There was a time not so long ago that WWE actually considered TNA to be competition. The show would go out on a Wednesday night and would attract a number of former WWE stars when it was at its peak, including WWE legends Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. There were many talented wrestlers that decided to leave WWE to pursue a career in TNA instead and could actually be considered more successful in TNA than they were in the company where they first found their feet.
Bobby Lashley and Christy Hemme are just two of the stars who were able to redefine their careers in the Impact Zone after less successful stints in WWE. Over the past few years, it seems that TNA has hit some rough times and now there are many former TNA stars who are making their way over to WWE. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, James Storm, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode have all made their mark in WWE over the past few years after once being seen as talents who were loyal to the TNA brand.
The following list looks at just 10 stars who have been part of both WWE and TNA over the past few decades, as well as five stars who have managed to fail at both promotions. There have been a number of stars who have appeared on both brands, but it seems that not everyone is cut out for a successful wrestling career at the highest level.
15. Successful: Marcus Cor Von
As part of The New Breed on WWE’s ECW brand, Marcus Cor Von looked as though he had quite a bright future in WWE and was even able to appear as part of WrestleMania 23 the following year.
Even though Cor Von has become quite a forgettable character in WWE history, it seems that he had a lengthy wrestling career before he made it to WWE. One of the promotions where Cor Von first made a name for himself was in TNA as Monty Brown. He was one of Impact Wrestling’s best babyfaces at the time. When TNA failed to give him the push he deserved, he decided to pursue a career in WWE. If Cor Von wasn’t forced to leave wrestling because of family problems, it is unknown where he would be right now, but he did look like a star that WWE wanted to allow to shine.
14. Successful: CM Punk
CM Punk was once the self-proclaimed “Best in the world” when he was wrestling for WWE. Not many of the WWE Universe are aware that Punk was actually part of the TNA brand before he was signed by WWE back in 2005.
Punk made his debut in TNA back in 2003 along with Mickie James, who was known as Alexis Laree at the time, and the two then formed The Gathering with Julio Dinero. Punk’s stint in TNA only lasted a few months before he found a new home in Ring of Honor. It was here that Punk really found his feet in the wrestling business and WWE then decided to snap him up. It was always Paul Heyman that backed Punk throughout his career whenever the higher up executives didn’t believe he could be the best and it seems that Heyman was right to support Punk in becoming a successful wrestler on the biggest stage.
13. Failed: Justin Gabriel
Justin Gabriel may be remembered for his time on The Nexus in WWE, or his time on Total Divas, where he was forced to break up with JoJo Offerman in the first series. Either way, there aren’t many good memories of Gabriel during his time in WWE and after the Nexus angle was over it seems that his in-ring skills were not enough to help him find a spot on the card, so WWE let him go.
Many thought that Gabriel would find a home at TNA, and he did. He became the TNA King of the Mountain Champion back in 2015, even though that title could be considered one of TNA’s worst ideas. After less than a year in TNA, it seems that that company had run out of things to do with him as well and he then left for Lucha Underground. Gabriel’s problem seems to be his inability to stand out, which could be why he is always lost amongst the shuffle.
12. Successful: R-Truth
R-Truth is a wrestling star who has seemingly been around forever, but many of the WWE Universe are unaware that Truth once left WWE and joined TNA for a brief stint where he was known under his real name, Ron Killings.
Truth was one of the best things about the promotion for a long time and seemed to be testing the barriers of edginess with his promos before he seemingly impressed someone enough to earn his recall to the WWE roster. Since then R-Truth has become a veteran in the company and even though he isn’t used as much on WWE TV right now, he is looking at working in a more backstage role with the company. Truth is a former United States Champion in WWE, but his best days are now considered to be behind him following his split with Goldust earlier this year, so it is unknown what the future holds for Truth.
11. Successful: Mickie James
Mickie James appeared in TNA before she signed for WWE and became Trish Stratus‘ biggest fan back in 2005. Mickie became the only woman to ever compete in a Clockwork Orange House of Fun match in her first stint in TNA before she joined WWE and became a five-time Women’s Champion and as well as a Divas Champion.
Mickie was released from WWE back in 2010 and decided to return to her roots with TNA, where she is a former three-time Knockout’s Champion. James is the only woman to have won all three Women’s Championships over both WWE and TNA brands. After a cameo appearance at NXT Takeover: Toronto back in 2016 where the Richmond native was unable to dethrone NXT Women’s Champion Asuka, she returned to WWE’s main roster earlier this year and has been able to pretty much pick up where she left off in the Women’s Division after almost seven years away.
10. Failed: Luke Gallows
Luke Gallows is a star who was able to start out in WWE, go to TNA, then make a name for himself in NJPW. WWE decided to resign him last year. Gallows had one of the worst characters in WWE history, Festus. He was later added to CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society.
Gallows’ first stint in WWE wouldn’t be considered successful by any stretch of the imagination, so like many other stars, he decided to try his luck in TNA. Apart from when he was a founding member of The Aces and Eights. Gallows didn’t last long in TNA and later went on to become a member of The Bullet Club in Japan, before WWE came knocking once again. Gallows returned to WWE with Karl Anderson last year and whilst the two are former Raw Tag Team Champions, the WWE Universe still can’t understand how WWE keeps getting it so wrong with the duo.
9. Successful: Austin Aries
Austin Aries is one of the most talented wrestlers that Impact Wrestling has ever managed to lose. As a former X-Division Champion and a former TNA World Champion, Aries definitely made a name for himself in the Impact Zone and even carried the promotion for a number of years.
