WWE has been on a tear lately, releasing a plethora of long tenured talent from their massive roster. One of the main reasons for this has been that many established stars from all over the globe, like La Sombra and Shinsuke Nakamura, have joined the ranks of Titan Towers. These newer faces to WWE are being inserted into televised roles, pushing out the wrestlers who are not being used as much lately. With this influx of world travellers to both the main roster and NXT, no superstar has been safe from the chopping block. Some of the releases were expected, some were surprises, and a few left under their own volition.
One company’s loss can always be another company’s gain. If the long accepted #2 promotion in the United States picks up some of these free agents, TNA could very well find themselves in a far better position in the ratings struggle. Impact Wrestling has improved regarding their storylines and in-ring work in recent months but the addition of a few acquisitions from the recent WWE exodus could be a necessary catalyst to revitalize Dixie Carter’s struggling brand. Drew Galloway serves as a prime example of a flailing WWE star who’s positively changed his own image while adding credibility to the company that he’s currently World Champion of, so if TNA can add even one more Drew Galloway to their mix then they could improve exponentially.
All of the following performers have something to offer for TNA. A few even have the ability to cause a major buzz. The following ten entries will explore who would be the most favorable of the fresh pink slips to bolster Dixie Carter’s company.
10. Santino Marella
Santino Marella squeaks onto this list despite no longer being an active competitor. Repeated neck injuries are a definite knock to his value to a company like TNA but his natural charisma shouldn’t be ignored. Sure, his brand of humor might not be for everybody but that side of his persona can always be toned down. He’s been an MMA trainer at Battle Arts Academy in Ontario since it opened in 2013, giving him potential value as a manager to an up and coming star. If Dixie wanted to put him on a blue chipper’s path toward a legitimate fighter like Bobby Lashley then he might need to lay off the Cobra Strikes for a little while.
9. Adam Rose
The former Party Pooper might not bring the right kind of publicity initially, but there’s no denying that he’d be a headline grabber upon debut. His recent arrest over tampering with a witness and battery directly led to all ties being severed with WWE. It would be in his best interest to lay low and focus on getting back on the right track with his family for the time being but if he stays out of trouble, a return to the squared circle is reasonable for Ray Leppan’s future. The Exotic Express could one day find it’s way into TNA (minus the Bunny of course). He might not be an instant TNA main event star like some of the others on this list but he’s still a capable guy who could add value to the Impact roster.
8. El Torito
If all is known about El Torito is that he used to be the little bull that followed a couple of future Puerto Rican travel agents to the ring, then it might not be known how great this guy is inside the ring. Upon his release from WWE, independent favorite Chris Hero took to Facebook to offer his praise. “Yo. For real, Torito/Mascarita, not even considering his ‘tricks’, is one of THE most skilled wrestlers I’ve ever been on the mat with.” Even if he landed a gig with TNA and they fell into the trap of reducing him to more of a comedy role, his WeeLC match against Hornswoggle serves as proof that he can excel in even that environment.
7. Bull Dempsey
NXT is possibly the hottest brand in all of wrestling right now and Bull Dempsey was a mainstay during much of its rise. He’s battled opposite many of that weekly show’s bigger stars such as Baron Corbin and Samoa Joe. From a serious competitor to later a comedy act heralding his questionable “Bull Fit” weight loss program, he’s generally made what he’s given work. Now known as Bull James and competing in independents such as CZW, Bull has shown a ton of promise in WWE’s developmental. A combination of his talent and his association with the popular WWE Network should be more than enough appeal for TNA.
6. Eden Stiles
The wife of another recent WWE departure, Eden Stiles (real name Brandi Runnels) has beauty and vocal skills that would definitely pique fans’ interest in TNA. The natural role for her to slide into is a ring announcer position because she has already been doing that for her former employer. TNA and their long time ring announcer, Christy Hemme, went separate ways in April so there’s an existing vacuum for that spot. Considering her and her husband both left their employers together, there might be a strong likelihood that they’ll find new employment together as well. Perhaps Dixie Carter should try courting them both together.
5. Alex Riley
It seems like forever ago that Alex Riley was getting main roster TV time in WWE, let alone being so close to The Miz during his stay at the top of card, but he does have that history. Much of his name value has waned since those times, but he is still is a capable talent who has an incredible build. Much like Mike Bennett’s recent TNA introduction as “The Miracle” alongside his wife Maria, Riley seems like a guy who can march onto PopTV and claim to be the man who can be the savior of TNA. Pairing him with a lovely lady wouldn’t hurt either. As long as he keeps talk about raging to a minimum he can be a positive contributor that roster.
4. Wade Barrett
There are few people more naturally gifted at promos than Wade Barrett. His WWE career got its first initial boost at the end of his NXT run when he gave his “Winds of Change” promo, leading him to victory for that season. It also shoehorned him into the gig of being the leader of the subsequent Nexus faction. His wrestling career might have been marred with injury but that gave him more of a chance to showcase his vocal abilities. His Bad News Barrett gimmick turned out to be an infectious segment that fans loved chanting along with. He only stopped the catchphrase because he was booked as a heel at the time and the angle was getting too over with fans. Unlike his role in the League of Nations during his final months in WWE, TNA could maximize his value by still allowing him to speak even when he’s not cleared to wrestler. He still has upside as a wrestler as well as a champion in the short term but it’s his value as either a commentator or a manager that will be a long term boost to any promotion.
3. Damien Sandow
The biggest shocker of recent free agents is none other than the former stunt double to The Miz, Damien Sandow. It’d be a hard task to find a performer more capable of turning literally any gimmick into a mega-over act like Sandow has, which is why it’s so baffling why WWE let him go in the first place. Whether being the “Intellectual Savior of the Masses,” a Money in the Bank briefcase holder, or even a parody of Vince McMahon himself (Mr. McMahondow was a riot), this man is naturally the most sympathetic of babyfaces. TNA heels would all be begging to work opposite this competitor if he ever came to the Impact Zone because the likelihood that he’ll turn whatever he’s given into solid gold is almost a guarantee.
The Big Guy hasn’t technically left WWE yet, but the stalemate between what he wants and what Vince McMahon is willing to offer appears to be an unbridgeable gap. Being off television since the pre-show of WWE Payback, Ryback’s official departure is very likely. WWE’s loss can become TNA’s gain – and what a massive gain it would be. He’s headlined multiple Pay-Per-Views opposite John Cena for the WWE Championship and has carried the Intercontinental Title in the past year. His resume is one of the most impressive out of this class of wrestlers and would bring a ton of intrigue to the Impact Zone. Ryback’s impressive physique alone would create undeniably cool visuals for match-ups against other shredded stars like Ethan Carter III or Bobby Lashley.
1. Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes is one of the most surprising WWE Superstars to part ways with the company recently and he did so in alarming fashion. The man who most recently has been donning the gold facepaint while claiming to be from a faraway galactic realm grew frustrated with his the of utilization he’s been offered. Two head writers were specifically mentioned in his explanatory Twitter post to be the most at fault. Cody has found success with a variety of incarnations, including a mustache, and could be a major player if simply given the chance. Just looking at the wonders TNA has offered to Drew Galloway’s career, one can’t help but envision how easily this son of a son of a plumber could become a buzzworthy competitor in TNA’s main event.