wrestling / Columns

Our Take On 01.17.11: The 2010 TNA Wrestling Awards Spectacular!

January 17, 2011 | Posted by Larry Csonka

STEVE COOK: It’s been a year since we’ve gotten to do this, and by God we’re gonna do it right. You people out there, the greatest wrestling fans in the world, deserve an opportunity to see the best. And 411Mania, Larry Csonka & myself…we are the best in the world at what we do. At 411Mania, you’re seeing the best that the Internet wrestling community has to offer. So let’s put two & two together. If we’re representing 411Mania, and we’re the best that the website has to offer, then we gotta be the best of them all! Cut and dry, whether you people like it or not! You’re looking at the best writers. The best looking men. The best dressed men. Long limousines, jet airplanes, custom made clothes, and any woman in the world we want *snaps fingers* just like that. You know why? Because we’re the best. We are the Impact Playaz.

You know, I hear a lot of people talking about TNA these days! Click on any comment thread on a TNA article and you’ll see the same people every time talking about how great TNA is, and how WWE is classless, and how TNA will take over the wrestling world! Let me tell you something…Larry & myself, we were watching TNA and we were talking about TNA on this very website before most of these people knew it existed. Between the two of us we’ve seen everything that this company has ever presented, and nobody who hasn’t been on TNA’s payroll at one point or another is more qualified to talk about this promotion than we are! The difference between us and other TNA talkers is pretty simple…when something is great, we say it’s great! When something sucks, we say it sucks! We aren’t stooges that get paid to toe the company line and talk about how everything in TNA is sunshine & butterflies! We call it like it is, and there are a lot of people in that company, and a lot of people all over the wrestling world that hate us for it. But do we care? Hell no! We are exactly who we say we are. Steve Cook. Larry Csonka. The best.

LARRY CSONKA: I actually do not have a lot to say this year. People will bitch and complain no matter what, but the fact is that Cook and I have been doing the TNA Awards every year for the last six years, and we’ll keep it up as long as we’re here. We have been with the company since day one, and while it does piss me off from time to time, I can’t hate TNA. TNA may piss me off constantly with tier booking and insane business strategy, but the fact is that I still get to watch a ton of my favorites (Angle, AJ, Williams, Motor City, Beer Money, ect) have some awesome matches. So I am willing to sit through what I do not like to get what I do like, and honestly, I do that with WWE, ROH, LUCHA, everything. The bottom line is that while you may think the we and the site as a whole hate TNA, Cook and I wouldn’t do this if we did. So yeah, sit back, relax, and we hope that you enjoy. Also, sorry for this being so late, which is my fault, and not Cook’s. I’ve been busy.

The “What Were They Thinking” Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: TNA Tries To Re-start The Monday Night Wars: I do not want to beat the dead horse, but back in December of 2009 I wrote about the fact that TNA was about to enter a war that they were not prepared for. The “Monday Night War II” was not a good idea at that stage of the game. Maybe down the line it would have been fine, with a better business strategy and a higher profile among wrestling fans, but TNA had to pull the trigger. It was a war that they could not win, they brought a knife to a gunfight, and they got spanked. They lost money, they lost ground, and one year later, ratings are the same.

Steve CookWinner: The Awesome Kong/Bubba the Love Sponge Fiasco: As usual, the competition in this category was pretty fierce. The Jersey Shore cross-promotion that went nowhere got some serious consideration, but I let it slide because the chick from the show was hot and I like me some Cookie. There were several roster moves that could have qualified, but at the end of the day I think the biggest facepalm moment for TNA in 2010 was the situation that led to Awesome Kong leaving the company. You all remember it well, basically what happened was that TNA’s newest backstage interviewer & Hulk Hogan’s best friend Bubba the Love Sponge went off on a tirade on his twitter machine about how the people of Haiti didn’t deserve any financial help from people. This drew the ire of Awesome Kong, who had been doing some charitable work to help the Haitians, and she got into a backstage altercation with Mr. Love Sponge. Kong was sent home for this, and while it makes sense on some level to punish a talent that attacks other talent backstage, that ignores the fact that Bubba was a tool and he had it coming. It also goes without saying that Kong brought a lot more to TNA than Bubba could ever hope of bringing. Later on, Bubba got himself fired when he went on a radio show hosted by one of his toadies that had Kong on for an interview and generally acted like a humongous douchebag. Which came as no surprise to anybody familiar with Bubba’s history. It was never a question of if he’d do something to warrant being dismissed, it was a question of how long the Hulkster could protect him. Fortunately, it wasn’t as long as most of us expected, and was the first real indication that Hulk Hogan wasn’t going to have as much an effect on TNA’s product as people thought he would. Nevertheless, you truly have to wonder what TNA was thinking when they hired a guy calling himself Bubba the Love Sponge. That’d be the first red flag, wouldn’t it?

