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Editor's Note: I apologize for the error, but as of now it's too late to add any other performer to the list, no matter how deserving. So let it be known that Devon had a great year in TNA, the Impact Zone in Orlando was inexplicably in love with him, and as a big reveal for Aces & Eights and the TV Champion, it's a travesty that he was left off this list. Again, I apologize for the error.
#25 - Adam Cole
I was a big fan of Adam Cole simply from his work with Kyle O'Reilly in Ring of Honor. Now that I've seen what his fans affectionately refer to as "heel Cole" in action outside of ROH, I realize there's more still to this young up-and-comer than even I knew.
In 2012 Adam Cole cut ties with his tag team partner Kyle O'Reilly, and the two enlisted the help of Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards (respectively), whose relationship was also...strained, to put it mildly. By March, Cole was wrestling in the main event of Ring of Honor's 10th Anniversary show, getting the pinfall over the World Heavyweight Champion. Not a bad way to kick off the year! He's also the current ROH World TV Champion, and has been since June. But like I said, ROH isn't the only arena in which Cole has been an active participant. He arrived on fire to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla late in 2011, and as of this December is now their current reigning World Champion. Who did he defeat? Kevin Steen, the current ROH World Champ.
In case you're keeping track at home, that's two wins over two World Champions from the third largest pro wrestling company in the United States.
#24 Cody Rhodes' Mustache
In the early parts of 2012, Cody Rhodes was the best Intercontinental Champion of the modern era. Resurrecting a classic belt that he made very much his own, Rhodes owned WWE's midcard until WrestleMania. He also had a great showing at Money in the Bank, after which he became the only WWE Superstar to do anything remarkable with Sin Cara.
He's now involved in one of the best WWE tag teams in recent years, Team Rhodes Scholars with fellow future main event player, Damien Sandow (see: #28). The two have not only brought class and sophistication back to tag team wrestling, they've done so while being damn good wrestlers. And of course, the real reason he's on the list: that mustache.
#23 - AJ Styles
In story, this hasn't been the greatest year for AJ Styles. In actuality, he's still one of the best professional wrestlers in the world, and no matter how many lemons he gets thrown his way, he's managed to turn most of them into...well, lemonade. Claire Lynch was bad; we all agree. But you can't play AJ for that, and I personally think he did a great job for as much as he was able. And while he's lost most of his matches this year, it's all been for a purpose. Mainly, they got over Kazarian and Christopher Daniels as one of the best tag teams in TNA history. But secondly, they set up this really intriguing turn towards the dark side. After ripping off his Impact Wrestling merch and proclaiming his freedom from the fans and TNA's bullshit, he walked out on Dixie Carter and hasn't been seen since. It's probably the thing I'm most looking forward to unraveling as TNA goes into 2013. Where is AJ Styles going?
#22 - Antonio Cesaro
2012 has been a pretty big year for new and debuting stars in WWE. The former tag team star Claudio Castagnoli broke into WWE as Antonio Cesaro, the arrogant anti-American from Switzerland. After some growing pains, WWE dropped Aksana from his character and Cesaro's career took off. Since August, he has brought more credibility to the United States Championship than most of the guys in the past five years. His promo ability grows with each passing week, as seemingly does his power inside the ring. It's rare that I've been actually impressed by the strength of a wrestler; they're all big muscular men, stop playing it up! But Cesaro can hit the Neutralizer on anybody (literally, see: Brodus Clay), and he does so from some truly innovative positions. The rest of his arsenal is deadly, chief among it the wicked uppercut that many have requested he used to finish off his opponents as well.
Cesaro arrived in WWE this year; imagine where he can go in 2013?
#21 - Samoa Joe
I've already touched on Joe's tag team with Magnus (see: #44), so I won't elaborate further on that subject; suffice it to say they were brilliant. Before winning the TNA Television Championship, he stole the show with Austin Aries in a fantastic X-Division title match. The TV title isn't a belt that gets a lot of respect from the fans, but both he and Devon did a lot this year to make it seem valuable. Let's also not forget the Bound for Glory tournament, during which Joe wrestled more than a few quality matches with guys like James Storm and Kurt Angle. His feud with Magnus remains my favorite thing about Joe's 2012, but he's also been one of the few positive things about TNA's war with Aces & Eights. Samoa Joe is such a good talent, in and out of the ring, and I truly feel like 2012 was one of his more under-valued years.