The trials and tribulations of TNA have been well documented with most of the memorable moments from the company featuring negatives. TNA had a world of promise and the potential to make an impact on the wrestling industry. They should have become a credible and successful alternative to WWE, as their mix of young rising stars and established big names should have given them enough firepower to create a new brand that would have thrived as a second relevant wrestling promotion but it failed. They made too many poor decisions and continued to swing for the fences and miss despite just needing to make contact.
TNA has committed too many noteworthy mistakes to name, though we did here. All eras of the company have featured its own errors. Jeff Jarrett booked himself in the main event and world title picture far too often. The mid-2000s saw the introduction of far-fetched storylines and ridiculous ideas by maligned writer Vince Russo. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff turned the company into a complete parody of the worst things associated with the memory of WCW. The company currently is irrelevant and a lame duck walking into a new television with a network very few people know exist, Pop TV. Things are bad but they can really only blame themselves.
There are many things that TNA have ruined over their thirteen years of existence. The company has been responsible for wrestlers, concepts and movements all going down in momentum. Samoa Joe and James Storm were forgotten talents for years until NXT brought them in. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and others started to be taken for granted by wrestling fans due to the “TNA stink” associated with them until they went to NJPW and ROH. Most of us have forgotten Kurt Angle is an all-time great pro wrestler. TNA just puts everyone on the decline by the negativity associated with the brand. This list will look through the company’s history as we name the top fifteen good things that TNA has ruined.
15. Mike Tenay
Between his lifelong studying of the business and a tremendous run in WCW, Mike Tenay was regarded as one of the best announcers in the wrestling industry. Tenay was the perfect lead announcer for the start of TNA and did a very good job for many years. After a while, you could hear the defeat in his voice when having to fake excitement for a lackluster product with horrible booking. It didn’t help that he had to help carry the inexperienced Don West and play second fiddle to Tazz before getting replaced by the terrible Josh Mathews. Tenay deserved much better.
One concept that has typically been exciting and effective in wrestling is tournaments. The King of the Ring is still beloved today for the memories it provided in the 90s. Fans love being able to play the guessing game of figuring out bracket results and potential dream matches. TNA has failed to utilize the near can’t miss idea in multiple attempts. The Bound For Glory Series to figure out a #1 contender for the title should have been brilliant, but it was just confusing and lacked direction until the end. In a more recent flop, TNA has been running a tournament for the vacant World Title and it’s been a mess between irrelevance and confusion.
13. ROH’s New York Market
TNA tried to revamp the product in 2014 by running many shows in the Manhattan Center in New York City. The historic venue looked great on television but it hurt the company in many ways. TNA overpaid for the rights to film television there and failed to sell out the small arena. The worst thing about this was that the venue raised its price to run shows there after TNA’s offer and Ring of Honor was no longer able to afford the building. ROH has been struggling to find another New York venue and 2015 will be the first time in a decade that the company’s big Final Battle show will take place outside of NY.
12. Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz
UFC’s rise began with interesting characters that were legitimately successful fighters. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz were two of the most popular fighters in company history and both men were worthwhile brands. Jackson was one of the stars in The A-Team movie remake and showed a world of charisma. TNA managed to use both men in the worst way imaginable and turned them into irrelevant afterthoughts. The brands of both fighters suffered by being associated with TNA and their careers have been on a decline following their time with the company. TNA crossed the line of wrestling to ruin MMA names.
11. International Wrestlers
One of the really cool things about TNA in the early days was their use of international stars. TNA had positive relationships with both New Japan Pro Wrestling and Mexico’s AAA. The World Cup of wrestling delivered incredible matches and moments for the company, but they started to turn their back on that line of thinking. They had bitter breakups with various promotions across the world. New Japan cut all ties after TNA made a joke out of future Japanese main event superstar Kazuchika Okada by having him dress as Green Hornet character Kato. TNA recently had another international relationship end after annoying Japanese promotion Wrestle-1.
The monster Abyss was one of the first hits created by TNA. Between impressive matches, especially in the hardcore division, and an interesting character, Abyss became a rare successful TNA-made star. Tommy Dreamer claims Abyss was pitched the idea of coming to WWE to enter a WrestleMania 23 program with The Undertaker but he turned it down out of loyalty for TNA. If that’s true, Abyss may be the dumbest person in wrestling history. His character and position on the TNA card took huge falls through the years. The overuse of hardcore spots and silly backstories about why he was a monster ruined his credibility.