The “Where Did She/He Come From” Award

Steve CookWinner: Robbie E. : Rob Eckos wasn’t exactly a guy on everybody’s radar at the beginning of 2010. He was hanging around the Northeast indy scene, just doing his thing and not getting a lot of attention for it. All of a sudden, he pops up in TNA doing a Jersey Shore gimmick. It kind of got a mixed reaction from online pundits, but TNA people thought enough of it that they gave him the X Division Championship for a couple of months and even brought in one of the Jersey Shore people to try and give his angle more heat. I don’t know if Robbie E. is here to stay, but he certainly came a long way in 2010.

Larry CsonkaWinner: TNA REACTION That’s right, I am picking TNA Reaction for the simple fact that it was the BEST thing that they did all year. It was new, it was fresh, and it actually DID add to angles and the like. TNA Reaction was the best of TNA most weeks, little bullshit, a real feel, a different feel than the regular bullshit that Impact was, and I ENJOYED the hell out of that show. Wouldn’t it fucking figure that the one thing I consistently enjoyed about the company would get axed? Anyway, for as much shit as Easy E gets, Reaction was a great concept. I just think that making it weekly was asking too much of wrestling fans. I think if they did reaction the week before and or after the PPV it could have worked better. Anyway, this was a pleasant surprise from the company is 2010, and I hate that it is gone now.

The “What are They Doing on my TV” Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: The Nasty Boys: No offense to these guys, as I was actually a big fan of their work in WCW. But the simple fact that these guys made it onto TV and PPV in the year 2010 sums up a lot about what is wring with TNA. They were out of shape, slow, and down right embarrassing once they stepped into the ring. While others may get the nod for this award from Cook and others, seeing these guys STEAL valuable TV and PPV time from people they should have been building the company around was a damn shame.

Steve CookWinner: Orlando Jordan : It speaks a lot of OJ’s “talents” that this was the category I had the easiest time picking a winner for. TNA trotted out a lot of people with no discernable talent or appeal in 2010, but none of them had the staying power or the ability to make me scratch my head and wonder why they were employed that Orlando Jordan did. The last time I saw him on TV kind of sums up my problem with him. Maybe I’m alone on this, but I really don’t have a need to see dudes running around on television wearing Hooter Girl outfits. It’s just not my cup of tea. I also didn’t need to see his feud with Rob Terry, him getting a victory over Samoa Joe for no apparent reason than to have Joe get captured for an angle that never went anywhere, or his partnership with Eric Young. Nothing good came from any of this.

TNA Finisher of the Year Award

Steve CookWinner: Doug Williams’ Chaos Theory: It was a pretty tough year for finishers in TNA. If you look back at the previous winners in this category, you’ll note that there are a lot of folks represented that are no longer with this company. Normally I could go with the Canadian Destroyer, or the Gringo Killa, or the Awesome Bomb, or my tremendous choice from last year, the Steiner Screwdriver. It doesn’t help that the TNA style leads to finishers being kicked out of all the time, or leading to interference or what have you. I’m going to go with what I feel is the coolest move in TNA, the Chaos Theory from Douglas Williams. The Bridging German Suplex is a cool move in itself, but when you add a roll before it, it becomes freaking awesome.

