WWE has lacked competition in the pro wrestling world following the deaths of WCW and ECW in 2001. The only promotion since that time with the financial backers, television network deal and outreach to provide a viable competitor to Vince McMahon was TNA. Everyone wanted to see them do well and help bring us back to the glory days of wrestling but they dropped the ball more than once. TNA made various mistakes from the in-ring, backstage and boardroom aspects, failing to get the best out of each fact of the business. This has been showcased most in the downfall associated with a large percent of the talent to work for them.
TNA had a reputation for years as being a retirement home where wrestlers would go when their careers were at the end of the line but wanted one final big contract. Factor in the wrestlers that had poor runs or a lack of talent to excel enough to benefit the company. The bad luck associated with TNA led to horror stories of wrestlers having poor endings to once promising or thriving careers. We will take a journey through the wrestling graveyard that happens to reside in sunny Orlando, Florida. These are the top fifteen pro wrestlers whose careers died in TNA.
15 15. Marc Mero
Marc Mero thrived most in WCW and WWE during the mid-90s with a variety of work. WCW employed him as the fan favorite Johnny B. Badd and his most memorable run in the WWE was as the verbally abusive boyfriend of Sable. Things ended poorly for Mero in the shadow of Sable, but he had no place in wrestling after he left the company. TNA brought him into the promotion during the Fox Sports Network days in hopes of adding name value.
14 14. Lacey Von Erich
WWE signed Lacey Von Erich at a young age due to her looks and genetics making her a potential star one day. Following a few years of failing to show any improvement, the third generation Von Erich was let go and ended up in TNA. Lacey replaced Angelina Love as a member of The Beautiful People heel faction along with Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne. TNA gave her constant television time right away and had big plans for her.
13 13. Val Venis
The Attitude Era led to many one-dimensional characters that ended up hurting the wrestlers in the long run. That time frame produced many gimmicks that relied on the landscape of the era and those wrestlers couldn’t replicate that success when things changed. Val Venis achieved great success as one of the more memorable members of the midcard during The Attitude Era portraying an adult star but the rest of his career was quite forgettable. The use of Venis in the WWE extended to becoming the guy to put over debuting stars as a glorified enhancement talent.
12 12. Samuel Shaw
TNA tried to implement new talents into the company by introducing the Gut Check process, with wrestlers trying out during matches in a reality show concept with judges deciding their fate. Samuel Shaw won his spot on the TNA roster during the Gut Check era and spent a long time working in OVW developmental before getting back to television. The TNA booking team decided to make him a creepy stalker harassing Christy Hemme for months to develop his character.
11 11. Taylor Wilde
One of the best things about TNA during their early stages was the strong group of female talent following the introduction of the Knockouts division. The company showed signs of having a genuine interest in creating a credible division with a variety of talent all bringing something different to the table. Taylor Wilde represented a rare talent that had all of the strengths to become something special. She had the perfect mix of athleticism, talent, personality and a good look could have made her a Superstar.
10 10. Mr. Anderson
At one point, many thought Mr. Anderson would become a huge star for the WWE as Mr. Kennedy. He showed great presence on the microphone and made fans fall in love with his charisma. Injuries and a steady decline of in-ring performances hurt his chances at ever becoming a bigger star or winning a World Championship. A few bad decisions caused WWE to release him and TNA eventually picked him up to kick off the Hogan-Bischoff era.
9 9. Jimmy Rave
The potential of Jimmy Rave is something we’ll always wonder about. Rave was arguably the top heel in Ring of Honor during a time when Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Homicide and many others were on the roster. Most of those names were faces but it showed how great Rave was to hang against such stars in the special time in ROH. TNA offered him a contract and Rave understandably took the deal to try his luck on a bigger stage.
8 8. Petey Williams
Petey Williams held the X-Division Championship during the company’s first stint on television with the Fox Sports deal. The first PPV program for the X-Division title featured Williams defending against A.J. Styles in the semi-main event. Williams looked bound to become a future star in the company. Everyone remembers his incredible Canadian Destroyer finish that would set any live audience ablaze. His career went downhill through the different regimes not seeing anything special in him.
7 7. Elijah Burke
The signing of Elijah Burke to TNA seemed like a home run in the early stages of their relationship. WWE gave him a platform on the ECW brand and he showed a great deal of potential. TNA bringing him into the company was absolutely a good decision. The fans got behind him under his new persona of “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero. Pope actually made his way into the World Title picture at one point and the audience would have been happy if he won.
6 6. Wes Brisco
WWE employed Wes Brisco for years in developmental as the son of the legendary Gerald Brisco. The temptation of a wrestler born into the business with an athletic ability made them believe he would eventually blossom into a future star. Brisco never made it to the main roster but he was never truly put into a swim or sink environment where he could excel. TNA tried to give him that opportunity when signing him in a big role.
5 5. Matt Hardy
The current main event run by Matt Hardy in TNA is an interesting event to watch play out. Hardy clearly has a lot of influence in TNA and is taking all sorts of chances with his character. Everyone remembers him and his brother Jeff Hardy revolutionizing tag team wrestling, but Matt is trying to change perception for his heel persona. “Broken Matt” is playing an exaggerated version of a movie character that has lost his mind.
4 4. Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan is the classic story of a big man never being able to work a proper match. A near 7-foot-tall giant with amazing athleticism is a hot commodity in pro wrestling and that’s why everyone expected Morgan to become a huge star. WWE swung and missed with him on multiple occasions despite Jim Cornette claiming he was the next Undertaker, in terms of big men that could deliver in the ring.
3 3. Orlando Jordan
Another once promising star in the wrestling business to meet their demise in TNA was Orlando Jordan. Following a few years on television, Jordan was released from WWE and hit the free agent market. Hulk Hogan ran a wrestling tour in Australia and worked with many of the available wrestlers just months before his TNA job started. Hogan and Eric Bischoff were impressed by his work but found curiosity in his bisexual lifestyle.
2 2. Vince Russo
The booking style of Vince Russo isn’t for everyone but he definitely achieved success during The Attitude Era. Fans of the time wanted the crash television content and the swerves were appreciated in that era of ridiculous wrestling. The shows from that time do not stand up well today and just makes you wonder why in the world you enjoyed it as much as you did. TNA didn’t realize that and allowed Russo to work on their writing team for too many years.
1 1. Raven
Raven was arguably the coolest wrestler for a few years in the 90s. The grunge era and depth of his promos made Raven a star in ECW and entertaining performer in WCW. Most diehard wrestling fans of the era thought he could have achieved more, especially in the WWE. They never used him well but he still showed signs of greatness. His signing by TNA should have been a huge acquisition as one of the first big names in the company.
Unfortunately, Raven appeared past his prime and out of shape from the start. The excitement was there for a few months but it quickly faded away. Instead of getting a hungry star looking to prove he was done wrong by the WWE, Raven turned into one of the first talents to treat TNA like a secondary promotion just there for a paycheck. His look, matches and effort of Raven diminished each month and his career ended in sad fashion with TNA. You can still catch him on the local independent scene but it’s hard to say what he’s doing there is considered wrestling as his career truly ended in wrestling’s graveyard.
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