The second half of the month of May 2015 has brought dark days to the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling community. Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez of Figure Four Online/Wrestling Observer, two of the most respected professional wrestling journalists in the industry today, reported on May 21 that Destination America, television home to TNA Wrestling, might not be renewing the TNA TV deal that is set to expire in September. An additional blow was delivered to TNA on May 27 when it was announced that Destination America had agreed to begin airing Ring of Honor programming starting in June.
This is not, to the company's credit, the first time that TNA has seemingly been on its deathbed. Many in the industry gave TNA little chance of surviving when it first appeared on the scene, and yet the organization has, via television deals and international exposure, managed to remain on the wrestling landscape for over a decade. TNA has, depending on how one would examine the company, been either a cockroach or a “Little Engine That Could” of the wrestling industry, and thus anybody throwing dirt on the organization without knowing for sure that it is dead is jumping the gun.
With that said, things do not at all look good for TNA heading into the summer of 2015. There is no one thing that has the company in its current state, as TNA has a long history of making questionable decisions and regrettable mistakes that have prevented it from being capable of hanging with WWE in television ratings and in pay-per-view purchases. There have been far more bad times than good in the history of TNA, which, in a way, makes choosing only 20 of the company's worst overall moments a difficult task.
20 All of “Joker” Sting
Pro wrestling companies copying from popular culture is not a new practice. The WWE, WCW, ECW and other organizations have all done it. The problem with Sting playing the “Joker” role is that there was only person who could adequately portray the character from The Dark Knight, and that was Heath Ledger. Sting, try as he might, was nothing more than a cheap imitation, and thus those segments were more often than not unintentionally funny.
19 Abyss Wins the Title by DQ
One of the well-known rules of pro wrestling among diehard fans is that titles cannot be won via disqualification. Such results cheapen championships, even when a special stipulation that eliminates that rule for a single match is put into place. The Sting and Abyss feud that went on...and on...and on...took a turn at the 2006 Genesis pay-per-view when Sting, who was the hottest babyface in the company at the time, dropped the title to Abyss via DQ. The result did neither man any favors, as it made Sting appear dumb and Abyss seem weaker than the veteran of the industry.
18 Jay Lethal and Ric Flair
This segment actually started out with a lot of promise. Jay Lethal, who does a spot-on impression of the “Nature Boy,” entered the ring and confronted Ric Flair during an episode of Impact for a segment that could have helped propel Lethal to main-event status. Such hopes were squashed nearly as quickly as they arose. Flair cut a promo on Lethal and the babyface almost immediately backed down. Then, to make matters worse, Flair and his crew beat down Lethal in the middle of the ring. What a waste of what could have been a fun feud.
17 Tony Schiavone “Heel Turn”
TNA, most notably Vince Russo, has gone to great lengths to try to grab attention and create a supposed realistic atmosphere to the company's programming. One of these attempts was to have Tony Schiavone, the former play-by-play man for WCW Nitro, show up to TNA to cut a promo on his former announcing partner Mike Tenay and turn heel. This segment led to absolutely nothing, as Schiavone would never again appear on TNA programming. He went back to working in baseball and in college sports, which is probably for the best considering how TNA has been run (into the ground).
16 Kurt Angle Beats Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe was the hottest character in TNA Wrestling in 2006, pushed as an undefeated monster who was the best overall wrestler in the company. Kurt Angle entered TNA from the WWE in September of that year, and his arrival brought the possibility of a dream match that could have been teased for months and months, maybe even for an entire year. TNA could not wait even two entire months to have these two wrestle at a pay-per-view. The cherry on top of the sundae was Angle tapping Joe out in that match, a result that offered another reminder to viewers that WWE castoffs were, in fact, better than those in TNA.
15 Dixie Carter Addresses TNA Roster
“You have a choice to make. You can choose to support the direction TNA is going, or you can choose not to. But you'll need to find another place to work.” These were words spoken to the TNA roster by Dixie Carter during a segment that the company happily exposed to fans in November of 2009 before Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff made their TNA television debuts. The real shame upon reviewing these few minutes of footage is that talents such as A.J. Styles and others did not, upon hearing Carter's words, choose to take her second offer and find another place to work. They would have been better off.
14 Events Immediately After Lockdown 2008
TNA felt like a fresh product coming off of the conclusion of the 2008 Lockdown pay-per-view. Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle had put on a tremendous main event, a match that felt like a combination of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. The hope, at the time, was that those running TNA had figured out that the company had to go in a different direction to distinguish itself from WWE. Those wishes lasted less than a week, as TNA programming went back to its standard self immediately after what was maybe the best pay-per-view main event in the history of the company.
13 King of the Mountain
A regular ladder match is too boring, obviously, so instead TNA had to run with the “King of the Mountain” match. Wrestlers would only be eligible to win this contest by scoring a fall, while those who were pinned or submitted were forced to go to a “penalty box” The match only ended when one of the eligible wrestlers climbed to the top of the ladder and secure title belt to a latch that was hanging over the ring. Assuming that TNA is on life support and is about to have the plug pulled on it, may “King of the Mountain” and the next match on this list die with the company.
12 Reverse Battle Royal
There are some types of wrestling matches that do not need to be altered. A standard battle royal, one that is easy enough to understand, is one of them. TNA has often tried to fix parts of the industry that were never broken, and that included the idea of the “Reverse Battle Royal.” Wrestlers began the contest by first surrounding the outside of the ring. They then had to fight for entrance until half of the wrestlers made it into the ring. Once that occurred, a regular battle royal would begin. My head hurts even attempting to understand the logic here.