Larry CsonkaWinner: Generation Me’s More Bang for Your Buck: While the Chaos Theory is a damn fine selection, I will go with the More Bang for Your Buck from Generation Me. I have always been a tag team guy, and I love tag team finishers, and with TNA actually having tag teams, it makes me happy. But 3D is old, DWI is fine, and Skull and Bones works, but there is nothing special about them. Generation Me brings us More Bang for Your Buck, and as you can see from the video above, it is a fun, exciting, and devastating looking finish on an opponent. A lot of finishers are been there and done that, while others have been killed by overuse and no selling, but Generation Me brings the fun and yeah, I get excited when they pull it off so flawlessly.

TNA’s “Shocking Moment of the Year” Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: Nothing: Nothing is the winner, because nothing this company does surprises me anymore. They can have AMAZING matches, they can have AMAZING promos, but then again, they do shit like bring in Scott Hall and Sean Waltman, and they continue to show that they have no idea how to properly build to grow PPV buy rates. They are willing to reach back to the past, hand out money to anyone with a name, underpay people that work the hardest for them, and still, they are in the same exact position that they were in last year. So yeah, for all they do well, TNA is still the same, and unfortunately that doesn’t surprise me or shock me, it just makes me sad because the potential, as I think we all know, is there.

Steve CookWinner: The January 4th, 2010 edition of Impact: We all knew that this show was going to be huge. Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff were arriving in TNA. It was going to be TNA’s first Impact airing on a Monday night, and it was going to be live. All of the ingredients were in place for an exciting night of television, and they delivered with multiple shocking events that most people didn’t see coming. In the very first segment, Jeff Hardy came down to the ring after a Steel Asylum match. Hardy hadn’t been seen on television since leaving WWE, and it was certainly an unexpected occurrence that he would re-surface in TNA. A couple of segments later, Ric Flair arrived at the Impact Zone. Some had speculated that he would appear in TNA due to his connection with Hogan & Bischoff, but this was another unadvertised surprise. Hogan & Bischoff arrived, and during their segment Scott Hall & Sean Waltman came out. More surprises. The Nasty Boys were running around backstage for some reason. It’s tough for TNA to shock me. I pretty much expect anything and everything from them at this point, but on this night I was shocked on several occasions.

TNA’s Tag Team of the Year Award

Steve CookWinner: Motor City Machine Guns : Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin have been around TNA for a pretty long time now. They chilled as singles competitors in the X Division until deciding to form a tag team as they had on the indy circuit to a successful response. The Motor City Machine Guns were a favorite from the beginning with the Internet fans, who enjoyed their innovative double team moves and workrate in the ring. Unfortunately it seemed as if TNA Management didn’t share the love. The Guns floundered in the tag team division for most of the time period from 2007-09…occasionally they’d get a chance to shine, but usually they’d be smacked back down soon enough. It wasn’t until halfway through 2010 that they were finally given the ball by TNA. They won the tag team titles at Victory Road from Beer Money Inc., then had a well-received series of matches with that team that established the Machine Guns as the top tag team in TNA, if not the world. I know a couple of teams in ROH & Japan might take some issue with that. After finishing with Beer Money, they “retired” Team 3D and feuded with Generation Me, another young tag team looking for their chance to shine. For now, it’s the Guns that are shining brightest in TNA’s tag team division.

Larry CsonkaWinner: The Motor City Machineguns: Finally, after years of hard work, The Motor City Machineguns have reached the top of the TNA tag team mountain. For one reason or another they always fell short of their goal. They would be relegated to clusterfuck X-Division matches, or other meaningless feuds, but in 2010, they finally got to step up. While not the “greatest series of matches of all time” as Mike Tenay hypes, and hey he is just doing his job, the Guns vs. Beer Money feud was a true highlight for TNA in 2010. The Gun stepped up their game, performed even better, put on excellent matches on TV and PPV, won the titles, defended the titles, and did so with the same greatness as they have been bringing. Hell, they are the first tag team to be so highly ranked in the 411 WOTW awards. While not super official, people have taken notice of them, and the title win after so long put them over the top.

