wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s Top 7 TNA Matches From 2016

December 24, 2016 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Hardy vs Hardy Final Deletion Image Credit: Impact Wrestling

WELCOME back, back to the column that makes lists and hopes that you enjoy them. This week’s column will look back at the best of TNA matches from 2016. I always hear a lot of people saying that they can’t decide what to watch because they do not have enough time to follow everything, so maybe this will help those of you short on time find some stuff to check out. Have fun, and always, thanks for reading. Also, feel free to discuss matches that did not make the list. The more wrestling we share, the more fun we can have. In all honesty, when I look back at TNA in 2016, I am completely under-whelmed by the overall in ring work the company produced. They have too much talent on the roster to deliver so little in terms of great matches. In my opinion, and this has been an issue for a long time, I believe it falls at the feet of the agents/producers, who continually lay out some bad matches, with the wrong people working each other and often times setting up bad finishes that nearly ruin the matches. It isn’t that TNA had a “bad” in ring year, it’s just that their top tier stuff (**** and over) never hit elite levels. An additional note, TNA had several “***½” and “***¾” matches, but when I do these lists, I tend to cut off the lower tier at “****.”

7. From Impact 2.09.16 – Kurt Angle vs. Drew Galloway [****]: Playing off of the promo and the respect that these guys claim to have for each other, they worked a straightforward wrestling match early. They did a double down and went to commercial. Following the break the pacing picked up as Galloway went for a top rope clothesline, only to miss and Angle gets the ankle lock. Galloway escaped and then hit the future shock for a near fall. The action spilled to the floor and while Galloway had control for a bit, Angle then hit the Angle slam onto the steps. The Angle slam then got a near fall. Galloway battled back and hit a reverse Alabama slam, and got the near fall. They worked up top and Galloway hit the air raid crash off the ropes for a near fall. Galloway was still favoring his back, but was able to counter the Angle slam and hit the claymore. He hit another and Angle somehow survived. He would miss a claymore off the ropes and Angle would then hit several German suplexes and drop the straps. The Angle slam followed, and then Angle went up top and hit a splash for a near fall. Galloway escaped the ankle lock and then Angle missed a charge and posted himself. The claymore got another near fall and also busted open Angle’s mouth. Galloway worked a crossface variation, Angle rolled into an ankle lock out of that but Galloway escaped with kicks and applied the submission again and Angle had to tap. This was easily the best match on the show; it felt odd coming from the commercial, almost of the middle was cut, which hurt the flow a bit for me. But this was a great use of one of Angle’s last matches, Galloway got the clean win and it wasn’t any bullshit slip on a banana peel win either, Angle tapped clean to Galloway, which made it feel important.

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6. From TNA Slammiversary – X-Division Title Match: Champion Trevor Lee vs. Andrew Everett vs. Eddie Edwards vs. DJ Z [****]: The entire division has been these guys for months now, which based on talent is fine, but they haven’t been given a lot of TV time; and when they do the matches have been short. I hope that they get to cut loose tonight. Shane Helms dropped the green jacket for a pimp suit. TNA management has ruled that Helms is banned from ringside, I like that. As Helms was escorted to the back, Edwards and DJ Z attacked Lee and Everett. Edwards and DJ Z worked together, playing off of the feud so far, which has been almost more of a tag feud due to the alliances. That won’t last long. Edwards and DJ Z controlled early, and then it was down to them as they traded pinning combos. Nice pacing early, Lee looked to do a suplex to the floor spot and Edwards didn’t go over with him and Lee looked a bit shook up. Everett then hit a wild springboard dive to the floor and wiped out the pile. Lee and Everett isolated Edwards, using double teams. Edwards tried to fight back but got cut off. DJ Z back in as Edwards was sent to the floor, DJ Z ran wild for a bit and sent Everett to the floor, Edwards hit a dive and DJ Z got a near fall and then hit a dive. Everett looked to get a pin, leading to he and Lee arguing and eating a missile dropkick from Edwards. Edwards fired up for a bit, chopping down Lee and Everett. All four then were in and it broke down, and Lee got a great near fall off of a Spanish fly on DJ Z. They went rapid-fire offense wise, and Edwards got another good near fall off of a superkick. Edwards went up top, Everett cut him off and that led to a SUPER RANA on Edwards by Everett for a near fall. Wild shit here. Everett set Edwards and headed up top, missed the 450 and DJ Z hit a DDT for a near fall as Lee broke it up. Lee sent DJ Z to the floor, Lee and Edwards battled with strikes and Lee hit a jumping knee to take control, but Edwards countered God’s last gift into a cradle and won the title! That was an excellent opener, car crash at times and a bit of an anticlimactic finish, but it was exactly what it needed to be. Everyone worked their ass off, it was a ton of fun and most importantly we had a clean finish. This was a great way to kick off the show, and felt like the best TNA match in ages. It’s also what I’ve been missing from the division.

