For better or for worse, Impact Wrestling has signed numerous former WWE stars to their roster leaving some kind of impression in both the company and in wrestling history.
While the stigma has harmed the company's brand somewhat over the years, there have been countless names from the WWE who have done tremendously well in TNA/Impact Wrestling in fact many fans and critics could easily say that many of these names have become more known for their work in Impact than anything they did in the WWE and that's really saying something.
So with that said, here are ten WWE wrestlers who did better in TNA/ Impact Wrestling.
10. John Morrison
John Morrison returned to the WWE in late 2019 after being away from the promotion for 8-9 years following his public future endeavoring by WWE executive VP of talent relations, John Laurinatis on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
Before all of that, Morrison achieved success as Johnny Nitro in the WWE's tag team division with MNM (Melina, Nitro Mercury) before heading to WWE's ECW brand and became not only the ECW world champion but also formed a partnership with The Miz and created their own YouTube show called "The Dirt Sheet".
He'd then change his name to John Morrison where he would win the Intercontinental title from Rey Mysterio in 2009 and later demonstrated a lot of great pakour style of wrestling before losing a match to his former tag partner the Miz in the early 2010's.
After spending time wrestling in various promotions including Lucha Underground, Morrison now known as Johnny Impact debuted in 2017 taking part in a gauntlet for the gold match to crown a new world champion, while Impact didn't win the title he did face against the winner of this match Eli Drake in the main event of Bound For Glory 2017.
Most notably during this time saw Impact battle Austin Aries in the main event of Bound For Glory 2018 which resulted in Impact not only winning the world title but also one of the most controversial finishes to match where Aries no sells his injuries from the match and gives Don Callis and the fans in attendance the middle finger.
Other highlights include his matches with Moose, Killer Kross, and Fenix, turning heel on Brian Cage with real life wife Taya Valkyrie, giving Cage a career threatening back injury at the Rebellion PPV and culminating in his amazing final match in the company with Rich Swann for the X Division championship at Slammiversary 2019.
Fun fact, Morrison's contract with Impact Wrestling had expired weeks or months before his match with Swann but he stayed with the company long enough to make sure that the storyline ended with a conclusive finish, talk about being a professional.
While Impact/ Morrison's run in Impact may have lasted a couple of years, he ended up being a big time player during that time something that he wasn't able to do during his first run in the WWE.
9. Matt Sydal
Best known as Evan Bourne, Sydal worked in the WWE from 2007-14 winning the WWE tag team titles with Kofi Kingston as part of a tag team known as "Air Boom", besides from that and having an amazing shooting star press finishing maneuver Sydal didn't do much of anything that really was memorable during his seven years with the company.
After his release from the WWE in 2014 and a few stints with Evolve and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Sydal returned to Impact Wrestling on April 27th, 2017.
During this time Sydal competed in the X division where he won the prestigious title in early 2018 after defeating New Japan star, Taiji Ishimori in a title vs. title on Impact; Sydal would also have some high profile matches with names Eli Drake, Bobby Lashley, and Petey Williams before adapting a gimmick that saw the former tag team champion take on the role of a spiritualistic zealot, who believed the path to enlightenment will lead to success in pro wrestling and all you had to do was "Open your Third Eye" (It's wrestling just go with it).
Sydal would try to convert Rich Swann to his enlightened beliefs but Swann refused, this began a rivalry that eventually reintroduced/introduced the Impact Wrestling fans to "All Ego" Ethan Page and Willie Mack respectively leading to one of the best opening matches in recent Bound For Glory history.
Sydal's final appearance with the company came after losing a qualifying match to his protégé, Ethan Page with the winner participating in an Ultimate X match for the vacant X Division Championship at Homecoming 2019.
While his tenure was short compared to others on this list, It safe to say Matt Sydal had achieved more accolades in his 2-3 years with Impact than he ever did during his seven years in the WWE.
8. Drew Galloway
Drew McIntyre's work in his second run in the WWE has had it's stumbles but as of late his run on Raw and his time in NXT have made the Scottish born star look and feel like a main event star. However, this wasn't the first time Drew got a taste of this kind of success as his run in TNA from 2015-early 2017 proves.
