TNA Year In Review 2010
As I did with the WWE Year In Review, I’ll be looking at various aspects of the company and giving more or less a history of what happened along with some analysis of things I found intriguing. This one will be a good bit shorter than the other two with the obvious reason of there’s far less aired by TNA than WWE. Let’s get to it.
As always if you think I’m wrong on something, yell at me for it.
Since TNA tends to have the majority of their storylines built around one or two major things, I’m going to break this down differently and go month by months instead of looking at various aspects of the company and how they did through the year. First off though, the big things in the year.
Monday Night Wars Redux
Back in January, TNA moved to Monday nights almost directly against Raw to try to fight them off. In short, this didn’t work very well. Ratings hit an all time high for Hogan’s debut and then actually held fairly steady. At this point the show began at 8 and had a one hour lead on Raw. For these 9 weeks, the show averaged a 1.25 rating.
Then on March 8 the shows moved head to head with each other and the ratings fell like a 13 year old’s balls. Between March 8 and April 5, the average rating was a .86. Seeing the issues, the company shifted back to 8pm, regaining the hour advantage. For the following four weeks the show averaged a .75 and the writing was on the wall. The “war” ended on May 3 as Impact aired its final Monday night show.
While the results clearly didn’t go well like at all for TNA, they did put in a fresh energy on Monday nights as there was a question of which show to watch. They jumped too far too fast though and it caught them, but I’ll give them credit for jumping at all.
The Band/New Faces
With Hogan back in power, the old friends of his would begin to show up. Aside from a few random appearances, the main additions were Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean “X/Syxx-Pac” Waltman. The former NWO guys showed up and expected things to be like they had been earlier with Hulk.
This didn’t go exactly as planned as the trio eventually did some stuff in the tag division before going after Eric Young of all people. Young fought them and then of course joined them. After using the Feast or Fired case to win the tag titles, Waltman was phased out as he more or less couldn’t wrestle anymore and Young took his place. Hall left soon thereafter also and then Nash and Young split up, ending the concept.
Also in this period various other new named popped up, such as Sean Morely (lasted all of three weeks), Orlando Jordan (still around for some reason), Jeff Hardy (didn’t really do much for a few months), Mr. Anderson (Mr. Kennedy, big deal actually), Rob Van Dam (nice surprise) and Ric Flair (one of the top heels now for whatever reason). These guys would kind of force the TNA guys away for a bit which would of course become an issue later.
Other Early Year Stuff
Coming into the year, AJ Styles was world champion. He and Angle had an awesome match on January 4 and then another at Genesis, but at that show AJ turned heel for the first time as a serious wrestler in forever, joining with Ric Flair. About a month later, Mr. Anderson debuted at Against All Odds.
D’Angelo Dinero won a tournament at the same show to get a shot at AJ at Lockdown. During this time the main feud was Team Hogan vs. Team Flair because these two are freaking joined at the hip for all eternity for some reason. Aside from all that, this was also going on.
I go back and forth on this one. Apparently starting back in about March, the main storyline began, destined to be blown off at Bound For Glory. The idea was that after Abyss was mentored by Hogan, he would snap and talk about someone known as THEY who were going to take over the company.
Hogan and Bischoff braced for their arrival as Sting and Kevin Nash tried to warn TNA president Dixie Carter of something evil about Hogan and Bischoff. As anyone with a brain saw coming, Hogan and Bishcoff were the core of THEY along with the turned heel Jeff Hardy but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The angle was incredibly intricate but there are still plot holes in it which to be fair is almost a universal issue in wrestling. The problem with this was two fold. One was Abyss, as he managed to become the least interesting character you could possibly imagine. Also, the storyline got so intricate that by the time it was over and the payoff was given, most people didn’t want to sit down and figure it out. There were other aspects to the story besides Abyss, such as this one.
Around this time there was a rather brief concept of ranking the top ten challengers. In April Rob Van Dam won the world title and needed challengers. The first would be Sting in an angle I’ll touch on later. The concept became that Hogan, Bischoff and Carter would rank the top ten guys in the company and the #1 ranked guy would get the title shot. It lasted maybe two months or so and was more or less a joke.
