The 2013 Bobby-james Awards: Best of Impact Wrestling

What an incredible year for IMPACT Wrestling, right?  Early this year, president Dixie Carter announced that Impact Wrestling would be taken on the road, permanently – but it seems some ill-advice or high-cost is sending the world’s second largest wrestling promotion back to Orlando – and some of its biggest names are departing.  Regardless, Impact Wrestling has produced some quality entertainment, and even in an ailing climate, there are still stars and moments that shine.  Here are the Best of 2013:

Tag Team of the YearThe BroMans (Jessie Godderz/Robbie E.)

The BroMans Jessie Godderz (left) and Robbie E. (right)

The BroMans Jessie Godderz (left) and Robbie E. (right)

The BroMans spent most of the year being Impact’s jobber team despite being the most charismatic and entertaining tag team in all of Impact Wrestling.  Despite their mostly horrible year (made up of squash matches and quick finishes), Jessie and Robbie delivered on their promise and captured the Tag Team Championships in late October.

Runner Up:  James Storm and Gunner

Feud of the YearAJ Styles vs. Dixie Carter

The Carter-Styles confrontation (Impact, 9/19)

I still can’t believe how intense the segments between AJ Styles and Dixie Carter were over the last few months.  At times, it seemed like the Impact president and Impact’s biggest star were at legitimate odds as their drama and tension unfolded before live and national audiences.  Who could forget the abusive tirade Dixie Carter went on during Impact (September 19) against Styles – in which she referred to one of the best working wrestlers as “marginal.”

Runner Up:  Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell

Moment of the YearGail Kim’s Figure Four Leg Lock on a Ladder

Gail Kim applies a figure four leg lock to Taryn Terrell - on a ladder!

Gail Kim applies a figure four leg lock to Taryn Terrell – on a ladder!

Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell had one of the most talked about rivalries in all of wrestling during the summer.  In fact, their confrontations were so incredible that some could say the world’s largest wrestling promotion (WWE) took note because booking for other women’s divisions have soared – women are a draw! Who could ever forget the moment Gail Kim applied a figure four leg lock to Taryn Terrell during their hyped ladder match (July 11)? It looks intensely painful – and I can honestly say, it’s something I’ve never seen done before (in mainstream wrestling – correct me if I’m wrong, please).

Runner Up:  The Carter-Styles Confrontation (Impact 9/19)

Rookie of the YearEthan Carter III

"EC3" - Ethan Carter III

“EC3″ – Ethan Carter III

Ethan Carter III (formerly Derrick Bateman from WWE/NXT) debuted with the moniker “EC3″ and as the spoiled nephew of Impact Wrestling president Dixie Carter.  He’s racked up a series of victories (in singles and 2-on-1 handicapped action) and has laid out a challenge to the World Champion, AJ Styles. His character isn’t necessarily fresh - nor is the “spoiled” character new, but the way Ethan Carter III owns it makes it great - and makes him the most exciting new star to break into Impact in 2013.

Runner Up:  Lei’D Tapa

Match of the YearLast Knockout Standing: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary, 6/2)

Last Knockout Standing: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary, 6/2)

Last Knockout Standing: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary, 6/2)

The historic “Last Knockout Standing” match was incredible.  Full of “spots,” it’s one of the most important matches in Impact Wrestling since they added a women’s division in 2007 – and probably one of the most important mainstream women’s wrestling matches in the last decade. Gail Kim took a flying chair shot, locked in a figure four leg lock on the ring post (Terrell returned the favor soon after), a failed suicide dive by Terrell, and a match winning, diving “RKO” off the stage onto the ground (from Terrell to Kim) - drawing loud “holy shit…this is awesome” chants from the Boston audience.

Runner Up:  Full Metal Mayhem: Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Sabin (Impact, 11/7)

X-Division Wrestler of the YearChris Sabin

X-Division Wrestler of the Year: Chris Sabin

X-Division Wrestler of the Year: Chris Sabin

Sabin finally broke through and captured the World Championship this year, but his glory at the top of Impact Wrestling was short lived.  Soon after dropping the title, he underwent a heel turn and re-entered the X-Division against then champion Manik.  Sabin put on great matches and reclaimed the X-Division Championship in the process.

