TNA iMPACT! Wrestlers of the Week 3.10.11
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 March 10, 2011
3. Madison Rayne – for retaining the TNA Knockouts Championship in the second of her open challenges, this time against Roxxi:
As a TNA Knockouts Champion for just under five months in her current reign, Madison Rayne has grown tired of the current competition. Of course, Mickie James is still gunning for her and the championship. But Rayne wants some different, more challenging opposition. She started laying out an open challenge two weeks ago to any female wrestler on the planet. And she was met with a former Knockout that’s just about as tough as they come, ODB.
ODB certainly got her licks in. But even she wasn’t enough to put away the very confident Rayne, who escaped a fireman’s carry with a neckbreaker to score the pinfall in this affair.
Accompanied to the ring by Tara, Rayne once again issued an open challenge during this week’s iMPACT!. Another former-Knockout in the form of Roxxi appeared from the back to much less fanfare than ODB got from the iMPACT! Zone crowd a couple of weeks ago.
This was a short, but very even, matchup between the two ladies. Rayne went at Roxxi early, but Roxxi was able to gain the upperhand a few times thanks to her size advantage. That wasn’t enough to put Rayne away, however. Rayne managed to get her twisting neckbreaker with extra pressure from her shin to score the three-count and retain the TNA Knockouts Championship.
Rayne continued her assault on Roxxi after the bell, which prompted Hardcore Country to play throughout the arena. James took a steady jog down the ramp and put Tara down with a right hand. When she entered the ring, Rayne left it and proceeded to head to the back alongside Tara while she stared down the woman who has to be next legitimate contender for the championship.
ODB and Roxxi might not be as relevant in TNA as they used to be, but wins over the two of them are far more impressive on Rayne’s part than defeating what could have otherwise been two scrub opponents. Perhaps instead of focusing on these random challenges, however, Rayne would be wise to keep her mind sharp on a TNA Knockouts Title defense she’s eventually going to have to deal with against James.
2. Ink Inc. – for taking a solid tag team victory over Generation Me to build some momentum three days before going for the TNA Tag Team Championships:
After Beer Money made quick work of Gunner and Murphy during last week’s program, Shannon Moore and Jesse Neal hit the arena to declare their desire for a TNA World Tag Team Championship opportunity. Not known to turn down a challenge, James Storm and Robert Roode accepted this request from Ink Inc. and is became officially set for the Victory Road Pay-Per-View.
As a tune-up for that match, Moore and Neal participated in a tag team matchup against Generation Me. Storm and Roode positioned themselves at the announce table during the match to add a little flavor to the in-ring proceedings.
Moore had a lot of trouble against Max and Jeremy Buck early on. There were times when he tried to tag Neal in but was prevented by Generation Me and further worked over in hopes of completely isolating him from his team’s corner. Moore did break free, though, after scoring a two-count off a sunset flip and then diving to make the tag. Once in the ring, Neal rallied against both members of Generation Me. He did leave himself open for a kick the face from Max when he charged at him in the corner. And Max decided to sit him atop the turnbuckles while he tried to launch his brother at him. But Neal speared Jeremy in mid-air and Moore took Max out of the equation to setup for a Moregasm that resulted in Ink Inc. getting a solid, momentum-boosting win over quality opposition heading into their title match at the PPV.
After the bell, Beer Money and Ink Inc. had a tiny war of words. Both teams need not worry about the verbal back-and-forth, however. Two truly excellent tag teams in TNA are set to duke it out for the TNA World Tag Team Titles and it should be a good matchup at Victory Road.
1. Rob Van Dam – for going most of the main event on his own before getting the pinfall after Sting finally showed up to help him battle Mr. Anderson and Jeff Hardy:
Rob Van Dam still has not gotten over the fact that the TNA World Heavyweight Championship was essentially ripped away from him after Abyss’ attack and he never really received a legitimate shot at earning the title back. He did have a match against then-reigning champion Jeff Hardy a few weeks back. But some poor and selfish officiating on Mr. Anderson’s part ended up costing RVD the match in the end.
Van Dam expressed his displeasure again this week at the top of iMPACT!. New TNA World Heavyweight Champion Sting opened the program to address the crowd. But he was soon met in the ring by several other members of the TNA roster, including Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Anderson, Hardy and RVD. While the former two basically bantered with Sting over philosophical differences and history, the latter three all wanted a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Title.
Bischoff got his turn to speak as a result of all the bickering. As far as Victory Road is concerned this Sunday night, Sting will put his newly won strap on the line against Hardy. Meanwhile, Anderson and Van Dam will battle it out in a No. 1 Contenders Match to determine the next in line for the winner of the Sting/Hardy encounter. In preview of those matchups, Bischoff leapt at the opportunity to put together a tag match for iMPACT!. He formed two rather unorthodox duos to face each other – RVD and Sting vs. Anderson and Hardy.
None of these four men were really on the same page with their partners and the entire evening showed all of them having pre-match issues. RVD in particular refused to accept Sting’s apology for not trusting him and assuming he was going to be a member of Immortal simply because he was brought into TNA by Hogan and Bischoff.
While Sting was being interviewed by Jeremy Borash in the back, Anderson came out of nowhere and attacked “The Icon.” He bashed him against a garage door and even inadvertently took Borash out in the process. As a result of this backstage beatdown, Sting was unable to join forces with RVD for the tag bout – at least initially.
For most of the match, RVD went at it alone and actually did surprisingly well against both Anderson and Hardy. He obtained a few nears falls in the process of trying to fend off the 2-on-1 odds. Van Dam did eventually succumb to a Twist of Hate from Hardy and got covered for what likely would have been a three-count. But Anderson elected to turn on his partner at that point by not only stopping the count, but by also hitting Hardy with a Mic Check.
Then the lights went out while Sting’s music played. When brightness returned to the arena, Sting took some shots on Anderson and planted him to the mat with a Scorpion Death Drop. Instead of going for the cover himself, he pointed to RVD and called for “The Whole F’N Show” to finish TNA’s resident A-hole off with a Five Star. Van Dam gladly obliged with the frog splash and covered for the pinfall.
Both Van Dam and Sting celebrated to close the show, with absolutely no sign of tension between the two such as what was witnessed for much of the previous two hours.
With that pinfall over Anderson under his belt, RVD can move onto Victory Road this Sunday with a shot at getting the title shot he’s yearned for ever since having it removed from him months ago. Van Dam needs to be ready for that No. 1 Contender’s Match, though. Losing on Thursday will not be enough to tame Anderson’s aggression and equal yearning to get the TNA World Heavyweight Title rematch he really never did receive.