5. From TNA Slammiversary – Falls Count Anywhere Full Metal Mayhem: Broken Matt Hardy vs. Brother Nero Jeff Hardy [****]: They immediately brawled on the floor and used weapons, which made complete sense considering the feud and match stipulation. Jeff got some run to begin, but Matt fought back with the ladder and smashed Jeff to the post. Matt set up a table, looked for a suplex but Jeff countered, not through the table though. Jeff used trashcans and searched for weapons, and pulled out a bigger ladder. He then smashed Matt to the post in retaliation from earlier. Jeff choked out Matt on the table and then hit a slingshot splash through the table for a near fall. Back in the ring, Jeff extended the ladder and set it up all the way across the ring. Twist of fate followed, and he laid Matt on the ladder. Jeff up top, and hits the big splash onto Matt, and covered for another near fall. Jeff up top again, but the swanton ate knees from Matt, who covered for 2. Matt then tried to bite off Jeff’s ear, they traded rights and Jeff hit another twist of fate but Matt popped up and leveled Jeff with a clothesline and he again tried to eat his face. The fight went to the apron, where Matt hit the side effect. Matt then grabbed a Casio style keyboard, and set it up between the apron and a barricade. It fell the first time, but Matt set it back up and powerbombed Jeff through the keyboard, which got a near fall. Jeff Hardy, confirmed keyboard warrior. Matt then set up tables and worked over Jeff, laying him on the tables. He got in the ring and set up the ladder, but Jeff was back up and in the ring. They brawled on the ladder, which toppled over and they hit the ropes and did a double down. Jeff then made his comeback and hit the leg drop to the balls, and then the twist of fate. Jeff headed up top and hit the swanton, which only got 2. The battle again went to the floor, they climbed on the tables and Jeff hit the twist of fate through a table and Matt kicked out. Jeff kept on the attack and laid Matt on the other table, beat Matt with a trashcan lid and went to the top rope and hit the huge swanton through the table and that was finally that. This was a stunt show/garbage match, and there is nothing wrong with that because it has its place. In that aspect, it was exactly what it needed to be and was extremely fun. I really enjoyed the match and felt that they delivered exactly what they needed to in terms of the feud and their position on the card. I had my doubts, but they delivered. This kind of match isn’t for everyone, but they did their job here, worked to the strengths of the stipulation and felt like a big time match.

4. From Impact 7.21.16 – Title vs. Title Six Sides of Steel Match: World Champion Lashley vs. X-Division Champion Eddie Edwards [****]: Edward attacked Lashley as he entered the cage, hit a dive and they brawled at ringside. Edwards was all fired up, but Lashley had enough of that shit, took control and tossed him back in the ring for the official start. Following the beat down, Lashley easily controlled the early portion, using his size and power to his advantage. Edwards tried to fight back and hit a RANA, but was caught and slammed to the cage and we went to the commercial break. Post break, Lashley was still in control, hitting a powerslam for a near fall. Eddie hasn’t gotten shit in here, a few hope spots, but they are telling the story of the bigger man/MMA fighter dominating here. Lashley keeps cutting off Edwards with ease, almost mocking Edwards as he’s knock him down with a strike and then pose. Why? Because Lashley gives NO fucks. Edwards fought out of a torture rack, and at close to 12-minutes in, finally put a bit of offense together before running into a spinebuster. Lashley then missed the spear, crashing into the cage and this was Edwards’ chance. Edwards started to attack with dropkicks, but Lashley then decapitated him with a clothesline. Edwards escaped the release German and sent Lashley to the cage repeatedly. Edwards climbed the cage, but Lashley ran up and they fought, leading to a SUPER RANA by Edwards! Edwards hit the running knee strike, and scored a good near fall. Lashley fought back, Edwards countered the spear, but Lashley press slammed him into the cage and knocked the door open. Lashley charged and speared Edwards, who fell to the floor. Lashley tossed the carcass of Edwards back into the ring, and then grabbed the world title and brought it into the ring with him. Edwards kneed the title into his face, which got another good near fall. Edwards again went up top, but Lashley changed the cage to stop him and then followed him up and hit a superplex. Lashley then destroyed him with a spear, backed off and then hit another spear and we have a new champion of the universe.

