It’s that time of year again when everyone rolls out their “Best of 2013”. Last year I believe I did it on Boxing Day, but for 2013 it was stuck in my head from the get-go as to who would be that “Break-out Star” or the best match.
Being the first Calendar Start to Calendar End year that I’ve been covering TNA every single week, I had quite a back-log of Notes to flick-through to find my Favourite Matches and refresh myself on my favourite PPV’s etc.
But something you find pretty quickly is this, If you Remember it, then It Was the Best.
Though saying that, that phrase doesn’t ring-true for everything, there are many matches through-out 2013 that had twists and story developments that you remember just for that fact alone. Same goes with the infamous “Wrestler of the Year”. But I shall get to that as we roll out the chosen Winners.
First I would like to take a Look-Back on 2013, the things TNA tried and failed, the Changes and the Stand-out moments they delivered.
2013 was the first trial period of cutting down on the PPVs. Something that makes sense to me. Not every PPV is this big spectacle and huge event. So TNA eliminated them, we had Genesis and then nothing till Lockdown in March. As the year rolled on however and the idea of Destination X came about in July, they then brought back their Monthly events as Live Televised Specials.
From doing that, the “PPVs” stood out with being something big, like Slammiversary and Bound for Glory, going into next year just to be Lockdown – Slammiversary – Bound for Glory I believe.
Which means every Month in between they will have their Special Shows but aired Live on Television for free, this format seems to have been drawing bigger Ratings for TNA, so that’s smart. The PPV Buy-Rate has been dropping over the years, and it’s clearly a going-out-of-fashion market. If TNA can capture a Streaming Service or Subscription like the WWE Network, then they could quite easily capitalise on this Audience further.
Going on the Road is something Hogan and Bischoff wanted to do since the moment they stepped foot in TNA. And let’s face it, it makes sense. Sure the Impact Zone was cool and they had all their equipment there to produce good lighting and effects. Wrestlers gravitated to TNA because they didn’t need to Travel so much, so that gave them plenty of “Me Time”. But for a Wrestling Business, the same faces in the Crowd every week, and those horrible “Tourists” who clearly walked into the Building thinking it was some kind of “Attraction”. You need to be on the Road.
The best Impact’s from the Impact Zone were always the ones right before the PPV. People would fly down so the Universal Studio would be packed with TNA fans. That’s what you want.
Take your show on the Road and guess what, TNA fans turn up, and different ones. Not only that but different locations expands your awareness, meeting new people, bigger crowds etc. But just from a Television perspective, the Show excels with a good crowd, that’s what Wrestling is based on. And the Impact Zone didn’t have that every week.
Though on the downside is Money, and TNA seemingly have taken quite a hit on that front over the year of 2013.
In the end though, I feel going on the Road was a big deal, and though now they are looking to secure somewhere to carry on how they used to. That’s a big step back in the wrong direction. Wrestling shows need their passionate fan-base, people don’t like it if it’s not Live television because now with the internet, it gets ruined. And let’s face it, the Wrestlers work best when they respond to the crowd, and to get the best crowd, you go out and find them. Not only that, but they pay to come and watch TNA, so hopefully they can figure out a Schedule that works best for them, both in quality and money stability.
Going on the Road drank the funds rather low for TNA, now not stupidly low, they have a rather rich foundation. But 2013 saw the release of a lot of Stars, either from Cut-Backs to them just leaving. Doug Williams, Joey Ryan, SoCal Val, Matt Morgan, Devon, RVD, Hulk Hogan, even down to the latest of AJ Styles and Jeff Jarrett TNA founders and originals the list is rather long. Now I fully expect some of these people will be back in TNA at some point. But right now, it seems they are gone. It’s a sweet and sour thing really, people obviously don’t like the idea of certain stars leaving, but let’s be honest, TNA has a Roster far too big for the One-Show a week they run currently anyway. How often do Wrestlers just disappear off of Television for Months and make a “Come-Back” for no reason. Obviously they can only fit in what they book, and what ideas they have in creative going forward.
So really, most of these aren’t a big loss. You can probably make as much arguments for them not being used properly by TNA in the first place, in which case, no big deal really.
I certainly have forgotten most of the people now not with TNA, and Wrestling needs to stay Fresh, you need to mix the old with the new, only hopefully the new are actually good.
