Over the years, TNA has given fans a lot of very terrible stuff. From the dumbest gimmick matches imaginable (Reverse Battle Royale) to stupid angles (Claire Lynch) to terrible “celebrity” involvement (Pacman Jones), the company has seemed to go out of its way to shoot itself int the foot repeatedly. The tragedy of TNA is always that they had a very good selection of workers and major talent but didn’t know how to present them right. Instead, more than one very promising star for the company has been saddled with a gimmick that makes WCW at their worst look fun.
Some are able to overcome these gimmicks for some success. They have crushed others. It was one thing when TNA started and you had guys dressed like Elvis or the infamous “Johnsons” tag team. It’s another when the company was doing its best to challenge WWE and break out majorly yet kept presenting one stupid idea after another. Even some true major stars have been given gimmicks that blow the mind. Cutting them down is tricky, but here are 10 of the dumbest gimmicks TNA has ever presented to remind folks why this company has become such a joke in wrestling.
10 Aron Rex
Damien Sandow had been a rising star in WWE as fans loved his acts like the “Intellectual Savior” and "The Stunt Double” for the Miz. Sandow seemed lost in the company and so he made a big splash joining TNA. He boasted about how he would become a bigger star in no time to show up WWE.
TNA’s best idea was Aron Rex, a wild figure based on Liberace. Rockstar Spud was his chauffeur with Sandow coming out in ridiculous robes and makeup for some lame matches. Sandow quit not just TNA but wrestling itself for a time to show how the company crushed a good worker.
9 Guru Sonjay Dutt
Sonjay Dutt always had the ingredients to be a big deal in TNA. He was a great athlete and terrific in the X Division. Sadly, like many talents, Dutt was saddled with some stupid stuff over his career including living up the usual Indian stereotypes.
At one point, he became "The Guru,” with the idea of him apologizing constantly for his actions and being dirt poor, begging fans for money (insert your own “TNA is cheap” jokes here). It never clicked as Dutt left TNA for a time. He returned to finally get an X Division title run but for fans, it was too late to salvage him.
Did you know “Rellik” is “Killer” spelled backwards? If you didn’t, don’t worry; the TNA announcers would remind you about ten times for every one of his matches. This weird worker was put together with Goldust, with his entire gimmick based on his “clever” name. He was meant to be a monster but just came off too silly for fans to get into.
He looked more like a cartoon character rather than some intimidating presence and his feuds were a total mess. They let him go after a year to mark one of the dumber attempts by TNA to create some monster.
7 Black Reign
It’s sad that while Dustin Rhodes was a fantastic worker and a good star, he seemed to be unable to get anywhere in wrestling without his Goldust act. Rhodes had a brief sting in TNA as himself in 2005 which didn’t go anywhere. He later returned to take on the act of Black Reign. It was basically Goldust in different paint, but still the same weird character.
It was terrible and not helped by how Rhodes was undergoing personal issues at the time. They put him into dumb gimmick matches, terrible tag teams and he soon jumped back to TNA. It showed Goldust just worked better on his own.
6 Nature Boy AJ Styles
Some people can pull off a terrific Ric Flair impression. AJ Styles is not one of them. Styles already had some dumb stuff in TNA like being made out to be an idiot and marrying Karen Angle. Styles becoming Flair’s protegee was okay, but then Flair had Styles in his classic robes and doing his old promos and mannerisms.
Styles just didn’t fit the part at all and his ring work suffered. It was all part of a stupid angle for the Flair vs Hogan rivalry, and poor AJ was forced to give up his usual brilliant ring work to keep this act up.
5 Stone Cold Shark Boy
Shark Boy had been a popular guy on the indie scene and early TNA. He wasn’t the best worker but he was good as a masked guy to beat up and had a following. TNA gave him more time by having Shark Boy getting beaten into a coma. When he woke up, Shark Boy had suddenly turned into a shameless copy of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
His intro music now opened with “Give Me A Shell Yeah” and he was doing Austin promos and drinking beer with a Stunner finisher. He did his best with it but seeing him copy Austin was lamer than his original act.
4 Orlando Jordan
In WWE, Orlando Jordan had a forgettable stint as the US Champion and was clearly floundering. He must have thought TNA would be a great place to get a second chance and rebuild himself. Instead, it basically killed his career.
Jordan would be lowered to the ring in nothing but yellow tape and then wipe some white cream over his body while acting weirdly. It was downright disturbing to watch and it wasn’t helped by the announcers calling him some sort of freak. His tenure wasn’t long and Jordan never recovered from TNA giving him a gimmick that was doomed to fail.
3 The Governor
Try to follow this one. The Beautiful People brought in someone they referred to as “The Governor,” who was clearly meant to be Sarah Palin. It was instead an unrecognizable Daffney doing an actually not too bad impression. However, Sky and Love somehow came to believe she really was Palin, boasting on how she was going to lead them to the White House.
This, of course, ignored how this was not Palin who had lost the election by this point. Amazingly, TNA actually had Daffney continue to wrestle as the Governor (in glasses and suit) to keep up an act that should have died out fast.
2 Black Machismo
Jay Lethal has proven himself the biggest star in ROH, holding the World and TV titles several times (and both at the same time). Yet his TNA run was largely forgettable despite six X Division championships. The problem was TNA kept thinking Lethal had to be some weird character, with his worst being Black Machismo: a carbon copy of Macho Man Randy Savage, complete with the outfits, promos, and an elbow finisher.
To his credit, Lethal went all out for it to get some attention but it was still dumb to saddle him with this. ROH proved Lethal could more than get by on his own rather than copy another star.
Today, Kazuchika Okada is recognized as one of the best wrestlers on the entire planet. He’s had record-setting reigns as NJPW champion and his matches with Kenny Omega have broken all star ratings. This just makes it even more remarkable that TNA saddled him with one of the dumbest ideas imaginable.
After pulling off the coup of landing a young Okada, TNA gave him a black mask and an outfit to look like the Green Hornet’s sidekick Kato. Not only was it a total waste of his talents, but NJPW hated the treatment so much that it cut ties with TNA. Okada returned home to become a major star. It's just amazing how badly TNA blew it with him.