3. From Impact 7.05.16 – THE FINAL DELETION: Broken Matt Hardy vs. Brother Nero Jeff Hardy [****]: This felt like a mix of the wackiness of Lucha Uunderground combined with the wacky shit Generico and Ibushi did in Japan for DDT, wrestling in the woods and fighting on Kayaks. That is not a knock on this, you can enjoy it (I certainly did) but just call it what it is and don’t make it into something it’s not; that being said, this shit was delightful. As for the FINAL DELETION, this feels like something Matt has had in his mind forever, and for whatever reasons could never do until now. They filmed this like a final battle in a fight movie or a video game, in a ring in the woods with spotlights and tiki torches. They had wacky camouflaged weapons under the ring and dramatic music playing the entire time. Matt was gloriously insane here, yelling “DELETE” repeatedly as he beat on Jeff with various weapons. At one point, Jeff climbed into a tree and misses a swanton and went through a ladder. Matt lit fireworks and shot them at Jeff, who used a trashcan lid as a shield. Well that is just a normal Friday in North Carolina. Jeff then chased Matt with fireworks, lading to Matt using a bat as a shield and then they fought into the pond. Matt thought Nero was flushed, BUT WILLOW appeared from the water and attacked. The Senor Benjamin tasered Jeff, and Matt covered for the win. BUT NO, Senor Benjamin was in the Willow costume, as if by magic! They then fought into a pit, where Jeff choked out Matt. He climbed a giant sign and we got a life before your eyes video, and then Matt set the sign on fire and Jeff fell off. This allowed Matt to cover for the win, and claim the hardy name. I love the wackiness of Lucha Underground, I love wacky B-Movies that are often more times bad than good, but I still love them anyway. I also appreciate that TNA actually tried to do something out of their wheelhouse, because every time they tease something bold then tend to fold on it. This was something that had to be done all the way, you can’t half ass crazy, you have to embrace something like this and Matt and Jeff really did that. I am not even sure how to rate it, but it was entertaining as all hell and I think they accomplished their goal. I am not sure anyone else in the company could pull it off, but the brothers made it work. I laughed, I was entertained and it certainly was different, and I appreciate that.

