IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 9.15.11
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 September 15, 2011
3. Velvet Sky – for winning her opening round matchup in the Queens Challenge over Angelina Love:
Since taking over as Knockout Law in TNA, Karen Jarrett has sought to improve the division by classing it up. That means no more messy locker rooms and just a little more respect toward the new boss of the Knockouts Division.
Luckily, Jarrett isn’t solely about forcing her authority on everybody else. She also has a little initiative in regard to the in-ring action as it pertains to the Knockouts. One of her first acts in that regard was granting Winter another shot at the TNA Knockouts Title against Mickie James at No Surrender – an opportunity Winter made good on by taking the strap off Hardcore Country.
Jarrett’s second big act came Thursday night. She made her assistant, Traci Brooks, round up the Knockouts and bring them to her office for an announcement. Jarrett announced a Queens Challenge involving the Knockouts. This challenge would showcase singles bouts between six Knockouts, with the winner of each moving on to face Winter in four-way action for the TNA Knockouts Championship at Bound for Glory. The first stage of matches included James going up against Brooke Tessmacher, Tara taking on the returning Madison Rayne, and Velvet Sky going one-on-one with her former Beautiful People partner Angelina Love. The Sky vs. Love match took place this week on IMPACT Wrestling.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Winter was in Love’s corner during this match and attempted to play a role in gaining her partner a victory. That plan was almost achieved when Love held Sky as Winter tried to blast her with the championship belt from the ring apron. Sky was able to duck the blow, however, and follow right up with a Beauty-T DDT to finish Love off and advance into the championship bout at Bound for Glory.
Sky’s chase for the TNA Knockout Championship is not really talked about and doesn’t get a lot of play. But she clearly has her sights set on holding the title after basically being a whipping girl during her numerous years in TNA. This Queens Challenge is a great way for Sky to get an opportunity for the gold at TNA’s biggest pay-per-view of the year. And advancing past Love by thwarting an interference attempt by Winter was the perfect start.
2. Robert Roode – for further proving himself after his Bound for Glory Series victory with a win over fellow-Fortune member Kazarian:
Nobody had a more fulfilling weekend than Robert Roode. After months of vying for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match that would come as a result of winning the Bound for Glory Series, Roode ended up being the victor over 11 other men involved at the start of the competition.
Roode needed to go through two members of Immortal on Sunday in order to lock up the Series. First, he faced Gunner in a match that would require a submission victory from either man in order for a match against the 10-point leader Bully Ray to even be necessary. Ray warned Gunner not to tap out under any circumstances. But he did anyway when Roode locked on a crossface to force the big man to tap out. Eric Bischoff immediately informed Roode that a final match against Ray would take place later in the No Surrender broadcast. A victory of any variety would do in this case and Roode was able to put Ray away with a Double R Spinebuster.
Roode was welcomed on IMPACT Wrestling with some congratulatory messages and best luck wishes for his title opportunity at Bound for Glory in four weeks against Kurt Angle from his fellow Fortune members. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian and James Storm all said their piece to Roode, with Storm concluding the proceedings with a little “Sorry about your damn luck” directed toward the current TNA World Heavyweight Titleholder.
That brought Angle out to the ring. He figured the rest of Fortune was really jealous of Roode. And in order to prove that, he employed the power bestowed upon him by being aligned with Hulk Hogan and Bischoff. He informed Roode that he would face a member of Fortune each week on IMPACT Wrestling up to their bout at Bound for Glory. If any member of Fortune planned on just lying down, they would instantly end up on the bottom of the totem pole of contenders. Victories, however, would put them right at the top should Angle come out victorious against Roode at the pay-per-view.
Roode’s first Fortune opponent ended up being Kazarian. Angle tried to continue stirring the pot by giving Kaz a bit of a pep talk prior to the match, telling him that a victory over Roode could very well have him next in line for a title shot after Bound for Glory.
That may have provided Kaz something to think about and perhaps a little extra motivation. He really put forth a great effort and matched up nicely against Roode. But Roode had a lot more momentum in this match and a great deal to prove, considering a loss prior to Bound for Glory could hurt his credibility and confidence going into the title match. A win was essential for Roode and he ended up getting one when it was all said and done.
