When Christian debuts for TNA Wrestling Sunday, he will openly challenge WWE’s consistent and hard-line stance against former performers continuing to use the names with which they came to fame. Christian, who began his wrestling career ten years ago as Christian Cage, trademarked that name this week in advance of making his first appearance for TNA.
The Dudley Boyz, whose name was created years in advance of their relationship with WWE, were nonetheless forced by WWE to not use the name anymore after the company decided to stop renegotiating their contract. They now wrestle as Team 3D, a reference to their familiar finishing move, in TNA.
WWE has aggressively protected both the intellectual property that they own and that which they claim to be strongly associated with the product. Shane Douglas and Jeremy Borash were repeatedly rebuked in their attempts to connote the ECW brand in their promotion of the Hardcore Homecoming show.
TNA has remained tight-lipped about the debut announced for Sunday’s Genesis pay per view but Scott D’Amore, the head of TNA’s booking committee, spoke more generally on the company’s general use of former WWE talent in an interview with the website Wrestling Epicenter on Thursday.
“Anybody who deserves to be part of the roster and that their performance can warrant them being a part of it should be,” he said. “It shouldn’t be judged on whether or whether not they’ve been with WWE in the past…. There’s a lot of disgruntled talent and TNA is really becoming an exciting, entertaining place to work and be part of. It’s an exciting time for the wrestling business for TNA.”
Chris Jericho, in an interview with Between the Ropes Wednesday, congratulated his friend and former colleague. “I’m not surprised, I’m actually very proud of him. It took a lot of guts to do that—to walk away on your own terms,” Jericho said, citing his decision to do the same. “He needed to do it… he’s a great performer, he’s a great talker, he’s a great wrestler, he’s a great character. He’s just not 6-foot-6, 300 pounds of shredded muscle. And that shouldn’t make a difference, but for some reason it does. He never got his due that he deserved.”
Jericho tied the loss of Christian to a larger stream of talented wrestlers out of WWE. “He needed to get away from there and they’re going to see the talent roster is getting thinner and thinner and thinner,” he said. “And these guys that they’re bringing in just aren’t ready for the spot. But they have no choice because they have nobody else. If you lose a guy like Chris Jericho, if you lose a guy like Christian, if you lose a guy like Steve Austin, there’s only so many of those guys you could lose before you basically have amateur hour on live TV.”