Runner Up:  Manik

Knockout of the YearMickie James

2013 Knockout of the Year: Mickie James

2013 Knockout of the Year: Mickie James

Mickie James is one of the world’s most respected female competitors.  This year, Mickie duped the fans and finally became the heel we all loved to hate.  Along the way, she reclaimed the Knockout’s Championship and had the audience in a tizzy every time she took a microphone.  Wasn’t her snobby-country gimmick fun?  Mickie toyed with many of her challengers – showing just how out of place competitors like Velvet Sky were while in the ring with Mickie James.  Unfortunately, Mickie was one of the many stars to depart Impact Wrestling this year – but her reign, and place in the Knockout’s Division didn’t go unnoticed.

Runner Up:  Taryn Terrell

Non-Wrestling Personality of the YearDixie Carter

Dixie Carter and the "Wheel of Dixie."

Dixie Carter and the “Wheel of Dixie.”

In an interesting turn of events, Impact Wrestling president Dixie Carter returned to television this year as a heel character.  Her feud with AJ Styles is noteworthy, and her confrontations with Hulk Hogan were long overdue.  She’s pampered her “nephew” Ethan Carter, disrespected the fans, and she’s introduced us to her ego – Impact is “Dixieland” – and should we forget the fate deciding “Wheel of Dixie?” (note: as good as she is, Dixie is no Stephanie McMahon).

Runner Up:  Christ Hemme

Wrestler of the YearGail Kim

Gail Kim: Knockout's Champion and Wrestler of the Year.

Gail Kim: Knockout’s Champion and Wrestler of the Year.

When you’re good – you’re good, and Gail Kim is damn good.  Scratch that, she’s amazing.  She knows how to work the crowd – and she knows how to be an innovative competitor.  Sure, like everyone else, she has a “move set” she routinely performs, but her aerial skills, combined with her power moves and grappling/submission techniques and style make her untouchable by anyone else on the roster.  She’s consistent in every match – and she’s been one of the most active competitors throughout the year.  Did I mention her history-making matches and the innovation involved in either of them this year?  I did.  If that’s not all, she’s the reigning (and most defensive) Knockout’s Champion and has a valet/enforcer in rookie Lei’D Tapa.  Right now, Gail Kim is on top of the world.

Runner UpAJ Styles

 There they are - the Bobby-james Awards for Best of Impact Wrestling 2013.  Do you agree or disagree with my selections?  Are there moments or performers that stood out to you?  Post it in the comments and let’s have a chat.

Diva Dream Matches: Victoria vs. AJ Lee

Victoria (left) vs. AJ Lee (right)

Victoria (left) vs. AJ Lee (right)

The Competitors:  

VICTORIA:  2-time WWE Women’s Champion, competed in the first women’s cage match (against Lita)

AJ LEE:  Current Diva’s Champion, former RAW General Manager

Background: 

WWE’s Women’s Division is no stranger to psychotic females.  In the past decade, some of the most interesting feuds or competitors have, at one point or another, been complete psychopaths!

One of the most notable was Lisa Marie Varon under the ring name Victoria (and later Tara in TNA Wrestling).  Victoria’s hardcore feud with Trish Stratus helped revolutionize women’s roles in contemporary professional wrestling.  She was memorable for her hard-hitting in-ring style, her willingness to hit and be hit by foreign objects, and for her obsessive, maniacal shaking (which complimented her t.A.T.u. theme song, “All The Things She Said.”)  Not to mention, she was part of some of the most grueling and intense women’s matches, and a frequent competitor in stipulation bouts (hardcore, Chicago Street Fight, cage match, etc.).

Flash forward about a decade and the current Diva’s Champion is AJ Lee.  She’s a loose cannon and goes completely berserk when people call her “crazy.”  Her craziness though, is fairly recent to the women’s division, as she’s spent most of her time in the main event scene feuding with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Kane, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, and Vickie Guerrero.  AJ Lee has become the torch-bearer WWE’s women’s division and recently, she dethroned and disposed of her adversary (Kaitlyn) and appears poised to run amok against ex-beau “Ziggy” (Dolph Ziggler).

