working backstage as trainers for the WWE.
14 Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick had quite the reputation for jumping ships from one promotion to another, as after a prominent Indy phase as ‘Spanky’, he joined the WWE in 2002. After a failed time as a singles wrestler, he went back to the Indy line and even wrestled for TNA for a bit. His return to the WWE would be glorious for him, as he was paired with another exciting cruiserweight in Paul London as they formed a very entertaining and technically astounding tag-team who dominated the tag team division, holding the tag titles for 331 days. The team would disband after losing the title and Kendrick turned heel as an arrogant ‘The Brian Kendrick’gimmick which didn’t bode that well and he was released in 2009. After some more time in the Indy circuit, Kendrick would again return to TNA and become a prominent face of their X-Division, winning the championship as well. After getting released again, he returned to WWE in 2014 as Vince now uses him mainly as a trainer for the WWE nowadays and will also compete in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament as well.
Although R-Truth got most of his accolades in TNA as Ron ‘The Truth’ Killings, he started out his career in WWE as he was Road Dogg’s partner during the Invasion angle. After being released after the angle finished, Truth went on to join TNA as a heel and won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, thus becoming the first ever African-American to do so. Truth would form the ‘3 Live Kru’ with Konnan and Road Dogg as the stable would cause destruction on those who tried to deter their path onto securing another NWA Championship reign for Truth. After its disbanding, Truth would become a face and have some feuds before leaving the company in 2007. Truth was taken in by McMahon’s WWE as he was given the entertaining rapper gimmick and won the US title some years after joining and also became known for a prominent angle with the Miz as part of ‘The Awesome Truth’. Truth was established as a very entertaining guy in the lower mid-card and now tries to amuse the fans with Goldust as part of the hilarious ‘Golden Truth’, as Vince took him in when he was in a dire need of a job.
X-Pac is another wrestler who showcased his talents all over the world, but is mostly known for his stints in WWE as part of DX and known by smarks as part of ‘The Kliq’. X-Pac was also a short member of the NWO, but most of his popularity is because of his time at the WWE. So Vince must’ve been ticked when he joined the rising TNA after being released and went on to become an attractive star of the product, advertizing their X-Division very well by becoming one of its earliest champions. X-Pac would put on some great matches with former colleagues before leaving for some years in the Indy circuit. He would return again in 2010 to TNA, teaming with friends in Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to run havoc on a Hulk Hogan-ran TNA. After being released, he’d be called back by Vince for attending the induction of good friend Shawn Michaels to the WWE hall of fame, and has been working a prominent backstage role ever since, and making periodic appearances because of his Legends Contract.
It’s rather startling to realize that Goldust has been in the wrestling business for over 25 years now, as he seems to be the evergreen product of modern wrestling. The Bizarre one is like a face of the WWE from the point of view of many, but his WWE runs have been deterred by many factors. Goldust went on to leave the company many times, and opted to join TNA in 2004 with his ‘Dustin Rhodes’ name and spent a few years in the mid-card of TNA. The lack of face-paint might have some fooled, but it didn’t fool Vince McMahon who nonetheless took him back whenever he needed him and has treated him with respect ever since. After his first stint in TNA, Rhodes would again join the WWE for a year before yet again rejoining TNA for his second reign where he debuted with his ‘Black Reign’ gimmick who resembled his Goldust character a lot. His bizarreness would continue to plague TNA until he was let go off again in 2008, as he went back to the WWE for good now, becoming a recognizable mid-carder and adding to the uniqueness of the product.
Although not exactly a WWE ‘original’, Rhyno did find a lot of his fame for the ‘gore’ during his WWE career when he debuted as part of the Alliance during the Invasion angle. He was booked pretty strongly during the angle which kept him over(unlike many other guys) and he was given a strong mid-card place in the company winning the US title during his successful reign. Rhyno would be released by the WWE after a backstage argument with a colleague at the WrestleMania 21 afterparty, and opted to join the rising TNA. Rhyno became the hardcore face of TNA as he went onto win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship soon after joining the company and put on some extreme matches with the wrestlers too. During his 5 year run at the company, Rhyno was a prominent, recognized mid-carder who was always in the thick of things. He was surprisingly recalled by Vince McMahon to help out on NXT as he also got the main roster call, feuding with the Wyatt’s alongside ECW originals in the Dudleys and Tommy Dreamer.