After years of being in 3MB and a domestic disturbance charge that halted his momentum, Drew was let go by the WWE in 2014 during which he wrestled in various independent promotions before making his TNA debut on the January 29th 2015 edition of Impact.
Going under his real name of 'Drew Galloway' the former WWE intercontinental form a group called "The Rising" which saw Drew, Eli Drake and Micah (known today as Tanga Loa in NJPW) to take on the Beat Down Clan in a five month feud. After that story wrapped up, Galloway would wrestle against names like EC3, Low-Ki, Jeff Jarrett, Lashley, Mike Bennett, Kurt Angle and Eli Drake whilst also competing for the World Heavyweight Championship at Bound For Glory 2015 and Slammiversary 2016 respectively.
Galloway's biggest achievement came on the March 15th 2016 edition of Impact when he cased in his Feast or Fired Briefcase (which gave him a shot the world title) and defeated Matt Hardy in the final moments of the show to become the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion; Making Drew the first Scottish born wrestler to win the TNA World title in company history.
Galloway would win the newly created "TNA Grand Championship" and went on to feud with Moose for the title before leaving the company in 2017. While Drew would eventually make his return back to the WWE, his run in the TNA saw the company make him into the star that he never was in his first run in the WWE.
7. R-Truth aka Ron Killings
It'd be hard to imagine R-Truth wrestling anywhere except the WWE, but from 2002-07, that wasn't the case. From the very first event to feature the TNA name, Ron "The Truth" Killings became a fixture for the company up until his departure.
Killings would be released from the WWE after his partner Road Dogg's issues with drugs lead to both men getting fired. Killings would appear in NWA TNA on it's very first show in 2002 and a few months later he would go on to defeat Ken Shamrock to become the very first black man to win the NWA world heavyweight championship (I should point out this was at a time when Killings was not only heel but a time when he was taken seriously before as a competitor).
Killings would become NWA champion for a second time whilst being apart of the memorable 3 Live Kru stable alongside Road Dogg and Konnan. Killings would also is the person who gave the Fairgrounds Arena the name of "The TNA Asylum" and he even held the TNA tag team titles with NFL star, Adam "Pac Man" Jones in 2007 before leaving TNA to return to the WWE in 2008 where he's been ever since.
While Truth seems be enjoying his time in the WWE as his been one of the longest tenured in the company, his time in TNA proves that R-Truth is more than just a comedy wrestler.
6. Bully Ray
For much of his career, Bubba Ray Dudley was always seen as a tag team specialist from his time in ECW and the WWF/E but by the end of the 2010, TNA did what WWE tried and failed to due with Bubba and that's make him into a singles star.
Following 5 years of tag matches and championship wins under their belt, Brother Ray and Devon lost a match to the Motor City Machine Guns at Turning Point 2010 which saw Team 3D wrestle their last match (per the stipulation of the match). In their farewell address on the following episode of Impact, Bubba Ray attacked Devon surprising everyone.
In the months that followed, Bubba would soon go under the name of Bully Ray and explained that the reasoned he attacked Devon because he felt that his former tag team partner was the weak link in the group and this lead to three month feud which saw Devon getting his revenge at the end of it all thanks to the help of Tommy Dreamer and Devon's sons.
Following the infamous Jeff Hardy incident at Victory Road 2011, Bully Ray would take Hardy's spot in the Hogan/Bischoff/Flair supergroup known as 'Immortal' and went to feud with names like AJ Styles and Ken Anderson which helped in making Bully become a rising star in upper main event scene.
By 2013, a babyface Bully Ray would take on fellow babyface Jeff Hardy in the main event of that year's Lockdown PPV with the finals moment in the match seeing Ray turn heel on Jeff Hardy, Brooke Hogan and her father, Hulk and the fans when he hit Hardy in the back with a hammer to not only become the new world champion but he also revealed himself to be the leader of the Aces and Eights stable.
