Championships should be valued as the most important things in wrestling. While we all know it’s a work and scripted entertainment, the point is to capture our attention by sucking us into the storytelling. The idea of titles provides the reason for wrestlers to compete. There has to be an overall reason to be the best and championships give us that belief. Wrestlers should be credible and respectable holders of the title. A championship is only as valuable as the performer representing it. This goes for every division and not just the world title. Other divisions need the credibility to thrive even more with a championship.
TNA has a great history of champions. A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe are known for making the X-Division Championship a relevant title that caused fans to tune into TNA for something new in the wrestling industry. Beer Money and Motor City Machine Guns battled in a classic best-of-7 series for the tag team titles. Gail Kim carried the Knockouts Championship with great pride and trail blazed for female wrestlers long before the Divas Revolution. Kurt Angle left it all in the ring and competed against every top TNA name for the World Championship. The talent made these titles important with great work.
As with the history of TNA, there are many great things but even more terrible things to overshadow it. The negatives have harmed the legacy of TNA and the brand is a disaster with very little chances of turning around. The company has made many terrible decisions and quite a few of those are poor choices of title holders. Just about every TNA title has been devalued and we’re going to break down the names that contributed to that. Regardless of if it was poor work by the wrestler or just bad execution by the company, these are the top twenty worst TNA champions in company history.
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19 Mick Foley
There’s no doubt Mick Foley is one of the greatest wrestling stars of all time with a tremendous run in WWE during The Attitude Era. The hardcore legend mixed violent brutality with intelligent storytelling and it led to a Hall of Fame career. Foley made the bold decision to continue his in-ring career in TNA and it was a colossal failure. Aside from a few comedic segments, Foley did not achieve much in the company but somehow won the world title from Sting in 2009. Foley was way too old and banged up to continue working in the ring. The title reign was a disaster and further cemented TNA’s reputation as a retirement home for WWE talent.
18 Matt Morgan
The talent acquisition of Matt Morgan after WWE cut him was expected to lead to the company getting another star main eventer. Instead, Morgan was a bust and never lived up to his potential. The big man won tag title gold twice and could arguably be involved in both of the worst tag team champions in TNA history. Morgan entered teams with Hernandez and Crimson, each leading to horrible chemistry and bland matches. Both occasions felt like the booking team was sticking Morgan in the tag division because there was nothing else for him and it hurt the titles.
TNA's female division, where the wrestlers are known as Knockouts, was originally a strength of TNA. Gail Kim and Awesome Kong delivered classic matches that set the bar for women’s wrestling. The division had so much promise but eventually took a big downturn due to poor decisions and horrible booking. In an attempt to revamp the roster, Havok was brought in and instantly given a title reign but it was another mess. Havok was basically used as a bootleg Kong and didn’t have the presence that Kong did. The match quality suffered and her title reign was one of the worst in Knockouts history.
Sean Waltman had a storied career full of great moments but most of those memories were created in WWE, where Waltman is a potential Hall of Famer. Sadly, his time in TNA is less appreciated. As Syxx-Pac, Waltman had a couple of stints in the company and the worst was being an X-Division Champion in the early stages. TNA wanted to spotlight the light heavyweight standout of the 90s in their new version of the style but he was over the hill and unable to keep up with the new stars like A.J. Styles and Chris Sabin.
The horrible TNA Impact video game failed on every level but the worst flop may have been the creation of the character Suicide. Fans could play as the mysterious video game character named Suicide in the game’s story mode. Vince Russo learned about this and decided the character should become a thing on the actual television show. With no real purpose, the masked skeleton looking creature would win the X-Division title. Talented wrestlers like Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian worked under the mask to contribute to making the matches good but the silliness of the gimmick ruined any chance of success. Guys like Jay Lethal, Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley were losing title matches to Suicide and it was a joke.
