There's an old saying that goes "Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery", it's often used to describe what happens when a person or group of people take something that has already been made and attempt to recreate it for one reason or another.
Professional wrestling is no stranger to this as wrestling fans, critics and the media usually accuse and criticizes other promotions for copying ideas and concepts that were introduced or made public elsewhere only to look like cheap imitations in the process.
For much of its success in the 2000's, TNA (now known as Impact Wresting) was accused of ripping off WWE for a number of concepts, however just like what happens when any positive news about Impact wrestling is revealed to the public many tend to forget that Impact themselves have also created original ideas, gimmicks and storylines that have been copied by some of wrestling's greatest promotions, especially in this case the WWE.
In this list, I'll be mentioning the ten times Vince McMahon and the WWE blatantly ripped off or copied TNA/Impact Wrestling.
10. Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee/Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell
On June 16th 2013, the WWE had its inaugural Payback pay per view which included a number of incredible matches but the one that sticks out for the sake of this list is the Divas Championship match between challenger, AJ Lee and defending champion, Kaitlyn.
In the lead up to this title match AJ Lee would play mind games with her former friend even getting her then bodyguard, Big E Langston involved in those games which led to Kaitlyn heading into the match as an emotion wreck looking to beat up her tormentor.
The bout was a great blend of emotion, intensity and physicality which was a rarity for the women's matches on the WWE main roster back then, however a few weeks earlier another women's match was happening on pay per view for a different company which also was filled with emotion and physicality.
On June 2nd (14 days before the Divas title match), Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell put on a classic bout at TNA's Slammiversary 2013 event when they competed in the first ever Last Knockout Standing match with the backstory going into this match being Gail physically and verbally abusing Taryn, who a referee at the time and this led to Terrell snapping at the former Knockouts Champion leading to an ultra-competitive match that got a lot of media attention.
Now, the idea that both matches had storylines where the protagonists were coming into their bouts as emotional wrecks looking to beat up their antagonists might be coincidental but not enough to say WWE was copying their competition...that is until it was reported to be the case.
According to a 2013 Bleacher Report article, Bryan Alvarez during a 2013 edition of the F4W Newsletter mentioned how the Divas title match was inspired by the Last Knockouts Standing Match saying:
"According to one person in WWE, it was "beyond obvious" that Vince wanted AJ and Kaitlyn to try to outshine the Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell match that everyone raved about on the last TNA PPV. They Didn't, but it was the best women's match in WWE in a long, long time."
So, even the WWE was trying to copy the success of the Knockouts Division back then...something that you'll be hearing a lot of throughout this list.
9. The New Hell In A Cell & TNA's Steel Asylum
I mean...just look at the photo above, do I even need to explain as why this is copycat attempt by the WWE...okay I'll give it a shot.
In May of 2008, TNA announced the debut of the Terror Dome or better known today as the Steel Asylum, a red colored structure with a circular exit at the top and the only way to win the match is climbing up the structure and escaping exit hole on top of the Asylum.
The match would be used sparingly by TNA from 2008-2010 and the match as well as the red structure itself is genuinely associated with the Jeff Jarrett's former promotion.
So, when the decision was made in 2018 to have WWE's apodous Hell in a Cell cage for the Hell in a Cell PPVs be the color red, many fans and Impact social media accounts themselves sarcastically wonder where they've seen an all-red structure used by a major wrestling company before.
Even still, the red HIAC cage is still being used by the WWE but I like I said this rip-off is pretty obvious, so let's move on.
8. NXT and TNA's Kidnapping Segments
Legado Del Fantasma was a surprising and well received addition to NXT as the trio of Santos Escobar (the former El Hijo del Fantasma), Joaquin Wilde (the former Zema Ion in TNA) and Raul Mendoza became a domination force in NXT whose success on the former black and yellow brand is impressive.
That said, some of you might have forgotten how the group got started in the first place.
From March to April of 2020, wrestlers like Mendoza and Wilde were kidnapped by a group of masked individuals before being thrown into a van and driven off to an unknown location, leading many to wonder where did these wrestlers and who were responsible for these kidnapping.
It was later revealed that some of the masked men working for Escobar were Wilde and Mendoza but who the other masked people who kidnapped them were is entirely unknown even today.
If you're a longtime TNA fan you probably know where I'm going with this but if the idea of masked people capturing wrestlers and throwing them into a van sounds familiar well that's because it does.
Back in 2010 after losing a match to Orlando Jordan, Samoa Joe could be seen leaving the building with his suitcase as backstage interviewer Jeremy Borash tries to interview Joe; Seconds later a white van comes out of nowhere and men dressed in black capture Samoa Joe and throw me into the van before driving off.
