TNA IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 8.9.12
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 August 9, 2012
3. Brooke Tessmacher – for building a little momentum for her Knockouts Championship Match at Hardcore Justice with a victory over familiar foe, Gail Kim:
Brooke Tessmacher’s two-month reign as TNA Knockouts Champion has been respectable, especially when it comes to how much all-around improvement she’s shown since first debuting with the company as Eric Bischoff’s secretary. Since obtaining the title at Slammiversary back in June, Tessmacher owns victories over the likes of Mickie James and Gail Kim – two of the very best female wrestlers this business has to offer.
Her next challenge will come in the form of another savvy in-ring competitor. She will defend the Knockouts Championship against Madison Rayne this Sunday at Hardcore Justice. Rayne may head into the match with the advantage should her love interest, Earl Hebner, referee the proceedings.
Hebner did serve as the referee for a tune-up match of sorts this Thursday night on IMPACT Wrestling when Tessmacher battled a familiar foe, Gail Kim, in non-title action. Not only was Tessmacher going up against a tough opponent who she’s had success against in the past, but a victory over Rayne’s best friend would act as the perfect message to send toward her opponent at the pay-per-view.
Kim was also interested in sending her own message to Tessmacher, who ended her record-setting reign as Knockouts Champion. Kim was very aggressive in this bout and even attacked the champion prior to the bell. She maintained the advantage for a few minutes and tried to shut down Tessmacher with moves like a body scissors and a couple of gut busters.
At her most arrogant, however, Kim can sometimes get herself into trouble. When she wasted some time taunting, it allowed Tessmacher to work toward a comeback that started with a series of right hands to Kim’s midsection. They were followed by some running closelines and a dropkick. An irish whip into the corner was countered by Kim, but Tessmacher leapt to the middle rope and came off with a flying closeline to remain on top.
With Kim seated against the turnbuckles, Tessmacher charged in at her and delivered the stinkface. Tessmacher caught a boot from Kim as stepped back toward the corner, but the champion quickly rebounded by tripping up Kim as she attempted to perform a springboard move off the ropes.
Tessmacher grabbed Kim as she was caught up in the ropes and charged back toward the center of the ring, where she dumped Kim with the Tess-shocker faceplant. Tessmacher hooked the legs and came up with another win over Kim courtesy of the pinfall.
While this was a nice momentum-building win for Tessmacher as she looks forward to defending the championship on Sunday, Rayne didn’t seem too concerned. She came to the ring after the match in order to kiss Hebner, perhaps sending a message that she’ll have the referee in her back pocket.
(I’m just taking a shot in the dark here, but perhaps TNA should assign a different referee to the match to assure there’s impartiality? Maybe?)
That’s definitely going to be something Tessmacher has to look out for going into their bout at Hardcore Justice. She’s proven that on wrestling skill alone, she can hang rather decently even someone of Rayne’s caliber. Now she just has to keep an eye on the official to make sure there’s no funny business going on.
2. Kurt Angle – for adding seven points to his Bound for Glory Series total with a hard-fought win over AJ Styles to edge even closer to the top of standings:
Kurt Angle is eagerly trying to make his way toward the top of the leaderboard when it comes to the Bound for Glory Series. Just like everybody else involved in that competition, he wants to be at the head of the pack and give himself a greater opportunity at earning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship shot at Bound For Glory.
Right now, he can’t seem to make the leap past James Storm and Samoa Joe. They sat first and second in the standings, respectively, heading into IMPACT Wrestling this week. And while Joe (54 points) was not in a position to add to his total because he wasn’t booked in a match, Storm would try to build upon his series-leading 66-point total in the evening’s main event against Bully Ray.
Angle, who came into the night in third place with 41 points, would at least try to continue inching closer to those two. After suffering a loss to Storm last week, the Olympic Gold Medalist would look to rebound when he faced AJ Styles.
Styles still has a lot on his mind in regard to the whole Claire Lynch situation. She was even sitting front row during this bout to cheer the suspected father of her unborn child on. Despite this, Styles still managed to put all of that on the back burner and put forth an amazing effort in a terrific matchup against Angle.
Unfortunately for Styles, who is not doing so well in the Bound for Glory Series with just 16 points to his credit, a phenomenal showing was not enough to get the job done.
In the midst of a match that was already too close to call, things became a bit more serious when Styles missed a springboard maneuver into the ring and then failed on a closeline. After dodging those moves, Angle locked on for the three consecutive German suplexes and then waited for Styles to get up so he could go for an Angle Slam. Styles countered out, though, and ducked a closeline before catching Angle with the Pele Kick.
Styles covered but he could only get a close two-count out of it. Styles lifted Angle up and called for a Styles Clash, but he received a back body drop instead and then got hit with the Angle Slam. Angle covered up for a two-count, which frustrated him enough to yank the straps down and apply an Ankle Lock.
