IMPACT Wrestling’s Wrestlers of the Week 1.19.12
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 19, 2012
3. Bobby Roode – for continuing to finagle his way through a relatively stress-free World Heavyweight Title reign:
Much of Bobby Roode’s reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion has been overshadowed by his underhanded moves to both obtain and keep the title. Ever since turning on his former-Beer Money partner James Storm to first capture the belt, Roode has taken whatever easy and illegal method that was required in order to keep the strap around his waist. The likes of Storm, AJ Styles and mostly recently Jeff Hardy have all become victims of Roode screwing the system to remain champion.
Just last week, Roode employed the assistance of Bully Ray to help him escape a Genesis rematch against Hardy with his title in hand. While Sting booked that match to be for the World Heavyweight Championship, Ray played his part to make sure it ended in a no contest and no winner was declared. That would also play a role in the No.1 Contender situation, where Storm should have rightfully been the next in line to battle for the gold based on a victory over Kurt Angle on last week’s IMPACT Wrestling.
But Roode dropped the bomb on Storm about that not entirely being the case. He interrupted Storm and Hardy at the top of the program this week as they argued over who would fight Roode for the title next. Roode informed Storm that his No. 1 Contendership was null and void because there was no actual winner in his match against Hardy last week. Sting quickly put the kibosh on that whole idea by announcing a new No. 1 Contender’s Match for this week’s broadcast, pitting Storm and Hardy against each with the winner set to take on Roode for the title.
Unfortunately, nothing was clarified by the end of the night. Roode once again utilized the services of Bully Ray, who had an encounter with Sting earlier in the show, to lay out Storm, Hardy and several referees. Once Sting came to clear Ray out of the ring and all the way to the back, Roode emerged on the scene and took Storm and Hardy down with title shots to the head. Roode then grabbed a microphone to declare the match a no contest and himself still the World Heavyweight Champion.
Roode’s evening was relatively easy and he came out in better shape than all those chasing him for the title. Not only did he actually persuade Sting to take away Storm’s No. 1 Contender status, but he screwed up the main event meant to name a new contender to the point that no winner could actually be declared in that. Roode’s selfish approach to being champion has worked out very well for him and now he moves forward without a challenger to his World Heavyweight Championship for the time being.
2. Gunner – for picking up another victory over an elite wrestler in the form of AJ Styles:
Instead of just being hired help for Immortal, Gunner has aspired as of late to climb the ranks within TNA and has done an admirable job of dominating his way through the opposition thrown in front of him. His latest coup came in the form of a victory against the veteran Rob Van Dam at Genesis.
Gunner owes a good deal of his success to the wisdom imparted onto him by his manager, Ric Flair. The coaching Flair has offered to Gunner would come particularly in handy this week on IMPACT Wrestling. That’s because Gunner was scheduled to face AJ Styles, who “The Nature Boy” guided as then-World Heavyweight Champion back when he first arrived on the scene in TNA about two years ago.
Styles did a good job taking Gunner off his game early and didn’t allowed the big man to break out an offense based around an intensity that surely would have worn Styles down. But after conferencing with Flair on the outside, Gunner was able to employ a strategy that left Styles fairly grounded and vulnerable to some near falls.
Styles would fight back from this attack. However, he couldn’t avoid the numbers game that developed around him. Christopher Daniels ended up leading Kazarian to the ringside area, where he instructed Kaz to take Styles down with a closeline while Flair distracted the referee. Gunner capitalized from there with a DDT that kept Styles pinned to the mat for a three-count.
Gunner tried to add some extra insult to injury by taking Styles to the outside in an effort to send him into the concrete floor. Styles did escape that part, but he couldn’t escape taking the loss. Over just a few short weeks, Gunner accumulated two quality wins over former world champions that have many years of wrestling experience among them. That will undoubtedly help Gunner as he looks to develop into more of a main event player in TNA.
1. Mickie James – for finally getting some revenge over Madison Rayne inside a Steel Cage:
Mickie James obviously wants to take back the TNA Knockouts Championship and has come close in removing the title from Gail Kim’s possession on a few occasions. But each time it seems she’s nearing a championship victory, James’ attempt is thwarted by the meddling Madison Rayne – who co-holds the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Titles with Kim. This was most certainly the case at Genesis, where James got disqualified for using brass knuckles that Rayne intended to pass down to Kim instead.
In order for James to ever get a fair fight against Kim for the belt, she would need to remove Rayne from the equation. Sting came up with the idea last week that moving Rayne from the small cage she resided in at Genesis into a larger cage this week on IMPACT Wrestling was the best move. So, James and Rayne were booked to do battle inside a Steel Cage.
Rayne was not happy about that announcement by Sting last week and seemed more worried about it this week. Kim reassured Rayne that everything would be okay and she would have her back. But Kim also didn’t seem to put up much of a fight when the referee told her she would need to go to the back, thus leaving Rayne out there all by her lonesome to take on James.
Both ladies utilized similar strategies against each other and split control with James taking the early stages and Rayne taking over about midway through before going back-and-forth toward the end of the contest. The best part about the match was that there were no shenanigans and a clean winner resulted because of it.
That winner ended up being James, who sent Rayne head-first into the Steel Cage twice before dumping her in the middle of the ring with a leaping DDT. The 1-2-3 followed and James was able to gain some redemption over the woman that has played a large role in her not being able to get back the Knockouts Championship.
James was ecstatic over the victory. And she wasn’t the only Knockout – Tara and Velvet Sky were waiting to congratulate her in the back. With Rayne hopefully in the rearview mirror, James not has her sights set firmly on taking the Knockouts Championship back to Hardcore Country. She might finally have a fair shot at accomplishing it.