The history of TNA featured many great wrestlers performing for the underachieving promotion. Despite having a lot of money and a television deal on Spike TV for many years, TNA never could rise to credibility as a top promotion that could compete with WWE. That didn’t stop most of the wrestlers from trying their best to showcase their talent through the mediocre creative methods. This all led to a mixed bag of top champions in the promotion.
TNA’s best champions helped showcase some credibility that made fans care about the company, even through the controversial times. Unfortunately, not all the champs could have such great moments when holding the world title. Some wrestlers created negative legacies as a champion to hurt the title. Both sides will be examined in depth here as we look at five of the best and five of the worst TNA Champions of all time.
10 Best: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe only had one TNA Champion despite being a top performer in the company for his entire run. The incredible matches of Joe along with his intense persona made the TNA fans believe in him as a top tier homegrown star in the promotion.
Joe helped set a TNA PPV box office record with the most buys coming when he defeated Kurt Angle for the TNA Championship at Lockdown 2008 in a special moment. The title reign didn’t compare to his iconic ROH Championship reign, but it was still one of the best in TNA.
9 Worst: Mr. Anderson
The career of Mr. Anderson would see him fail to reach the potential many expected from him. Anderson had a solid first few years as Mr. Kennedy in WWE until injuries and backstage heat led to his release. TNA signed Anderson during the Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff regime with the hopes of making him a top star.
Anderson would get his run as a world champion. The title reign didn’t find the relevance TNA management hoped to get from a new star on top of the company. Anderson’s reign ended shortly after a month with Jeff Hardy once again winning it back.
8 Best: Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode had two TNA Championship reigns to become one of the best champions in company history. The first one set a record as Roode held the title for a record-breaking 256 days. Roode’s title win came when he turned heel on former partner James Storm to create a new character.
The incredible work of Roode made him arguably the greatest heel in TNA history. A second title reign came later in his TNA run as a face this time to help steer the ship when the company lost their deal on Spike TV. Roode had another solid run to add more to his great legacy as a champion.
7 Worst: Eli Drake
Eli Drake became a breakout star for TNA in recent years with the company attempting to rebrand with new stars. The microphone skills of Drake were his strong suit with the impressive promos allowing him to rise to the top of the company.
Drake won the TNA Championship in 2017 after Alberto El Patron vacated the title due to suspension. The tittle reign of Drake was not an impressive one that helped the company. TNA lost more momentum, and Drake would never get a second title reign.
6 Best: Drew Galloway
One of the few recent instances of a TNA Champion providing great results was Drew Galloway aka current WWE star Drew McIntyre. The motivation of Drew on the independent circuit was due to his desire to prove he was a great wrestler after getting released from WWE.
Galloway defeated Matt Hardy to win the TNA Championship leading to an impressive title reign. The stint helped the company find some positive momentum with fans giving them another chance. Galloway did such a great job in TNA and other smaller promotions that WWE offered him a contract to return where he’s now a top star.
5 Worst: Mick Foley
The legendary career of Mick Foley led to a few returns from retirement due to the generous offer for his star power. Foley joined TNA initially in the role of an authority figure. The personality of Foley still delivered positive contributions, but things went downhill when he started wrestling again.
TNA tried to get buzz of a “dream match” between two legends of Sting and Foley. Their feud culminated in Foley winning the title and holding it for about a month. Foley tried his best, but it was a disaster with the part-time wrestler just damaging the credibility of the title.
4 Best: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle has gone on the record that he felt the best work of his career came during his ten-year stint in TNA. Most fans remember his WWE moments, but Angle instead viewed his maturation in TNA as a big improvement he wished more fans saw.
The stint in TNA featured a record-breaking 6 title reigns as the top star in the company. Angle had great matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Abyss and many others. The career of Angle will be remembered fondly for many reasons and his legacy as a TNA Champion should be one of them.
3 Worst: Rob Van Dam
The signing of Rob Van Dam to TNA felt like a huge boost when it happened. RVD was known for his innovative wrestling style and ability to perform strongly in the ring. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff pulled the trigger on Van Dam as the TNA Champion quickly by having him end AJ Styles’ reign.
Unfortunately, RVD was exposed as losing quite a few steps in the ring. His attitude behind the scenes was another disappointment as Van Dam felt he was above the rest of the roster with controversial comments about the younger stars. The title reign was a bust that hurt both RVD’s career and TNA.
2 Best: AJ Styles
The career of AJ Styles featured success in every promotion he worked for, but his contributions to TNA were the most valuable. Styles was the first true homegrown star to get over at a main event level. Despite being the face of the company, Styles only had two stints as TNA Champion.
Both of AJ’s reigns were successful and helped play a role in getting fans to care for TNA again through the rough times. Styles won his first title right before the Hogan/Bischoff regime and delivered some classics before things changed for the worse.
1 Worst: Alberto El Patron
TNA’s rebuilding efforts in recent years have seen them take the chance on a few risky talents. Alberto El Patron showcased the worst-case scenario of investing time into the wrong person as a world champion. The one lackluster TNA Championship reign from El Patron ended when he was suspended for an alleged domestic dispute with Paige.
TNA tried to bring him back a while later to once again enter the world title picture during a feud with Austin Aries, but he no showed a huge event which led to his firing. Every memory associated with Alberto in the world title picture is remembered for the negative reasons.