Impact Wrestling, better, and formerly known as Total Nonstop Action (TNA) is a promotion that has struggled to find an identity of its own ever since its inception in 2002. Founded by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett as an “alternative” to the professional wrestling juggernaut promotion WWE, Impact has often been accused of copying the WWE.
To give credit where it’s due, however, the promotion has come up with many amazing angles over the years on their own and have built a lot of stars including the likes of Samoa Joe and AJ Styles.
However, despite all the good work that they’ve done, Impact Wrestling certainly cannot distance itself too much from the reality that has been its’ past. From stolen gimmicks to blatant mock gimmicks, to the WCW-lite version that Hogan and Bischoff created out of it, Impact have certainly been guilty of copying a bit too much at times.
So today, we’re going to take a look at five WWE gimmicks that Impact Wrestling copied. Let’s begin with one that was more of a parody than anything else!
#1 Stone Cold Shark Boy
Stone Cold Shark Boy was Shark Boy’s “tribute” to Stone Cold Steve Austin. In the storyline leading up to the gimmick, Shark Boy had just woken up from a coma and ended up talking like Stone Cold. In the following weeks, Shark Boy would emulate Stone Cold’s promos and would also drink “Clam Juice” in the same vein as Stone Cold drinking beer.
“Stone Cold” Shark Boy was not a ripoff, but a parody/tribute to Stone Cold Steve Austin, although the gimmick went on far longer than any actual parody should really have.
Also read: 10 similar wrestling gimmicks
However, during a Reddit AMA, Shark Boy stated that he wouldn't have gone on with the gimmick if it wasn't fine with Stone Cold for him to do so. As per Shark Boy, Stone Cold “really enjoyed” the gimmick and sent word to him via Kevin Nash, wishing him luck.
Let’s now move on to one of the more actual ripoffs, with TNA copying one of WWE’s age-old storylines.
#2 “The Authority” Dixie Carter
“The Authority figure” is one of the oldest and one of the most tried and tested gimmicks in the world of professional wrestling. The higher authority has always been an indomitable heel figure in many professional wrestling storylines and it has always been a staple of any professional wrestling promotion to have such gimmicks and storylines.
However, when Dixie Carter decided to turn heel and start utilising shades of the heel authority figure in her gimmick, she wasn’t being original in the least.
Carter’s gimmick change had come about merely a month after Triple H had decided to turn heel in the WWE and had formed “The Authority” with his wife Stephanie McMahon and Corporate Kane.
Dixie Carter probably just saw what happened in the WWE and decided to pretty much copy it in TNA.
It is another matter of discussion that Carter wasn’t anything like Stephanie McMahon or Triple H in terms of being convincing or menacing, instead, Carter’s character came off as rather funny (unintentionally so) and couldn’t possibly have been taken seriously due to her poor acting skills.
Next, let’s talk about a certain “World Champion” ripoff by TNA.
#3 The bearded champion Eric Young
When Eric Young became the TNA World Heavyweight Champion in 2014, it should have been a momentous occasion. Eric Young had given ten years of loyal service to the company and had been one of their most prominent icons during his time there. The championship was a long time coming for him and if there was anyone who deserved it, it was him.
However, the gimmick change that Eric Young went through to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship made him nothing short of a clone, a clone of another certain bearded World Champion – that’s right, the “bearded underdog World Champion” gimmick of Eric Young was blatantly ripped off from none other than Daniel Bryan.
Both gimmicks had a smaller wrestler taking on bigger obstacles – Young and Bryan had run into problems with “The Authority” and both of them overcame the odds to win the World Championships in their respective promotions. Did I mention the beard? because the beard was a pretty major part in both their gimmicks as well.
Even when TNA copied Daniel Bryan’s gimmick, they didn’t invest any buildup or storyline time into it.
Daniel Bryan wasn’t popular just because the WWE pitted him in an underdog storyline, he was popular because of months of buildup, because fans turned against the WWE for not doing justice to him and because his victory felt like a well-deserved one after a solid buildup.
Eric Young won a gauntlet match and challenged Magnus for the title on the same night, winning it. Just like that, nothing else. The ripoff couldn’t possibly have been executed in a worse manner. When called out for copying the WWE, Dixie Carter had cut a hilariously cringeworthy promo, which can be seen below:
Next, let’s move on to another Daniel Bryan gimmick that TNA stole.
#4 Austin Aries and Bobby Roode’s ripoff of Team Hell No
Team Hell No was one of WWE’s most crowd-favourite programs, featuring Kane and Daniel Bryan. The team had a gimmick where Kane and Bryan didn’t exactly get along with each other but triumphed through a mismatched mix of their strengths working together, cancelling out each other’s weaknesses in the process.
However, a few months after Team Hell No had already soared in popularity, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode came together in TNA to form their own version of the dysfunctional tag team and called it “Dirty Heels”.
Even though Austin Aries and Bobby Roode are both amazing performers and their team was one of the best in the history of TNA, the timing of them debuting their dysfunctional team gimmick and the similarities between the way they were booked and the way Team Hell No was booked, make it a fair shout for being yet another WWE ripoff by TNA.
Next, let’s take a look at the gimmick (or rather, a whole storyline) on TNA that has most obviously been copied from the WWE.
#5 “Monster” Abyss
The most obvious one on this list. “Monster Abyss” was a ripoff that even someone who had very little knowledge of professional wrestling would have been able to identify. The gimmick looked a combination of WWE’s Kane and Mankind and was most certainly one of the most obvious copies of a WWE gimmick that TNA has ever done.
Right from being a masked monster heel, to the frizzy hair he had on his debut, to the evil manager James Mitchell, and to even having an undead half-brother, Abyss’ gimmick was a complete and utter ripoff of the entire Kane and Undertaker storyline.
One of the few differences between the storyline of Abyss, Mitchell and Judas Mesias was that TNA revealed their “Kane” before their “Undertaker” (Judas Mesias). Abyss was the big deranged monster, James Mitchell was his evil manager/father and Judas Mesias was his half brother.
It has to be said, however, that despite being a ripoff, Abyss has been one of TNA’s most successful creations to date and is one of the most identifiable icons of the promotion’s glory days. He’s still very much involved with the promotion and is now more of a Mankind than a Kane, in the latest incarnation of his gimmick.
TNA has certainly taken their share of “inspiration” from the WWE. Even though they’ve had quite a lot of professional wrestlers whose gimmicks were straight up written by the WWE or WCW creatives (way too many to count), they’ve still found the need to go out and copy WWE every now and then.
Regardless, TNA/Impact Wrestling has been an important part of professional wrestling throughout their existence and have given their fans a lot of original gimmicks, storylines and content as well. Here’s hoping that the copying days are over for Impact and they can move forward with some much-needed originality!
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