Almost a year following the demise of Aces and Eights, Bully Ray would turn babyface at Lockdown 2014 which led to the beginning of Bully's war on the Carter Family which culminated in the summer of 2014 when he powerbombed Dixie Carter through a table (well sort of) in front of a wild and cheering crowd as well as 1.41 million fans who were viewing at home.
The rest of Bully's time in the company saw him reunited Team 3D with Devon (Because F Wrestling Retirements) and would continue to work for TNA until his departure in 2015.
5. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley's first and current run in the WWE can be seen as a disappointments with Vince McMahon not being able to book the former ECW Champion into a megastar that the fans could get behind.
But as the old saying goes "Your Loss, Is My Gain." and that's exactly what happened when Lashley jumped from WWE to Impact.
While his first run in the company was nothing special, his second run from 2014-18 was great time to be Bobby Lashley as the man known as "Walking Armageddon" ended up winning the TNA world heavyweight championship a number of times whilst having competitive matches with Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, EC3, Drew Galloway and more.
Speaking of competitive, Lashley also took part in MMA around this time and had an impressive track record with 15 wins and 2 losses, a track record which by the way is far better than the individual people keep comparing Lashley to (Brock Lesnar).
Lashley would also go on to hold the X Division and King of The Mountain titles as well as the world title at the same time (a feat that was first done by Kurt Angle both in the WWE and in TNA).
Lashley's final days with Impact saw him feud with newcomer Brian Cage in a serious of remarkable matches which saw Lashley put over the future X Division and world champion before heading back to the WWE the next night on Raw after WrestleMania...but the less said about his current run the better.
4. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy's time in WWE saw he become a major success in the tag team scene and one half of the Hardy Boys during the attitude era whilst also achieving championship gold as a singles competitor on Smackdown and WWE's ECW.
After his contract ran out in 2010, Matt joined TNA in 2011 but aside from calling himself "Cold Blooded" and rocking some dreadlocks he didn't do much of importance, however his second run within the company is what I'll be talking about today.
After reteaming with his brother, Jeff to take on teams like The Wolves, Team 3D and winning the tag team titles as well, Matt would go on as a single competitor in 2015 defeating EC3 and Drew Galloway in a triple threat match in the main event of Bound For Glory that year.
Hardy would later become champion again in 2016 after a double turn which not only saw Hardy become heel but also become a two time world champion after defeating EC3 in a last man standing match before calling himself "Iconic" Matt Hardy or "Big Money" Matt.
While these achievements weren't too bad it's what happened in 2016 following an I Quit match with his brother Jeff Hardy that helped defined Matt's career and legacy moving forward.
A weeks after the aforementioned I quit match with his brother, Matt Hardy would return as "Broken" Matt Hardy, a damaged but eccentric side of Matt who was looking to "Delete" his brother Jeff Hardy and did so in the acclaimed or infamous (depending on who you ask) Final Deletion which became to most talked about thing in Wrestling at the time and the gimmick continued to evolve so much that Matt finally did two things he was never able to do during his time in the WWE: Be treated like a main event star and become more popular than his brother.
Matt and his brother Jeff would leave Impact in 2017 before returning to the WWE at WrestleMania. While issues involving the trademark of the "Broken" Universe drove a wedge between the Hardy family and Impact's parent company Anthem Sports and Entertainment, the issues would be resolved in early 2018 with Impact Wrestling naming Matt and Jeff Hardy's Final Deletion match, the best match of the decade to which The Deleter of Worlds would express his appreciation for this honor on Twitter a few days later.
3. Gail Kim
When you think of pioneers in women's wrestling there's often a few names that come to mind: Medusa, Sensational Sheri, Trish Stratus, Lita, Awesome Kong, The Beautiful People etc. but of course one of the top-tier names in women's wrestling from the 2000's-the mid 2010's is none other than Gail Kim.
After having a serviceable two years in the WWE where she won the Women's championship in her very first match, Gail was let go from the WWE as a cost cutting measure and was reportedly told that management wanted to take the women's division into a new direction.
A new direction for the women's division...Right!?!?
