TNA iMPACT! Wrestlers of the Week 1.20.11
By Neil Borenstein
Each week here at 1wrestling.com, I will select three of the top wrestlers from TNA iMPACT! and present them to you in inverse order as the show’s Wrestlers of the Week. In choosing the show’s top three superstars, performances from that week’s iMPACT! and any relevant preceding programming – such as Pay-Per-Views – will be taken into consideration.
iMPACT! Wrestlers of the Week for January 20, 2011
3. Jeff Hardy – for squeezing in a warm-up match and victory against Tommy Dreamer in preparation for his TNA Title rematch:
Jeff Hardy’s primary focus right now is to reclaim the TNA World Heavyweight Championship he lost to Mr. Anderson at Genesis. Thanks to Eric Bischoff’s announcement last week concerning the Feb. 3 episode of iMPACT!, Hardy will get his shot at redemption and to become a two-time heavyweight titleholder in TNA in just two week’s time.
In the meantime, Hardy is getting plenty of warm-up action. Last week, he teamed up with his brother and newcomer to TNA, Matt Hardy, for the first time in years to face the duo of Anderson and Rob Van Dam. With the aid of outside interference from Beer Money, The Hardy Boyz were able to score the pinfall victory following a very impactful Swanton Bomb from Jeff on TNA’s resident a-hole.
This week, Hardy went a bit lower on the totem pole but still stepped into the ring against somebody that can be dangerous when he wants to. Hardy was booked in singles action against Tommy Dreamer, who assured the two men looking to get their hands on Jeff – RVD and Anderson – that he would soften the charismatic enigma up for them.
Dreamer did get a shot in here and there, including a Dreamer Driver toward the end that resulted in a two-count before Hardy got a foot up on the ropes. But Hardy dished out more punishment than he received, especially to Dreamer’s nether regions. And it was a Twist of Hate following a crotching across the middle rope to Dreamer that netted Hardy the three-count.
This was not a surprising win for Hardy. But it’s still one that can boost his momentum a bit heading into his rematch for the TNA World Heavyweight Title. That’s more than can be said for Anderson, who thus far has two straight tag team losses alongside RVD since winning the gold at Genesis.
2. Kazarian – for successfully defending the X-Division Championship in a Genesis rematch versus Jay Lethal:
Immortal’s sole goal for Genesis was to walk away with every title TNA had to offer. Their night may not have ended as intended, but several members of the faction held up their end of the bargain throughout the Pay-Per-View. One of those men was Kazarian, who pinned Jay Lethal off a reverse tombstone piledriver to win his fourth X-Division Championship.
That boosted Kaz’ already high confidence and kept him well out of Eric Bischoff’s doghouse. But the day was going to come when he needed to offer Lethal a rematch, and only a win would keep him riding high and in the penthouse with the rest of Immortal.
That rematch came this week on iMPACT!, which was preceded by a little pre-match pep talk from AJ Styles before The Phenomenal One was aggressively warned about “them” coming by Crimson.
Kazarian’s win at Genesis was a clean one that came about essentially from Lethal making a mistake. This go around, Kaz didn’t win quite as cleanly, though it was still a result of a mistake on Lethal’s end.
That mistake was falling for Kazarian’s act when he went limp on the outside following a kickout from the top rope elbow drop. Lethal followed him to the outside and moved him back inside the ring, but caught an eye rake right near the apron. Then Lethal tried to sunset flip back in, but Kazarian held onto the ropes for leverage without the referee noticing and dropped down to score the three-count.
Lethal may eventually get another crack at Kazarian and the X-Division Championship somewhere down the line. But he lost his required rematch and was pretty upset following the bell about not making good on it. Kaz, on the other hand, continues to do good work for Immortal and is really starting to shine as one of its more reliable assets.
1. Mickie James – for winning a four-way matchup thanks to a mistake on the part of TNA Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne:
After failing to secure the TNA Knockouts Championship at Genesis, Mickie James sent a message loud and clear last week that she wasn’t out of Madison Rayne’s hair by a long shot. While the current champion teamed with Tara last week to battle Angelina Love and Winter in a TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship Match, James burst into the iMPACT! Zone and attacked Rayne all the way in to the back in an effort to prevent her from utilizing the same loaded glove she used to retain the championship one week earlier. As a result, Tara was left to suffer defeat at the hands of Love and Winter by her lonesome.
One week later, James had a more direct way of getting her hands on Rayne. This time around, she was one of four competitors in a four-way Knockouts match. In addition to James and Rayne, Velvet Sky and Sarita joined the fray to see if maybe they could get a little of their tension squared away.
Sky and Sarita did get some one-on-one action in during the bout, while James and Rayne had very little. But Mickie still managed to get the last laugh in the end and probably put herself right back into position as the No. 1 Contender for the TNA Knockouts Championship.
With Sarita and Sky battling out on the floor, Tara came down to the ring and knocked James out with the brace she wears over her elbow. When Sarita and Sky re-entered the ring, they took themselves out of the action and Rayne was left as the lone woman standing to load up that glove again. When she swung, however, she nailed Sarita and Sky with it instead and James snuck in a quick rollup on Rayne for the surprise pinfall.
James left the ring a happy little lady and, as previously stated, should find herself next in line for another shot at the TNA Knockouts Title she was unable to obtain at Genesis. Knowing full well the tricks both Rayne and Tara have up their sleeves, James should be more prepared to fend off whatever they throw at her if that title match does come her way.