TNA Wrestling: My Top 10 Moments of the Year
Much like WWE, 2011 was a rocky year for TNA Wrestling.
Things started out pretty good as fans saw the culmination of the great Beer Money/Motor City Machine Guns feud, Mr. Anderson winning the World Championship and the return of "the Icon" Sting.
Then TNA hit rock bottom with Victory Road. They allowed Jeff Hardy to go out into the main event in the state he was in, and it was a moment people thought they’d never recover from.
The pay-per-views that followed were subpar at best; the usually good Lockdown disappointed and so did Sacrifice.
Then Slammiversary happened, and TNA was back on track.
From there, they created the Bound for Glory Series and saw the rise of many stars that normally wouldn’t be getting the spotlight.
While there have been some head-shaking moments, 2011 ended up being an enjoyable year as TNA left it on a high note.
Here are my top 10 TNA moments of the year!
For my top 10 WWE moments of the year, go here.
10. Jeff Hardy’s Final Chance
Jeff Hardy screwed up big time at Victory Road.
If you’re reading this, then you know what happened, as it was all over this site when it went down, so I’m not going to go into it.
He managed to embarrass himself and the company, insult a legend like Sting and disgrace a world title—all in one night.
Hardy hit rock bottom and took TNA with him.
TNA thankfully took him off of television immediately afterwards.
Hardy was gone the entire summer but returned in September.
What he said was short and sweet. He admitted that he screwed up and apologized. It takes a big man to admit his wrongdoings and apologize for them. He gained back a little bit of my respect, but I wasn’t convinced that he deserved another chance just yet.
As the weeks passed, the Charismatic Enigma went around to the TNA wrestlers in the locker room and apologized to them. Some told him to go to hell and leave TNA, while others accepted his apology but would watch him closely.
It was a good storyline TNA had going. There were times where I felt a bit bad for him as he was trying to make things right but would get shot down.
With his feud with Jeff Jarrett, Hardy has since proven to me that he really does deserve this one last chance. He seems clean and looks like he once again loves his job.
Now feuding with TNA champion Bobby Roode, Hardy has proven to the TNA brass that he’s deserving of this chance.
While I feel it doesn’t merit a title shot so soon, I do understand why he’s in the title picture.
Jeff Hardy screwed up, paid for his mistake and is now showing the TNA fans that he’s ready to go back to entertaining us.
9. Destination X
Here is TNA’s third best PPV of the year, behind only Slammiversary and Bound for Glory.
This night was dedicated to the X-Division, and it delivered X-Division goodness.
The three-hour show featured current X-Division stars such as Kazarian and Alex Shelley, as well as stars of the past like Shark Boy and of the future such as Austin Aries.
The eight matches presented at the show all delivered good wrestling and some great, fast-paced, high-flying action.
There was a tie for Match of the Night between the fatal four-way match featuring Austin Aries, Jack Evans, Low-Ki and Zema Ion and A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels.
The night was made that much more special with the inclusion of the six-sided ring.
Many of the new stars on the show were eventually signed to contracts, and I still hold hope that TNA will sign Jack Evans.
Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn, who were “X-Division before there was an X-Division,” also went one-on-one and did not disappoint.
This was a fun-filled night that showed that TNA was serious about the revival of the once great X-Division!
For my review of the show, check out this article.
8. The Rise of Austin Aries
With a previous TNA stint from 2005-2007 under his belt, Austin Aries returned to TNA before Destination X and earned a spot in a match at the PPV where the winner would get a contract.
Aries won the fatal four-way, thus earning a spot on the roster full-time.
“The greatest man who ever lived” didn’t waste any time and quickly went after the X-Division champion Brian Kendrick.
Aries was already a great wrestler, but could he talk? Yes, he certainly could.
Aries is probably the only star on the X-Division roster that’s convincing on the mic and is able to sell whatever he’s talking about.
While Aries was clearly the heel, the fans didn’t care. They recognized the greatness that was Austin Aries and jumped on the bandwagon.
At the September PPV, No Surrender, Aries won the X-Division Championship and has held it ever since. Aries is without a doubt the best champion the title has seen in quite some time.
