TNA has a sad history of many debacles making them the laughingstock of the wrestling business. The company did many great things and introduced us to plenty of future stars but their downfall was much more prevalent. The old quote of taking one step forward but two steps back was the official mindset of TNA when it came to making decisions. There was a variety of poor concepts, gimmicks and overall ideas that hurt the reputation of the promotion. As a growing company, the main goal was to grow an audience by giving them something to believe in, but TNA did the opposite far too often.
The audience was often disrespected by the creative minds in TNA. There have been various stories of guys like Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo talking down about wrestling fans. The lack of respect was showcased with the cheap and lazy ideas that TNA would come up with. Fans were forced to not only suspend their disbelief but to completely turn off their minds if they were to buy into many things the company booked. The saddest part is the talent was rarely the issue when it came to Impact, as the wrestlers worked hard and showed potential. They were just put in a terrible position to succeed.
The main job of a creative mind in a wrestling promotion is to find ways to put wrestlers in a position to deliver results. TNA would instead put the talent in a situation that diminished their value. The recent success stories of A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe are the perfect example. Both men are elite talents but fans started to take them for granted after TNA made them look like fools. Once leaving the company, they once again became respected names. The company did this for years and slapped fans in the face by not respecting them. We’ll look at storylines, gimmicks, match stipulations and overall decisions that make up the top fifteen times TNA insulted our intelligence.
15 James Storm Throws Mickie James on Train Tracks
Most of these moments happened during TNA’s prime but that doesn’t mean they haven’t made fools of themselves in the last few years. 2015 saw James Storm enter a bizarre feud with Mickie James and her real life husband Magnus. The most memorable and idiotic moment came when Storm pushed James off a train platform and onto the tracks before walking away. We should suspend our disbelief when it comes to pro wrestling but there are times where common sense ruins that leap of faith. Storm attempted to murder James in public and TNA aired it on national television as any other segment. Jim Ross described the segment as “undesirable, completely unrealistic and had (us) feeling embarrassed for two, very good talents.” He was right.
14 Jersey Shore Feuds
Robbie E and Cookie (Becky Bayless) were signed to play characters based off MTV’s reality show, Jersey Shore. With the over the top annoying gimmick, the two generated heat and achieved some success but TNA sunk to not-so-new lows by bringing in actual cast members of Jersey Shore to get involved in the ring. The company put out quite large paychecks to have J-Woww, Ronnie, and Angelina appear and enter segments with Robbie E and Cookie. Considering TNA's current problem stems from wasting unbelievable amounts of money, this was a huge mistake and made us all feel like fools for watching it. There are times when you’re embarrassed to watch wrestling if a friend is in the room and this was a perfect example of that.
13 Reverse Battle Royal
The purpose of a battle royal is simple, fun and effective. Wrestlers try to eliminate each other in hopes of being the last person standing in the ring. The symbolism after the match sets the tone for what the viewer is supposed to feel. The Undertaker referred to the ring as “his yard” and that’s what the fan feels after someone wins a battle royal. Vince Russo and TNA tried to change this by creating a reverse battle royal. Wrestlers would fight outside the ring and try to enter the ring to score the victory. The match led to confusion and overall terrible television. Any long time wrestling fan shook their head and wondered how a concept like this could even be put into practice.
12 Sharmell vs. Jenna Morasca
One of the worst matches in wrestling history took place in TNA between Booker T’s wife Sharmell and Survivor reality television star Jenna Morasca. Neither women were wrestlers, so you can’t put the blame on them for doing something that’s foreign to them, but it was an absolute trainwreck. The two botched every move, had awkward pauses and just delivered a performance so bad that you questioned if it was still wrestling. Only TNA would put their talent in such a bad spot and insult the intelligence of their audience by expecting them to let it fly. The match has been destroyed by fans and wrestlers for years, and for very good reason.
11 Last Rites Match
TNA has provided their fair share of horrible gimmick matches. Vince Russo is known for coming up with some truly dumb ideas and the Last Rites Match was near the top of the list. Instead of a traditional casket match, Sting and Abyss tried to place each other in a casket centered in the middle of the ring. The lights would go out and the casket would float in the air to signify the end of the match. For all intents and purposes, it should have been called a floating casket match. Fans chanted “Fire Russo” at the Impact Zone and likely said much worse watching at home.
10 August 1 Warning
One of the biggest contributions to insulting our intelligence by TNA was the constant teases of surprises. Wrestlers debuting or returning will automatically lead to instant excitement by wrestling fans due to the element of the unknown. This is a great tool for building interest but the reveal has to be great to generate any success. TNA would often disappoint with lackluster names but the worst of these surprises was the August 1 Warning. Videos played for weeks of a huge star coming to TNA on August 1st, 2013. The big reveal was Tito Ortiz and he was met with complete silence. No one cared about a UFC fighter almost a decade after his prime and TNA embarrassed themselves again.