Styles quickly flipped over and kicked Angle off before too much damage could be done. Angle charged back at him with a running closeline, but Styles ducked and then delivered his own German suplex. Styles tried for another, but Angle rolled out of it and slapped on the Ankle Lock again. Angle held onto the hold for a bit longer than the first time, but Styles was still able to get out of it this go around when he rolled through and sent Angle into the turnbuckles.
Styles charged at Angle in the corner and he was lifted over the ropes, landing on the apron so he could deck Angle before hitting a springboard flying forearm. Styles quickly picked Angle up off the mat to go for the Styles Clash, which connected and was turned over into a pinning combination. Angle still managed to kick out at two, however.
Styles headed up top after the failed pin attempt, but he got caught up top by Angle and he was sent right back down to the canvas with a belly-to-belly suplex. Another disappointing two-count came Angle’s way when he went for the cover. This time, it was Angle who crawled toward the corner and headed up top. He went for the moonsault and missed, allowing Styles to go back to the apron in hopes of hitting a springboard 450 splash.
Angle got the knees up to counter Styles’ attempt at the move and he caught Styles with another Angle Slam as he stumbled out of the corner. Angle hooked the leg for another cover, which finally went for the three-count.
That was a special match and it’s almost an injustice that only one of them could come out with the victory. Angle was the guy standing tall when it was all said and done, giving him a tremendous victory that he can undoubtedly build off as he continues toward that No. 1 spot in the standings. He will have perhaps the highest level of confidence going into the big four-way ladder match at Hardcore Justice, where 20 Bound for Glory Series points will be on the line.
1. Bully Ray – for picking up an upset victory of sorts over James Storm, the leader of the Bound for Glory Series, to move into eighth place in the standings:
There is nothing Bully Ray loves more than to attack people and accuse them of doing things. That’s why the recent finger-pointing toward James Storm over his potential relationship with Aces and Eights is right up his ally.
He’s joined in with a number of members in the TNA locker room, namely Bobby Roode, in calling out Storm. He did exactly that to start off this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling. Even though the two were set to square off in the evening’s main event, Ray still wanted to make his claim that evidence was piling up against Storm and he had all the facts.
That brought Storm down to the ring and he made it clear that he was sick and tired of all these accusations. He once again stated that he had nothing to do with the attacks by Aces and Eights and his sole focus was on winning the Bound for Glory Series so that he could earn a shot at taking back his TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Bound For Glory. Storm then drew a line in the sand, so to speak, and tempted Ray to throw down with him right there and then. Ray backed off, choosing to wait until the end of the night for his match with Storm. But that didn’t stop Aces and Eights from appearing on the big screen to tell both of them that they would accept Sting’s invitation to come on the show – they would just be doing so on their own time.
Aces and Eights didn’t actually end up appearing live on the show, instead opting for another video appearance after the main event concluded.
Before that message was actually sent, the matchup between Storm and Ray took place and it was a good one. Because Storm was so motivated and ranked first in the standings with a 66-point total heading into the match, it was easy to assume that he would end up adding to that lead with a win over Ray. The bully had other ideas, though.
Ray did very well holding onto the offensive advantage early on, as he stayed on top of Storm with a bruising attack that kept Storm mostly grounded. He even cut short a decent midmatch rally by Storm by catching him with a uranage that scored him a two-count.
Ray tried to capitalize on that by going behind for a full nelson that would have led into a Bubba Bomb. But Storm got out of that and he caught Ray in the face with a big boot in the corner. Storm headed up top and leapt off with a crossbody that got him a two-count. Storm went back to the top rope after the failed pin attempt, but he went to the well once too often and Ray got back to his feet in time to slap the ropes.
With Storm tripped up and sitting atop the turnbuckles, Ray nailed Storm with a chop to the chest before climbing the turnbuckles himself in hopes of going for a superplex. Storm blocked it and shoved Ray back to the mat, but the flying elbow drop he attempted soon thereafter missed when Ray rolled out of the way.
That’s when Ray was able to hit the Bubba Bomb, which he followed up with a pin attempt that Storm was once again able to kick out of at two. Ray pulled Storm to the center of the ring and then he went to the corner in hopes of hitting a back splash off the middle rope. Storm moved, however, and he dropped Ray with the Closing Time. He pumped the crowd up and set up for a Last Call Superkick.
When Storm went for the kick, though, Ray moved the referee in front of him and Storm had to hold off. Ray then went for a closeline, which Storm ducked and countered with a rollup. Ray kicked out at two and came right back at Storm with a Bubba Cutter that netted him the pinfall.
That was a huge win for Ray, who really needed some points there to stay in the Series. Doing so against the top dog in the standings right now only made the victory that much more significant.
Ray’s celebration was cut a bit short when Aces and Eights appeared in another video message, with a threat toward him that they would see him at Hardcore Justice. The finger pointing continued toward Storm, as he and Ray will be two of the four men meeting up in a Tables Match this Sunday with 20 big Bound for Glory Series points on the line. Ray initially appeared to hold the advantage in that match based on his history with Tables Matches. However, the need to look over his shoulder for the gang believed to be aligned with Storm may just cause too much of a distraction for him.