But if it saves money and keeps around the guys people want in TNA, then it’s not a bad thing. Every company needs to make cut-backs, and clearly paying guys to sit at home is a bad idea. TNA have been paying their stars to not work for far too long.
The downside to this is that they have brought in new contracts (apparently) which pay their stars per appearance. Now TNA developed this “Live Show” then straight after “Taped Show” deal. Which means the Wrestlers would get paid once for a deal that used to pay them twice. Now with 2013 closing out, and even the first two weeks of 2014, Impact has been Taped 6 weeks in Advance, now theoretically that is one Pay-Packet for 6 weeks worth of work.
I’m fairly sure no-one is badly paid, but it’s certainly a Pay-Cut for stars, and clearly it’s not working out. If the rumours are said to be true, then TNA original AJ Styles never got what he wanted, and the “unhappiness” behind the scenes is what led him to leave TNA.
This all fits in nicely to the departure of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. It’s just about 4 Years ago when they both officially joined TNA. And it was a good run, but people both fans and Wrestlers alike said from the get-go – Get Rid of Hogan and Bischoff.
It could have been creative differences, it could have been money, but as 2013 ends, it seems clear that both parties have parted ways.
TNA never let Hogan and Bischoff have a huge hand in the Creative side of the Company, though TNA also claimed that they had more sway then they let on. Fact is, Hogan helped build the biggest Professional Wrestling company in the World, he helped put Wrestling on the map for a long-stay Television audience. Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan together built the only Wrestling Company in the history of Wrestling to actually Draw bigger ratings and more money than the WWE. But they also had a hand in it falling apart, albeit it a lesser hand. So clearly they would appear valuable to TNA. The problem is, the only sort of “Creative” ideas that come about are the same ones that put WCW on the map back in the mid 1990’s, and that’s the whole invading Faction.
The Immortal Faction was a good idea, and Jeff’s Heel Turn was well done, but, it did suck, let’s be honest. They were a terrible faction. The Aces and Eights was a great idea, with utterly poor execution and in the end a slightly different twist on the idea, that still did nothing really.
Hogan as the General Manager was a bore, it was the same thing every week. He drew big reactions and his name sold their product. But having him in the ring blabbing about and stumbling over his lines was never a good way to start the show. Bischoff I feel would have been a better on-air talent, but he was never seen again since the closing moments of Immortal. As both have gone away, TNA is actually producing some of the best Weekly Shows and ideas they’ve had in a long time, if not ever.
People like to go on about the “Old Days” of TNA, but their Booking was one of the things I always hated. It seemed Dusty Rhodes would just come out and read from a piece of paper for the next PPV with who will be fighting who for what in what match. Most of the time they continued the same matches to the next PPV. It was sloppy and boring and had no structure.
Hogan and Bischoff had a hand in Re-Imagining TNA and Re-Branding it of sorts, and that’s smart. You want to sell your Wrestling Product to any type of Market / Sponsor you give them the biggest name in Wrestling who is an established Star World-Wide and has been for the last 25+ years in Hulk Hogan, and that’s a good sell.
While it’s sad to lose that, Hogan and Bischoff’s pay-checks will open up more possibilities to the guys that really matter, and that’s the Roster.
The Aces and Eights were the focus point for a good period of 2012 and the majority of 2013. The fact they were a “Biker Gang” was pathetic. I encourage anyone to work from their influences, no idea is an original idea. But to just say “hey Sons of Anarchy is cool, let’s do that” is stupid. It doesn’t translate to Wrestling, why the hell are they a Biker gang?
They could just create a Faction as they did and leave Bikes out of it, for 18 Months we never saw one of them Ride a Bike. And the only clips we saw of Bikes, had them sitting on them, or some “masked people” riding them, and there was only about 5 clips of those at most. So what was the point? Next time make a plausible faction.
My main gripe with The Aces and Eights was that it suffered from TNA’s “never-ending failure” of bad execution and poor pathetic pay-off.
They had this invading faction that weren’t necessarily Wrestlers who were all masked, sending threats to Hogan and Dixie, jumping Sting, beating up guys and causing chaos. That’s awesome.