With Aries carrying the division, it has reached heights it hasn’t seen in years. While it is by no means where it was in 2005, the X-Division is finally back in the spotlight.
Austin Aries has the ability and charisma to be a world champion, and once he does lose the X-Division Championship, TNA would be quite foolish not to enter him into the hunt for the TNA World Championship.
7. The Transformation of Bully Ray
Towards the end of 2010, Brother Ray began the transition into a heel and renamed himself Bully Ray. It wasn’t until after Victory Road 2011 when the Bully began his rise as a heel.
After Jeff Hardy was kicked out of Immortal, they inducted the Bully into the group.
He entered into a feud with A.J. Styles, and the two put on some great matches, including what was Match of the Night at Slammiversary.
Since turning heel, Ray’s matches seem to have gotten better and his mic work is phenomenal. The words that come out of Bully Ray’s mouth are that of a great heel. He was without a doubt the best heel in TNA, and he could very well have been the best heel in wrestling this year.
The former tag-team specialist has turned into a heel extraordinaire, and a world title could very well be in his future.
To do so, though, he has to get away from what’s left of Immortal.
It may have been Immortal that helped him turn into a great heel, but the group is a shell of its former self and it’s Immortal that’s currently holding him down.
Bully Ray rose to the top during 2011, and 2012 could be his year if he can get away from the dying heel stable.
6. The Bound for Glory Series
On June 16th, TNA introduced a new concept in the Bound for Glory Series.
It featured 12 wrestlers battling it out in various types of matches to earn points.
The series was set to end on the September 11th pay-per-view No Surrender when the top four point earners competed in a fatal four-way match. The winner was to face the TNA world heavyweight champion the following month at Bound for Glory.
Throughout the series, fans got to see 12 of TNA’s superstars compete in singles, tag-team, triple-threat and fatal four-way matches to earn points. You gained various amounts of points by winning your matches by pin fall, submission, count out, disqualification or ending in a draw. If you got yourself disqualified, then you lost 10 points.
The matches that took place on Impact Wrestling and PPVs tended to be quite good, and reports from house shows said the same thing.
The BFGS certainly made TNA the promotion to watch during the early parts of the summer.
The series was led by Crimson almost the entire time, and he was a favorite to win. That is, until Samoa Joe got a hold of him.
With Matt Morgan sustaining a legitimate injury and Samoa Joe taking out D’Angelo Dinero, Devon and Crimson, that left the series with just eight wrestlers towards the end.
At No Surrender, TNA changed up the finals and made a four-man tournament instead. After Bobby Roode defeated Gunner and Bully Ray beat James Storm, Roode took out the Bully to win the series and get the right to challenge Kurt Angle for the title at Bound for Glory.
The series did have its flaws, but it was TNA’s first outing with a concept like this. Hoping that they keep it for next year, it should be improved upon.
5. The Sting/Hulk Hogan Feud
A lot of people hated this, but I, on the other hand, enjoyed it.
Sting and Hulk Hogan have had a great rivalry in WCW, which included the huge match at Starrcade 1997.
But with every feud comes unfinished business.
Sting has been with TNA since 2003 and has been a mainstay on the roster for his eight-year stint with the company. He has won the World Championship multiple times and was also one-half of the tag-team champions with Kurt Angle for a short time.
Hulk Hogan has been a mainstay in professional wrestling since the 1980s and arrived in TNA in 2009, and it was quite the big deal.
The man that put WWE on the map in the '80s and WCW in the '90s was heading to WWE’s rival once again.
Right away, Sting was skeptical about Hogan. After Hulk’s heel turn at Bound for Glory 2010, Sting left because no one believed that Hogan was up to no good.
He returned in March of this year and picked up right where he left off.
The feud was mostly talk as Hogan wouldn’t get back into the ring, but with Sting channeling the Joker, it made for some great mic work between the two.
It culminated at Bound for Glory when the two wrestling legends went one-on-one. While the match was pretty bad, it was not the total train wreck that was expected.
With Hulk Hogan now back as a face, this was a great feud between two of wrestling’s biggest stars, and it was a fitting end to their long rivalry.
