TNA has been compared to the dying days of WCW for almost the entirety of their existence. The horribly run promotion has followed the same mistakes made by WCW in the late 90s without any of the major mainstream success to come with it. One criticism that has linked TNA to WCW for the worst has been their reliance on signing former WWE stars. WCW spiraled out of control by handing out big contracts to countless former WWE stars that hit the free agent market. Instead of building their own young stars, they bet their future on what turned out to be bad signings.
Unlike WCW, TNA didn’t have the money to offer massive contracts for the most part. That still didn’t stop them from overpaying ex-WWE names. The hope was the average wrestling fan would find a familiar name or two or twenty to draw them into the show. TNA’s plan completely decimated them leading to the same result as the dying days of WCW. We'll take a look at the bad signings from both WCW and TNA through the years in their attempt to compete with WWE. These are the ten worst former WWE star signings from TNA and WCW each.
21 WCW: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett is one of the names to bounce around between WWE and WCW most during the Monday Nights. The career of Jarrett would have two stints each in both companies through a short time period. WWE first pushed him with the country music leading to WCW stealing him away. Jarrett would join the Four Horsemen but failed to appear credible in the role.
A better WWE run came in the late 90s under the booking of Vince Russo. Jarrett started using the guitar as a weapon rather than an instrument. Russo convinced Jarrett to come back to WCW with him when making the big change. Jarrett left WWE burning all bridges possible for a main event run. No one bought him as a credible World Champion in such a big company destroying the hopes of Russo for a new star.
20 TNA: Matt Morgan
Jim Cornette preached the potential of Matt Morgan in WWE developmental during the early 2000s. The athleticism of the seven foot tall prospect made him a valuable commodity. Early hype compared him to The Undertaker in terms of size and talent. Morgan however didn’t have as much ability as his supporters claimed. A failed run in WWE led to him jumping ship to TNA.
The old connection of Cornette brought Morgan into the company he would call home for many years. Morgan once again failed to live up to Cornette’s expectations. The big man received many huge pushes in hopes of moving up the card. Morgan just didn’t have what was needed to stand out at a high level. TNA is still pushing him today continuing the legacy as an all-time horrible signing.
19 WCW: Jim Neidhart
Not only did WCW sign wrestlers to bad contracts, but they just handed them out like it was nothing. One of the best examples of this was WCW signing Jim Neidhart solely because he was related to Bret Hart. Following the Montreal Screwjob, Neidhart let his WWE contract run out and made the decision to join WCW out of loyalty to Bret.
It ended up being a tremendous business move since he made great money to spend the majority of his time hanging out backstage. Neidhart talked about enjoying the incompetence of WCW in various interviews in recent years. WCW sporadically used him in lower tier angles teaming with Davey Boy Smith. They clearly did not get anything back for the contract they offered him. This business decision shows why and how WCW lost its luster so quickly.
18 TNA: Val Venis
The era of change in TNA came with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff taking control of the company in 2010. Many veterans joined the company with TNA completely following the WCW death plan of trying to get familiar names in the form of washed up talent. Val Venis joined the company on the first night of the new era playing the ladies’ man character from WWE fame twelve years prior.
TNA fans reacted by booing the old wrestler holding up to forgotten success. Venis defeated Christopher Daniels in his sole PPV appearance to further gain the ire of the TNA fan base. It hurt the momentum of TNA and showed the direction they were going in. Val had no business wrestling for a television company. TNA signing him was a huge mistake that hurt their brand more than anything.
17 WCW: Brutus Beefcake
Another horrible signing from WCW to come due to connections was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake aka Ed Leslie joining the company with best friend Hulk Hogan. Leslie worked various gimmicks in WCW from The Booty Man to The Zodiac to The Disciple. WCW badly wanted to find something for him out of loyalty to the star power of Hogan, but nothing worked.
Leslie clearly received a great contract without having to put in the work. Former WWE stars were supposed to enhance the credibility of WCW but signings like Leslie did the exact opposite. Hogan was a great signing for WCW and helped bring them to their high point in success. Sadly, the negatives that came with him hurt them in the long run, including someone like Leslie joining the roster.
16 TNA: Josh Mathews
A bad announcer at the commentary table could destroy a wrestling show. TNA showed this when signing Josh Mathews literally days after he was fired from WWE. Mathews was on the WWE roster for many years and TNA hoped he would be the perfect man to join their table as the replacement for Mike Tenay. The transition made him the new voice of Impact along with an office job running the social media team.
Mathews has done a terrible job in both respects. TNA’s commentary is one of the biggest negatives that cause fans to turn their backs on the product. Mathews also has made controversial social media posts insulting the fan base on numerous instances. There’s a horrible vibe to everything TNA related today and Mathews’ presence is a major reason why.
