HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
The 1st Annual Jammys (TNA Edition)
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, returns with part two of his End of Year awards. This type around, Jay looks at TNA’s best and worst.
Last week, I awarded my Jammys to the WWE stars. This week, it’s time to award the best and worst of TNA. There are a few different awards on this side of the fence, but most are the same. I hope you enjoy the TNA Jammys.
Wrestler of the Year: Kurt Angle
It takes a special kind of wrestler to over-shadow the World champion. Kurt Angle has done that all year. Whether the champ was Sting or Samoa Joe, Kurt was still getting more attention that the champ. Angle’s wars with A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Jeff Jarrett and Mick Foley have kept the former Olympian in the spotlight. When Kurt helped create the Main Event Mafia, he elevated himself even higher.
Kurt’s personal issues have also focused the attention of the fans on him. His marital woes and his run in with the law had the Internet ablaze with speculation and rumor. His comments in the British media, denouncing TNA, brought him severe heat from all sides. Kurt is not the most liked person in TNA, but he is the brightest star in the TNA Heavens.
Knockout of the Year: Awesome Kong
The Japanese transplant went through a major slump following her embarrassing loss to Taylor Wilde. She shook off the humiliation of losing to a Barbie Doll and began a new reign of terror unlike anything the men could unleash. Whether she was battling The Trailer Park Princess, ODB, or the Hardcore Honey, Roxxi, Kong dominated the battles. Kong finally worked her way back into title contention and destroyed Wilde to regain her title.
Kong is facing a Knockout division that is seriously lacking talent. Jacqueline has retired from active duty. Salinas took off to Italy to do films. Traci Brooks is doing office work. Kong’s main opposition consists of: ODB, Roxxi, Wilde, Christy Hemme and SoJournor Bolt. I expect a major feud between Kong and Bolt, after Kong dispatches Hemme. If anyone can salvage the crippled Knockouts division, it’s Kong. She’s just that good.
Tag Team of the Year: Beer Money Inc.
Makeshift teams almost never work, long term. Roode and Storm look to be the exception. They are the Oscar and Felix of pro wrestling. Robert Roode is a money man who dressed in the finest and knows the best. James Storm is a party animal who just wants to live for the moment and to Hell with making plans for the future. They just should not gel as a team. The funny thing is that they work perfectly together.
They have turned back challenges from LAX, Abyss and Matt Morgan, The Motor City Machine Guns and others. They keep the crowds entertained at all times. Jacqueline also adds the beauty to the brawn. She’s not necessarily the typical wrestling beauty. She has a savage beauty that works as a perfect counterpoint to Storm and Roode.
Beer Money very much reminds me of the Ted DiBiase/Mike “IRS” Rotunda team of Money, Inc. The team names aren’t the only things that are similar. On both sides, each man is/was great on the mic. Both teams have/had tremendous individual and team skills. Storm and Roode, Beer Money, Inc., may well go down as the best team in TNA’s history.
Couple of the Year: Booker and Sharmell
There are very few actual couples in TNA, right now. Dutt and Val, Storm and Jacqueline and Booker and Sharmell are about it. Of the three, the Bookers are the best. They have been together for many years, inside and outside the ring. Sharmell isn’t afraid to get involved in her hubby’s business, making her a perfect partner for Booker. Sharmell is also starting to ignite her own career in the ring. The two seem happy and successful. Those are the best reasons to give them this award.
Announcer of the Year: Mike Tenay
The Professor is one of the wisest announcers in the business, today. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the business and a good sense of humor. He is respected by the fans and the wrestlers, alike. He is the last of the Old School wrestling announcers. His name is mentioned alongside greats like Gordon Solie, Tony Schiavone, Bill Mercer, and Boyd Pierce. He is the voice of TNA and they are lucky to have someone of his talent on the microphone.
Breakout Star of the Year: Sheik Abdul Bashir
Daivari was, at best, a mid-carder in the WWE. When he arrived in TNA, Daivari was a key player in Team International. The best thing that he ever did was to abandon his given name for his anti-American Bashir identity. Bashir took a chance by portraying such a vile character. Numerous stars, over the years, have been attacked by fans for being anti-American. Bashir created a character that fans just love to hate.
Bashir took the X-Division title and defended it valiantly throughout most of 2008. He’s looking to feud with Shane Sewell in 2009. Bashir will continue to shine in TNA. He’s finally found his niche and he’s working it for all it’s worth.
Match of the Year: Sting d Samoa Joe (Bound For Glory 2008).
Samoa Joe has been pushed as a machine that almost no one can beat. Sting shouldn’t have had a chance against the Samoan Submission Machine. Sting used mind games to throw Joe off his game. With a little help from his friends, Sting took the World strap off Joe. In addition, Sting set up the stipulations of the match where Joe would not get a rematch. It was a brilliant strategy played out to perfection. When the fans realized that their hero (Joe) had been screwed by Sting, they nearly rioted. Getting that kind of reaction from a crowd is exactly what promoters dream about. The match was a textbook example of how to do a match correctly.
Best Finishing Maneuver: The Awesome Bomb (Awesome Kong)
This was the toughest choice of the bunch. There are so many great finishers in TNA. I considered Team 3D’s 3D, Petey Williams‘ Canadian Destroyer and Rhino’s Gore!. When I finally made my choice, it came down to which is the most damaging and most effective. Kong has had some trouble with people slipping out of the move during it’s set-up. If Kong can hit the move, the match is done, period. Her power is amazing. Kong is so much larger than her opponents, so the move has an advantage that the men’s moves don’t have. As long as her strength holds out, Kong will destroy all in her sights with this superb move.
