TNA has had a lot of issues over the years, that’s no secret. From lack of a high profile to lack of payment for their workers, creative issues, bouncing around TV and more, the company just hasn’t had the major success they want. One of the biggest complaints is TNA’s obsession with grabbing almost anyone let go from WWE and pushing them hard. You can certainly argue a good case for that. After all, this is the company that thought pushing Hulk Hogan and Sting in 2010 was going to lead them to ratings victory and insists on The Hardy Boyz dominating the main event scene. Every now and then, you do get a performer able to do more in TNA; Christian proved himself as a main-eventer as did Bully Ray while Gail Kim and Bobby Lashley did much better. Even Kurt Angle and RVD did not too badly in their runs. Sadly, those successes are overshadowed by far more failures.
A major issue is that TNA assumes these guys are still the great workers and stars they once were, not seeming to notice their lower physical abilities. They also think the fans will love a guy from the ‘90s still pushed as a major deal today. This company could have gone for young and fun indie guys but instead kept jumping for anyone off WWE, regardless of their standing. So many times, this backfired quite badly and put the company into a deeper mess. So many times guys from WWE are given a push in TNA but not able to do as well and proved some guys would have been better off hanging it all up. Here are 20 former WWE performers who did a lot worse in TNA.
Diamond Dallas Page came to wrestling late but did a good job, winning gold in WCW and his WWE run rough but still had star power and held the European title. In TNA, he came in with a big splash against Raven before being side-tracked into a feud with Erik Watts of all people. Soon he was clashing with Jeff Jarrett for the title but lost after Monty Brown turned heel. A bad feud with him ended with Page leaving in the summer of 2005. DDP was showing his age, his bouts on the lackluster side and not much in success but at least he’s gotten things together to help other wrestlers in rehab today.
19. Curt Hennig
After time away due to injuries, Mr. Perfect made a return to WWE and seemed back in top form, able to handle himself and flashes of the man who had been a dominant IC champion. However, Hennig was fired in 2002 after his role in the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell” debacle. He made his way to TNA in 2002 and seemed like he would be a good fit. However, Hennig’s personal problems were still an issue, acting up a lot and his push against Jarrett for the NWA title suffered from Jarrett’s desire to stay in the spotlight. He lost a pole match which would turn out to be his final one, dying just a month later and a shame such a great career had an imperfect end.
18. Al Snow
A popular figure in WWE with his “Head” gimmick and fun style, Snow seemed a good choice as an elder figure in TNA. It wasn’t helped that his run began joining other former ECW guys as Dixie Carter pushed them as a force, thinking that reviving ECW in 2010 was a great idea. Like many of his fellows, Snow was showing age and wear on his body. His few matches were lackluster.
He joined the judges of “Gut Check,” a decent concept that went nowhere thanks to how TNA basically cut all the competitors for money issues and is now being pushed in a feud with Gardo that most agree is pointless. What does everyone want? Not Snow in TNA.
17. Orlando Jordan
You have to feel for Jordan. A decent guy in the ring, he’d held the U.S. title in WWE and was getting attention for his coming out as bisexual. Leave it to TNA to ignore boosting him as a real worker and instead giving Jordan an interview segment where he came out covered in yellow tape and mask and rubbed cream all over himself while the announcers talked of how uncomfortable this was. It was a terrible sight, doing Jordan no favors to get over as well as insulting to many in the audience and he wouldn’t last long in the company. Whatever else about his WWE run, it was still loads better than what Jordan got in TNA.
16. Val Venis
While he was infamous for his adult film star act in WWE, Venis was also a decent wrestler who won the IC and tag titles and still had some fans behind him. However, landing him as a “major name” in 2010 was pretty ridiculous and doing his old act with the Beautiful People came off just damn annoying to watch. His tenure was only a few weeks as the TNA move to Mondays clashed with Venis’ commitments to CMLL and thus Val left the company, marking his run as just another long-past novelty act pushed beyond reason.
15. Booker T
After great runs in WCW and WWE, Booker was naturally pushed hard in TNA, winning over Bobby Roode in his debut and kicking off an overly long feud which had Roode accidentally punching Sharmell for real. Booker then joined the Main Event Mafia, creating the Legends title as a vanity piece and holding the tag titles with Scott Steiner but his matches just lacked the same spark as in WWE, his promos just okay and his work with the Mafia making him seem just like another older star holding down the younger guys. He left after a stretcher match before eventually returning to WWE and Booker’s TNA tenure is hardly what one would call “royal” by any means.
