Black History Month is finally here, which means we take the next 30 or so days to look back a reflect on the men and women who defied the odds and expeditions of their day to become legends around the world and inspirations for generations to come.
Well as it turns out, pro wrestling is no stranger to larger than life black athletes and personalities that have gone on to do exactly just that as names like the Junkyard Dog, The Rock and Ron Simmons are usually the first names wrestling fans think of; Well since I focus mainly on Impact related topics, I've decided that in honor of Black History Month I decided to make a list on Ten Influential African-Americans in TNA/Impact Wrestling.
For this list I will be ranking these talented men and women on not just on their in-ring accomplishments in TNA/Impact but also on their other contributions to the company that can still be felt today.
By the way I'm excluding any of the wrestlers on the active roster as it would be to easy to put them on the list and I want to give those who came before the new generation their recognition.
Jade aka Mia Yim
"The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero
10. D'lo Brown
Undoubtedly best remembered by wrestling fans of a certain age for his work in the Nation of Domination, wearing a comically large chest protector and being the European champion during the WWE's Attitude Era, this seasoned veteran has also had his fair share of success in TNA/Impact Wrestling.
Debuting during the early days of the company's existence, the man known as D'lo "DeLorean" Brown was ridiculously over with the crowd every time he would come out to the ring seriously...imagine a crowds reaction if a popular wrestler from the WWE or NJPW came to another promotion that's how loud of a reaction D'lo would get.
In his first few months with the promotion, Brown would challenge Jeff Jarrett and AJ Styles for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on numerous occasions and even won the tag team titles with his partner Apolo from Kid Kash and Dallas aka Lance Hoyt aka Lance Archer although the reign would only last for seven days.
Brown would leave the promotion in the Summer of 2004 but he would return a few years later where he would take up numerous roles for the company as an agent, head of talent development and even was revealed to be a member of the Aces & Eights faction but just like history repeating itself, D'lo would be gone in Summer of 2013.
In July of 2019, D'lo would return to Impact Wrestling once again as a producer and was set to take part at the one night only TNA show in 2020 around WrestleMania weekend but a little thing called Covid-19, led to the show being cancelled. Much like his previous run, D'lo would play multiple roles in the company most recently as the color commentator alongside Matt Striker for Impact's TV and PPV programming.
To put it simply, Brown's time in TNA/Impact has seen him perform almost ever single role there is to play and has done so in three different eras in the company's history thus making DeLorean Brown truly a reliable hand to have around any promotion.
9. Booker T
While his time in the promotion was divisive to say the least there's no question that the former five time WCW champion left his mark in TNA.
At Genesis 2007, Booker T was revealed to be the mystery opponent for 'The Icon' Sting in a main event tag team match where the TNA World Heavyweight Championship was on the line; Soon after that, Booker and his wife Sharmell would engage in a months long feud with Bobby Roode and valets Traci Brooks and Peyton Banks in early 2008 before turning heel following a tag team tournament match at that year's Sacrifice pay per view.
Of course when you talk about Booker T's legacy in the company he has two notable accomplishments that occurred during his run with promotion.
The first being the introduction of the TNA Legends Championship which Booker presented to the world on the October 23rd 2008 edition of Impact and proclaimed himself as the inaugural champion; The title would go through various names changes and it became the mid card title in which names like Eric Young, Douglas Williams, AJ Styles, Robbie E, Devon, Samoa Joe, Eli Drake and Lashley would compete for during the Hogan/Bischoff and Dixie Carter era.
His second accomplishment and undoubtedly his greatest would have to be his association with the Main Event Mafia where he and the rest of group dominated the roster from 2008-09. During Booker's time with the group he would feud with AJ Styles over the Legends Championship, cut a promo with a African accent... for some reason, doing commentary with Kevin Nash on episode of Impact that can best be described as 'someone energetically doing commentary' and winning the TNA tag team titles with Scott Steiner before dropping the belt at BFG 2009.
Overall, the Booker man did indeed leave his mark in the company both as a member of the Main Event Mafia and bringing in the belt that would become the company's mid card title for much of the 2010's.
