TNA IMPACT Wrestling Wrestlers of the Week 5.2.13
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 May 2, 2013
3. Chris Sabin – for returning from two ACL surgeries to claim a spot in the next X-Division Championship Match:
Injuries to any athlete are common and unpredictable, but to have two of the same nature in such a short period of time like what happened to Chris Sabin is rare. Sabin suffered ACL injuries to both knees and missed the better part of two years going under the knife and rehabbing. Ready to give it yet another go, the 31-year old, former four-time X-Division Champion returned to the squared circle on this week’s IMPACT Wrestling.
Sabin was part of the three-way X-Division matchup utilized to determine one of the participants in Kenny King’s next title defense. Sonjay Dutt, who has never held the X-Division Title, and Zema Ion, who held the championship once previously, would be Sabin’s competition.
It would be interesting to see if there was not only rust in Sabin’s game, but a little bit of hesitation, as well, considering a third injury could very well be the end of his career. Sabin, who entered this match with a focus on climbing back to the top of the X-Division while still having his sights set on the future aspiration of becoming heavyweight champion, was very aggressive and didn’t appear to have lost too much of a step during his long layoff.
He wasn’t in control of the action every step of the way and possibly could have surrendered the deciding pinfall after taking a tilt-a-whirl DDT and standing shooting star press from Dutt, but Ion broke up the cover. After taking some time to recover, Sabin got back into the action with a big closeline to Ion before hitting a powerbomb and death valley driver that planted Dutt right on top of Ion.
Sabin moved Dutt into the corner and tied him up in the turnbuckles tree of woe-style. He turned around to see Ion charging at him, and he simply flipped Ion into Dutt in the corner. Sabin then hit the ropes for a running low dropkick, which set up nicely for Sabin to close things out with an interesting new fisherman’s driver finisher that secured him a pinfall and spot in the next X-Division Title Match.
Sabin’s ability to begin ascending the X-Division ranks was never in question; simply his ability to move past two severe injuries in such a short span. He showed on Thursday that he’s back in the game and at full strength, meaning King’s tenure as champion could be in more danger that it has ever been before.
2. Kurt Angle – for getting a win over Aces and Eights member D’Lo Brown by making him say “I Quit”:
Kurt Angle’s determination to play a role in stopping Aces and Eights is unbreakable, no matter how many times they beat him — or simply beat him down. He was ramped up on this week’s IMPACT Wrestling and issued a challenge to any member of Aces and Eights for later in the broadcast.
There was plenty of interest from the members of the biker gang in getting their hands on Angle. Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff were the first to step up and offer their services, but D’Lo Brown made the biggest push for Bully Ray to pick him. Brown wanted to be the guy to take out the Olympic Gold Medalist and he guaranteed Ray that he would get the job done.
Brown’s confidence was admirable, but perhaps he went a little too far once both combatants were in the ring. Instead of simply taking on the already daunting task of simply wrestling Angle, Brown threw out the stipulation of making this bout an “I Quit” Match. That was, well … unwise.
Brown broke out a few submission holds on Angle, but he was never going to be any real match for the Olympic Gold Medalist in this one. Perhaps Brown was expecting some assistance along the way from his fellow biker gang members. However, Mr. Anderson and Co. simply served as spectators during the contest, providing only a minor distraction to Angle toward the top of the match.
Without their help, Brown was never going to win this one and his demise started when Angle worked out of a Cobra Clutch by hitting a series of six German suplexes. Then the straps came down and Angle put on an Ankle Lock, but Brown refused to quit and turned over to kick Angle off him.
Brown delivered a Samoan Drop to Angle and, after both men fought to get back to their feet, he set up for a powerbomb. Angle rolled through, however, and grabbed the ankle again. Brown tried to get Angle off by rolling through, but Angle held on and eventually grapevined the leg to really clasp onto that Ankle Lock. Brown screamed in pain and fought off saying those two final words for as long as he could, but he couldn’t hold off yelling “I Quit” for too long.
Angle took the win, and the members of Aces and Eights who were watching at ringside walked off completely disappointed in their vice president.
Angle not only gained some redemption over Aces and Eights with the win, but he also established a bit of momentum for next week. On next Thursday’s IMPACT Wrestling, Angle will join with Sting to face Ray, Anderson and Devon in a six-man tag team match. The third member of TNA’s team has not been announced, but Angle possibly laid the groundwork to get that man to be AJ Styles. He essentially gave Styles one week and the same speech The Phenomenal One has already heard — you’re with us or you’re against us.
Styles doesn’t seem to be leaning one way or another at this point, but Angle is certainly all TNA. He’s already got one big victory under his belt against an Aces and Eights member and would love nothing more than to play a role in dishing out another loss to them.
1. Sting – for getting past the 7-foot tall Matt Morgan to become No. 1 Contender with a World Heavyweight Title Match against Bully Ray at Slammiversary:
When Aces and Eights’ plan came together and Bully Ray was revealed to be the president of the group on the same night he took the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Sting automatically entered Hulk Hogan’s doghouse. Sting was the one who told Hogan to trust Ray and that all backfired. TNA and Hogan’s family were all thrown for the loop by Ray, and Hogan held Sting ultimately accountable for it.
The two nearly came to blows on a few occasions, but Sting was always going to back Hogan up against Aces and Eights when push came to shove. When Hogan was staring down an attack from the biker gang last week, the lights went out and Sting emerged to fight alongside IMPACT Wrestling’s general manager.
At the top of this week’s program, Hogan called out Sting to apologize and call for a truce. Sting considered it water under the bridge and was then granted his request for a six-man tag team match against Aces and Eights next week. While all this making up made for a feel-good moment, there was one man who was not impressed.
Matt Morgan spoiled this get together and saw the writing on the wall for Hogan to just automatically grant Sting a shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Hogan promised he wasn’t giving away handouts anymore, like the one Morgan wanted last week, and instead offered up a main event to determine the No. 1 Contender. That match would be between Morgan and Sting, with the winner facing off against Ray for the title at Slammiversary.
Morgan had a clear advantage in size, speed and youth, but one can never discount the experience and sheer will that Sting brings to the table. Even after catching a Carbon Footprint straight in the face as he was charging the corner for a Sting Splash, Sting still had the wherewithal to get the shoulder up just before three to keep the match going.
Morgan went for another Carbon Footprint in the corner, but Sting moved out of the way and Morgan buckled his knee against the middle turnbuckle instead. Sting went into attack mode and took out the leg of Morgan to get the big man down on the mat. Once there, Sting applied the Scorpion Death Lock in the middle of the ring.
Morgan held on for quite a bit until eventually reaching the ropes to break the hold, which Sting was already losing his grip on. There was no reprieve for Morgan, though, as Sting simply reapplied the hold with little difficulty. Morgan still refused to tap, but he did pass out and the referee called for the bell after receiving no response to lifting his arm.
With the win in the bag, Sting was confronted with a stare down by Ray and his fellow Aces and Eights members. No fighting took place, but it took little time for things to heat up between champion and challenger. They will get their first shot at setting the stage for Slammiversary when they are on opposite sides of the ring next week during the six-man tag team match.