The Dudleys worked in TNA as Team 3D for many years but eventually split for singles runs. The heel work of Bully Ray is documented as one of the greatest transformations in recent history and led to the best singles work of his career. Devon didn’t fare as well. While the veteran did gain support from the fans in the Impact Zone, his work was below average and came off like another older wrestlers holding a spot in TNA. Devon would get two reigns holding the TNA Television Championship and both were incredibly uninspiring. Some wrestlers are not meant to be singles wrestlers and Devon should not have held singles gold.
13 Johnny Devine
A quick glimpse through the history of the X-Division Championship will see a hit list of great talent. A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe are currently stars in the WWE. Jay Lethal is the ROH Champion. Chris Sabin, Petey Williams and Low Ki were among the most talented athletes of their time. One name that doesn’t belong is Johnny Devine. The former member of Team Canada joined Team 3D as a heel faction rebelling against the X-Division. Devine was given a title reign to get the storyline over but it was a poor choice. The lackluster work of Devine caused a drop off in the work expected of the X-Division title matches.
There’s no argument against Magnus being one of the best homegrown TNA talents. Most of the wrestlers had greater legacies in WWE (Kurt Angle), WCW (Sting) or ROH (Samoa Joe). Magnus was one of the rare cases of TNA finding a wrestler on their own and molding him into a successful star. The biggest test for Magnus came when he defeated A.J. Styles to become the TNA World Champion but it was not a sweet victory. Magnus was one of the worst world champions in company history. The booking was horrible and made him secondary to the heel character of his boss Dixie Carter. Magnus has cited disappointment with his world title run after leaving TNA and it’s for good reason.
12 Sheik Abdul Bashir
Daivari had a solid run in WWE but worked mostly as a manager for the likes of Kurt Angle, Mark Henry and The Great Khali. After the release, he hoped to showcase his wrestling skills and was given the chance in TNA as Sheik Abdul Bashir. The gimmick was another outdated anti-American character and his matches were just dull. Fans wanted fast paced and action packed matches in the X-Division. Putting the title on Bashir was not a good call as he was more of a calculated wrestler that worked a slower style despite his smaller size. The X-Division lost a lot of momentum due to him being champ.
TNA put a lot of time and effort into building Gunner up as one of the company’s stars of the future. That obviously didn’t work out because he’s no longer in TNA but they tried their best to showcase him. Gunner was given a run with the TNA Television Championship and he was one of the most boring champions in any company, at any time. His lack of charisma and mundane in-ring style forced fans to witness another failed Television Champion. TNA tried to make it a credible midcard title, as their terrible choices sunk any slim chances to save it. Gunner was the perfect example of how a bad wrestler can further damage a championship.
10 Robbie E
Robbie E is quietly one of the most accomplished wrestlers in TNA history. The Jersey Shore’s favorite wrestler has held the X-Division Championship, Television Championship and Tag Team Championship. The reason you can’t remember all of those is due to how forgettable they were. Robbie E does a good job with character work and can be hilarious in the right situation, but he should've never been in a position to hold a title in TNA. The momentum and matches of Robbie E has indicated he should be a lower-tier talent putting over others, but the company put faith in him many times which always led to awful title reigns.
9 Sonny Siaki
The early momentum of the X-Division gave TNA the hook it needed to get fans attention as they offered something fresh and unique. A.J. Styles, Jerry Lynn and Low Ki were putting on classic matches on a weekly basis to make the X-Division Championship the most important title in the company. That ended when Sonny Siaki won the title. Siaki had an impressive look and was perfectly adequate in the ring but there was nothing special about him. The forgotten name was one of the more generic wrestlers to ever hold the title and his only legacy in wrestling is being one of the worst wrestlers to be the X-Division Champion.
8 Velvet Sky
Velvet Sky is one of the most popular female talents in TNA history and achieved great success with The Beautiful People. Along with Angelina Love, Sky created a heel duo that fans wanted to see and they actually would beat names like Sting, Christian Cage and Kurt Angle in the segment by segment ratings for a year. The issue came when Sky had to wrestle in singles matches. If you’ve watched any Velvet Sky match, you know about her inability to run the ropes in a coherent manner. With such a glaring flaw of a basic wrestling requirement, all of her matches would only go down from there. Sky won the Knockouts Championship at Bound for Glory 2011, but lost it within a month to a returning Gail Kim to save us.
