Ahead of TNA’s annual Bound for Glory show on October 2nd, there were some seriously worried stories that came out online for fans of the Impact brand. This was the case with TNA for months now since the company was majorly struggling financially. So much so, that it looked as if they may not even be able to put on the Bound for Glory event (the company’s biggest show of the year) at all. In addition to that, the financial situation was believed to be so bad that the batch of TV tapings set for the following week was also in jeopardy. Along with all of these reports also came a hugely intriguing rumor that Vince McMahon was looking to purchase TNA.
From what we’re led to believe, TNA is indeed in massive financial trouble once more, and the WWE is indeed interested in purchasing the company to get their hands on TNA’s video library. This would give them the rights for the Impact battles for the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, and Sting. Fortunately for TNA, a mystery backer stepped in to provide enough funds for Bound for Glory to continue and for the next set of TV tapings to take place. Yet, all is not looking good for Dixie Carter’s company. In fact, a whole host of industry insiders believes that it really is finally just a matter of weeks before TNA eventually goes under, whether it’s by going bust or by being bought out by Vince McMahon. With this prospect looming large on the horizon, here are 15 TNA talents who could end up under the WWE umbrella when TNA inevitably ceases to be.
When it comes to performers who are embedded into the very history of TNA, certain names stand out. Those names are the likes of James Storm, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Jeff Jarrett and Abyss. Since TNA’s first ever weekly PPV show in 2002, Abyss (formerly known as Justice) has been a regular presence in the Impact brand. Most notably, Abyss was offered a WWE contract back in 2006. The offer on the table was for a main event push that involved a debut at the 2007 Royal Rumble before being transitioned into a feud with The Undertaker that would culminate at WrestleMania XXIII. That’s pretty huge by anyone’s standards, but Abyss would ultimately turn the offer down and stay with TNA out of loyalty. At the age of 43, Abyss’ chances of being a main event WWE monster may have passed, although he could make a great addition as a dominant force in NXT who could work with the young, up-and-coming talent that’s being groomed for a spot on either Raw or SmackDown.
14. Cody Rhodes
It was only earlier this year that WWE and Cody Rhodes parted ways, so it may be a little soon for him to return to the company (and may also be just wishful thinking on the part of fans) but stranger things have happened. There’s no disputing the talent of Rhodes, it just got to the stage where he’d become firmly stuck in a rut during his final year or so with WWE. In the ring, Rhodes was up there as one of the best all-around wrestlers that the company had at their disposal. Outside of the ring, he showed a complete commitment and total dedication to certain gimmicks such as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, his deformed mask-wearing shtick, Team Rhodes Scholars, and Stardust. Similarly, his teaming with brother, Goldust, saw him become one of the most popular acts in the company for a short spell. Regardless, Cody eventually gave his notice to the WWE after having his ideas shot down and given nothing of note during screen time. Given how Vince McMahon and the entire WWE team can sometimes hold a grudge, it may be just a little too soon for Cody to be welcomed back with open arms. Yet, there’s no denying the abilities and work rate of Cody Rhodes.
13. Eli Drake
Shortly after Eli Drake’s TNA debut, he was constantly bombarded with comparisons to another TNA talent, Anderson. While Anderson was maybe a little too loud for some tastes, Drake seems to be a performer who has many of the former Ken Kennedy’s plus points without being as over-the-top and in-your-face as the real-life Ken Anderson. Since a slightly mishandled debut as part of Drew Galloway’s ‘Rising’ stable against the BDC, Drake has managed to forge quite the name for himself in Impact. With an overflowing amount of charisma and the ability to back it up in the ring, the WWE could do worse than to take a look at this former King of the Mountain Champion. Simply put, the guy is nothing but entertaining in whatever role he’s cast in. Drake has been under WWE contract previously, but now could finally be the time for him to shine under the WWE umbrella.
12. Crazzy Steve
Despite having a fair amount of hoopla about him during his TNA debut as part of Knux’s Menagerie stable, Crazzy Steve soon got the reputation of being the proverbial jobber. Regardless of how entertaining and zany his antics were, he’d largely come out on the losing side of any battle. With the formation of Decay, though, that changed. Alongside Abyss and Rosemary, Crazzy Steve has been given a whole new lease on life. Sure, Steve may well still be “crazzy”, but his persona has been amped-up from an erratic clown to now being an unhinged lunatic with a far creepier and eerie edge. Decay’s feud with Matt and Jeff Hardy has given Crazzy Steve the spotlight, and he’s certainly stepped up his game in the past few months. Now that Decay has lost the Tag Team Championships to the Hardyz, the future of Crazzy Steve is a little unclear. At 5 foot 10 and 200 pounds, Crazzy Steve is under the 205-pound limit that WWE looks at for their Cruiserweight Division. Therefore, he could easily make a nice addition to those ranks should Titan Towers come calling. Similarly, he could also make a great addition as a new follower of Bray Wyatt at some point down the line.
