The WWE has been the leader in professional wrestling promotions ever since they absorbed their Monday Night Wars competition, WCW, back in 2001. It looked as though Vinnie Mac and his jacked-up muscle farm had destroyed all available competition. Enter the Jarrett family. The Jarretts are a legendary wrestling family and in 2002 they decided to take a crack at giving WWE a run for their money by starting TNA Impact Wrestling. The promotion has had a number of highs over the years and there was even a time when the fans were convinced that they were going to be a real source of competition for McMahon. That time, unfortunately, as come and gone, but still Impact Wrestling continues to live on, overcoming all obstacles to constantly find rebirth.
The names that have been associated with the promotion have ranged from industry legends to brand new up and comers looking to make a name in the business. The TNA roster at one time or another included everyone from Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Ric Flair and Scott Steiner to Sting, DDP, Macho Man Randy Savage and Rob Van Dam. The company has been able to provide career launchpads for talent like Bobby Roode, AJ Styles and Austin Aries.
TNA has served as a much needed alternative for talent that are done with the WWE machine. There are a good number of wrestlers that loved their tenure in TNA and speak very well of it, but there are just as many that have a major problem with the company. Here we are examining 10 wrestlers that loved their time in TNA and 10 that hated it.
20. Loved: Kurt Angle
The chants of “you suck” echo throughout the arena whenever Angle makes an appearance. Its not an insult, but rather a gesture of love and respect from the crowd. He’s now a WWE Hall of Famer and the current general manager of Monday Night Raw, but for many years prior Kurt Angle was a major part of the TNA roster. Angle has had nothing but good things to say about his time with the company, which makes perfect sense. It was a landing place for him after his career ended with the WWE and it allowed him to stay in the business and make a living, even supporting him when he needed to deal with his addiction. Angle was able to get over with the crowds in TNA as a big star during his time there.
19. Hated: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner made a big name for himself in WCW, after a successful tag team with his brother Rick. Scott would become known by his nickname, “Big Poppa Pump” and eventually became a part of the nWo as a part of his singles run. Infamous for his real life temper, Steiner was carried over to the WWE in 2002 and made his TNA debut in 2006. He worked for the company for six years, but after his departure would make several negative comments about the company and the management in interviews and on social media. It was so bad that TNA lawyers even got involved. Scott has worked for the company twice since, for a short run in 2011 and a April 2017 return. Hey, those bills still need to get paid.
18. Loved: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett has made a name for himself as a legend in the industry. He’s a third generation wrestler and a promoter. He’s worked for most major promotions, from WCW, WWE and AAA. He also started his own promotion twice, first with TNA and later with Global Force. He started TNA and was a major fixture of the promotion for a decade, but would soon become very unhappy when he was muscled into by the Carter family. Jarrett has been vocally critical of Dixie Carter, but his love for the TNA product has never waivered. The changes in ownership have brought Jarrett back in to oversee the day to day operations and is merging with his Global Force Wrestling promotion. Jarrett back with TNA can only mean good things for the future of Impact Wrestling!
17. Hated: Ric Flair
The Nature Boy is a universal legend in the wrestling world. He had epic runs in WCW and WWE, moving seemlessly between the two. He had an epic retirement match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV, but that wasn’t the end of the Flair legacy. No, he would appear in TNA two years later. Flair felt disrespected by the WWE, they had committed one of the sins that TNA would be accused of by many of their talents, they hadn’t contacted Flair in over six months, leaving him feeling devalued. His last match ever would be wrestled in TNA, not the WWE. He was eventually fired from TNA in 2012. He has since gone on the record with plenty of things to say about what a terrible operation he thinks Impact Wrestling is.
16. Loved: AJ Styles
The Phenomenal One has been setting WWE audiences on fire ever since he made an appearance at the 2016 Royal Rumble and subsequently joined the main roster. The former leader of the Bullet Club has made a major name for himself in Japan, but before that he had a stint at TNA. It was that run that made AJ a household name to many fans in the wrestling community. There is little doubt that AJ had some issues during his time with Impact, but being the stand-up guy that he is whenever he is questioned about his time there he has nothing but glowing things to say.
15. Hated: Bret Hart
Bret Hart is one of the most revered men inside the ropes of the squared circle. The fans love him and he has a lot of professional respect in the industry. That said, he’s a very angry man and it hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention that Hart has become one of the most outspoken voices in the realm of negative feedback in the pro wrestling industry. Hart seems to have beef with everyone and everything. He spent his time working for WWE and WCW, but TNA hasn’t escaped his wrath. In all fairness to TNA, it likely had a lot more to do with them paying Hogan truckloads of cash to come in and “save” the company, but Hart was pretty brutal about the company in interviews for awhile, treating them like an absolute joke.
