When WCW was bought by Vince McMahon, many thought it was the beginning of a sole power dominating the industry of professional wrestling. But some of the WCW alumni have decided to compete against Vince’s untouchable WWE as the similarly egoistic Jeff Jarrett created Total Non-Stop Action (TNA), a unique six-sided ring promotion which reaped the best the independent scene could offer and also bought the services of some attractive legends who could get the attention of the fans. Ever since TNA’s rise in popularity, Vince McMahon has almost blacklisted their wrestlers (even the seemingly great ones) and even if he signs someone he likes from their alumni, he mostly keeps them in a mediocre place to resort the dominance of the WWE product over the TNA guy.
Because of his arrogance, Vince has rarely approached the top guys of TNA (until very recently) and would rather buy from other independent promotions than sign a TNA product as the promotion was giving him hell during the last decade. Even when WWE signed a TNA product, they shoved him into a mid-card or lower-mid card position and rarely have they had a TNA guy main event a WWE show and neither has Vince put the main belt on a TNA product. He’s mostly bought TNA alumni who stayed in the promotion for limited number of years and then pushed them through the roof, almost mocking TNA missing the opportunity on these guys.
There are certain TNA Alumni who did indeed find the love from Vince McMahon, who utilized them in a rather compelling manner and treated them like his own product, while there are some who didn’t get an ounce of the respect they received in TNA. Though Vince never even mentions the name TNA in WWE TV ever, he has received some very talented products in the past from them, giving some of them opportunities while wasting the potential of others.
16 Evan Bourne
Before becoming the high-flyer he was in WWE, Evan Bourne would have to work his way up in the wrestling ladder, having to wrestle it out in various promotions before making the big leap to the WWE. During his independent days, Bourne would also wrestle for TNA, making his debut in their first monthly PPV, Victory Road. Bourne would be in the contention for TNA’s X-Division title for some-time, but was mostly used as a jobber during his TNA days before moving onto greater things. He’d get the call from WWE in 2007 when he’d join Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) before debuting for their ECW Brand. He would be in the contention for the ECW title before moving onto RAW where he’d be in various tag team skirmishes, with his beautiful Air-Bourne finisher getting him a slammy award for Best Finisher Maneuver. Bourne would then team up with Kofi Kingston to win his first ever title in WWE, as the two enjoyed a healthy tag title reign. He’d have a much better WWE career than his TNA skirmish, and is still remembered by WWE faithful because of his antics.
15 Joey Mercury
Joey Mercury is a very influential figure in the backstage production of WWE nowadays, but he started off his wrestling career with a rather flurry of wrestling promotions. One such promotion was the budding TNA, where he signed an independent contract through which he’d be allowed to wrestle for other promotions as well, as he competed in their X-Division and participated in some matches for the X-Division title. He was soon snapped up by WWE who tagged him with John Morrison and Melina to created MNM, as the team won the WWE Tag Titles for a good reign. Mercury got a nasty injury during his latter part with Morrison, breaking his nose and orbital bone. He would take some time off from WWE before returning again as part of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society, and then recently accompanying Seth Rollins as part of J&J Security. Mercury is a backstage producer who is influential for their production process, and often helps the young guys blend into the company smoothly as Vince treated him with more love and respect than TNA ever did.
14 Paul London and Brian Kendrick
Paul London and Brian Kendrick definitely didn’t have much of a coalition before their WWE days, but did have separate brief stints in TNA prior to them joining the WWE. London would have a more prominent TNA run, competing for the X-Division titles numerous times in their PPVs, while Kendrick would only have some matches in the company. They’d join together and be put together as a team, where they excelled beyond expectation and went on to impress creative so much, that they’d soon be pushed as the top tag team in the company. London and Kendrick would go on to win the WWE Tag Team Championship, which would be the beginning of a glorious reign which would stretch for almost one full year before they dropped it. London and Kendrick still hold the record for being the longest reigning Tag Team Champions (with the New Day hot on their heels) and became a revelation fairly quickly. They tagged together for some years after dropping the titles, and split towards the end of their WWE careers but went on to team up in the indy circuit as well, as their team was a hot property for any promotion.
13 CM Punk
“The Voice of the Voiceless” CM Punk wouldn’t always be this popular, as he had to work his way to the WWE which had him wrestling in various places. During his career, Punk even had a crack at TNA when he went on to feud with Teddy Hart over a rivalry in Ring of Honor (with whom TNA had some partnership) and Punk appeared in TNA to seek a feud with Hart. But creative wouldn’t be impressed by him, as Punk quit TNA quickly and then went on to join WWE years later. What happened next is history. Punk would start his glittering career by winning the ECW title, then go onto win multiple Money in the Bank briefcases with World Titles soon following suit. Punk would prove his doubters wrong when his controversial “gimmick” won him the WWE title in 2011, as he went onto hold the title for 434 days. Punk went bitter towards the end of his WWE stint, but he is indebted to the company for making him such a superstar as TNA would be ruing the day they rejected such a star athlete.
