With two main shows per week, monthly pay per views, and hours of content on the WWE Network, the world of pro-wrestling is bound to go through some rehashed storylines. Friends turning on friends. Tag teams breaking up. Heels turning face. It’s just a part of pro-wrestling. As the WWE strives for originality and top-notch entertainment, sometimes it’s hard to ignore when they blatantly copy ideas from another promotion.
TNA is barley a competitor to WWE, but there have been several times where it is obvious that WWE is watching closely and even using a number of the same ideas. Whether you call it plagiarism or imitation in the form of flattery, it seems like WWE is shameless in the ways that they have copied TNA. Sure, TNA and other promotions have copied the WWE in the past, but when you’re the leader in pro-wrestling, these things get noticed on a much larger scale. Read through some of the more surprising ways that WWE has copied TNA throughout the past several years. Some of these copycats were big successes while others disappeared just as quickly on Impact Wrestling on Destination America.
15 NXT is the New Impact Zone
NXT started as a great way to grow and promote new talent. Stars like Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor have all had memorable moments on the show. If you’ve been watching lately, NXT feels more like the Impact Zone than the promotion that it started out as. Stars like Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and Samoa Joe have all wrestled regularly on there. The intimate setting of NXT is similar to the same small arenas that TNA uses for their show tapings.
While seeing the inclusion of TNA talent is great for the WWE and wrestlers themselves, some of the debuts should be saved for SmackDown and Raw instead. Next thing you know, Dixie Carter will be out there feuding with William Regal over a Samoa Joe contract signing in a six-sided ring.
14 Removing the Ring Mats
As Bubba Ray made his transformation to Bully Ray in TNA, he presented a character that would push boundaries and do anything he could to get a victory. One of his trademark moves was to cut away the ring mats, expose the wood boards underneath and piledrive his opponents in oblivion. This was a great concept for the character and the WWE thought it was so great that they would use it for The Undertaker a short time later.
At the 2015 Hell in a Cell event, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar would be competing against each other one final time. Near the end of the match, The Undertaker cut up the ring mat, exposed the bare wood, and then delivered a tombstone piledriver onto it. All of that effort to copy Bully Ray ended up being for nothing as Lesnar ultimately defeated The Deadman after a low-bow and F5 onto the wood floor.
13 Wrestling Lottery Tickets
In the world of pro-wrestling, there will be many similar products available for fans to purchase. Superstar t-shirts, action figures, and magazines are just a few of these options. The one product that WWE did copy from TNA was strange in the fact of how many things were actually the same. Back in 2013, TNA released a scratch lottery ticket in the state of Georgia. The tickets featured images of wrestlers like AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, and Sting. The main prize for the ticket was $25,000, but losing tickets could also be entered into a second chance drawing for an opportunity to win live event tickets.
Flash forward to three years later as the Texas lottery announced a special WWE instant win scratch ticket game. Just like the TNA ticket, the main prize was $25,000 and there was a second chance drawing to win WWE event tickets. The ticket design itself was almost an exact duplicate, with images of WWE Superstars and matching symbols that had to be scratched. The only losers in this copycat idea were fans who spent a lot of money desperately trying to win.
12 Caged PPV Themes
In 2005, TNA wrestling introduced a unique concept event known as Lockdown. The whole night would feature a majority of matches in a steel cage. Sure, some of the matches were absurd (an electrified steel cage?!), but the event was successful enough to hold for several years in the future.
Four years later, the WWE would follow this same trend, creating both the Elimination Chamber and Hell in a Cell themed pay per view events. Each event would feature two or more of the caged matches, showcasing a blatant rip-off of TNA Lockdown. WWE extended these themes even further, filling the calendar with specialty events like Money in the Bank and Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. This stolen theme idea has proven to be a success and some of the most anticipated events in the WWE each year.
11 The Beautiful People & LayCool
For many female wrestlers in WWE and TNA, it was often about riding solo and battling others on the same roster. This idea changed completely when TNA formed the stable known as “The Beautiful People”. Angelina Love and Velvet Sky formed a tag team that saw a lot of dominance in the “Knockout division” of TNA. The stable once held the Knockout championship and Knockout tag-team championship at the same time. More than their wrestling, the stable was known for ridiculing other stars and promoting their own beauty.
Did this recap and description sound familiar? It should, because the WWE copied this gimmick with heel duo known as LayCool. During their reign on SmackDown, Michelle McCool and Layla El, the two won both the Woman’s Championship and Divas Championship, proclaiming themselves as co-champions multiple times. The characters and title history are almost cloned after The Beautiful People, but it did not as big effect in the WWE and the duo eventually broke up.
10 Jeff Hardy – A Main Event Star
When Jeff Hardy started his career in the WWE, he quickly rose as one of the best tag team wrestlers, but struggled when it came to singles competition. He was a mid-card underdog at best and never reached his true potential. His push quickly came to a halt in 2002, when Brock Lesnar debuted and destroyed Jeff Hardy in several singles matches.
After Hardy parted ways with WWE in 2003, he went to TNA where he was instantly instantly thrust into the main event spotlight. After many memorable feuds with Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, and Raven, Hardy was a main event staple and showcased his ability to be the top star. Apparently, WWE saw this and decided to bring him back. Once back in the WWE fold, Jeff Hardy would receive big feuds, matches, and his first WWE title. WWE took his push from TNA and turned it into huge profits for their organization.
9 Nation of Domination 2.0
The Nation of Domination will go down as one of the best stables in WWE history. Several years after the formation of the Nation, TNA attempted their own re-hash known as The Beat Down Clan. Three African-American wrestlers united together to go against TNA and give themselves a boost on the roster. As MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Kenny King were trying to unite on Impact, WWE had some ideas of their own. Shortly after the debut of The Beat Down Kings, the WWE was introduced to a stable known as The New Day.
Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods would team up to become a faction that was very much hated for several months. As The Beat Down Clan became cluttered and eventually withered away, the copycat group known as the New Day rose up and are now one of the most popular stables in the WWE. All of this could be attributed to the original Nation of Domination, but The Beat Down Clan debut was so close to the New Day that TNA deserves the credit.
8 An Open Challenge
Open challenges are nothing new in pro-wrestling. A wrestler comes to the ring and issues a challenge for anyone in the locker room to come out and face-off. The timing of the open challenges in 2013 are what makes it seem like the WWE just copied TNA and thought they could get away with it. After defeating much of the Knockout roster in TNA, champion Gail Kim decided to issue an open challenge to anyone who wanted a shot at the title. It was a great way to bring fresh blood to the company and showcase Kim’s dominance as a champion.
Meanwhile in the WWE, Ryback was the Intercontinental champion and looking for ways that roster members could “Feed Him More.” He decided that the best way to do it was through an open challenge where he battled Superstars like Mark Henry. If only Gail Kim came out to answer the challenge and put Ryback in his place.
7 Vickie Guerrero’s Gut Check
The TNA Gut Check was a unique segment that allowed new stars to tryout for a roster spot in front of the live audience. The process included a panel of judges that would vote on whether the talent deserved a contract.
The WWE copied this exact concept with Vickie Guerrero's job evaluation back in 2013. Sitting at a table in the ring, the McMahons and Triple H would vote on Guerrero’s ability to properly manage WWE Raw. The segment dragged on, fell flat, and was a lame imitation of the original Gut Check concept, which at least some included some interesting wrestling spots. Hopefully current GMs Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan do not have to go through the same process.
6 Show Opening Narration
Vince McMahon clearly has an ego problem. Not only does he want to crush the pro-wrestling competition, but he wants to mock them and use his resources to showcase how he can do it better. One of the best examples of this comes from show production changes that were made to WWE Raw. Shortly after TNA Impact started using voice-over narrations and unique camera shots to open the show, WWE Raw debuted with the same style and concept. According to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, someone showed Vince a clip of TNA that highlighted the concept and McMahon said something to the effect of "WWE could do it better."
The theme and production design didn’t fit as well with Raw’s branding and this was one of the more blatant ways that McMahon has tried to rip off TNA.
5 The Samoan Warrior
Back in 2005, Samoa Joe debuted with TNA and instantly shook up the competition and roster. The Samoan warrior had a brutal style and created amazing feuds with wrestlers like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels. WWE obviously took notice of his impact as less than a year later, fans were introduced to the Samoan warrior known as Umaga. Umaga was clearly inspired by Joe. They were fast and agile in the ring and destroyed opponents with no mercy. While Umaga would win the Intercontinental Championship, he reached nowhere near the same status as Joe, who would win multiple titles in TNA, including their World Heavyweight Championship and Television Championship. Luckily for the WWE, they now have Joe on the roster and can use him at their leisure.
4 Cruiserweights in the Spotlight
Until the past couple of months, the Cruiserweight division in the WWE has been nothing but a distant memory. At the time same, TNA has continued focus on their version of that, the X-Division. Each year, fans look forward to the cruiserweight focused event known as One Night Only: X-Travaganza. The event features all types of cruiserweight matches and sometimes small tournaments.
WWE took a page from this book with the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament that was held throughout the whole summer. Cruiserweight competitors from all over the world took part in the tournament and showcased skills in a variety of matches. The new WWE Raw cruiserweight division can tip its hat to TNA’s One Night Only events for keeping the division relevant.
3 The Dual Personalities of Abyss and Kane
The similarities and storylines choices between Kane and Abyss have a more complicated Venn diagram than Big Show’s face and heel turns. It’s easy to accuse one or the other of copying each other, but with one specific story, the copying accusations were made clear.
Abyss disappeared from TNA television, only to be replaced by his brother Joseph Parks. Parks was a clean cut lawyer who feared the sight of blood and was a mild-mannered man. The dual personalities of Abyss and Parks would clash for several weeks, creating a compelling storyline. Shortly after this, Kane would appear as both mild-mannered Corporate Kane and the masked Demon Kane. The almost identical story was too hard to ignore and the multiple personalities of both stars quietly disappeared.
2 The AJ Affairs
AJ Styles never needed complex storylines, as he could often tell his tale with his skills in the ring. This is why it was so odd that TNA put him in a terrible storyline where he would be accused of having an affair with Dixie Carter.
AJ Lee never needed complex storylines as she could often tell her tale with her skills in the ring. This is why it was so odd that WWE put her in a terrible storyline where should would be accused of having an affair with John Cena.
Both stories aired within weeks of each other and both had wrestling fans shaking their heads in disgust. WWE copied a terrible story and had an awful story as a result.
1 The Battles at the Compounds
TNA is trying to rebrand and rebuild its audience. This is why its so refreshing to see original content and attempts at reinventing pro-wrestling. One of the best examples of this comes from a segment known as “The Final Deletion.” The pre-taped match took place at the Hardy compound and featured the Hardy brothers battled with fireworks, random weapons, and creating a compelling match.
The WWE tried to capitalize on this gimmick by pitting The New Day against the Wyatt Family at the Wyatt compound. The same dark footage, shaky cameras, and use of outdoor elements were used for this segment. Even though the New Day’s copycat gimmick rose supreme over The Beat Down Clan, the Wyatt Compound battle looks lame in comparison to “The Final Deletion.”