WWE has been dominating the pro wrestling industry for the last 15 years. Ever since withstanding WCW’s best shot during the Monday Night Wars, there has been no legitimate competition to WWE. TNA launched with hopes of replacing WCW as the alternative company to WWE that would eventually grow and challenge for wrestling’s top spot. The biggest hole left when WCW and ECW went out of business was wrestlers having less places to work. TNA created a new company where wrestlers that WWE didn’t want or were done with could try to get hired. As a result, many wrestlers have ended up spending time in both WWE and TNA over the last decade.
TNA has been criticized consistently through their existence for relying too strongly on former WWE talent. More and more WWE veterans would get hired and pushed into important spots on the show. TNA found and signed many great young talents such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode and Jay Lethal, but, ultimately, the former WWE stars were viewed with more value and given more opportunities. The popular belief is that TNA waited too long to stick to their homegrown talents and the abundance of WWE names is the reason the company has sunk to the lows they’re currently at, as they failed to create their own brand.
After losing their Spike TV deal and seeing almost all of their core talent leave the company, TNA is currently in a terrible state. The future is unknown as their current television deal with Destination America is expiring, viewers are at an all-time low, no house shows are being scheduled and the wrestlers are jumping off the sinking ship. We’re finally seeing WWE go after former TNA stars such as Samoa Joe and James Storm to add to the depth of NXT. Most of the wrestlers to appear in both companies have done better in one of the two, but this post will look at the very select few to fail in both WWE and TNA.
15 Tyson Tomko
Tyson Tomko’s greatest success in wrestling was working as an enforcer for Christian. The two had great chemistry, with Christian as the humorous goof and Tomko playing the serious muscle. When Christian left WWE, Tomko was pushed as a singles star and could not get over. He would quickly grow irrelevant and split from the WWE. Tomko arrived to TNA in 2007 as Christian’s enforcer and once again excelled in the role. The issues arrived when TNA tried to push him as a singles star. After a break inbetween TNA stints, Tomko was involved in a feud with AJ Styles but no one took him seriously and he was shortly out of the company yet again.
14 The Bashams
Very few tag teams have been given as many bad gimmicks in such a short career as the Basham brothers. Doug and Danny Basham debuted in a terrible BDSM gimmick with Shaniqua as their dominatrix. Shortly after that, the duo were used as members of JBL’s cabine,t working as his lackeys. Their final run in WWE came as the personal enforcers for Paul Heyman in ECW, where they wrestled with riot squad gear and masks. All of the gimmicks failed and they went to TNA after being released by WWE. They appeared as Christy Hemme’s hired guns to feud with Voodoo Kin Mafia (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg) but the matches were terrible and they were out of TNA after just a couple of months.
13 Low Ki
The selection of Low Ki may be subjective due to his ups and downs with TNA. Standing out as one of the early stars of the promotion, Low Ki would help create the X-Division and held the title many during his time in TNA. The reason he can be classified as a failure in TNA is he failed to progress. No matter how many times he returned, Low Ki was always used as a second tier X-Division star unlike those who made big strides such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels or Chris Sabin. In WWE, he wrestled as Kaval and could not find a way to succeed. He won season two of NXT but it led to nothing on the main roster.
Test was a classic underachiever in WWE. While he never had the pure talent or “it factor” to become a main eventer, he had the look and the presence that the company loves. Test was tall, athletic, good looking and just came off as an ass kicker. The company put him in a position to succeed but he never managed to move up the card. Test was one of the main stars of the ECW brand but lost his spot after failing a drug test and getting released. Making his appearance in TNA under his real name (Andrew Martin), he wrestled just one match before the company let him go. Congress was investigating drug use in wrestling and TNA did not want to risk having him on the roster because of it.
11 Mike Knox
Another wrestler given a few opportunities in WWE due to his size was Mike Knox. Between getting spotlighted on the ECW brand and minor pushes on Raw and SmackDown, Knox was always missing something. Unable to get over, Knox failed to make an impact and was ultimately released by WWE. TNA would bring the big man in and put him in two of their worst ideas imaginable. Knox was one of the long-term members of Aces and Eights, a heel faction of bikers that wrestling fans laughed at for over a year. TNA would bring him back again as the leader of The Menagerie, a group of carnival freaks. Needless to say, the gimmick didn’t work and Knox left the company.
10 Elijah Burke
Elijah Burke is a rare story of a promising talent being showcased in both WWE and TNA before having a terrible falling off and failing. Burke was one of the brightest stars when WWE tried pushing new young talent on the ECW brand. For a while, Burke was actually running as an equal to fellow ECW star CM Punk. Things would get stagnant and Burke became completely irrelevant while Punk went on to superstardom. After a release from WWE, Burke went to TNA as “The Pope” D'Angelo Dinero and once again became a rising star. On one of TNA’s biggest Lockdown PPVs, Dinero faced AJ Styles for the TNA World Championship but fell short and took a big nosedive after the match. Pope went on to have a terrible feud with Samoa Joe and his TNA run became as irrelevant as the end of his WWE days.