8. Jacqueline Moore
Nicknamed "The Pride of Tennessee" Jacqueline "Jackie" Moore is another season veteran who came to TNA in the 2000's and much like D'lo Brown, Jacqueline is best known for her work in the WWE during the late 90's and early 2000's but she's also proven herself to be trailblazer in women's wrestling even if she doesn't always get the credit that she deserves.
Jacqueline debuted for the company at Victory Road 2004 when she accepted and lost an open challenge issued by Stephanie Trinity before refereeing a tag team match at Turning Point a month later between Simon Diamond and Marc Mero vs. Johnny Swinger and Glenn Gilberti.
Moore would return a few years later in 2007 where she became the valet for 'Cowboy' James Storm after Storm turned on his partner, Chris Harris and broke up America's Most Wanted (AMW). Gail Kim (Storm's former valet) wasn't to pleased about getting replaced and in the months that followed Gail and Jackie would compete in an arm wrestling contest, mixed tag team matches, a street fight (where she lost two front teeth) and the most memorable of Jackie and Gail's encounters happened at Lockdown 2007 when the two ladies competed in the first ever steel cage match in company history.
Jackie also became the manager for James Storm and Robert Roode who would go on to become Beer Money, one the most successful teams in TNA history.
In 2011, Jackie and ODB returned as heels targeting Knockouts like Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Traci Brooks and Brooke Tessmacher before returning to company one last time at the 2013 competing against Taryn Terrell and ODB at that year's One Night Only shows.
Though she's underrated by some fans today, she certainly was very talented as her work with Gail Kim would help to usher in the Knockouts Division which would officially debut just a few months later.
7. Elix Skipper
You can't talk about TNA/Impact and influential without mentioning the X Division, one of the most highly regarded cruiserweight divisions in pro wrestling and you most certain cannot talk about the X Division without mentioning Elix Skipper.
Skipper first appeared in TNA during the early years where would compete against names like Monty Brown, Ron Killings, Jerry Lynn and become a member of Vince Russo's heel stable, Sports Entertainment Xtreme also known as S.E.X. where he, Christopher Daniels and Low-Ki would compete in a serious of matches against James Storm and Chris Harris of America's Most Wanted for the NWA Tag Team Championships and most notably inside a steel cage match at Turning Point 2004 where Skipper walked on top of the steel cage to hit a high risk hurricanrana on Harris in one of the most iconic moments in company history.
Skipper would join another faction called "Diamonds In The Rough" alongside Simon Diamond and David Young with the most high profiled thing the group did was getting into a war of words with Chicago White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski before losing to the baseball star in a six man tag team match at Turning Point 2005.
Skipper's final years in the company and in wrestling in general saw him reform Triple X with Daniels and Low-Ki for a couple of months and even wrestled future NXT superstar, Shinsuke Nakamura in a match on Xplosion in early 2008.
While Skipper would leave the company multiple times during his run and sadly be forgetting by mainstream fans today, his work with the promotion as well as his legendary cage walk at Turning Point 2004 has helped to set the standards for what Impact Wrestling and the X Division are all about.
6. Bobby Lashley
The mid 2010's were a difficult time for the company for a number of reasons but there were a number of stars who manage to stand out the rest of the locker room and in some cases become the shining light during a dark period in the company's history and if you need proof of that allow me to introduce to you, Bobby Lashley.
Lashley was first introduced to wrestling fans thanks to his run in the WWE during the mid 2000's but soon left the promotion in early 2008 before remerging in TNA at Lockdown 2009; While his first run saw Lashley compete against names like Rhino, Samoa Joe, Abyss, and Scott Steiner he never really connected with the fans and he left in early 2010 to focus on his MMA career.
He would return to Impact in 2014 ironically at that year's Lockdown event but soon turned heel after hitting a spear on Eric Young on an episode of Impact aligning himself with former WWE United States Champion, MVP and former X Division Champion, Kenny King to create the early stages of what would be the Beat Down Clan (BDC).