While the angle never really reached a conclusion in TNA, someone in NXT must of saw this and thought if they could use this segment for something bigger which of course they did, but it doesn't change the fact that the beginnings of Santos Escobar's faction started off with a concept that TNA had used a decade ago.
7. Evolution & Knockouts Knockdown
Back to 2018 we go for our next entry...
When the WWE had it's very first all-female PPV called Evolution, the female athletes from the Raw, Smackdown, NXT and NXT U.K. roster take center stage.
The event wasn't too bad as it was a progressive move done by the leading face of professional wrestling, however Stephanie McMahon and the WWE played this whole thing off as if this was a first-time thing not just in the WWE but the first time something like this has ever happened in professional wrestling, which of course we know is completely false as there have been a number of PPV's and promotions that have all been focused on Women's Wrestling.
You can clearly see where I'm going with this...
Arguably the biggest example of this would have to be the One Night Only TNA Knockout Knockdown events from 2013-17 and again in 2021 which saw female wrestlers from the independent scene and the Knockouts Division compete in a serious of matches which would sometimes end with one of the competitors walking away with a contract that officially made them the newest member of the TNA/Impact roster or get a future title shot for the Knockouts Championship.
While the Evolution pay per view appears to be a one off as the stories regarding the show not doing good numbers for the WWE emerged, Impact continues to embrace women's wrestling through and through especially with the positive response for the 2021 Knockouts Knockdown event.
6. WWE's Hacker Gimmick and ICU
Okay before we start yes, I am well aware Sami Callihan did a gimmick like this during his NXT run as Solomon Crowe but the timing by WWE to do another hacker gimmick whilst Impact was doing one months earlier gets it a spot on this list.
For those who don't know, in early 2020 a number of interruptions would occur on episodes of Impact with Imagines of bar codes and words shown to say 'ICU', 'Scan The Code' and 'Reality Is Lost'.; It was revealed on the March 17th edition of Impact that the mysterious ICU was none other than Sami Callihan who was bringing his hacker gimmick to Impact where it could be utilized better than how WWE did.
Soon after the ICU stuff begins to happen on Impact, the WWE would have their own hacker gimmick with a shadowy figure sitting in front of a computer and number of screens where he or she would be learning about secrets regarding the locker room and attempting to leak said information to the public.
Ultimately the angle was dropped for a little bit until it was brought on an episode of Monday Night Raw in October of 2020 that Mustafa Ali, the leader of Retribution was the hacker who was leaking the information as he was sat at home not being utilized by the company and wanted to expose the corruption within the WWE.
5. Claire Lynch & Various WWE Affair Storylines
Of all the storylines that the WWE could copy from TNA/Impact, why on god's green earth would you chose the infamous Claire Lynch storyline.
All you need to know is that in 2012 former TNA stars AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian were involved in an angle that started with Styles allegedly having an affair with then TNA president, Dixie Carter but was proven to be false only for another woman named Claire Lynch (no relation to Becky) to claim that she had an affair with AJ and said that she was pregnant with Style's baby until it was revealed that this was also false and it was a hoax cooked up by Kaz and Daniels with the hopes of ruining AJ's good name.
It's basically like watching the pro wrestling equivalent of Jerry Springer and Maury and it's generally regarded as one of the worst storylines in TNA/Impact Wrestling history.
However, WWE decided to remake this storyline as one of their own over and over and over again with none of the final products turning out good.
The first well known attempt came the same year the Claire Lynch happened when in 2012 a storyline angle involving then RAW GM AJ Lee and John Cena allegedly having an affair and even though Lee wasn't suppose to as she was an authority figure, this angle eventually led to AJ losing her role as GM of Monday Night Raw and having a short lived kayfabe relationship with John Cena.
Another attempt to recreate this angle came in August of 2014 when Stephanie McMahon brought a woman named Megan Miller (who was in reality Laurel Van Ness aka Chelsea Green with Black Hair) who told the fans in attendance that Daniel Bryan was having an extra martial affair with her, all while Bryan was in a relationship to Brie Bella but after Brie slapped the taste of Megan's mouth on that very same episode, the angle was quietly dropped and never mentioned again.
The final attempt by the WWE (as of the writing of this article) was in 2019 when WWE superstar, Lana who was having an affair with Bobby Lashley came out on an episode of Raw and said that she was pregnant with the baby of her real-life husband and wrestler, Rusev aka Miro in AEW.
This was only a hoax to lure Rusev into an attack setup by Lana and Lashley as Lana would mention by the end of the segment that she wasn't really pregnant...You can probably see the blatant comparisons to the Claire Lynch angle.
4. The $25,000 Wrestling Lottery Tickets
This is a strange one for sure, but it most certain belongs on a list like this.