14. Loved: Mick Foley
You can search the pro wrestling industry low and high, but you aren’t likely to find an all around better guy than Mick Foley. The Hardcore Legend (a title which is well deserved) gave quite literally everything he had and left it all in the ring for the fans. It doesn’t matter if he was working for WCW, WWE, ECW or in Japan, Foley gave each and every promotion their money’s worth, plus some. It was the same when Mick had a run in TNA back in 2008. He took various roles in the company until 2012. When asked about his time there, Mick wished he could have spent more time with TNA and done more to help them out. Foley…always a stand-up guy.
13. Hated: RVD
Rob Van Dam was a legend in ECW and he flawlessly transitioned to the WWE, quickly becoming known as “Mr. Monday Night.” He helped revolutionize the way that wrestling is done and the expectations that the fans carry to this day. RVD had a three year deal with TNA and he was happy to resign, but Van Dam insists that TNA was just too unprofessional. One of the biggest things in the entertainment industry is ego and you have to cater to your talent. Unfortunately, this seems to be a place where TNA often drops the ball. RVD had a contract all hammered out with the company and then he didn’t hear back from them for several weeks, so he finally gave up on them an went where he felt more wanted, back to the WWE.
12. Loved: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has had a seriously impressive career in professional wrestling. He has been instrumental as one of the few people that literally changed the industry forever during the Monday Night Wars. Kevin has had some runs in the WWE over the past few decades, but he’s also spent plenty of time over in TNA. In fact, he has done so much in Impact that it goes beyond the brief run a lot of talent goes there to have. You’ll no longer be able to discuss Nash’s career without mentioning TNA. Nash has been very complimentary to Dixie Carter, who is certainly a controversial figure to say the least, and he has been happy with the money and the time he has spent at Impact.
11. Hated: Chavo Guerrero
Chavo hails from the legendary Guerrero wrestling family. He made a name for himself in WCW before defecting to the WWE. Chavo spent a short time in TNA from 2012 to 2013, and he was featured mostly as a novelty act, tagging with Hernandez. His depature from the company so quickly was a surprise…even to Chavo. TNA had their “Feast or Fired” match and the gimmick was that one of the competitors was to be kayfabe fired. Chavo was selected as the person to be “fired”, but as it turns out that was the way the company was actually letting him know that they were firing him. Chavo has spoken out about how unprofessional and astounding their behavior was and that he had to get his lawyer involved in the whole situation.
10. Loved: Bully Ray
Bully Ray, also known to marks as Bubba Ray Dudley, has made a name for himself in hardcore wrestling over the years. He has often been seen tagging with Devon as one half of The Dudley Boyz, where they made their work with tables infamous. Bully Ray has had titles in WWE, WCW, ECW, NJPW and TNA. He’s came back to the WWE for a run recently, and afterwards was faced with the idea of going to back to TNA and the Bully Ray character. He’s had positive things to say about his time with TNA and Dixie Carter, he simply felt that he had done everything that he could creatively at TNA, so he went to Ring of Honor instead.
9. Hated: Mr. Anderson
Ken Anderson has been a major heel in the industry for many years now. He had a great run in the WWE under the name Mr. Kennedy and he worked with TNA as Mr. Anderson since 2010. Anderson worked for Impact on various championship pursuits and feuds until he was let go in 2016 for failing a drug test. He would go on to curse out TNA at a live event and be very critical of them for not paying him on time, an issue that a number of wrestlers ran into with the company for a time. In the end, Anderson is more angry he got caught than anything else, but angry he remains. He is currently working the independent circuit around the world.
8. Loved: Booker T
Booker T made his name in both WCW and the WWE. He was one of the few talents brought over from the WCW acquisition and given a good push in the WWE and he remains on staff there to this day, often seen offering commentary on pre-shows and various events. He is currently filling in on Monday Night Raw as a commentator while Dave Otunga is off filming a movie. He’s a company man, but even Booker brought his Spinaroonie to TNA for a time. He worked there from 2007 to 2010 and although he seems to prefer calling the WWE his home, Booker gave his all to TNA like a true pro and has had nothing but positive remarks about the company, even since departing.
