IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 2.2.12
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 February 2, 2012
3. Austin Aries – for defeating hometown boy Mark Haskins as a warmup for his X-Division Championship defense against Alex Shelley at Against All Odds:
Austin Aries has been at the very top of the X-Division ladder ever since returning to TNA back in June. Despite a few minor blips along the way, Aries has essentially dominated his way through the competition and maintained his presence as X-Division Championship since scoring the title from Brian Kendrick at No Surrender. Realizing the limited competition remaining for him on IMPACT Wrestling, Aries came out two weeks ago to hype himself up and make it clear that he was in a league of his own.
Aries did not expect to see Alex Shelley on that night, however. And after jawing at each other for a bit, the two came to the agreement that a win on Shelley’s end last week against a hand-picked opponent by Aries would score him an X-Division Title Match at Against All Odds. So, Shelley returned to the ring last Thursday night and soundly defeated Zema Ion to get his match against Aries at the pay-per-view.
With that match being official, Aries headed to Wembley Arena in London, England to take on one of their hometown boys in Mark Haskins as a bit of a warmup bout for his championship defense in about 10 days.
Haskins has been used sparingly on TNA television since signing with the organization. But there was no better time to break him out than in front of the England crowd in what would turn out to be an entertaining, fast-paced matchup. Unfortunately for Haskins, the crowd seemed to be more into Aries than him anyway.
What was also unfortunate for Haskins is the way he finished the match after actually gaining some momentum against the champion. Looking to follow up a nice springboard crossbody and a cutter move that fell just short of getting the three-count, Haskins decided to go high risk and headed up top for a shooting star press. Haskins botched the move Brock Lesnar style and could have easily broken his neck with the way he hit the mat – missing Aries at the same time as the champ moved out the way. Aries jumped right on Haskins with a kick to the head and the brain buster, which he then rolled into a bridging triangle choke to force Haskins into submission.
Haskins may have done himself in with the failed shooting star press. But Aries simply capitalized on a mistake and could very well do the same thing should Shelley screw up at Against All Odds. Much like Shelley has over Ion, Aries now as a nice momentum-building warmup victory under his belt as the two head to the PPV for what is perhaps Aries’ toughest test to date as X-Division Champion.
2. Tara – for scoring a non-title victory against Knockouts Champion and Against All Odds opponent Gail Kim thanks to failed interference from Madison Rayne:
Tara was the underdog when she entered a three-way matchup last week with No. 1 Contendership for the Knockouts Championship on the line. But she surprised a lot of people, herself included, by getting a pinfall victory over Mickie James and Velvet Sky to set herself up with a championship match against Gail Kim at Against All Odds.
In a surprising move by TNA, they decided to put these two in a non-title matchup this week on IMPACT Wrestling. As Taz pointed out at the top of the match, all this did was provide Tara an opportunity to strengthen her game plan against Kim when the title is on the line next Sunday. It also gave her a chance to build some momentum, as well as for Kim to realize that she might be better off leaving Madison Rayne in the back for that match.
While Rayne actually had a solid run helping Kim retain the gold in her feud against James, she only hurt Kim with a failed attempt at interference on this week’s IMPACT Wrestling.
Tara had worked the momentum of the match back in her favor when she nailed a nice snap suplex followed by a big back body drop. Kim hit a quick elbow to Tara’s face, but Tara caught Kim charging her with a powerslam. Before Tara could actually go for a cover, Rayne hopped the apron to serve as a distraction. Tara hit her to drop Rayne to her knees, but that only caused Rayne to enter the ring when Tara turned her focus back to Kim. Tara basically knew she was coming in, though, and dodged a fist that inadvertently nailed Kim instead. Tara threw Rayne to the outside and finished off Kim with the Widow’s Peak to pick up a huge victory over the Knockouts Titleholder.
The only way that result could have been any better for Tara would have been if the title was on the line. She gained the victory, picked up a few things about Kim’s abilities and perhaps proved that Rayne running interference might not be a good thing for Kim at Against All Odds. She has to be pretty confident right now.
1. Samoa Joe and Magnus – for making the most of their Buckingham Brawl advantage to beat Matt Morgan and Crimson in non-title action:
There has been no thorn in the side greater for Matt Morgan and Crimson since obtaining the TNA World Tag Team Championships than that of Samoa Joe and Magnus. Put together as members of the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament, Joe and Magnus have maintained a cohesive partnership focused solely on getting at Morgan and Crimson, and more so the tag team straps. Even in defeat, Joe and Magnus have maintained a dominating presence over the titleholders with post-match beatdowns and blindside assaults.
Such a strategy has landed Joe and Magnus another crack at the titles when a rematch between the teams takes place at Against All Odds. But London got a preview of what’s to come at that PPV when these two teams met up on this week’s IMPACT Wrestling, with a rare stipulation thrown into the mix.
This bout was announced as a Buckingham Brawl, which Jeremy Borash elaborated on in the prematch introductions. He flipped a coin, Morgan called it incorrectly in the air, and Joe and Magnus were both allowed to be in the ring during their match while Morgan and Crimson had to follow the standard tag team rules of tagging in and out.
Crimson tried his best early on to work against Joe and Magnus, but the numbers game eventually caught up to him and he became desperate to make a tag to the fresh Morgan. Dodging a charge from Joe in the corner and then countering Magnus coming off the ropes with a suplex enabled Crimson to do just that.
Upon entering the ring, Morgan dominated the opposition and even had Crimson help on the outside against Joe after the Samoan Submission Machine broke up a pinning attempt inside the ring. But when Magnus avoided a Carbon Footprint from Morgan, Joe was able to get back into the ring and drill the big man in the corner with a running back elbow and kick. Joe then snapmared Morgan into the elbow drop from Magnus, which transitioned right into the cover for a three-count.
Both teams will need to follow traditional tag team rules at Against All Odds, taking the numbers advantage away from Joe and Magnus when the titles are on the line. But regardless of that difference, Joe and Magnus have proven each week that they are willing to put Morgan and Crimson down by any means necessary. The confidence boost provided by this victory has to be huge and the championship reign of Morgan and Crimson is in some serious jeopardy.