TNA is a place you likely don’t want associated with your legacy. Many wrestlers to work for the company have had great times there but success elsewhere is important. A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe would have completely different reputations if they didn’t achieve success in ROH, New Japan and now WWE. TNA can actually damage a performer’s brand. Everyone forgot how good Styles was for years until he made the big decision to leave and he was deemed one of the best in the world again after reminding us how great he was in Japan. That sadly isn’t the story for everyone and it’s even worse if you fail in TNA.
Wrestlers to struggle in TNA have a difficult time finding retribution. The jokes and lack of respect towards a name is there if a poor TNA run is on the resume. Many talents have ended up leaving the business altogether following the end of the road in TNA. Luckily, the better performers have been able to thrive in new environments with better booking and more freedom. We’ll look at both sides of the fence when it comes to the careers of wrestlers trying to rebuild after a tough time in the company. These are the top twenty stories looking at what failed TNA wrestlers are doing today.
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20 Booker T
The legendary career of Booker T speaks for itself, but there’s no doubting that his stint in TNA was a complete flop. TNA expected to get a huge star to lead them into a bigger spotlight in the future, but Booker put out the worst work of his career. Booker treated his time with TNA as a vacation and harmed the reputation of the company. Younger wrestlers viewed him as someone that didn’t work hard and just showed up to get a huge paycheck.
Booker would eventually part ways with TNA after an uneventful run and returned to the WWE. The fit is much better with Booker working as a broadcaster doing studio work on the Raw Pre-Show and PPV Kick Off Shows. His time away from the ring has helped Booker T utilize his past name value rather than taint his legacy. You can also find Booker training aspiring wrestlers and running shows under his Reality of Wrestling promotion.
19 Lance Hoyt
Remember when TNA fans used to make custom merchandise comparing Lance Hoyt to Hulk Hogan? It’s okay that you don’t. It’s less embarrassing than those of us having to admit that we have been watching TNA this long. Hoyt developed popularity during the first few years of TNA’s time in Orlando. Fans dubbed the movement as “Hoytmania” and he seemed to have the potential to become a star for the company. Things didn’t work out and Hoyt would become a glorified jobber until his release.
Hoyt had a lackluster run with WWE and saw his career there end even faster than it did in TNA. The big man has finally found his ideal role in pro wrestling in Japan. Hoyt teams with Davey Boy Smith’s son Harry Smith as The Killer Elite Squad in Pro Wrestling NOAH. The luxury of earning a living solely from wrestling is very rare for those working outside of WWE or TNA, but Hoyt can proudly say he is one of them.
18 Taeler Hendrix
TNA’s Gut Check system was meant to be the concept that introduced new stars to the program. Taeler Hendrix was one of the contestants to get hired as part of the reality show process. She showed great promise and could have become a big part of the Knockouts division but they refused to give her a fair chance. There were rumors that TNA President Dixie Carter told Hendrix she needed to lose weight to be in “television shape” and she was released from her contract.
Despite Carter’s criticism, Hendrix was always stunning and she is showing it now for Ring of Honor. Hendrix continued her wrestling career and her hard work has earned her a full-time ROH roster member as the manager of Jay Lethal and a top asset in the Women of Honor division. Hendrix's career is reaching new highs and TNA absolutely dropped the ball on a potential star.
17 Petey Williams
Everyone loved Petey Williams during the early Orlando days of TNA in the X-Division. His finishing move, The Canadian Destroyer. was the coolest thing in wrestling and it led to great matches with A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels and many more. Williams was a fixture in the X-Division but never was pushed any higher up the card. Even when he was the X Champ, Petey was always below the top tier of performers in the division.
TNA firing Williams in 2009 was a heartbreaking moment for the loyal employee and he was never able to rebound from it. Williams spent time on the independent wrestling circuit and in Ring of Honor but could not find a long term role in wrestling. The Canadian star would officially retire from the business in 2014 due to needing to find more stable work with a pregnant wife and a child on the way. Williams is one of many young stars with potential that was turned into a flop thanks to TNA’s ineptitude and now he’s done wrestling.
