IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 2.23.12
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 23, 2012
3. Gail Kim – for beginning the preparation for her Knockouts Championship Match against Madison Rayne by taking on, and defeating, ODB:
Just when she thought she was starting to gain some respect and re-establish her strained friendship with Madison Rayne, TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim was stunned last week after “The Queen Bee” managed to steal a battle royal victory that anointed her No. 1 Contender for the title. Rayne was clearly thrilled to take the win after having sat ringside next to Kim for the entire contest. Kim, on the other hand, was visibly upset at what she had to perceive as betrayal.
Rayne explained herself briefly this week on IMPACT Wrestling by claiming what she did would only strengthen her friendship with Kim. She didn’t like the caliber of talent in that battle royal and figured a win on her end would provide Kim the competition she deserves. Kim has a different viewpoint of the situation, of course, and chose to come to the ring without her fellow TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion for a match against ODB.
Kim wrestled an excellent match against ODB and held the upperhand throughout majority of the bout. Even Eric Young, who did accompany ODB to the ring and constantly tried to tag himself into the match, wasn’t able to throw Kim off. That task was left for Rayne.
Rayne appeared in the IMPACT Zone just as Kim was choking ODB against the turnbuckles with her boot. When she noticed Rayne coming down the ramp, Kim stopped and questioned why Rayne was there. As she jawed at Rayne, who was telling her to focus, ODB got back to her feet to deliver a couple of running shoulder blocks and a closeline. ODB ended up in the corner off an irish whip reversal, but she caught Kim charging in with a boot and proceeded to butt the champ’s head right against her crotch. ODB came off the ropes with a Thesz Press to get a two-count before setting Kim up on her shoulders for the Bam.
Kim remained resilient, however, and kneed her way out of this predicament. Upon dropping from ODB’s shoulders, Kim immediately caught ODB with the Eat Defeat and covered right away for the three-count.
Rayne did try to celebrate this victory with Kim right after the bell. But Kim didn’t want to have anything to do with her so-called friend and simply stepped away from her in disgust.
Rayne used to be a legitimate asset for Kim, especially during her feud with Mickie James. But now she represents nothing more than some serious competition for the Knockouts Champion, who needs to remain focused heading into Victory Road. Perhaps Rayne’s biggest advantage is her ability to play mind games. But if Kim can remain focused like she did for majority of the match against ODB and avoid any distractions Rayne may have up her sleeve, she definitely possesses the talent to get past her.
2. Zema Ion – for pulling off an upset of sorts against Alex Shelley as he prepares for an X-Division Championship opportunity against Austin Aries at Victory Road:
Although it happened on rather unfortunate circumstances, Zema Ion pulled off one of the biggest victories of his career at Against All Odds when he picked up a win over Jesse Sorensen to become No. 1 Contender for the X-Division Title currently held by Austin Aries. Of course, the result of that match was via countout based on a very serious injury to Sorensen. But Ion will still take the title shot.
His confidence has only grown since that win. Last week, he stole a pinfall from Aries in tag team competition by getting a three-count off a rollup on Alex Shelley. And then in singles competition this week against Shelley, Ion pulled off what has to be considered an upset over the former X-Division Champion.
Not wanting to miss any of this action, Aries took a seat ringside for this match with popcorn and a glass of red wine in hand. He witnessed a darn good match.
Ion came out as the early aggressor with a baseball slide to Shelley that got the match started. The two would go on to trade control throughout the rest of the match, with Shelley seeming like he had taken over control for good after hitting a suicide dive to Ion on the outside. But after chopping the chest of Ion before making his way back into the ring, Shelley failed to notice Ion stuffing the can of hairspray he carries with him into his pants.
Shelley sent Ion into the ring and then headed up top for a double foot stomp. Ion moved out of the way and, after taking a boot to the gut, sent Shelley toward the turnbuckles to avoid a Sliced Bread No. 2. Shelley stopped short as he was about to crash into the referee. But when he turned around, Ion caught him with a spritz of the hairspray. Ion quickly put Shelley down with the Hostile Makeover before running at him with the double knees to cover up for a three-count.
Aries didn’t seem too impressed, but he now knows he’s going up against somebody that’s willing to pull out all the stops to get the win. Ion’s win over Shelley wasn’t exactly kosher. But it was still a victory over a quality opponent that just a few weeks ago was challenging Aries for the X-Division Championship. It appears that their matchup at Victory Road maybe just boil down to who can outthink the other.
1. Samoa Joe and Magnus – for making their first defense of the TNA World Tag Team Championships a successful one by beating Crimson and Matt Morgan in the rematch from Against All Odds:
The partnership between Samoa Joe and Magnus has lasted far longer than it was required to since being paired together during the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament. They failed to capitalize on that tournament win by losing their TNA World Tag Team Title Match to Matt Morgan and Crimson at Genesis. But by sticking together to remain a thorn in the sides of Morgan and Crimson, they managed to secure another shot at tag straps.
In that bout at Against All Odds, Joe and Magnus proved to be the more cohesive unit. They took advantage of Crimson spearing his own partner to pick up the pinfall as new TNA World Tag Team Champions.
Their first title defense would come against the same guys they took the belts from, as the rematch from Against All Odds opened up the in-ring action for this week’s IMPACT Wrestling. Crimson and Morgan met up earlier during the day to discuss this match. And after tossing around some blame for what went down at Against All Odds, they agreed to get on the same page and focus on winning back the belts.
Unfortunately for them, talk is cheap and they would once again get in their own way of trying to come up with a victory.
In another tough, hard-hitting match between these two teams, the former champs did seem like they were on their way to reclaiming the titles. But after Crimson rallied back against Joe and Morgan to get on the advantage, he and Morgan went after Joe at the same with an attack. Joe moved out of the way of both of them, leaving Crimson to deliver a closeline right to Morgan.
Joe sent Crimson to the outside after that move and then called for Magnus to head up top. Joe charged at Morgan in the corner before hitting him with a kick to the head. He followed up with a snapmare that set Magnus up for the elbow drop off the middle rope that led right into the pinfall.
Trouble is certainly brewing between Morgan and Crimson following two cases of miscommunication. But as far as Joe and Magnus go, they are on a roll right now and have taken over as the most dominating team in TNA. It’s tough to envision another team in TNA at the moment that could stand as real competition for them.