15 WCW: Bryan Adams
The popularity of the New World Order helped WCW pass WWE for a couple of years. As great as the nWo was, the problem instantly became too many members joining. The original inception featured the wrestlers that made it important. Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were the perfect members. The Giant and Syxx-Pac also added relevance with their roles.
Lower tier names like Buff Bagwell and Virgil joined the group to hurt its reputation. Bryan Adams showed just how bad it got a few years into the faction. Following his WWE career as Crush, Adams randomly appeared at Nitro and joined the New World Order. He was already an irrelevant member by his second week losing any impact he'd sustained at that point. Adams had a pointless run in WCW doing absolutely nothing of note in the final few years of the company’s existence.
14 TNA: Rikishi
TNA getting a primetime spot on Spike TV made them change their approach from trying to build all new stars to bringing in any slightly former relevant name from WWE. One of the first names to join the company in the initial stage of making a bigger splash was Rikishi. Under the new name of Junior Fatu, he wrestled the younger stars of TNA.
Rikishi took it so seriously that he once referred to Bobby Roode as “Rick Rude” during a live promo without any correction. The work of Rikishi was clearly not as inspired as his glory WWE days. TNA cut bait with him shortly into his tenure realizing nothing would come from it. Rikishi set the tone for what we would see for many future signings but still goes down among the overall worst in TNA history.
13 WCW: Shawn Stasiak
The majority of former WWE stars to sign with WCW were older names way past their prime. A rare instance of the opposite was Shawn Stasiak signing with WCW in their final few years after a failed run with WWE. As the son of Stan Stasiak, the second generation wrestler had a lot of promise. The problem is Stasiak just didn’t have the talent to match the look and pedigree.
WCW placed him in the Natural Born Thrillers faction along with fellow young stars Chuck Palumbo, Sean O’Haire and Mark Jindrak. The hope was to build around these new performers as WCW always struggled to build young stars. Stasiak was by far the worst of the group and contributed negatively to the overall product. WWE signed all of WCW’s best young stars and all WCW could get back was Stasiak.
12 TNA: Ric Flair
Ric Flair retired from the WWE ring back in 2008 following a classic match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV. WWE gave him the greatest retirement celebration in company history. Flair refused to stay true to his word and left WWE for a better offer when they refused to allow him to wrestle again. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff convinced Flair to come along with them for a new era in TNA.
Flair primarily worked as a manager for A.J. Styles, Beer Money and Frankie Kazarian. The personality of Flair would often overshadow his wrestlers. Flair would get the chance to wrestle again with matches against Abyss, Jay Lethal, Mick Foley, Hogan and many others. The performances were embarrassing with Flair leaving the ring a bloody mess. A visual of a 60+ year old man bleeding buckets showed just how far TNA had fallen.
11 WCW: Tammy Sytch
Vince Russo gaining control of WCW saw him bring in many wrestlers he used to be familiar with in WWE. The tandem of Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch joined the company following their runs in WWE and ECW together. Candido joined the cruiserweight division and could have been a great addition. The desire to use Sytch as a wrestler as well however ruined the act.
Sytch never wrestled in WWE as Sunny and spent the majority of her career as a manager. Russo wanted Sytch to mix it up in tag matches teaming with Candido. This led to her being a horrible signing that made zero sense. Sytch was also accused of having drugs in the locker room to harm her reputation that would take many more hits through the years.
10 TNA: Hulk Hogan
The signing of Hulk Hogan by TNA has already been referenced a few times due to his poor decisions. Dixie Carter went for it all by bringing in Hogan to be the face of TNA both on screen and backstage. Hogan talked TNA into going head to head with WWE on Monday nights in hopes of recreating the Monday Night Wars. Instead, TNA got absolutely destroyed and fans would never even contemplate them being on the same level with WWE again.
Hogan insulted the likes of A.J. Styles and Bobby Roode in interviews showing zero respect for the talent carrying the company. A combination of his ego and just being out of touch made Hogan the last person worthy of running a promotion. There have been many negative hits to TNA, but the Hogan signing is one they were never able to rebound from.
8 WCW: Bret Hart
The signing of Bret Hart should have been a huge addition for WCW. Hart was coming off a highly successful run as one of WWE’s biggest stars leaving following the legendary Montreal Screwjob. The situation couldn’t have been better until WCW decided to book him like any other wrestler on the roster. Bret received a massive contract but appeared in a smaller role than his main event peers.
From his first night in the company, it appeared WCW had no idea how to use the talent of Hart in an effective manner. The horrible run got worse as Bret suffered numerous injuries in the dying years of WCW ending his career faster than anyone expected. WCW essentially signed one of the biggest names in the business to be the highest paid background player. Hart has gone on the record that he regrets ever joining WCW.
