By: Mr. Shues
On November 19th, 2015 TNA President Dixie Carter announced that TNA would be moving to Pop TV. The excitement over the move was visible throughout the industry. Given the rough 6 months that TNA endured it was refreshing to see that in the end they will end up on a better network. From November all the way up until TNA’s debut on Pop this past Tuesday there has been talk about TNA acquiring new talent for the “Pop Era”. While reading these rumors I am reminded of a quote from George Santayana, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat the past.” In observance of such great advice I invite you the reader to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at TNA’s best and worst acquisitions.
5) Booker T
Booker T was brought into the company as Sting’s mystery partner in the main event of Genesis. Booker T is a legend who has done everything in the business and his acquisition was supposed to help TNA “move the dial” and bring the company to the “next level”. Unfortunately, despite being involved in some of TNA’s biggest storylines failed to generate buzz for the company. He did however make one lasting contribution to the company that can be seen today and that is Bobby Roode. It was Booker’s feud with Roode that got my attention and made me view Roode as a future main eventer. Sadly that 1 great contribution is outweighed by his cost and the fact that he like most people bad mouthed TNA on his way out the door.
4) Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam was brought in at the onset of the Hogan/Bischoff era during the start of the “New Monday Night War” in an attempt to generate buzz and ratings for TNA. There was much hope for Rob Van Dam in the beginning especially after his excellent matches against AJ Styles. Unfortunately for the fans Van Dams performance after his mini-feud with AJ Styles was uninspiring to say the least. He was rumored to be a high paid talent yet did not bring in the fans that TNA had hoped for. In the end he ended up being a high paid talent who only brought name value to the company.
Name one of MVP’s best moments in TNA. Don’t worry I will wait. MVP came to TNA amid much hype (starting to see a pattern here) and at first showed much promise. His most memorable storyline was when he, Kenny King, and Lashley were a faction. I will be the first to admit that I enjoyed that storyline, but that only came about because he was injured and had to be replaced at the last minute at Slammiversary. Had he been healthy he would have been the World Champion and quite honestly that did not interest me. Aside from the “MLK” storyline all MVP did was take up space on the roster and bad mouth the company on Twitter. Maybe I am in the minority here, but I was actually happy when he left.
2) Ric Flair
Ric Flair is a legend and the man no doubt about it. Perhaps I am in the minority here as well, but I was more excited about him than I was about Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately that excitement waned considerably. He did absolutely nothing for the company and his departure was forgettable at best. For his name value and the cost of keeping him on the roster you would have thought that he would be mentoring the stars of the future, but that did not happen.
I imagine that Hogan was most likely at the top of many peoples’ list as the worst “talent” acquisition ever. I could spend hours talking about how terrible Hogan was, however instead I will summarize why he was the worst with one simple explanation. Hulk Hogan took everything that made TNA unique and great and stripped it away little by little. The X-Division was downplayed and relegated to a poor man’s cruiserweight division while the Knockouts Division was also decimated as well. Hulk Hogan constantly went into business for himself at the expense of TNA. In my opinion Hulk Hogan killed WCW and he almost killed TNA. My perception of him changed considerably after his TNA run.
5) Gail Kim
From 2004-2005 the WWE had let a large amount of talent go, and one of those talents happened to be Gail Kim. Gail Kim was brought to TNA at the onset of the Spike Era and was a part of many high profile angles such as Planet Jarrett and wrestling Jaqueline in a hard hitting steal cage match at Lockdown 2006. Gail would wrestle sporadically from 2005-2006 until the creation of the Knockouts Division in 2007. Gail would go on to become the first Knockouts Champion and engage in one of TNA’s greatest rivalries against Awesome Kong. She has been the anchor that has held this division together. You simply cannot think of the Knockouts Division without associating it with Gail Kim. She made this division what it is today.
4) Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy was wrestled for TNA from 2003-2006 and returned again in 2010. Jeff Hardy despite his problems has done a lot for TNA. He has been involved in a number of classics such as his cage match against Kurt Angle at Lockdown 2012, the best of five series against The Wolves and Team 3D, and who could forget his hard hitting match against Lashley in which he missed the swanton bomb and collided with the steel steps. Jeff Hardy has remained loyal to TNA and has done much to try lift the profile of TNA and still has much to offer them.
3. Bully Ray
Like Gail Kim, Bully Ray was one of the many talents brought in after WWE conducted a massive purge of their roster. Bully Ray and his “brother” Devon would reprise their tag team as Team 3D and would go on to have classic feuds with AMW, LAX, and Beer Money. Team 3D’s feud with Beer Money helped establish that team as one of the all-time greats. As a singles competitor Bully would reinvent himself and become a main event player. He was without a doubt the most interesting character in the Aces & Eight’s storyline, and was part of the most compelling story of 2014. His feud with EC3 and Dixie Carter helped elevate EC3 and bring in more ratings for TNA. Who could forget the image of Bully power bombing Dixie Carter through a table in front of a raucous NYC crown? Despite Bully’s comments towards TNA at the end of his tenure one cannot deny his contribution to the company.
Sting started with the company originally from 2003-2005 and wrestled sporadically. It wasn’t until 2006 that he started wrestling regularly with the company. Sting became the company’s go to guy. From 2006-2014 he helped establish homegrown stars such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Magnus, and to a lesser extent EC3. Sting participated in every major storyline from the Main Event Mafia, Immortal, and Aces & Eights. If you look back throughout history you will find Sting’s fingerprints throughout the entire product. He brought much needed star power to the company and did it all.
As No Surrender 2006 came to a close I never would have guessed that the company had signed Kurt Angle to a contract. Kurt Angle made an immediate impact (pun intended) by feuding with Samoa Joe in a classic series of matches. Who could forget the Lockdown 2008 main event in which Joe beat Angle in a classic battle? Kurt also had classic battles against the likes of Sting, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, and Lashley. Prior to Kurt’s signing I only watched TNA sporadically, however when TNA signed Kurt I made it a point to watch Impact every week. I imagine that most fans can say the same thing. Kurt Angle’s contribution to the company cannot be measured he was the one that brought them to that next level. As Kurt embarks on his “Last Stand” TNA’s primary focus should be finding the one who will take the torch from Angle’s hand and run with it after he leaves.
As TNA looks ahead to 2016 they should also look back at the past and learn from past mistakes. Bringing in “big names” to draw attention to the product is not necessarily a bad thing. Their signings of Angle, Bully Ray, Sting, Kim, and Hardy should serve as an example as to what kind of talents they should sign and what talents they should avoid.
Dishonorable Mentions for the “Worst” Category
The Nasty Boys, Scott Steiner, Mick Foley, and Val Venis
Honorable Mentions for the “Best” Category
Christian Cage, Mickie James, Tara, and The Pope
Thank you, Mr. Shues, for your guest column. If you would like to contribute a guest column or a "TNA Take," please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.