Back in 2013, Impact Wrestling created scratch lottery tickets which would allow those who participated in the state of Georgia to win the grand prize of $25,000, however if you lost, you could play again but get the chance to earn tickets to a live Impact Wrestling show.
In 2016, WWE would offer lottery tickets to people in the great state of Texas with the grand prize being...you'll never guess: $25,000.
Going one step further WWE designed their tickets almost exactly as the Impact ticket's 3 years earlier with the images of their most famous wrestlers on the tickets.
So, the next time anyone on the internet tries to tell you that TNA/Impact Wrestling was never competition to the WWE like how AEW is, just remind them that back in the mid 2010's WWE saw Impact Wrestling offering lottery tickets that could get people $25,000 and decided to copy that idea in a petty attempt to stick it to the enemy.
3. The Final Deletion and Various Bray Wyatt Matches
The Broken universe and gimmick was the creation that turned Matt Hardy into one of the most over and talked about wrestlers in the late 2010's, so of course WWE saw this and thought to themselves that they could do it better.
In 2016, around the same time the Broken Hardy stuff was running wild, the WWE aired a segment which saw two WWE factions: The New Day and The Wyatt Family face off in a match of sorts that took place at the Wyatt family compound and attempted to recreate the magic that had happened with Matt and Jeff Hardy in The Final Deletion which was a combination of hardcore and backyard wrestling but, it didn't work well for the WWE as the final product lacked any of charm or intrigue the Final Deletion had and as a result they were called out for copycatting by many on social media.
But this wasn't the last time the WWE went to the well with Bray Wyatt and using the Broken Universe as inspiration.
During Wyatt's feud with Randy Orton there were so many call backs to the Broken Hardy gimmick not to mention a match that was made at Payback 2017 which saw Orton and Wyatt fight in a "House of Horrors" match that made TNA's Fish Market Street Fight from Destination X 2008 look sane by comparison.
Unsurprisingly, people called out WWE for copying the Broken Universe once again at least until Matt Hardy returned to the WWE in 2017 and they then decided to put Wyatt in a Final Deletion match with Hardy which was good but nowhere near as good as the original.
2. Joseph Parks and Corporate Kane
In 2012, a large man wearing a suit and glasses who called himself Joseph Parks was an attorney and looking for his brother Chris aka Abyss. During his search, Joseph Parks went to OVW to become a pro wrestler and in the process he wrestled against names like Bully Ray and Devon.
However, it would later be revealed that Joseph Parks and Abyss were one in the same (even though in the later years Impact would ignore that little tidbit); The Joseph Parks gimmick was a completely different change of pace for Abyss, who developed a well liked character that was different from his weapons totting, violent persona that the fans have come to know him for...the term 'well liked' can't be said on the other hand for Corporate Kane.
In 2013, Kane became corporate by ditching mask and all red attire and replaced with a suit and tie combo before wrestling opponents in slacks during his matches with the idea being that Kane was suppose to be a different if not more corporate character than his previous self and the reactions to Corporate Kane weren't too good at first.
While both Joseph Parks and Corporate Kane would garner a following of sorts in the following years since their introductions, it doesn't change the fact that this version of Kane was a clear rip off of an original TNA gimmick.
1. The Beautiful People & LayCool etc.
So, we've reached the number one entry on this list and perhaps the most infamous example of WWE coping Impact Wrestling of all time.
The Beautiful People are a faction that need no introduction as they are one of the most legendary factions in TNA/Impact Wrestling history, even if you've never watch them wrestle or watched the show on a weekly basis, you definitely have heard of them and so has the WWE apparently.
In 2010, the duo of Michelle McCool and Layla began calling themselves "LayCool" and began wearing matching outfits, speaking in an almost bratty like tone using word like "whatever" and "fabulous" a lot before criticizing their opponents like calling Kelly Kelly "Smelly Kelly" or the infamous Piggy James angle which saw the duo make fun of Mickie James by body shaming her with food and dressing up in a fat suit whilst making piggy noise...in other words it was Vince McMahon's cringe worthy attempt at creating his own version of The Beautiful People.
This wouldn't be the last time WWE would do this because in 2015 during the "Divas Revolution" there were a myriad of Beautiful people copycat teams were running around like Team B.A.D (which included Naomi, Tamina Snuka and Sasha Banks) not to mention The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox.
As a surprise to no one, all of these groups and many others in same mold of TNA's blonde trio have become footnotes in the annuals of history and fodder for lists like these, while The Beautiful People's legacy as one the best stables in modern wrestling has been cemented...In short, while TNA/Impact got a lot of flack back then for copying WWE and other companies, even Impact themselves have been the victims of having their ideas ripped off by other companies and WWE is no exception.
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