12 Mickie James
Mickie James would be one of the stars of the women’s division in WWE after the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita left, and would become the face of the division for a point of time. James actually started off her career in TNA, where she wrestled for around a year, competing in many mixed tag team matches and also in some extreme matches as part of the “good against the evil” in the company. Mickie would go on to join WWE soon after, joining OVW before making the jump to the main roster. She would be pushed right from the beginning, feuding with the top diva in Trish Stratus as her “biggest fan”. Mickie would win her first Women’s Championship from Stratus at the grandest stage of them all at WrestleMania 22, this being the first of many title reigns she would have during her WWE stint. James would also win the Diva’s Championship after it debuted, but would be let go years later by the WWE who wanted the Divas Division to “move in a newer direction”. Mickie would go on to join TNA later on, but it was WWE who gave her the recognition she needed to become a star.
R-Truth wasn’t always this happy-go-lucky rapper which he portrays nowadays in WWE, as he actually got his fame in the wrestling circuit initially because of his time at TNA. Going by the name of Ron “The Truth” Killings in TNA, Truth was a terrorizing heel during his time at the villainous stable 3 Live Kru and won the NWA Heavyweight title twice in his TNA career too. He did become a face towards the end of his TNA career, as the company let him go with creative having nothing for him. So Truth returned to WWE (where he had initially started his career) where he would get his rapper gimmick and entertained many. R-Truth would go on to win the US title some-time after joining the WWE, and got the spotlight later on as part of the menacing The Awesome Truth with his heel gimmick having many eyes on him. Afterwards, Truth would become an amusing face again and won the WWE Tag Titles with Kofi Kingston and continues to entertain the audience. Truth was taken in by Vince when he was in a difficult situation and even though never pushed at the top, R-Truth manages to successfully entertain us day in and day out.
10 Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods would start his wrestling career in TNA under the name of Consequences Creed as he was a prominent part of their tag team division during his stint in the company, even winning the TNA Tag Titles with Jay Lethal. Woods wouldn’t get any singles stint at the company and would be released after a few years in the company. He would go on to join WWE’s developmental in FCW later that year, having an impressive stint in FCW and then later in NXT. Woods was quickly called up to the main roster, partnering with fellow TNA alumni R-Truth for some time. He would get his spotlight when he created The New Day with Kofi Kingston and Big E Langston, as the always positive trio slowly won the love and popularity amongst the fans with their hilarious antics and Xavier’s own promos and acts being pivotal to them going over. Things look upwards for Woods now, as he is a part of the most over thing in WWE right now and will be looking to get a singles run soon and hope to shine there.
9 Seth Rollins
“The Architect” has had to work his way into the top of the WWE, as he started off his career at the age of 19 and would work for various promotions to gather attention of the top ones. Rollins is surprisingly a TNA Alumni, as he wrestled for a brief stint in the promotion and was used mainly as a jobber. They decided against signing him which would probably be one of the biggest mistakes they’ve ever made, as Rollins would start his rise in Ring of Honor before signing with WWE. His WWE run has been as illustrious as any legend, as he won the FCW Championship, the NXT Championship, and the WWE Tag Team Championship before holding the biggest one of them all in the WWE Title which he won at the granddaddy event of WrestleMania. Rollins is also the only guy to hold the US Title and WWE Title at the same time and is indeed The “Undisputed Future” of the company who can herald them into more success and popularity, with TNA having to repent their mistake of dissing one of the most talented wrestlers in the world right now.
8 Samoa Joe
One of best wrestlers in the history of TNA, Samoa Joe was pivotal to them becoming so popular as he dished out amazing matches almost on a daily basis for the promotion. The Samoan Submission Machine got a massive push from TNA, having an eighteen month undefeated streak also winning the X-Division title during the time. But he would win the big prize in the TNA World Heavyweight Championship afterwards, and was one of the guys for whom the fans tuned into TNA For. Joe would win the X-Division title five times in his career, but left the promotion for good in 2015 as their product had become horrible and they degraded Joe’s quality. Joe would finally make the much anticipated jump to the WWE, debuting in NXT where he would be this bad-ass face before turning heel and recently winning the NXT Championship off Finn Balor. Samoa Joe is now the top dog of NXT and has been impressive to Vince, as a main roster debut and even a big push looms in the corner for the submission machine.