TNA’s Most Underutilized Performer of the Year Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: Sarita: Normally I would say Jay Lethal, but they have yo-yo’d that poor bastard so many times, I just don’t care anymore. So I will move on. When TNA signed my Dark Angel, I was full of joy. But deep in my heart, I knew that it likely would not work out for the best. While she had a good end of 2010, the fact of the matter is that TNA, once again as one of the most talented female wrestlers on their roster, and once again, she is being wasted. For a while the Knockouts were something to turn in to watch, and then it went off a cliff. They have started to rebuild and have some names now, and they need to pull the trigger and go full bore again. Sarita is a star, and is grossly underutilized by the company. Let her loose, let her do her thing, let her have good matches and help the company.

Steve CookWinner: SoCal Val: This is kind of like a Lifetime Achievement Award, really. Val has been employed by TNA for over five years now. She’s been in a grand total of one storyline the entire time she’s been with the company, the saga with Black Machismo & The Guru that most of us that saw it would prefer to forget. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Val’s performance during that particular storyline wasn’t all that great, but she got through it, and has been loyal to this company for over four years now. She’s shown potential in other companies as a snobby hot girl with a charisma about her. Doesn’t she deserve something more than being the ring announcer on Xplosion, the girl that heels threaten every so often on Impact, and the girl that does trivia segments on TNA’s website? If she was only here for a year I’d be saying she was doing an awesome job, but it’s been five years now!

TNA’s PPV Of The Year Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: TNA Lockdown: TNA PPVs were weird in 2010. For the most part they did not have any standout shows, and most of them just ran together. In past years they usually would have a few that you remembered with ease, and while there were some damn good PPV matches from the company this year, they were also spread out. When I look back I think the show that was the easiest to watch was Lockdown. Lethal Lockdown was good, AJ vs. Pope was good and was a nice showcase for Pope, and Angle vs. Anderson was a great standout match for Anderson. Yes it was against Kurt Angle, but Anderson worked hard in the match and really came off like a star for the first time in a long time. I have always liked the Lockdown PPV, and most years it delivers. In a down year overall for TNA PPV, Lockdown wins out.

Steve CookWinner: TNA Lockdown: Before WWE had gimmick PPVs every month, TNA took a chance by having an event where every match took place inside a steel cage. Many have claimed that it waters down the concept of a cage match, but I think it’s helped TNA’s April PPVs stand out from every other show on their schedule. TNA’s PPVs have a tendency to run together in my mind with similar matches every month, but Lockdown stands out. Most of this year’s card was kind of blah, but the main event Lethal Lockdown match & Kurt Angle vs. Mr. Anderson were pretty great matches that bumped this show up above the others.

TNA’s Feud of the Year Award

Steve CookWinner: Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money Inc.: Last year when talking about the Kurt Angle vs. Desmond Wolfe feud, I stated “Sometimes the best stuff is also the simplest.” This feud also fits that phrase. It was about answering the question of who was the best tag team in the world: the multi-time TNA Tag Team Champions Beer Money, or the Motor City Machine Guns, a team that had been kicking around TNA for the last couple of years and was beloved by a good portion of the fan base even though they’d never really gotten a push. After winning the titles at Victory Road, the Guns embarked on a Best of Five Series with Beer Money. Robert Roode & James Storm were victorious in a ladder match and a street fight to take a two to nil lead, but Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin would storm back in the series with wins in a steel cage & an Ultimate X match. It came down to a Two out of Three Falls match on the August 12 edition of Impact, and the Guns won to establish themselves as the best tag team in TNA. For a few minutes there, tag team wrestling was a big deal again.

Larry CsonkaWinner: Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money Inc.: I mean, is there any other feud in the company this year that was actually any good? Most of the stuff seemed like a repeat or just not worth it in my opinion. But as I discussed with the Tag Team Of The Year award, there is just no other choice. A rather simple feud, tag teams with a past, one team full of decorated tag team champions, the other filled with talented athletes that have just not had the chance to seize the gold ring, if you will. In reality it all comes down to this, when these guys were on TV, facing each other, beating each other down, cutting promos on each other, what ever it was I was there for it and excited. They delivered big time in 2010, and if given the chance, they may do it again in 2011.

