TNA iMPACT! Wrestlers of the Week 2.24.11
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 February 24, 2011
3. Madison Rayne – for issuing an open challenge and defeating the returning TNA Knockout who accepted it:
Madison Rayne has done pretty well for herself as TNA Knockouts Champion. Although a good number of her wins with the gold have come in rather un-kosher fashion, she’s still managed to move past the likes of Mickie James, Angelina Love and Tara to remain a rather consistent titleholder within the female ranks of the company.
Her confidence has shot so high since basically disbanding from The Beautiful People to break out on her own that she is now willing to face unknown competition. In fact, she expressed that she’s getting a little bit bored. On iMPACT!, she issued an open challenge and was shocked to find out that Knockout accepting it was one of the toughest females in TNA history.
ODB returned as vulgar as ever and instantly laid the chops and boots into her smaller, softer-hitting foe. Perhaps she was a little too gung ho about her return, however, as Rayne was able to outthink ODB in order to obtain the victory. After eating a Bronco Buster in the corner, Rayne was able to deliver some knees to the face of ODB in order to get off her shoulders. Rayne then attached her shin to ODB’s face and twisted around for a neckbreaker that finished ODB off for the three-count.
Rayne certainly wasn’t expecting somebody as physical and aggressive as ODB when she tossed out her open challenge. But she turned her shock into a strategy, waited for her opportunity to quickly stun ODB and finished off another tough competitor within the TNA Knockout ranks. And this time, she did it cleanly and without the help of Tara.
2. AJ Styles – for confronting Ric Flair and holding his own in a 2-on-1 situation against “The Nature Boy” and Hernandez:
When AJ Styles and Fortune decided to break away from Immortal, they apparently didn’t have the approval of Ric Flair. “The Nature Boy” gave them the impression last week that he was all with them. But by turning on Styles during a match against Matt Hardy, Flair showed that his true alliance was with Immortal and he made an enemy out of the very faction he established.
As a result of Flair’s interference in that match, Styles issued a challenge last week to face Flair on this week’s episode of the program. Flair accepted and the match was booked for iMPACT! this Thursday night.
When Flair hit the ring, he wasn’t exactly dressed for a fight. Flair adorned one of his many custom suits, proclaimed himself to be a “wrestling GOD” and proceeded to call Styles out in an effort to get “The Phenomenal One” to issue him an apology. Well, Styles wasn’t going to do that. And he also wasn’t going to beat the piss out of Flair and peel him like an onion like he wanted to, as doing so would mean Flair got to him.
He explained that Fortune turned on Immortal without consulting him because he knew that “The Nature Boy” would try to talk them out of it. Flair told Styles that the whole time he was teaching them about greatness. And now, he would teach them about respect – the first lesson being a slap to the face.
That was the first strike to a brawl between Styles and Flair that quickly led to a sneak attack from behind by Hernandez. Despite being outmanned and undersized in comparison to Hernandez, Styles was still able to hold his own very well. His main target was Flair, whom he busted open (surprise, surprise) and gradually tore several garments of clothing off of. And each time Hernandez struck against him in an effort to get him off Flair, Styles was able to fight back and take Hernandez briefly out of the picture.
Eventually, the numbers game did catch up and Hernandez was able to deliver a shoulder tackle when Styles attempted to put Flair away with a Styles Clash. But before Hernandez and Flair could do much more damage, Fortune hit the ring and sent them scrambling. Flair took his bloodied face to the back while Hernandez suffered a bit of a beatdown by Matt Morgan. Just before iMPACT! headed off to a commercial, all four members of Fortune threw their sign in the air.
The scheduled match between Styles and Flair didn’t actually take place. But Styles still impressed in his ability to pound away at Flair while he continually fended off Hernandez. It’s nice to see Fortune united even without Flair leading the charge. Styles is the spokesperson of sorts right now for them and he proved Thursday night that he’s more than worthy of being the face of the faction.
1. Mr. Anderson – for coming out on top of a three-way main event against Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle:
After surrendering the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to Jeff Hardy in a Ladder Match at Against All Odds, Mr. Anderson pretty much figured a rematch was in the cards as quickly as humanly possible. He soon found out, however, that “the network” had other plans. On last week’s iMPACT!, Eric Bischoff booked Rob Van Dam in a title match against Hardy at the request of “the network.” And the only consolation he could offer to Anderson was a spot in the match as special guest referee.
Anderson took it and didn’t really get in the way of either man until the very end. Backed into a corner and face-to-face with the Charismatic Enigma, Anderson’s view was blocked from seeing Hardy deliver a low blow to RVD. He was then forced to count the three as Hardy delivered a Twist of Hate and moved right in for the cover.
TNA’s resident a-hole opened up this week’s program to make it clear that he wanted his rematch and didn’t care who was calling the shots. He pondered why “the network” didn’t like him and probably reasoned that it was because he used a rather vulgar word to describe himself. But then he put RVD’s ethics on trial, which immediately brought out “The Whole F’N Show.”
As a retort to Anderson questioning his legal conscience, RVD called out Anderson for going against a moral code as a referee to call things down the middle and not stand in the way of another competitor scoring a title victory. Van Dam called Anderson jealous that he had better wrestling ability and wouldn’t hesitate, as a fan of balance, to screw over Anderson if given the opportunity.
Before Anderson could really respond, RVD decked him and the two proceeded to trade shots until security hit the ring and separated them. Bischoff and Immortal hit the stage with a main event announcement. Bischoff had plans on giving Anderson his rematch. But seeing Anderson and RVD go at it changed his mind. Instead, he booked those two to square off against each other in the main event, and then added Kurt Angle for a three-way on the advice of Jeff Jarrett.
RVD and Angle originally formed a union against Anderson and took turns laying in on him. But that partnership quickly disintegrated and it became an every man for himself scenario like a three-way match should be. But while all three of these men put up a solid effort in trying to earn the victory, the end result came about because of a distraction from an outside party.
With RVD out of the ring following a belly-to-belly suplex off the top by Angle, Anderson attempted to finish off the 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist with a Mic Check. But Angle countered with a t-bone suplex and looked to apply the Ankle Lock. But then we got a little “Here Comes The Bride” throughout the iMPACT! Zone and Angle stopped in his tracks. He watched as Jeff and Karen Jarrett headed down the ramp and then turned around right into a Mic Check from Anderson. Anderson went right in for the cover to score the win.
Had Angle been able to lock in the Ankle Lock, it could have spelled unfortunate doom for Anderson. Luckily, he did get a distraction to avoid being put into the submission and allow him to finish Angle off with the Mic Check. A win of that nature may not instantly convince Bischoff to push Anderson right back into the TNA World Heavyweight Title picture. But it can’t possibly hurt his status by putting a few more notches on his belt over two more quality opponents in one match.