The history of unfortunate moments in TNA history caused many negative slopes for the company to trend downhill. No promotion has wasted as much talent or opportunities as TNA did during their time in the spotlight. TNA was the first wrestling promotion to get a real chance to do something big outside of WWE after WCW went out of business. The talented roster with familiar names and a solid television deal could never get over the hump despite the many attempts.
We will look at some of the scenarios that have left us wondering what could have been if some things just ended up differently. These are things that TNA fans wondered about at the time when looking at how various mistakes could have been avoided. Take a trip back in TNA history as we look at ten of the biggest “what ifs” throughout the company’s history.
10 Never bringing in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff
One of the biggest second guesses in TNA history comes from fans question what would have happened if Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff never joined. The move was made with both men receiving huge contracts with expectations of the same success they had in WCW.
TNA’s problem was that Hogan and Bischoff never matured with the times and tried to do all the same things that worked in WCW. Another factor of this “what if” is that TNA was delivering some of their best content in late 2009 before the change ruined the momentum.
9 Awesome Kong and Gail main-eventing over men when they deserved it
WWE has received praise for the women’s evolution opening up opportunities for the women’s division. TNA did push their women harder than WWE in their peak years, but the ladies always had a ceiling on them. Gail Kim and Awesome Kong had one of the best rivalries in women’s wrestling history for TNA.
The ladies received strong ratings and often had the best matches or segments on every show. TNA could have gone with a huge move at the time by having Kong and Kim main event a PPV. It never happened, but this could have seen them have the success with a women’s division the way WWE is now enjoying.
8 Not burning relationship with NJPW
The prior working relationship between TNA and New Japan would see talents like Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura appearing for the other promotion. This was going strong until Kazuchika Okada came to TNA for a learning excursion.
TNA used him poorly with Vince Russo writing him as a comedic character based on The Green Hornet. NJPW ended their relationship with TNA due to the poor use of their next top star. Okada still rose to the top of NJPW as a massive star today and the company still refuses to do business with TNA. Given how much NJPW helped ROH, this was a huge “what could have been” scenario.
7 Monty Brown winning title
Monty Brown was one of the second breakout homegrown star for TNA after AJ Styles. The former NFL player thrived at wrestling quickly into his career and became a fan favorite. Brown was on pace to win the TNA Championship until Christian Cage and Sting joined the company.
Both bigger names passed Brown in the pecking order and he was forced to turn heel as Jeff Jarrett’s sidekick. Brown was used to put them both over as his title momentum completely ended. TNA could have been better off with a new young star as the champion, but we’ll never know.
6 Pushing Desmond Wolfe
Desmond Wolfe aka Nigel McGuinness joining TNA was a huge move in late 2009. Following an agreement with WWE, the injury history of McGuinness led to him failing a medical and losing the contract offer. To their credit, TNA picked up on this and signed him right away to feud with Kurt Angle.
Wolfe did amazing work against Angle in back to back PPV matches. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff took control shortly after and things changed for the entire roster. Wolfe won a fan vote to receive a title shot and was essentially buried after it. Given how much Wolfe’s ROH peers like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk found success, he could have been a major player for TNA.
5 Giving more control to Matt Hardy
The creative mind of Matt Hardy gave TNA some rare relevance in the wrestling world in 2016. Hardy’s “Broken” character change led to various clips going viral. The combination of Matt’s unique promos and his matches at the Hardy compound made TNA worth trying again.
TNA started to give more time to Matt to become a vocal part of the creative process. WWE eventually signed the Hardys after their time in Impact Wrestling ended. TNA might have had a better fate if they re-signed Matt and gave him more control of the entire show since that was what fans wanted.
4 Remaining on Spike TV with new management
The loss of the Spike TV deal for TNA was arguably the lowest point. Following a long run on a popular cable network, TNA lost the stability of having a consistent television deal. This was crushing since everyone in power of the company to that point disappointed.
Don Callis and Scott D’Amore taking over in recent years have seen the company finally praised for having direction. They will have a better television deal with AXS TV moving forward, but a network as big as Spike would have been great to watch for this regime.
3 Not trying to compete with WWE
One of the biggest issues for TNA is that they always tried to compete with WWE despite never being ready. TNA often took pot shots at WWE with various wrestlers clowning Vince McMahon or the WWE talent of the time.
Even the moves for the company’s business strategy like moving the show to a different night would see TNA try to compete with Raw. WWE destroyed TNA every single time TNA felt they were ready to pose a viable threat to the biggest promotion.
2 Building around AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and other young stars
The younger wrestlers of TNA always had to play second fiddle to the bigger names on the roster. AJ Styles and Samoa Joe were the two most successful homegrown talents with exceptional talents. TNA did have them in the main event picture, but they always would have to sacrifice their status for older names.
Names like Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Sting and even Mr. Anderson all ranked over the two. WWE is currently now pushing Styles and Joe both as major stars. TNA could have been in better shape if they just relied on their younger stars.
1 Giving Paul Heyman control
There were reports of TNA trying to attract Paul Heyman in 2009 shortly before Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were selected for the job. Heyman had a strong plan for massive changes in the company that he revealed in an interview he wanted to implement if running TNA.
The hope was to remove all the talent over 40 aside from one or two names. Heyman wanted to bring in Daniel Bryan for a main event feud with Kurt Angle as the direction of the company’s future. Dixie Carter didn’t want to give him his requested full control, and we’re just left wondering what if Heyman ran TNA.