Biggest Disappointment Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: TNA Fails To Learn From Their Past Mistakes aka TNA Being TNA: TNA is simply their worst enemy, and they prove it every year. Every year they bring in “big names from the past” and wonder why they do not do better ratings. Every year they bring in “big names from the past” and do not properly promote them or over promote them, and they wonder why their PPV buys are anemic. They constantly make the same mistakes, they refuse to learn from the past, they want to poke the beast (WWE) with a stick, they want to battle the beast when they are NOT ready, and they hurt themselves. The biggest disappointment in the year 2010 for TNA is once again TNA itself. If I had one wish, it would be for TNA to simply get their shit together, worry about themselves, and just keep shit simple. Use the great talent they have, be different, and see what happens then. Fuck, it isn’t like they will do any worse than they have.

Steve CookWinner: The Bischogan Regime: People expected big things from Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff when they came in. Early on, it looked like they were going to deliver. Ratings were up, TNA was making big news and big plans, they moved Impact to Mondays to go against Raw…lots of big things were going on. Then they got a few bad ratings and people got scared when they saw that the audience was shrinking while TNA was spending more money than ever. Hulk Hogan talked a big game about making a difference in TNA and creating a wrestling company that would provide an alternative to WWE and in fact surpass them. That hasn’t happened, in fact Hulk hasn’t really made that much of an impact (pun intended) on TNA at all. Part of that is his various medical issues, but there’s also the fact that he didn’t really have a whole lot of great ideas to make TNA better other than adding all of his friends to the show and changing the ring. Eric Bischoff was key in producing the Reaction show, which was an interesting concept, but often didn’t have enough material to make itself worth watching right after two hours of Impact. Bischoff & Hogan can still turn things around if they plan on being with TNA for the long haul, but so far their stay with the company has to be considered disappointing compared to what they thought they would do.

TNA’s Knockout of the Year Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: Madison Rayne: 2010 was a down year for the Knockouts division. The tag team ranks were constantly ignored, and due to Kong leaving, the release of Hamada and Wilde leaving, that division took a tremendous hit. And while not as bad, the singles division was not all that spectacular either. Those ladies leaving along with Cheerleader “Alissa Flash” Melissa really hurt the division in the year. But with that being said, Madison Rayne was really able to have a good year. I really enjoyed her work in SHIMMER, and felt that she had great potential to succeed. She’s not the best character, not the best promo and not the best worker, but she constantly seems to work hard at all of these aspects, and she is now succeeding. She went from being the bitch of the Beautiful People to the queen of the division this year. She had a ton of room to grow, and when she got the chance, she seized it. Sure the booking hasn’t been that great in the division, but she easily stood out this year. As she ended 2010 and entered 2011, she is working with Mickie James, with Tara basically being HER bitch. We always talk about potential and room to grow in wrestling, and we have seen people succeed and fail both on spectacular levels. Madison, even with bad booking and a revolving door of talent, was able to stand out and make her mark. That is why she gets the award from me.

Steve CookWinner: Madison Rayne : 2010 was a big year from Madison, as she went from being Velvet Sky’s sidekick in the Beautiful People to being the standard-bearer of the Knockout Division. Sure, girls like Mickie James, Tara & Angelina Love have more experience and notoriety, but nobody held the Knockouts title more days in 2010 than Madison Rayne did. She even managed to win title matches once or twice in non-controversial fashion, and only one of her title wins was complete nonsense. Booking aside, Madison has been constantly stepping her game up through the year, and has proven that she deserves her spot at the top of the Knockouts Division with her in-ring ability. Simply put, Madison Rayne is the best thing to come out of Ohio since Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce.

