It’s been an exceptionally long time since I last did an entry for this series, so forgive me for giving up on it last year. I’d like to finish it off, at least up til Anthem Wrestling took over. Check my second back catalogue for links to the earlier years if you’re interested in catching up.
2010 was a shocking year in many ways. Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair made their debuts alongside wrestlers they wanted to push over TNA Originals. Hogan & Bischoff appeared on the live January 4th episode, which I believe remains the highest rated show TNA ever did. They promised changes, but Impact fans were not happy about the proposals. Why change something when it’s not broken? Some say this is the day “TNA Wrestling died”.
Killing Everything Which Made TNA Unique
Almost immediately after Hogan & Bischoff debuted the product reset. Instead of stable warfare with the likes of the World Elite (Eric Young was a major player only weeks before), they were phased out with little to no explanation. Not only that, but they announced the 6-sided ring would be replaced by the 4-sided ring, which drew the ire of the crowd. The decisions were so bad they were almost booed out of the building. It was so bad they had producers address the audience and tell them they had to “play the part” for the fans watching at home. In other words .. they didn’t want ’em hijacking shows anymore, and they didn’t care if they were unhappy with the sweeping changes. The atmosphere of the Impact Zone never recovered from that, as many loyal fans left and never returned.
Not only that, but Impact introduced a lot of old WWE/WCW guys and pushed them over TNA Originals. Genesis was the beginning, with Sean Morley (AKA Val Venis) getting an easy win over Christopher Daniels. Mr Anderson went over Abyss, and while “The Band” (Nash & X-pac) didn’t beat Beer Money, they got a good spot on the card. AJ Styles & Kurt Angle kept the tradition of TNA flowing in the main event, with a hellish 30-minute classic.
Next up was Against All Odds, and a lot changed. Angle went from main eventing to losing to Mr. Anderson in under 10 minutes. Even Mick Foley showed up to have a match with Abyss. The last tag team anyone wanted to see .. The Nasty Boyz, picked up a win over Team 3D. The finals of the 8 card stud tournament saw The Pope D’Angelo Dinero defeat Mr. Anderson, which was probably the biggest win of his career. In the TNA World title match, Ric Flair was now in AJ’s corner, while Eric Bischoff had sided with Samoa Joe. AJ retained the title .. for now.
Luckily the X-Division was still flowing at, and we had a nice feud going on between Motor City Machine Guns and Generation Me (Young Bucks). So it wasn’t all bad, but the cracks were forming. Doug Williams became X-Division champion, which was a strange choice. As a Brit I loved it, but I never saw him as an X-Division guy. The British Invasion split .. which was more upsetting. Rob Terry became Global Champion despite being pretty poor in the ring. Ironically .. Destination X wasn’t really about the X-Divison.
Destination X saw five titles on the line which were all retained. The Band split from Kevin Nash, who sided with Eric Young .. so they had a short tag match. MCMG and Gen Me probably stole the show with Ultimate X. AJ Styles was in the main event defending his title against Abyss, but it ended in no contest. Not much to write about on this one.
The Hogan & Flair Show
It didn’t take long for the product to center around the old feud of The Hulkster and The Nature Boy. Lockdown saw Rob Van Dam make his PPV debut with a win of James Storm. Nash turned on Eric Young and defeated him in a steel cage. The Beautiful People (now with Lacey Von Erich) took all the Knockouts championships in a tag match, making them one of the most dominant stables on the show. Doug Williams was made to vacate his title due to travel issues, so Kazarian won it in a triple threat. The Band turned their attention to Team 3D, and this time Scott Hall struggled to work a 6-minute match. Sean Waltman no-showed the event, so Nash had to be slotted in after his match with EY.
Kurt Angle and Mr Andersons feud went to another level with a classic in the cage. It was probably one of the best matches of the year. AJ Styles retained against The Pope, so him winning a tournament amounted to nothing. In the main event, Team Hogan (Abyss, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett and RVD) defeated Team Flair (Desmond Wolfe, Bobby Roode, James Storm and Sting). With Hogan, Flair, Foley, and Bischoff taking up airtime, it wasn’t easy for the likes of Beer Money and other TNA originals who’d become afterthoughts.
Tough Pill To Swallow
The following night on Impact, RVD defeated AJ Styles to become the TNA World Champion. As much as I’m a fan of RVD, I absolutely hated the decision. AJ was the star of the company, but Hogan & Bischoff clearly favoured RVD and Jeff Hardy. It was yet another blow to the stars TNA had created over the past few years. Many fans were unhappy with the sudden title change. And it began a downward spiral which TNA never recovered from.
Luckily by Sacrifice they had the tag team scene kinda back on track, with MCMG feuding with Team 3D and Beer Money. Rob Terry retained his title against the highly controversial Orlando Jordan (his TV debut being one of the worst ever). Doug Williams returned to claim his title back off Kazarian. After the last PPV, Matt Morgan split from his tag team champion partner Hernandez to defend the titles himself. This allowed The Band to use the numbers game to take the titles. They retained them at Sacrifice against the new team Ink Inc.
