The legacy of TNA will always center around the company missing out on opportunities to do something special. Fans, wrestlers and pundits all wanted TNA to become a viable second top promotion behind WWE, but it didn't hit the ground running as AEW has. TNA did not have much success, as their poor decisions led to the company falling apart and never having legitimate credibility as a top promotion.
Names like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe have found more fame and success after making the jump to WWE later in their careers. We will look at some of the names that should also have tried leaving the company earlier. These wrestlers struck around long enough to waste their prime years in the often-lackluster promotion.
10 Alex Shelley
The talent of Alex Shelley was obvious to any diehard wrestling fan watching TNA, but the people in charge had very little interest in pushing him. Shelley’s best run came as part of the Motor City Machine Guns tag team with his friend Chris Sabin.
The eventual departure of Shelley from TNA allowed him to break out in the New Japan world. Shelley is now working for Ring of Honor after taking a break to finish his schooling. The wrestling legacy of Shelley would have been stronger today if he'd been working for WWE or AEW in his prime.
9 Original LAX
The recent LAX tag team of Santana and Ortiz are thriving in AEW, but the original version of the tag team never had its big break. Hernandez and Homicide had great chemistry together in the ring, helped along with Konnan as their manager and mouthpiece.
LAX became arguably the hottest act in TNA and dominated the tag team picture. TNA used them well for a while before letting go of Konnan and slowing down the duos’ push. Homicide and Hernandez deserved a better run in a bigger company.
8 Christopher Daniels
Christopher Daniels was one of the backbone talents of TNA, trying to help make it grow into something special. The matches between Daniels, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles made fans believe they were going to push their young stars. Daniels did whatever TNA asked of him, from tag team to singles to comedic work.
TNA released him a few times, always bringing him back again. Daniels eventually left them the final time along with tag team partner Frankie Kazarian. The duo found great success in Ring of Honor and are now part of the AEW roster, but Daniels could have thrived longer if he left way earlier.
7 Eric Young
The long run of Eric Young in TNA saw him mostly thrive as a comedic talent. Young often got laughs from the audience in his various bits, such as trying to avoid getting fired, marrying ODB or just looking to make a fool out of his opponents.
A decision was made to eventually leave TNA, as they lost their Spike TV deal and things started to decline. Young joined WWE as part of the Sanity faction, finding success in NXT. The main roster run has not gone as well. Young likely wishes he left TNA earlier to chase the WWE dream.
6 Eddie Edwards
One recent wrestler that should have left TNA a long time ago is Eddie Edwards. The duo of Edwards and Davey Richards signed to become the new top tag team, as the American Wolves. Edwards eventually found more success in the singles division and even won the TNA Championship.
The past few years have seen him treading water, as he’s done everything possible there. Edwards is a tremendous talent and often gets overlooked, due to the Impact roster not having a huge spotlight. Friends of his like Adam Cole, Roderick Strong and Kevin Owens are already in WWE. Edwards should have tried to jump ship many years ago.
5 Kurt Angle
The legendary career of Kurt Angle, surprisingly, featured more years in TNA than WWE. Angle had classic matches against Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and many others. The decision to leave TNA would see Angle finally return to WWE in 2017 for a Hall of Fame induction.
Angle had a few more matches in WWE, but he couldn't deliver the expectations of his prime days. The retirement of Angle came at the recent WrestleMania 35 event to Baron Corbin. Angle leaving TNA earlier may have granted us some more classics before he ended his career.
4 Angelina Love
TNA tried to build a strong women’s division, known as the knockouts division. Angelina Love was one of the first breakout stars, as the leader of the Beautiful People faction. Velvet Sky lacked the in-ring skills, which meant Angelina had to represent in the singles matches.
A few stints would see her spent most of her career in TNA, until recently leaving for ROH’s Women of Honor division. Love is the current Women of Honor Champion, but she has clearly lost a step or two. It would have been better to see a run like this in her prime.
3 James Storm
James Storm made a few bad choices when sticking it out with TNA. The long tenure in the company made Storm a respected member, but he was rarely considered a top star. Storm did leave for a short time and made some appearances in NXT, before it was common for TNA stars to appear there.
Contract offers from both WWE and TNA saw Storm remain with TNA. Storm likely regretted it right away when TNA started to go downhill financially. Friends like AJ Styles and Bobby Roode were signed while Storm now finds himself in NWA, trying to rebuild his career.
2 Chris Sabin
Chris Sabin was arguably the most valuable member of the X-Division. When wrestlers like Samoa Joe and AJ Styles received the upgrade to the heavyweight division, Sabin held down the fort, providing classic matches for the innovative division.
The eventual departure from TNA would see Sabin land a spot in Ring of Honor. Unfortunately, Sabin had suffered many injuries and no longer had the same market value as he did in his prime. Any fans lucky enough to witness his best run would have loved to see Sabin in the current era for a bigger company.
The wrestler that most missed out on leaving TNA for a better opportunity was Abyss. This talent was someone they had in mind to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania 23. The loyalty to TNA saw him turn down the WWE contract to re-sign with his home promotion.
Abyss now works for WWE as a producer, but the potential of a WWE run at his peak is something we all missed out on. It would've been explosive!