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2. TNA Tag Team Title GREAT WAR: Champions The Decay (Crazzy Steve and Abyss) w/Rosemary vs. Broken Matt Hardy and Brother Nero w/Broken Reby [****]: I had no clue what to expect here, and I dig that. Decay all misted Reby at the start and the war was underway. They paired off with Matt and Steve battling in the ring, and Nero and Abyss brawling on the floor. Rosemary got a table for Steve and set it up on the floor. She and Steve double-teamed matt, but Matt fought them off. Rosemary tossed a trashcan to Steve, he beat down Matt and then rosemary did a version of the coast-to-coast dropkick into the trashcan, which was held in front of Matt. Abyss and Jeff in the ring and Abyss had a staple gun and used it to counter a sunset flip. Everyone spilled to ringside for the big brawl, also falls apparently count anywhere. It was implied, but made official when Steve covered Matt on the floor. Abyss and Matt brawled backstage, Abyss took out the ref as the brawl continued. Steve and Nero also battled in a different part of the backstage area, with Steve tossing ladders onto Nero. We then went to outside of Universal Studios, where Matt and Abyss were now fighting. Steve then grabbed a bin that says, “Lake of Reincarnation,” and dumped it on Nero, who disappeared. Pumpkins they started to fly at Steve. They’re cutting back and forth between these pre-taped segments a lot, Nero then appeared as some other persona, attacking Steve as we see Matt and Abyss fighting in the streets. Rosemary made the save for Steve, and then had a pumpkin put on her head. She misted Nero, and Steve demanded that Rosemary aid Abyss. Abyss tried to choke the life out of Matt, Rosemary arrived and gave Abyss Janice. The guy that Decay sodimized in the Delete or Decay video arrived and Rosemary kicked his ass. Willow then appeared and beat on Steve as Matt has fire in his hands and lit Janice on fire. They then fought in the back of a moving truck as Rosemary drove, and Vanguard1 arrived. He fought off Rosemary as Willow got a near fall on Steve. Back in the Impact Zone and we see Willow and Steve brawl back to the ring. Willow grabbed a giant ladder, Steve cut him off and hit a cannonball to Willow and then Willow disappeared. Back to Abyss and Matt brawling outside and back into the Impact Zone. Abyss hit a suplex onto the ramp as Nero reappeared and attacked Steve. Abyss got thumbtacks, but Matt and Nero hit poetry in motion and a twist of fate. Swanton by Nero and that got a near fall. Steve and Abyss fought back, and Abyss got barbed wire boards. Low blow by Matt, he poured tacks on the barbed wire board and ht the side effect on Abyss onto the board. He then put the other board on Abyss, hit an elbow drop off the ropes and Rosemary made the save. Reby made the save and powerbombed Rosemary off the apron through the table as payback from Impact. Nero wrapped a chair around Steve’s head and posted him, and then tossed a chair to Matt. Matt then hit a twist of fate with a chair around Steve’s head. He set up a table and then another. Matt then said that Nero can indulge in his spot monkey addiction and Steve was placed on the tables and Nero climbed as Matt yelled delete. Nero then hit the swanton and killed Steve, the Broken Hardys win the titles. While the pre-tapes in the middle took a bit out of it for me, this was quite the insane spectacle. I think that it delivered on everything most expected it to, the crowd went crazy for the finish and I think that it hit all of the notes it needed to. Some people will love it and some will hate it, like all of the Hardy stuff as of late, but I think that they more than delivered an extremely entertaining match that played to the stipulation and what they had been building to.

1. From TNA Slammiversary – TNA World Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Drew Galloway vs. Lashley (Win by submission or KO only) [****¼]: This has been one of the better feuds TNA has done in some time, both guys have been on and I am excited for the match. I hope they lay it out smartly, because if not the stipulation can hurt instead of help the match. The bell rang and Galloway hit the claymore right away. Great sell by Lashley there. They then battled to the floor for a short period, and then back in where Lashley took control. Lashley tried the torture rack, but Galloway escaped into the iron maiden but Lashley countered into some ground and pound. Lashley went for a spear, but posted himself and Galloway again locked in the iron maiden. Simple and smart work from both so far. Lashley fought back and hit the spear, and the ref counted on Galloway as Lashley looked ready to pounce again. Lashley then started to slowly work over Galloway, hitting an overhead belly to belly and allowing the ref to count again. Lashley then worked for an arm bar, Galloway rolled and kicked Lashley in the face to escape. Lashley’s eye is busted open a little here as Galloway connected with a series of boots. Lashley cut him off with the spinebuster and then a delayed suplex. Lashley would counter a superplex, and then ht a clothesline off the ropes. Galloway hit the claymore, but Lashley rolled to the corner and was still on his feet. Galloway argued with the ref, and Lashley connected with a desperation spear and both men were down. Lashley went for a standing choke, Galloway escaped and booted Lashley to the floor. Galloway followed but Lashley press slammed him to the apron. They brawled to the steps, where Galloway hit the air raid crash. The ref counted, but Galloway then locked in the sharp shooter on the steps. The ref made him break it, so Galloway hit another claymore on Lashley. Galloway then got desperate and set up a table, laid Lashley on it and then headed to the ring. Galloway then went for an over the top dive, and ate table as Lashley moved! HE DEAD. Lashley broke the count and beat down Galloway with ground and pound. Galloway survived the count and was busted open, and was pissed off. He head butted Lashley and then jumped into the ring, but Lashley caught him in a cross face! Galloway powered up, and turned it into a TOMBSTONE! Lashley managed to counter the claymore, hit a big right and locked in a head and arm choke. Lashley pulled back as Galloway struggled, and passed out! NEW CHAMPION! Like the other matches that excelled on this show, they played to the stipulation/style well and accentuated the strengths. Both guys came off very well here, Galloway loses nothing in loss as he overcame and fired up, finally falling to the MMA star. They did a good job of avoiding the constant count teases, they did some, but not the constant tease until 9 bullshit that slows these matches down. That was an excellent main event, pretty much what I hoped for when they built to the match.