Victoria was a powerful and unpredictable performer.  AJ Lee by contrast, isn’t powerful or steallar in the ring, but she is improving and she would definitely have the mental edge.  This feud would have to simmer and continuously be a game of cat-and-mouse with each woman gaining the mental or physical advantage over the other one on a consistent basis.  Victoria’s power could put the hurt on AJ Lee, but AJ’s mind-games could be the downfall of Victoria.

Victoria had a short-lived “checklist” gimmick.  I’d love to see that followed through, except with a list composed of all the physical torture Victoria would want to put AJ through.  How well would AJ’s mind-games stand up next to Victoria’s physical and raw power and aggression?  Then again, could AJ’s mind stand up to the torture of Victoria?

It could be dubbed The Widow’s Battle and we could see how The Widow’s Peak fares against The Black Widow.

Winner:  VICTORIA (initially); AJ LEE (long-term)

Likelihood:  Unlikely but Possible

Missed Opportunity:  Victoria and AJ Lee were never in the WWE together – so there never was a chance for the writers to miss an opportunity (though, I wouldn’t put it past them to miss it if both women had worked together).  That said, Varon was recently released from IMPACT Wrestling, so there is a [slim] possibility that we could see the match one day (it’s WWE – never say never).

Perhaps the present will be the missed opportunity.  Why couldn’t Victoria return on a part-time deal (like Jericho, Lesnar, RVD, etc.) to work a full program against AJ Lee before transitioning into a trainer role in NXT?  Victoria holding the Diva’s Championship would give the title more prestige and legitimacy (afterall, the damn thing is a bedazzled purple and silver butterfly), having her drop it back to AJ after a program would be a huge rub!

Miss the first Diva Dream Matches post?  Diva Dream Matches: Eve Torres vs. Trish Stratus

The 2012 Bobby-james Awards: Impact Wrestling

Best of 2012 - Impact

Welcome back to The Bobby-james Awards.  The last installment which marked what I thought was the best of the WWE caused a bit of a stir – so let’s see if what I’ve got for Impact Wrestling does the same.

Commentator/Announcer of the Year:  Christy Hemme

Christy Hemme

Unlike the WWE, the “voice” of this company doesn’t sit at a desk and do commentary.  Christy Hemme has developed into one of the best ring announcers in professional wrestling.  She has a rich, sultry voice – she finally stopped adding “aaaa” to the end of everyone’s names – and did I mention she has legs that go on forever?  When it comes to commentary or announcing, Christy Hemme is the voice to beat.

Tag Team of the Year:  Aces and Eights

Aces and Eights

Technically, as a tag team, they’re unaccomplished, but this tandem of masked men has wreaked havoc on the Impact Zone this year.  It was revealed that Devon was one of the orchestrators of this dominant faction, which gained its second unmasked member in Luke Gallows.  Together they’ve taken on greats like Sting and Hulk Hogan, and virtually any other member of the TNA roster.  One can only wonder when they’ll take the Tag Team Championship gold.  It’s likely going to happen, but when? Or will there ever be a female member of the group?  Maybe they could dominate the entire championship scene – who knows.  But in the meantime, I don’t think there’s any disputing this choice – TNA hasn’t really been home to an amazing tag team division recently and the ones that have come through this year are highly forgettable (Samoa Joe/Magnus or Crimson/Matt Morgan – anyone remember?)

X-Division Wrestler of the Year:  Zema Ion

Zema Ion

The hairspray wonder had the X-Division on lockdown this year after Austin Aries left for the World Championship/main event scene and my last year’s “rookie of the year,” Jesse Sorensen, was injured with a severe neck injury.  Ironically, Sorensen was battling Ion when it happened.  But that’s neither here nor there, Zema Ion has been one of the most entertaining and consistent in-ring X-Division stars this year, and had a lengthy Championship reign to prove it.

Rookie of the Year:  Joey Ryan

Joey Ryan

Did any other wrestler not named Joey Ryan, from the “Gut Check” series, make such an impact this year?  No.  Joey Ryan is not only impressive on the mic, but he has a nice repertoire of in-ring skills, and is by far the best character in professional wrestling.  He has it – and it is a 70′s-esque porn star who oozes sleaze from every pore in his body.  He’s the kind of heel wrestling fans love to hate, and in the often watered-down world of professional wrestling today, his vulgarity is a breath of fresh air – unless he smells like cheap cologne…

Wrestler of the Year:  Austin Aries

Austin Aries

It’d be hard to argue that anyone had a bigger year in TNA than Austin Aries.  He transitioned from the X-Division scene to the Main Event with ease, is one of the best in-ring workers and talkers, and went from face to heel.  In terms of the last twelve months, Aries is Impact Wrestling gold.

