IMPACT Wrestling’s Wrestlers of the Week 12.29.11
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 29, 2011
3. Samoa Joe and Brutus Magnus – for moving on in the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament by getting past the duo of Eric Young and ODB:
We’re moving along in the TNA Wild Card Tag Team Tournament meant to establish a new No. 1 Contender to the Tag Team Championships held by Matt Morgan and Crimson. Although the teams making up this tournament are randomized and pretty unfamiliar as a result, there have been a few surprise combinations that have actually worked very well together.
Samoa Joe is a lone wolf that generally doesn’t get along with anybody. But he and Brutus Magnus put up a solid performance two weeks ago in their opening round matchup against Robbie E. and Douglas Williams. Then there’s Eric Young and ODB, who are both off their rocker and potentially … maybe … probably not really edging on a romantic relationship. Regardless of where they stand personally, they were able to pick up a big first round victory last week by defeating Anarquia and Shannon Moore – albeit helped by the fact that Moore walked out on his partner.
After having witnessed AJ Styles and Kazarian move on to the finals with a win over Abyss and Scott Steiner to start the in-ring action of this week’s IMPACT Wrestling, these two aforementioned teams battled in a bout to determine who would square off with the former-Fortune members.
The match had a rather amusing start between Magnus and ODB. But the fun ended when Young got jealous of the fooling around between them and tagged himself. Young dropped his pants and went to work on Magnus, until he got kicked in the back going off the ropes by Joe and got drilled by Magnus when he turned around.
From there, Magnus and Joe were able to take control over EY and grab some near falls in the process. Young had a moment where he fired back at Joe with a forearm after a missed charged in the corner. But Magnus broke up the ensuing pinfall and then ODB came in to dropkick him to the outside. ODB then came face-to-face with Joe while Young climbed the turnbuckles behind him. But Magnus quickly re-entered the ring and tossed ODB hard into the corner. Young got tripped up on the top rope and was set up perfectly for a Muscle Buster from Joe that transitioned into a three-count.
For all the laughs that Young and ODB bring to the table, Joe and Magnus are a far more dangerous wrestling team and stand a greater shot at taking this tournament. They will now move on to the face Styles and Kazarian in the finals, with the winner getting a TNA World Tag Team Championship opportunity against Morgan and Crimson at Genesis.
2. Zema Ion – for snatching a contract in the third of his Best of Three Series against Tony Nese to enter the TNA X Division Championship Match at Genesis:
The TNA X-Division Championship will be defended at Genesis when Austin Aries puts the strap on the line against three opponents in a Four Corners Match. Already set to face Aries in that bout are Kid Kash and Jesse Sorensen. The fourth member of the equation would be determined over the past few weeks in a Best of Three Series between Zema Ion and Anthony Nese.
Ion took the first match of this series two weeks ago when a 450 Splash turned out to be good enough to keep Nese pinned to the mat for a three-count. Last week, Ion was surprised with a quick rollup from Nese that tied the series right back up at one and forced a rubber match for this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling.
Unlike the previous two contests – which were strictly one-on-one matches without stipulations, this final battle between the two would be a Contract on a Pole Match. The first man to snatch the contract hanging in one of the corners would automatically add his name to the card of Genesis in that X-Division Title Match.
Because the whole point of this bout was simply to grab a piece of paper hanging in the corner, the strategy for both men was less about wearing down the opponent (as was the case the past two weeks) and more about just taking them out for enough time to grab the contract. Several attempts were made at this by both Ion and Nese. Only one was successful.
With the action spilling to the outside, Nese was able to nail Ion in the face with a back elbow before hitting a moonsault off the ring apron. He took this moment to move toward the corner with the contract and climb up the pole. But Ion was able to grab onto him and drop Nese across the turnbuckle. Ion climbed up behind him and tried to move toward the contract. But Nese grabbed him and hit a seated German suplex from the top turnbuckle that sent Ion crashing right back down to the mat. Nese pulled himself up and once again tried to move toward the contract. But Ion got right back to his feet and shoved Nese to the outside, leaving him plenty of time to grab the contract for himself and take on that fourth spot in the X-Division Title Match at Genesis.
The first two matches between these two were definitely better. But again, a match like this isn’t about pulling off the flashiest moves. It’s about getting enough time to grab the contract. Ion was effectively able to do this and prevent Nese from doing the same on several occasions. It was a good win that sets up a nice opportunity to try and capture some gold at the PPV.
1. Gail Kim – for retaining the TNA Knockouts Championship with some outside help in an excellent main event matchup against Mickie James:
When Gail Kim re-emerged on the scene in TNA and almost instantly found success under the wings of Karen Jarrett by quickly becoming TNA Knockouts Champion, one of the few women on the roster that appeared to be a legitimate threat to her reign was Mickie James. It was simply a matter of time before those ladies would end up facing each other for the strap, and they did just that a couple of weeks back at Final Resolution.
Unfortunately for James, she was working against a numbers game. A distraction at the end of that match by Madison Rayne enabled Kim to come up with the pinfall that kept the title around her waist. Then based on Jeff Jarrett losing his match at that very same PPV to Jeff Hardy, the future of Karen as the head of the Knockouts Division was placed in doubt – as were the future plans of the talent within the division and its championship.
Last week, Rayne claimed to have been passed down the authority of vice president of the Knockouts Division by the departing Karen Jarrett. She ended up booking Tara and Brooke Tessmacher in a match that didn’t go according to plan and brought her to the decision to fire both of them at the top of this week’s broadcast. Sting, however, wasn’t keen on that idea and mentioned to Rayne that she had no actual power to make such decisions. Instead, Sting elected to do the booking for the Knockouts and granted James her rematch for the Knockouts Title later on in the evening against Kim.
That match ended up being the main event of the evening. And while the Knockouts rarely see main event time on IMPACT Wrestling broadcasts, it does happen occasionally and typically includes James as one of the participants.
Kim and James certainly proved worthy of the main event slot as they went at each other in a great back-and-forth contest. There were several nice spots in this one, including a Thesz Press from James onto Kim on the outside and a couple of octopus stretches from Kim onJames. But regardless of what they did both in and out of the ring, it was an outside party that made the biggest influence on the match’s result.
After James hit that Thesz Press on the outside to Kim, she rolled Kim back into the ring and gingerly got herself back in as well. Kim ended up rolling right back out to the outside and the referee followed her out to check on her. Meanwhile, James was alone in the ring when a mystery attacker dressed in black and with a painted face entered the ring to take James down. The attacker quickly left the ring and crawled underneath it while Kim rolled back in and covered up to get the three-count.
As Kim celebrated her successful title retention, the camera gave a closer look at the assailant and it turned out to be Madison Rayne.
Even with Karen out of the picture, Kim still has a few tricks up her sleeve and allies that have her back. Even without Rayne, Kim was still holding her own incredibly well against James and may have been able to pull out the victory regardless. But however the win came about, she is still TNA Knockouts Champion and sports a 2-0 record against her toughest challenge over just a few weeks time.