TNA’s Wrestler of the Year/MVP Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: Kurt Angle: In my opinion, this awards comes down to two men, AJ Styles and Kurt Angle. Even before I started putting this together, I knew that I was selecting Angle. AJ had a good year, he held the title, he has been a focal point with Fortune/Immortal, Flair’s protégé, he had good matches and in my opinion, really grew as a performer. But I have to say that the MVP will go to Mr. Kurt Angle. While AJ grew and keeps getting better, Kurt Angle is on another level and continues to be there. Angle acts like a star, is treated like a star, and when he appears on the show is one of the few guys that commands the star presence. Add into the fact that he had good to great matches with AJ, Morgan, Pope, Hernandez, Wolfe, AJ, Hardy, Anderson and pretty much the whole damn roster, and the man is not only the MVP, but he is irreplaceable. Most people said that Angle’s career would die when he went to TNA, and while painkillers and duct tape may hold him together, the man constantly delivers at a big time level. In my opinion the most telling thing was when he was off of TV/out of the ring at the end of the year. There was just something missing, and that was easily Kurt Angle. I love AJ Styles, and he is in many ways STILL Mr. TNA. He is the iron man, and he also cannot be replaced, but Angle is the MVP in my opinion.

Steve CookWinner: AJ Styles: Things change in TNA on a pretty regular basis, but the one constant for the promotion since its inception has been the presence of AJ Styles as somebody that can always deliver an entertaining wrestling match. AJ had a pretty interesting year…he started off as the babyface TNA Champion, but decided to turn heel when Ric Flair agreed to take him under his wing. For a little while Styles was trying to make himself into a mini-Flair, and it was pretty embarassing, but his in-ring performances were still top-notch. He became one of the members of Fortune, Flair’s heel group featuring Beer Money, Kazarian, Douglas Williams & Matt Morgan that would later merge with Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy & Abyss to form Immortal. With so many members of the group unable to wrestle on a regular basis, it’s fallen on Styles to be one of the backbones of the group from a workrate perspective and he’s done well at it. He wound up losing the TNA championship to Rob Van Dam, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to produce matches worth watching. He later won the Golbal title and made that into the Television title, a name for the secondary title that actually might stick this time. As the year closed, he was feuding with Williams for the title and helping the Brit’s career attain new heights in America. Others may have had better years from a kayfabe perspective, and some might see it as a step down for AJ to be feuding over a secondary title when he has held every men’s title in TNA on multiple occasions, but just like every other year AJ’s taken what he’s been given and made it work. No matter who TNA brings in to try and pop a rating or a buyrate, AJ Styles will always be Mr. TNA.

Who to Look Out For Next Year Award

Larry CsonkaWinner: Matt Morgan: Wow, most years I think that it is pretty easy to pick someone to breakout in the next year. In past years, I have always had 2 or 3 guys that immediately pop to mind for this category, but this year it seems harder. I do not know whether or not that is a good or bad thing. But after some thought, I have to go with Matt Morgan. Obviously the signs have been there. He was brought in at the recommendation of Jim Cornette, who has always thought highly of him, and judging by the booking, TNA is buying into that. I had been high on Morgan in the past, but for the most part, I do feel that he has underachieved in the ring for the company. Things may change, and he may be shoved back down the card, but I feel that they are going to continue to push him in the year 2011, and I also think that it may lead to a title run this year.

Steve CookWinner: Rob Terry: The Freak is a pretty good nickname for Mr. Terry. He got off to a really good start in 2010, winning the Global title from Eric Young and getting a strong push from management. He squashed people on a regular basis, got to be on Team Hogan on Lockdown, and was living the good life. At some point they figured out that while Rob looks like a million bucks and has a ridiculous physique, he wasn’t quite ready to have something resembling a decent wrestling match. I think they realized it during the Orlando Jordan feud, actually. After some time away, Terry re-appeared on TV right around the end of the year as Ric Flair’s bodyguard. It worked for Matt Morgan, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Rob Terry is in line for a big push in 2011. Will it work? Too soon to say.

What Did You Think?
What were your picks for the awards we gave? What do you see happening in TNA in the year 2011? Let us know in the comments section, and thanks for reading.


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