FEATURE: Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling in 2013

Josh Boutwell reviews TNA Impact Wrestling for 12/26/13

The Final Impact
December 27, 2013
By: Josh Boutwell of Wrestleview.com

2013 has been a very wild year for TNA and Impact Wrestling, from the ups and downs all year long. From Impact going on the road to coming back to the Impact Zone, from the reduction of PPVs to the addition of TV specials, from the rise to the fall of Aces and Eights, the return of Main Event Mafia, rumors galore from financial troubles to even Hulk Hogan becoming World Champion, to a complete overhaul in the creative direction of the company. 2013 has been a weird one and the slate has been almost started over in the company with many things, so 2014 could be a very make or break type of year for the future of the company. Rather than my usual best and worst style of critique about the previous episode of Impact, I’m going to take a look at the best and worst of TNA over the past year, and look forward to 2014.

Feud/Angle of the Year: The Fall & Rise of AJ Styles
This angle was one that was very divisive amongst fans. Some hated while others really appreciated and enjoyed it, I did enjoy it myself much more than any other angle (not necessarily feud) that AJ has taken part in. It was definitely a far cry from the Claire Lynch angle, though it did play into that whole thing a bit. It all started at the end of 2012 with AJ Styles losing a match that kept him from possibly getting a World Title shot until BFG, and then AJ Styles went into a depressive loner character heel turn. The entire turn made a lot of sense, just like Sting’s transition into the “Crow” in the 90’s, AJ Styles felt that he had the company that he bled and worked his butt off for turn its back on him along with the fans after the Claire Lynch angle and everything else afterward. He had invitations from both Aces and Eights and MEM but went on his own, and had one of the coolest moments all year when he fooled all of us into thinking he had joined A&8 before attacking them all with a hammer. It all led to the eventual return of the Phenomenal One back as the hero.

The Best Moment of 2013: AJ Styles triumphs in the BFG Series and BFG
This was the conclusion of the AJ’s rise back to the top in TNA winning the BFG Series and then beating Bully Ray and ending his reign of terror for the World Title. It was a great moment for us long time TNA fans to see, and I will not lie. I definitely let a big smile creep across my face as AJ Styles raised the World Title high up into the air once more.

The Biggest Surprise of 2013: Chris Sabin wins the World Title
No one, I repeat NOONE gave Chris Sabin a chance in hell at winning the World Title at Destination X. He did the impossible and shocked the wrestling world. After that unfortunately Sabin fell pretty hard down the card faster than most of us would have liked, but no one can take away that great moment from him or TNA.

Match of the Year: AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle (Slammiversary)
I’ve said this before but I could watch AJ and Kurt wrestle each other every week and be entertained just like AJ and Daniels. These two had my Match of the Year back in 2008 as well, and things didn’t change here. They went all out and put on one hell of a show for the fans. I believe this was the night that AJ debuted his heel theme as well. Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell at Slammiversary gets Honorable Mention as well.

PPV/Special of the Year: Slammiversary
AJ/Kurt and Gail/Terrell stole the show but the X-Division and Tag Team match also stood out during the night, AJ/Kurt should have been the Main Event but Bully/Sting worked hard and the match had great emotion throughout.

Knockout of the Year: Gail Kim
I wanted to give this Taryn Terrell but she missed almost half of the year with her pregnancy, and Gail Kim deserves just as much credit for their show stealing matches as Terrell does. Gail has worked hard all year and has received another lengthy title run for her efforts. Hopefully 2014 will bring her more competition and the returns of Madison Rayne and hopefully Terrell and Mickie James soon should help as well (if Mickie comes back).

Feud of the Year: Roode vs. Angle/Terrell vs. Kim
I wanted to give this to Terrell and Kim just based off them having the two best women’s match all year with their wild match at Slammiversary and then later the Ladder Match, but Roode and Angle have been entertaining the hell out of me the last few months and putting on great matches each night. The great promos they have been cutting also helps matters for them.

Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles
To come from not being able to get a title shot for a year to being the World Champion is a great year for anyone, but he has gained some nice buzz with the current contract situation with TNA as well and I truly think if he hasn’t already signed with TNA (I think he has been signed for possibly even months) then he will soon, but who knows I’m wrong all the time.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year: The X-Division
2013 was not a good year from the X-Division. There was glimmers of hope through the year (the returns of Petey Williams and Sonjay Dutt and the debuts of Kenny King & Manik) but they have been few and far between. TNA has had to resort to putting Austin Aries and Chris Sabin back in the division because of how thin it is. They have been flirting with signing independent and international wrestlers including Extreme Tiger so hopefully 2014 will seen the rebirth the X-Division deserves.

Worst Wrestler of the Year: Wes Brisco
Man, was Wes terrible or what? The guy can’t talk and he is clumsy as hell in the ring and for some reason just gets on my nerves. The way he stands and clinches his fists constantly is annoying as hell to me and he’s never put on a match that has ever impressed anyone. Christian York gets honorable mention here.

Worst Match of the Year: Ryan Howe vs. Big O (Gut Check)
My God was this match horrific or what? This probably put the nail in the coffin of that damn Gut Check segment. I do believe that was the night I coined the phrase “that match made me want to punt a kitten” and just thinking about it makes me want to kick a whole litter of kittens. I have not seen a worse match on Impact in my entire nearly 6 years of doing recaps for this show.

Worst Performer of the Year: Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter
That’s right they get the tie here. Hogan fumbled over his words constantly when he was on TV and the only times we got a break was when he wasn’t on TV. Dixie is picking up right where the Hulkster left off but at least she doesn’t fumble or mess up her lines. She just says it horribly in an exaggerated southern accent that makes me want a kick a litter of hillbillies.

What to Watch for in 2014: AJ Styles and the X-Division
I’m most looking forward to seeing what happens with AJ Styles and his situation in 2014 as well as the X-Division and whether or not TNA can revamp the division like it’s been promising for years.

I appreciate all the negative and positive feedback each week and hopefully we’re doing this again at the end of 2014. ROLL TIDE!

Until next week… PEACE!
Josh Boutwell peace

Follow me on Twitter: @BamaBoyJosh