Fans have noted that one of the saddest things about TNA is that this company truly had the potential to be something good. They had a fanbase, a good atmosphere, and an emphasis on the X Division that set them apart from WWE. Sadly, TNA faltered mostly because of its very bad hiring moves. The biggest, of course, was the company’s obsession with grabbing any ex-WWE star and pushing them to the moon over regular TNA talent. That reached its height in 2011 when you had Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair still fighting long past their prime.
Those aren’t the only bad hiring moves, however. TNA really has made serious mistakes in hiring people based mostly on past glories and ignoring their current issues. They also hired folks on so-so credentials and yet seemed shocked they couldn’t become big stars down the line. It is these hiring mistakes that really helped crush TNA’s chances to rise up. Here are 10 wrestlers folks can’t believe got hired by TNA and a reminder of the company’s past issues.
Test Martin always had the looks and build to be a star but lacked that special ingredient to get over. In 1999, he was big in WWE while feuding with HHH; unfortunately, his star fell fast afterward. He had runs as tag champion but still nothing spectacular before WWE finally cut him in 2006. Test joining TNA was baffling as they already had a tall blonde guy in Lance Hoyt who was over with the crowd.
Test still helped out, working with Abyss and Sting in some feuds and basically one major match in a wild “Doomsday Chamber of Blood.” He left immediately after a contract dispute, becoming another baffling wrestler hired by TNA.
It’s sad to look at the life of Joanie Laurer today. Once, a huge star as Chyna, the woman’s life sadly fell apart thanks to various personal demons and other issues. By 2011, she just didn't have much left to offer and even considering hiring her as an on-air personality was ludicrous.
Which, obviously, did not stop TNA from doing just that. Chyna's tenure comprised of a battle royal and submitting to Karen Jarrett in a mixed tag team match. She left immediately to make this her final wrestling appearance and it was sad to see TNA being her final stop before her untimely end.
In the early 2000s, Shocker was a big deal in Mexico as a powerful worker and high flyer. Did TNA hire him because of that background or because he could bring in Latino workers? No, they hired him because he appeared in a McDonald’s commercial and they thought it was good publicity.
When he debuted under a mask, the announcers sold it as shocking but the crowd was confused as nobody knew who it was (TNA would later dub a fake gasp to the video). He had some bad matches before finally leaving and serving as another reminder that TNA’s hiring practices are rather suspect.
7 Erik Watts
Erik Watts can thank his father Bill for his bad reputation. The guy had some talent and might have been a decent worker, but was basically ruined when he was put into WCW's upper mid-card in 1992 while his father was running the company. Watts was totally exposed as an inexperienced worker and never got a good reputation because of it.
Even later runs in WWE couldn’t help, which made it astounding when TNA hired him in 2004. TNA had Watts as a heel attacking DDP, a face going after Raven. It didn’t work as his personal problems pushed him out of the company and added another layer of sadness to his career.
When lists are created of the biggest flops in TNA history, Trytan is near the top. With his intimidating presence and The Terminator-inspired gimmick, TNA really thought this guy was going to be a big deal. Trytan stalked Monty Brown, with their big showdown expected to push the former as the new resident monster heel.
It took about a minute for it to become clear the man had no wrestling skills whatsoever and made the entire build worthless. Trytan was gone in record time but it is amazing he got a job in the first place.
5 Garett Bischoff
A guy landing his job in wrestling because of his relatives is a story as old as the business itself. Garett Bischoff netting a job with TNA just because his dad, Eric Bischoff, was helping run the company at the time was blatant nepotism. Like so many before him, Garett was pushed majorly despite a lack of training and put in the middle of the big Aces & Eights storyline.
That included giving Garett a face turn while so many other TNA guys faltered. He had some okay skills but nothing to justify this big push. Later on, Garett joined his dad in suing TNA for unpaid salary, making this hiring even more costly.
Face-palming moves in hiring are pretty standard for TNA but this is pushing it. After years of failed gimmicks, Solofa Fatu Jr. finally hit the big time as the goofy dancing guy who showed off his rear end. After runs as Intercontinental and tag champion in WWE, Rikishi was let go before bouncing around the indies for a bit. He joined TNA in 2007 as Junior Fatu and looked set to be pushed as a new star.
Less than six weeks after his debut, Fatu was gone as he and TNA couldn’t come to an agreement regarding his salary. One would think that would have been handled earlier...
3 Val Venis
While not too bad a worker, Sean Morley was better known for his wild “adult film star” act in WWE. It did get him success as IC and tag team champion, however, Val Venis always faltered without that “Helllllo ladies” line and his usual antics. In 2010, in the company's seemingly never-ending quest to grab every ex-WWE guy on the market, TNA hired Morley as a supposed producer.
Val Venis was put into a feud with Christopher Daniels, with plans for him and the Beautiful People to have an odd program together. Before any of that happened, Morley left the company due to TNA interfering with his CMLL commitments. It is a wonder TNA hired him at all.
2 The Nasty Boys
While they were never what one would call tacticians in the ring, Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags enjoyed successful reigns as tag team champions in WWE and WCW. They had some good skills in their prime. By 2010, that prime was long since gone, with both men horribly out of shape and resting on past glories. Yet TNA still brought them on, mostly because Hulk Hogan was an old friend of theirs.
The Nasty Boys actually got a push but could barely go a minute before being terribly winded. No wonder fans hated this year of the company.
1 Pacman Jones
If nothing else, everyone else on this list was an actual wrestler. Pacman Jones wasn’t even that. TNA thought it would be great publicity to grab this Tennessee Titans star, ignoring the tiny issue of Tony being in some serious legal trouble that caused him to be suspended from the NFL. Furthermore, he was contractually prohibited from doing any actual wrestling. That didn’t stop TNA from not only putting him with Ron Killings but having them win the tag team titles.
Killing just did the wrestling while Jones stood on the apron to avoid getting hit; however, the latter was soon gone over legal issues. Even by TNA standards, this was one of the most idiotic hirings ever.