The idea of a surprise in wrestling is always going to build anticipation for fans. The mystery and forecasting is a foolproof process, but the payoff is not as consistent. TNA abused the use of the surprise and would try to gain hype on social media to play it off like they were revealing something spectacular. There were good surprises like Christian Cage and Kurt Angle but most of the others were busts. No one wants to be swindled into thinking Tito Ortiz or Mr. Anderson are huge surprises. When TNA hints at a mystery wrestler, fans have become conditioned to realize it’s likely a disappointment.
8. A.J. Styles
TNA helped spotlight A.J. Styles as one of the top performers in the wrestling business and he’s likely the top star associated with the history of the company, but they ultimately did him wrong. Whether it was dressing him like a miniature Ric Flair or putting him in the Claire Lynch storyline, Styles was messed around with too many times. The guy who should have been treated like the John Cena of the company was moved around the card and treated like a midcarder goof far too often. Styles left the company almost two years ago and has rebuilt his reputation after TNA ruined it.
7. Battle Royals
The art of the gimmick match was destroyed by TNA many times. One match that head writer Vince Russo butchered was the battle royal. Wrestling fans love the battle royal due to the unpredictability that comes with many options being in the mix. The Royal Rumble is arguably the most exciting match every year for WWE because of this. TNA tried to re-write the book by having a reverse battle royal. Wrestlers would all start outside the ring and fight each other with the goal to get inside the ring to score victory. It was as ridiculous as it sounds. The visual of wrestlers fighting outside of the ring looked silly and delivered little entertainment.
6. Ladder Matches
Another concept TNA tried its best to ruin was the Ladder Match. Of all the gimmick match stipulations, the ladder match is the most consistently great. The best ladder matches are remembered as classics and the decent ones end up being very good. TNA once again tried to re-invent the wheel with Vince Russo attempting to change the formula. Slammiversary featured King of the Mountain matches, which were basically reverse ladder matches of wrestlers trying to climb the ladder to hang the belt as the way to win. There was also a penalty box involved. The matches were always a trainwreck and not in the fun way.
The debut or return of a wrestling legend has always been a great way to get short term interest in a product but TNA failed to use the idea well. They hired too many legends and set a precedent that you didn’t have to work hard or take it seriously to get a big contract. Stars like Rob Van Dam and Booker T treated TNA like a vacation. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Mick Foley were ineffective despite top tier superstar names. There was a point where The Nasty Boys and Jim Neidhart were on television for some reason. The company tried gaining interest with legends but it ended up making them look like a joke.
4. The X-Division
TNA created the X-Division and it was the first unique thing the company offered to viewers. With Jeff Jarrett and Raven in the main event, fans were talking about this new thing called the X-Division. The better workers of smaller size like A.J. Styles, Jerry Lynn and Amazing Red had great matches in the early stages to put TNA on the map. Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin, Samoa Joe and many others added to the legacy. After a while, TNA began to give less time and put less presentation into the X-Division. The wrestlers were viewed as second rate to the bigger names coming in and they were not booked credibly. Shades of the cruiserweights in WCW.
3. Samoa Joe
Speaking of the X-Division, Samoa Joe coming into TNA and dominating the scene was probably the best booking the company has ever done. Joe was a must-see performer with incredible wrestling skill, who presented himself as a badass killer no one wanted to fight. Joe was becoming the top star in TNA until Kurt Angle came into the company. The two met right away with Angle ending Joe’s undefeated streak and prolonging his first title win for another fourteen months. Over the years, Joe began to be used even worse. The company put a weird temporary tattoo on his face and had him walk around with a machete for no reason. He was once kidnapped on television with no explanation. It was almost impressive how badly TNA ruined Samoa Joe.
2. Cage Matches
Unlike the ladder match and battle royal, TNA didn’t try to replace the cage match with a wacky alternative but they did dedicate an entire PPV to it. Lockdown featured every match on the show taking place inside of a steel cage. There were a few different stipulations added to try to keep it fresh like certain matches allowed escape victory while some featured guest refs and things like that. It was still overkill and helped contribute to the cage match becoming completely stale in wrestling today. No one gets excited for a cage match anymore unless it’s Hell in a Cell and part of the reason for that was TNA having eight cage matches on one show every year.
1. The Chance of Competition for WWE
Following the death of WCW, WWE has dominated the pro wrestling industry with no threats to their empire. TNA was supposed to be the alternative that filled the shoes of WCW but it horribly failed in that respect. The company ruined the market for other competitors trying to create an opponent for WWE. Spike TV quit on wrestling after years of obscurity with TNA failing to grow in size despite putting them money into the company. TNA signed all the free agents and tried to claim war on WWE but they just never executed when it came to building its own identity. The downfall of TNA has scared off many investors and television networks from ever investing in another wrestling company that doesn’t have the WWE brand attached.
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