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#10 - Kane
Glenn Jacobs is the kind of guy I'd kill to have in my wrestling promotion, if indeed I ever owned one. On the outside he's the perfect combination of strength, agility and size. But more importantly, he's a pro wrestler that can adapt to just about any role he's given; he's always been that way too! How many times has WWE gone a strange direction with his character, to be met with near-unanimous criticism from the fans, only to have Kane prove us all wrong? He's been masked and unmasked, Undertaker's brother, Lita's baby-daddy, and Katie Vick's lover. He's also a Grand Slam Champion, a former Mr. Money in the Bank and holds a Slammy for beating up Jack Swagger's dad.
My point is, Kane is one of the most versatile performers in the history of wrestling. This year, after fans begged WWE to pull the trigger for years, Kane returned with his mask! He immediately took to the main event, beating the hell out of John Cena for several weeks on end. He had a great, quite over-looked match with Randy Orton at WrestleMania, and again at Extreme Rules (I would know, he almost pummeled our section as they fought through the crowd). But the best thing Kane has done in 2012 - and this is something I've always loved him for - is return to the tag team division.
Kane is an awesome tag team partner. He's consistently good in the ring, but more importantly his bizarre character lends itself to entertaining match-ups with various WWE Superstars. X-Pac, Mankind, and the Hurricane come to mind, but Team Hell No has got to be the best dynamic duo the Big Red Monster has ever concocted. Everything from group therapy, to "hugging it out" to winning the belts by chokeslamming his partner was made better because Kane is a hilarious 7-foot giant wearing a creepy mask. He's one of my all-time favorite talents, and I'm happy to say that he kicks off our Top 10 breakdown for 2012.
#9 - Christopher Daniels & Kazarian
If you asked me, between Daniels and Kazarian, and Team Hell No, which pair of tag team champions were the most entertaining in 2012, I'm not sure I could give you an absolute answer. Both have wrestled great matches, and both have had me rolling in laughter. Both brought legitimacy to their respective, dying divisions and truly both of them deserve the recognition. Luckily, with our decision to offer Kane and Daniel Bryan as seperate entrants to this list, I don't have to decide: Christopher Daniels and Kazarian stand as the best tag team of 2012.
Two Match of the Year candidates came out of their fantastic title run, both against Kurt Angle and AJ Styles. But it was their merciless destruction of AJ over the course of 2012 that put them on the map. They even managed to make the train wreck that was Claire Lynch somewhat manageable; sorry guys, that's the best praise I can give for that angle. Chris Daniels put on several 5-star matches as a singles star this year, but Kazarian also elevated his game to the best point in his career thus far. Their chemistry is insane, as if they'd been working together for decades. It's just a shame TNA hasn't been able to offer more competition in the tag team division, to match their brilliance in 2012.
#8 - Jeff Hardy
2012 was an interesting year for the Charismatic Enigma. After returning in late 2011, and extremely apologetic Jeff Hardy began his journey to redemption, attempting to earn back the trust and respect of his friends, co-workers, and most importantly, the fans. His path to deliverance went through World Champion Bobby Roode, bitter rival Jeff Jarrett, former tag team nemesis Bully Ray, and would eventually lead him to the Bound for Glory series. After being injured by the Aces & Eights, Hardy limped to the ring at No Surrender and defeated Bully Ray to become the #1 contender, in one of the year's most emotional moments.
Hardy would capture the World Heavyweight Championship at Bound for Glory, symbolizing the end of his journey to redemption. It was almost poetic with its timing, because by that stage the TNA fans were ready to accept Hardy with open arms. His feud with Austin Aries will rage into 2013, but reached its peak with a show-stealing ladder match at Turning Point. Roode or Aries may yet recapture the title at Genesis, but for now Jeff Hardy ends 2012 as your World Heavyweight Champion.
#7 - Bully Ray
2011 was the year Mark Henry reinvented himself as WWE's World Champion, but in 2012 that award belongs with zero dispute, to Bully Ray. Don't take it from me, the Bully does a much better job of proving my point:
Everything from the disposal of Abyss to the dismantling of Joseph Parks, from World Title asperations to standing up to Hulk Hogan was done flawlessly. In fact, had Bully Ray captured the World Heavyweight Championship this year instead of Austin Aries or Jeff Hardy, I think we'd easily be looking at a #2 or #3 seed. I do hope to see Bully Ray as champion at some point in 2013, but TNA has done such a fantastic job building their top level talents that the main event picture is going to be a crowded.
I could get into the creative side of Bully's 2012, and bring up potential "dropped balls". But it's really not my place to say whether TNA should have invovled him in the Aces & Eights, or should have kept him heel and away from Brooke Hogan. I've given up criticizing when it comes to Mark LoMonaco, because lately he's done nothing but prove the haters wrong.
Do you know who he is?
#6 - Dolph Ziggler
The most recent argument surrounding Dolph Ziggler is whether or not its too early to be comparing him to Shawn Michaels. You should understand, regardless of what side of that debate you fall on, it's never a bad thing that the fans are comparing an up-and-comer to one of the greatest in-ring performers in the history of professional wrestling. While I tend to agree with the "it's too early, but he has serious potential to be" crowd, it really doesn't matter. Doph Ziggler is damn good, and he his future in the WWE is all but guaranteed.
There's about one inch and ten pounds that separate Ziggler and HBK in size, meaning "The Showoff" isn't a big guy, but he's not small enough that it'll hold him back. Even if it were, his promo skills are more than enough to break the door down if it gets shut in his face (see: CM Punk). And even if all that weren't enough to get Ziggler on WWE's radar, he joins the ranks of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, as a guy who never had a bad match. More importantly (like HBK), he's the kind of guy that makes OTHER PEOPLE look just as good.
Not only is he a future World Heavyweight Champion, with the Money in the Bank briefcase still un-cashed, but he ended his year by defeating John Cena on pay-per-view, and stealing his girlfriend. #Heel