IMPACT Wrestling’s Wrestlers of the Week 1.5.12
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 January 5, 2012
3. Madison Rayne and Gail Kim – for holding onto the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championships by defeating Mickie James and Traci Brooks:
When Gail Kim defeated Mickie James to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship last week, she did so largely because of some outside assistance by Madison Rayne. Those two have been allies since Kim rejoined TNA as a soldier for Karen Jarrett. And even though Karen is gone and no longer head of the Knockouts Division, Kim and Rayne have remained on the same page as TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions.
Those very tag titles were set to be defended this week on IMPACT Wrestling by Rayne and Kim. On the other side of the ring would be Traci Brooks, who has long had issues with both of them, and James, who will receive yet another try at reclaiming the Knockouts Championship when she steps into the ring one-on-one with Kim at Genesis.
In pre-recorded footage, these four ladies got into a little fracas in a pool. Rayne and Kim essentially jumped and tried to outnumber Brooks until James came through to even the score and scare them off. In the ring, however, the tides were turned quite a bit and the more experienced unit of Rayne and Kim ended up getting the better of their opposition.
Much of the in-ring action in this match was actually between Rayne and James – something that must’ve pleased Kim as a way of wearing James down before their title match this Sunday. Kim decided to tag herself the moment Rayne slipped up, though, and came right at James with a few kicks to the head that prevented her from making a tag. Kim drilled Brooks on the apron with a forearm and then looked to drop James with a bodyslam. James was able to get out of the move and make that tag to Brooks, though, and Brooks charged Kim in the corner as she tried to back off.
Some shoulder blocks were delivered by Brooks before grabbing Kim by the hair and tossing her across the ring. Brooks followed up with some forearms and a jawbreaker that dropped Kim across the ropes so she could come off the opposite ropes at her with knees to the back. Brooks was then able to reverse a reversal on Kim into a big closeline that netted her a pinning opportunity. Rayne broke up the cover, but James simply went up top and leapt off into a Thesz Press on Rayne when she turned around.
James unfortunately tweaked her ankle as she landed, which didn’t stop her from following Rayne to the outside. Meanwhile in the ring, Kim was able to catch Brooks with a kick from her back and followed that up with an Eat Defeat that allowed her to get the three-count as Rayne prevented James from coming in to make the save.
Brooks was full of anger from her time serving under the Karen Jarrett regime. And she fought hard against Kim to try and gain some redemption in closing moments of the match. But it was all for naught as Kim was able to catch her in order to keep the titles around the waists they entered on. And just as an added bonus for Kim, James appears to be heading into Genesis with an injury that will definitely handicap her heavily in their TNA Knockouts Championship Match.
2. Jesse Sorensen – for picking up the victory in an X-Division tag team matchup meant to preview the four corners title bout at Genesis:
Most of the attention surrounding the X-Division the past few weeks has revolved around the Best of Three Series between Zema Ion and Tony Nese in an effort to name a fourth participant in this Sunday’s Four Corners X-Division Championship Match. Well, Ion was able to lock that up last week and now the field is set for him to challenge Kid Kash, Jesse Sorensen and champion Austin Aries at the pay-per-view.
TNA afforded us a little preview of the four men in that matchup by booking a tag team bout during IMPACT Wrestling that teamed Sorensen with Ion to take on Aries and Kash. While Aries and Kash don’t always see eye-to-eye, it initially appeared that their experience and occasional forays in teaming together would give them an advantage over the opposition.
For the most part, that would be true throughout the match. Aries and Kash were on the offensive quite a bit in this one and looked like a far more cohesive unit than Sorensen and Ion. But toward the end, Sorensen and Ion got so competitive with each other as to who would basically get the glory for their team that it appeared to possibly throw Aries and Kash off a bit.
