TNA IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 7.26.12
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 IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week for July 26, 2012
3. Douglas Williams – for capitalizing on a distraction to Sam Shaw to beat the TNA-hopeful in a rare appearance on IMPACT Wrestling:
Douglas Williams is unfortunately barely featured these days on IMPACT Wrestling. As one of the most talented wrestlers in TNA, and most especially in the X-Division, it is a shame that he doesn’t get more face time on a weekly basis.
He did get a matchup on this Thursday night’s show, and it was a pretty important one. Since Sam Shaw was not given a fair shake at vying for a TNA contract during the Gut Check portion of last week’s Open Fight Night show because of an attack by Aces and Eights, he was provided a second opportunity during this week’s program. And Shaw’s opponent was none other than Williamss, a former-X-Division, Television and World Tag Team Champion.
Shaw actually had this match in his control after the opening bell and he seemed to be rolling pretty nicely along on the offensive end against Williams. But his impressive start to the match was nullified when Joey Ryan appeared in the IMPACT Zone and Shaw took his mind off the match.
When Ryan showed up in the crowd and subsequently sucker punched Al Snow, Shaw got caught on the top rope and tripped off of it by Williams. Williams continued his assault with a hard closeline and series of vicious right hands to Shaw’s head. After another shot to the jaw, Williams took Shaw to the corner for an uppercut followed by a whip to the opposite end. Williams chased him into the turnbuckles with a high knee that set up nicely for a t-bone suplex.
Williams got Shaw onto his knees and trash talked him a bit, adding insult to injury with a slap to his face. Once Shaw ended up back on his feet, Williams went behind for a Chaos Theory that hit to perfection and kept Shaw’s shoulders on the mat for the three-count.
Williams’ victory did not prevent Shaw from getting a contract to work for TNA, as Bruce Pritchard and Taz later granted him the two yes votes necessary to garner him a roster spot. But Williams’ appearance should still be noted as a valuable one for the Brit. He was up for the challenge of facing a hungry competitor and gave the fans a reminder of what he has to offer when given some time inside the ring.
2. Gail Kim and Madison Rayne – for pulling out a questionable pinfall victory in tag team action over Mickie James and Tara:
In a revelation that was both shocking and disgusting at the same time, Madison Rayne revealed three weeks ago that the object of her affection for the past few months has been none other than senior TNA Wrestling referee Earl Hebner. With all of the young studs walking around the TNA locker room, Rayne picked the 63-year old official to have a secret crush on. And people call AJ Lee crazy.
One can’t help who she falls in love with, I suppose. But she can make that scenario work in her favor when it comes to competing against other Knockouts.
While next week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling will feature a four-way bout between members of the Knockouts Division with the winner earning No. 1 Contendership status for the Knockouts Championship, this week’s show put those four combatants into tag team action. Mickie James and Tara were teamed up to face the former Knockouts Tag Team Champion duo of Gail Kim and Rayne.
Despite both teams having a favorable showing, neither team really came out having earned the victory.
After a spinning side slam by Tara onto Rayne failed to net her a three-count courtesy of Kim coming in for the save, James received a tag into the match and joined her partner in a series of interesting double team moves. First, they did a double-team leg roll through on Rayne before transitioning that into a double Boston Crab.
Kim climbed the ropes and leapt off with a missile dropkick in hopes of breaking the hold James and Tara had on Rayne. She succeeded in that department but only because they ended up locking her into a double team submission instead. Meanwhile, Rayne proceeded to flirt with Hebner and encourage him to kick the non-legal Tara out of the ring. He followed those instructions while Rayne yelled at Tara.
Rayne’s yelling was enough of a distraction for James to go behind her and attempt a rollup, however. James hit the rollup and added some extra leverage with a bridge. In this position, the shoulders of both Rayne and James were on the mat as Hebner made the count. But when James lifted her left shoulder up just prior to the three-count, Hebner failed to recognize it and actually award the victory to the duo of Rayne and Kim.
Now, it did seem as if both women got a shoulder up at that three-count. So the match should not have even been over by that point. But, Rayne’s influence over Hebner suited her well and played a key role in her team picking up a pinfall victory. At the end of the day, Rayne and Kim don’t really care how they won the match – so long as they won it.