11. The Wolves
It’s almost impossible to separate The Wolves tandem of Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards. Initially, coming together as part of Sweet N’ Sour Inc in Ring of Honor back in 2008, Edwards and Richards have been more-or-less inseparable since then. Whether it’s The American Wolves or simply The Wolves, the duo has toured the world, tearing it up as they go. Like a few others on this list, The Wolves have already had a flirtation with the WWE, with them even competing on an episode of NXT a few years ago. That ultimately led nowhere, and the team ended up in TNA in 2014. What’s unique about The Wolves is that not only are they a fantastic tag team but they’re also great as singles competitors. This means that the WWE could have several possibilities on their hands if they did snap up the tandem. As well as having held Tag Team Titles in several promotions, both Edwards and Richards have held the Ring of Honor World Championship, and Eddie Edwards is now the current TNA World Champion after defeating Lashley.
10. Jessie Godderz
In all reality, it’s a little surprising that the WWE hasn’t made a move for Jessie Godderz already. After all, he’s got all of the vital attributes to make Vince McMahon tight in the pants. He’s good-looking, has a chiseled physique, is good on the mic, and is somebody who crosses over into other markets (even if that is only the reality TV market). Godderz is essentially a like-for-like copy of what the then-WWF tried to do with Lex Luger when they debuted him as “The Narcissist” at the 1993 Royal Rumble. The arrogant, self-obsessed star with a Mr. Olympia body, Godderz is the stuff of dreams for McMahon and Company. In fairness to Mr. Pec-Tacular, he’s actually proven himself to be a decent in-ring worker and an overall good talent. Whether as a comedy heel tandem as one-half of The BroMans alongside Robbie E or as his own man with a more aggressive edge, he would be a great candidate to promote at the WWE.
9. Gail Kim
Gail Kim may have been recently inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean that a WWE return is necessarily out of the question, especially if Dixie Carter’s company ends up going bust. The hugely talented Kim, who has had two previous stints in WWE, would surely be welcomed back with open arms should McMahon look to pick the bones of the ailing Impact brand. With the WWE’s current focus on women’s wrestling, there’s nobody better to bring in than Gail Kim. The Canadian grappler is renowned as one of the best female superstars on the planet, even if she is apparently looking to call time on her in-ring career sooner rather than later. At 39-years-old, the former WWE Divas Champion and six-time TNA Knockouts Champion would be the perfect talent to bring in to help out some of the younger women on the WWE roster. She has a boatload of credibility to her, is still phenomenal in the ring, and can elevate the game of any up-and-coming women’s wrestler who steps in the ring with her. Sadly, Gail Kim’s time in the ring may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean to say that she doesn’t still have a whole lot to offer the business.
8. Mike Bennett
In terms of actual heels who can get the crowd to hate them, “The Miracle” Mike Bennett is right up there when it comes to garnering the type of reaction a heel should get. Sure, Bennett isn’t quite a top level heel, such as a Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho or The Miz, but turning up in the WWE at some point in the future could give him the platform and opportunity to show just how far he can go in the business. In TNA, The Miracle comes as a package alongside his real-life wife, Maria Kanellis-Bennett, (somebody who has previously worked for the WWE) so taking this duo over to WWE would be a smart move for TNA. Bennett may not be quite World Championship level when it comes to WWE standards, but he could sure make a credible mid-card heel right now, and who knows how far he can go if given a fair shot in New York.
You can bet your bottom dollar that when Vince McMahon first saw Bobby Lashley, he was probably thinking that he had the next Brock Lesnar on his hands. Well, that and he was likely thinking dollar signs too. Unfortunately, that proved to not be the case. When Lashley left the WWE in 2008, it was under a gray cloud. The former US Army sergeant had been out injured for 6 months, and the release was officially labeled a mutual, amicable one at the time. However, stories persist that the real reason Lashley was so keen to leave WWE was because of writer, Michael Hayes, having made some racist comments. Regardless of what went down before, you’d have to think that Lashley would be right near the top of the list when it comes to TNA talents that the WWE would want to sign should Dixie Carter’s company vanish. At 40 years of age and with an active MMA career, chances are that Lashley wouldn’t be viewed as a long-term investment for the WWE. However, the most highly anticipated matchup would definitely be a battle against the aforementioned Lesnar.
Sister Abigail was the spooky, haunting sister who Bray Wyatt has made reference to over the years. There’s been plenty of talk, even going back to when the Wyatt Family debuted, that Sister Abigail would become an on-air character and part of the WWE roster. Even as recently as the Goldberg-starring trailers for WWE 2K17, fans have hoped that Sister Abigail’s debut was impending. Again that proved not to be the case, though, but you’d have to think that TNA’s Rosemary (currently a part of the eerie Decay stable) would be an absolutely perfect fit should the WWE ever finally decide to give Abigail the green light. The real-life, Courtney Rush, is a fantastic in-ring talent, and her background with NXT trainer, Sara Amato (with whom she won the Shimmer Tag Team Titles), would put her in good position for a spot in the WWE if TNA goes under.