16 Roderick Strong
Roderick Strong was an early member of the TNA roster when the company was trying to employ all of the hungry young wrestlers of the independent scene. The talented star worked for both TNA and ROH at the same time until a controversial decision. TNA pulled all talent from ROH shows during the PPV weekend of a storm, but Strong broke the rule to work for both promotions. Roddy made it to TNA in time, but he was punished for his actions.
Strong's TNA career was never the same with minimal pushes and he eventually chose ROH over TNA. Strong has remained employed by Ring of Honor over the past decade and is a big part of the company’s success. You can also find him on PWG and other independent wrestling promotions. Strong’s contract is rumored to expire very soon and there’s a chance he ends up in WWE. Years of hard work has made him a success story after the TNA flop.
15 Santana Garrett
TNA employed Santana Garrett on multiple occasions but her tenure there was sadly a big time waste. She was first known as the female included in Orlando Jordan’s weird love triangle during that terrible gimmick. Her more prominently featured role was her time as the significant other of Samuel Shaw. TNA did not know how to use her at all and it showed with the little in-ring time she received. Garrett would part ways with the company after another disappointing run.
Garrett’s career has thrived following TNA through hard work and gradual improvement. Her potential has blossomed into Garrett becoming one of the most accomplished and successful female performers in wrestling. She travels the world working in many countries and has been the face of Florida’s SHINE Wrestling. NXT has utilized Santana’s services on a few occasions and it is very likely she will end up there full time at some point in the near future. Garrett has made a success of her career after the unfortunate luck in TNA.
Daivari was one of many stars picked up by TNA shortly after a WWE release. The unoriginal anti-American gimmick was slapped on him and it failed to acheive any success in TNA. The company put the X-Division Championship on him but no one cared in the slightest. Daivari’s skill set did not match up with what was expected in the X-Division and it exposed him. TNA would eventually release him from his contract sending him to the free agent market once again.
Without a prominent spot in pro wrestling, Daivari works the random independent wrestling show and has been featured on Lucha Underground. The most interesting thing Daivari has done following his TNA failures was getting featured on TMZ for choking out a verbally abusive passenger on a train who was threatening others. Aside from the heroics and part time wrestling schedule, Daivari is now dating wrestling personality Alicia Webb, formerly known as Ryan Shamrock during The Attitude Era.
13 Samuel Shaw
TNA viewed Samuel Shaw as a young new performer with the potential to become a valuable member of the roster. They somehow thought the best way to showcase that was by making him play the stalker of Christy Hemme. Wrestling bookers, the stalker gimmick never works. Just ask Barry Windham and Diamond Dallas Page. Shaw was revealed to live with his mother named Christy adding another bizarre dimension to the Hemme storyline. Everyone just laughed at how bad it was and he ended up splitting from the company.
Shaw still wrestles on the independent circuit but he has delved into two completely different passions. Shaw's art work was once featured on TNA television and it is genuinely a part of his life. Shaw continues to work at being an artist but he is also participating in fitness competitions. You have to respect someone for going after all of their passions, especially when none include working for TNA.
12 Low Ki
The story of Low Ki’s career is very disappointing considering he was on the same level of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Samoa Joe in the early stages of the ROH rise. TNA made him one of the first members of the X-Division and he delivered great matches on a consistent basis. The problem is something always hindered him from getting to the next level. TNA saddled him with various silly storylines and just limited him as a performer.
Low Ki teased retirement after his most recent release from TNA in 2015, but he still finds time to perform at the rare independent show. AAA brought him to Mexico due to his friendship with Konnan and he is available to wrestle for the right price. Low Ki does motion capture work for various video games, including the WWE 2K series. You may not get to see him pull of moves on television but you can spot them when gaming.
11 Kazuchika Okada
New Japan sent a very young Kazuchika Okada on an excursion to the United States to gain experience and knowledge in TNA. Okada had a world of potential but TNA never gave him any fair chances at showing it on television. You could only find his matches on the Xplosion tapings or dark matches unless you remember the atrocious Okato era. Someone watched The Green Hornet movie and remembered there was an Asian on the roster that could play a version of Kato.
