When you think of making stars, you don't think of TNA. TNA had wrestlers such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Abyss but still chose to go in a different direction. That direction was a reliance on older talent that made their name elsewhere. WWE on the other hand has made tons of talent. Too many to name in fact. Bobby Roode is another TNA star who's currently in WWE, and although he has had a successful run on NXT, he's still waiting for a chance to break into the main roster.
However, WWE usually does a poor job with wrestlers who made their name elsewhere. Goldberg is a prime example of this. Goldberg was WCW's answer to Steve Austin. When he got to WWE, they did everything in their power to book him poorly. Having him lose, having his matches go long, and putting him in comedy skits. Some fans believe that his first run was clearly a failure since they had gotten used to WCW's Goldberg. The same goes for wrestlers who have jumped ship from TNA to WWE or vice versa.
WWE has poorly booked numerous amounts of TNA wrestlers. Kurt Angle and AJ Styles are two wrestlers that come to mind that have had success with both but that is not always the case. Many of the TNA talents that have gone to WWE have not enjoyed the same level of success, while some of them, for one reason or another, never even made it there.
Here 15 TNA stars that WWE should have been huge in WWE.
15 Low Ki
Low Ki was a member of the second season of NXT 2. His name was changed to Kaval in an attempt to have WWE forget about his past in TNA. A season that featured future WWE Champion Bray Wyatt. However, with his coaches Lay-Cool, Kaval was chosen to be the winner of NXT Season 2. Unlike the NXT Season 1 winner, Kaval used his title shot on the Intercontinental Title instead of a World Title.
He lost to Dolph Ziggler and was released the same year he won the competition. Kaval or Low Ki made his name in TNA and ROH. He was known for rough style that involved stiff kicking of his opponents. Fans enjoyed watching his style of wrestling as many fans enjoy violence. Sadly, we did not get to see much of it in WWE. He returned briefly to TNA before he left again in 2015.
14 Chris Harris
Chris Harris was apart of the tag team America's Most Wanted with his partner James Storm. The team ran roughshod through TNA's tag division in the early 2000's. Both members were apart of the upper mid-card to main event scene while they were together. After multiple tag title reigns, the two split up and Harris eventually left the company. Harris joined WWE and his name was changed to Braden Walker.
He became one of the earliest memes in wrestling with his horrible introduction. He wrestled two matches and was released in 2008. His two appearances with WWE effectively ended his wrestling career and he was never relevant again. Like Low Ki, he also returned briefly to TNA following his WWE stint, but he would part ways with the company not too long after.
13 D'Angelo Dinero
In WWE, D'Angelo Dinero wrestled under his real name Elijah Burke. He began as a manager for Sylvester Terkay before transitioning into a wrestler himself. He was put on the ECW brand and led his own faction called the New Breed. The group lost to a team of old ECW Originals and legs were cut from underneath them. Burke then went on to feud with CM Punk, and they both legitimately disliked each other.
He was released in 2008 after WWE had rarely used him that year. He went to TNA and became one of the most charismatic wrestlers on the roster. He debuted the Black Pope gimmick and was inserted into the main event picture. Although he never won a World Title, he was easily one of the bigger stars in the company. He could've been a bigger star in TNA as well, but at least he got the chance to shine.
12 Drew Galloway
Drew McIntyre had a promising career in WWE. He was Vince McMahon's "Chosen One" until he wasn't anymore. After 2010, McIntyre was an afterthought in WWE and was mainly used as a jobber. He and fellow 3MB member Jinder Mahal were released in 2014 along with a plethora of others. McIntyre went to TNA and was immediately built as a top star.
He was placed into the World Title scene immediately and main evented Bound For Glory in 2015. He used his Feast or Fired briefcase to win the TNA World Heavyweight Title. Galloway left TNA in early 2017. He completed more in TNA in two years than he did in seven years with WWE.
He's only 31 years old so time is still on his side to make a name for himself in WWE.
Every wrestling fan in the world was looking forward to seeing Sting in WWE after all these years. What came from his WWE career left many fans disappointed, angry, and extremely bitter. He wrestled a total four matches and two of them were on one addition of Raw. He lost to Triple H in his debut match at WrestleMania 31 in a match that was an overbooked cluster.
At Night of Champions 2015, he lost to Seth Rollins in a match where he got seriously injured. His TNA runs are clearly superior. He worked well as a heel and a babyface. The "Joker" Sting was strange but Sting managed to make it work. Sting's run in WWE is the only blemish in a solid Hall of Fame career.
Sting had been in TNA for 10 years, where he became a 5-time World Heavyweight champion.
10 Ron Killings
Ron Killings hasn't been in TNA in a long time. However, Killings' time in TNA was infinitely better than what he's doing with WWE now. Believe it or not, he is a two-time NWA Champion which occurred while he was with TNA. His run in TNA is universally loved by almost all fans. Killings came to WWE and now we all know him as R-Truth. He's currently in a extremely unfunny tag team with Goldust.
WWE had one chance to attempt to salvage Truth's WWE career. They turned him into a heel who was absolutely mental. He competed for the WWE Championship and lost. He teamed with The Miz and they turned on each other before they turned him back into a face.
9 Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan has one of the best looks in wrestling history. Tall, muscular, and good looks. Everything Vince McMahon would look for in a superstar. However, bad gimmick led to Morgan's failure in WWE. They gave him a gimmick where he stuttered.