Gradually things started to form, and people knew Bully Ray would end up at the head of the Table eventually. The problem though, is I think they changed their minds. If The Aces and Eights was a faction build by say an Eric Bischoff or Jeff Jarrett to try and regain TNA would have been incredible. And everything seemed to be going on that path, then every so often they would just “change it”. Joseph Park’s big exclusive discovery that got smashed on his Laptop and he hit in the head with a Hammer, that went no-where. When Hogan and Sting got kidnapped it was obviously Eric Bischoff in the role of the mysterious leader.
When it was time for Bully to take over, what was left? A faction of guys no-one gave two craps about and Bully Ray as World Champion. The entire development of The Aces and Eights was to put the World Championship on Bully… and that’s it. It ended at Lockdown. Then the faction was Bully Ray with his idiots who tried to keep him in Power. Hogan did nothing which he clearly could have done, and for some reason they were all on the roster. To the point that a few months later they weren’t even a problem anymore and Hogan didn’t seem to care. Even The Main Event Mafia didn’t seem to care. It had no pay-off. It was awesome appeal, great ideas, but poor execution and a pathetic end.
Speaking of bringing in New Faces, 2013 has ended with a great handful of them.
EC3 though still not really “over” in my eyes, is a great addition. He suits the role of Dixie’s nephew and so far he has managed to establish himself rather well.
On the other hand you have Lei’D Tapa the Gut Check loser who was brought back, that’s a great move. She’s something different but yet again, poor execution to building her character. I love the idea of not bringing in Power-Houses with your typical “Squash-Match” ideas. But to make her impactful for two weeks then a lackey the next, she’s lost all of her momentum and now I don’t care anymore.
Rockstar Spud, someone I wrote off almost instantly, has quickly become one of the best things on TNA Impact every week. Winning the British Boot-Camp was great, he made his debut and then was only seen once since till the end of the year. So I was more than sure he would be getting cut, but what they’ve done with Spud lately has been great work, not to mention he just Shines in the role.
To me though, the best showing of New-Comers has to be Norv Fernam and Dewey Barnes, don’t get me wrong, I don’t really care if they stick around or not. But I do like them. The thing I like the most is that normally when you have a new “Power House” debut you get some local talent who gets his ass kicked in the squash match. Now this is what Norv and Dewey were, till they became regulars. Now to debut these guys against a talent like EC3 actually brings in 3 new stars, establishes them and puts them over all in the same move. It’s clever.
To close out the most important things TNA has done in 2013 though, it has to be Dixie Carter’s Heel Turn.
I think it surprised people, they didn’t expect her to Turn, of all people. Not to mention just how well she fits the role. The thing with Wrestling Management is that it always works best with Heels in Charge. Dixie is the perfect person to gain Heat and draw that rebelliousness out of the Baby Faces. It also creates good Heel Turns in other stars to align themselves with Power.
The problem however lay in the fact that it’s sort of becoming yet another Faction thing. You will have Dixie’s TNA and they who oppose her, most likely the “TNA Originals”.
Either way it has been exciting TV since Dixie turned, her contrast with AJ Styles was great, and more recently Jeff Hardy. The one thing I enjoyed the most was Mr. Andersons brief run-in with the “law” though it ended a week later, it would have been a great contrast also.
It was a smart move Turning Dixie Heel and putting her front and centre each week, and it’s one that has quickly paid off in establishing new talent also. So I for one look forward to see where that all goes in 2014.
Well that was certainly a Long Introduction but now it’s time to get to the Matter at hand and start dishing out the Awards! And yes, the Awards are simply just a Banner I made, but I’m sure they will never see them and if they did, they would be proud!
I think I pretty much covered the ground with my “New Stars” section above. But 2013 didn’t really see many “New Faces” more like November – December did. Gut-Check was a great new idea put into place last year, though most of the people they gained through that have since been “Released”. So in practice, it was a bad idea. However, TNA have managed to bring in some great new faces this year, and certainly some who I think actually fit into TNA and have the ability to stay around for the long haul.
I put it down to Ethan Carter the Third – Lei’D Tapa and Rockstar Spud because really… who else is there?
But clearly, it has to be Spud who takes the win. EC3 is a great new addition too, but I don’t feel he has found his “place” yet. He’s the typical “new guy” and they’ve not done anything new with him. Nor has he actually had a proper match to see what his in-ring work is like
Lei’D Tapa is a great addition to the Knockouts, but her appeal has quickly been halted by making her Gail’s lackey. I feel they have missed a beat with Tapa, I think there is great potential to re-build it, but not till she is done with Gail. In the long run, it might be best to establish her name whilst being associated with Gail. But time will tell.
Rock Star Spud on the other hand, his gimmick and charisma was fine, but bringing him back as Dixie’s Chief of Staff was the perfect move. He has a great look, his size fits perfectly for people wanting to push him around and dislike him. His attitude and dare I say it “being British” is probably enough to encourage more people to dislike him and want to beat him up and the fact that Dixie won’t be getting thrown around means Spud can take the brunt of her decisions for her.
Spud has been the highlight of the last few shows with a great Backstage Segment with Sting to organising the Thanks Giving Meal (the British way) and Driving to Gainesville Georgia to find AJ Styles. They have been segments I have missed from Wrestling in a long time, and he plays the part perfectly. Mix that with the fact that he can actually Wrestle rather well, I think he will become a Character who you rarely see in the Ring, but will actually surprise those who don’t see him as a Wrestler.
All in all, for his additions to TNA in such a short amount of time, there is no doubt that Spud is the best Newcomer to TNA, and the one to look forward to in 2014.
Wrestling Fans love a Good “Return”. Whether it’s unexpected or not, people love to see old stars coming back from injuries or storylines. It’s one of the staples of the business and probably the biggest “Pop / Buzz / Ratings” when done correctly.
A few people have “Returned” this year, I mean Sting returns at least 3 times a year. But the most notable ones were Mr. Andersons come back after being beaten down by Bully Ray, Chris Sabin’s triumphant return after 2 years of gruelling rehab and AJ Styles’ long awaited return from his own hiatus.
I feel sort of Bad for it not going to Sabin. Sort of bad being I don’t feel bad, but in reality he had the truest of Come-Back.
Sabin blew out his knees with the same injury, the second being on his first Return to the ring, so no doubt he had a lot to prove and probably the biggest gut wrenching effort to get out there and carry on. Sabin’s return also saw him Rise to the top with a short World Championship run. So it was a good return on all fronts.
Mr. Anderson on the other hand easily had the weakest, he was written off of TV because his Contract was up, but then came back a couple of Months later. I’m sure this thing has happened in Wrestling for years and years, but with the Internet people know what’s going on behind the scenes a little better. Still, Andersons departure was because he stepped up to fight Bully Ray and paid the price. He still paid the price on his return but he managed to bring down Bully Ray and eventually put an end to The Aces and Eights 18 Months later. So his return was good, but this story is still going into 2014, and I feel we haven’t got to the best part yet.
AJ Styles however for many won the Best Return. AJ’s story has been years in the making, the whole breakdown of Fortune and more battles with Christopher Daniels was the start of this story. The Dixie Carter romance, the infamous Claire Lynch debacle. All of it was to build to AJ’s growing depression and problems with TNA. He would eventually lose the chance to Wrestle for the World Championship for an entire year and losing to Daniels cleanly at the hands of his own Finishing Move is what drove him away. AJ was then “spotted” out and about with this whole Aces and Eights recruiting thing going on, but when AJ came back, he was different. Longer hair, rough looking, new attitude, something completely different to what people know. He was sick of TNA, sick of being the good guy. His return match at Slammiversary against Kurt Angle was great, the second “Evil Ways” played out over the PA was when you knew what AJ had become was something Special. That entrance alone set the stage for the Main Event at Bound for Glory, the clashing of personalities and attitudes both different and similar already set the tone for an inevitable match against Bully Ray. Though AJ fought his way through the Bound for Glory Series, defeated Bully Ray for the World Championship then left TNA because of Dixie Carter all set the stage for the direction of the Company.
Though no-one really knows what is happening with TNA right now, it’s safe to say this AJ Styles storyline and “real life issues” has been the biggest news . rumours in Wrestling for the closing months of 2013, so therefore AJ’s Return was both a huge surprise and a lasting effect.
Obviously it would be a short category if you only chose from the Four actual Pay-Per-Views this year. I simply chose to look at PPV’s as Specials, because that’s how I imagine most Wrestling fans view them.
