TNA iMPACT! Wrestlers of the Week 3.17.11
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 17, 2011
3. Bully Ray – for making a play to join Immortal by competing for the TNA Heavyweight Title No. 1 Contender spot and by taking out AJ Styles in vicious fashion:
Bully Ray was unable to snag the last laugh in his feud with both Brother Devon and Tommy Dreamer. At Victory Road on Sunday, he lost to Dreamer with the help of Devon when the two combined to put Ray through a table with a 3D. But it didn’t take Ray very long to get over the loss and move on to something much bigger and better for his singles career.
This week’s iMPACT! opened with reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion Sting calling out Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Claiming to be looking out for all the guys in the back, Sting questioned a lot of their decisions and their influence over Jeff Hardy – who worked the PPV on Sunday in clearly “handicapped” fashion. To some surprise, Bully Ray hit the iMPACT! Zone in defense of Hogan.
He basically called Sting jealous because he would never live up to the legacy built up throughout the years by Hogan. Ray asked Hogan and Bischoff for a chance to join Immortal and to have his first challenge be to dish out a beating to Sting while taking the TNA World Heavyweight Championship off him.
Before Ray’s request could be granted, Fortune hit the ring. Styles informed Ray that he knew he wanted to be a singles wrestler when he entered the business and has since been carried by Devon for the past 15 years en route to being one of the most successful tag teams in the industry’s history. Ray responded by saying that he wanted to slap Styles before calling him out over being protected by Dixie Carter. Styles eventually delivered a slap of his own to Ray, which almost prompted a melee until Mr. Anderson hit the ring. He, naturally, wanted a title shot.
Bischoff addressed “the network’s” yearning for ratings and the giant cluster of wrestlers seeking title shots by booking a four-way matchup for the main event. The winner would become the next No. 1 Contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Title. This match would automatically include Anderson and Rob Van Dam, who fought to a countout at Victory Road in their No. 1 Contender Match. Styles and Ray were also added to this bout.
Unfortunately, much like on Sunday, no No. 1 Contender was actually figured out. Instead, with Anderson and Van Dam counted down in an awkward pinning situation, Ray decked the referee and Jeremy Borash before an official announcement could be made. Styles then attacked Ray and the two proceeded to battle up the ramp and to the stage with Styles doing most of the damage. Once up on the stage, Ric Flair emerged from the back and nailed Styles with a low blow that allowed Ray to take control of the situation. He set Styles up for a powerbomb and took him off the stage and through a table down below. The remaining minutes of iMPACT! were spent watching Styles be loaded up onto a stretcher and wheeled to an ambulance.
At this point, Ray is more likely to have a few more issues with Styles and the rest of Fortune before he claims his place in line for a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Title. But he’s on the radar of Hogan and Bischoff now by doing some significant singles work that is actually fairly interesting.
2. Winter – for getting the pinfall for her team in six-person action against Hernandez, Sarita and Rosita:
The battle for Angelina Love’s attention between Velvet Sky and Winter has really started to drive her crazy. Their jealously has done more harm than good for both relationships. Just last Sunday at Victory Road, Sky tried to help the duo defend their TNA Knockouts Championships against Sarita and Rosita. But when she grabbed the title Rosita was planning to nail Winter with the referee out of the picture, Sarita was able to move on into the ring and reverse a cover by Winter that netted the cousins the championships.
A little more friction was added to this situation on iMPACT!. Sky believed she would be teaming with Love in a match, but Winter barged into their locker room and claimed Love was teaming with her. Love basically remained silent as the two bickered. And it ended with Winter pulling Love away to join her and Matt Morgan in six-person action against Hernandez, Sarita and Rosita.
Hernandez, Sarita and Rosita all came out together. Hernandez grabbed the microphone before their opponents hit the ring and stated that Mexico was taking over. Well, they didn’t take over very well on this night.
In this mixed street fight, if you will, the guys started things out in the ring while the ladies battled on the outside. A discus closeline from Morgan, however, got the attention of Sarita and Rosita. They tried to hold Morgan back in the corner, but he tossed both of them off inside the ring. Love and Winter entered the ring after them and Winter was able to dump Rosita with a spinning backbreaker for the pinfall.
The team’s celebration was cut very short courtesy of a new face to TNA jumping the ring and attacking Morgan. Apparently, this guy is joining forces with Hernandez on his mission to have Mexico take over the world or something. Morgan was able to fend both men off, however, and send them running while Love and Winter held him back.
Despite that post-match attack, this quick victory helps all members of the face team gain some level of satisfaction against those they lost to at the PPV Sunday. Winter once again came up big and has proven numerous times over since joining forces with Love that she is much more capable of scoring a win instead of being a liability like Sky has been in some cases recently.
1. Gunner – for defeating Immortal brethren Rob Terry and Murphy to capture the vacated TNA Television Championship:
The TNA Television Championship has not been defended since Abyss was put out of commission by having Janice nailed right into his back. With “The Monster” on the shelf and unable to put the belt on the line, Eric Bischoff made the decision to strip him of the strap and put the vacated title on the line this week on iMPACT!.
Three members of Immortal – Rob Terry, Gunner and Murphy – would have the opportunity to claim the championship in what turned out to be a three-way match. Bischoff rallied his troops in the back and told all of them to leave it in the ring. Regardless of who wins, each of them would still be a part of Immortal and the faction would know who is most deserving of holding the championship.
Gunner was the most aggressive off the bat, attacking Terry from behind before the bell even rang. Murphy joined him in beating down Terry in the corner before Gunner went behind him and dropped him with a closeline as he turned around. With Murphy down, Gunner sent Terry to the opposite corner and charged in with a splash. Another irish whip to the turnbuckles was not as successful, as Terry rebounded off and dropped Gunner with the forearms.
Terry went for a pin, but only got around a two-count before Gunner kicked out and Murphy moved in with some kicks. Murphy halted his beating of Terry to go for a cover on Gunner, but Terry broke the pin up and then traded fists with Murphy.
Terry eventually took Murphy down with a spinning kick. But instead of staying right on him, he took some time to taunt to the crowd. During that time, Gunner got back to his feet and drilled Terry with a spear. Then Gunner grabbed Murphy, lifted him up on his shoulders and planted him into the mat face-first with the facebuster off a fireman’s carry. He moved right in for the cover and got the three-count.
Gunner was a bit nuts over the win and put the title into his mouth to show he “was more hungry than the others,” as Mike Tenay put it. Bischoff even came to the stage to applaud the win. For somebody that was really just hired muscle, Gunner made a pretty big statement with the win and appears to be a very dangerous champion with his aggressive style. Being in the good graces of Immortal doesn’t hurt his comfort level within TNA, either.