IMPACT Wrestling’s Wrestlers of the Week 12.8.11
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 December 8, 2011
3. Abyss – for pinning Samoa Joe thanks to some help from Immortal, who he subsequently went after following the match:
When Immortal spent months abusing Abyss and using him as a scapegoat for many of their problems, they seemed to forget that he’s called a monster for a reason. And when they did finally boot him out of the group two months back, Bully Ray especially came to realize that might not have been a wise move. So instead of trying to get the better of the big man, Ray and Scott Steiner have recently turned toward trying to lure Abyss back into Immortal.
They would make their presence felt in Abyss’ matchup on this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling. Abyss squared off against Samoa Joe in a battle of two powerful wrestlers that put on an aggressive, back-and-forth battle.
Momentum seemed to swing in Joe’s favor when he got out of a chokeslam by stomping on Abyss’ foot and drilled him in the head with a leaping kick. Abyss stumbled into the corner, where Joe charged in at him with a running high knee. Joe then called for the Muscle Buster and lifted Abyss onto the top turnbuckle. But before he could execute the move, Scott Steiner ran down the ramp to distract the referee. Meanwhile, Ray slid into the ring from behind and drilled Joe in the throat with the chain. Abyss followed up with a chokeslam and pinned Joe for the three-count.
Ray and Steiner joined Abyss, who looked confused, in celebration after the match. But as Steiner was leaving the ring, Abyss grabbed him and delivered a Black Hole Slam. He then stared down Ray, who cowered into the corner before smartly leaving the ring.
Ray and Steiner found out just a bit too late that it wasn’t a good move to abuse such a destructive force like Abyss. Now it seems they won’t be able to get Abyss back on their team and they’ll have to eventually face the day when Abyss is able to get some real retribution for the way Immortal treated him.
2. Mickie James – for picking up another key victory three days before facing Gail Kim for the TNA Knockouts Championship at Final Resolution:
Mickie James may be one of very few legitimate threats to Gail Kim’s reign as TNA Knockouts Champion. And because she scored No. 1 Contendership from a gauntlet matchup a few weeks back on IMPACT Wrestling, we will get to see just how true that is at Final Resolution when the two square off in a one-on-one match for the title.
Since winning that gauntlet series for the right to battle the champion at the pay-per-view, Karen Jarrett has made sure to keep her busy in hopes of wearing her down – or taking her out completely – leading up to Final Resolution.
Last week, ODB was given the task of taking out James with the opportunity to take over as No. 1 Contender. But she failed in pulling off the win, let alone a beating that would keep James out of Final Resolution. So Karen needed to come up with another plan if she wanted to avoid having Kim put the title up against her in three days.
She called upon Madison Rayne, who Karen warned to get serious and stop worrying about kissing her butt. Rayne, a former-three time Knockouts Champion in her own right, assured Karen and Kim that she would get the job done.
The only problem with that promise was that she did not get the job done. She put in a good deal of offense against James and carried majority of the match. But she was unable to get that decisive pinfall, let alone do enough damage to James to prevent her from getting to Final Resolution this Sunday.
James was able to pull out the victory when reversing a move from Rayne into an arm drag and then following up with the jumping DDT. James immediately covered for the win and then stared down Kim, who walked out to the ramp to show off the Knockouts Championship she’s putting on the line this Sunday.
James has jumped the hurdles Karen has thrown her way and seems as prepared as ever to fight for the Knockouts Title this Sunday. Kim will likely offer a greater challenge to her than ODB did last week or Rayne did this week. It should be a solid matchup that could really go either way – and may largely depend on whether Karen has something up her sleeve to try and tilt the match in favor of her champion.
1. AJ Styles – for scoring a pinfall over Bobby Roode that he would like to replicate in their 30-Minute Iron Man TNA World Heavyweight Title Match at Final Resolution:
When AJ Styles wrestled Bobby Roode at Turning Point for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, it was largely in defense of James Storm. But when he goes up against Roode at Final Resolution this Sunday for the title in what Sting ordered to be a 30-Minute Iron Man Match, Styles’ motivation will simply be his own desire to get back at Roode for the jerk he’s become and perhaps regain the World Heavyweight Title in the process.
Styles would have the opportunity to get his hands on Roode three days earlier courtesy of a main event that teamed him with Jeff Hardy against the duo of the champ and Jeff Jarret. Styles’ anger toward Roode only intensified when Roode spit at Dixie Carter during the evening’s opening segment. So he would try to use this match as a way to prepare for Roode this Sunday and get a little revenge on behalf of Carter.
While this began as a tag team matchup, it eventually dwindled down to a one-on-one situation when Hardy had enough of Jarrett’s antics and attacked him on the outside. Hardy proceeded to beat Jarrett all the way to the back, fighting off several attempts from Karen to get him off her husband.
That left Styles and Roode in the ring by themselves for a legitimate preview of what we can likely expect at Final Resolution. Roode pounced on Styles in this situation by locking on a single crab. But Styles got to the ropes and forced Roode to break the hold. Roode shoved the ref and argued with him, which gave Styles time to get up and catch Roode with a boot to the face as he charged in.
Styles, whose knee was hurting because of a bad landing earlier in the match, completely dodged another short charge in the corner from Roode and then followed up with a couple of closelines. Styles then hit a back body drop before lifting Roode onto his shoulders. Styles simply couldn’t hold the weight, however, and ended up walking into a Double R Spinebuster.
Roode wasted some time and then moved in on Styles to try a fisherman’s suplex. But Styles was able to counter with a rollup instead and kept Roode pinned down for a three-count to gain a victory that stunned Roode.
Disappointed with the loss, Roode tried to attack Styles after the bell. But Styles thwarted that with a forearm to Roode before launching himself all the way to the outside onto the champ. Roode scurried to the back and Styles celebrated on the ramp. But with Styles’ knee clearly in bad shape, Roode re-emerged from the back and clipped Styles from behind at the knee. Roode continued to deliver an incredible amount of punishment to the injured area as IMPACT Wrestling came to a close in hopes of having Styles go into Final Resolution less than 100 percent.
It’s going to be tough for Styles to heal up in just three days in time for the TNA World Heavyweight Title Match at Final Resolution. But even with a hurt knee in the main event on IMPACT Wrestling, he was still able to score a win over the champion. A 30-Minute Iron Man Match presents a different set of circumstances. But he’ll just have to rest as best he can and block out the pain so he can put up the best fight possible.