IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 3.1.12
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 March 1, 2012
3. Zema Ion – for continuing to roll through competition on his way to Victory Road with a win over Shannon Moore:
In just over two week’s time, Zema Ion heads into Victory Road hoping to cash in his No. 1 Contendership with an X-Division Championship victory over Austin Aries. Ion has already amassed a ton of confidence with plenty of wins under his belt in recent weeks, including an upset of sorts against Alex Shelley last week. Not even a video concerning Jesse Sorensen’s injury – an injury caused by Ion – was enough to bring down his spirits.
His fortitude would once again be put to the test this week on IMPACT Wrestling when he stepped into the squared circle for an encounter with Shannon Moore. Moore, most recently of Ink Inc with the now-departed Jesse Neal, brought about 17 years of overall wrestling experience with him into this match.
That background did help Moore overcome Ion’s cockiness and take an early advantage over him. But it was only brief, as he missed a dive to the outside when Ion moved out of the way and simply received a running closeline to the floor for his troubles.
Ion moved Moore back into the ring so he could head up top and deliver a missile dropkick. He then sent Moore face-first into the turnbuckle before whipping him hard across the ring into the opposite turnbuckles. Moore tried to come back by blocking a bodyslam and countering with a back elbow to the head. But when he came off the ropes, Ion lifted him into the ropes and caught him with a neckbreaker off the rebound.
Ion looked to go high risk again. But as he signaled to the crowd, Moore hit him with a dropkick that put him into a seated position up top instead. Moore was able to capitalize on this with a hurricurana that allowed him to go for a cover. Ion was able to kick out at two, though, and then proceeded to completely avoid a moonsault before hitting double knees to the back of Moore. That set Ion up to hit the Hostile Makeover, which turned out to be enough to score the three-count that keeps his hot streak going.
There are many that don’t like Ion’s attitude, specifically as it relates to his lack of remorse over what happened to Sorensen at Against All Odds. But the reality is that this kid has a ton of confidence right now. And it just continues to get boosted with each win he racks up. Aries may want to start taking Ion seriously right now because with the way he’s winning matches, an upset victory at Victory Road would not be the most implausible thing to happen in TNA.
2. ODB – for defeating Knockouts Championship No. 1 Contender Madison Rayne even with (or more so because of) Gail Kim standing ringside:
Aside from growing her relationship with Eric Young, ODB’s major role over the past few weeks has been as a pawn in the games being played between TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim and the No. 1 Contender for the title she possesses, Madison Rayne. She participated in the battle royal two weeks ago that Rayne pretty much set up to win herself. And then last week, ODB fell just short of putting Kim away in non-title singles competition despite Rayne causing a distraction to the titleholder.
This week, ODB would square off with the counterpart of that championship match in about two-and-a-half weeks. Rayne, who was seemingly trying to mend some fences this week with Kim on IMPACT Wrestling by hanging posters of the champ on their wall, was placed into this match against ODB at the request of Kim. Kim claimed she was just doing Rayne a favor.
The favors would pretty much stop at getting the match booked, however. While Kim was at ringside, she did very little to help Rayne out during the match. And even when she could have stepped in with the referee being distracted by Young, she “had a match with the apron” according to Taz.
So, ODB took full advantage of a rally she put together in the closing moments of the match by following up a Bronco Buster in the corner with a Bam. She quickly covered as Young finally stepped down from the apron to stop distracting the referee, and he counted to three to award ODB a pretty significant victory over the No. 1 Contender.
While all is still not well between Kim and Rayne as they are set to face each other for the championship, ODB might have worked her way up the ladder of those vying to be next in line for the Knockouts Title with that victory.
1. James Storm, Samoa Joe and Magnus – for combining in six-man tag team action to defeat the Sting-hating combination of Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Bully Ray:
James Storm is sort of biding his time right now as he awaits his TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match against Bobby Roode at the Lockdown pay-per-view. But his focus is very much on dealing with Roode and any of his buddies, including the man Storm defeated to become No. 1 Contender for the championship – Bully Ray.
Storm has even had a little unexpected help from New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. Two weeks ago, Jacobs hopped the guardrail and got into a heated confrontation with Ray that left the Giants star seeking revenge. So, he sought just that last week on IMPACT Wrestling when he helped Storm pick up a tag team main event victory by chokeslamming Ray through a table.
That left Ray pretty bitter, but he wasn’t the only one. Both Roode and X-Division Champion Austin Aries organized a bit of a protest against Sting this week and recruited Ray to join them. They believed Sting was working against all of them, and included Jacobs getting involved in the action these past two weeks as an example.
All three came to the ring and claimed to be “done,” much like Sting had done prior to last week’s show. But all that did was bring Sting down to the ring and make them realize that they would forfeit their titles and paychecks if they chose to go down the road of unemployment. It didn’t take long for them to change their tune. But it did also land them in a six-man tag team main event against Storm and the TNA World Tag Team Champions, Samoa Joe and Magnus.
Though this team was pretty random, they still managed to work very well together. They carried the offense of the match quite a ways through, until Joe succumbed to some backhanded tactics by the opposition and remained on the defensive for a few minutes.
He did remain resilient, though, and caught Roode charging at him in the corner with an STO that planted him into the mat. Joe finally tagged out to Storm, who drilled Aries with a series of closelines and a faceplant. Roode nailed Aries in the corner with a closeline and then knocked Ray right off the apron to guarantee himself a few moments with Roode. Storm started off with a right hand to Roode’s face. And then he delivered a couple of closelines before hitting a big back body drop to the champion.
Ray maneuvered himself back into the ring at this point and nailed Storm in the head. He then moved Storm into the corner so he could drill him with a flurry of right hands to the face and body. But when he looked to whip Storm to the opposite corner, Storm reversed and ended up directing a missile dropkick from Aries intended for him right into the body of Ray.
Joe and Magnus regained their senses by now and Joe drilled Aries in the corner with a charge and kick to the head. He hit the snapmare so that Magnus could come off the top with the elbow that had done a decent job finishing off competition lately. Magnus didn’t cover, though, and while Ray dropped Joe across the top rope, Roode delivered a Double R Spinebuster to Magnus.
Just when Roode thought he had things all worked out, Storm got back to his feet. He delivered a Closing Time to Roode that set up perfectly for the Last Call superkick that put Roode down on the mat for a three-count that could spell the end to his TNA World Heavyweight Title reign at Lockdown should such a scenario repeat itself.
The celebration for Storm and his team was a bit short-lived because Ray attacked them with a steel chair afterward. Ray yelled at Storm that he was the real No. 1 Contender and he was going to take him out, which makes it very possible that Storm versus Ray happens at Victory Road with the No. 1 Contendership being on the line.
But that speculation and post-match assault aside, this main event was fun to watch and included a good number of talent that otherwise would not occupy a main event slot on TNA programming. The pinfall gives Storm more reason to believe he can defeat Roode at Lockdown. And Magnus and Joe continue to gain more momentum as they defend their tag straps as the most dominant team in TNA right now.