December 18, 2009

Knockout Match of the Year

Well, it’s that time of year when the “Best of…” lists start coming out. TNA recently put out a poll on their website for the fans to vote on what they thought was the best match of 2009. I thought this topic deserved its own column for two reasons.

1) Several Knockout matches were given consideration on this list of candidates.

2) This list is a complete and utter farce.

There are no less than 24 matches to choose from on this list TNA put together, which is ridiculous in and of itself. Realistically, there should be less than 10. That was the first warning sign.

The second warning sign was some of the matches that were on it. Quite a few of them were not even that good and some of them were downright awful! I won’t insult your intelligence by reprinting the entire list here, but I will say that it was weighed down by such painfully mediocre fare as Abyss vs. Matt Morgan at Lockdown and Bobby Lashley vs. Rhino at No Surrender. And suffice to say, any “Best of...” list that includes Kevin Nash matches (no, I’m not kidding) has no credibility whatsoever.

Perhaps even more baffling were some of the matches that were NOT included. How can TNA possibly expect the fans to take this list seriously when the Chris Sabin vs. Alex Shelley X-division title match from Genesis is mysteriously left out? That is absolutely idiotic. That match the Motor City Machine Guns put on was not only the best X-division match of the year, but the best X-division match in SEVERAL years. Even if it wasn’t the best match of the year in TNA, it was certainly in the top 5 at least.

And on top of that, ALL television matches were excluded from the list as well for some insane reason. Can anyone honestly say that AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle from the Super iMPACT show does not count among the best matches of this year? It was certainly a hell of a lot better than most of the matches that made the list.

Okay. Now that we’ve established that this list is an absolute joke, let’s get to the three Knockout matches that were nominated.

-Sacrifice: Angelina Love vs. Awesome Kong: Knockouts Championship
-Slammiversary: Abyss/Taylor Wilde vs. Raven/Daffney: Monster’s Ball
-Victory Road: Angelina Love vs. Tara: Knockouts Championship

They can’t be serious. Can they?

I honestly think that whichever brain trust put this list together didn’t even bother to watch most of the matches, and instead, put on a blindfold and picked a bunch of random matches out of a hat.

The mixed tag Monster’s Ball I’ll grant you, but no Angelina Love match belongs on this list. Angelina’s Knockouts title reign was, in general, pretty lackluster for the sole reason that she did NOT deliver in the ring. Go back and reread the Month in Review columns because I went over this in detail -- Angelina cut some great promos, but not a single match she put on while she had the belt was worth talking about because she had no chemistry with her series of opponents (Kong, Tara, ODB) and the writers never bothered to put her in feuds with women that she could have strong matches with.

As much as I liked Angelina, there were plenty of Knockout matches in the last year that were far better than anything she produced.

So, in an effort to quell my frustration with this ridiculous list of contenders, I’m going to show you the Best Knockout Matches of 2009 list that SHOULD have been:

-Slammiversary: Abyss/Taylor Wilde vs. Raven/Daffney: Monster’s Ball

-iMPACT: Sarita vs. Alissa Flash

-iMPACT: Daffney vs. Hamada

-Turning Point: Tara vs. Awesome Kong: 6 Sides of Steel

-iMPACT: Hamada vs. Taylor Wilde

-iMPACT: Hamada vs. Sarita

IMO, these were the best Knockout matches of 2009. Unsurprisingly, they all involved women that I’ve said TNA should be building the division around.

But I’m actually being a bit generous here. In the interest of avoiding the same thing I just criticized TNA for, let’s narrow down the list a bit further.

Hamada vs. Sarita -- these are the two best workers the Knockout roster has to offer. By all rights, this should have and WOULD have been the match of the year if the bookers had given them more than 3 minutes and change. This was a fantastic contest and had it been 10 minutes or longer I’m confident that it would have been every bit as good, if not better than Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong from Final Resolution 2007. But as great as the match was, the bottom line is it simply wasn’t long enough to be match of the year.