Have you ever heard of a company called ECW? TNA might have but I’m not sure as they keep changing whether or not they can say it. Back in I think June, Tommy Dreamer and various other ECW guys started sitting in the Impact Zone and watching. The theory was that these guys were THEY but that was soon proven wrong.
Eventually a massive brawl broke out with EV and the team called Fourtune which was broken up by Dixie Carter, saying she invited the EV guys. The idea was that ECW was getting one more chance to shine because of their dedication to the business or some nonsense like that. They even got a PPV out of it called Hardcore Justice. The show was pretty bad unless you were a diehard ECW fan, but of course it was a huge part of the THEY angle, as was this.
This was something that was talked about for a good while then not talked about again then talked about again. Sting, ever the guy that said exactly what he was thinking, kept talking about how there was a massive deception going on but Dixie wouldn’t listen to him. Nash joined him, knowing something we all didn’t know. This eventually was revealed to be that he had figured out the Hogan/Bischoff conspiracy and was trying to tell us what was going on but Dixie wouldn’t listen. This all came out here.
This was the blowoff to the whole thing. Abyss had said that THEY would make themselves known here. After RVD had been attacked by Abyss and a board with spikes in it called Janice, he had been stripped of the TNA Title and a tournament had been held with the finals being a three way dance here.
After a good match, Jeff Hardy fell to the floor and here came Eric and Hulk. Hogan was on crutches but handed them to Hardy to clobber Angle and Anderson and give him the world title. Jarrett and Abyss came down and THEY were here. Soon after, Flair’s team called Fourtune joined in and Immortal was formed.
Since that that has been the main story as Anderson had been trying to get a shot at the title but was given a concussion by a Hardy chair shot. After a feud with Matt Morgan who had been thrown out of Immortal, Hardy is looking for a new challenger as we end the new year.
Also going on right now, Jeff Jarrett thinks he’s an MMA god while we wait on the return of Kurt Angle to destroy him. This is something different at least but there isn’t much to it I don’t think.
Main Storylines: Much like everything else in TNA this was a love it or hate it area. The vast majority of the year was built around one major storyline and if you weren’t into it, too bad. I’ll go more into detail on that later near the end. The stories were ok for the most part, but with Abyss as the catalyst for the whole thing it’s kind of hard to get into. Hogan’s booking isn’t something I’ve ever been a fan of and this was no exception. Some ok stuff, but the problem was that the ok stuff was weighed down by all the bad stuff and the bad delivery and the slow buildup time.
You know, I had meant to make a month by month breakdown, but after all that there isn’t much left to talk about so I’ll just leave it with that and a few sections that are upcoming. The only major thing I haven’t talked about is this.
This was an odd year for these belts. After a few weeks of the British Invasion holding the titles, Matt Morgan and Hernandez won them at Genesis. After about two months with them Morgan turned on his partner and defended the titles on his own.
After a title defense, Morgan was attacked by the Band who won the titles using a Feast or Fired case and defended them using the Freebird Rule. Hall would be arrested for an issue at a bar in Florida and therefore the titles were stripped. The Motor City Machine Guns had been the #1 contenders so there was a tournament instead, won by the Guns.
Something that a lot of people seem to overlook about the Guns getting the titles: they weren’t the first choice. Had Hall not gotten into trouble, there is no telling how long the Band would have held the titles for. The Guns holding the belts is a good thing as it’s long overdue, but had the Band not been forced to drop them, there’s no guarantee the Guns would have won them.
Soon after this the Guns and Beer Money had a best of five series of matches which were mostly awesome. After defeating the drunken rich dudes to keep the titles, the Guns continued a long feud with Generation Me in which the Guns still kept the belts. The “great” tag division is now back to Beer Money vs. the Guns, probably at the next PPV.