Knockout of the Year:  Gail Kim

Gail Kim

This year, Gail Kim (the inaugural Knockout’s Champion back in the day) broke the record for longest Knockout’s Title reign and held a Knockout’s Tag Team Championship, making her the it girl in Impact Wrestling.  Sure, Brooke Tessmacher had a break-out year, and Tara reclaimed her throne and shattered a glass ceiling for age-limits and women’s wrestlers, but Kim was a prominent figurehead for the Knockout’s Division, which has seen better days.  It wasn’t until the year began winding down that Kim started taking a back seat to women like Tara, Tessmacher, and Mickie James.  But take one look back at the Knockout’s Division this year, and Gail Kim will likely be at the front of your mind.

There you have it, the BEST OF IMPACT WRESTLING.  Comments and thoughts are always welcome and check back next week for the Top 50 Songs of 2012 and The 2012 Bobby-james Awards: Music.

Until then,

Bobby-james

Will the Phoenix rise again?

Tonight, “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix wrapped up her career with WWE.  In her last match against AJ Lee, Phoenix initially lost via roll-up, but acting RAW supervisor Vickie Guerrero restarted the match, allowing Phoenix to pick up the win with the Glam Slam.  The bittersweet victory comes on the heels of speculation that Beth Phoenix would be finishing with WWE at the end of October.  It appears we witnessed the finale “The Fabulous Firebird” (unless it’s part of a storyline).

For months, rumors had circulated the internet that Beth Phoenix was frustrated with the lack of emphasis on the Women’s Division and with her position in the company – and rightfully so, seeing how one of WWE’s most dominant in-ring women was jobbed out to “Extra’s” Maria Menounos at this year’s WrestleMania event.  During her time in WWE, Phoenix became a decorated competitor capturing the Women’s Championship on three occassions, winning the Diva’s Championship once, winning a Slammy Award for Diva of the Year, and being recognized as the second woman in history to compete in the WWE Royal Rumble.  Unfortunately, “The Glamazon” leaves WWE without a defining WrestleMania moment and failed opportunities, most notably against Natalya Neidhart and Kia Stevens (who was briefly known as Kharma in WWE, more recognized as Awesome Kong in TNA).  She was, however, a trailblazer who competed in the first women’s “I Quit Match” (against Melina), “Tables Match” (with Natalya against LayCool), “Extreme Makeover Match” (against Michelle McCool) and in a Women’s Championship “2-on-1 Handicap Match” (against LayCool).

For the past seven years, Beth Phoenix has been a joy to watch and was an amazing specimen to bear witness to.  One can only hope she’ll continue her wrestling career – but some speculation is that she’s leaving the ring to enjoy her life and to start a family.  Whatever “The Glamazon” chooses to do, I wish her the best and thank her for all the years of hard work and amazing moments.  There will always only ever be one real “Glamazon.”

Maybe this is all storyline and she’ll come right back to WWE, or maybe she’ll surface in IMPACT Wrestling, as some rumors have stated – and maybe the dream matches we’ve all been waiting to see will finally come to life (Beth Phoenix vs. Kia Stevens or Beth Phoenix vs. Natalya) … or maybe they won’t.  Whatever happens, I’d like to think that like a Phoenix “The Glamazon” will rise again someday…

Until then, thank you Beth, you will always be one of my favorites,

-Bobby-james

Bobby James makes his IMPACT debut

Last night, I attended my first IMPACT Wrestling live event, and I must say, TNA sure does know how to throw a party.  More importantly, you heard it right, Bobby-james entered the Impact Zone (accompanied by Kacie)!  Let me first begin by thanking my friend Kris Long, who made it possible for me to visit – thank you, it was a great show.  Next, I’d like to bullet the highlights of my evening:

  • Met and received an autograph from Mr. Anderson, the asshole himself.
  • Met and received autographs from “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles and “The Charismatic Enigma” Jeff Hardy!
  • Was in attendance with professional wrestling legend Harley Race.
  • Yelled to Mr. Anderson that he was an “Asshole” – and the comment was acknowledged – yes, I felt special.
  • I got to see a real-life Widow’s Peak!

