A few weeks ago I wrote a piece asking is there a TNA effect in WWE? Well this time I delve a little deeper into this and look at what happens when a talent crosses from WWE to TNA or from TNA to WWE, as well as talent who were only mid-card at best in WWE but were pushed bigger in TNA, and I look at the talent in TNA that WWE doesn’t see value in but in my opinion missed out on. It’s something that intrigues me about the wrestling business when a talent swaps from one company to another just how there can be a stigma or expectation attached to you because you made a name for yourself somewhere else, or how sometimes you can get passed up on because you either don’t fit the mold, or even sometimes you prove the doubters wrong and achieve more than anyone ever expected.
The first thing I want to look at is when a talent from WWE goes to TNA. Now I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed this but it seems to me they are always booked in a higher spot on the card than they were in WWE. A pretty recent example of this is Derrick Bateman, otherwise known to TNA fans as Ethan Carter III. Carter got his big break in WWE as Bateman under the NXT banner when NXT was full of dumb challenges and not the respectable brand it is today. Now I was a fan of Bateman, I saw potential in him, but I didn’t see him being anything more than an upper mid-card talent at best in WWE. He went to TNA and immediately he was given the role of being part of the Carter family, the owners of TNA Wrestling. Within several months Carter was thrust into the world championship picture, something I don’t personally believe he is ready for at this stage of his career. I’m sure in a few years he may be able to progress to a main event role but at this stage I believe it’s too much too soon for Carter.
The there is when a talent goes from TNA to WWE and seem to be booked in a lower talent role. A fine example of this is when Christian returned to WWE in 2009 under the ECW banner. When Christian originally left WWE and went to TNA he went from being an upper mid-card talent to being used in TNA’s main event scene, even capturing their world championship on two occasions. This was completely deserved and it was a shame Christian never reached this height in his first WWE run. In 2009 it was announced Christian would return to WWE after a four year absence and fans were excited that Christian may finally get his shot at the WWE main event scene. So imagine the surprise of fans when he ended up being placed in ECW. That’s not a knock on ECW but I’m sure most fans would agree that Christian should have been given a run on Smackdown as a minimum upon his return. It took over two years before Christian would finally get into the main event scene of WWE and capture the World Heavyweight Championship, although this run was very brief when he would drop the title just five days later. He has since won the championship since this time but after his second reign ended Christian began to linger in less meaningful feuds and has since sadly suffered injury set backs which have further derailed his momentum. The point is Christian should have come back to WWE and for me held a better position on the card, but sadly I believe his time in TNA held him back.
Of course TNA has seen talent we as wrestling fans think should be in WWE, yet WWE doesn’t see value in them and I feel they have missed the boat big style on names such as Robert Roode, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe. I am aware Roode had matches in WWE back in 2002 and 2003 but he is the only one of the three to even get this close. All three men are some of my favorite names in TNA, although as we know AJ Styles has since left the company, and I feel they could easily make themselves into big stars in WWE. Robert Roode is a great wrestler who reminds me very much of Mr. Perfect and could easily be a big deal in WWE, yet they have passed up on him for reasons I can only try to guess. AJ Styles is one of the best wrestlers in the world in my eyes as he is amazing in the ring and can talk. AJ has everything you could need to be a success in WWE, yet WWE have been reported as believing they would have to start again with someone like Styles, something I feel WWE would not need to do with him as he comes ready made. Then there is Samoa Joe, a true fan favorite in TNA who was a top star in their company before Hulk Hogan came in and proceeded to almost run Joe out of the company. Joe is a fantastic wrestler and he is someone who could come into WWE in a destroyer role like they are trying to do with Rusev, and I feel Joe would easily get himself over as a machine. However for reasons I again cannot understand WWE seem to refuse to want to bring Joe over to the company. There are plenty of other popular names in TNA such as James Storm, Magnus, and Rockstar Spud who I feel could be successful in WWE but I somehow doubt will ever get a fair shot.
There is of course the exception of when former WWE talent go to TNA and have exceeded the expectations of WWE and have become bigger stars. My best example of this has to be Bubba Ray Dudley, now known in TNA as Bully Ray. Bully is a multiple time WWE, WCW and ECW Tag Team Champion and was part of one of wrestling’s greatest tag teams in the Dudley Boys, something that I thought he would never amount to being anything more than. However the team were split up in WWE during May 2002 and saw Bully struggle to find a role as a successful singles star. He was eventually reunited with his tag team partner Devon Dudley in WWE during November 2002. The team went on a run in WWE until they were released in 2005 and eventually signed with TNA. Until 2010 the Dudley Boys became known as Team 3D and had a great run together, capturing the companies tag team championship to make them the only tag team in wrestling to win a major tag team championship in every major American wrestling promotion. In 2010 TNA decided to split the team and allow them to embark on singles runs. It was during this time we discovered Bully Ray had been holding back a talent that allowed him to become one of the wrestling industries biggest heels, even going on to accomplish his biggest feat to date when he became TNA World Champion on two occasions. Bully Ray is proof that WWE missed out on a great singles talent because they simply did not give him the time or the opportunity to show what he could truly do.
Unlike the Monday Night Wars when it was common to see a talent jumping ship between WWE and WCW we see very few wrestlers jumping from TNA to WWE but much more of it going from WWE to TNA. TNA has a habit of making a similar mistake to WCW back in their day who relied on established names to get them to the top, only TNA will bring in someone from WWE and use them over their own homegrown talent, something which I believe caused talents such as Jay Lethal and AJ Styles to be practically pushed out of the company. It’s clear from what we have seen that former talent in WWE can sometimes be more successful than ever imagined, or equally put into a position they perhaps are not ready for. It has also shown that there remains a stigma attached to talent who were former or are current TNA talents that either go to WWE or will seemingly never get a chance because of their association with TNA. I just hope that more in WWE’s case they don’t continue to keep this trend up in the future and miss out on other exceptional talents.