The racial stereotyping and poor use of Okada caused New Japan to break all ties with TNA. There is still a grudge today with NJPW not wanting any of their stars to do business with Impact Wrestling. The terrible years just lit a fire that ignited Okada and he is now one of the best wrestlers in the world. Okada is the top dog in Japan and has a huge American fan base when working for Ring of Honor. What a mistake by TNA.
10 Sonjay Dutt
Sonjay Dutt was one of the stars of the early 2000s to get a big spotlight for his dazzling moves at smaller independent wrestling shows. TNA found him and decided to make him a part of the X-Division. The fit was ideal and he contributed to many entertaining matches but never found a sustainable push in the company. Dutt’s most memorable time was as the stereotypical gimmick of The Guru but that was irrelevant after just a couple of weeks.
Dutt was let go by TNA as the company never appreciated their X-Division stars but he has been brought back on multiple occasions for short runs or one-time appearances. Dutt is still featured on the independent wrestling circuit but his biggest role is in Global Force Wrestling. Jeff Jarrett’s promotion has failed to make a mark since their debut last year but Dutt is a scout with a big position in the company... if it ever takes off.
The experiment of Crimson in TNA was a colossal failure. They passed on many top independent wrestling stars that would go on to get signed by WWE but felt the need to take the chance on an extremely mediocre Crimson due to his look. Crimson was arguably the worst wrestler in the company and did absolutely nothing with the opportunity gifted to him by management. The relationship ended when TNA realized Crimson would never become a main event star, no matter how much they liked him.
Crimson has predictably struggled to continue his wrestling career with very few appearances on the independent wrestling scene. The success of an independent wrestler depends on if fans want to see them perform. Crimson’s lack of a fan base means he will not be in high demand and it sunk his chances at success outside of TNA. The post-wrestling life of Crimson sees him work as a personal trainer and attend classes on business management these days.
8 TJ Perkins
Wrestling’s youngest veteran TJ Perkins has been in the game since he was a teenager and thought he found his dream job with TNA. Perkins portrayed the Manik character under various masks ,but we all knew it was him. TJP’s time in TNA was consistently full of disappointments thanks to the company refusing to believe in his talent. They clearly viewed him as a solid worker to wear one of their silly costumes and have good matches quietly.
Perkins petitioned on Twitter for the company to allow him to be himself on television without the mask or gimmick, and he was rewarded by seeing his contract expire. TJP has actually gained more momentum outside of TNA with great matches in EVOLVE Wrestling. WWE’s relationship with EVOLVE has given him the biggest opportunity of his career in the Cruiserweight Classic. Perkins leaving TNA was the best thing to happen to his career and we’ll no longer have to remember him mostly for flopping there.
7 Jimmy Rave
Jimmy Rave was arguably the top heel in ROH during its hot period in 2006-2007 with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens and Cesaro on the roster. TNA signed him and it was viewed as a big break for the talented young man, but it ended up being the worst decision of his career. Rave failed to make an impact and was placed in a comedic tag team with Lance Hoyt and Christy Hemme. The trio played intentionally bad musicians pandering for heel heat.
TNA coldly released Rave after months of irrelevance. The post-TNA world has not been as kind towards him as it is for many. Rave still has great matches on local independent shows, but he’s not on any of the top promotions like ROH, PWG or EVOLVE. His tenure in TNA killed his momentum and lowered his name value in a way that prevented him from shining like many of his one-time peers currently are.
6 Wes Brisco
The family experience of Wes Brisco should have made him understand the business and have a better chance at success, but he was just painfully generic. Nothing about him stood out or made you want to care about him in the slightest. This of course meant TNA wanted to make Wes a main event star during the horrible Aces & Eights faction. The son of the legendary Gerald Brisco was placed in a feud against icon Kurt Angle and still couldn’t deliver.
TNA finally cut bait with Brisco and he has done very little since then. New Japan gave him an opportunity on a few shows but he once again didn’t have what was necessary to stand out and get more bookings. Wes works primarily for the relatively unknown Paragon Pro Wrestling promotion in Las Vegas. Wes' career has very little hope unless TNA decides to do an Aces & Eights reunion. Hopefully this doesn’t give them any ideas.