Hamada vs. Taylor Wilde -- same deal. The women delivered a great match for the short amount of time they were given, but they just weren’t given nearly enough.

Abyss/Taylor Wilde vs. Raven/Daffney: Monster’s Ball -- some people may try to call me out on this one. I don’t care. I’ve always thought this match was overhyped. It was a good match, Taylor and Daffney worked their asses off and, IMO, the most memorable spots definitely came from them. But in the end, that’s all it was -- a collection of big spots rather than a wrestling match. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but when I think about the best wrestling matches of the year, table spots and thumbtack bumps aren’t the first place my mind goes to. I do appreciate the effort both women put in and I would certainly call this one of the most memorable Knockout matches of the year, just not necessarily one of the best.

That leaves us with three candidates:

Sarita vs. Alissa Flash -- several weeks of video packages heralding the arrival of Sarita led to her living up to the hype as she and the repackaged Melissa Anderson had the best Knockout match of the year up to the point. Though it wasn’t the longest match ever, it was longer than most iMPACT matches these days and long enough to make it eligible

Daffney vs. Hamada -- unlike Sarita, Hamada had the misfortune of debuting with zero hype. But that didn’t stop her from easily getting the crowd into her match and it didn’t stop her and Daffney from blowing the roof off the iMPACT Zone either, and luckily they were actually given the time to do it.

Tara vs. Awesome Kong: 6 Sides of Steel -- I’m including this match for three reasons. 1) It had months and months of build up, more than any other Knockout match in the history of the division. 2) It was a cage match, a rarity for the Knockouts. 3) It had a great finish. There were a few problems, however. It was too damn short, for one. It was actually longer than the other two matches in the top three, but those matches had little to no hype, whereas this was most heavily hyped Knockout match in TNA history.

After all the build up this match had, roughly 8 minutes was not nearly enough time, especially since it was in the 6 Sides of Steel. The writers apparently forgot that one of the reasons why Kong’s matches with Gail Kim were so highly regarded is that most of them were given well over 10 minutes so the women had the time they needed to tell a great story. A few more minutes would have helped this match enormously as it was just starting to get really good when they had to go to the finish. Granted, it was a really cool finish with Tara diving off the top of the cage, but it just came too soon. Tara & Kong hadn’t built up enough anticipation before they went for the payoff at the end. A few more high impact moves and a few more near falls would’ve made a world of difference.

This needed to be a tremendous match to live up to all the hype. Instead, it was a pretty good match elevated by a great finish. Not bad by any means, and Tara & Kong delivered what they could, but they were screwed over by the bookers in the amount of time they had to work, which made the match somewhat anticlimactic considering all the hype surrounding it.

For these reasons, I feel the Tara vs. Awesome Kong 6 Sides of Steel match is not the best Knockout match of the year. I think it COULD have been, but again, the time issue is an important factor. If wrestling matches were always given the correct amount of time then the final two on this list would probably be Tara vs. Kong and Sarita vs. Hamada. Unfortunately, that is not the case. This is TNA and properly timing matches is a constant and very frustrating problem in this company.

Having said all that, by now we have narrowed to field down to two. It’s a photo finish, and frankly, I could go either way on this one, but since I have to choose one, I will.

Feel free to disagree with me on this, but I am naming Sarita vs. Alissa Flash the best Knockout match of 2009. I think Hamada vs. Daffney was equally good, but ultimately it felt random and thrown together because of Hamada debuting with no hype or advance notice.

By comparison, Sarita was given several weeks of hype videos to build anticipation for her arrival, so when she finally debuted and faced Alissa Flash in a great match it meant more than Hamada just showing up from out of nowhere to wrestle Daffney, even though the match they put on was just as good.

So even though this is only the opinion of one internet writer and not official in any way, I’d just like to say congratulations to Sarita & Alissa. And here’s hoping TNA management will actually let you work a match that lasts for over 10 minutes in the new year.

No comments: