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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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