9 Josh Mathews
The Pope’s current TNA broadcast partner Josh Mathews is also on the list. After finishing as a runner-up in the original WWE Tough Enough competition, Mathews was hired by WWE and became a broadcaster. Mathews spent twelve years working for WWE and never established himself as a valuable commentator. Aside from a few years on Raw, Mathews was usually a secondary show announcer. WWE would release Mathews in 2014 and he signed with TNA shortly after in an office role. In 2015, Mathews became the lead play-by-play announcer for the company and has been poor at the job. After a falling out with Taz, Mathews was paired with The Pope and they are one of the worst commentary teams in recent wrestling history.
The majority of Daivari’s time in WWE was spent as a sidekick for other wrestlers the company wanted to push. Daivari debuted with Muhammad Hassan and moved on to bigger stars after the company released Hassan. Managing names like Kurt Angle, Mark Henry and The Great Khali, Daivari was viewed as a good promo rather than a wrestler. Despite wrestling matches, he was usually an enhancement talent. TNA scooped up Daivari after he was released by WWE and pushed him instantly in the X-Division. Daivari just wasn’t on the level of the other young stars in TNA and could never stand out or impress.
7 Luke Gallows
Luke Gallows has become a star in New Japan Pro Wrestling with the Bullet Club but before that, he endured terrible runs in the WWE and TNA. Gallows worked as Imposter Kane and Festus during his early days in WWE. The prospects of working as a fake Kane and then a mentally challenged giant were not successful, as shocking as that is to believe. Gallows was most successful as a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society but the group was short lived and he was released. TNA found a worse way to use Gallows, using him as one of the founding members of the Aces and Eights. The faction was the laughingstock of wrestling and Gallows must laugh any time he remembers the stable while currently in the Bullet Club.
6 Johnny Stamboli
One of the wrestlers to fail in two completely different ways during his stints in WWE and TNA was Johnny Stamboli. Stamboli was a rising star in WCW and his contract was brought over to WWE as Johnny the Bull. After spending most of his time in the hardcore division, his biggest success in WWE was being a member of the short-lived Full Blooded Italians faction on SmackDown. WWE didn’t pick up his contract and he was on the way out. Stamboli joined TNA in 2007 playing the character of Rellik, a horror movie villain inspiration turned bad comedy. Did you know Rellik spelled backwards is killer? Classic TNA.
5 Marc Mero
Marc Mero was one of the biggest busts WWE signed in the mid-90s. Mero was brought in and pushed right away with the hopes of him blossoming into a main event player. Despite being given the Intercontinental Championship and multiple pushes, Mero was consistently lackluster and soon overshadowed by his valet and then-wife, Sable. Mero’s star faded as Sable became a massive superstar for the WWE. Years after his WWE departure, Mero tried one more run with TNA in 2004. Using his former WCW name Johnny B. Badd, Mero sporadically appeared in TNA with the hopes of nostalgia making fans fall back in love with him. It did not work and he was shortly out of the company before officially retiring from the business.
4 Shane Douglas
If you’ve listened to any Shane Douglas promo from ECW or watched any of his shoot interviews, you know how much he hated his WWE run. Working as Dean Douglas, his time in WWE was short lived and unimpressive. Douglas blames politics and the Kliq for holding him down and causing his run to be a complete failure. At the inception of TNA, Douglas was brought in to be one of the familiar faces to catch the attention of wrestling fans. Douglas’ time as a wrestler in TNA was very unfortunate due to his older age and injuries catching up to him. He would also spend time as a broadcaster and a manager but Douglas was never able to become effective for the company in any position.
3 Mr. Anderson
Ken Anderson was on the verge of superstardom in WWE during his push as Mr. Kennedy. At one point, he was the Money in the Bank briefcase holder but injuries forced him to lose the briefcase and his push. More injuries and wellness test failures slowed down Kennedy’s career and it ended in WWE altogether when he had an incident with Randy Orton that saw Orton blame him for doing a dangerous move in a match. With things ending as terribly as possible in WWE, he went to TNA as Mr. Anderson and saw a main event push. Despite winning multiple World Championships in TNA, Anderson failed to become a legitimate draw and has always been viewed as a secondary performer on the card at the best.
2 Orlando Jordan
During a two year run in WWE, Orlando Jordan’s most memorable run came as a member of JBL’s cabinet as the chief of staff. As crazy as it sounds today, Jordan defeated John Cena to win the United States Championship. That was the high point for Jordan’s career, as he’d lose the title to Chris Benoit in a 25-second match. He turned into an enhancement talent shortly after the title loss before getting released. TNA signed Jordan in 2010 and used his real life bisexuality as his new wrestling character. For some reason, they felt that meant having him sexually harass other wrestlers and squirt lotion all over himself. Jordan’s time in TNA was a trainwreck and he was released after one year.
1 Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan was once perceived to be the future of the WWE. In developmental, Jim Cornette saw something special in the athletic giant. Morgan had two short stints on WWE television with his most memorable run coming as a stuttering bodyguard for Carlito. Morgan was used in bad comedy spots due to his speech impediment gimmick and quickly taken off television again. Following his WWE release, Morgan was brought into TNA by his biggest supporter, Cornette. The big man was given multiple opportunities to become a star in the company but his promos and matches just didn’t deliver. Unless he was working with Kurt Angle or AJ Styles, Morgan looked like a mundane giant. It just goes to show that potential is never guaranteed in the wrestling business.