Before the lights of New Japan and the heights of AEW, The Young Bucks were a tag team known as Generation Me in TNA. Joining the Impact! roster on Christmas Eve, 2009, things were made difficult for Matt and Nick Jackson from the start. Here is how TNA let them slip away.
The Young Bucks and their Difficult Time in TNA/Impact Wrestling
The money The Young Bucks were offered to join TNA back in 2009 wasn’t good, but Matt and Nick Jackson accepted as they didn’t want to miss out on a big opportunity.
Straight away, things were made difficult for the pair.
Vince Russo, head of creative at the time, wanted the team to change their names, ring gear, and even their hair. They tried to persuade Russo to at least allow them to keep their hair long and retain their old ring gear, but Russo remained steadfast with his decision.
As written in their autobiography, Young Bucks: Killing the Business from Backyards to the Big Leagues, Nick opens up about this difficult time in their career.
“Defeated, we went back to the hairdresser and asked for a couple more inches to be taken off. She did just that, and as she dusted off my shoulder of any stray hairpieces, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed looking at my reflection.”
After begrudgingly cutting a few inches off the top, they were booked to beat The Motor City Machine Guns in their debut match. Things were starting to look up for them, for now.
Due to their size, Matt and Nick were put in the X Division.
The Impact X Division consisted of the likes of Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal, Amazing Red, and even a young Kazuchika Okada. The locker room leader was Brian Kendrick, and from him, Matt and Nick began to learn that they were worth more than TNA was paying them.
“Let me ask you guys,” Brian once asked. “You were the main event tonight, on a show that’ll air on pay-per-view. What were you paid?”
Ashamed, Matt whispered, “Seventy-five dollars.”
To no surprise, Brian was livid when he heard this and managed to get across the mentality: know your worth and don’t be just happy to be here.
A Turning Point
September 5th, 2010, felt like a turning point for The Young Bucks. Eric Bischoff decided to turn them heel.
The plan was in motion. After a match with The Motor City Machine Guns, Matt and Nick would attack them, turning heel in the process. It led to a final tag match between the two teams at that year’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view.
The Young Bucks (as Generation Me) would lose this match, but it still felt like they were on the right path. That would soon change.
At the following Impact! taping, they were told to be backing dancers for Tara (Lisa Marie Varon) and her fake concert.
To their credit, they didn’t complain, and they made it work.
You can watch this performance in all its glory below:
The start of the end for The Young Bucks’ time in TNA came when Vince Russo wanted to split the pair up.
On an episode of Xplosion, which was TNA’s B-show, the two brothers met one-on-one where Matt hit Nick with a cheap shot for the win.
Time went on, and their feud progressed, but in the middle of this, TNA’s excellent X Division roster wasn’t getting used, and the likes of Okada and Lethal were being left in catering. On top of it all, they were all having to chase up their paychecks.
As a collective, the entire X Division had enough and decided it was time to stand up and question Russo.
They’d never get an answer from him.
The Young Bucks Look Back on Their Time in TNA
In 2020, The Young Bucks appeared on SiriusXM’s Busted Open Radio, where they discussed many topics, including their challenging time in TNA.
During the show, co-host Tommy Dreamer asked the pair why they decided to adopt a more ‘unapologetic’ in-ring and promo style.
“At first, we weren’t that way,” Matt Jackson responded. “We were just like everybody else. We’re the young guys and we’re gonna do whatever you tell us to do. It didn’t seem to work for us. Sure, we had good matches, but that was only taking us so far and I think it got to the point where people were kind of walking all over us a little bit.”
Matt described how this initial mentality affected The Young Bucks when they joined IMPACT (then TNA) as Generation Me.
“We went to IMPACT Wrestling and sort of failed there,” Matt admitted.
“We were too afraid to address issues that we might have seen. [Management] wanted us to turn on each other and wrestle each other. We thought that was a terrible idea, but you know what? We were nice guys so we went and we did it.”
Matt continued, “They started tarnishing our brand a little bit, and it got to the point where Nick and I were just like, ‘Listen, we have to make a change here because we can see what route this is going. [We can see] what route our career is headed.’
“We made the decision like, ‘If we’re gonna do this, let’s go do it like we did in the backyard. Let’s go have fun and let’s wrestle with our hair down, and let’s act like there are no rules and let’s be boundless out there.'”
Matt would conclude by saying how this change in mentality boosted The Young Bucks as a brand and helped gain them a far bigger following.
“We decided if we’re gonna get heat doing this, let’s just do it because what’s the worst that can happen? We’re already broke right now, and we’re not making any headway in our career; let’s just try this thing.
“As soon as we kind of dove into those weird, unapologetic characters, people started gravitating towards us.”
The Young Bucks and the rest of the X Division standing up to Vince Russo did not go without punishment as their friend Jay Lethal was released along with Terry Taylor, who was like a father to them. Bruce Prichard would replace Terry.
In time, Matt and Nick were thrown back together as a team, seemingly for no reason, and were told to forget about their previous storyline.
After an Xplosion taping in Orlando, Matt and Nick finally decided to make their concerns public by tweeting about the release of Jay Lethal, late payments, and bad creative.
This would get back to Bruce Prichard, who now had a lot of heat with the pair.
After meeting face-to-face with Bruce, Matt and Nick Jackson decided to ask for their release, which was granted. The rest, as they say, is history.
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