The history of TNA Wrestling showcased many of the top talents in the industry. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough faith in the talent of their young rising stars and often pushed the over-the-hill veterans coming over from WWE. Quite a few great talents would see many years of their careers wasted when signing with TNA. As the second-biggest promotion in North America, wrestlers expected to enhance their careers by having a role in the company.
We will look at the best wrestlers to have their great work wasted when trying to help make TNA a special promotion. Their stories range from TNA underrating them in the mid-card to not even using them at all. Some would go on to find major success elsewhere, while others would regret wasting their prime in the disappointing promotion.
10 The Young Bucks
The success of the Young Bucks started the chain of events that led to All Elite Wrestling forming. Matt and Nick Jackson became mega-stars in New Japan and Ring of Honor, with their merchandise finding their way into Hot Topic stores.
No-one would have expected this when looking back at their run in TNA as Generation Me. There were some incredible matches with the Motor City Machine Guns, but Matt and Nick never received much of a push in TNA. The Young Bucks requested their release and would find major success by betting on their own talent.
9 Sonjay Dutt
Sonjay Dutt had quite a few stints in TNA throughout the years. The talent of Dutt was always impressive, going back to his time on the independent circuit. Dutt’s aerial moves were ahead of their time and he perfectly represented the X-Division style.
TNA never made Dutt a major player in the X-Division and he didn’t win the title until one of his later stints. Dutt should have been a far bigger star in the industry, but TNA wasted his best chance to become a superstar. Thankfully, WWE hired Dutt to end his career by becoming a producer.
8 Alex Shelley
Another X-Division stand-out to have great matches as a singles star and tag team star is Alex Shelley. Most fans will remember Shelley for his time with Chris Sabin as the Motor City Machine Guns tag team. Shelley inspired many of the stars from his era, like Johnny Gargano and Seth Rollins.
TNA never viewed him as a bigger star that deserved a strong push. Shelley easily could have been a main-event player, given his in-ring skills, charisma and ability to connect with an audience. Shelley's happiness improved when joining New Japan after leaving TNA.
7 Consequences Creed
The average wrestling fan has no idea that Xavier Woods was once with TNA, under the name of Consequences Creed. It makes sense, since the promotion did little of note with him. Creed mostly took part in tag team action, partnered with Jay Lethal and R-Truth at different times.
Creed's best matches took place in the X-Division, but TNA had no desire to make him a bigger star. WWE eventually signed him and the rest is history. Woods’ role in the formation of New Day made him a huge name and valuable asset for the company.
6 Amazing Red
The career of Amazing Red featured some important matches for the early years of TNA. Red was one of the fixtures in the inception of the X-Division along with A.J. Styles, Low Ki and Jerry Lynn. He was the odd man out in most scenarios, as TNA never viewed him as having the same potential.
Red is inching towards retirement, with his likely final match coming against Will Ospreay in New Japan after the latter expressed his desire for it. WWE stars like Ali and Sasha Banks have discussed Red’s influence on them. Countless others would have felt the same way, if TNA had done more with Red.
5 Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe is one of the few wrestlers on this list to have success in the TNA main event picture, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t criminally underused as well. The obvious belief in the early years of the Spike TV deal was that Joe would become one of the faces of the company.
Despite having a few great moments and a World Championship reign, Joe was never presented as a legitimate top star. Former WWE names like Kurt Angle, Christian Cage and Jeff Hardy all jumped above him in the pecking order. WWE is now using Joe as an upper-level star, after TNA dropped the ball with him for most of his career.
4 Kazuchika Okada
New Japan has seen a huge rise in success with Kazuchika Okada as the face of the company. TNA had a young Okada on their roster during the working relationship with NJPW. The hope was that Okada would have a solid little run learning a new style.
TNA, however, rarely featured him on television at all. Okada received an embarrassing gimmick playing a parody of the Green Hornet character. NJPW cut all ties with TNA due to their poor use of Okada, and still refuses to work with them to this day. Meanwhile, the popularity of NJPW exceeded that of TNA in North America quite some time ago, with Okada leading the way.
Many of the top Ring of Honor stars of the 2000s would become legends in the industry. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are elite names thanks to their incredible runs in WWE as top stars. Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles are reaching that level as well. One name from that era that is forgotten today is Homicide.
The incredible ROH World Championship chase from Homicide saw him end Daniel Bryan’s legendary reign. Homicide eventually committed to TNA for his tag team run in LAX. TNA did see LAX become a top tag team, but it didn’t last long enough. Homicide saw his best years wasted with the poor booking.
2 Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal had quite a few amazing moments during his time in TNA. Segments with legends like Ric Flair, Kevin Nash and Kurt Angle helped him grow as a performer in different ways. Lethal, unfortunately, never got the respect he needed from TNA and they eventually fired him.
Ring of Honor picked up Lethal and he became one of the faces of the company. ROH is currently depending on him, after losing the major names involved in AEW. Lethal easily could have been a main-eventer for TNA, but they didn’t view him as being worth investing in.
1 Desmond Wolfe
Desmond Wolfe will always be viewed as one of the most underrated wrestlers of his era. The Ring of Honor portion of his career saw him as an equal to Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and countless other relevant stars today.
WWE removed his contract offer as a talent after injury issues came up in his physical testing. TNA signed him under the name of Wolfe with a huge first storyline against Kurt Angle. The timing of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff ended his push. Wolfe struggled in TNA for a while before retiring from the ring. WWE did hire him as a broadcaster for NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live, where he thrives today.