IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 7.12.12
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 June 12, 2012
3. Kurt Angle – for rebounding from his loss to Samoa Joe at Destination X by picking up seven points in the Bound for Glory Series against Mr. Anderson:
Kurt Angle doesn’t necessarily get the spotlight he used to, but there’s no denying that the former-Olympian remains one of the best professional wrestlers in the game today. It should go without saying that when it comes to the Bound for Glory Series, Angle stands about as good a shot as anybody to come out with the World Heavyweight Title opportunity in October.
His plan to the get to the top of the leader board hit a bump in the road on Sunday. Angle met a familiar foe in Samoa Joe at Destination X with important points on the line. The history between these two men guaranteed a great matchup and they certainly did not disappoint. While Joe may have headed into the bout as a bit of an underdog, he was able to come up with a huge 10-point submission victory after the referee called for the bell following Angle losing consciousness while in the Coquina Clutch. Angle wasn’t thrilled with the result, but Joe’s victory was uncontestable and “The Samoan Submission Machine” instantly shot up to first in the standings with a total of 37 points.
Angle received a big shot to rebound from this loss just four nights later on IMPACT Wrestling. He would step into the ring with Mr. Anderson, who also yearned to improve his spot in the BFG Series. Anderson entered the match with just nine points to his credit, while Angle sat in fourth place with 20 points.
This would turn out to be another grueling, back-and-forth affair for Angle. Unlike the result at Destination X, however, his hard work would pay off against Anderson.
The pressure picked up late in the match, especially after Angle managed to hit his series of German suplexes. He tried to follow up with an Angle Slam, but Anderson countered with a fireman’s carry slam and covered up for a two-count. Anderson went for a Mic Check at this point, but Angle tripped Anderson up and attempted to apply an Ankle Lock. He was barely into slapping on the move when Anderson kicked him off and sent him into the corner. Anderson charged in, but Angle moved out of the way and hit a big Angle Slam that Anderson somehow managed to avoid taking the pinfall on by getting the shoulder up at two.
Angle slowly worked his way back to his feet and pulled the straps down once he got there. He meant business and applied the Ankle Lock. Anderson was in obvious pain and a lesser man certainly would have tapped at this point. But he held on and eventually picked his spot to roll out of the hold. Anderson desperately moved in for the Mic Check and hit it, but he was only able to muster up another two-count on the pin attempt that followed.
Anderson’s ankle was noticeably hurt by the way he was clutching it and hobbling on it. But he still tried for another Mic Check once both men got to their feet. Unfortunately, he went to the well once too often and Angle was able to counter out of it by going behind for another successful Angle Slam. That turned out to be the final nail in the coffin on Anderson, as Angle covered up and scored the three-count to pick up seven points.
A win on Sunday would have made Angle’s week a lot better. But he rebounded valiantly from the loss to Joe by picking up an impressive seven-point win over Anderson. He now has 27 points in the Bound for Glory Series and jumped Jeff Hardy in the standings for third place.
2. Zema Ion – for ruining Dakota Darsow’s attempts at retribution on behalf of Jesse Sorensen four nights after becoming the new X-Division Champion:
Zema Ion is going to forever be known as the guy that broke Jesse Sorensen’s neck. It’s likely to be the basis of every storyline he’s involved in until Sorensen makes his comeback and is able to gain some physical retribution against the guy that put him on the shelf. And somehow, it only seems to serve as a source of pride for Ion.
At Destination X, TNA provided an update on Sorensen’s injury and then allowed the man some time on the pay-per-view to address the crowd live in the middle of the ring. He assured everybody that he will come back, even planning to be the man with the option to cash in the X-Division Title at next year’s Destination X for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. But more directly, Sorensen plans to go after Ion once he’s physically able to do so.
This speech conveniently went down just prior the Ultimate X Match intended to crown the next X-Division Champion. Ion was the first one out and passed Sorensen on the ramp. Sorensen was visibly agitated by Ion, who was as arrogant as ever and continued to show no remorse. There was nothing the still-injured Sorensen could do about it, however.
Just to rub a little salt into the wound, Sorensen had to witness Ion actually pull through in the Ultimate X Match and become the new X-Division Champion. He resorted to some underhanded tactics when he blasted Sonjay Dutt with hair spray while they were both on top of the cables. It was a method that worked, and Ion was able to unhook the belt after Dutt fell to the canvas several feet down.
