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 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.
Mero used the Johnny B. Badd moniker once again and just embarrassed everyone involved. TNA was starting to gain momentum due to the young stars like A.J. Styles delivering a new style of wrestling, but Mero represented everything that held them back. A former mediocre midcarder being showcased in the company was not a good look and Mero’s terrible work ended his TNA tenure rather quickly. Mero retired from the wrestling business following the TNA flop.
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.
Her in-ring work was absolutely atrocious and it actually appeared dangerous for someone that bad at wrestling to actually participate in matches. Lacey’s strong suit was being involved in comedic segments and just utilizing her good looks to her advantage. That’s never a good thing for a performer in wrestling and the writing was on the wall. Von Erich saw her television time diminish with each passing month and eventually decided wrestling was no longer for her. We have not seen Lacey in wrestling since her TNA departure.
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.
Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff brought over a plethora of stars from past eras to TNA for their rebranding of the product and Venis was granted an opportunity as Sean Morley. TNA fans had no interest in seeing him and actually revolted when Morley went over the highly respected Christopher Daniels in his first match for the company. The former Venis couldn’t keep up with the younger stars on the roster and was quickly out of the company. You can no longer find him in the wrestling industry today, but rather fighting for marijuana to become legal as “Kaptain Kannabis” online.
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.
The whole thing was a bit embarrassing to watch and felt completely outdated. No one wanted to boo Shaw, but instead just wanted to change the channel anytime he was on the television screen. The gimmick suffered a horrible failure. Shaw’s stint was handled so poorly that there was no way to recover. TNA and Shaw have since gone their separate ways, but Samuel has not been able to breakout as a wrestler. His lack of bookings in relevant promotions shows just how badly TNA has killed his career.
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.
TNA actually did right by her at first by putting her in the title picture frequently, but the pay never matched it. Wilde was spotted working in a sunglasses kiosk at her local mall during a TNA Knockouts Championship reign because she needed the money to pay her bills. She fluctuated between title programs and not being featured on television. After the ups and downs, she ultimately decided to leave the wrestling business. TNA created an environment where talented people understandably quit on their dreams.
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.
Anderson appeared to be a good addition, delivering some fun moments in the early stages. His epic cage match against Kurt Angle stands out among the best examples of storytelling in TNA history. Anderson would once again see his momentum decline and fans grew tired of him. His tenure recently ended after over five years and he trashed TNA for releasing him. Anderson still takes bookings for the rare independent promotion but there’s no chance of him returning to a relevant wrestling promotion anytime soon.
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.
As usual, TNA's poor writing harmed his value and made him a joke. Rave teamed with Lance Hoyt as the Rock N Rave Infection along with Christy Hemme as their manager. The trio portrayed an intentionally bad rock band trying to antagonize the audience with their lack of musical talent. Rave never had the chance to show his skills and was released after becoming completely irrelevant. The veteran is still trying to continue his career but no one of note is booking him thanks to his position in the TNA graveyard.
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.
The TNA dilemma saw many wrestlers sacrifice growing their reputations on the independent circuit for a secure spot on a television roster. Williams eventually getting released from TNA meant he wouldn’t have an easy backup plan getting consistent work in other promotions. ROH did give him a chance but the pairing never worked out. Petey kept his relationship with TNA working for them on and off but nothing worked out for him. The birth of his child forced Williams to leave wrestling due to having no strong prospects after the TNA disaster.
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.
Things peaked for him there and he could never get back to the top of the mountain. TNA started to downgrade him into smaller feuds of no importance. Dinero went from a highly featured title contender to someone you’d forget was still on the roster. His consistent poor use led to him getting released from the company for a few years. Pope currently is working as a horrendous commentator for Impact and shows no sign of getting back in the ring to resurrect his failing career.
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.
Brisco entered the company by joining the Aces and Eights faction to feud with Kurt Angle. You will learn everything you need to know about a young talent when placed in a story with a legend like Angle. Brisco proved he couldn’t hang with the top stars in wrestling and toiled in mediocrity for the rest of his TNA career. Wes is still competing in Florida with various independent wrestling promotions but no one important has any interest in bringing him into their company.
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.
His look, promos and overall speaking pattern exhibited is commitment to the character but it may just sink his career. WWE is looking for old talent to return within the next year as part of the brand split needing depth for two shows. Both Hardy brothers have been rumored to be on the radar but the Broken Matt segments are killing the respectable position he was in. WWE will likely snub him and Matt will never be able to rebound from the ridiculous artistic experiment of his current TNA gimmick turning him into a meme.
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.
Morgan made the jump to TNA when Cornette had stroke there and it gave him plenty of opportunities. The company desperately wanted him to move up the rankings but fans never reacted to him as anything more than just another guy. Kurt Angle and A.J. Styles each carried him to good matches but he struggled immensely facing the non-elite workers. This eventually woke up Morgan and he retired shortly after getting released from TNA. Morgan decided to find work in another profession and left his wrestling career in Orlando’s graveyard.
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.
For most of the world, being bisexual means a person that has a romantic interest in both genders, but TNA had a different assumption. Jordan played a sexual deviant with lovers of both sexes by his side, as he tried to sexually harass other members of the roster. The most memorable image is Jordan squirting lotion over his body during a Rob Terry match in a moment that help shows why TNA is in the state it is today. Jordan couldn’t rebound from his abysmal run in TNA and his wrestling career ended for all intents and purposes.
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.
Fans chastised TNA for horrible storylines killing the talented wrestlers trying to deliver a compelling program. Russo was removed or demoted many times but TNA continued to call him back until it finally bit them in the backside. Spike TV apparently didn’t approve of the company working with Russo and he was hired as a consultant behind their backs. This led to TNA losing their sole strong television deal and they have yet to rebound. Russo is in dire states as well, struggling to run a weak podcast and desperately begging for work in any wrestling promotion.
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.