5. Drew Galloway
When Drew McIntyre debuted with WWE, he was dubbed Vince McMahon’s “Chosen One” and soon became the Intercontinental Champion. Fast forward a few years, a trip in the wilderness and some time in 3MB, and the Scotsman would turn up in TNA as Drew Galloway in 2015. Straight from his arrival on TNA TV, Drew had a renewed vibrancy and intensity to his work, with the freedom of working for TNA clearly hugely beneficial for the former WWE Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion. Not only has Galloway’s TNA run given him a whole new freshness as a performer, it’s also allowed him to showcase his in-ring work to an extent not seen for many a year. For the past few years of his time in the WWE, he was reduced to short matches that were glorified squash bouts. In TNA, as a big-time player in the company, Galloway has been afforded the chance to have regular 15 to 20 minute battles against the likes of Kurt Angle, Lashley, Matt and Jeff Hardy, and Ethan Carter III. Since leaving the WWE, Galloway has been able to show so much more of what he is capable of, and a return to the WWE could see him finally live up to the moniker of Vinny Mac’s “Chosen One.”
Former NFL star, Moose, is somebody who the WWE has shown interest in previously. In fact, when Moose was confirmed to be departing Ring of Honor, there were plenty of strong rumors out there that the brutish performer would end up on the main WWE roster or in NXT. Instead, he’d surprise a few of us by actually turning up in TNA at this year’s Destination X event. At 6 foot 5 inches tall and just shy of 300 pounds (not to mention his legit background as a top level professional athlete), Moose ticks a whole host of the boxes that WWE looks at when it comes to new recruits. It seems as if it’s only a matter of time before the WWE ends up giving Moose a shot regardless of TNA’s future, but you’d have to imagine that seeing PWI’s 2015 Rookie of the Year turn up in the WWE would only come a little sooner should TNA eventually has to fold.
3. Ethan Carter III
In terms of former WWE talents who have reinvented themselves in TNA, nobody can touch EC3. Known as Derrick Bateman when under a WWE contract, he was largely just a guy who was never really given any serious TV time apart from the early incarnation of NXT and then with a brief gimmick as an all-American. Throughout his much-maligned WWE run, though, Bateman was always an entertaining, charismatic presence who looked like a million bucks. Arriving in TNA as the nephew of Dixie Carter in 2013, Ethan Carter III just came off as a true star from the get-go. What he brought to the table was a heel who wasn’t afraid to be a heel. Forget the concept of a “cool” heel, EC3 was arrogant, egotistical, selfish, and eager to bend the rules to get what he wanted. As ever with the wrestling game these days, EC3 was such a great bad guy that fans began to cheer him, with him currently positioned as a main event face in TNA. The WWE bringing him into the company would mean admitting that they got it wrong by doing nothing of substance with the talented performer during his stay there, which is something that the WWE never does. Either way, Ethan Carter III is the total package when it comes to being a modern-day professional wrestler (or, in Vince’s terms, sports entertainer).
2. Jeff Hardy
Whether you want to call him Brother Nero, an Obsolete Mule, the Charismatic Enigma, or simply Jeff Hardy, the younger of the famed Hardy Boyz could return to the WWE at the drop of a hat. To this day, whether in WWE or TNA, Jeff is somebody whose unique connection with the fans means that he’s still one of the most popular wrestlers in the business. Since first getting exposure on then-WWF TV in the mid-late ‘90s, the charisma, explosive moveset and heart shown by Jeff marked him out as somebody who audiences were dying to see (even if it was just to see what insane stunt the daredevil would do next). The reason that Hardy isn’t with the WWE right now is largely due to the former WWE Champion’s past demons and his unhappiness at the intense schedule that comes with being a WWE superstar. With Jeff’s troubles seemingly now behind him, it remains to be seen whether he’d be open to tackling the hectic WWE schedule once more. If Jeff did go back, you’d have to think that he’d easily shoot straight back to the top of the card as a viable contender for one of the company’s World Championships.
1. Matt Hardy
Over the past six months or so, Broken Matt has brought back many viewers who had long left TNA behind. In fact, the Final Deletion battle between Matt and brother, Jeff, brought in over 400,000 viewers for Impact, which is way up on the usual 300,000 that the show garners. Even before the serious talk of TNA’s demise reared its head once more, there were reports that Triple H had put his feelers out to see whether the eldest Hardy brother would be open to returning to the WWE. If TNA did go bust, Matt could make an absolute killing on the independent scene, but the question remains as to whether or not the former WWE Tag Team, United States, European, and Cruiserweight Champion would be prepared to undergo the grueling WWE schedule and the creative constraints and commitments that come with being under a WWE contract. If Matt did return and was utilized correctly, then he’d have the chance to eclipse any of his solo WWE work to date.