After getting himself out of a dicey double team situation, Sorensen backed up toward his corner and felt a slap across his back that was Ion tagging himself in. Ion hit a very innovative DDT basically coming off the ropes as he entered the ring on Aries and posed a bit before moving Aries into the corner. An irish whip to the opposite corner was reversed, but Ion leapt over Aries and springboarded off the turnbuckles with a twisting crossbody into a pin attempt that Kash made the save on with a kick to Ion’s face.
Aries called for Kash to join him in a double team suplex attempt, but Ion was able to flip out of that all the way to his corner where Sorensen tagged himself back into the match. He hit both Aries and Kash with a double shoulder block off the top and then delivered some closelines before dropping Kash with a neckbreaker. Aries then received a kick to the gut before being nailed with a swinging neckbreaker from Sorensen. Sorensen sent Kash to the outside and proceeded to launch himself onto him in a move that would basically take Kash out of the equation for the remainder of the contest.
Sorensen moved back into the ring and reversed a potential brainbuster attempt from Aries into a slam near his team’s corner. Sorensen signaled that he was going up top and began to climb the turnbuckles, but Ion made a tag across his chest and became the legal man for his team. Sorensen reluctantly dropped off the top turnbuckle while Ion climbed up, but Ion’s attempt at a 450 splash failed when Aries moved out of the way. Sorensen took the opportunity to tag himself right back without Aries even knowing. Aries went to deliver a brainbuster to Ion, but Sorensen cut him off with a spinning neckbreaker and got the winning pinfall as a result.
What started as a bit of a clinic by Aries and Kash slowly developed into a game of one-upmanship by Sorensen and Ion. Despite numerous attempts on Ion’s part to steal it from him, Sorensen was able to come away with the decision for his team. And as a result, he heads into Gensis with a great deal of momentum when it will truly be every man for himself for the X-Division Championship.
1. Samoa Joe and Magnus – for getting past AJ Styles and Kazarian in the finals of the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament to earn the TNA World Tag Team Championship shot at Genesis:
The Wild Card Tag Team Tournament entered its final stage this week, with the winner earning a shot at the TNA World Tag Team Titles currently held by Matt Morgan and Crimson at Genesis. A volatile team that could explode at any moment in Samoa Joe and Magnus surprisingly worked extremely well together throughout their matches by bringing a relentless approach to each. But they would be going up against the most cohesive unit in this tournament in the form of friends and former-Fortune members AJ Styles and Kazarian. Or, at least, they were the most cohesive before this week’s IMPACT Wrestling broadcast.
Everything seemed hunky dory for the duo earlier in the show when they were interviewed backstage. But when Styles went to get Kaz so they could head to the ring for this match, Kaz had an odd look on his face and Daniels soon appeared in the locker room just as they left. Clearly, something was afoot.
We would soon find out exactly what that was in the ending moments of this finals matchup.
After the teams basically traded control for a good portion of the bout, Styles found himself coming in strong at Magnus off a tag with a closeline, back elbow and springboard flying forearm. He waited for Magnus to get up in hopes of hitting the Styles Clash, but Magnus countered and hit a back elbow on Styles. A closeline by Magnus missed, however, and Styles was able hit the Pele Kick.
Kazarian seemed very eager to get tagged in at this point and Styles slowly crawled his way to the corner to make that happen. But Daniels appeared on at the ramp and Kazarian became distracted and torn up about something. When Styles finally got in position to make the tag, Kaz just hopped down from the apron and left his partner hanging. Before Styles could make heads or tails out of what happened, Joe came at him strong in the corner with a charge and kick to the head. Joe then put Styles down with a snapmare so that Magnus could drill him with an elbow drop that enabled Joe to cover up tight for the three-count.
While Styles, Kazarian and Daniels are left to handle their business, Joe and Magnus move on to face Morgan and Crimson in that TNA World Tag Team Title Match at Genesis. Things even got a little heated in the back when the two teams noticed each other and had to be separated. Joe and Magnus may not like each other, but they get that this is a big opportunity for both of them to get some gold and they seem like legitimate threats to the young title reign of Morgan and Crimson.