Ion was thrilled with this accomplishment, which came one year after having first earned a contract with TNA. But not everybody shared in that excitement. While we never really saw Sorensen’s reaction to Ion’s victory, he certainly could not have been pleased.
Dakota Darsow definitely wasn’t happy about Ion’s victory and expressed his displeasure on this week’s IMPACT Wrestling. He is good friends with Sorensen and hated having to watch his buddy be carted off. Darsow was not happy with the way Ion taunted Sorensen and planned on putting the champ in his place in an upcoming match.
Darsow delivered to a degree. He dished out a great deal of punishment and seemed like a man possessed at times when he lit up Ion on a few occasions. He was unable to come away with the victory, however.
Ion put himself back on top when Darsow tried to pull him back into the ring from the apron, but he instead dropped Darsow’s throat across the top rope. Ion followed up with a jumping DDT after springing off the middle rope. He ate an elbow from Darsow, but he still managed to duck a closeline and get Darsow lifted onto his back for a rather innovative faceplant. Ion covered up and secured the three-count to add another “W” to his record.
Ion refused to stop with the win. He grabbed Darsow’s arm and snapped it into a brief armbreaker. He then grabbed the microphone and told the “crippled jackass” Sorensen that if he doesn’t want to see anymore of his friends get hurt, he should probably inform them that he’s “pretty f’n dangerous”.
Now would be a good time to take Ion seriously. With Austin Aries now in the heavyweight scene, Ion really is the top guy in the X-Division. He has the championship, and he possesses a good enough skill set and level of confidence to hold onto the gold for quite some time. People are going to want to get at Ion. But it’s going to be hard for them to do much more than what Darsow did, even he couldn’t score the pinfall. Ion is peaking right now and could likely remain at the top of the mountain until Sorensen makes his return to active competition, at which point his first order of business will likely be to gain his retribution over the man that almost took his career away from him.
1. Miss Tessmacher – for retaining the Knockouts Championship in Gail Kim’s rematch a week after it was originally supposed to take place:
The Knockouts Championship rematch between titleholder Miss Tessmacher and former-champion Gail Kim was originally scheduled to take place during last week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling. Some legal shenanigans supposedly delayed the bout and the two combatants were instead placed in a tag team bout that Tessmacher ended up on the winning side of. But fans would not have to wait too much longer to see the championship rematch, as it was simply pushed back a week to take place on this Thursday’s program.
In what would have seemed unfathomable months ago, Tessmacher entered this match as the favorite. She’s had Kim’s number like no other Knockout in TNA and entered this bout with all the momentum she could possibly hope for. It would take Kim’s best effort to take back the Knockouts Title she dropped to Tessmacher at Slammiversary.
Tessmacher was very strong after the opening bell, attacking Kim in the corners with a plethora of kicks. She even added a closeline, dropkick and hurricurana in for good measure. But the feisty champion got caught trying to pull Kim back into the ring, which Kim countered by dropping her arm across the top rope.
Kim took over the offense from there, focusing heavily on Tessmacher’s left arm. Between submission attempts and very aggressive power shots to the weakened arm, Kim was able to maintain control and limit some minor comeback attempts by Tessmacher. The only thing she couldn’t do was put Tessmacher away for good.
After scoring a rollup that only netted her a two-count, Kim moved the action into the corner. She seated Tessmacher on the top turnbuckle and traded some forearms and elbows. Kim started to climb the ropes and grabbed Tessmacher’s arm as if to go for the Eat Defeat off the ropes. When she leapt off, however, Tessmacher didn’t follow and Kim fell right to the mat. Tessmacher regrouped and climbed to the top so that she could jump off with a flying elbow drop to Kim that went halfway across the ring. Tessmacher covered up and received the three-count for another win over Kim that keeps the Knockouts Championship around her waist.
Kim brought her A-game and had a good strategy in weakening the arm of Tessmacher. But Tessmacher held in, got in her shots when she could and made the move that mattered with the flying elbow drop. Tessmacher is a confident champion and it’s going to be tough to find an opponent capable of taking the strap off of her if Kim isn’t even able to do it.