IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 12.22.11
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 22, 2011
3. Eric Young and ODB – for forming a very unorthodox duo that managed to defeat another unlikely combo of Shannon Moore and Anarquia:
In an effort to determine the next contenders for the TNA World Tag Team Championships currently held by Matt Morgan and Crimson, a Wild Card Tag Team Tournament was introduced last week. The point of this tournament was to piece together eight tag teams with the participants being paired up at random. That strategy lends itself to some odd duos, of course, and none were more whacky than that of Eric Young and ODB.
The Young/ODB team was actually officially announced last week, leaving the two a week to prepare for their first round matchup. And they did so during a date/business meeting, with clips of the occasion shown throughout the IMPACT Wrestling broadcast this week prior to their match.
Although it was hard to imagine Young and ODB having a realistic shot of going far in this tournament, they certainly stood a shot of making it out of the first round based on their opposition. They were booked to face Shannon Moore and Anarquia, who are (or were in Moore’s case) members of tag teams that just wrapped up a feud with each other. So, Young and ODB actually may have had an advantage in this match from the start based on an already-existing tension between Moore and Anarquia.
That tension would inevitably come into play during the bout. When ODB got tagged in by Young and was subsequently bodyslammed by Anarquia, Moore got annoyed at his partner for putting his hands on a woman and then chose to walk way. Anarquia became distracted by Moore bailing on him and that allowed ODB to get back to her feet. She turned Anaquia around and slapped away at him before taking both Sarita and Rosita out of the equation by knocking them off the ring apron. ODB then ran around the ring and lifted Anarquia up for a bodyslam near the corner. Young climbed the turnbuckles and delivered an elbow drop from the top to further weaken Anarquia. Young then locked up with referee Earl Hebner and moved him to the corner, leading to a unspotted low blow kick from ODB to Anarquia that allowed her to cover up for a three-count.
The completely random pairings of two guys that don’t get along in Moore and Anarquia certainly helped Young and ODB win this matchup. It will only get harder for them as they progress further through the tournament. But they managed to get through at least a round in rather entertaining fashion and that’s definitely something to celebrate.
2. AJ Styles and Kazarian – for proving to be a more cohesive team than RVD and Christopher Daniels:
While some teams in the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament consisted of odd pairings and rival partners, there is at least one random group that actually worked out very well based on past association. AJ Styles and Kazarian lucked out when they were put together as a team in the competition, having known each other for many years and having previously been founding members of the now-defunct Fortune faction.
Fortunately for the Kaz and The Phenomenal One, they went up against two guys that rather recently had a bitter feud with each – Rob Van Dam and Christopher Daniels. While Styles and Kazarian were legitimately friends who teamed together previously and therefore possessed a certain measure of chemistry few other teams in this tournament could claim to have, they were also going up against a couple of wrestlers that really didn’t like nor trust each other.
RVD remained in the ring for his team for most of the contest. And that was mainly because Daniels did his darndest to avoid a tag while Styles and Kazarian also did a pretty good job working Van Dam over. Daniels did finally enter the match when he made a blind tag to RVD as Van Dam hit the ropes, which he did in hard enough fashion to actually knock The Fallen Angel off the apron. The tag was still official, however, and RVD was forced to leave the ring before hitting a Rolling Thunder. Daniels said that he got it, but he clearly didn’t when he missed a charge on Styles in the corner and went down from a dropkick by Kazarian after he was tagged into the match.
Kazarian followed up on Daniels with a closeline and a back body drop before whipping him from corner-to-corner for a Side Russian Leg Sweep off the rebound. Kaz covered, but Daniels kicked out at two and tried to get to his corner for a tag. RVD met him with a kick to the head, however, and Kazarian was able to lifted Daniels up for a Fade to Black that led to a three-count.
Styles and Kazarian were sort of gift-wrapped that victory by Rob Van Dam, who drilled his own partner and then failed to make the save when it came to the pinfall. But still, Styles and Kazarian went into this match with far more chemistry than their opposition and it was really just a matter of time before the relevance of that became apparent. Being on the same page, something few other teams are in this tournament, will be a big benefit for Styles and Kaz going forward.
1. Jeff Hardy and Sting – for teaming in a main event Street Fight to gain some revenge over what Bobby Roode and Bully Ray did to them last week:
During the concluding moments of IMPACT Wrestling last week, Bobby Roode and Bully Ray exhibited their sheer lack of respect for Sting’s authority by dishing out a beating to him just after delivering one to Jeff Hardy. Roode’s affiliation with Immortal gives the TNA World Heavyweight Champion a little backup, and he used that last week to weaken Hardy ahead of their title match at Genesis. When Sting tried to make a save on Hardy’s behalf, he suffered at the hands of Roode and Ray, as well.
When IMPACT Wrestling opened this week with Roode and Ray discussing what took place, Hardy eventually emerged on the season to inform them of a Street Fight to take place as the show’s main event. Roode and Ray would team up to face Hardy and a partner of his choosing. Ray initially scoffed at the idea considering he believed Hardy had no friends. But Sting’s music hit the IMPACT Zone and he claimed to be Hardy’s friend by agreeing to be his partner, a move that instantly outraged Ray and Roode.
It didn’t take all that long for this Street Fight to leave the ring, or for Hardy and Sting to show that they can work fairly well as a duo. They headed into a commercial break well in control of the match and maintained it until Ray and Roode were able to make good use of kendo sticks lying around the ringside area.
Immortal would do a good job continuing to introduce weapons into the contest and remained on top for quite a bit as a result. They worked over Sting in the ring for some near fall, while Hardy got worked over on the outside as a measure to keep him out of the in-ring action. But when Sting rallied back to hit a Scorpion Death Drop on Ray before taking a Double R Spinebuster from Roode, Hardy was able to work his way back into the squared circle for an enziguri to the champ’s face.
Ray dropped Hardy with a big boot to the face right after and then headed to the outside to get a table. Immortal set the table up with Hardy and Sting laid out in the ring and looked to put Hardy through it with a double team suplex. But Sting was able to get up and move the table out of the way just in time and dropped Immortal with a pair of closelines. Sting hit a Stinger Splash on Ray in the corner and then moved to the opposite one for another Stinger Splash on Roode. An attempt at the Scorpion Death Lock for Ray followed, but Roode entering the ring with a trash can in his hands caused Sting to break the hold. Sting delivered a chop to Roode’s chest and put him down on the mat with a Scorpion Death Drop.
Hardy managed to get back to his feet following that move from Sting and they worked together to get another table set up inside the ring. With Ray taken out of the action on the outside, they set Roode up on the table near the corner. Hardy headed up top and came off with a splash that enabled him to cover Roode for a three-count.
Not only were Sting and Hardy able to get revenge with this victory, but it also gave Hardy a big pinfall over the man he’s set to face at Genesis for the TNA World Heavyweight Title. If he’s able to replicate that result at the PPV, Hardy could very well walk out with another title reign to his credit.