But seeing that there are now only Four should mean that those four which you paid for, should be the best right?
It wasn’t super easy to narrow down the categories, but I did to what I feel were the best. Lockdown didn’t make the cut because it just wasn’t as good, the Main Event is a huge part in the History of TNA going forward, but the rest of the show was a little sub-par I found. Kurt vs. Wes? Lethal Lockdown? Not even every match was in a Cage which was what the whole selling point of Lockdown originally was.
So in the end it came down to the two you would expect, Slammiversary and Bound for Glory, with a third entry from Turning Point.
Whilst I’m sure some people might be surprised by what I class as the best Show this year, but try and think what stood out to you the most from Slammiversary and Bound for Glory. It would be the main events… and that’s about it.
Slammiversary sticks in my mind because of Bully vs. Sting, which did make my list of Match of the Year potentials, but that sticks in my mind because it was an emotional match. The same can be said for AJ vs. Bully from BFG, it was a big match, but it’s a Story driven one.BFG wasn’t a “disappointment” per-se, but given it’s supposed to be the biggest show of the year… it didn’t match any type of Hype.
Now the Reason I went with Turning Point is because when I watched Turning Point, and even in my Write-Up I called it the “One to Beat”.
Now this goes into why I love TNA the way I do. It reminds me of the Wrestling I used to love, and when Turning Point kicked off, it did so with a Bang. Bobby Roode jumps James Storm in a Bar, it was an awesome bar-room brawl that hasn’t been seen in ages. I love, love, love backstage segments. And I especially love them when they’re not just the normal “in the back of the Arena” ones. So this was a great impactful way to kick off the show.
Samoa Joe and Magnus, though their match wasn’t great, it started amazingly. Joe pops up on the Titantron and challenged Magnus to the back, and they went at it from the back to the Ring. I love that. It’s exciting, it’s different, unexpected.
James Storm and Bobby Roode’s “Florida Death-match” again, the Match didn’t do much in the way of excitement, but the brawl was great. I loved the spontaneousness of it, I loved what the match was and how it ended.
And of course Andersons struggle to end The Aces and Eights was a true “Turning Point” for TNA going forward. It was a great Main-Event that wasn’t linked to the World Championship.
From Start to Finish Turning Point reminded me of Watching Backlash in 2000, it was Raw, it was Hardcore without being over the top and it was exciting, impromptu, unexpected and actually lived up to its name for setting the Stage for the future of TNA going forward.
The problem with Knockout of the Year is that there really isn’t many. Mickie James makes this list because he heel turn and Championship run in 2013 was great, but she then left, but left after her part played was very meaningful.
ODB has had a great year, since coming back to TNA and hooking up with EY, ODB has never been too far from the Screen, not to mention the Crowd love her.
The worst part is however that Taryn Terrell was on fire, she was poised to be the next big Knockout. She was doing things no-one else has done before and was on the verge of a big push before she left due to her Pregnancy. I’m sure she will be back, but she wasn’t around enough for her to become what she is capable of.
Lei’D Tapa fits in this, but again, not done much, and now thankfully Madison Rayne is back full force. I honestly hope that 2014 is a great year for the Knockouts, because they struggle to keep it fresh. Which is why, the Knockout of the Year has to be:
Gail Kim is known worldwide as one of if not the best Female Professional Wrestler on the planet. So how can you argue with that? She’s stayed at the top of the Division even when she wasn’t Champion for a brief period.
2013 closed out with her trying to find more competition, and sure this acts as a nice way to bring back Madison, but in reality, it’s true.
There really isn’t anyone left in TNA who is on Gail’s level, and that’s why she is the Knockout of the Year.
TNA’s Tag-Team Division suffers from the same fate of the Knockouts.
They don’t really have anyone. The Bromans are the first “Team” to be made in TNA in quite some time. Sure Storm and Gunner had a quick run and it was a pretty decent run, but for the first few Months after they won the belts, they weren’t even on Television. And their run acts purely as a way to develop a Storyline, so they’re not even a Team.
Same can be said for Aries and Roode, who as a Team were fantastic, but it was so short lived there’s very little point mentioning it.
