TNA was criticized for relying too much on former WWE talent during their most important growing period. Fans would tune in and out of the show with TNA never fulfilling its potential. The names that joined the company after their time in WWE featured a mixed bag of results. Some stars helped TNA grow while others played a role in the decline.
We will look at the best and worst instances of former WWE stars trying a new path in TNA. The better stories saw talents truly wanting to do something new and work with the rising stars of the company. Unfortunately, there are examples of wrestlers having a negative impact and hurting TNA's momentum. Find out just how things worked out for the wrestlers making the jump. These are 5 former WWE stars that helped TNA along with 5 that hurt it.
10 Helped: Christian
Christian was one of the first major stars to jump ship from WWE to TNA. The desire to perform in a main event position saw Christian getting a new start in the smaller company. Christian worked well with younger stars like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Frankie Kazarian.
Christian improved TNA’s standing in the early portion of their Spike TV days. Christian had a couple of successful NWA Championship reigns when that was the world title in TNA. All the wrestlers had positive words to say about Christian’s time working there.
9 Hurt: Hulk Hogan
TNA’s biggest risk came when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined the promotion with both backstage and on-screen roles. The hope was that Hogan would give TNA the platform to grow into a legitimate contender to WWE like when he joined WCW.
Hogan unfortunately could not improve TNA’s standing. The decisions made backstage like changing up the roster and moving the show to Monday nights to compete with Raw played a role in fans losing interest in the product. Hogan was a bad hire that Dixie Carter likely regrets.
8 Helped: EC3
One of the surprise breakout stars for TNA to come from WWE was EC3. The original WWE run of Derrick Bateman saw him doing nothing of note. TNA hired him to play the EC3 character as Dixie Carter's nephew on-screen.
EC3 became an instant star and moved up the card as a top heel. Victories over the likes of Sting, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles helped put EC3 on the map. TNA made him the world champion and a consistent main eventer. WWE eventually signed him back and are once again wasting his talents.
7 Hurt: Matt Morgan
The size and athletic skills of Matt Morgan made him a top prospect in WWE developmental. Morgan had a weak main roster introduction as Carlito’s bodyguard with a stuttering gimmick. Fans had no idea how to take it and Morgan eventually left for TNA.
The various TNA pushes for Morgan always fell just short of breaking into the main event picture. TNA placed him in storylines against Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, and Jeff Hardy, but none of them got him to the next level. Fans viewed TNA as a home of WWE flops due to performers like Morgan.
6 Helped: Matt Hardy
The reinvention of Matt Hardy helped TNA find some new success in 2016. Hardy started playing the “Broken” version of his character. It was something completely different from the rest of the wrestling world and made the product stand out.
Matt’s matches with Jeff Hardy became must-see television with the theatrics going down on the Hardy compound. The character of Matt allowed him to return to WWE with Jeff as the hottest act in the business. TNA losing Matt was a huge blow when new management tried to underpay him.
5 Hurt: Mr. Anderson
WWE’s Mr. Kennedy became TNA’s Mr. Anderson with disappointing runs in both companies. The hope from WWE was that Kennedy would evolve into a main eventer, but he always missed out on his chances due to injuries and suspensions.
Anderson’s TNA run did see him join the main event picture with feuds against Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle. Fans never viewed Anderson as being on the top level that TNA tried to present him at. Anderson's work also declined around this time, making his TNA presence a negative one.
4 Helped: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle joining TNA was a massive move for the company. The end of Angle’s WWE run saw him at the top of the card still in his prime. TNA wasted no time adding Angle once his bitter ending with WWE played out publicly.
Angle had many great moments for TNA and created a new chapter for his legacy. The matches with Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Abyss, Desmond Wolfe and countless others added greatness to the company. Angle was a great addition to TNA and he took his role very seriously.
3 Hurt: Rob Van Dam
The addition of Rob Van Dam to TNA’s roster had fans excited about its potential. Van Dam was still remembered for his incredible matches during a short absence from the wrestling business. Fans wanted to see the dream matches of RVD facing AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and many others.
Van Dam instead treated TNA like a vacation. Styles specifically stated in shoot interviews that he felt RVD was there for the easy paycheck. Van Dam even insulted the company and its younger stars in interviews. The run of RVD in TNA was a huge negative for both parties.
2 Helped: Gail Kim
TNA started their own version of the women’s division with The Knockouts. Gail Kim became the first face of the division after winning the Knockouts Championship. Her overall talent was spotlighted in a way that WWE never showcased.
Gail became a superb performer with classic matches against Awesome Kong leading to the biggest ratings in their segments. The presence of Kim in TNA through her two stints led to massive success. Impact even inducted Gail into the Hall of Fame for her overall contributions to the company.
1 Hurt: Booker T
The end of Booker T’s run in WWE would see him join TNA in a main event spot. Booker has even admitted on his podcast that he treated TNA like a vacation. Booker's matches were clearly a notch below what fans expected.
Booker only found success as part of the Main Event Mafia faction when teaming up with Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and Sting. The big contract and lack of success coming from Booker made him one of the worst signings in TNA history.