Now let’s give it a recap (for a quick listing of match results, scroll all the way down):

The show opened with Christy’s Hemme singing a nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (it actually had an edgy, singer-songwriter vibe to it).  We the people were then welcomed to IMPACT – enter “The Cowboy” James Storm, who was sorry about our damn luck.  Storm told a story about a child he’d met pre-show before challenging Aces and Eights to a Streetfight.  Two masked men came through the crowd and began the beat down, until Mr. Anderson made the save.  This, of course, resulted in Christy Hemme sending a message up the food chain to Hulk Hogan to see if “Cowboys and Assholes” could be booked in a tag match against the menacing masked men.  Meanwhile…

Match #1:  TNA Knockouts Championship:  Tara (c) vs. ODB

Christy Hemme announced Earl Hebner as the referee for the bout.  Tara entered the Impact Zone, sans Jesse (who was “in Celebrity rehab with Dr. Drew”), and proceeded to run down the fans, whom she “was forced” to meet and greet earlier in the day at Direct Auto Insurance (the night’s sponsor).  She then said Earl could not referee her match because he was a “pervert.”  Out came Brian Hebner.  Tara, dissatisfied, said the Hebner family was full of perverts.  Then she warned Brian, “don’t look at my butt…because it’s already taken.”

ODB came out – flask in one hand, lady parts in the other – to challenge.  Tara and ODB started things with a lock up and some basic matt grappling.  The match went back and forth for a good while until Tara connected with the Widow’s Peak and scored the 1-2-3 to retain her Knockout’s Championship.

Winner via pinfall:  Tara

Christopher Daniels is out first, dressed for Halloween as Magneto.  Though this Magneto, as he explained amidst his constant hip thrusting, had animal magnetism (instead of metal).  He said he had the “rear that makes girls cheer, and hips girls want near their lips.”  Daniels gave the audience permission to worship him before orgasmicly exclaiming “You’re welcome” to the crowd.  Both the crowd and AJ Styles had heard enough and it was clear there was no worship to be had.  Hernandez rounded out the trio and the match of the night was underway.  Spot after spot, Styles, Daniels, and Hernandez delivered an awesome power hitting, high-flying match that ultimately ended with Hernandez pinning Daniels.

Winner via pinfall: Hernandez

Match #3: Bully Ray vs. Kurt Angle

Christy Hemme introduced our next bout, beginning first with Bully Ray.  His opponent?  The only Olympic Gold Medalist in professional wrestling, Kurt Angle.  Unfortunately, this match was full of lengthy submission holds and a few stiff clotheslines.  Angle nailed Bully Ray with an Angle Slam and locked on two Ankle Locks before losing out to Bully in the end.  After the match, the two men showed some mutual respect, which drew applause from the crowd in attendance.

Winner via pinfall:  Bully Ray

Christy Hemmed informed the fans that she’d heard back from Hulk Hogan and that James Storm and Mr. Anderson would face Aces and Eights tonight in a tag team match.

It was then noted that referee Earl Hebner marked a milestone in pro wrestling – he’s officially refereed over 100,00 matches – yes, you read that right, 100,00 matches – in his career.  To commemorate Hebner’s achievement, TNA was offering a shirt, which members of the audience could have signed by Earl and Brian Hebner for $10.

Intermission

Christy Hemme welcomed us back to the Impact Zone and Direct Auto Insurance awarded one lucky fan $200 to spend on TNA Merchandise.

