TNA iMPACT! Wrestlers of the Week 3.24.11
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 March 24, 2011
3. The Pope – for dishing out another beating to Okato while avoiding the wrath of Samoa Joe:
The Pope has been doing some pretty underhanded things as of late, and Samoa Joe has not hesitated to call him out for it. Joe knows that Pope is trying to hustle the people and he’s not a fan of it. He’s so much against Pope’s shenanigans that he enlisted the aid of an assistant, Okato, to pull together some video of Pope’s wrongdoings.
Pope was able to get back at Okato for his part in this. After holding a sketch last Thursday in which he “healed” some common folk as if he held some sort of divine powers, Joe and Okato came down to the ring to put an end to the obvious hoax. Pope escaped a harsh beating, however, and even held Okato at knifepoint while moving up the entrance way. It was only revealed to Joe that the knife was a fake once they made their way all the way up to the stage and Pope tossed Okato through the entrance. After that, Pope hung Okato up in the back and beat him mercilessly with a stick until he heard Joe coming to save his friend.
This week provided Okato an opportunity at getting back at Pope for that whooping, as the two squared off in singles competition. Okato did well in the beginning of the match. But Pope soon enough took over and turned up the physicality against Okato. Pope wasn’t even looking for the “W” in this one. He simply wanted to lay in another beating to Okato, which he did by removing the glove to reveal a hand full of rings that he used to pound away at Okato’s face. The referee ended up calling for the disqualification against Pope while he continued to slug away on Okato.
Pope wouldn’t stop swinging after the bell and had to be removed by the ref. So, Pope decked the referee as well before proceeding to lay some more punches into Okato. Then Joe ran down to the ring, which caused Pope to finally let up and leave with a smirk on his face aimed at Joe while he headed up the ramp. Joe yelled for a doctor and stared down Pope in return.
This feud felt like it was being dragged out a bit. But with these two recent assaults by Pope on Okato, it does feel as if there is new life breathed into the Joe/Pope rivalry. I would suspect Pope is going to continue avoiding Joe all the way to Lockdown, where this should all come to a head and Joe may be able to get his revenge. For now, though, Pope seems to be getting his way by teaching Joe and Okato a lesson for sticking their noses in his business.
2. Scott Steiner and Crimson – for forming a successful partnership against the once-hopeful TNA Tag Team Championship Contenders, Ink Inc.:
Since the whole Main Event Mafia return was scrapped for obvious reasons and Kurt Angle is off doing battle against Jeff and Karen Jarrett, both Scott Steiner and Crimson were pretty much left to their own devices to find other purposes in TNA. Steiner feuded with Rob Terry for a bit. But once he defeated the company’s resident freak on the March 3 episode of iMPACT!, that rivalry was apparently put to bed. Crimson, on the other hand, has done even less since he started announcing “they” were coming.
On this week’s show, those two teamed up to face Ink Inc. in tag team action. Steiner is no stranger to tag team wrestling and Crimson offers him yet another strong partner to head into two-on-two battles with.
While Ink Inc. should have provided a hefty challenge for Steiner and Crimson, they did very little damage in this match. Neal felt the wrath of both Steiner and Crimson early on, while Moore got a taste of it after tagging in once Neal was sent reeling into his corner with a boot to the face from Crimson. Moore was finally able to break through when he took Crimson down with a moonsault. But when he looked to tag Neal back in, his partner was still hurt on the floor and Moore was left to eat a Red Alert for a three-count.
Neal handled the loss with some class and shook hands. But Moore developed an attitude again and threw the chain head covering of Steiner at “Big Poppa Pump” after whipping his rear with it. Steiner was pissed and had to be held back by referees and Crimson while yelling at Moore.
Regardless of that post-match fiasco which could very well have Steiner hunting down Moore in the not-too-distant future, we still saw an excellent debut performance from the duo of Steiner and Crimson. They looked incredibly dominant against a top tag team in TNA. Hopefully they will remain together for a bit and add some extra competition within the division.
1. Mickie James – for defeating familiar foe Tara in a match where Tara was ordered by Madison Rayne to do some damage against her:
Mickie James has been making her case for another crack at the TNA Knockouts Championship for a while now. But she had been rejected by current titleholder Madison Rayne for several weeks because Rayne felt she had already done her service by defeating James with the title on the line at both Genesis and Against All Odds. She was finished with James as far as she was concerned. Rayne, instead, decided to start an open challenge where any female wrestler could step into the ring and face her.
James had enough of that open challenge after three weeks and threw another challenge out to Rayne last week. Rayne finally decided to accept. But that acceptance came with a condition. James needs to put her hair on the line and have it all shaved off if she is to lose this match, which is set to take place inside a steel cage at Lockdown. James naturally accepted with little hesitation.
With the match made official, James was booked in singles competition against Rayne’s lackey on this week’s iMPACT!. She faced a familiar foe in Tara, who had orders from Rayne to destroy James.
That didn’t quite happen for Rayne. While Tara was able to deliver some punishment to James throughout the contest, most notably with the use of a Boston Crab, Tara simply couldn’t put her away. After James made it to the ropes to break the crab, Tara went to deliver a Widow’s Peak to close out the match that way. But James reversed with a DDT and was able to get the pinfall much to the chagrin of Rayne, who appeared at the top of the entrance way in a rather foul mood.
In securing a statement victory over Tara, James really started to make it clear to Rayne that she is coming after her. Perhaps she has unnerved the champion in the process. If James can keep it up over the next two weeks, she may be able to build enough momentum heading into their clash at Lockdown to finally get over the hump and win her first TNA Knockouts Title.