IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 8.18.11
By Neil Borenstein
Each week here at 1wrestling.com, I will select three of the top wrestlers from TNA’s IMPACT Wrestling 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 Wrestling and any relevant preceding programming – such as Pay-Per-Views – will be taken into consideration.
IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week for August 18, 2011
3. Austin Aries – for taking advantage of being the last guy in for an eight-man X-Division Gauntlet Match to become the new No. 1 Contender to the championship:
Eric Bischoff called a meeting in his office last week on IMPACT Wrestling to inform the members of the X-Division that the network simply loved what they did at Destination X. Despite his hatred toward the division, Bischoff would have no choice but to keep them around because of the network’s favorable opinion of them. But he was revamping the X-Division a bit by introducing a 225-pound weight limit, thus putting an end to the little “it’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits” credo. He also informed them of an eight-man gauntlet matchup set to take place this week, which would help form a rankings system and name the new No. 1 Contender to the X-Division Championship currently held by Brian Kendrick.
This Gauntlet Match included Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Kid Kash, Robbie E., Tony Nese, Zema Ion, Jesse Sorensen and Mark Haskins. So basically, it was pretty logical to conclude that either Shelley or Aries were taking this thing home when it was all said and done.
Surprisingly, Shelley was the first one out of the equation. He went one-on-one with Haskins to get the festivities going and was surprised with a knee to the side of the head that kept him down for a three-count upset. That labels Shelley eighth in the rankings; a system I’m not sure holds any true overall relevance at the moment.
Shelley’s early dismissal meant the only reasonable option remaining was Aries. Aries was the last man to enter the matchup, which was a huge advantage. And to help matters further, he distracted the referee while the just-eliminated Kash nailed Sorensen with a double underhook piledriver. Aries entered the ring after that and went for the arrogant cover by placing his foot atop Sorensen’s chest. That didn’t quite cut the mustard, however, as Sorensen kicked out at two. Aries tried for another cover but received the same result. Aries took some time to argue with the ref over the speed of his counting and then looked for a brainbuster. Sorensen reversed into a small package, though, that Aries managed to kick out of at two. Aries quickly delivered a kick to the head of Sorensen and followed up with an IED on Sorensen in the corner. That allowed Aries to move Sorensen back into the middle of the ring and drop him with a brainbuster to score the pinfall.
Christy Hemme interviewed Aries after the match, and he boasted about getting past seven guys to become next in line for a shot at the X-Division Championship. He also vowed to take that belt from the Wizard of Odd because he is the greatest man alive. That brought Kendrick out, and he offered to shake Aries’ hand. Aries faked him out and headed toward the back, only to be nailed from behind by Kendrick in an assault that required security for separation.
Aries worked with the hand that was dealt him and took advantage of being the eighth and final man in the Gauntlet Match. Now he possesses the next shot at the X-Division Championship and it possibly getting inside the head of Kendrick before they square off for the title.
2. Mickie James – for defeating a determined ODB in a pretty decent Knockouts showing:
It’s not often that a women’s match in either TNA or the WWE is anything to really talk about these days. But from time to time, TNA does actually pull a few rabbits out of the hat from its Knockouts Division, and it did so this week on IMPACT Wrestling.
ODB and Jacqueline are looking to do things the right way in TNA for a change as a way to prove to Eric Bischoff that they are worthy of being offered official contracts with the company. ODB took perhaps the first step toward that by taking part in singles action against Mickie James, who is focused on stringing together some wins in preparation for her TNA Knockouts Championship rematch against Winter in two weeks on IMPACT Wrestling.
Jackie did accompany OBD down to the ring and remained at the ringside area throughout the bout. At one point, she almost got involved when ODB had the referee distracted. But it’s important for both of them to play it clean in order to impress Bischoff, so Jackie kept her hands off James and really allowed this to be a pretty solid one-on-one Knockouts contest.
This was naturally a battle of ODB’s more physical style against James’ reliance on her quickness and agility. It made for a nice back-and-forth match with a few moments where either woman could put things away.
