Making An Impact: WWE Fuelled By 10 Former TNA World Champs

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The other day, a good friend of mine, Andrew Ferguson, noted that WWE is currently home to several former TNA Impact World Heavyweight Champions. It was also noted that for the first time since the Monday Night Wars, the WWE was actively pushing more World Champions from a rival promotion than any other time in WWE’s history. Here’s a look at 10 former TNA World Champions (either NWA World Heavyweight Champion during TNA’s association or Impact World Heavyweight Champion) currently seeing a renaissance of sorts in the WWE Universe.

AJ STYLES

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 5
Combined Days: 416 days
Longest Reign: 211 days

No one on this list made a bigger impact on the WWE roster since his arrival in the WWE than the Phenomenal One. Epic matches against the likes of Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose, plus the only one to win a WWE World Championship since arriving from Impact Wrestling, Styles is poised to not only become one of the biggest Impact stars to appear for the WWE, but one of the biggest WWE Superstars in history.

AUSTIN ARIES

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 1
Combined Days: 98 days
Longest Reign: 98 days

The Greatest Man Alive debuted in NXT last year shortly after WrestleMania 32 and impressed in his early showing. An unfortunate injury during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic resulting in a fractured orbital bone slowed his WWE Universe rookie year, but he spent the healing time on commentary for 205 Live. Once healed, he made the jump from NXT to the Raw Cruiserweight Division and had one of the stand-out matches of WrestleMania 33 in a Cruiserweight Championship match against Neville.

BOBBY ROODE

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 2
Combined Days: 319 days
Longest Reign: 256 days

Roode was glorious in the ring long before he arrived in NXT last year. Apart from two World Championship reigns, he is one of Impact Wrestling’s most successful tag team wrestlers, as a 5-time World Tag Team Champion in Beer Money with “Cowboy” James Storm and once with Austin Aries in the Dirty Heels. No matter what he accomplished in TNA, Roode has become more over than ever in his career, solely off his theme song alone. He’s in for a solid run at the top of NXT and it wouldn’t be out of the question that Roode makes his main roster debut before the end of the year.

SAMOA JOE

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 1
Combined Days: 182 days
Longest Reign: 182 days

He had one of the best rookie years in Impact history, as an unstoppable submission machine – memories of “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” chants from the Impact Zone still ring to this day. Classic matches against Kurt Angle and AJ Styles, Joe was a main event player with Impact Wrestling for a decade before he jumped to NXT in 2015. After a solid two year run in NXT, becoming a 2-time NXT Champion in the process, Joe finally made the main roster this year, aligning as “The Destroyer” for “The Creator”, Triple H, in his feud against Seth Rollins.

ERIC YOUNG

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 1
Combined Days: 70 days
Longest Reign: 70 days

The maniacal and crazy Eric Young spent years following his 2004 Team Canada debut in TNA as the off-the-wall oddball that combined lunacy with strong technical wrestling. His tenure was rewarded with a World Championship reign in 2013, but his frustrations boiled over last year and he left Impact along with Bobby Roode. He officially debuted before Roode, but it would take months later before he resurfaced as the leader of Sanity, a new faction that is terrorizing NXT.

MATT HARDY

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 2
Combined Days: 69 days
Longest Reign: 67 days

The Broken One returned to the WWE for the first time since 2010 this past Sunday at WrestleMania 33, alongside his brother Jeff, a bigger star than he left the company. He became a TNA World title contender then Champion in 2015 and his Broken Universe creation from last year has followed him over and they arrived with great dividends – the captured the Raw Tag Team Championship in their return match, continuing their Expideeeetion of Gold.

JEFF HARDY

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 3
Combined Days: 249 days
Longest Reign: 147 days

Hardy has had two runs with Impact Wrestling, but his second one has kept him away from the WWE since 2009. In his time away, he’s found similar success, winning three Impact World Championships, as well as tag team success with his brother, Matt. “Brother Nero” arrived back in the WWE this past Sunday with Broken Matt Hardy and together they claimed their 8th WWE tag team title.

DREW McINTYRE

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 1
Combined Days: 89 days
Longest Reign: 89 days

The Chosen One before Roman Reigns claimed that throne, McIntyre entered the WWE in 2009 to great fanfare and early success – he picked up an Intercontinental Championship in singles action, and found tag team gold alongside Cody Rhodes. By the time he left the WWE in 2014, he’d been reduced to a joke, paired with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal in 3 Man Band. He returned to the indies under his real name, Drew Galloway, where he became a global indie sensation, winning the top Heavyweight Championship in EVOLVE, ICW and WCPW (where’s he’s still currently their Champion), not to mention a World title and Grand Champion run with Impact Wrestling. He departed Impact shortly before the Hardys and appeared this past Saturday at NXT Takeover: Orlando, announcing his return to the WWE Universe, as the latest signee to NXT.

KURT ANGLE

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 6
Combined Days: 555 days
Longest Reign: 180 days

The winningest World Champion in Impact Wrestling, Angle returned to the WWE Universe on Friday night when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2017. He returned to Raw tonight as the new General Manager, which means we’re going to get a lot more Kurt in the WWE than we expected. If things go well, hopefully we get to see Angle in the WWE ring at least one more time.

R-TRUTH

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 2
Combined Days: 119 days
Longest Reign: 105 days

That’s right, R-Truth is a former World Champion with TNA. In fact, he’s a former two-time World Champion. As Ron “The Truth” Killings, Truth captured the NWA World Heavyweight title twice when TNA first began and shared titles with the NWA. A recent departee from the WWE – where he was floundering as K-Kwik – Killings was a TNA Original from the beginning in 2002. But by 2007, Truth had lost favour with Impact management, and he returned to the WWE where he’s been one of their most reliable performers. Though his prime days are behind him (he’s a shocking 45 years old), he stills brings smiles to fans faces with his antics when he’s used on-screen.

Honorable Mention:

STING

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Number of Reigns: 5
Combined Days: 354 days
Longest Reign: 189 days

Okay, so he’s now officially retired from in-ring action, but the WCW Legend is still an ambassador for the WWE. After a career in the NWA/WCW that garnered 7 World Championships, Sting rejected the WWE following WCW’s demise and opted for Impact Wrestling instead, where he spent 11 years with the company, picking up another five World titles.

There’s never been any debate that Impact Wrestling has always built itself strong rosters of talent – both revitalizing talent from the WWE and giving breeding grounds for some of the top indie stars of the day. The inconsistent booking was always it’s downfall. And for these ten former TNA Impact World Heavyweight Champions, they’re showing that their success on Impact Wrestling was no fluke as they make strides to become WWE Superstars.

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