4. James Storm Wins the TNA World Championship
On Impact Wrestling after Bobby Roode was cheated at Bound for Glory, James Storm stepped up and challenged Kurt Angle for the TNA World Championship.
Angle brushed him off, but the new man in charge, Sting, made the match anyway.
Later on in the night in a very short match, James Storm super kicked Angle’s teeth down his throat to win the World Championship!
It was a very emotional moment for TNA fans, especially the ones who have stuck with the company since Day 1, as a TNA original was finally the world champion. TNA put their confidence in a talent who has stayed loyal to the company instead of a WWE outcast, and it was a breath of fresh air.
His reign would only last two weeks though, as he was defeated by a heel-turning Bobby Roode.
While his reign was a short one, it transformed Storm.
Since losing it, he has had a great match with Kurt Angle and his mic work has improved tenfold. His mic work has been some of the most impressive work I’ve seen. While he doesn’t have the stereotypical look of a champion, he’s got nowhere to go but up from here.
I can’t wait for the Bobby Roode/James Storm feud for the title next year!
3. Bobby Roode Wins the TNA World Championship
Bobby Roode won the Bound for Glory Series and got a shot at Kurt Angle and the TNA World Championship at TNA’s biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory.
The match was quite good but was hindered due to Angle’s injury at the time. The finish saw Angle cheat to gain the pin fall and retain the title.
The fans were incredibly disappointed when Roode lost.
Things were looking up when James Storm won the title and Bobby Roode became the No. 1 contender. Two great wrestlers who know each other very well feuding over the world title? It really was a win-win situation.
Then Roode smashed a beer bottle over Storm’s head and turned heel.
The feud was put on the back burner as Storm feuded with Angle and Roode feuded with A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy and Sting.
Much like Storm’s victory transformed his career, Roode’s win did the same.
Roode has become a great heel since the victory, and his mic work has also improved considerably. Roode certainly works better as a heel than he does as a face.
Next year will definitely be Bobby Roode's in TNA, and if they keep up with pushing the young talent and TNA originals, 2012 could be a stellar year for TNA Wrestling!
2. Bound for Glory
I may be a bit biased in my decision here since I was actually at this event, but Bound for Glory was a great pay-per-view for TNA. Each match delivered, except for the Knockouts Championship match which was hindered by Karen Jarrett as the referee and the fact that it was that dumb fatal four-way match that TNA does.
Velvet Sky won the title though, so the ending made for a great moment!
The Match of the Night was Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson in a falls count anywhere match, while the six other matches delivered a good match or a good story. My favorite moment was without a doubt the Sting/Hulk Hogan match as a whole.
I’ve been a part of many wrestling crowds, and I have never heard a building erupt in excitement so many times for one match.
Hogan came out first to a thunderous reaction, while Sting got a hell of a reaction as well. Before the match started, Ric Flair came out and the reaction to him was deafening!
At the end of the match when Immortal was beating down Sting, the Icon asked Hogan for help.
The Hulkster looked to the crowd in typical Hogan fashion. As soon as he ripped off his shirt and started Hulking up, there wasn’t a single person sitting down.
The power of Hulkamania was so huge that night that people outside the arena had to have heard the insanity coming from inside the building!
I’ve been to two WWE pay-per-views before this, Vengeance 2004 and Survivor Series 2005, but this was my first live TNA PPV experience. Needless to say, they did not disappoint!
For my full review, check out my live perspective article.
1. Slammiversary IX
TNA had a rocky start to 2011, but things started looking up with this pay-per-view.
TNA’s annual anniversary show delivered, and six of the eight matches made the money I spent worth it.
A.J. Styles and Bully Ray stole the show in their last man standing match, Mr. Anderson defeated Sting for the TNA World Championship, and Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett put on a showcase.
The other matches on the card were great as well, with the exception of the Matt Morgan/Scott Steiner match—as Steiner needs to give up wrestling—and the Knockouts Championship match which was held down by constant interference.
At the time, it was the best PPV put on by TNA or WWE, and it was miles ahead of WrestleMania 27.
Despite some great PPVs throughout the year, Slammiversary was the best TNA put on in 2011.
For my entire review, check out this article.