Once a very promising star, Andrew Martin never quite lived up to that potential, some runs in WWE as IC champion and seemed ready for more but never quite had the right timing. After a return in ECW, Test was cut loose after violating the Wellness Policy with talk of him refusing to seek rehab for his problems. He came to TNA, pushed for his size and strength and worked with Christian’s Coalition against Abyss’ forces in a Doomsday Chamber of Blood match.
It would be his only bout there as he was let go over concerns his “issues” would get the company attention from the feds. He announced his retirement and basically languished before his death, marking TNA as a sad end to a once-promising career.
13. Dustin Rhodes
When he debuted in TNA in 2005, Dustin was pushed as Dusty was in charge of booking and actually not bad on his own with his own persona but didn’t work out as Dusty’s departure meant Dustin was soon gone. He returned in 2007 where Vince Russo had the genius idea to have him be Black Reign, in dark paint like Goldust and claiming it was his “dark alter ego.” It looked idiotic even before he introduced a rat sidekick and his matches bad to say the least. He left fast to return to WWE as Goldust and some more championships, making his TNA run a bad misstep for a good athlete.
12. New Age Outlaws
After becoming one of the best tag teams around, the Outlaws went their separate ways with Road Dogg coming to TNA as Jesse James, working with 3 Live Krew in matches that had him doing his old spiel but looking rough in the ring. Billy Gunn eventually joined as Kip James, the two uniting but their runs laughable with stuff as the Voodoo Kin Mafia, challenging DX to a real fight, mocking the Dudleyz and other antics that were not as great as TNA hoped. And after all that, they just jumped right back to WWE and held the tag titles again. Wrestling is weird, folks.
11. The Hardy Boyz
Jeff’s tenure in TNA has been a true mixed bag. His run in 2004-05 had him in various title matches and hard battles with Abyss before he no-showed in May, returned in September but no-showed again in December. He returned to the company in 2010, pushed as champion as part of Immortal and turning heel but also way too bizarre (the infamous bit of the viewers hearing his thoughts on his challengers) and too many felt TNA was giving him the push just because of his fame when he only did nutty spots and not enough wrestling.
As for Matt, his TNA tenure was marked with various turns, feuds with Jeff and then pushed as World champion, a position many feel he’s just not suited for. He’s remaking himself into a cult leader type which is also not that great and the bizarre “Willow” gimmick against Jeff. Both brothers have held tag titles and their feud with the Wolves was a highlight but for the most part, their tenure in TNA is way below their WWE work and pushing two guys infamous for their actions out of the ring (Jeff’s addictions and injuries) as tops shows TNA’s issues with ex WWE guys getting more attention than their own.
10. Chavo Guerrero
From WCW to WWE, Chavo showed an amazing skill and drive, terrific with a high-flying style and good on the mic. His coming to TNA seemed ready to boost that up more but instead he was saddled with Hernandez to win the tag team titles, not given a real opportunity to be as flashy as he could be and relying too much on the same style of matches. His promos seemed more stilted and his clashes muted due to the tag team shackle. He was let go as part of the massive exodus of talent in 2013 with it written in getting the pink slip in a “Feast or Fired” briefcase. It’s a shame how TNA let such a great athlete and name slip away.
9. Mick Foley
After a falling out with WWE, Foley gave TNA a try in 2008 and showed that maybe he was better off in retirement. His run as champion is cited among the worst in TNA’s history as Mick was showing the wear and tear of so many years of beatings and hardcore matches and not able to keep up. His hardcore matches with Abyss had blood but nothing as special as in the past and seeing Foley (who fans had come to love as a nice guy) continuing in these battles was more annoying than thrilling. Foley ended up an on-screen “Network executive” before finally leaving the company and his run in TNA not exactly something to remember.
It’s sadder now to talk of Joanie Laurer after her tragic death, a once truly great star whose life was cut short due to drugs and addictions. By 2011, Laurer was more infamous for such things as a sex tape and run-ins with the law but it was still hoped a TNA run might get her back on track. Brought in as the ally of Kurt Angle, Chyna didn’t look the same as she and Angle took on Jeff and Karen Jarrett in a mixed tag match. Chyna only came in at the end for a few moves and nowhere near the top athlete she was. She left immediately afterward amid rumors of more personal problems and it’s sad that this was the final in-ring look of a pioneer in the industry.
