Back in the 1990′s it was a regular occurrence to see talent switching between WWE and WCW, and no matter what it was rare you would really ever see a talent booked in a manner to make you question if there was an ulterior motive. Fast forward several years later and we find ourselves witnessing exactly that sometimes. Do you ever feel a talent has been held back because they chose to sign with TNA? I take a look at three superstars who all worked under TNA before they either came back to or debuted in WWE and looks at events during their careers where it may have seemed like they were being held back at times because of this. I look at whether or not there is something to be said for there being a TNA effect in WWE.
Lets start by looking at the last WWE run of former WWE Diva and current TNA Knockout, Gail Kim. Gail left TNA in 2008 after her first run with the company came to an end due to an expired contract. Gail made the decision to return to WWE and stayed with the company until 2011 before she left to return to TNA. During her second run with WWE it’s fair to say that her booking was somewhat questionable. Gail Kim is without a doubt one of the best female wrestlers in the world today, and at the time was easily one of the best Divas in WWE. However during the three year stint while Kim had some opportunities at the Divas Championship she never got the moment to run with the championship. This is at a time when WWE were pushing Divas such as Kelly Kelly, Maryse, Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCool, and Mickie James. All those Divas were top stars in the Divas division but I believe Gail was having much better quality matches at the time. Kim eventually quit WWE in 2011 because she wasn’t happy and felt the Divas were being held back. While the division itself has never had the attention it maybe should receive from the company it’s clear to me that Kim was one of the ones being held back.
Another star who suffered a little at the hands of WWE was Kaval, who was also known in TNA under the name Low Ki. Kaval left TNA in 2008 and was signed to a WWE contract, where he spent two years in the developmental FCW arena. In 2010 it was announced that he would be a part of the second season of WWE NXT, when then show was in that ridiculous format where the wrestlers would take part in challenges that had nothing to do with being a WWE superstar. Things looked good for Kaval with him winning the competition at the time and him gaining a spot of the main roster. That’s where things took a turn for the former TNA talent. He made his Smackdown debut in September 2011 and lost every match he was in until November 2011, a solid run where he seemed to win nothing despite the crowds being really behind the character. Kaval ended up winning only that one match during his run in the company, which I believe is what contributed to him being unhappy in the company and him being released in December 2011. Kaval is a talented wrestler who can have a great match with anyone but this felt like another case of being held back.
The biggest star to make the jump from TNA to WWE is of course Christian. Christian had originally left WWE in 2005 after his contract expired and he went to TNA until 2008 when his contract with the company expired. He re-signed with WWE in 2009 after having become a big main event player in TNA, winning their World Championship on two occasions. Fans expected Christian to get a main event spot in WWE but it seemed Vince McMahon had other ideas and instead made Christian the ECW Champion around four months into his return. Many fans felt this was Vince’s way of appeasing the fans and giving Christian a championship of some significance. Probably his most controversial moment came in 2011 when Christian won the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules only to lose the title five nights later on Smackdown to Randy Orton. Fans were outraged and claimed this was WWE’s way of holding Christian back due to his run in TNA. However Christian worked hard to retain his spot at the top of the company, which culminated in him winning the championship again in July 2011, although that run would only last one month. Christian remained in the main event picture on and off for some time until his recent run of injuries seem to have all but potentially ended his career.
It’s clear there is some sort of fear among workers in WWE about going to TNA from the fact that Kassius Ohno has held off signing any kind of deal with TNA because he doesn’t want to hurt his chances of returning to WWE following his release last year. Why should it make a difference where you work in your career though? I think fans sometimes make a big deal out of the two companies being rivals and WWE wanting to sometimes bury talent that have worked for TNA but I think there are times where that assumption is safe to make. Maybe we as fans just over analyse things and it just comes down to simply what WWE sees in a particular talent and whether or not they can make them a success. Whatever the case though, there is something to be said that there could be a TNA effect on talent in WWE and their push.
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