New Years Honors: 2011 Awards

This has been a little while in the coming so apologies to all but it is now the New Year and we here at Canned Heat are presenting the best (in our humble opinion) of 2011 in TNA. 2011 has seen a number of changes within TNA and although we may not agree with it all we are celebrating the best and analyzing the worst of another year of material from the 'biggest wresting promotion in the US'.

Best Newcomer  - Austin Aries

Well not quite a newcomer, in the build up to Destination X, A Double made his return to TNA after a number of years in ROH and has been the centerpiece of the X Division ever since, beating Brian Kendrick for the title at No Surrender. 

Putting on entertaining matches, cutting entertaining promos and the only man who can pull off sparkly pants and a pink jacket Aries has added stock to the X Division although he has quickly outgrown the competition put against him and hopefully 2012 will see him move through the company, maybe even using his draw to reignite the TV title which would open up a number of exciting possible matches with the likes of Samoa Joe and Christoper Daniels. 

Notable Mentions: 

Jesse Sorensen - despite losing in the first round of the contract match leading up to Destination X Sorensen was given a contract and despite a generic character has shown enough in the ring to add some depth to the X Division. 

Best PPV - Destination X 

In a PPV calender lacking in any stand out gimmicks, TNA retrofitted their annual Destination X PPV with a novel concept, devoting the show entirely to the reborn X Division. In the weeks leading up to the show, we'd seen returning legends and a healthy injection of new blood showcased in an impressive series of qualifying matches. The victors moved on to an epic fatal fourway with a guaranteed contract on the line. As you may have guessed from our earlier entry, Austin Aries triumphed and began an impressive stint in the X Division, which runs to this day.

However, that's not to say the show only had a single notable match. The entire card was filled with gems not typically found on your average TNA show. Including an impressive Ultimate X match, a reignited feud between long standing ECW rivals Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn, a challenge match between TNA mainstays AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, not to mention Brian Kendrick taking back the X Division Championship from the Monster, Abyss.  

Best Match - Kurt Angle Vs. Jeff Jarrett  (Slammiversary IX)

While the feud between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett spanned several years and countless matches, it all came to a head in this summer's Slammiversary main event. In their previous encounters, Jeff Jarrett had consistently stolen victories through a variety of underhanded methods, but his luck was about to run out. The pair battled back and forth, resulting in a well earned Angle victory and a great ending to one of TNA's hallmark feuds.

Notable Mentions:

Hulk Hogan Vs. Sting (Bound for Glory) - While not a technically sound match, it proved to be one of TNA's most memorable moments of the year, with Hogan returning to his red and yellow roots and casting aside his Immortal stable-mates.

Motor City Machine Guns Vs. Beer Money Inc. (Genesis) - In a year bereft of quality tag team wrestling, I thought I'd include a nod to the last hurrah of this classic match-up. MCMG were soon hampered by injury and both members of Beer Money went on to challenge for the World Title.We won't see the likes of this feud again soon.

Best Tag Team - Beer Money Inc.

One of the greatest tag teams in recent years, an important cornerstone to Fortune and two great singles wrestlers, despite going their separate ways they were the best team of the year. 

Winning the titles at Genesis and holding them for a record setting 212 days; although a little help from Alex Shelley for stepping in at Slammiversary for the injured Roode; Beer Money Inc. had the fans firmly behind them and hanging on every word, beating off all competition and proving their worth in the BFG series. 

What tops Beer Money as the best tag team is that since losing the tag titles both have become World Heavyweight Champion, whats a better credential than that?

Notable Mentions:

Mexican American - the team that beat Beer Money, they drew heat although they were a cheap version of LAX, as of the past few months the lack of teams that have been around all can be said of at least they were a real team. 

Ink Inc. - again a team that weren't just put together and had a connection although now Jesse Neal has left the company leaving no actual tag teams in the division. 

