IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 2.16.12
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 16, 2012
3. Bobby Roode – for remaining TNA World Heavyweight Champion after two more sneaky victories at Against All Odds and IMPACT Wrestling:
As the self-proclaimed leader of the selfish generation, Bobby Roode’s M.O. at this point is to win matches by any means necessary. In fact, he has won far more matches by utilizing backhanded tactics since becoming TNA World Heavyweight Champion than through clean and legitimate victories. But since the man still possesses the title, it’s clearly a strategy that works.
Last Sunday at Against All Odds, Roode entered a match against three other hungry competitors. When he looked to end it all by using the championship belt to his advantage against Jeff Hardy, Sting stepped in and prevented the champ from doing so. But it still worked in his favor, because when he spit in Sting’s face, “The Insane Icon” swung away with the gold and ended up nailing Hardy in the face when Roode moved out of the way. Sting reluctantly counted to three when Roode covered Hardy and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship remained around the waist it entered the pay-per-view on.
Not one to just sit around when people try to play him, Sting threw a curveball into Roode’s celebration at the top of this week’s IMPACT Wrestling. Sting, who was admittedly angry about the situation, booked Roode in a match to take place immediately against Hardy – with the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on the line under a no countout, no disqualification stipulation.
Hardy took advantage of that by working Roode over pretty well on the outside on a few occasions. The second time outside of the ring netted Hardy the chance to leap onto Roode from the ramp with a closeline. From there, he began the process of moving Roode back into the ring and then looked like he was ready to finish the match off.
But while he took his shirt off, Kurt Angle appeared out of nowhere to attack him from behind. Angle sent Hardy right into the steel steps after a kick to the gut. He then rolled Hardy back into the ring and Roode dropped him with a spear. The cover followed and the referee, unable to call the match a DQ because of the stipulation, counted the three.
So, by hook or by crook, Roode once again steps out of a championship match with the title still around his waist. That’s been his method since winning the gold and there’s little reason for him to change it now considering it just worked twice in a week. He will, however, have to work a bit harder to find the cheap way out of his next defense, as Sting announced at the end of IMPACT Wrestling that such a match will come at Lockdown against James Storm inside a Steel Cage. That announcement did prompt Roode to beat the holy hell out of Sting – something that I fear may actually lead us to a Roode vs. Sting match somewhere down the line.
2. Madison Rayne – for conniving her way into the No. 1 Contender role for the TNA Knockouts Championship currently held by tag team partner Gail Kim:
Gail Kim moved past another challenge Sunday night when she successfully defended the TNA Knockouts Championship against Tara at Against All Odds. So, it was time once again to name a new No. 1 Contender this week (heaven forbid a continuation of her matching up with Tara.) Kim’s next foe would come in the form of the winner in an upcoming battle royal on IMPACT Wrestling.
There was a little housekeeping to take care of prior to this match, as Kim and Madison Rayne have not been entirely on the same page lately. Kim felt disrespected by everybody, but Rayne assured her that she just wanted to be friends and that she would let all the Knockouts participating in this battle royal know that they should be gracious for the opportunity to become a No. 1 Contender. Rayne then told Kim all she needs to do is sit ringside looking pretty, and she would be right there sitting with her.
Rayne did build up Kim to the rest of the Knockouts. And she did sit next to Kim during the battle royal – or at least for most of it. But when she told the other ladies involved that anybody in the ring could potentially be the new Knockouts Champion, she did so while she was too standing in the ring and therefore applied that rule to herself. And since nobody caught that until the clever devil that is Mike Tenay pointed it out after the match, Rayne was able to catch almost everybody off guard.
After watching the entire match ringside while sitting next to Kim, Rayne entered the ring after Velvet Sky eliminated Sarita in a move that appeared to grant her the No. 1 Contendership. Rayne quickly went behind Sky and shoved her to the outside, sending Sky crashing all the way to the floor. Rayne legally took the victory based on where she was standing when making the announcement.
Kim was not at all happy with this result and wondered why Rayne was smiling the way she was. Apparently the Knockouts Tag Team Titleholders are still not on the same page, and will now being doing battle for the Knockouts Championship. Rayne certainly has the skills to both wrestle and manipulate a good match against Kim, perhaps making her the current champ’s toughest challenge to date.
1. James Storm – for becoming the new No. 1 Contender with a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Title at Lockdown by defeating Bully Ray in main event action:
While Jeff Hardy got his rematch for the TNA World Heavyweight Title right at the top of the IMPACT Wrestling broadcast, the other two participants in the four-way main event from Against All Odds were temporarily left hanging. That was until Sting ran across a main event idea to James Storm and Bully Ray in the back. He wanted them to face each other with the No. 1 Contender’s spot on the line. Neither Storm nor Ray has an issue with that concept.
So, to finish off the in-ring competition for this week, the two went at it in a matchup that saw Ray really dominate for majority of the match. Storm had control very early on, but Ray took over rather quickly and held onto it pretty much the whole way through. But he could not finish Storm off all the way, as he got a bit too arrogant toward the end of the bout.
When he lifted a groggy Storm off the mat and chose to pose to the crowd and trash talk instead of keeping on the man, Storm was able to fight back with a big right hand. Storm was then able to drill Ray with a Codebreaker. Finally, after ducking a big boot by Ray, Storm hit the Last Call Superkick and went right for the cover to get a three-count.
Some post-match shenanigans involving New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs took place after the matchup, with a likelihood of even more shenanigans involving him set to take place next week.
But the bigger deal coming out of this match is Storm gets right back into the TNA World Heavyweight Title picture. As Sting announced at the close of the program before Roode laid him out, Storm will get his shot at Lockdown against his former Beer Money partner inside the confines of a Steel Cage. And since Roode loves to find ways of winning that aren’t completely kosher, this setting might present Storm with his best opportunity to reclaim the gold.