The history of TNA is full of embarrassing and disappointing moments. Fans will remember the promotion as the biggest waste of resources and most depressing flop in recent wrestling history. TNA had the chance to create a second major promotion as an alternative to WWE. Instead, they made horrible decisions consistently and are now the laughingstock of the wrestling business. The sad part is they had a plethora of top tier talent through the years. TNA abandoned their talent by pushing the wrong people and not setting up a present or future with the young performers that clearly had something special.
Wrestlers have jumped off the sinking ship of TNA through the years with the number growing in recent years. There have been a few success stories of wrestlers making TNA look even more foolish by becoming huge stars in other promotions. However, a few other talents lacked the ability to shine outside of the protected environment of TNA. We'll look at both sides of life after TNA with the names that tried to find a new home in wrestling. These are eight noteworthy wrestlers that thrived in a major way after leaving TNA and seven that absolutely flopped.
15 Thrived: Xavier Woods
TNA employed Xavier Woods under the name of Consequences Creed for a little over two years. Creed's role saw him replace NFL star Pacman Jones in the Team Pacman match and eventually move into the X Division. Creed showed a lot of potential but TNA refused to give him a fair chance. The biggest moment of his TNA career was winning the TNA Tag Team Championship with Jay Lethal for a short reign.
Creed was released from TNA and he went on to sign with WWE, adopting the new Xavier Woods name. It was a long road before Woods teamed with Kofi Kingston and Big E to form The New Day. Woods is arguably the most valuable member of the highest drawing tag team in the business today. New Day is massively popular with fans figuratively and literally eating up anything they sell. Woods is one of many huge stars TNA failed to use right.
14 Failed: Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan is one of the bigger disappointments in wrestling history. The near seven foot tall monster had the athleticism that other wrestlers his size lacked. Morgan failed to put it all together to become a great wrestler. TNA tried pushing him on numerous occasions with the hopes he would eventually evolve into a main event star. It never worked out and Morgan found his way out of TNA in 2015.
Morgan continued wrestling for a few independent promotions before announcing his retirement. The interest in booking Morgan just wasn’t there and he only appeared in irrelevant promotions like FEW. However, Morgan is coming back out of retirement to return to the new TNA with Jeff Jarrett once again in charge. It's a sad state when one retires after leaving TNA only to come back to TNA due to no one else wanting you.
13 Thrived: The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks initially signed with TNA after successful stints in ROH and PWG due to wanting to take the next step in their careers. TNA introduced them with a great feud against the Motor City Machine Guns, but that was the end of their relevance. The two teams delivered classic matches, but it still wasn’t enough to convince TNA that The Young Bucks were a tag team worth investing in.
Matt and Nick Jackson both requested their release after realizing things wouldn’t turn around. It ended up being the best decision of their lives. The Young Bucks returned to ROH and PWG, while adding New Japan to their list of home promotions. All three companies have grown with ROH and NJPW both being bigger than TNA at this point thanks in part to the success of The Bucks. Some would say Matt and Nick are the best team of the current era and it started after they left TNA.
12 Failed: Homicide
Homicide was once a peer of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Samoa Joe and many other top names in the industry during his time in Ring of Honor. His talent made him a ROH main eventer and many respected names loved his work. Terry Funk even tried to get Homicide hired by WWE for the ECW brand launch in 2006. TNA would sign him and use the wrestler as a member of LAX with Hernandez and Konnan.
LAX was a tremendous team at the time and among the best things in TNA. Konnan would eventually leave and the rest of the group fell apart. TNA failed to use Homicide well until he was released from the company back in 2010. Homicide no longer could hang with the top independent wrestlers at his older age and struggled to get bookings. TNA has brought him back for another attempt at making LAX a faction in the failing promotion.
11 Thrived: Christopher Daniels
TNA always took Christopher Daniels for granted. Daniels delivered classic matches, putting the X-Division on the map with A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe as the company made its way to television. Daniels' role changed through the years from singles to tag teams, from comedic characters like Curry Man to serious character based acting, and he always did his job.
Daniels saw his hard work rewarded with constant disrespect and he left the company back in 2014 to re-join Ring of Honor with tag partner, Frankie Kazarian. His work in ROH saw him become highly popular again. Daniels recently won the ROH World Championship to capture his first major World Title at the age of 45 in a special moment. Considering ROH appears to have passed TNA in the pecking order, it's rather sweet for Daniels to be the World Champ.
10 Failed: Sonjay Dutt
The X Division wrestlers were consistently underrated and never treated with proper respect by TNA. Sonjay Dutt was one of many that never got his due for the effort and work he put into his job. TNA fired him after refusing to give him a respectable character after his days as “The Guru.” Dutt tried to find success on the independent circuit, but it has been a struggle.
Ring of Honor has infrequently brought him in for one-shot appearances, but Dutt has never been able to land a full-time spot in the company. Dutt joined Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling project as one of the major minds in charge behind the scenes. GFW failed miserably and Jarrett is now back running TNA. Dutt’s best chance is returning back to an even worse TNA with his friend now having power again.
9 Thrived: Bobby Roode
One of the most shocking TNA departures was Bobby Roode hitting the free agent market in 2016. Roode was a fixture in TNA from nearly the beginning of the company’s existence. Roode's road from tag act to mid-carder to World Champion to face of the brand made it seem like he would be among the rare wrestlers to never leave.