11 Dixie Grabs Hogan
You have to give Hulk Hogan lots of credit for this angle. Not only did Hogan manage to once again link up with the WWE. He convinced whoever he needed to convince that the best way for him to make his exit from TNA would be for Dixie Carter, the head of the company, to literally beg for Hogan to say, so much so that she would latch onto Hogan's leg as he walked up the ramp for a final time. Performers usually leave a wrestling company by doing a job and/or by putting somebody else over. Not Hulk Hogan and certainly not in TNA.
10 Electrified Steel Cage Match
Pro wrestling has a history of gimmick matches. Wrestlers can win a contest by putting an opponent into a casket in one instance. Another match includes a man trying to bury another man alive. An electrified cage match, this one involving Team 3D versus Team LAX, could, on paper, be executed, but this one was instead a disaster from the opening bell. The lights inside of the arena “flashing” whenever a wrestler made contact with the cage was a downright ridiculous effect, and the humming sound that was supposed to be electricity was simply obnoxious for those trying to watch the match live and in-person.
9 Claire Lynch
One would need a storyboard and probably an hour of actual time to be able to thoroughly explain the awful Claire Lynch angle. What started out as a tale involving A.J. Styles and Dixie Carter supposedly having an affair resulted in Styles have to take a bump for Dixie's husband inside of the ring, and it then led to Claire Lynch appearing to announce that she was an addict receiving help from Dixie and A.J.. It was later learned, however, that Lynch had given birth to A.J.'s child! Funniest of all, A.J. agreed to a match with Chris Daniels that carried the stipulation that Styles would admit that he was the father of the baby if he lost; because that makes perfect sense.
8 Jenna vs. Sharmell
Those of you who are fans of well-worked professional wrestling contests would do well to pretend that this encounter never happened. It is not, to be honest, all that fair to blame either Jenna Morasca or Sharmell for putting together what was one of the worst matches you will ever see happen in any wrestling ring ever. That somebody within TNA thought up this disaster and that it was then allowed to occur, at a pay-per-view event even, speaks to how poorly the company has been run throughout its existence. This match can't hurt you anymore, wrestling fans.
7 James Storm vs. Chris Harris: Blindfold match
This may very well be the worst overall match in the history of TNA Wrestling, which is an impressive feat when you consider the long history of lackluster contests the company has been responsible for over the years. James Storm and Chris Harris, former tag-team partners, met inside of a steel cage when both were “blindfolded,” and thus half of the match involved the two wrestlers walking around inside of the ring doing next to nothing. There is a right way and a wrong way to do a blindfold match. Spoiler alert: TNA managed to find the wrong way to book the contest.
6 HardCORE Justice
Remember when the WWE brought ECW back with the impressive One Night Stand pay-per-view in 2005? Five years after that memorable show, TNA attempted to bring a makeshift version of ECW back with the HardCORE Justice event. Roughly a decade after the original ECW died and was swallowed up by the WWE, the TNA resurrection of ECW was more sad than it was entertaining. ECW has been dug up and buried time and time again. It is now, as of the posting of this piece, 2015. The wrestling world needs to let ECW rest in piece.
5 Aces and Eights
Changes made to writing/booking teams and to the roster could not keep those running TNA from going back to the same old ideas, and that was the case when Bully Ray turned heel on the company and became the leader of heel faction Aces and Eights. It was yet another instance of TNA going back to a so-called “invasion” angle, this time one included a biker gang that did not even have bikes! You could take your pick from the Aces and Eights run for worst overall moment. The entire thing was largely a massive waste of time for viewers and for fans.
One would think that the likes of Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett would know better from their times spent in WCW than to once again try to recreate the new World order faction that benefited and then ultimately hurt the company that went under in 2001. October 10 of 2010 showed that was not, in fact, the case. TNA chose to turn Jeff Hardy, the company's biggest babyface, heel in an attempt to create some buzz and maybe generate the type of heat that Hogan received when he turned in 1996. Shockingly to just about nobody, the plan did not work.
3 Eric Bischoff and the Bird
The best and also the worst idea that Eric Bischoff ever came up with while running WCW was the gimmick of the heel authority figure. While it helped change the fate of the Monday Night Wars, the idea is also one that different companies have attempted to recreate time and time again over the years. That was the case when “Joker” Sting entered Bischoff's office during an edition of Impact. Sting then held Bischoff hostage with the help of a bird. Yes. That's right. Bischoff sold for the bird, just one of the more ridiculous angles during that era of TNA.
2 Barbed Wire Christmas Tree
There are times when something can be so bad that it is actually funny and entertaining. What occurred at the “Silent Night, Bloody Night” Christmas Eve 2007 edition of Impact is not one such instance. It has gone down as one of the worst overall moments in the history of TNA Wresting, one that was forever immortalized via the “Bryan and Vinny Show” podcast that aired on the Figure Four Online/Wrestling Observer website. Review that podcast instead of going back and watching the actual match. You will be better off.
1 Victory Road 2011
Jeff Hardy and Sting were scheduled to battle in the main event over the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the 2011 edition of Victory Road, but it was clear from the beginning of the match that something was not right with Hardy. The call was made to end the match quickly, with Sting retaining his title after roughly two minutes of actual in-ring action. TNA later issued an apology and a “refund” that offered free access to the company's video library, but the one obvious question went unanswered: how is it possible that nobody working for TNA made the call to prevent Hardy from going to the ring in the first place?