As part of the BDC, Lashley would capture championship gold on the June 14th 2014 edition of Impact by defeating Eric Young in the main event; Lashley would go on to become the TNA/Impact World Heavyweight Champion four times and even won the X Division and King of The Mountain championships while still being the world champion, making Lashley the first black athlete in company history to do so.
Lashley's time in MMA saw Bobby accumulate a win/loss record of 15 wins and 2 losses, which is way better then other pro wrestlers turned MMA fighters and Impact decided to incorporate Bobby's experience as an MMA fighter into his character which led to him being treated like a prizefighter who all other wrestlers would have a hard time beating.
While his currently back in the WWE alongside MVP, Lashley's work in TNA/Impact as well as his work in MMA has helped to establish himself as one of the all time best of wrestlers/fighters in the sports history.
5. Monty Brown
A wrestler ahead of his time...that is just one of many ways to describe the man referred to as "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown as his runs in TNA and to a lesser extend WWE have helped to demonstrate how Monty was the best example of strength, speed and charisma in professional wrestling at that time.
After finding success in football playing for the Buffalo Bills and later the New England Patriots, Brown would retire from sport due to an ankle injury so naturally he did what all former football players do...get involved in professional wrestling.
Monty would debut on the third weekly pay per view of NWA TNA and despite his first run being short, he did compete against Ron "The Truth" Killings for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Brown would return in March of 2004, attacking the Insane Clown Posse and soon adapted a persona that got him over with fans much better than ever did during his first run.
Hailing from the Serengeti and wearing leopard/tiger printed trunks and overcoat, the Alpha Male would become one of the most popular home grown stars in the company. Unfortunately the company's inability to make him the world champion, dropping the ball on his booking after failing to win the title and losing to WWE stars like Christian Cage who were debuting in the company eventually led to Alpha Male peacing out of TNA in 2006
Brown would head to the WWE were he became a part of the newly revived ECW brand under the name "Marcus Cor Von" and joined a faction called 'The New Breed' but following family issues which lead to Brown taking care of his sister's kids, the WWE let go of Brown in 2007 and soon after that he would retire from the sport but he did appear in a short video for his friend Lance Archer in tweet that was centered around Archer taking on Jon Moxley for the AEW championship.
While names like Bobby Lashley and Mark Henry are known for their incredible feats of strength, Monty Brown was able to combine his over the top manner of speaking with his skill in the ring as evident by his ability to toss people from one side of the ring with a move called "The Pounce" which has become one of the most iconic signature moves in recent memory as names like Shawn Hernandez in Impact Wrestling and Keith Lee in NXT/WWE have used that move to the delight of fans.
4. Jay Lethal
Another influential name when it comes to the X Division, Jay Lethal was nothing more than a 20 something year old when he competed for the company in the 2000's but he certainly proved himself along the way as the promotions most versatile performer.
Appearing in TNA in late 2005, Lethal would become a mainstay within the company's X Division throughout the years thanks to his feuds with Sonjay Dutt, Team 3D, Chris Sabin and Petey Williams while becoming six time X Division Champion and X Division Wrestler of the Year in 2007.
Speaking of 2007, it was at that year's No Surrender event when Jay Lethal competed in the most high profiled match of his career at the time against Kurt Angle for the X Division Championship which Lethal won, shocking everyone in attendance including himself.
However his most memorable work in the company during this time would have to be his persona of 'Black Machismo', a Macho Man like character created in kayfabe thanks to a few Paparazzi Production segments with Kevin Nash and the gimmick went over so well that even Randy Savage gave Lethal his blessing to continue on with the gimmick after listening to how well Lethal sounds much like him.
Eventually by 2010, Lethal began to drop the persona of Black Machismo and became more of a serious competitor during his feud with 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair; Lethal went on to wrestle tremendous matches around this time with AJ Styles, Frankie Kazarian and Douglas Williams proving that could become the next world champion.
Unfortunately, his dismissal from the company in 2011 (which still remains unknown as to why) left those possibilities closed at least until he came back to Ring of Honor and dominated for the rest of the 2010's.