Best Character of the Year: Roxxi
Roxxi Laveaux was a borderline anorexic zombie with absolutely no personality. When Roxxi worked with Kip and BG James, she was only window dressing. She sprayed the eyes of the Voodoo Kin Mafia’s enemies to give VKM an advantage. Kip’s firing of Roxxi was a great move for all parties, especially Roxxi.
The reborn Roxxi was a Hardcore Honey with a tough look and tougher ring style. Her bizarre look, as Laveaux, was replaced by a unique beauty that won over the fans. Her wars with Kong, Raesha Saeed, Rhaka Khan and the Beautiful People have been fun to watch. Roxxi’s rougher style and even rougher language have made her unique in the company. She is possibly the most liked female on the roster, right now.
Worst Character of the Year: “Nigerian Prince” Booker T
I had a dear friend back in college, Wallace “Johnny” Ozigbo. He was a transfer student from Nigeria. We became good friends over the years. One of the first things that drew me to Johnny was his accent. It opened the door to many interesting conversations. When I heard that same accent on TNA, I should have been thrilled, for nostalgic reason. I wasn’t.
Booker T’s accent is so forced that it’s annoying. The first time I heard it, I remember telling my late wife that Booker had been hitting the bottle. I honestly thought he was intoxicated. Over the weeks, it turned out that he was just trying to half-heartedly portray himself as a royal prince from Africa. I have a somewhat pronounced Southern drawl from my years growing up in Texas. If I suddenly started speaking with a Cockney (British) accent, my friends would think I’d slipped my gears. That’s how Booker’s accent comes across.
Another problem is that Booker sometimes slips and reverts to his Texas accent, especially when he’s upset. The reason Booker’s character is the worst is due to the fact that Booker can’t or won’t fully commit to his character.
Worst Storyline of the Year: The Prince Justice Brotherhood
When Eric Young decided to find his inner hero, I just knew it wasn’t going to be a good thing. Eric showed up in Hulk Hogan colors with a Superman mindset. I shook my head in disbelief as Super Eric came to the aid of the down-trodden. I thought that was as a bad as it could get. I was so very wrong.
Eric aligned himself with Shark Boy and Curry Man. The trio decided to unite as a take-off of the Justice League of America. The name they chose was the Prince Justice Brotherhood. I had a talk with Arnie Katz about that name. After doing some research, it turns out that Prince Justice was an old identity used by Abyss. It is possible that Abyss was going to join the group. The group went on a campaign to TNA of Evil Doers. What they should have done was rid TNA of themselves. They were a bad comedy act that got far too much attention. It looks like the team has disbanded. Shark Boy’s been on an extended leave. Eric has turned in his cape and cowl for a position in The Frontline. Rumors are running wild that Curry Man is about to disappear and Christopher Daniels is returning. Turn off the Bat Signal, Commissioner Cornette, the super-heroes have retired. Thank the heavens.
Best Storyline of the Year: Main Event Mafia v Frontline
The best storylines in wrestling are those that have multiple scenarios and mini-stories. This storyline is perhaps the best storyline since the old nWo. There are five members of the Mafia and about a dozen members of the Frontline. There is distrust on the Frontline side, which the Mafia is exploiting. It’s a situation of Who can you trust?.
Another fun aspect of this story is the undecided roster members. There are about a dozen or so stars that haven’t made a decision as to which side they will go with. Between the possible back stabbers and undecided stars, the game is always set to change. This allows the story to remain fresh and interesting. This story will surely play out over time but it should be fun while it lasts. It is definitely the most interesting storyline of the year.
Comeback of the Year: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has been a dominant player in so many angles over the years. He worked with Shawn Michaels and alone as Diesel. He also served as a core member of the original nWo. Nash helped to create “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal and mold Samoa Joe. Nash is, of course, a founding member of the Main Event Mafia.
Nash has some issues with his knees. Despite the bad knees, Nash has jumped into the middle of the Respect War between the Mafia and the Frontline. He’s already battled Samoa Joe and worked a few tag matches. Nash has moved from a mentor to a battler. Nash can’t go like he did back in the 90s but he’s giving all he has to push the product. He is considered a locker room leader and now he’s a big time player. What a perfect comeback.
Who to watch in 2009: Suicide
He was a computer-generated character for the first TNA video game. Now, Suicide is a live action character in the real world of wrestling. Who is Suicide? That’s been the tagline since Suicide first began to show up in 1 second subliminal clips during matches. Almost everyone says that it is Kaz. That would make perfect sense. Kaz is one of the most agile and talented stars in TNA> He’s been off TNA since he quit the business.
Suicide will likely be a force in the X-Division. His D-O-A finisher is a modified version of the Canadian Destroyer, at least in the video game. It is unclear what he will be using when he actually battles in the six sided ring. The character has a unique look, so he will likely be a fan favorite. Suicide should be the breakout star of 2009. The X-Division title is just waiting for him.
TNA is building to a big year in 2009. The company is down-sizing, right now, due to the economy. That is going to force TNA to rethink their strategy. The Respect War is going to be the catalyst that pushes the company for the next few months. The ladies and gentlemen that I honored above are what will keep TNA going strong. All of the TNA stars deserve to be recognized for doing a great job over the past year. The ones listed above are the leaders of the pack. Congratulations to all the winners.