IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 5.17.12
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 May 17, 2012
3. Jeff Hardy – for rebounding from a tough loss that should not have been at Sacrifice to come up with a pinfall over Mr. Anderson:
When Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson meet in the ring, a good matchup generally results. That really was no different at Sacrifice, when the two men with a sort of on-again, off-again type of friendship did battle with each other yet again. Despite how good of a match they put up, however, it all seemed to be spoiled by a wonky ending that put Anderson’s status as the winner very much in doubt.
In that match this past Sunday, Hardy looked to hit a leg drop on Anderson targeted toward the midsection. Anderson was able to block the move, though, and instead countered back with an unexpected roll up. Although Hardy clearly kicked out of the pin before the referee’s hand hit the mat for a three-count, the referee himself apparently didn’t notice and awarded Anderson the pinfall victory. Several replays after the match made it obvious that the referee had made a mistake – and even Anderson wasn’t so sure per comments he made on this week’s IMPACT Wrestling broadcast. But the decision stood and Anderson officially goes down as the winner of that match.
That didn’t sit entirely right with Hulk Hogan coming into this Thursday’s show and he had developed the perfect opportunity to try and produce a cleaner result in a match involving those two.
Because Bobby Roode decided to open IMPACT Wrestling in such a bold manner that he demanded a celebration on next week’s show for being the longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Hogan decided to do him one better. He announced that next week would be Open Fight Night, and the championship being defended on that show would be Roode’s very own heavyweight strap. And in order to narrow down the very large field of wrestlers eager to get their shot at the belt, Hogan made a bunch of matches for IMPACT Wrestling that would leave a pool of just four superstars that he could choose from next week.
One of those matches Hogan scheduled was another singles bout between Anderson and Hardy.
Much like the match four days prior, this rematch really could have gone either way. Neither Anderson nor Hardy seemed to have a real clear-cut advantage throughout the match. And it basically boiled down to the victor being the one to find that one small window of opportunity to catch his opponent off guard.
That’s what Hardy was able to accomplish. After catching Anderson in the corner with a back elbow followed by a Whisper in the Wind, he went for a cover that only netted him a two-count. Then the shirt came off and Hardy sought the Twist of Fate. But Anderson countered by lifting him up onto his shoulders for the rolling fireman’s carry slam. Hardy was able to halt the roll through, however, and countered back with a crucifix style pin that just managed to keep Anderson down for a pinfall.
There was no questioning the result of that match, as Hardy clearly kept Anderson’s shoulders down on the match for a three-count. That’s a great way to rebound off a bad call from Sacrifice and move right along as one of the four possible wrestlers that can step into the ring next week on Open Fight Night to challenge Roode for the World Heavyweight Championship.
2. Gail Kim – for building off her successful Knockouts Championship defense at Sacrifice by defeating both Velvet Sky and Brooke Tessmacher in three-way action:
Brooke Tessmacher owned three consecutive pinfall victories over TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim heading into the title match at Sacrifice this past Sunday. That was reason enough to plant the seed of doubt in Kim’s head and an aura of confidence into Tessmacher’s. But it was Kim’s experience and willingness to do whatever it takes to win that made Tessmacher’s month of dominating over her largely irrelevant.
Once again, Tessmacher put up a hell of a fight against Kim at Sacrifice and possibly could have walked away new Knockouts Champion if delivering the Eat Defeat to Kim hadn’t caused the champion to roll outside the ring. When she tried to follow up on Kim after rolling her back into the ring and failing to score a pinfall off a two-count, she got caught in a rollup that Kim forced to a three-count after putting her legs on the ropes for the leverage.
For as high a moment of retribution as that was for Kim, her celebration would not exactly roll over to IMPACT Wrestling when she learned her Knockouts Championship would be put on the line again – except this time she would be defending it against Tessmacher AND Velvet Sky. And when those two ran into Kim backstage prior to the match, they seemed unified and made it clear to her that one of them was stepping away with the title.
They maintained that partnership in the early stages of the match by working together to take the fight to Kim, and also to prevent her from escaping from the ring. But knowing that the Knockouts Championship they both so eagerly sought to possess was on the line, they would eventually have to fight each other and Kim was able to get back into the thick of things once it truly became every woman for herself.
Control swapped around evenly and the pace really picked up toward the end of the match with double submission and double pinfall attempts. After the latter of those exchanges, Kim hit a double missile dropkick on both Sky and Tessmacher, leaving all three ladies down on the mat for a short while. Kim got to her feet first and tried to finish Tessmacher off with the Eat Defeat. But Tessmacher pushed her off and then shoved her chest-first into the turnbuckles.
Not noticing Sky had gotten back to her feet by that point, Tessmacher turned right into an In Yo’ Face for what could have easily been the deciding pinfall. But Kim was quick to get out of the corner and toss Sky to the outside, leaving her to steal the pinfall over Tessmacher to retain the Knockouts Championship.
That was not an easy victory for Kim. But the opportunistic titleholder retained the gold for the second time in a week to put to rest any doubt that she was still the lead dog in the Knockouts Division.
1. Kurt Angle – for getting into the World Heavyweight Title picture on next week’s Open Fight Night with a win over his old rival, Samoa Joe:
Kurt Angle and AJ Styles entered the ring at last Sunday’s Sacrifice pay-per-view for what was sure to be another terrific match between them. But Angle held an advantage prior and during the match over Styles, though it was one that was largely out of his control.
With the whole Dixie Carter situation Daniels and Kazarian were holding over the head of their former best friend, there was no way Styles could remain completely focused during his match with Angle. It also didn’t help his case when Daniels and Kaz even made a ringside appearance during the match to trip him up so Angle could put him down with an Angle Slam and the Ankle Lock soon thereafter, forcing The Phenomenal One to tap out.
Angle’s time to rest up after that grueling battle would be short, however. He was very much in Hulk Hogan’s plans when the general manager was putting together the matches to determine the pool of four World Heavyweight Championship competitors for next week’s Open Fight Night. And Angle wasn’t going to be put into just any match. He would go one-on-one with Samoa Joe – perhaps his greatest rival since coming over to TNA.
This match really became a battle of endurance when neither one of them seemed close to giving in. Angle had his best shot to put this bout away when he had Joe tied up in an Ankle Lock that the Samoan Submission Machine seemed unable to get out of. But he kept trying and eventually rolled Angle into the turnbuckles to get him off. Joe stumbled into the corner to try and regroup, allowing Angle to come charging in at him from the opposite corner. But Joe caught him with the STO and then called for the Muscle Buster.
Joe lifted Angle off the mat and seated him on the top turnbuckle. Angle squirmed enough just as he was being lifted to force Joe to seat him right back on the turnbuckle. Joe chopped him in the chest and tried to set the move up again. But Angle delivered a very symbolic head butt to Joe’s noggin’ to back him off a bit. Clearly frustrated, Joe charged at Angle. But Angle quickly leapt off for a rollup that actually kept Joe down on the mat for the three-count to deliver the Olympic Gold Medalist his second victory of the week.
Now Angle join Hardy, AJ Styles and Bully Ray as the four men Hogan has to select from when he picks Bobby Roode’s opponent for the World Heavyweight Title Match on next week’s Open Fight Night. Angle seems to be the most successful of the four as of late, even owning a victory from Sacrifice over Styles. So he stands a good shot at being the chosen man and has proven over the past week that he’s more than up for the task.