Best Knockout - Gail Kim

Having begun the year as a jobber in the WWE's ailing Divas division, no one could have suspected this would become the era of Gail Kim. Feeling rejected by management, Gail went so far as to intentionally eliminate herself from a battle royal on live television, just to see if anyone was paying attention! After only a handful of Twitter followers noticed, Gail handed in her notice. However, where any other competitor would've happily been granted their release, relations had grown so sour between the two parties, WWE management forced Gail to sit out the remainder of her contract, unable to go elsewhere for employment.

While being paid to sit at home and do nothing is most people's dream, Gail was itching to get back on the road and after only a brief hiatus returned to her spiritual home in TNA and made an instant impact. In her first appearance back, on the show following Bound for Glory, Gail laid out the new Knockouts Champion Velvet Sky and aligned herself with resident bitch and VP of the Knockouts, Karen Jarrett.

In the weeks that followed, Gail ploughed through opponents left, right and centre. One particular match against Tara was so decisive, it was a wonder Tara hadn't just laid down for Gail. Merely a few weeks after her debut, she was a Knockouts Tag Team Champion, and at the next PPV, the Knockouts Singles Champion as well. Never has there been a more decisive push for a Knockout. The fact she can eclipse all  other achievements of the Knockouts combined in less than three months is astounding.

Notable Mentions:

Velvet Sky - She had a fantastic 2011 and would've been my pick for the top slot had Gail Kim not stolen the show at the last minute. Her feud with ODB made for wonderful television, particularly their brawl which spanned the entire Impact Zone. Speaking of which...

ODB - At the beginning of the year, she wasn't even employed, but after a memorable feud with Velvet Sky and an epic quest to earn a new contract, ODB deserves some recognition. I'm even enjoying her current wild card tag team with Eric Young, which says alot in itself.

Most Undeserved Push - Crimson

He led the BFG series and would have won if Samoa Joe hadn't have put him 'on the shelf', he has gone through the year being 'undefeated', took part in a 'dream match' with Matt Morgan at Bound For Glory who are now tag team champions. Without paying much due's management seem to see something in him that currently I'm not getting, he doesn't get over with the crowds and the best I have seen him this year was when he was learning the ropes as Scott Steiner's partner at the beginning of the year.

Notable Mentions:

Garrett Bischoff - Just because he is Eric's son we should invest in him being able to wrestle, despite being a referee for year? Being thrown into big matches and down fans throats isn't the best way to win people over!

Jeff Hardy - Yes, he is one of the biggest names in the industry, but after his disgraceful turnout at Victory Road there is no way Hardy should be entering 2012 as the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, when he came back he should have been put at the bottom of the card and allowed to build his way back up and if he had earned it let him have a shot at the BFG series next year. 

Best Wrestler - Bobby Roode

Nobody can come close to Roode over the last 12 months, he has been apart of the longest reigning tag team champions, he won the BFG series despite starting with an injury and has ended the year as World Heavyweight Champion. 

The only thing that would have made Roode's year better is if he had gained the title clean from Angle at Bound For Glory, TNA dropped the ball a little as he had huge momentum going into this match and despite giving a good showing and only losing via Angle cheating the momentum was killed although kudos to him working with it and going on to become an entertaining fresh face in the main event picture. 

Notable Mentions:

James Storm - Roode's partner in crime for most of the year also had a decent run in the BFG series and then went over Angle in 3 minutes to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Storm is strong on the mic and has a lot to offer in the ring so should continue this momentum into 2012. 

Bully Ray - I wasn't keen when Team 3D split up as I remember when WWE tried to do this and ended up just pairing them back together but this time Bully Ray has done well on his own. Not only taking up a lead role in Immortal due to his strong mic work and heel promos he has had some hard hitting matches and did well in putting over Roode in the final of the BFG series, he's never going to be a main event draw but he does his job well. 

Kurt Angle - I can't mention best wrestler without mentioning the best wrestler EVER! His best work of the year came with Jarrett in the first half of the year as the two put on a strong series of matches, despite all his injuries still has it. 

Well that is our 2011 awards down, hope you agree, if not let us know your opinions and hoping the 2012 proves to be another entertaining year! 

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