Jeff Jarrett was buried by Sting in 14 seconds before the main event. And to close the show, AJ Styles failed to win back his TNA World title from RVD. That was the last nail in the coffin. With some pretty terrible champions and a ton of airtime going to non-wrestlers, I questioned why I continued to watch this trash.
How Can It Get Worse?
Slammiversay VIII was another hollow PPV for me. Dixie Carter promised a surprise which would shake TNA to its foundation .. but she went back on it by saying the big surprise was coming later; but there would still be a surprise. Such an odd card though .. with Kurt Angle opening the show beating Kazarian. Doug Williams again remains dominant as X-Division champion, and it felt like they were tryling to kill the division with his promos. Madison Rayne defeated Roxxi and ensured she’d never work for TNA again .. which I loathed as she deserved way better. Jesse Neal got a huge push with a win over his mentor Brother Ray.
Abyss and Desmond Wolfe in Monster’s Ball? Why not. Wolfe (Nigel McGuinness) was probably the best signing they made all year. An entertaining feud saw Jay Lethal take on AJ Styles, but the Phenomenal One was an afterthought as Lethal channelled Savage in promos against The Nature Boy. It felt more like Savage vs. Flair on microphones than Lethal vs. AJ in the ring. Jeff Hardy and Anderson went over the still .. very popular team of Beer Money Inc. And in the main event .. RVD beat Sting in less than 11 minutes. Yup. We went from Angle vs. AJ in 30-minute classics, to RVD vs. Sting in little over ten mins. Uninspiring. And do you know what the big surprise was? It was Tommy Dreamer. Yep, all that hype for Dreamer.
Victory Road gave me some hope things would improve. There was potential, but it mostly fell flat. It’s not worth talking about much of it, as we got matches like Jay Lethal vs. Ric Flair (after he said he was retired), and the newly formed Fourtune defeating Rob Terry and Samoa Joe. So Flair’s had 1) his own team at lockdown, 2) dressed up AJ in his robes, 3) worked matches, and 4) made a new four horsemen from guys he picked. Probably the only good part of the show was Motor City Machine Guns beating Beer Money to claim the tag team titles after The Band was forced to vacate them due to legal issues with Scott Hall. Angle defeated The Pope for some reason, and RVD retained in the main event against Abyss, Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson. No .. this wasn’t the TNA I signed up for.
And to add fuel to the fire, they decided to do an ECW-reunion show. Almost like an ECW One Night Stand, only without Paul Heyman and at the expense of TNA talent. As they couldn’t call themselves ECW, a new stable was formed called EV 2.0, with Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Rhino, Stevie Richards and others. So Hard Justice was renamed Hardcore Justice, and the original card was thrown out for ECW nostalgia. It wasn’t the best show .. it had its moments, but the way it looked was terrible. ECW guys included: Team 3D, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, RVD, Chair Swinging Freaks, Rhino, Al Snow, Spike, 2 Cold Scorpio, CW Anderson, The FBI, Kid Kash, Johnny Swinger and Simon Diamond. The main event was scheduled to be RVD vs. Jerry Lynn, but Lynn was injured and was replaced by Sabu. Dreamer and Raven had the most memorable match of the night, with the two literally tearing each other’s faces up in their rekindled feud.
After the cheap and nasty Hardcore Justice, the original card aired live as the “Whole F’n Show” on an episode of Impact. The highlight of this was MCMG retaining against Beer Money in a classic two-out-three falls. Angelina Love finally defeated Madison Rayne for the Knockouts title, and Kurt Angle “retired” AJ Styles. RVD retained his title in a ladder match against Abyss in the main event. After this, RVD was forced to vacate the title due to a storyline injury sustained at the hands of Abyss. The company went without a World Heavyweight Champion for two months on the road to Bound For Glory.
Earning The Right
To build to Bound For Glory they announced a tournament to decide who would challenge for the vacant title at the event. At No Surrender, Doug Williams kept up his amazing run by retaining his title against Sabu. The mid-card had nothing of interest, aside from an I Quit match AJ Styles won over Tommy Dreamer. In probably one of the best matches of Jeff Hardy’s career, he and Angle wrestled to a time-limit draw in the semi-finals of the tournament. Anderson won the main event against The Pope to ensure his place at Bound For Glory. Before then, Jay Lethal did what many others couldn’t by dethroning Doug Williams as X-Division champion on an episode of Impact.
BFG sported the tagline of 10.10.10, and promised a huge surprise from “them”. The angle had built for sometime and there was a lot of intrigue. The event was arguably their best PPV of the year, with a mix of good and bad. MCMG and Gen Me continued their solid matches in the opener. Mickie James joined the Knockouts Division and worked as a special referee in a four corners match which saw Tara walk away with the title. Doug Williams failed to gain back his title from Jay Lethal. After returning from “injury”, RVD got his revenge on Abyss by beating him in a brutal Monster’s Ball. The “new” band consisting of Nash, Pope and Sting took down Jarrett and Samoa Joe in a handicap match.