The Bromans have been fantastic of late, since Jessie debuted it was obvious he should be with Robbie E and for whatever reason it took them a long time to put them both together. They finally did and at Bound for Glory they really stepped up having one of the best Tag-Team matches of the Year against Storm and Gunner and actually Winning the Tag-Team Championships. It was a rite of passage because till then Robbie E and Jessie have always been the “losers” so for them to actually come across impressive probably seemed out of Character, but they are extremely capable. They might even have swayed my hand if they had been paired with Zema Ion longer. Ion’s addition to The Bromans is the proverbial Peanut Butter and Jelly. Not only does he suit the Broman role brilliantly, but making him a DJ at the foot of the Ring announcing them to the Ring and playing noises over their Matches, it’s a thing of beauty. And something totally new, so they are easily THE Team to watch out for in 2014.
But of course that means the TNA Tag-Team of the Year – 2013 is –
How could it not be Bad Influence? They’ve been the best Team in TNA for over 2 years now, that just shows how little TNA actually push Tag-Teams.
But even with a Division full of Teams, Bad Influence would take a lot of effort to dethrone, Daniels and Kazarian together with their own input and creative ideas are unstoppable.
I think their Joseph Park stuff of late has been a little too brutal for them, but their messing around and ideas are a thing of genius. Their EGO Hall of Fame is one of the best Wrestling Segments in a long time, they work flawlessly together and they have branded themselves outside of TNA so well.
The very idea that anyone can match their talent, yet alone be better than it, is just ridiculous. Of course I love Tag-Team Wrestling and I miss Tag-Teams, I loved the Beer Money, Generation Me, Motorcity era of TNA, we need more Teams. So in 2014, that’s something I hope to have.
This was the Category I struggled on the Most. The rest sort of Answered themselves, or you knew instantly beforehand.
But Match of the Year was a tough one.
I went through Every Match this year and pulled all the ones I thought to be something Special. This resulted in a Collection of 19 Matches which started a whole process of Elimination.
Watching and Re-Watching to find “The One”.
Now I don’t want a Match of the Year to be something grounded by Story Telling. Clearly you can have a Great Match and it can move a Story forward as well as, like Bully vs. Jeff from Lockdown as an example. But when I know I’ve watched a good match is when you “feel” it. It takes you by surprise, it draws you in, it makes you excited, it actually throws you off who is going to win.
That’s the beauty of Wrestling that nothing else on this planet can deliver. It really is the strangest mix of media, but when it’s done right, it’s perfect. That’s what I wanted.
Those 19 Matches then came down to 9 Matches that moved forward. Those 9 then turned into 7 and bit by bit I pulled it down to Three, and it was no easy task. Two of the Matches stuck in my head from the first time I watched them, and one of them was something I had to Re-Watch to get the beauty from. In the end it came down to Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries from Destination X 2013 – Austin Aries vs. Sting from Impact 14/3/13 and Manik vs. Chris Sabin vs. Austin Aries from Impact 4/7/13
Even when I was rolling out the “Nominees” Banners I still hadn’t decided which Match to go with. But in the end, I went with what I always wanted to be The Match of the Year.
Bobby Roode and Austin Aries have been tearing it up for over a Year now, and they’ve gotten pretty good at working together with it. Either as a Team (Dirty Heels) or against each other. It’s no secret I love Austin Aries’ work, he’s truly the best in TNA, hands down. Any match he is in, you’re in for a treat. Which is why last year when Aries actually faced Roode for the World Championship, I actually didn’t care for that match so much. I got why it was great. But Aries and Bully and Aries and Joe stood out to me far greater than Aries and Roode.
So fast forward a Year and Aries and Roode go at it again at Destination-X and its Perfection. It’s hard hitting, fast-paced and point for point perfect. Not to mention Aries’ suicide Dive through the Ropes which took Roode onto the Steel Steps was something I’ve never seen before.
Manik vs. Chris Sabin vs. Austin Aries was the one that stuck in my head since I first Watched it. Sure Manik was taken out leaving Aries and Sabin to work it alone, and that created a great match. In the midst of Aries dressing up as Manik to win back the X-Division Championship, and Sabin’s quest for the Main Event at Destination-X it was a mix up of goals. But Manik impressed from the get-go as always, a true great addition to TNA, which is weird because he’s a Newcomer and also not. But Sabin and Aries fought it out beautifully, counters and kick-outs galore till in the end Sabin’s “All Hail Sabin” from the Top-Rope was enough to finally put away Austin Aries.