James began to really take control when she recovered from being knocked to the outside, which is when Jackie thought better than to attack her behind the referee’s back. James battled ODB while on the apron to back her away from the corner, all so she could head up top and leap off onto ODB with the Thesz Press. James looked to follow up with the jumping DDT, but ODB pushed her off and drilled James with a splash in the corner. ODB tried for the Bronco Buster, but James moved out of the way just in time and waited for ODB to get back up so she could go for the jumping DDT again. James hit it this time and immediately went for the cover to close out the match with a pinfall.
James celebrated with Earl Hebner kind of creeping on her a bit and then was faced with a handshake offer from a reluctant Jacqueline. James did take part in what turned out to be a barely half-second hand shake before Jackie pulled away and left James to celebrate her victory some more.
James picked up some nice momentum with that impressive victory and needs to store it up as she heads into her title rematch against Winter on the September 1 episode of IMPACT Wrestling. Winter is a far tougher and conniving foe and will have Angelina Love in her corner for support, and possibly assistance. This match against ODB provided good preparation in anticipation of that TNA Knockouts Championship Match.
1. Mexican America – for becoming the new TNA World Tag Team Champions in their second attempt against Beer Money:
Hernandez and Anarquia received the match they had been clamoring for since joining up in TNA and forming Mexican America – a shot at the TNA World Tag Team Championships – at Hardcore Justice. They believed they were being constantly overlooked and fought to get their opportunity. Unfortunately, they failed in their bid for the titles thanks to a successful retention by Beer Money.
Lucky enough for them, they didn’t need to wreak nearly as much havoc to get another crack at Beer Money and the championships. Their second, and perhaps final for a while, shot at the belts took place as this week’s main event on IMPACT Wrestling. Mexican America had two things working in their favor. First, Sarita and Rosita were at ringside. Also, Mexico’s new royal couple, Jeff and Karen Jarrett, graced the announce table with their presence for some guest commentary – though they would not remain there for the entirety of the match.
Beer Money seemed to have the match well in hand when James Storm was able to break away from a Border Toss by Hernandez and get a hot tag to Robert Roode. Roode hit a couple of closelines on Hernandez and dropped Anarquia off the ring apron. An irish whip to Hernandez was reversed, but Roode still managed to come back at him with a forearm. Roode dropped Anarquia with a fist before chopping Hernandez in the corner and then hitting him off an irish whip reversal to the opposite corner with a back elbow. Roode stayed on him with a Blockbuster off the middle rope and covered up for a pin attempt that Anarquia broke up at two.
Roode reversed a whip by Anarquia into the corner and sent him into a kick from Storm on the apron instead. Roode then dropped Anarquia to the mat and catapulted him into a DDT from Storm that sent him rolling right to the edge of the ring. Hernandez then walked right into a double team suplex from Beer Money, who proceeded to do their “Beer Money” chant.
For all the momentum they gained, it was put to a screeching halt when they turned around to Rosita spitting something at Storm. Roode grabbed her wrist after she poked his chest, which prompted Karen to leave the announce table and head down to the ring, Jeff following not too far behind. Karen hopped the apron while the referee tried to talk her down and both members of Beer Money argued with her. Jeff got her off the apron. But enough time was wasted to allow Anarquia to throw Storm out of the ring. Roode dropped Anarquia with a Double R Spinebuster. But Sarita hopped the apron now to distract the referee while Hernandez came in from behind with Jeff’s championship belt and nailed Roode in the head with it. Hernandez went right for the cover and the referee turned around in time to make the three-count and name Mexican America the new TNA World Tag Team Champions.
The new titleholders celebrated inside the ring in front of the Mexican flag with Jeff and Karen joining in with them. Beer Money looked completely dismayed on the outside as the show came to a close.
Hernandez and Anarquia certainly received a lot of help in this victory and it was perhaps too quick a move by TNA to put the belts on them. But this championship victory certainly boosts their status in the tag team division and helped bridge an allegiance with the Jarrett’s that doesn’t hurt them from a power perspective, either.