Tag Teams: Once the belts got on the Guns, as in a young team that deserved a chance with them, things went way up for this division. And then something became clear: this division is nowhere near what it’s built up to be. You have the Guns, Beer Money, Gen Me, Ink Inc and Young/Jordan as a comedy team. That’s really about all you have too. The Guns vs. Beer Money is fine, but they had one real set of challengers in the last five months. That’s not depth, no matter how you slice it.
No real other place to put this but it was kind of a highlight. On and off throughout the year there were specials called ReAction. More or less it was shot like a documentary and recapped a lot of what happened that night but also offered some more details in the form of candid interviews. Oftentimes the end of Impact’s main event would spill over into this. It was an interesting concept, but 3 hours of TNA was a bit much and the show airs it’s final episode tonight.
Just like in WWE, only Show and Wrestler of the year.
Show – Lockdown. This show worked rather well overall and had an excellent match with Anderson vs. Angle in what I thought was the best match of the year for any company. The main event kind of sucked but the show was fun throughout as much like TLC, they amped up the gimmicks and it worked in this case.
Wrestler – Kurt Angle. By default for the most part actually. No one really stood out to me so I went with Angle instead of anyone else. Hardy’s matches kind of suck, Anderson barely ever won a stupid thing, RVD is ok and not much more, and that leaves AJ who is stuck in Flair mode and has been for the majority of the year. Angle was his usual awesome self and always entertaining.
Devaluing of the Titles
This is a big one. Aside from the world and tag titles, the belts all feel almost meaningless. Let’s take a quick look at how every title changed hands this year aside from the world and tag.
2/3 Falls win
Pulled out of a box
Champion not pinned in a tag match
Won via DQ
Title handed over
Champion not pinned in a four way match
Champion lays down to lose title
In other words of the NINE title changes this year (think that’s a bit much?) 1/3 were clean pins over the champion with no shenanigans.
Titles vacated for lack of defenses
Won in a threeway
Champions not pinned in a tag match (Freebird Rule)
Titles vacated for lack of defenses
Tournament final with a woman throwing herself into the winning team
Again, one time where the initial champions and initial challengers won the titles, back at the beginning of the year.
Won at a house show
Won with outside interference
This is far better but in the entire year, there were a total of 11 televised title defenses, including PPVs. The title was changed to the TELEVISION Title in late July so we’ll say from the beginning of August to the end of the year, as in five months, that title was defended on Impact four times. With less than a title defense a month televised, how in the world can I take the title seriously? Why should I? No one is challenging the champion the vast majority of the time so apparently they don’t want it. Why should I care about it other than simply it’s a title?
Feast or Fired cashed in (not by the person that owned the case)
Title stripped (due to travel issues so not TNA’s fault at all)
Clean win in a threeway
Changed at a house show
Changed at a house show
Win with outsider interference
Now, out of all these, name one specific one that stands out in your mind (rhetorical for you lunkheads out there that don’t get what I’m talking about). Williams, Lethal, Kaz and Robbie E have held it on TV this year. When do you remember anything about the title other than it being won or lost? The title isn’t fought for anymore and it’s not like people talk about it. The division means nothing at all anymore and more or less is three guys fighting over it on occasion.
In short, aside from the world title and arguably the tag titles, the belts have been made to look like absolutely nothing.
Isn’t Nostalgia Supposed to be Fun?
Hulk Hogan (57), Eric Bischoff (55) and Ric Flair (61) are the three top heels in this company. Hardy, the world champion as of this writing, is a distant fourth. Why should we fear these guys? Are they going to run over us with their wheelchairs? Before they were the top heels, Nash (51) and Sting (51), were the top heels. I understand the idea of having your big stars be a major focus of your show, but at the end of the day there comes a point where that’s simply not working.
As I’ve said numerous times on here, why pay out the likely big fat contracts to guys like these if they’re not going to get you even a slight push in the ratings? Without all of the numbers from this year and with only through September of last year (Hogan signed in late October), the ratings are down nearly 9% this year. Think about that for a minute. Not only are the salaries there, but ratings are down.
Since these guys showed up they have been the focal point of the company be they faces or heels. A lot of fans, myself included, like these guys but at some point even their big fans are going to start to say “Ok, we get it: Hogan and Flair are the biggest stars ever and Bischoff is slick. Can we see something else?” They’ve been doing the same stuff for 15 years now and it’s a little tiring. This ties into my next point.
Insert Witty Line About Too Much of the Same People Here
TNA doesn’t seem to get the concept of show us something different. Like I said, Hogan, Bischoff and Flair have been the focal points of the company. When I say focal points, I mean for awhile they were in seemingly every segment. For about 9-10 months this year, the vast majority of the show was about one thing at a time.
When the year started, the majority of the show was about Hogan and The Band with some stuff about AJ and his defenses thrown in. Then it became about Hogan vs. Flair. Then it became about THEY ARE COMING. Then it was about Sting and Deception. Then it was about THEY ARE STILL COMING/EV 2.0. Then it was about Immortal and since then it’s still been about Immortal.
When they’re not in the ring they’re in the back talking. When they’re not in the back talking they’re in the back fighting. When they’re not in the back fighting, they’re on a commercial. More or less, the main storyline takes up well over half of a show more often than not. While there may be individual storylines, they always tie into the main one (Pope vs. Abyss for example).
In short, if you don’t like the main storyline, you might as well only watch about half an hour of the show. Let’s take a look at the show from 12/23 for an example.
Immortal/Rob Terry introduced/Morgan weigh-in/Foley vs. Flair yelling
Jeff Hardy talks to Morgan
Jeff Jarrett’s MMA thing
Tara and Madison talk
X-Title #1 Contenders Match
Sarita beats up Velvet
Bischoff and Flair address Immortal
Kendrick talks to some lady in a cafeteria
Knockouts Tag Title match
Pope gets donations from Young/Jordan
Team Beer Money talks
Team MCMG talks
Main event – Team MCMG vs. Team Beer Money
That’s 15 segments in total. 8 (not counting the #1 contender match) involved Immortal or Fourtune. If that’s not enough, let’s go back a bit to the July 1 show.
Abyss and Eric talk/Hogan hits Abyss with a chair/Hardy saves
Bischoff makes Abyss vs. Hardy the main event
Dixie Carter arrives
AJ vs. Joe
Dixie talks to Hogan and Eric
Kendrick vs. Wolfe
Video on Pope
Lethal vs. Morgan
Abyss makes Janice
Rayne vs. Wilde
Sarita beats up Wilde
Dixie talks to Sting
Abyss vs. Jeff Hardy
16 segments, 7 were about Hogan/Eric/Abyss/Dixie, all of which were about THEY. In other words, just shy of half was about the same thing. See what I mean? It’s fine to have a main story, but it can’t be half of your show because if a fan isn’t into that story, there’s little point in watching the whole show because they’ll get sick of it. I checked other shows and came up with approximately 50% as well. That’s overkill of an angle, period.
This was not a good year for TNA in my eyes. With the arrival of Hogan and Bischoff, everything was changed and the focus almost instantly was on them. The vast majority of the year has been the buildup to Immortal and then Immortal itself. The problem is that the payoff, Immortal being here, worked for maybe two weeks and since then has become boring quickly.
Hardy is intriguing as champion, but after that the whole team kind of falls apart. As I said earlier, having three guys that aren’t wrestlers anymore leading the top heel stable is not a good idea. In short, if you don’t like Immortal you’re not going to like Impact because the show completely revolves around that one story.
The major issue this year has been the writing. The storylines just aren’t intriguing at all for the most part. The shock value was definitely there on 10/10/10 but aside from that, nothing has really been a huge deal. Everything feels flat and there doesn’t seem to be a sign of that getting any better. That’s not a good sign as 2010 was a major step backwards for this organization.
I probably left some stuff out but I think this definitely covers the high points. Oh and Samoa Joe was kidnapped by ninjas and then came back and that was just kind of never talked about again.