This does bring up an interesting situation should Hebner referee next week’s four-way match, though. It seems likely that Rayne would have him in her back pocket then, too. And a win next week would give her a shot at the Knockouts Championship, which is a far more rewarding result than an exhibition tag team win.
1. Kurt Angle – for picking up seven points to move into third place of the Bound for Glory Series with a pinfall over Bully Ray:
Aces and Eights have had a hell of a time ruining quite a few matchups on TNA programming, including several important Bound for Glory Series bouts. One of these came last week, when James Storm’s challenge to Kurt Angle was not answered by the Olympic Gold Medalist courtesy of being laid out by the gang.
Since the origin and membership of this group is largely unknown, there are a lot of fingers being pointed about who is to blame for their existence. Bobby Roode got the accusation last week, but a gang attack on him by Aces and Eights after they disrupted his main event match against Austin Aries negated the logic of that speculation.
When the show opened this week with Sting, Aries and Angle gradually joining together to call out Aces and Eights, Roode did offer up his own suggestion as to who was behind the gang – James Storm. Well, Storm took exception to that and rushed the ramp for an attack on Roode that lasted quite a while before they started to be pulled apart.
Nobody in that ring truly believed Storm was behind Aces and Eights. But Angle still wanted confirmation from The Tennessee Cowboy himself in the back before he took part in a main event matchup with Bully Ray that would have Bound for Glory Series implications. Storm assured Angle he wasn’t involved, though the look on his face when Angle walked away still left a little doubt in the air. The fact that Storm went unharmed when Aces and Eights attacked AJ Styles during their Bound for Glory Series match didn’t help matters much, either.
Regardless, Angle still entered his match with Bully Ray with a clear head. He was in fourth place heading into the show Thursday night, with the possibility of at least seven points putting him ahead of Mr. Anderson for the third spot in the standings. With just seven points to his credit, Ray would be far more desperate for the win.
The effort would certainly be there for Ray, but the victory just wouldn’t be his when it was all said and done.
Angle initially thought he’d have this bout put away when he managed to apply an Ankle Lock on Ray after hitting the three consecutive German suplexes. Ray refused to tap, however, and rolled Angle off of him to stay in the match. The two men proceeded to trade shots, with Ray slapping Angle across the chest and Angle coming right back with right hands to the face. Ray eventually stopped that back and forth with a urange that got him a two-count before Angle got the shoulder up.
Ray moved to the corner and waited for Angle to get up on the opposite end so he could charge in. When he did, Angle ducked a big boot by Ray and countered him with an Angle Slam. Angle covered up but could still only get a two-count out of it. In a move that will not go down as his wisest, Angle chose that moment to go up top and attempt a moonsault onto Ray. Ray moved out of the way and then waited for Angle to get up so he could attempt a cutter. Angle shoved him off, but he couldn’t avoid going down to a big boot to the face by Ray immediately afterward. Ray covered right up, but Angle still had enough in the tank to kick out at two.
Pretty much lost on what he could possibly do, Ray retreated to the corner and once again waited for Angle to get back to his feet. He ran at Angle in hopes of hitting a splash in the corner, but Angle moved out of the way and Ray ended up ramming chest-first into the turnbuckles. Angle immediately pounced on him with another Angle Slam. This time around, it finally proved to be enough as Ray was kept down on the mat for the three-count.
Another seven points moved Angle into third place of the Bound for Glory Series standings with a total of 34. But his celebration was short-lived when Aces and Eights hit the ring to attack. Aries and Sting eventually came down for the save, but the ring didn’t completely clear until Storm’s music hit the IMPACT Zone and he made his way down to the ring. The way the gang retreated once Storm made it there only left further doubt about his involvement with them, and Angle was starting to put those pieces together in his head as the show came to a close.
This will be key going into next week, as it was announced that Angle and Storm will square off on IMPACT Wrestling in a crucial Bound for Glory Series contest. Not only may Angle move closer into figuring out Storm’s relationship, or lack thereof, with Aces and Eights. But a win over Storm could move him even closer to Storm and the top spot currently held by Samoa Joe in the standings.