7. Christy Hemme
The first Divas Search winner wasn’t exactly stellar in WWE, known more her looks than with her in-ring ability. But that was still better than her TNA run as she started as the eye candy for the Rock n Rave Infection and then had the horrendous match against the Big Fat Oily Guy. Her ring work included a neck injury that laid her up for months but even afterward, wasn’t good in the ring at all and was easily manhandled by true talent.
She finally settled into the role of ring announcer, but her departure closes out a bit of a lady who really got some bad stuff compared to other Knockouts.
While he was best known for his goofy dancing and sticking his rear in people’s faces, Rikishi still had a decent run in WWE as IC champion and a few big programs. In TNA, he was still rather overweight and not handling it as well, coming in as Junior Fatu and soon pushed as part of their Bound for Glory tournament, including the infamous Reverse Battle Royal. His tenure was rough and short as only a month after his debut, Rikishi was let go with word of a fight with TNA over a pay raise. A tough tenure for a guy who could have done a bit better.
5. Hulk Hogan
Taking on Hogan in 2010 was a massive mistake for TNA as his ego demanded he be on top no matter what. Thus TNA had to cater to Hogan as the hero, constantly battling younger guys and coming out on top with his comeback and other moves. Even as a heel, Hogan had to be boosted as the best which is hard to do when you’re barely mobile much of the time and continuing to wrestle like it’s 1987. That’s not counting such things as pushing daughter Brooke and how his comments of Bobby Roode “not being ready” ruined months of planning. Retiring and coming back, sad matches in the ring and leaving with Dixie clinging to his leg, Hogan ensured his TNA tenure was a disaster from start to finish that only served him and not the company.
4. Ric Flair
This one was truly sad to watch. Once arguably the best wrestler on the planet, Flair was long past the point of in-ring ability, even with his skills, when he joined TNA in 2010. To see him and Hogan, what had once been a “dream match” in this time was sad, two fantastic stars reduced to old men who were slow and sloppy in the ring. Flair was soon bouncing around as a total lunatic at times and working with Immortal and Fortune, also becoming a mentor to turn AJ Styles into a “new Nature Boy” which didn’t suit Styles at all. His matches with Hogan and Sting showed none of his classic drive, just an old man trying to be young and also tore his leg muscles in one match. While Flair’s career is amazing, his TNA tenure is best to be forgotten.
3. Kevin Nash
Long hated by fans for his bad ring work and selfish booking, Nash somehow managed to con TNA into giving him a run in 2004, working with Hall and Jeff Jarrett as “the Kings of Wrestling.” His in-ring work was worse than ever thanks to age and injuries yet TNA put him in the title picture a few times and even had him lined up to face Jarrett at Bound For Glory 2005 before a health scare ended that. He returned in 2008 to help form the Main Event Mafia, his few matches horrendous and his tendency for injury pushing him down. He kept up with the company, including forming The Band but every match was just a reminder that he was a guy trying to relive his glory days when long past that point.
2. Scott Hall
Hall is one of the sadder cases in wrestling of a guy who had it all and lost it with drugs and alchohol. By 2004, he looked like a horrendously older version of himself, wrinkled and out of shape yet continued to act like his prime with his bad accent and sloppy moves. He was pushed for a bit in the “Kings of Wrestling” bit before fading due to his demons, returning in 2010 as he, Nash and Sean Waltman became “The Band” and acted like it was still 1996.
Hall just looked terrible in every way, even when they won the tag titles and his tenure in TNA ended with his legal problems crashing in on him to push him out of the company. He’s doing better now but his tenure in TNA just served as a sad topper to an otherwise solid career.
1. The Nasty Boys
How these guys even got to sign contracts with TNA, let alone on TV, is amazing. It was because of Hogan, who was always a buddy to them and thought they could boost up the division. Even at their best, Knobbs and Saggs weren’t exactly top-notch athletes but by 2010, they were massively out of shape and unable to work a match. More jarring was how these two couldn’t even cut a promo without sounding massively winded and their tenure was a massive waste.
Even TNA realized these two had no business in the ring and cut them fast but even giving them a try in their condition speaks volumes of how the company has issues with pushing any ex WWE guys no matter what.
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