Pretty much ever since WCW went out of business TNA has been trying to take their place. Jeff Jarrett created the promotion with the help of his father Jerry and went about starting a company that would one day compete with WWE, as WCW did for a number of years during the 1990s. 16 years later, TNA still exists (somehow) but the company is now named Impact Wrestling and they have still not managed to reach the lofty heights of being a genuine competitor to Vince McMahon. It isn’t for lack of talent though. Over the years TNA had some incredible wrestlers under their employ. Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, and not just former WWE guys. They’ve also created some of their own Superstars and here are five of them that they lost that have since become WWE’s gain.
5. Eric Young
Eric Young is a unique performer who made a name for himself competing for TNA. The Canadian Superstar was there for an incredible 12 years, even holding the company’s World Championship towards the end of that run. Then, to the delight of fans who followed his career for years, he showed up in NXT. What made it even more special is that his first televised NXT match was a main event against fellow TNA alum Samoa Joe (don’t worry we’ll get to him). Today Eric is a permanent fixture on NXT television. WWE has put his uniqueness to good use and he is the leader of the peculiar faction, SAnitY. Impact really should have done more to keep a hold of him.
4. Bobby Roode
Who could have envisioned the impact that Bobby Roode had on NXT? Pun very much intended. For the most part, when in TNA, Roode made up one half of the very successful tag team, Beer Money. For a brief period, it looked as if WWE were going to try and continue that gimmick on their own turf as Roode’s partner James Storm also almost signed with them at the same time. That didn’t happen, and Roode is probably extremely pleased about that. Instead, he became a singles star in NXT and had perhaps the greatest entrance music of all time bestowed upon him, Glorious. Yes, Roode is a great wrestler, but his theme has truly made him in WWE. It’s incredible.
3. Samoa Joe
We promised a little earlier that this list would wind up landing on Samoa Joe. The 17-year veteran used to be one of TNA’s greatest assets, wrestling for the company for ten years, holding their World Title once and the X Division Championship an impressive five times. Then in 2015, Joe left the company where he built his career and before long was a big name in NXT. The Destroyer became the first man to ever win the NXT Championship more than once and also made a significant impact on Raw from day one of his call-up. The build has been slow for Joe in WWE, but there’s no need to worry as it seems that they do know what an asset they have on their hands with him.
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2. Broken/Woken Matt Hardy
While most of Impact Wrestling’s glory years are long behind them, in 2016 they enjoyed something of a rejuvenation thanks to Matt Hardy‘s Broken Brilliance. The multiple time Tag Team Champion invented the gimmick and it sparked more of an interest in Impact Wrestling or TNA at the time than the promotion generated in years. They loved it so much that when Matt and Jeff eventually returned to WWE they tied them up in litigation in an attempt to not let them use it elsewhere. Well, The Hardy Boyz managed to untangle themselves from that web and last week Hardy became Woken, as opposed to Broken. It’s early days yet but if done right this could make a lot of money for WWE.
1. AJ Styles
The one former TNA guy that WWE have benefited from most is AJ Styles. The Phenomenal One was more synonymous with Impact Wrestling than anyone else on this list. He joined the promotion in 2002 and remained there for 12 years, wrestling against pretty much everyone who came through the company, winning all the titles, and basically doing everything he could have possibly done. In fact, he was on the verge of re-signing for Impact Wrestling when WWE came calling. He has been under the tutelage of Vince McMahon for less than two years now, but it feels like he has been there forever. A two time WWE Champion and one of the most loved Superstars in WWE, it’s hard to argue against the claim that Styles is the best wrestler on the planet right now.
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