7. Hated: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe worked for TNA a good long time. He tried his best and showed-up for work to give his all, but regardless of his efforts TNA never gave him a proper push. Joe would become very frustrated with the way that TNA handled his character over the years. Although he is always a professional when he talks about his time in the company, Joe showed his frustration in various shoot promos and passive aggressive talk about the way he was overlooked and disrespected. Joe moved on to NXT and now to the WWE main roster, hoping to get the spotlight that he’s earned. It may have taken Joe some time to finally arrived in WWE, but now that he has earned his keep, it will be interesting to see how far he goes.
6. Loved: Sting
The Stinger is what you could call the ultimate company man. He stuck with the WCW as their icon throughout the years and even refused to move over to the WWE after Vinnie Mac bought out the WCW. Instead, Sting moved over to Impact and helped to put TNA on the map with wrestling fans. If Sting works somewhere, then it has to be the next big thing, right? Although he wasn’t a fan of the six-sided ring, he had a huge run in TNA and was pushed constantly, as he should have been. Sting likes to work for the underdog and he poured himself into his roles there, even changing up his character a bit to freshen things up. Sting has been classy about his time with TNA, always supportive of the company that he helped o build.
5. Hated: Syxx-Pac
Sean Waltman has been a controversial fixture in WCW and the WWE, as part of both the nWo and D-Generation X. He has been defined by his constant struggles with addiction and his outspoken nature, which can be a toxic combination in the industry. Waltman has been critical of TNA for pushing the old guys instead of using them to put over the newer, younger talent and about a lot of backstage problems over at the company. He worked for TNA (as Syxx-Pac) from 2002 to 2006 and again in 2010, but won’t likely be seen there again anytime soon. That could partially be due to his outspoken comments about the company and how they are running things or it could be that he has admitted to working there while high on meth.
4. Loved: The Hardys
There are some wrestlers that don’t need the WWE to get over with the fans and the Hardy brothers are a shining example of that. They had a great run in the WWE, both as a tag team and singles competitors, but once their time was up they were looking for a new home. TNA gave them that home. Jeff Hardy, who struggles severely with his addictions, needed a place that was tolerant of his nonsense and TNA has been nothing but tolerant with him over the years. They also gave Matt the room to be creative and develop his broken universe, which has taken the wrestling fandom by storm over the past year. Now that the duo is over and generating a lot of buzz, of course Vinnie Mac wanted them back. Truth be told, the Hardy brothers only left since TNA disrespected them with long waits and the sneaky changing of their contracts, but prior to all that drama the brothers were very positive about the company and had every intention of staying on there.
3. Hated: Black Reign
Dustin Runnels has tried his hand all over the wrestling business. He has worked for WCW, WWE and TNA, but he always seems to land back in the WWE as Goldust. His time in TNA was a frustration for Goldie, as he worked a new painted gimmick dubbed “Black Reign.” He has revealed in interviews that his drug problems were the worst while working for TNA, since they would allow their talent to perform high. This has been a major issue for a few superstars, as they often need the tough love given by companies like the WWE, who has strict wellness policy. Dustin looks at his time in TNA very negatively, since he was basically allowed to run wild, before finally getting into DDP Yoga and turning his life around. He has since lost a ton of weight and had major runs in the WWE, often alongside his younger brother Cody.
2. Loved: Austin Aries
If you’re into the whole WWE Cruiserweight thing then you have probably seen Austin Aries make his triumphant debut there in ring to save the division. AA made his name over in TNA wrestling for years, before moving over to NXT. He was TNA World Heavyweight Champion and experienced a great push at the company. Aries has been very positive about the company and left with a general feeling of being paid and valued fairly during his time there, but he was looking for new challenges in his career and lets face it, everyone wants to work for the WWE in the end. He left TNA on good terms and headed to NXT without any ill will. He has made it clear that a return to TNA isn’t out of the question in the future, depending on how things go with the WWE.
1. Hated: CM Punk
Ok, well this is an easy one, because we all know that CM Punk hates literally everything. We all know that Phil Brooks is an angry man that lashes out at the WWE whenever he can, but before that he enjoyed talking smack about TNA. He has done so on multiple occasions, calling out the company for misusing talent and not being on the level of Ring of Honor or the WWE. Punk worked for the company during its genesis and he felt very undervalued. Once his run with the WWE was over some fans were curious about whether he would chase money and show up on TNA television, but Punk has made it clear that he would never work for TNA again. Although, fans of wrestling know that we never say never, especially with a new regime in charge over at Impact.
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