After being grounded by Kazarian with a chinlock, Roode managed to get to his feet and begin to punch out of the hold. Kaz put a halt to this rally by drilling him with a knee to the face, but a whip into the corner was met with a rebound closeline from Roode after he bounced off the turnbuckles. Another closeline was followed by a big back body drop. Roode then headed up top and came off with the Blockbuster that connected for a two-count. Kaz was able to reverse an irish whip into the corner and prevented Roode from catching him with a leapfrog out of the corner. Kazarian got Roode up to and looked for an inverted piledriver. But Roode was able to get out of it and counter into a crossface submission that Kazarian had no choice but to tap out to.
Things got a bit heated initially after the bell. But a handshake and hug eventually occurred between Roode and Kazarian, who explained backstage that his initial reaction after the match was just because he wanted to be in Roode’s place.
Meanwhile, Angle looked on in disappointment from the back at the result of the match. Clearly, he wants Roode to rack up losses prior to their match, not gain more confidence.
But that’s exactly what Roode is doing. He made a big step toward his dream by winning the Bound for Glory Series. And even though Angle is looking to set him back by making him wrestle his buddies, Roode remains as motivated and competitive as ever. If he can continue stringing wins together, this plan by Angle may very well blow up in his face and just serve to further prepare Roode for their TNA World Heavyweight Title Match.
1. Sting – for defeating longtime rival Ric Flair to finally earn his matchup against Hulk Hogan at Bound for Glory:
The challenge was laid out several weeks ago by a returning “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The 62-year old had several matches during his career with “The Icon” Sting. But he needed another one. And in order to get Sting to grant him another meet in the ring, Flair threw out a pretty high-stakes set of stipulations. If he wins, then Sting is forced to retire. And not the phony Flair-esque retirement – Sting would have to be gone from the business for good. However, if Sting wins, then he would finally earn the match against Hulk Hogan that he has long sought to receive since Immortal tricked Dixie Carter out of ownership of her company.
Now, I must admit that the very idea of a Sting vs. Ric Flair match in 2011 makes my stomach churn. Even despite that, I’m only more disappointed in the fact that TNA didn’t attempt to capitalize on the fans that did actually want to see that bout for some reason by putting it on the No Surrender card, instead on putting Sting in a meaningless three-way TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match. But the whole point of this match the entire time was to lead into the inevitable showdown between Sting and Hogan at Bound for Glory. A victory by Sting Thursday night would finally make that happen.
From the early parts of the broadcast, Hogan’s confidence in Flair was rather minimal. Flair promised he was ready to go. But Hogan wanted a backup plan. And he deployed that after Flair managed to kick out of a superplex at the two-count.
Gunner, Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett were first on the scene (as was Abyss, who just stood on the ramp.) Sting fought off all three of them as Hogan also made his way out to the ring. Hogan tried to distract Sting while Bully Ray slid in from the other side of the ring. Ray began to wrap a chain around his hand and prepare to deck Sting when he turned around. But then Mr. Anderson hit the arena and chased Ray off with a steel chair. Hogan slid Flair some brass knucks as this was occurring and he was able to use them with a punch to Sting’s face. Flair thought it was over when he covered, but Sting kicked out at two. Flair was completely irate and tried to fight Sting back down with some knife-edge chops. But they had no effect on Sting, who sent Flair into the corner and nailed him with a Stinger Splash. Flair dropped to the mat and Sting locked on the Scorpion Death Lock. Flair tapped out and a staredown ensued between Sting and Hogan as IMPACT Wrestling came to a close.
So there we have it, folks. Sting versus Hulk Hogan is officially set for Bound for Glory and it feels absolutely nothing like the build for their epic encounter at Starrcade 1997. So here’s to the next four weeks of Hogan trying to prove his back is up to the task and of Sting continuing to act like The Joker. All I know is that this match better not take the main event slot over Robert Roode challenging for the championship against Kurt Angle.