Overall his an athletic wrestler and an equally talented performer who can take anything you give him and he can make the best out of it.
3. Ron "The Truth" Killings
One of the most underrated wrestlers of his generation, Ron Killings aka R-Truth has spent the bulk of his life competing inside the square circle and while we know his work in the WWE, but some may not be aware of his work in the early days of TNA.
Ron Killings appeared in the very first TNA event back in June of 2002 where competed as a heel during this time and he would cut promos insinuating that the reason as to why he wasn't getting the opportunities to become a champion was due to his race. Perhaps the most famous of these promos occurred on August 7th 2002 when authority figure, Ricky Steamboat called out Killings also known as 'The Truth' to explain which lead to what is perhaps the best promo that Killings has ever given in his entire career...if you haven't seen it, go out and watch it because it is that good.
Convinced by Truth's words during the encounter, Steamboat would give Truth a shot at Ken Shamrock for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and in a a major upset Ron "The Truth" Killings would become the first African American wrestler to be recognized as NWA World Champion with the reign lasting for 105 days
Killings would later on form a stable with BG James (Road Dogg) and Konnan known as '3 Live Kru' which became the D-Generation X of TNA during the NWA era but also during the Fox Sports and early Spike TV era with the trio getting involved in numerous funny segments, taking on teams like Team Canada and America's Most Wanted and Killings even won the NWA World Championship for a second title during the groups run.
Killings would become TNA Tag Team Champions with NFL star, Adam 'Pacman' Jones in 2007 but would drop them to AJ Styles and Tomko before leaving the company in December of 07 ending a five year run within the promotion.
If ever wanted to see R-Truth being booked as serious wrestler in addition to the funny stuff his known for today, then look for his work during this time and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
2. Barry Scott
All of the other entries I've mentioned on this list so far have become legends in this sport thanks to their skills inside a wrestling ring...Barry Scott on the other hand, became legendary just from using his voice to excite and thrill the fans.
A seasoned talent in more ways than one, Barry Scott had accomplishments as a writer, director, producer and actor writing the stage play "Ain't Got Long to Stay Here", having over a dozen TV and Film credits to his name and he even became the founder of the American Negro Playwright Theatre located at Tennessee State University in Nashville Tennessee.
Barry Scott also worked as a voice actor, lending his commanding voice to numerous commercials for various networks like Disney Channel, ESPN, NFL, NBA, ABC and so many more.
Despite those great achievements his legacy is forever remembered by wrestling fans due to his narrator and voiceover work in TNA Wrestling during the mid to late 2000's where he would intrigue the viewers at home and those in attendance with his almost god like sounding voice and famously announced in the intro to many Impact episodes and pay per views: "TNA Wrestling....Cross The Line!"
Barry would return to the company (now Impact Wrestling) to voiceover the cold open for Slammiversary 2017 and 2018 and even did the narration for an self aggrandizing intro that centered around Impact Wrestler, Moose with all the passionate and amazement that has become a customary to with his work.
His death at the age of 65 on September 10th 2020 shocked many wrestling fans especially the Impact fanbase, but his legacy, his voiceover work and memories that he left behind will forever be remembered.
1. Awesome Kong
Sure this is a obvious pick for number one but you can't say that it isn't well deserved...
Making her debut in TNA in 2007, Kong made her presence known thanks to her matches with Gail Kim which helped the launch both ladies into super stardom in the United States and even lead to her winning her first Knockout Championship.
Not only that but Kong also became a success in an industry that usually don't give Black athletes a fair shake especially those who don't fit the stereotypical size for women. She also became the first woman to make be ranked number one of PWI's list of women in 2008 and feat that wouldn't be matched by another knockout until 2012.
Kong would wrestle some of the best female wrestlers like Tara, Gail Kim, Havok, Angelina Love, Taryn Terrell, Taylor Wilde, ODB while also becoming the leader of two female factions (The Kongtourage and The Dollhouse) while also winning the Knockouts singles and tag team titles on numerous occasions; While her exits from the company have been controversial, there's no denying that Awesome Kong is one of the most influential in TNA/Impact Wrestling History.
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