Match #4: “The Asshole” Mr. Anderson and “The Cowboy” James Storm vs. Aces and Eights

Pre-match, Mr. Anderson came out and had a little fun with the crowd.  During his into, he reached out and waited for his mic – but to his surprise, there wasn’t one.  Being Mr. Anderson, he conspired with Christy Hemme and improvise a solution.  Christy got a chair from ringside, stood on it, and “dropped” the mic into Mr. Anderson’s hand – classic.  Anderson talked about all the assholes in attendance and the “douchebags” they were about to face (this started a “douchebag” chant).  Anderson was then joined by his tag team partner James Storm.  Anderson teased a kid with his shirt and then threw it down in the ring (didn’t give it to the kid) so I yelled, “Asshole,” and Anderson and Storm were quick to point out the word “Asshole” printed on Anderson’s tights.  There was one moment in particular, while  talking to a section of the audience, he asked if there were assholes in the crowd – he then told the kid that yelled back, “You’re too little to be an asshole…you can be a…a… little butthole.”

A trio of Aces and Eights members made their way through the crowd ready to go.  As they delayed their in-ring entrance and slowly began removing their coats the crowd chanted “Take it off!” Mr. Anderson, teased taking off his trunks before Storm saved the day and said, “Whoa, you’re not Magic Mike, you’re an asshole…these people are telling them [Aces and Eights] to take their jackets off, they’re shouting “Jacket-off.”  Then a loud “Jacket-off” chant started before the bell finally sounded.

There was a fair amount of back and forth action, but Aces and Eights double, and triple-teamed James Storm for a bit before Storm was able to make the hot tag.  Interesting moment when a woman in the front row stood up and wanted to fight the big masked man – “The Cowboy” made the save.  Anderson finally got the tag, and from then on, the match was academic.  Mr. Anderson scored the pinfall for the team and sent Aces and Eights packing like a pack of scalded dogs.

Winners:  “Cowboys and Assholes” Mr. Anderson and James Storm

Match #5:  Main Event for the TNA Heavyweight Championship:  Bobby Roode vs. Jeff Hardy (c)

“The IT Factor,” Bobby Roode vowed to embarrass Jeff Hardy, like the Giants did the Cardinals, and said he was leaving St. Louis as the TNA Heavyweight Champion.  Jeff Hardy entered to thunderous applause and the match was underway.  Roode gained the early advantage and kept Hardy grounded and on defense the first half of the match.  Roode locked in a lengthy Figure Four Leg Lock, which Hardy eventually escaped amidst the  “Woo’s” coming all directions.  At one point during this submission, a kid stood up and yelled to Bobby Roode, “You’re mother’s not proud of you.” From that point on, it was an evenly contested bout that saw Hardy hit many of his signature moves – the last of which was the Twist of Fate to secure the win.

Winner via pinfall:  Jeff Hardy

Overall a fun show.  I’m really excited that I had the chance to meet three great wrestlers and be in attendance with another.  I simply must also rave about TNA’s amazing merchandise offer.  For $50, I got the ten-year anniversary program (which I had signed by Anderson, Styles and Hardy), three action figures (Matt Morgan, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy), four DVDs (Best of the X-Division 2-disc set, Best of TNA 2007, and Bound for Glory 2011), a drawstring bag, an “Est. 2002″ TNA T-shirt, and to meet three members of the roster - that is what I call a deal and complete fan-appreciation – good job TNA.

The only real disappointment for me tonight was the relatively boring and unlively crowd in St. Louis.  Come on St. Louis, next time we can (and should) do better than that.  Wake up people – take an energy pill, have a red bull, go skydiving and boost that adrenaline, because next time, I don’t want the silent treatment – it’s bad manners.  This show was fun.  Some of the matches were slow in spots and most were slow to get started, but all things considered, IMPACT Live is a great, great value!  Bravo TNA, bravo.  See you next time!

-Bobby-james

Forgive some of the photo bluriness please, I was only mildly excited to meet someone (Jeff Hardy) whose career I’ve followed for the last 11 years…. Yes, I flashed him the TeamXtreme hand signal, like a dork.  What?  I couldn’t control my inner-child – Hardy’s one of my favorites.  AJ Styles was really cool too.  Was really awesome to meet one of the men responsible for growing TNA Wrestling and the current champion… let’s get that feud going now!

MATCH RESULTS

  • Tara def. ODB to retain Knockout’s Championship
  • Hernandez def. Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles
  • Bully Ray def. Kurt Angle
  • Mr. Anderson and James Storm def. Aces and Eights
  • Jeff Hardy def. Bobby Roode to retain TNA Heavyweight Championship