IMPACT Wrestling’s Wrestlers of the Week 1.26.12
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 26, 2012
3. Eric Young and ODB – for continuing their successful relationship with a tag team victory over Angelina Love and Winter:
While Eric Young and ODB started out as a randomly devised duo as part of the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament prior to Genesis, those two crazy kids have actually developed into a rather cohesive unit. Unified by their odd affection for each other, as well as for being insane, they have stuck together to add a rather unique flavor to TNA’s tag division.
Young and ODB have been at odds with Winter and Angelina Love over the past few weeks. ODB managed to score a victory over Winter two weeks ago, which resulted in part because Young thwarted an interference attempt by Love. Last week, Love declared her displeasure with Young putting his hands on her and challenged him to a match. But the gentleman that Young is refused to fight a woman, so he ended up catching a shot to boys instead from Love.
That brought us to this week, where finally all four of these individuals were thrown together for tag team competition. Young and ODB were scheduled to square off against Winter and Love. Winter and Love tried to get at Young prior to the match. But Young was wearing a cup this time and prevented Love from softening up the jewels.
Young was, however, still reluctant to fight. For the first few minutes of the match, he was way too occupied performing lockups with the referee instead of paying attention to the opposition. Once ODB tagged herself in, however, the action heated up.
ODB’s grip on controlling this match faded pretty quickly. But once Young realized she needed a boost and slipped her the flask, some liquid courage fired ODB right up and put her on the offensive. She nailed Love with a series of forearms before following up with a series of shoulder blocks. ODB hit the fallaway slam from there and kipped up in hopes of finishing Love off. Winter entered the ring at this moment, but got caught by Young. He lifted her up on his shoulder while ODB fetched Love to do the same. Then Young and ODB simultaneously performed airplane spins on their respective opponents. Young and Winter were too dizzy to do anything, but ODB dropped Love to the mat with a samoan drop and covered up for the three-count.
While not a terrific match by any standard, it did help to continue building Young and ODB as a legitimate pairing. I don’t know how many different directions TNA can actually take them as a tag team. But it’s fun for now to see them working together in this capacity.
2. Alex Shelley – for getting past Austin Aries’ hand-picked opponent, Zema Ion, to earn an X-Division Championship Match at Against All Odds:
Just when Austin Aries was starting to believe that he’d never run into a true challenge to his X-Division Title reign, Alex Shelley made a surprise return last week on IMPACT Wrestling to confront the arrogant champion. Shelley has been off television for a while now while his Motor City Machine Guns partner, Chris Sabin, recovers from his own injuries. But with Sabin’s blessing, Shelley re-emerged on the scene to present Aries with perhaps his toughest challenge to date since winning the belt.
Aries wasn’t about ready to just deliver Shelley a title shot, though. He offered Shelley that opportunity only on the condition that he defeat a hand-selected opponent on this week’s edition of IMPACT Wrestling. Shelley agreed to those terms and learned this Thursday night that Zema Ion was the man standing in his way of an X-Division Title shot against Aries at Against All Odds.
In any other scenario, Shelley would be a clear-cut favorite here. But the fact that he hasn’t wrestled a match in some time led a bit of credibility to the idea that ring rust could hurt him despite having far more experience, and some could even argue in-ring ability, than Ion.
Shelley quickly managed to put all that talk of rust to rest, however, and came out flying right off the bat. He rarely lost control in this contest. And even when he did, he managed to avoid a 450 Splash from Ion that could have finished it off and came right back with the Sliced Bread No. 2. Shelley covered after hitting the move and kept Ion down for the three-count to score an impressive victory and that X-Division Title shot at Against All Odds.
Aries will undoubtedly be a tougher foe and force Shelley to be on the defensive far more than Ion did. But Shelley proving that he is just as quick and capable as ever in this return match means he could very well have what it takes to remove the strap from around Aries’ waist.
1. Tara – for winning a three-way bout against Mickie James and Velvet Sky to become No. 1 Contender for the Knockouts Championship:
The TNA Knockouts Championship picture has revolved around Gail Kim and Mickie James over the last few months. But since Kim has remained the champion throughout all of their encounters, TNA apparently though it was time to find a new challenger even though most of James’ losses have come largely due to outside interference from Madison Rayne.
The new No. 1 Contender would come in the form of a winner in three-way action this week on IMPACT Wrestling. James would have an opportunity to get another crack at the championship as a participant in this match. But she would need to get past both Velvet Sky and Tara in order to get it. And unfortunately for Hardcore Country, it just wouldn’t be her night.
Instead, the very reliable veteran Tara was able to come out of a decent almost-ten minute contest as the winner.
All three combatants could have reasonably won from the outset, as witnessed by each one of them scoring a near fall after the opening bell. They continued to trade control throughout the contest, which appeared to be heading to an end with James in position to drop Tara with the leaping DDT. Sky broke that up, however, and put James down with a bulldog. Tara was quick to go at Sky, though, and hit a spinning slide slam that sent Sky crashing right on top of James. Tara immediately went for the cover on James and held on for the three-count to shock herself into a Knockouts Championship Match against Kim.
Tara seems to teeter in TNA between championship contender and enhancement talent, so her role in the Knockouts Division is always changing. She is, however, always a great performer to watch in the ring and a realistic option to perhaps knock Kim off her championship pedestal.