One of the best matches of the night was the rare Lethal Lockdown match outside of a Lockdown PPV. EV 2.0 took on Fourtune and came out as the victors. I didn’t think it was right having the old ECW guys going over the young TNA guys, but at least the match was great. Due to the time limit draw, it was announced the match for the TNA World title would be a triple threat between Mr. Anderson, Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy. Anderson seemed to be the favourite to win among fans. And as triple threats go, it was the best of the year. After many near-falls, Bischoff and Hogan came down to the ring seemingly on opposite sides. Hardy grabbed one of Hogan’s crutches to threaten him away, but it was a ruse as Jeff turned on Angle!
Bischoff and Hogan laughed together as “they” were revealed to be the new stable known as Immortal, with Jeff Hardy as their champion. Nash & Sting had suspected something fishy was going on, and the reveal showed they were right. Jeff turned heel and referred to himself as the “Anti-Christ of professional wrestling”. They also introduced a new custom-made Immortal title for Jeff, which didn’t go down well. And on the following episode of Impact, it was revealed Bischoff had Dixie Carter sign documents (under false pretenses) which gave he & Hogan free reign over TNA. It solidified Hogan and Bischoff with all the power, and the product was overrun with Immortal getting all the opportunities. I was shocked by this, and didn’t know what to make of it at first. Kevin Nash wanted nothing to do with it and left Impact shortly after.
The Immortal Groan
I didn’t quite buy the new stable. It was nWo all over again. Nothing original, and Immortal became so big over half the roster became part of it. AJ Styles was relegated to leading Fourtune, and Joe would lose to Jarrett at Turning Point. Sting was nowhere to be found, and the only challenger they could find for Jeff was Matt Morgan. Robbie E debuted and got a push very quickly, as he defeated Jay Lethal for the X-Division title. Aside from that, Turning Point was not a memorable PPV. Again it was MCMG and Team 3D stealing the show.
And the last PPV of the year, Final Resolution, didn’t add much excitement either. Having held the TV title since July, AJ ended up losing it to Doug Williams. Beer Money became #1 contenders, while MCMG and Gen Me tore it up once again in Full Metal Mayhem. Outside of that it was hard to care for anything else. Jarrett beat Joe yet again .. and Hardy beat Morgan in the main event yet again.
They really didn’t capitalize with the Immortal angle, as they kept Angle, Sting, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and others well away from the main event. Impact episodes were ripe with backstage segments showing Immortal partying or plotting. Anyone who wasn’t part of the faction were not treat well by Bischoff & Hogan. The X-Division took a turn for the worst as Lethal failed to get the title back from Robbie E. Even Ric Flair became an afterthought, as Fourtune rivalled with the old ECW guys, even though they joined Immortal as well.
Part of the reason I stopped writing the series was because I’d been writing too much detail. I was not enjoying it, and by 2009 I felt my efforts weren’t appreciated. I knew 2010 would be the hardest to write as there’s a ton of detail I chose not to include here. All we really need to know about 2010 is Dixie Carter put all her faith in Hogan, Bischoff and Flair, and they predictably went ahead and made it about themselves before maintaining TNA’s identity. It was tough to accept the changes, and most talents they signed were old stars we’d seen the best of. Favourites like AJ Styles, Samoe Joe, Sting, Kurt Angle and Beer Money took a backseat, while RVD, Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson got many opportunities.
And to bury the young talent further .. we had to endure yet another ECW nostalgia trip. Now don’t get me wrong .. I loved ECW and I still do, but One Night Stand 2005 should’ve been the last show. WWE already butchered it by bringing it back in 2006, and again as a third-rate TV show with nothing resembling the original ECW. Dixie must’ve had stars in her eyes as she saw all these legends on the show at the same time. She might have thought bringing them all in would take the company to another level, but it had the opposite effect.
TNA fans tuned in for the wrestling, but match quality dropped by such a long way it was hard to stomach. The “cool” party atmosphere of the Impact zone was replaced with an audience who dared to react. The wrestling fans moved on from TNA and found solitude with ROH, New Japan and other promotions, while the Impact Zone could only draw in the holiday goers who didn’t know what they were watching. They saw Hogan advertised and that was enough to draw them in. I tried my best to defend the company in my blogs, but it wasn’t easy.
Episodes of Impact were hard to watch, and so were Raw and Smackdown .. so I consider 2010 one of the hardest years to be a fan. I could’ve walked away from wrestling .. but no, I kept tuning in hoping for a brighter tomorrow. And did it happen for TNA in 2011? Well .. we’ll have to wait and see. I promise to finish this series, and I hope you join me. Thanks very much! Much appreciated. What did you think of TNA Wrestling in 2010? Please share your thoughts.