7 AJ Styles
“The Phenomenal One” has definitely earned his name because of his amazing work for the wrestling business over the years, and is definitely one of the top wrestlers of the past decade or so. AJ Styles was synonymous with TNA, who could be accredited for making him into the star that he is now, as he grew alongside the promotion itself and scratched and clawed his way to the top of the promotion. Styles was “The Guy” of TNA for a long time, having won almost everything there was to offer by the promotion and having defeated every other top dog in the promotion. But towards the end, things went bitter between the two and Styles decided to leave TNA after a decade in the company and took his talents to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles would soon be approached by WWE, and finally gave in to the attraction and signed on with the company, debuting at this year’s Royal Rumble to a thunderous ovation. Styles also wrestled at WrestleMania, making him the only wrestler to wrestle in the big events of WWE, TNA, NJPW and ROH. Styles is now a top heel of the company, and creative is apparently very high on him as we can hope “The Phenomenal One” has a belt on him very soon in the future.
One of the most prominent mid-carders in the short history of TNA, Kazarian would start his TNA career on a high, being part of the first ever Ultimate-X Match and also going on to win the X-Division title soon, which he lost quickly. He would start teaming with Michael Shane, targeting AJ Styles but Kazarian would not be able to impress creative that much as they’d release him. Kazarian would give a try-out at WWE, where he was put into their developmental program in OVW. Although not appearing on the main shows, Kazarian would often appear at Velocity under the name of “The Future” and would have an undefeated streak going on as well, defeating the likes of Scotty 2 Hotty, Funaki and Paul London. But Kazarian would soon reveal that he left the WWE, with the company having no plans to revamp their cruiserweight division and would return back to TNA to a much more prominent and successful career.
4 Braden Walker
Braden Walker was the name given to who was known to fans as “The Wildcat” Chris Harris who was a prominent part of the tag team division of TNA before making the jump to WWE. Chris Harris was a part of America’s Most Wanted with James Storm and Gail Kim, as the team won the TNA Tag titles six times together. Walker would debut in the ECW brand of WWE, defeating Armando Estrada in his debut match. It was during this that he debuted his catch-phrase “I’m Braden Walker and I’m going to knock your brains out”. All the potential would go to waste as he would only go on to wrestle one more match in a pinfall victory over James Curtis, before he was released from his WWE contract after the match. All the anticipation of a talented wrestler like Harris had all turned into a big disappointment very soon, as he was left to go wrestle in the independent scenes once again.
3 Awesome Kong
Awesome Kong is probably one of the most intimidating female wrestlers of all time, with her horrifying presence in the ring has made her one of the most destructive female wrestlers of all time. Awesome Kong rose to prominence in TNA, where she continued to dominate the other wrestlers and won their Knockout Championship twice, also winning the Knockouts Tag Title once. Things heated up between her and management towards the end of her TNA stint, resulting in her leaving TNA in 2010 and joining WWE later that year. WWE hyped her debut a lot before having her actually debut, as fans wondered if she could bring that dominant persona in WWE as well. That wasn’t to be, as she went on to wrestle only a hand-full of matches before admitting on WWE TV that she was pregnant (which she was), and would return only at the 2012 Royal Rumble, becoming the third female to compete in the Rumble. But creative had nothing more for her, as she soon revealed her parting ways with WWE and would continue to wrestle part time, while also looking after her family.
2 Low Ki
Low Ki is regarded as a legend of the indy circuit in the wrestling world, and had two successful stints in TNA as well before coming to the WWE. Low Ki would be multiple time X-Division Champion as well as winning the TNA Tag Team Championship three times before he left the promotion and went on to join WWE. That leap would soon turn disastrous for him, as after an initial success under the NXT banner where he won the second season of NXT with Team LayCool as his mentors, and made his main roster debut soon after. However his talents and reputation would be ruined after this, as he continuously took losses to random mid-carders and was never given an opportunity, with an IC title match against Dolph Ziggler (which he lost) being the highlight of his WWE career. He was released in 2010, and went back to the independent circuit where he is still held in high regard.
An absolute legend of the wrestling industry, it’s rather difficult to come to the conclusion of whether Sting is a “WCW Guy” or a “TNA Guy” as his contribution to the progress and popularity of both the promotions was massive. One thing that's for sure is that Sting is definitely not a “WWE Guy”. After years of being the face of TNA where he won the TNA World Heavyweight title four times and was responsible for reaping audiences towards the product, Sting finally left the promotion because of problems with management. This would propel rumors of him finally joining the WWE, although Sting had earlier openly admitted of his intention of never joining them. But he would finally give in to the demands; debuting in the 2014 Survivor Series where he helped Team Cena defeat Triple H’s Authority and push them out. This would result in a WrestleMania match against The Game, which he surprisingly lost and he would make periodic appearances afterwards, challenging Seth Rollins unsuccessfully for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions, marking the end of his wrestling career as he got badly injured. The only “highlights” of his WWE career are a Hall of Fame induction, two Slammy Awards and a single tag team victory on RAW, as his fears had come true and Vince McMahon showed how his arrogance prevails over everything by downplaying the legend that is Sting.
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