TNA Open Fight Night IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week (SHOW AIR DATE 7.19.12)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 July 19, 2012
3. Bully Ray – for finally getting on the board in the Bound for Glory Series with a nice pinfall over Magnus:
Bully Ray has been so preoccupied dealing with Joseph Park that he has largely neglected his spot in the Bound for Glory Series. Ray clearly would like to be TNA World Heavyweight Champion and has long deserved a shot at the title. But when dealing with Abyss and his brother, it’s hard to stay focused on the greater goal of chasing the gold.
Ray entered this week’s Open Fight Night edition of IMPACT Wrestling with exactly zero points to his credit. That left him in a last place tie with Robbie E., until Robbie managed to score a countout victory over Jeff Hardy earlier in the evening to move into second-to-last in the standings with five points. With the Series already getting away from him, Ray would need to come up with some points. And with everybody else in the Series previously taken from other challenges, it would take a victory over Magnus for Ray to get on the scoreboard.
Ray wasted little time trying to get the advantage in this matchup. He watched from the back as Magnus walked toward the entranceway and then attacked him from behind on the ramp in front of the IMPACT Zone crowd. It didn’t take long for Magnus to turn the tides on the outside and take Ray to task with several punishing blows against the guardrail and steel steps.
When the two men moved into the ring and the bell sounded to officially start the match, it broke down into a nice back-and-forth contest. Ray managed to swing the offensive momentum in his favor for a few minutes, but he couldn’t come up with a pinfall and took a bit too much time going for a diving headbutt on Magnus to allow the Brit to get back into the match.
They engaged in trading some right hand shots before Magnus finally decided to duck one and go for a back suplex. He went for a cover and only received a two-count. And then when he headed for the ropes, Ray drilled him with a hard closeline to set up for a big boot in the corner. Magnus moved out of the way, took Ray down to the mat and slapped on a Texas Cloverleaf much to the delight of all those submission enthusiasts who simply love that move. Ray was able to get out of the hold, however, when he powered his way to the ropes. Magnus kept on Ray with a sitout bodyslam that got Magnus another two-count.
Magnus headed to the middle rope to try and finish things off with a flying elbow drop. But Ray moved out of the way and waited for Magnus to get back up so he could come at him with a cutter. The move connected and Ray immediately covered up to get the three-count.
That was not an easy win for Ray, as Magnus looked pretty great throughout that bout. In getting the victory, he put up seven points and leaped into a three-way tie with AJ Styles and The Pope for second-to-last in the Bound for Glory Series standings. You have to start somewhere, I guess.
2. Mr. Anderson – for picking up seven points to stay in the thick of the Bound for Glory Series hunt with a hard-earned pinfall victory over AJ Styles:
Mr. Anderson is not fighting at the top of the Bound for Glory Series standings, nor is he battling it out at the bottom. He came into Thursday’s show with 16 points, good for fifth place – four points behind Jeff Hardy for fourth place and two ahead of Rob Van Dam and Magnus in sixth place.
Anderson’s spot could be worse, but he should not be content merely hanging in the top half. He needs to push toward the very top and get into James Storm and Samoa Joe territory if he really wants to remain in the hunt for that TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match at Bound For Glory.
Anderson was afforded an opportunity to call out somebody on this week’s Open Fight Night edition of IMPACT Wrestling. He didn’t take the easy road, as he chose to challenge AJ Styles. Styles does have a lot on his mind, but he’s always going to give his best in the ring. And Anderson knows that, respects that and wanted to see if he could take seven points off him.
This turned out to be the match of the night. Both competitors fought hard and never really let the match get too far away from them. It easily could have gone either way.
Anderson found decent success in employing a grounded, submission-based attack against Styles. It wasn’t what won him the match, as Styles is always able to figure out ways to get out of tight spots. But Anderson’s ability to wear down “The Phenomenal One” in this capacity was certainly helpful.
In building off that, Anderson really put the pedal to the medal in trying to put the match away once he found himself in position for a Styles Clash. He countered out by lifting Styles up onto his shoulders. But Styles worked out of that and got a rollup that Anderson kicked out of at two. Woken up, Anderson hit the fireman’s carry slam for a cover of his own, which Styles got the shoulder up on at two.
Anderson helped Styles up off the mat so he could attempt a Mic Check, only to be countered with an enziguri kick to the back of the head. Styles headed up top, but he was met with a right hand shot by Anderson. Anderson headed up the ropes and delivered a huge superplex off the top all the way down to the mat. Styles was clearly hurt and Anderson rolled an arm onto him to get the cover, but Styles somehow was still able to kick out. And not only did he kick out, but he rolled over in such a fashion to get a pinning attempt on Anderson, which was also kicked out of at two.
Anderson got to his feet first and waited for Styles to get up, too. He went at Styles with a closeline, which was ducked and countered with a Pele Kick. From there, Styles tried again for Styles Clash. But Anderson fought his way out of it and flipped Styles over. He relentlessly worked Styles into a pinning combination that just got him a three-count.
That was incredibly close and Anderson worked very hard to get that win. With another seven points added to his total, Anderson stepped out of IMPACT Wrestling with 23 points. He now sits in fourth place just four points behind Kurt Angle in the standings.
1. Samoa Joe – for leaping back into the top stop of the Bound for Glory Series with a submission victory over The Pope despite hurting his jaw during the match:
Samoa Joe has put together a surprising showing in this year’s Bound for Glory Series. It seemed like James Storm’s destiny to run away with this competition and take part in the TNA World Heavyweight Title main event at Bound For Glory. But Joe has remained neck-and-neck with “The Tennessee Cowboy” over the last few weeks and has even taken the top spot courtesy of his penchant for seeking out those elusive 10-point submission victories.
Joe did not head into this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling in the No. 1 slot thanks to Storm reclaiming it with points earned during live events. Storm entered the program with 43 points to his credit, while Joe sat in second place with 37 points.
Storm was unable to vie for some more points on Open Fight Night after the man he called out, Kurt Angle, was attacked backstage by the Aces and Eights crew. Joe’s turn was next, and he chose to call out The Pope – a man he’s always had a problem with and wanted to tap out.
A pinfall for Joe would have been enough to leapfrog Storm into the top spot. But that only would have spotted him one point of breathing room, so Joe clearly wanted the submission valued at 10 points. Joe ran into a problem trying to gain any points, however, when he hurt his jaw on either one of Pope’s punches or the turnbuckle in the corner.
Joe struggled mightily with the injury, but he refused to allow the referee to step in and stop the match. Pope pounced on his weakened foe, delivering several shots to the jaw and even attempting a submission hold in hopes of Joe just giving up.
That’s not Joe’s style, though, and he eventually picked his moment to take advantage of an opening given to him by his overzealous opponent. When Pope elected to go with a ground-and-pound offense on Joe in the middle of the ring, Joe snatched an arm and locked on an armbar that caused Pope to tap out.
Joe, still clutching his jaw, rolled out of the ring with the victory and another 10 points in the standings. This was a tough one for Joe to pull out. But he hung on despite his injury and came through with a win that puts him right back in first place of the Bound for Glory Series standings. Now we wait and see if the injury plays a role in any future bouts for Joe.