There's no coming back from that. He was also Carlito's bodyguard during his feud with Big Show in 2005. He went to TNA and immediately became more serious than he ever was in WWE.
He was the "Blueprint", the "DNA of TNA", he instantly became an interesting figure. He had several World Title shots but TNA never fully committed and pulled the trigger on him. It's obvious to see the difference between his WWE run and TNA run and you don't need a World Title run to see it.
8 Ethan Carter III
When EC3 hit our TV screens, he instantly became over with all wrestling fans. No one expected it after what we saw from him in WWE. But Carter was able to have a complete career turnaround. He mic work became top tier and his ring work was top notch. In WWE, we got got a generic character with no charisma and nothing impressive ring work wise.
His character works great as both a face and a heel and we've seen the face character recently. He still remains as over as he did as a heel. Hopefully he returns to WWE and is able to keep a similar character. However knowing WWE, they'll fail to use him correctly and he'll be just another guy.
At 34 years old, he still has the time to make it in WWE.
7 Monty Brown
Monty Brown may be the most obscure name on this list. He had everything going for him. Great look, athletic, agile, good talker, and a great finisher. Many fans of Brown tend to bring up his finisher which was called the Pounce and it looked great every time. Brown easily one of the company's top stars.
After his TNA contract expired many expected him to go to WWE which he did. First mistake made by WWE was the name change. He went from Monty Brown to Marcus Cor Von. Second mistake was putting him in the New Breed stable instead having him go solo. He left less then a year later to take care of his family.
Brown was very charismatic and certainly had what it takes to be a big name. Unfortunately, he didn't go to WWE at the right time.
6 Gail Kim
Gail Kim may come as a surprise on this list. But her TNA run is clearly better than anything she's done in WWE. She's had two runs with the WWE, none of which are particularly memorable. She captured the WWE Women's Championship once, although the division was pretty weak at the time. She managed to win the title in her debut, too.
In TNA, she became a 6-time Knockouts Champion, and was recently inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame (yes, that exists). PWI ranked her as the number 1 female wrestler in 2012, which she certainly earned.
At 40 years old, it's highly unlikely that Gail Kim will be back in WWE anytime soon. She could have been a much bigger star in WWE, especially if she had been around the Women's Revolution era.
5 Awesome Kong
Kharma wrestled as Awesome Kong in TNA and was the best booked champion until Bobby Lashley came around. She was the second ever Knockouts Champion and was one of the first examples of legitimate Women's wrestling in America. She was booked so strongly. She was unbeatable. Then TNA messed it up by having her lose left-and-right but it's still better than what WWE did.
They changed her name to Kharma which was the first questionable decision. Then they didn't have her wrestle. She would destroy people after they wrestled. Then she got pregnant, The Bellas emasculated her, she appeared in the Royal Rumble, and was then released. Her WWE and TNA runs are night-and-day. She is another name who came to WWE a few years too early.
4 Christopher Daniels
While A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe have made it to WWE, Christopher Daniels hasn't and probably won't at 47 years old. He's currently wrestling at Ring of Honor, where he recently won his very first World title. Daniels spent several years in TNA, where he made a name for himself thanks to several classic matches.
He is a four time TNA X Division Champion and an 8 time Tag Team Champion. It's a shame that we won't see him have a WWE run like that of his peers. He could have definitely had a great WWE career if he had been younger, but seeing as it took WWE so long to even sign A.J Styles, the ship has certainly sailed for Daniels.
The only option is for him to come to NXT to help the younger talents or to even have a backstage role.
3 Christian Cage
Christian's WWE run wasn't bad whatsoever. However, TNA made him look like a total star. He was on the ball with everything he did until the end. He was a terrific heel and a great World Champion. At the end, he was beaten by the Main Event Mafia because he was returning to the WWE. He went back to WWE and was doomed from the start. They put him on the ECW brand which basically used as developmental.
He was finally given a World Title run in 2011 and it lasted two days as SmackDown was taped at the time. This infuriated fans. His second World Title run came after Randy Orton lost the title by Disqualification. Since then, it's been injury after injury and he is believed to be retired.
Christian made his name in WWE, but he truly showed his potential in TNA especially from 2005 to 2007.
2 Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley was primed to be a major star in WWE. He had the typical WWE look. However, his ring work was nowhere where it is now. His WWE career ended after facing John Cena for the WWE Title, losing, and being released after getting injured. He began his MMA career and has a 15-2 record thus far and is currently on a eight win streak.
TNA uses Lashley's MMA career to help develop legitimacy for him and the company. TNA has used his MMA career way better than WWE uses that of Brock Lesnar. His World Title reign is very well liked by most of the wrestling community. He has combined his MMA career with professional wrestling career very well and it's a feat no one expected him to be able to do.
His work on the mic has significantly improved since his WWE run. There is still a chance that he makes it back but it's looking unlikely.
1 Bully Ray
The Bully Ray character was tremendous. All fans loved the Bully Ray character and Ray excelled in the character. He was one of the best talkers in wrestling as well as best talkers. Unfortunately, TNA ruined it by turning face and back heel within a year. When he went back to WWE, fans were wondering how long it would take for him to turn on D-Von and return to the Bully Ray character.
Sadly, we got a boring Dudley Boyz reunion. The two put over every tag team there and left less than a year later. When they were giving their farewell speech, everyone expected a turn. But nope, we were given a strange segment that put over The Club and then left the WWE. The Dudley Boyz are a legendary tag team, but Bully Ray had a great solo run in TNA that sadly never transitioned to WWE.
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