The history of Impact Wrestling features a mixed reception from the fans that gave the product a chance. There is a lot of criticism deserved for the mistakes the company made with various teams under Dixie Carter’s ownership failing to fulfill their potential. Impact has been around for seventeen years and has never been close to the level AEW currently is within a few months. However, the company did provide some positivity in the form of giving a stage to talented performers.
Quite a few wrestlers would make a name in the industry during their time in Impact during the TNA years. Some of the wrestlers have gone on to become even bigger stars today while working for WWE or other booming promotions. Others just had their best years in Impact and did enough to create a legacy. We will look at the ten wrestlers that most found fame because of their time in Impact Wrestling.
10 Gail Kim
Gail Kim is one of the wrestlers who showcase the positive things that did come from the history of Impact Wrestling. If the promotion never existed, we may never have gotten to really witness Kim's talent on television/
The creation of the Knockouts division would see Kim becoming the first champion while delivering incredible matches as the face of the movement. A return to WWE went poorly which led to her coming back to Impact for the rest of her career. Gail was deservingly inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame.
9 Austin Aries
The multiple stints of Austin Aries in Impact Wrestling featured many ups and downs. However, the peak of his career came when he defeated Bobby Roode for the TNA Championship in a classic match and moment.
Aries had many great moments in Ring of Honor, but the title win in Impact cemented his status in the wrestling world as a top star. WWE likely signed him years later due to the experience gained through serving as the world champion for a network television show.
8 Monty Brown
Monty Brown found some fame in the wrestling world in the early days of Impact Wrestling. The former NFL player wanted to give his passion for wrestling a chance and made his home TNA. Brown was organically rising into the position as a top face.
Unfortunately, the timing would doom his chances of becoming a bigger part of their future. The signings of Christian Cage and Sting caused Brown to turn heel to work with them. Upon realizing he was not going to get another huge push, Brown left the company for a failed run in WWE.
The current use of EC3 on WWE television primarily features him in the 24/7 segments. EC3 worked for WWE in the past as Derrick Bateman, but his relevant run as EC3 started when he made the decision to sign with Impact Wrestling.
This was one of the few instances of Impact giving the ball to a young, unproven wrestler and letting him run with it. EC3 became a top star with huge wins over the likes of Sting, Kurt Angle, and Samoa Joe. WWE re-signed him following this successful run, but he is currently still mostly known for his Impact days.
WWE recently signed Abyss to join the company in a backstage role as a producer following his time with Impact Wrestling. Enjoying a long career, Abyss' most important moments came as a member of the TNA roster.
Abyss became known for his hardcore matches as he constantly put his body on the line to execute dangerous spots. The Impact run featured classics against the likes of Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, and the Hardy Boyz. Abyss proved his worth and, once his in-ring time ended, earned an important job in WWE.
5 Samoa Joe
The rise of Samoa Joe in the 2000s came well before the independent circuit started to explode. A smaller community of fans did manage to fall in love with him due to his incredible work as the ROH World Champion. Impact Wrestling viewed him as a future top star and signed Joe to a long contract.
Joe did not get used to the best of his abilities, but he did manage to create a strong legacy in TNA. The most successful financial event in company history was still the Lockdown show when Joe defeated Kurt Angle to become the TNA Champion. Joe’s credibility and fame helped him land a spot in WWE without having to change his name.
4 Christopher Daniels
One of the first signings by All Elite Wrestling was adding Christopher Daniels to the roster. It was important to add a respected veteran that can both perform at a high level and help contribute to the backstage aspect of the business.
Daniels started building his legacy in Impact Wrestling as one of the most exciting stars in the X-Division. A five-star classic triple threat match against AJ Styles and Samoa Joe helped bring in new fans that fell in love with their work. Daniels did find fame in Impact, but he is seeing his hard work most rewarded today in AEW.
3 Bobby Roode
The incredible run of Bobby Roode in Impact Wrestling is how most fans will remember him. Roode was a tremendous tag team wrestler with outstanding runs with James Storm, Team Canada with Eric Young, and the Dirty Heels with Austin Aries.
A singles run allowed him to shine on his own, as Roode had a tremendous stint as the TNA Champion. WWE would sign Roode to NXT after his Impact departure and he went on to win the NXT Championship. Roode is on the WWE main roster now, but the Impact chapter is what defines his legacy.
2 Awesome Kong
Impact Wrestling is responsible for the North American wrestling audience getting introduced to the incredible work of Awesome Kong. The tremendous talent of Kong was showcased on smaller stages on the independent and international circuits until Impact signed her to feud with Gail Kim.
An iconic rivalry between Kong and Kim made the Knockouts division important to TNA. Kong would ultimately leave for WWE, but the time spent there failed to deliver. AEW will have a chance to make Kong a bigger star for them. Until that happens, she is a success story mostly due to the Impact Wrestling moments.
1 AJ Styles
The wrestler to benefit the most from working with Impact Wrestling has to be AJ Styles. Fans fell in love with Styles, who became TNA's first top homegrown star, winning just about every title possible.
With former WWE stars getting prioritized over him, Styles did not always get used to his greatest potential, but fans viewed him as the face of the company. It felt like the heart and soul of Impact was gone when Styles left to continue his career elsewhere. There are no regrets for AJ as the Impact body of work eventually landed him a deal with WWE.