9 Scott Hall
The Bad Guy was one of WWE’s most popular stars in the 90s, as he instilled himself in the history books with many iconic matches before moving to the WCW and becoming a part of the infamous NWO. However, Hall would find it difficult to reclaim the fame he had in the 90s with the turn of the century, as he struggled to make a place for himself in wrestling promotions and had a shoddy 1 year with the WWE’s version of the NWO. Hall had many stints in TNA after this as he joined with buddy Kevin Nash to become the legendary figures of the promotion who attracted many wrestling fans, as they put on some good matches with the great talent of TNA. Hall was personally failing, as addiction to drugs and alcohol had him pit in a dark hole from which he came out of with help from friends (like Stephanie McMahon) and was forgiven by Vince who inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2014. He has made periodic appearances since then, and is on a Legends Contract nowadays with a much better life.
8 Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam was the proverbial face of ECW before he moved to WWE during The Invasion era, wrestling under the Alliance as a heel. But he was extremely popular because of his reputation in ECW and was given a solid mid-card push, winning the Hardcore Championship. RVD also went on to win the IC title and Tag titles later on, and because of his popularity also won the Money in the Bank briefcase. He would cash in successfully to win the WWE title in the home of ECW, as WWE would try to make him the face of their version of ECW. Van Dam couldn’t take the pressure and had to take time off WWE, and spent 3 years in the Indy circuit before debuting in TNA in 2010. Once a prime WWE guy, he was now TNA’s guy as he was at the top of the company for 3 years, winning the World Heavyweight Title and X-Division title. But he made a surprising return in the 2013 Money in the Bank, and went onto wrestle as a mid-carder yet again, as he showed that he’s still got it by shining in the competitive WWE once again.
7 The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley Boyz are what they proclaim to be ‘the baddest tag team in the planet’ and also one of the most successful tag teams in the history of wrestling. Originating from the ECW, the Dudleys attained their fame under the WWE banner as they enthralled the tag team scene after joining in 1999. The chemistry between the two and their ability to go the extra mile to entertain the audiences always had them at the top of the tag team scene during their 6 year run in the WWE, as they went on to become 9 time tag team champions in the process too. After being released, they went to join TNA as they soon became ‘THE’ tag team of that promotion as well, winning tag team gold at various times. They dissolved for some years in TNA before re-uniting as part of Aces & Eights when they were the top heels of the company, and were later also inducted into the TNA hall of fame. The Dudleys would soon leave TNA, and surprisingly would be called back by Vince to buff up his own tag team scene as they returned to a massive ovation, but have been resolved to the bottom of the division which sucks considering the aura and experience they bring together.
6 Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash was destined to be THE GUY in Vince's mind as he had everything McMahon wanted with a tall, well-built figure. He even reached the milestone of winning the WWE’s ‘Triple Crown’ of the IC Title, Tag Title and WWE Title (which he held for almost a year) as he dominated the WWE scene for a few years. But Nash would get attracted by a better offer from WCW and left to create the NWO and have an eventful career until returning to the WWE as part of its own NWO for a short time. Nash would also be involved in the World Heavyweight Title picture but couldn’t win it and WWE didn’t renew his contract either. So Kevin went on to join TNA and had a respectable career there too, being a part of The Main Event Mafia and winning their Legends Championship twice. Nash would surprisingly return in the 2011 Royal Rumble as ‘Diesel’ and later be involved in a CM Punk vs Triple H storyline. He made timely appearances afterwards, and was inducted in the Hall of Fame last year and now works under their legends program.
5 Mick Foley
The Hardcore Legend was renowned for having many faces during his wrestling career, as the ‘3 faces of Foley’ was introduced during the Attitude era of the WWE. First debuting as Mankind, he caught everyone’s eye when he was thrown from the top of the cell in his vicious Hell in a Cell Match against the Undertaker and instantly became a fan-favorite. A much awaited WWE title win was the beginning of WWE winning the Monday Night Wars, as Foley was a pivotal part of its success. But as the Attitude era perished, so did Foley from the WWE before returning for a short time to put on some more extreme matches and enhancing his legacy more. But the WWE legend would shockingly make his TNA debut in 2008 and went onto win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship later on. He would put on more hardcore matches against some of the younger guys, irrespective of his age and condition. But Vince couldn’t help but call him back in 2011, as he worked some matches before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Foley has made sporadic appearances ever since(his last being in Wrestlemania 32), and has his own show debuting in the WWE network soon.