TNA’s monster Abyss is one of the few stars to never leave the company for greener pastures. Most of Abyss’ work came in hardcore matches in the middle of the card but his longevity has led to various title reigns. Abyss defeated Sting to win the World Championship in the dumbest of ways by getting the victory via DQ. The Monster also scored the X-Division Championship during another storyline of a heel wrestler trying to bully the X-Division by winning the title. The Television Championship saw another irrelevant title reign when Abyss also added that to his resume. All of his title reigns were disappointing and none delivered any positive memories.
TNA made various questionable decisions about who they would try to push in the main event. A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe were met with peculiar booking and often relegated to secondary storylines despite being the greatest two stars in the promotion’s history. The company definitely had a stereotypical look in what wrestlers they felt could draw money. Crimson was one of those to get an opportunity due to his impressive physical size. The inexperienced wrestler was pushed quickly but it never went anywhere due to his poor matches. Along with Matt Morgan, Crimson won the Tag Team Championship and had the worst tag run in the history of TNA.
5 Rob Van Dam
This ranking may be harsh to one of wrestling’s great talents but Rob Van Dam was the shining example of a legendary wrestler treating TNA like a retirement home. RVD entered the company as a huge free agent but the aging process and his lack of passion for TNA showed us how fleeting greatness can be. The company gave Van Dam a world title reign by defeating A.J. Styles but it never led to any growth. RVD frequently demeaned the younger TNA talent for the ratings and attendance never increasing, but he was the champion during the time where things stalled the most despite high expectations. The former high-flying star also had an embarrassing run as X-Division Champion that showed he couldn’t keep up anymore.
4 Rob Terry
Rob Terry was the prototypical wrestling stiff. The bodybuilder has more arm muscles than multiple TNA wrestlers combined, but he was an absolute bum in the ring. Terry looked ridiculously out of place in singles matches and only worked effectively in tag team matches with Magnus or Doug Williams doing all the work. TNA kept giving opportunities to Terry due to his look and they always ended with failure. Terry was the Global Champion (name of the title before it was the Television Championship) and it resulted in a long five-month reign with zero good matches. The combination of an undeserving talent with boring in-ring skills will always lead to terrible title runs.
3 Scott Hall
The trials and tribulations of Scott Hall are well documented and they are the main reason he was a horrible tag team champion for TNA. The regime of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff brought Hall back into the company to team with Kevin Nash. Hall was already older but he was now in terrible physical shape and unfit to perform. Of course, TNA gave him and Nash the Tag Team Championship. Hall was in such terrible condition that they added a “Freebird rule” so Eric Young could replace him in the tag matches. The personal demons of Hall forced the company to release him and strip them of the titles in one of the more embarrassing championship reigns in company history.
2 Mr. Anderson
A world championship should be valued and protected more than anything else in the writing of a wrestling show. It’s the most important prize that everyone is fighting for. The TNA World Championship had its fair share of ups and downs but it was typically held by true main event performers. That ended when Mr. Anderson was given multiple stints as World Champion. Despite the potential shown in his early WWE push, Anderson floundered in TNA and regressed in just about every facet of his game. Both of his title runs were huge disappointments and set a negative precedent that anyone could hold the prize in TNA.
1 Pacman Jones
In true TNA fashion, the worst champion in company history is someone that can’t even be classified as a wrestler. Suspended NFL player Adam “Pacman” Jones signed with the company and instantly won the TNA Tag Team Championship by defeating Kurt Angle and Sting with Ron Killings. The funniest factor was the Tennessee Titans used their contract rights over Pacman to ensure he didn’t get involved in any physical action in fear of injury. Pacman never wrestled and just stood on the corner. The company had to bring in Consequences Creed (now Xavier Woods) to replace him in a big PPV match. Jones has the reputation of being one of the worst humans in sports, so it only makes sense TNA signed him and had him pin Sting to win a championship without ever working a true match.
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