The character of Suicide was poorly named with a generic costume and absolutely no purpose. Suicide debuted in the TNA video game as the playable character in story mode. TNA’s video game was a huge failure but the company still thought it was successful enough to warrant Suicide becoming an actual wrestler. Talented stars like Christopher Daniels and Kazarian were forced to wear the suit and portray Suicide. This was a waste of their talent and the worst part is they never explained the point of Suicide. Aside from a weirdo in a mask, there was no character depth or explanation as to who or what Suicide was doing in TNA.
8 Electric Cage Match
TNA Lockdown was a PPV where every match took place inside of a steel cage on one night. This led to the company struggling to think of unique stipulations in hopes of making sure all the matches didn’t feel the same. Team 3D and LAX were given the task of competing in an Electric Cage Match, where the wrestlers would get shocked if they hit the cage. The idea was bad enough but TNA decided to treat the audience like elementary school kids watching a play by adding cheesy effects. The lights would flash and a humming sound would play to alert you a wrestler was being shocked. Everything about this turned out to be a complete disaster.
7 Joker Sting
Sting worked in TNA for many years as one of their top stars and this led to a bold character change in hopes of keeping him fresh. The Stinger started portraying a version of The Joker from Batman and was referred to by fans as “Joker Sting.” The comedic element and mind games were fine enough on paper but Sting went over the top and it came off as foolish. One specific moment that made him and TNA come off like amateurs was when he used a bird to guard Eric Bischoff. Sting locked Bischoff in a room and put the bird on display to prevent Bischoff from leaving the room. If only TNA made their wrestlers as intimidating as they made that bird.
6 ECW Reunion
ECW will always hold a special place in wrestling history with plenty of fans still being loyal to the memories created there. WWE holds the ownership of the name and library so they released DVDs celebrating history and ran a reunion show. Fair enough. TNA holds zero association with anything ECW related, yet they felt the need to run another ECW reunion show years later. The even older ECW wrestlers would face off on a PPV for old times’ sake. Were we supposed to believe that a bunch of old wrestlers bloodying each other a few blocks away from a theme park stayed true to the legacy of ECW? The idea was foolish and attempted to con the viewers into believing this was a special show, rather than a money grab.
5 Claire Lynch
The use of tacky storylines was a staple of the 90s during The Attitude Era because fans found that humorous and entertaining at the time. 2012 was not the time for this but TNA doesn't use silly things like common sense. An actress was hired to play Claire Lynch, a woman accusing A.J. Styles of having an affair with her and getting her pregnant. The segments were all abominations and helped turn off the fan base that still held TNA in high regard. Styles, Daniels and Kazarian all ranted after leaving the company for having to play a role in such a terrible storyline, but their pain was nothing compared to the fans watching it.
Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff sold Dixie Carter a bill of goods and made her believe they could lead TNA to compete with WWE. The egos were on display with Hogan calling out Vince McMahon on a weekly basis. Things didn’t improve at the pace they expected, so they decided to pull off a game changer at Bound For Glory 2010. Jeff Hardy turned heel in a clear imitation of Hogan turning heel in WCW to form the New World Order. Hardy, Hogan, Bischoff, Abyss and Jeff Jarrett formed the Immortal faction. Given most of TNA’s fan base were long time viewers, everyone could tell it was a cheap rip-off of the nWo. This was another example of TNA treating their fans like idiots that couldn’t put two and two together.
3 Reverse Ladder Match
We already hit on the reverse battle royal but the King of the Mountain Ladder Match was another stipulation with reverse rules. Instead of climbing to grab the title in a moment of symbolism for the victory, TNA wanted the wrestler to climb up the ladder and hang the title on the rung. The visual was hilariously bad and it’s truly one of the dumbest match concepts in wrestling history. The King of the Mountain match also featured a penalty box that wrestlers would be forced to go into if getting pinned. Not only was the ultimate concept poor but they wanted to add confusion to the mix. The biggest travesty is the match still lives today and they have yet to quit on it.
2 The Knockout Lockbox Showdown
TNA might have hit their absolute lowest point with the Knockout Lockbox Showdown. The entire female roster competed in a match where four women would grab mystery briefcases. Each briefcase contained a different prize. Angelina Love won the Knockouts Championship by opening a briefcase. Tara gained possession of her pet tarantula. Velvet Sky secured a contract for a future match of her choosing. Daffney’s briefcase forced her to strip in the middle of the ring. Female wrestlers are typically gorgeous women and eye candy does sell, but this match just treated them all with zero respect. Between the stripping and title being exchanged like this, the women’s division took many huge hits on one night.
1 Jeff Hardy vs. Sting
The absolute worst case of TNA insulting our intelligence was sending an intoxicated Jeff Hardy out to face Sting in the main event of a PPV. The situation was terrible with Hardy’s personal demons getting the better of him once again but TNA sending him out to perform was even worse. Did they not expect the fans to notice a wrestler high and/or drunk out of his mind? Any other alternative would have been a better option. There was a roster of hungry wrestlers begging for an opportunity and could have replaced him. Hardy lost the match in a few minutes but the potential of him hurting himself or Sting was too strong to risk. TNA made the worst decision in their existence by insulting the talent and fans on this night.