TNA started to haemorrhage money a few years ago and the company failed to protect their top talent, which means that Aries was one of the first casualties of TNA’s money problems. Aries was later signed by WWE and sent to their NXT brand, where he was able to continue to show why he was one of the best in the world until an injury forced him behind the announce table. Aries later joined 205 Live and had many standout matches with Neville over the Cruiserweight Championship. The duo even performed at WrestleMania 33 as part of the pre-show before Aries’ shocking release.
8. Successful: Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley may be well-known as part of the Impact Wrestling roster where he has been able to lift just about every Championship that TNA had to offer, but Lashley is another star who started his career in WWE.
Lashley is a former ECW Champion and was the hand-picked star that Donald Trump chose to face Umaga in the battle of the Billionaires at WrestleMania 23. Despite this, it seems that Lashley was one of Vince McMahon‘s biggest failures in WWE, but thankfully Lashley made the switch over to TNA and was able to press the refresh button on his career. Lashley is a former four-time TNA Heavyweight Champion and is one of the top talents that the company has at their disposal right now. Despite being considered a flop in WWE, Lashley is one of very few stars who have been able to turn their career around in TNA.
7. Failed: Mike Knox
Mike Knox was a wrestling talent that first appeared on WWE’s ECW brand back in 2005. He was obviously a man whose size impressed WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, since he was given a huge push from the very beginning, despite lacking skills on the mic and in the ring.
Mike never really connected with the WWE Universe during his time in WWE. He was even part of the traditional Survivor Series elimination match back in 2006 but was quickly eliminated by Shawn Michaels before HBK claimed that he had no idea who he was or if he was in the match. Mike didn’t fare much better when he made the switch over to TNA. He perhaps hoped he would be given more opportunities, but after being a lost member of The Aces and Eights and The Menagerie, it’s safe to say that Mike went out of the frying pan and into the fire.
6. Successful: Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods started his career in TNA as Consequences Creed, but it seems that like many other stars who have been part of TNA over the past few decades, the company had no idea what to do with Creed so they used him in a tag team with Jay Lethal where the two were just used as talent enhancers.
Woods was then released from the company not long afterwards before he was snapped up by WWE and the company sent him to FCW. Over the past few years, Xavier has attempted a number of gimmicks in WWE, including one where he took the Funkadactyls from Brodus Clay because he was a better dancer. Woods is now one of the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in WWE history. The New Day teammates Kofi Kingston and Big E and the trio are having quite a successful spell on SmackDown Live right now.
5. Successful: Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode hasn’t been part of WWE for very long, but he is already a former NXT Champion and has made his way to the main roster over the past few months where he looks to be one of the next big stars on the SmackDown Live roster.
Before Bobby was signed to WWE, he was part of the TNA roster, where he remained for more than 12 years. Roode is a former TNA World Heavyweight Champion and despite leaving the company almost two years ago, he still holds the record for the longest reign with the title. Roode was considered to be a TNA original throughout his tenure, but he was still able to walk away from TNA and join WWE when it was made apparent that TNA was becoming a sinking ship in the wrestling world. Roode made the right decision for his career by switching.
4. Failed: Orlando Jordan
Many of the WWE Universe will have forgotten all about Orlando Jordan. He was once aligned with JBL as part of his cabinet along with The Basham Brothers and is a former United States Champion, but he managed to defeat John Cena back in his early days before he was seen as the face of WWE.
Orlando didn’t have things his own way in WWE at all. After a number of losses to Chris Benoit back in 2005, it seemed like the writing was on the wall. Orlando slipped down the card and was finally released from the company in 2006. Orlando moved over to TNA in 2010 and during his horrific year and a half run with the Orlando based company, Jordan’s s*xuality was used as a gimmick. He played an offensive bis*xual character who would harass a number of wrestlers on the roster during his time there. Orlando probably still regrets his decision to sign a contract with TNA.
3. Successful: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe is a TNA legend, so much so that he was once able to become a judge on TNA British Bootcamp. Joe may have been one of the best-known stars associated with the company, but they were still unable to see him as their top guy.
Joe seems to have been able to push himself much more in WWE and as a former two-time NXT Champion, he has already proved his worth on the developmental brand. Joe’s call-up to the main roster saw him aligned with Triple H in place of Seth Rollins, and over the past few months, Samoa Joe has shown WWE exactly what he is made of. Joe had a fantastic match with Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire and has recently been announced on the Survivor Series team for Raw at next weekend’s event. After years of McMahon being hesitant to sign The Samoan Suplex Machine, Joe continues to prove he was worth the gamble.
2. Successful: AJ Styles
It’s easy to see why AJ Styles is considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. Styles has been in WWE now for almost two years and is already a two-time WWE Champion. Styles is best associated with TNA during his early career, but AJ actually passed on the opportunity to sign with WWE back in 2002, when he realized that he would have to relocate, which would affect his wife’s college plans.
Styles instead made a career for himself in TNA where he was considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the company and won every Championship a male star was able to win during his lengthy stint. Styles never looked like a star who would be signed by WWE, but finally, it seems that WWE is making strides with the former TNA Champion and he is proving that WWE made a mistake by not signing him sooner.
1. Failed: Matt Morgan
When you are perceived as the future of WWE, there is a considerable amount of pressure placed on your shoulders, which is what happened to Matt Morgan. Morgan was in developmental for a number of years and seemed to turn a few heads because of his size and agility which is why he was seemingly fast-tracked to the main roster.
After being used in mostly comedy skits because of his stuttering gimmick, it seems that WWE ran out of things to do with Morgan and gave him his release papers. Jim Cornette then helped Morgan to come over to TNA, since he had been supporting him throughout his career but it seems that Morgan was unable to deliver when the spotlight was on him. Even though he fought some of the best wrestlers that TNA had at the time, he was still unable to become the star that Cornette once imagined he would.
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