Roode wisely realized things were too far gone for the company to be salvaged. TNA started offering less money to their big name homegrown stars. Roode refused to take a pay cut and it worked out tremendously for him. WWE signed Roode to be a member of the NXT roster. In less than a year, Roode has become the NXT World Champion and is ready for the main roster with his “Glorious” gimmick.
8 Failed: Low Ki
Low Ki was ahead of his time. Low Ki helped change the business along with guys like Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles by introducing a hard hitting, athletic-based style. It basically influenced the launch of TNA’s X Division and the Ring of Honor brand as a whole. Low Ki has been in and out of TNA over the years working for many different regimes.
The sad fact is Low Ki has failed to find success in any other promotion through the years despite his talent. WWE signed him for a short time period, but they just didn’t see him as anything special. Low Ki’s poor attitude made it impossible for him to get consistently booked in any relevant independent promotions. It's sad to realize Low Ki will fade away and his legacy won’t be up there with his peers that influenced the business.
7 Thrived: Kazuchika Okada
New Japan likes to send their young prospects to the United States as an excursion to learn and grow as a wrestler. Kazuchika Okada was sent to TNA as a part of the working relationship they used to have. TNA treated Okada with no respect, rarely showcasing him on television at all. His only relevant role was playing the Okato comedy character as a parody of The Green Hornet's sidekick.
Okada returning to NJPW saw the company end their relationship with TNA out of anger for their use of the Japanese star. One positive it did provide was motivating Okada to show just how talented he was. Okada became the face of New Japan and helped the promotion grow into a juggernaut that is even relevant in the United States.
6 Failed: Awesome Kong
Awesome Kong was the top female heel on the TNA roster during her first few years on the roster. Her size and skill made her the perfect villain for a loveable face like Gail Kim to work against. Kong and Kim delivered some of the best ratings for TNA during their feud and put the Knockouts division on the map.
Kong's two stints in TNA both ended violently. Kong was first let go for punching Bubba the Love Sponge in the face after he made some dumb comments. A disappointing WWE career took place following that and she returned to TNA. Kong would be fired this time for getting into a fight with Reby Sky based off petty drama. Her wrestling career has stalled and she's trying her luck in acting now.
5 Thrived: Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal's youth and potential made him among the top prospects in the X Division for many years. TNA would allow him to work against top names like Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett and even Ric Flair at different points. Lethal always hit a home run when put in a position to succeed. Fans supported him through the years from his own persona to his Randy Savage imitation, Black Machismo.
Unfortunately, Lethal lacked the support of those in management and was unceremoniously fired by TNA. Ring of Honor signed Lethal shortly after his TNA career ended and have made him one of the faces of the company. Lethal no longer plays parodies of other wrestlers and is now able to be himself. His crowning moment came when he won the ROH World Championship in 2015. Lethal is still in his prime and a huge asset to ROH, one that TNA would love to have back.
4 Failed: Petey Williams
Petey Williams excited fans in TNA during his run as X Division Champion. The Canadian Destroyer finisher is what made people take note of him, but his overall wrestling skills also delivered the goods. Williams couldn’t get an opportunity in a credible role on TNA television following his time as a member of Team Canada.
TNA wasted him for years and eventually fired him with no real explanation as to why. Williams tried to continue his career on the independent circuit. ROH booked him for a few shows before claiming they didn’t have space for him on the roster. Williams just couldn’t justify keeping his wrestling career alive and changed paths to support his family. You have to wonder if things would have been better if he left TNA earlier, before they wasted many years of his prime.
3 Thrived: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe was the hottest act in TNA during the 2006-2007 time period. That happened to be when the company finally started to see growth with their Spike TV deal and the signings of big names like Christian Cage, Sting and Kurt Angle. Joe still remained hugely popular, but TNA sacrificed his momentum to put the World Title on the veterans.
TNA eventually made Joe the World Champion and it resulted in the most successful PPV in company history. However, Joe's usage would continue to be disappointing until he finally left in 2015. Joe had enough of the issues in TNA and decided to bet on his own talent. Triple H signed him to the NXT brand and allowed him to keep his name. The rest is history with Samoa Joe, as he's now associated with Triple H and Kevin Owens as a major part of Raw.
2 Failed: Magnus
TNA signed Magnus with no experience in wrestling due to his look and potential. There was definitely something there as Magnus learned and improved enough to become a respectable member of the roster. The biggest break of his career came when he defeated A.J. Styles to win the TNA World Championship for a chance as the top heel on the show.
Magnus did not have an impressive title reign and it ended with no real standout moments. TNA would use him inconsistently following that and he decided to leave. Magnus joined Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling as the face of the brand and the promotion’s World Champion. GFW went on to become one of the biggest wrestling disasters in recent memory. Magnus is back in TNA with Jarrett running the show as the company desperately tries to stay alive.
1 Thrived: AJ Styles
The worst talent decision in the history of TNA has to be allowing A..J Styles to leave. Styles was the face of the company from early on, as the one homegrown talent to truly become a main event star. TNA still made a fool of him through the years and often slighted him for a quick fix of a veteran signing. Styles remained loyal until they asked him to take a drastic pay cut in 2014.
It worked out perfectly for Styles and he rejuvenated his career with a tremendous run in New Japan. Styles became the top North American star in Japan and held the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship while earning back the reputation as the best wrestler in the world. WWE realized he was too good to pass on and signed him in 2016. Styles is now one of the biggest stars in the company and the entire industry after leaving the disaster known as TNA.