Long before it was the ugly duckling of modern American professional wrestling promotions, TNA was a place where under-utilised and unappreciated talent thrived, where talent led to results led to professional fulfilment. Legacies were established and careers were made in the Impact Zone, and don’t you forget it.
After years of largely overlooking anyone with "TNA" on their CV, WWE has softened its stance on workers who plied their trade down in Florida. Impact’s descent into irrelevance has a lot to do with it, but a mass of men and women made their name in TNA before taking those skills to WWE to become some of the biggest names in the industry today.
RAW, SmackDown and NXT are all full of performers who made an impact in TNA, so to speak, professional wrestlers who honed their skills in the occasionally raucous and occasionally morose surroundings of that fabled Impact Zone.
But not everyone gets to be AJ Styles, not everyone gets to be Samoa Joe. WWE barely knows how to book its own stars, let alone those made elsewhere.TNA has been the highpoint of many a performer’s career, believe it or not.
12. Matt Morgan
While TNA was generally a promotion that was more accommodating to smaller workers, it remains curious that a big man with limitless potential had to go there to catch a break. Matt Morgan did that, and 'The Blueprint' was a staple of TNA’s television through the good, the bad, and the losing tag titles to 2010 Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
That latter memory was one of Morgan’s rare negative moments in TNA. From the day he came into the company in 2007, Morgan was heavily featured in singles and tag team competition on both sides of the ledger, feuding with Abyss, Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and the rest. His run came to an end in 2013, notwithstanding a number of brief returns in years since.
Morgan was a relatively protected star in TNA, portrayed as a dominant physical presence with more than his fair share of mental faculties. In WWE, Morgan was saddled with a stuttering gimmick, which got over just about as well as one presumes. In an attempt to salvage it, Morgan was also given the honour of hitting Big Show with an F-5 (during Brock Lesnar’s time away from the company), but the whole stuttering thing was too big a hurdle to overcome.