4 Booker T
The ‘5 time’ WCW Champion wouldn’t really find that much of success when he shifted to the WWE after they bought WCW, and debuted as a part of the villainous ‘The Alliance’. Booker would be a prominent part of the Invasion angle, but things went sour after it ended. But he would see some championship gold as he won the Tag Titles with Goldust, before going onto challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship where he originally should’ve gone over. But he lost and got pushed back into the mid-card, as creative tried to make up for their mistakes by making him win the IC title and later on the US title. His King Booker gimmick would land him a World Heavyweight Title, and he would leave the WWE with his wife afterwards. TNA would sign him up and give him a prominent place as part of The Main Event Mafia, where he’d win the Legends Title and Tag titles with Sharmell at his side. But Booker would be released after the stable went sour, and make a shocking return to the WWE in the 2011 Royal Rumble. He has been a color commentator ever since and got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012, as Vince must’ve felt guilty over not treating him with more respect earlier.
3 Ric Flair
Ric Flair is probably ‘THE’ Icon of the wrestling industry, being there for over 30 years and having won every accomplishment there is to win. ‘The Nature Boy’ would start of in the NWA and also have a successful in the earlier WCW, before he came to WWE and became a superstar in the company, holding their top titles in his reign. He returned to the WWE after some more years in the WCW, as he returned as ‘the co-owner’ of the company and as an authority figure. He would then become ‘The Dirtiest Player in the Game’ with Evolution, as he became one of the most cunning managers by managing Triple H to much success, and a loss to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXIV in a retirement match meant for his in-ring retirement. Well that wasn’t meant to be as he joined TNA after being released by the WWE, taking AJ Styles under his wing this time and then going onto wrestle matches a year later. He had broken the ‘retirement’ rule but was inducted into the WWE hall of fame for a 2nd time as part of the four horsemen, and got fired by TNA to join back in the WWE. He made sporadic appearances before recently managing his daughter Charlotte as he’s still off high value to McMahon who forgave him inspite of breaking some promises.
Christian is that guy who actually excelled of a TNA stint and returned to much success in the WWE which is pretty surprising considering how grumpy Vince McMahon is about those things. Christian had a glittering tag team career with Edge and also won the belt with Lance Storm, but his singles career as Captain Charisma didn’t really bode that well, leading to his departure. In 2005, Christian would make his TNA debut and was kept at the top of the ladder, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship soon after debuting. After some more feuds as a face, he would turn heel with Tyson Tomko as his body-guard and hold the NWA Heavyweight title again. He would create his own stable with Tomko and Scott Steiner by his side and dominate for sometime before losing the title and the stable disbanding. He turned face towards the end of his TNA career and wrestled in prominent matches before leaving the promotion. After returning to WWE, he wouldn’t incur the wrath but the love of Vince McMahon as he went onto win numerous singles titles after returning, including the illustrious World Heavyweight Title and McMahon even let him wrestle for TNA for one event, while under the WWE contract. Christian would soon become frail because of Injury and be forced into retirement, but would be contracted to WWE as a wrestler until very recently. Christian now has the Edge & Christian show that totally reeks of awesomeness with good friend Edge, as both of them look fairly happy and settled in retirement life and Christian blessed by Vince.
1 Hulk Hogan
The proverbial face of the WWE who lifted Vince McMahon’s company to the heights where it is situated at today, Hulk Hogan was Vince’s prized asset. Always book to look like the all overcoming good guy, Hogan would win the WWE title 6 times in his career and usually have very long reigns with it. But after the steroid scandal, Hogan would be discreetly pushed out of the company as he went make the shocking heel turn as the leader of the NWO. He found much success during his time in WCW, but took the exit when the ship was sinking. Vince forgave him and took him back under his wing, as Hulk would come back to win the WWE title yet again. He left the company afterwards for a short stint in TNA, before coming back to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. But he’d again leave and surprisingly join TNA to become it’s General Manager and seemed to be running things in Vince’s nemesis promotion. Hogan at its helm would degrade TNA to some horrible ratings, as Hulk would escape and yet again be saved by Vince who just couldn’t let go off his prized product. He would come back to periodic appearances at big shows, before a racism and sex scandal made WWE fire him again. Knowing Vince’s love for the man, it won’t be surprising if we see more of the Hulkster very soon with the scandal cooling down.
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