Gail made her way to TNA in October of 2005 where she became the manager and valet for names like Jeff Jarrett and America's Most Wanted; After James Storm broke up AMW by turning on his tag team partner, the Tennessee Cowboy hired former WWE star, Jacqueline "Jackie" Moore as his manager which infuriated Gail and it led to the two ladies having endless fights and matches with one another most notably at competing in steel cage match at Lockdown 2007.
Months after that match, Gail Kim would make history becoming the very first TNA Knockouts Champion in company history. Around this time Gail would compete in a series of matches with Awesome Kong which helped to make women's wrestling into a must see part of TNA programming while also defining Gail and Kong's legacies as legends in the sport.
Gail decided not to stay with TNA and returned to the WWE in late 2008 and it didn't go well; Not only was the wrestling aspect of women's wrestling in the WWE treated as secondary but they focused more on TNA (T###-N-A## variety) heck her most notably moment in her second WWE run saw her eliminating herself from a battle royal and quitting via social media.
Following this Gail returned to TNA and became Knockouts champion six more times between late 2011-2016, where wrestled names like Angelina Love, Taryn Terrell, Jessicka Havok and Brooke Tessmacher; Gail also became Pro Wrestling Illustrated's number one female wrestler on their top 50 in 2012, became the first women to be inducted into the TNA hall of Fame in 2016 and wrestled her last match against Tessa Blanchard in 2019.
Simply put it, Gail is a icon women's wrestling and one of the many reasons why the Knockouts Division is seen as one the best female division's in North American pro wrestling.
Ethan Carter the Third aka EC3 came to TNA as another named people sort of remembered from the WWE but didn't really do much of importance until he arrived to Jeff Jarrett's company.
After his run in the original NXT which saw EC3 (then known as Derrick Bateman) become known to many fans, the WWE failed to use him properly as an up-and-coming star before leaving with little fanfare. After a number of video packages hyping his debut, Bateman became EC3, the nephew of then TNA president Dixie Carter and debuted at Bound for Glory in 2013.
From here, EC3 would become one of the best home grown talents in TNA (even though he never started his career in the company); Carter would have an impressive 100 plus day undefeated streak whilst facing Matt and Jeff Hardy, Lashley, Aron Rex, Rockstar Spud, Bully Ray, Sting, Drew Galloway, Mike Bennett and Kurt Angle with the later of which resulting in EC3 having the first of his many TNA world title wins.
Carter would win the TNA Grand Championship and feud with names like Matt Sydal and Fallah Bahh before leaving the company in early 2018; EC3 would return to the WWE appearing on the NXT brand before heading to main roster...sadly EC3's time in the WWE is a far cry from what he did in the TNA/Impact Wrestling but thankfully Ethan returned to Impact in mid 2020 and as once again grabbed the attention of the Wrestling World.
1. Christian Cage
Christian's run in the WWE as a solo competitor was good but sadly those in charge never saw him as anything more than a midcarder and as such he left the Vince McMahon's house of Sports Entertainment to become a megastar elsewhere and in the process he became one the most popular stars in the mid 2000's.
Before EC3, became the poster child for WWE stars doing better in TNA/Impact, 'The Instant Classic' Christian Cage was doing it first.
After making his debut on November 13th 2005 at the Genesis event, Christian would face off against "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown in a number of matches before defeating Jeff Jarrett for the NWA World Heavyweight championship in the main event of Against All Odds PPV 2006, finally achieving the accolade that alluded him in the WWE.
Christian wrestled names like Abyss, Sting, Rhino, Scott Steiner, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and Frankie Kazarian from 2005-07 where he remained undefeated for 23 months until he lost a match to Samoa Joe via submission at Bound For Glory 2007. Christian last match in TNA saw him losing to Booker T for the Legends Championship at Turning Point 2008 and a week or so later the Main Event Mafia would beat up the Instant Classic before sending him back to the WWE.
While Christian's second run the WWE was better it didn't even come close to reaching his work in TNA. Despite some of his comments towards the promotion after leaving, Christian Cage's run in TNA has defined his legacy as a main event star makes him one of the best WWE stars to do better in TNA/Impact.
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