#40 – Rob Van Dam
After being put on the shelf in an ill-received attempt to push Gunner, RVD returned with a bang, as the final surprise member of Garrett Bischoff's Lockdown team. After surviving the cage, Van Dam set his sights on the World Heavyweight Championship, in a losing effort to then-champion Bobby Roode, in one hell of a ladder match. He then put on a great showing in the Bound for Glory series tournament, narrowly missing the cut-off point for the Final Four. And instead of sulking back into the shadows, the "whole f'n show" rebounded a captured the X-Division title at Bound for Glory; a belt he will take into 2013.
I've always been an RVD fan, but his time in TNA has been very similar to that of Randy Orton's in WWE the past few years. He's there, and used for consistently good matches, but I don't feel like the company takes him seriously a key player. Rarely are his matches given any sort of dramatic build, and when it comes to the X-Division sometimes there's none at all going into a pay-per-view. It makes me wonder if the fans aren't the only ones finding out who will challenge for the title, the day of the show. It's worth noting, however, that he seems to be geared towards a program with Kenny King, as the young up-and-comer makes his gradual turn towards the dark side. And at 42-years-old, that's likely where Van Dam will remain: wrestling consistently good matches, and putting over the future.
#39 – Kelly Kelly
Just when Kelly Kelly was starting to progress as a Diva, she goes and asks for her release from the WWE. That's what I get for finally giving her a fair chance to impress me. Whether you like her or not – and odds are that if you're this, you don't – K2 was the face of the Divas division for a huge part of 2012. While the title picture was mostly dominated by heels, Kelly played a convincing babyface and started to draw a convincing reaction from live crowds. Her ring work improved slightly with each match, and after awhile her signature Lou Thesz hair attack was becoming a rarity. More than all of that though, Kelly represented the Divas and the WWE is dozens of media appearances, charity events, photo shoots, interviews, etc. I'm convinced that had she bothered to stick around, Kelly could have become something special in the WWE Divas division. Maybe we'll never know…
#38 – Gail Kim
It's frustrating to me that TNA can't seem to utilize more than the Knockouts Champion and her flavor-of-the-month challenger. There's some great talent being left unused every week on Impact, and Gail Kim is chief on that list. But I certainly didn't add her to the Top 50 just to talk about how she WASN'T used in 2012. Rather, it was her time as Knockouts Champion (and Knockouts Tag Champion, if that means anything these days) that landed her here. The later parts of 2011 had some Knockouts gold with Gail as the Champion, and the severely under-appreciated Karen Jarrett managing the division – largely in her favor, too. The Champ's relationship with Madison Rayne also added some intentionally annoying drama, and also resulted in a few quality pay-per-view matches. And because of her outstanding ability to play heel, she would break the record as the longest reigning Knockouts Champ in history, and allow Miss Tessmacher to go over and cement herself as the new (albeit temporary) face of the division.
#37 – Prime Time Players
Maybe they're not quite bringing in millions of billions of dollars, but the Prime Time Players are off to a fantastic start in the WWE. After losing A.W. to some controversy earlier in the year, many thought that was it for the young, charismatic duo. Fortunately, Titus O'Neil stepped up to the plate as the mouthpiece for PTP, and they've managed to survive – if not, thrive – without a manager.
The best thing about this team, for me anyways, is I never thought I'd like them. I find most teams based off obnoxious stereotypes to be incredibly frustrating, but Titus and Young have breathed some life into their characters, and now I find them down-right hilarious. Most recently, their facial expressions backstage when the Raw locker room found out the status of Santa Claus were priceless. I do question how WWE is going to use them moving forward, because I want to see them remain a fixture of the tag team division, while maintaining what makes them so good. If you give them the belts, they'll have no choice but to make up their mind on what side they align with. For now, with so many teams vying for the spot, it's ok to use them as half-heel, half-face comedy characters. But going forward, I think bringing them back over to the good guys team might actually be the best idea. Because, at the end of the day, they're not the kind of team I "love to hate". Give me a reason to actually cheer for this dynamic duo, and they could start making millions, and billions of millions of dollars.
#36 – Robbie E & Robbie T
I never thought I'd admit this, but the Robbies entertained me this year. At first, this unexpected pair seemed a waste of big Rob Terry's potential, but a packed mid-card would have likely seen him sent back to OVW full-time without this ridiculous gimmick. And let's face it, who didn't love the "Bro-Off" from the final Impact of 2012? That alone may have been enough to justify his role.
Robbie E's contribution and placement on the list came from a three month stint as TV Champion early in the year, and a two month chase to regain his title. Big Rob was by his side the whole time. My favorite thing about the Robbies is their above-and-beyond attitude. They could easily play the role of annoying Shore-rejects with minimal effort on their behalf, or from creative. What I loved was the argile sweater vests. The addition of "The List" and that little VIP rope that they utilized during Robbie E's entrance. Their total and undivided dedication to their characters. When so many people in today's business are the same, it's the details that matter. Here's to the next year, bro!
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