My Two Centsss - These Are The Top Seven TNA Stars of 2013
By Super Chrisss
Dec 24, 2013 - 12:53:20 PM
2013 was a really strange year for TNA Wrestling. They kicked off the year with a bang, and a lot of momentum. Despite Hulk Hogan receiving way more promo time on a weekly basis than he should have gotten, all the other storylines seemed to click. Bully Ray was in the midst of a tweener/face turn, and was really getting over as a main-event talent. Aces & 8s had a fair amount of credibility and the slow burn of revealing their members intrigued many fans (some even went as far as to put the faction on par with The Shield, believe it or not). TNA were experimenting with new faces, such as Joey Ryan, Kenny King, and Christian York. Even top names like Aj Styles and Bobby Roode were doing interesting stuff outside the world title scene.
Unfortunately TNA, 2013 ended very badly for them. They went from taking Impact on the road on a semi-weekly basis with a bloated roster to being forced to return to Orlando and cutting what seemed like half the roster in order to "save costs". But they did more than cut developmental wrestlers or guys and girls who had "lost their way". As of today, December 24, 2013, the likes of Aj Styles, Hulk Hogan, Douglas Williams, Tara (Victoria), Devon, Chavo Guerrero, and most recently TNA Co-Founder Jeff Jarrett, are just some of the names who have left the company since January 2013. While some of those cuts or resignations aren't as significant as others, it just goes to show how much the roster has changed in a very short amount of time.
That being said, this column isn't about predicting whether TNA will live to see 2015. Rather, I'm here to share with you my picks for the top seven TNA superstars of the year. So with that being said, let's kick things off with the 'It Factor'...
7. Bobby Roode
While 2013 wasn't exactly a 'bad' year for Roode, it was significantly less historic than his 2011 or 2012. Roode ended 2011 as the TNA World Champion and would go on to be remembered by the end of 2012 as the longest-reigning world champion in TNA history. Quite an accomplishment for a guy prior to the 2011 Bound For Glory Series, had spent most of his career as one-half of a tag team. Ironically enough, that's where Roode made the most impact this year - both as part of a short-lived tag team with Austin Aries, and creating a stable with Bad Influence known as "E.G.O.". Roode made it far in both this year's BFG series and the TNA world title tournament, but he was unsuccessful on both occasions. His feud with Kurt Angle seems to have reignited him, and he could very well carry that momentum into 2014, where I bet he plans on recapturing the TNA world title by year's end.
Remember what I said earlier about TNA starting off the year on the right foot but ending very poorly? Well, in Magnus' case, it's the complete opposite. The former Gladiator kicked off the year almost as an after-thought. Fans were still confused about his character following his feud with Samoa Joe, and in my opinion, he had never really recovered after failing to win the Television title on multiple occasions. Magnus soon found himself at war with Aces & 8s, and landed himself a spot on Team TNA at LockDown, who got a big win over the stable. He was eventually recruited as a member of the 'new' Main Event Mafia, but he really broke out after the group went their separate ways. Magnus defeated Sting in a huge but disappointing match at Bound For Glory, and shocked everyone by making it to the finals and becoming the first British TNA World Champion in 108 years. Magnus has the luxury of entering 2014 with the richest prize in the company.
5. Austin Aries
Like his former tag team partner Bobby Roode, Aries had another good year in TNA, but when you compare Aries' 2013 to how successful his 2012 was, you can't help but feel underwhelmed. His two title runs - one-half of the tag team champions and X-Division Champion - were extremely short and forgettable. In fact, the highlight of Aries' 2013 was probably the match where he dropped the X-Division title back to Chris Sabin on the Impact before Destination X (side-note: Aries vs. Sabin from July is my TNA Match of the Year). That being said, Aries did his best to remain in the spotlight. His pairing with Bobby Roode could have gold had the company not prematurely pulled the plug on the pairing. Aries' disguising himself as Manik to try and weasel himself into a world title shot was well-done. Hell, he even came close to winning the BFG series. One year ago, I said Austin Aries was one of many reasons to give TNA a chance. Now, he's one of a select few reasons to tune into Spike TV every Thursday night.