But Aries vs. Sting, there’s just something about it. I hate that it doesn’t have a Winner, as The Aces and Eights break it up. But Aries vs. Roode, we’ve seen many times. Aries / Manik / Sabin we’ve seen many times. But Aries vs. Sting has happened Once, and that’s it. Aries has stated since he wants to mix it up again with the Icon, and that is actually my most anticipated match should it ever see the light of day once more.
For me Aries vs. Sting has an awesome crowd, from the Get-Go it’s special. Roode and Aries enter to a great reaction, and Sting who returns to Chicago the home of some of his biggest matches in his Career and the Reaction is amazing. The thing I love most about it is that obviously Sting can still get it done, but he Wrestlers so much differently now. I wouldn’t say people let him off lightly, but he never seems to take much onslaught. Austin Aries has the ability many Wrestlers strive for, Anyone he Wrestlers with, is an amazing Match, Aries can raise the game of anyone, and does so, every time. Sting is no different, Sting is on fire in a way you rarely see, and Aries doesn’t hold back, he goes at Sting full-force like he would with anyone. Mix that with the Amazing Crowd, the fact they’ve never fought before or since, and you have a Match that stands on its own, completely unique, and utterly entertaining.
That’s why Austin Aries vs. Sting is different, exciting, and quite clearly – The Match of the Year.
I’m sure some people would like to make a play for AJ Styles in this category, but he isn’t in it because he’s not even been on Television for the Majority of 2013. Nor has he had 5Star Matches, he has had great Storyline Matches though.
Bully Ray falls into this Category because he controlled the Spotlight for the majority of 2013, on his rise to the World Championship to the entire Aces and Eights run, Bully commands the structure of the show as it’s best Heel and one of the best performers in the ring from a physical Wrestling standpoint, to a Storytelling wrestling standpoint.
It has been a long time coming for Bully to be a World Champion, and while I actually think he as President of The Aces and Eights isn’t as strong as him just being Bully Ray a Heel, this has easily been the year of Bully Ray.
Jeff Hardy on the other hand is someone I didn’t actually expect to put in this category. Hardy won the fans vote for Wrestler of the Year last year in TNA itself, but he’s popular, so that’s why. Since Jeff has been back, he’s been excellent. Even his mic skills have seen a little improvement on the odd occasion this year. Jeff’s in ring work has been some of the best Matches he’s ever done. Jeff’s normally remembered for being Crazy and not actually for a “Wrestling” point of view. But Jeff actually had 5 possible Match of the Year candidates this year. He always steals the spotlight in the ring and his work has been getting stronger and stronger. For Jeff to be where he is in his Career, it’s truly exceptional for him to continue to excel at this stage. He’s always been a fan-favourite and in 2012 he proved himself, and in 2013 he not cemented his statement but exceeded his potential and value to the industry.
With that being said, it’s quite obvious who takes the Title of the Wrestler of the Year:
How could it not be Aries? You want great Wrestling, you look to the best Wrestler there is, and that’s Austin Aries. He has a great character, great mic skills, great storytelling ability and he is the best in the Ring. Period.
Out of those 19 Matches I considered for Match of the Year – Aries was in 9 of them. As my process of elimination grew narrower guess who ended up in every single Match of the Year Nominee – Austin Aries. I believe that is called a “Common Denominator” and Aries is the Common Denominator of Greatness. For the second year in a Row no-one has put on better Matches than Austin Aries. And when AJ and Aries clashed this year, Aries even said it, AJ “Was” the face of TNA for great matches and must see talent, today, that’s Austin Aries.
His ability is exceptional and something truly unique, plenty of people in the business like to brag about how good they are, but no-one is actually as good as Austin Aries, and that’s why he is The Wrestler of the Year.
It has been a Great year for TNA and clearly they have had a lot of problems as always and maybe even more plaguing them today in the early stages of 2014. Whatever happens, their Product has been incredible and their addition to Wrestling History cannot be over-looked.
Here’s hoping they can execute great idea with great pay-offs this year, and that they really pad out and spend time developing their fantastic Divisions – X-Division – Knockouts and Tag-Team especially.
But in the closing segments, just as it was last year, 2013 is the year of Austin Aries.