TNA Open Fight Night IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 6.21.12
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.
TNA Open Fight Night IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week for June 21, 2012
3. James Storm – for staying red hot to expand his Bound For Glory Series lead another seven points with a victory over Samoa Joe:
Though Austin Aries is the greatest thing going on in TNA right now, it’s hard to argue against James Storm’s return to the company being a very close second. He made an immediate impact at Slammiversary when he ended Crimson’s lengthy undefeated streak with relative ease. Then he appeared four nights later on IMPACT Wrestling to post a generous 20-point lead in the Bound For Glory Series by getting through 10 other competitors in a Gauntlet Match.
Storm made it clear following that latter victory that he was back and focused on moving on toward reclaiming the World Heavyweight Championship. And he made it especially clear that he wants it to be Bobby Roode standing across the ring from him when Bound For Glory rolls around and he cashes in the Series victory.
Such bravado can rub others the wrong way, which is quite easy to do when it comes to Samoa Joe. Joe was the final man eliminated by Storm last week when he got knocked clear off the apron and onto the floor by a Last Call Super Kick. Looking to rectify that loss and perhaps put a halt to the surge Storm has been on since returning a week and a half ago, Joe called out The Tennessee Cowboy on a night that all challenges must be accepted. I’d venture to say Storm would have little problem accepting even if it wasn’t Open Fight Night.
Knowing how the point system works for this Series, Joe was clearly looking to bring home 10 points with a submission victory. He seemed pretty intent on getting a tapout from Storm and applied a variety of submission maneuvers in hopes of tying Kurt Angle to be half off the lead held by Storm.
But Storm was able to battle out of every hold Joe tried, including a rear naked choke. Storm kept on his feet to avoid Joe taking him down and wrapping his legs up. He managed to charge toward the corner and force Joe face-first into the top turnbuckle, which resulted in him breaking the hold. After stumbling backward, Joe was left wide open for Storm to take advantage with a Last Call Super Kick. Storm then quickly covered up for the three-count and added another seven points to his Series standings for a total of 27.
Joe really did throw all he could at Storm and possibly could have caught The Cowboy in a loss had he not been so adamant about scoring the submission. But he went to the well perhaps a bit too often and Storm was just too resilient to give the match away like that. He stuck with it and found a way to finally catch Joe wide open for the superkick.
It may be way too early to hand this Series over to anybody right now. But Storm seems on his game with little intention of slowing down. If he keeps competing as he has thus far in his week and a half back, he should stand a great chance on making good on his plan to battle Roode for the championship in October.
2. Jeff Hardy – for getting the better of Rob Van Dam in the scheduled main event matchup that earned him seven points in the Bound for Glory Series standings:
Over the course of this week’s Open Fight Night edition of IMPACT Wrestling, we witnessed many of the Bound For Glory Series participants calling out other Series participants in hopes of getting on the scoreboard toward a shot the World Heavyweight Title for Bound For Glory. Two of the competitors that failed to receive any challenge, however, were Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy.
Hulk Hogan took that as a sign that they were basically the cream of the crop in regards to the top dogs in the Series. And everybody else was just too afraid to call them out. So realizing that he still needed a main event matchup, Hogan decided to throw the two of them in the ring to face each other. Neither Hardy nor RVD seemed to have a problem with that.
Fans were treated to a nice little contest with this impromptu bout. It was clearly fast-paced, with both guys just looking to get their points and put things away early. But since they do have similar styles and know each other rather well from previous encounters, they were able to counter quite well throughout the match and avoid coughing up an easy victory.
A particularly nice sequence came when Hardy had Van Dam on the mat and in position to receive a Swanton Bomb. Hardy ended up crashing into the canvas when RVD moved out of the way, and Van Dam took that opening to head up top himself and attempt a 450 Splash. Van Dam met the same fate as Hardy when he moved out of the way, however. Hardy capitalized with a nice DDT that almost finished things off before Van Dam just kicked out before the three. A devastating Twist of Fate by Hardy did keep Van Dam down for the three-count, though, and netted Hardy a well-earned seven points.
That was an even matchup and easily could have gone either way. Hardy just managed to find the openings necessary to get Van Dam worn down to the point that he just couldn’t keep kicking out. Van Dam is far from out of the Series, but the pinfall definitely helps get Hardy going as he looks to close up that gap between the two guys in front of him.
1. Brooke Tessmacher – for making her first defense of the Knockouts Championship by catching Mickie James off guard with a nice rollup:
At Slammiversary, Brooke Tessmacher did the seemingly impossible when a sudden rollup on Gail Kim captured her both a pinfall victory and the TNA Knockouts Championship. She had previous success over Kim, but never with the title on the line. By finally coming through in the one that matters, Tessmacher put an end to Kim’s long reign and established herself as a pretty important player in the Knockouts Division.
She followed that victory up with another one over Madison Rayne on last week’s IMPACT Wrestling. But the Knockouts Championship was not on the line in that bout. Instead, Tessmacher’s first defense of the title would come this week on Open Fight Night against Brooke Hogan’s hand-picked opponent.
Hogan had four candidates to choose from and started out with Velvet Sky, Mickie James, ODB and Rayne. Rayne was the first one eliminated, since Hogan believed her mind was too focused on her mystery boyfriend as opposed to competing for the Knockouts Title. ODB was tossed for similar reasoning, as Hogan believed she was too focused on watching over Eric Young.
So with it down to just Sky and James, Hogan held off on announcing Tessmacher’s foe until just before the match was set to take place. And with Tessmacher already in the ring, Hogan informed James backstage that should would get the shot at the Knockouts Title.
James is essentially on the same level as Kim when it comes to quality of opponent, so Tessmacher would have a hard go of it in this match. Really, she was the underdog even though she came into the match with the title. Tessmacher’s constant improvement, and ability to both notice and capitalize on opportune situations, helped her to overcome the talent difference and leave with the belt as well.
James seemed to have things squared away when she elbowed out of a Side Russian Leg Sweep and belted Tessmacher on the side of the face with a spin kick as she bounced off the ropes. James went for the cover, but a combination of Tessmacher’s shoulder coming off the mat and her hand possibly being under the ring ropes stopped the referee from getting past two in his count.
James seemed suspicious and gave Earl Hebner a stare. But realizing that arguing wasn’t going to win her the match, she backed up and returned focus to Tessmacher. She waited for Tessmacher to get back to her feet so she could attempt the leaping DDT. An interesting rollup counter by Tessmacher swung things clear in the other direction, however, and scored the champion a three-count for her first successful title retention.
James was in shock at this result, much like Kim was at Slammiversary. With those two taking notice of Tessmacher, everybody else in the Knockouts Division should also be by this point. Between the three wins she’s racked up in just a week and a half, she’s definitely staked her claim to both the Knockouts Title and the lead position within the division.