4. Chris Sabin
The IWC may not like him, but you cannot ignore the success Chris Sabin had in 2013. You can shit all over his world title run as much as you want, but that doesn't change the fact that "Option C" and pinning Bully Ray at Destination X elevated Sabin up the card significantly. Despite missing almost half of the year recovering from a torn ACL, Sabin managed to rack up four title wins since his return. No, that is not a typo. In the span of eight months, Sabin won a championship four times, and lost a championship on four other occasions. If a company has ever played 'hot potato' with a title belt more so than Chris Sabin, I haven't heard about it. Sabin's multiple title wins and losses almost makes the retired WWE Hardcore title look credible in comparison. Still, Sabin's huge Ultimate X victory at Bound For Glory over top names like Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries, and Samoa Joe cannot be over-looked. Love him or hate him, 2013 was certainly a career year for the former Motor City Machine Gun.
3. Jeff Hardy
Another year, another impressive showing for a guy who is one of TNA's biggest draws. A few months back, I wrote a column comparing the TNA roster with that of WWE's, and I claimed that Hardy was the closest equivalent to John Cena. Not because he was "Super Hardy" or refused to turn heel, but because he was the biggest name on the roster, and the most marketable. A live event or Pay-Per-View without Hardy just doesn't seem right. Yet, following his world title loss to Bully Ray at LockDown, Hardy spent several months in limbo. I honestly couldn't tell you what Hardy was up to between his Full Metal Mayhem match with Bully after LockDown and the start of the BFG series, because he was booked on every other other show. Could you imagine John Cena only showing up on Raw once every two or three weeks? Not because he was injured or because of personal issues, but because he wasn't written into the script? Just another example of poor TNA booking at it's finest.
2. Aj Styles
The runner-up for top TNA star of 2013 is a man who ironically enough, may no longer be with the company anymore (that all depends whether you think Aj Styles not signing a new contract is a work or not). Nevertheless, 2013 was an interesting year for the former "Golden Boy" of TNA. He returned as a "Lone Wolf", debuting new and dark entrance music, and looking very emoish. He played the tweener role perfectly, feuding with both faces and heels at the same time. For weeks, fans wondered whether Aj would align himself with Aces & 8s or if he would do the right thing and 'stand up' for TNA. Well, Aj followed the righteous path (he's much better as face, anyway) and ended up winning the BFG series. Styles ended up defeating Bully Ray for the world title in an over-booked match at Bound For Glory, and claimed he was leaving the company with the title. TNA did an excellent job of making the angle seem as real as possible by showing footage of Aj defending the world title at indy events, as well as Dixie Carter's efforts to get back 'her' world title. The funny part about the whole situation? It seems like Aj might have actually left TNA with the world title...
1. Bully Ray
Aces & 8s did a lot of things wrong. Instead of taking the company by storm and elevating new stars like Knux or Wes Brisco, they ended up losing most of their matches and half of the members in the original group (including Devon, D-Lo Brown, and D.O.C.) are no longer with the company. The only person who really benefited from the faction was the top TNA star of 2013 - Bully Ray. Last year, many fans were begging TNA to give Bully a run with the world title. And that's exactly what we got. From the night Bully turned heel at LockDown and revealed himself as the leader of Aces & 8s, up until very recently, Bully was the undisputed top heel in the company. The man was a heat magnet, even going as far as to have the fans throw garbage into the cage at Lockdown, following his post-match victory speech. His feud with Chris Sabin was brief, but effective. They didn't play up their tag team history as much as I would have liked (The MCMG was the team which forced Team 3D to disband in the first place), but Bully was the perfect obstacle for Sabin, and later, Aj Styles. Bully Ray held the TNA world title longer than anyone else in 2013, and his amazing work both inside and outside the ring earns him the accolade of being called the top TNA star of 2013.
Honourable Mentions: Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Joseph Park
Your Two Centsss: Do you see 2014 being a good year for TNA or an even worse year than 2013? Explain.
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