IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 4.12.12
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 April 12, 2012
3. Bully Ray – for getting his team the Lethal Lockdown advantage at Lockdown by defeating Team Garett Bischoff member AJ Styles thanks to some outside distractions and foreign weapon use:
For some unexplainable reason, the “rivalry” that currently exists within the Bischoff family between Eric and Garett has escalated to such epic proportions that it will now take center stage as one of the top matches on this Sunday’s Lockdown pay-per-view. Instead of just being Bischoff vs. Bischoff, or even Garett going against a henchman of his father’s choosing, new general manager Hulk Hogan decided to surround the situation with a Steel Cage and the Lethal Lockdown stipulation. Should Garett’s team win, Eric will be gone from TNA and never be allowed to use the Bischoff name again. A win by Eric’s team, however, will prevent Garett from wrestling in TNA again.
At the top of this week’s IMPACT Wrestling broadcast, the elder Bischoff was bold enough to announce his entire four-man squad. Hogan would amend the rules to the Lethal Lockdown Match later during the broadcast to make it a five-on-five bout. But it was still four-on-four at this juncture of the show and Bischoff showed great confidence in revealing Bully Ray, Gunner, Daniels and Kazarian as the men making up his team.
Garett wasn’t so quick on pulling the trigger when revealing the men that will be on his team. Instead, he let the names come out gradually throughout the show as they each took part in a singles matchup making up a best-of-three series that was scheduled to determine which team would enter Lethal Lockdown on Sunday with the advantage.
Mr. Anderson was first for Garett and he let his emotions cloud his better judgment when he took a disqualification loss to Gunner as a result of no heeding the count of the referee. Next up was Austin Aries, who tied the series up with an excellent win over Daniels that I’ll go over a bit more momentarily. Then the deciding matchup came, in which Bully Ray came off a pep talk from Ric Flair looking to grab a necessary win against AJ Styles.
Unlike the other matches on this series, all team members were present at the ringside area. They were there, of course, to provide a cheering section and for the purpose of watching the back of their respective partner. But they also ended up serving as a distraction that inevitably led to Ray stealing the victory and advantage for his team at Lockdown.
Coming off a two-count from a hurricurana out of the corner, Styles backed up against the ropes and waited for Ray to get back to his feet. Kaz took this moment to hook the leg of Styles and trip him up, leading to the member of Team Garett to run around the ring and take part in a melee with the members of Team Eric. While this went on, Styles hit Ray in the ring with a Pele Kick and immediately covered for what could have likely been a three-count had the referee not been distracted. By the time the ref turned around, he was only able to get to two before Ray kicked out.
Styles made a bad decision at this point to turn his focus on the fight on the outside by delivering a baseball slide to Kazarian and then just joined in on the general fray. Meanwhile, Ray grabbed the chain and wrapped it around his hand so that he could nail Styles with it once The Phenomenal One springboarded back into the ring. Ray slid the chain out of the ring and covered for the three-count.
Hogan tried to move momentum back in Garett’s favor after the match by making the Lethal Lockdown Match five-on-five and waited for Eric to name himself his team’s fifth member before letting Garett announce that he landed Rob Van Dam for his squad.
But even with those unbalanced additions, Ray got the job done for his team and gives them the always-important advantage in the Lethal Lockdown matchup on Sunday. As the clear top dog of Team Eric, he definitely proved he can come up in the clutch.
2. Velvet Sky – for sending a message to Lockdown opponent Gail Kim by scoring a pinfall over the Knockouts Champion in tag team action:
Velvet Sky has had a rather banner past three weeks now. Two weeks ago on IMPACT Wrestling, she made it poignantly clear after defeating Madison Rayne that she was gunning for Gail Kim and the Knockouts Championship rematch she never received. Then last week, she took part in a six-woman bout to determine the No. 1 Contender for the Knockouts Title, in which she managed to pin Mickie James to become the victor of.
And with just one week remaining before going up against Kim inside the Steel Cage, Sky got the opportunity to offer a little preview of what he hopes to take place this Sunday by teaming with James to take on the duo of Rayne and Kim.
Sky was eager to get her hands on Kim and missed a few opportunities in this match to do just that. But when she came off a tag from James late in the match, Sky prevented Kim was running to her corner to tag Rayne in. She grabbed Kim by the hair and delivered a closeline, back elbow and shoulder block to put Kim repeatedly on the mat. A headscissors takedown followed, as did a bulldog, before Sky went for a cover that Rayne broke up at two.
Sky dropped Rayne to the mat with a DDT. But as she did so, Kim was looking to hightail it all the way to the back with Knockouts Title in hand. Unfortunately for her, she failed to remember James was a part of this match and Hardcore Country dragged her all the way back to the ring.
Sky immediately tried to finish thing off with the In Yo Face, but Kim rushed her into the corner and then led Sky back out looking for the Eat Defeat. But Sky was able to counter that nicely into a successful In Yo Face that netted her the pinfall victory.
To score a pinfall over the champion is a huge momentum-building moment for Sky as she hopes to repeat that at Lockdown. Kim will surely be prepared for that match, but Sky seems as determined as ever. Especially with this win under her belt, Sky represents a very dangerous opponent to Kim right now.
1. Austin Aries – for tying up the Best of Three series to determine the Lethal Lockdown advantage with an outstanding victory over Daniels:
Before Bully Ray ended up winning the best-of-three series to determine the Lethal Lockdown advantage for Team Eric Bischoff, the second match of this series also had some great importance to it. After Mr. Anderson botched the first match and essentially handed Team Eric a 1-0 advantage, it was up to Austin Aries to try and even the score or Daniels to simply put away Team Garett within even needing a third bout to this series.
As it stands on its own merits, an Aries vs. Daniels match is a wrestling’s fan dream. These two seasoned, and often-overlooked, veterans are capable of wrestling a good match with a brown paper bag. Against each other, it’s always set up to be something special. Adding the importance factor of either tying up or ending this series prematurely only heightened how good this match could truly be. And it certainly lived up to the hype.
These two went toe-to-toe in one of the better matches shown on IMPACT Wrestling in some time. It turned out to be a really nice back-and-forth battle in which both competitors were forced to dig down deep and take any advantage they could to get a little headway.
Even with his recent turn to the good side, Aries showed he’s still no angel inside the ring when he countered a tights-holding pin attempt by Daniels with one of his own. When the referee refused to count further than two because of this approach by Aries, the current X-Division Champion argued with him and left his back open for a clubbing shot by Daniels. Daniels then dropped Aries to the mat to set up for a Best Moonsault Ever.
Aries was able to move out of the way, however, and Daniels landed on his feet. Daniels charged Aries in the corner but ate some boots on his way in. Aries went up top and drilled Daniels with a missile dropkick that sent Daniels reeling into the turnbuckles where Aries followed up with another dropkick right to Daniels’ face. Aries immediately took hold of Daniels for the brain buster, which was enough to keep The Fallen Angel on the mat for the necessary three-count to tie up the best-of-three series.
While the result of that match would soon mean nothing when Ray won the series for Team Eric Bischoff anyway, it was still a hotly contested matchup that meant something at the time between two great wrestlers. And Aries was the one to come out with his hand raised.