7 TNA: Booker T
The signing of Booker T for TNA was unlike many of the other poor decisions. Booker was coming off a long successful run from WWE and actually had main event name value. The issue is Booker didn’t care or have the passion that he did in his years for WCW and WWE. Booker is the first name mentioned when fans and wrestlers refer to legends coming to TNA and treating it like a retirement home.
A lack of interest for the work he was putting out led to Booker being a huge bust. You would be lucky to have one or two noteworthy memories from his time in TNA. The main reason he even signed there in the first place was because they overpaid him to try to grow the brand. Instead, TNA remained in the same position it was always in and it hurt their reputation by having someone go through the motions every night.
6 WCW: Virgil
You can understand the majority of bad signings made by WCW. Most of the names were once popular or at least relevant enough to warrant bringing onto the roster. Virgil is the exception to the rule. The WWE run of his was known for nothing more than being the lackey for Ted DiBiase. There was a short lived push that went nowhere and Virgil was forgotten until WCW signed him.
The signing was done to bring him into WCW along with DiBiase. Under the new name of Vincent, it was meant to be a rib at Vince McMahon. For some reason, WCW thought it would bother McMahon that one of his least relevant performers of a prior era was named after him. Vincent rarely appeared in anything more than the New World Order segments being a part of scuffles. WCW truly found the least creative ways to waste money.
5 TNA: Orlando Jordan
Another terrible signing made during the Hulk Hogan era was bringing in Orlando Jordan. The work of Jordan during an Australian tour convinced Hogan that Jordan was a star to build around. TNA brought him in with one of the most ridiculous gimmicks in company history. Jordan’s bisexuality lifestyle created controversy back in WWE when he brought his boyfriend to shows and they wanted to play off that.
The concept of the character was for Jordan to have a boyfriend and girlfriend as his entourage while making the other wrestlers uncomfortable. For some reason, TNA was convinced that a bisexual wrestler needed to be a sexual deviant that harassed everyone else. Jordan would rub oil all over his body on a bed prop to bother feuding opponents. Needless to say, the character flopped and Jordan was out of TNA quickly.
4 WCW: Vince Russo
Sometimes the worst signing a wrestling company can make is for backstage personnel rather than on-screen talent. Luckily, Russo was horrible enough at both to earn a high spot on the list. We could have fit Russo on both lists, but the WCW run is remembered as a legendary flop for many reasons. Russo was at his peak during the Attitude Era as the lead writer for WWE during the ratings rise.
A move to WCW landed him a massive contract without Vince McMahon micromanaging his ideas. Most people would want this, but Russo proved that a safety net is helpful in certain situations. Russo took WCW’s bad situation and made it a million times worse. WCW reached new lows in horrible content and lost a ridiculous amount of money. Russo put the WCW Championship on himself and David Arquette at different points to try to save the sinking ship. That’s all you need to know about how bad things were.
3 TNA: Mr. Anderson
The signing of Mr. Anderson in TNA actually seemed like a good idea at the time. His WWE run as Mr. Kennedy was highly impressive. It appeared he was bound for a WWE Championship run at various points before he suffered injuries and endured bad luck. TNA signed a relevant performer with a high upside.
Anderson’s injury history ended there but his upside apparently left along the process. TNA made him a main eventer and multiple time World Champion. Unfortunately, he just didn’t belong in the upper echelon. Names like Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe all exposed him as not being on their level. Anderson remained on the roster for many years continuing to under deliver. The reason for Anderson being so high on the list is we know he could have been a huge player but instead turned into a bust of a signing.
2 WCW: Ultimate Warrior
WCW did find some success off the biggest WWE names joining the company before it got too far. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Roddy Piper all contributed to short term success. Ultimate Warrior was the exception here as a former WWE Champion to bring nothing to the table. WCW hired him for a dream rematch against Hogan.
The story was perfectly set up as Warrior was the one man Hogan lost to in WWE and was never able to get his win back. Everything looked doomed from the start with many of his appearances bordering on comedy rather than suspense. Warrior and Hogan went on to have one of the worst matches in the history of the industry at the Halloween Havoc PPV. WCW cut bait with Warrior after he did the job to Hogan despite paying him massive money. It goes down as the worst signing in company history.
1 TNA: Rob Van Dam
The signing of Rob Van Dam by TNA created headlines as a former top WWE star that still appeared to have his A-game when leaving the company. Fans badly wanted to see the exciting style of RVD compete against the new age performers of TNA. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff convinced him to join during their reign with a fat contract.
Van Dam sadly didn’t take it seriously and treated his TNA tenure like a vacation. RVD was no longer the must-see performer but now became another lazy veteran there for the check. The wrestlers in TNA hated working with Van Dam due to his constant disrespect to the likes of TNA stalwarts A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels. RVD buried many wrestlers on the roster in public blaming them for the company’s lack of success. In reality, it was Van Dam and wrestlers like him most responsible for killing TNA.