5 Garett Bischoff
Another second generation bust for TNA was fellow Aces & Eights member Garett Bischoff. The son of Eric Bischoff had minimal in-ring skills and zero charisma. This naturally led to him getting a big push due to his father having pull in the booking meetings. Fans showed zero respect to Garett and he was booed out of the building in the UK in front of TNA’s biggest crowd after Hulk Hogan proclaimed him the future of the business.
Garett would sit at home for months before getting his release from TNA. His sad excuse of a wrestling career basically ended there as he only appeared on a few independent wrestling promotions following the TNA end. Bischoff has a new career working for the Sonoran Desert Institute School of Firearms Technology as an education liaison. The more comical route Garett has gone is also putting his time into the “One Bad Cat” clothing line, if you want to wear his ideas in the form of jackets or shirts.
4 Matt Morgan
Everyone expected Matt Morgan to become a star in the wrestling industry during his days in WWE development. The big man had the size, athleticism and potential to blossom into a special talent but it never materialized. TNA gave him plenty of chances to excel but he just couldn’t get to the next level. Morgan worked a big program against Kurt Angle and was later involved in a storyline with Hulk Hogan, but fans still didn’t care for him.
TNA and Morgan mutually parted ways after both realized things would never change. Morgan retired from the wrestling industry to get a job as the manager of a company that sells medical devices. The Blueprint made a one-time only appearance for TNA in 2015 to face Bram at the Slammiversary PPV. This wasn’t a way to return to the wrestling industry, but rather an opportunity to have his son see him wrestle for the first and likely last time. Morgan is content in his new life but wanted his child to experience his dad performing in the squared circle. He is also very active in the bodybuilding field.
3 Joey Ryan
TNA ran an interesting angle with Joey Ryan during the Gutcheck concept. Ryan was turned down by judges Taz and Al Snow. This led to “worked shoot promos” of Ryan trashing Taz and creating his own buzz online. It all culminated in a match against Snow that won Ryan his contract in TNA. The company proceeded to do absolutely nothing with him. Ryan’s biggest success was being part of a forgettable tag team with Matt Morgan. The company let him go and it ended up working to his advantage.
Joey formed an inter gender tag team with Candice LeRae on the independent wrestling circuit and that saved his career. Their classic matches against The Young Bucks put Ryan back on the map as someone to keep an eye on. Ryan has since become far more popular during his stints in Japan using comedic spots involving the “strength” of his private parts in the ring. The silliness has resulted in various clips going viral and Ryan becoming one of the most popular performers on the indies.
2 Luke Gallows
The signing of Luke Gallows in TNA should have been a home run, but he was wasted away in the atrocious Aces & Eights faction. Everyone to enter the faction saw their career suffer dramatically due to how horrible it went. Gallows was portrayed as “just a guy” in the most annoying stable in wrestling. TNA sent him packing after the faction ended and he failed to gain any success in the company.
Gallows lucked out and headed to Japan to team with Karl Anderson as a member of The Bullet Club. That was an actual respected faction that was becoming ridiculously popular in both Japan and the United States. Gallows saw his Japanese work make him a star in North America, way more than anything he did in the WWE or TNA. This caused WWE to re-sign him with his tag partner Anderson and they are currently on the main roster as The Club. Gallows is reported to be already one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE locker room despite just returning a few months ago.
1 Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal’s time in TNA was memorable, but the sad fact is his tenure with the company was a flop. The young prospect blossomed into an entertaining performer but his most memorable moments were pretending to be Randy Savage and Ric Flair. Comedy has a place in wrestling but Lethal’s potential was to become a top star and that clearly was never happening in TNA. Following years in the X-Division, Lethal was fired in one of the more heartbreaking moments of his career.
The locker room all wanted the company to reconsider but Lethal was gone and had no idea what to do next. His career would change for the best when he joined Ring of Honor. Lethal has been a part of the company for over five years now and is the current ROH World Champion. Many would argue Lethal is the face of ROH and the most talented wrestler on the independent scene. WWE is likely to come calling Lethal as he has become one of the top names in the industry after getting the boot from TNA.
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