TNA has been going through a transition over the recent years and has become quite the company in its own right; a company that has focused on wrestling and has improved their way of telling stories both inside the ring and outside as well. Teams such as Bad Influence and their version of an Odd Couple team (Austin Aries and Bobby Roode) have become must see moments on Thursday night, stars have been elevated like James Storm, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode without having to depend too heavily in the “WWE castoff’ style wrestlers as they were reliant upon before. All of this has contributed to make TNA a very enjoyable watch and given them momentum heading into their on-the-road endeavor starting tonight in Chicago.
That all being said, this all might have come at a cost of one of the things that made TNA quite different from the WWE and other such organizations: The Knockout division. Only a few years ago, the TNA Knockouts were head and shoulders above the WWE Divas and putting on quality matches weekly on Impact, many times being the highest watched segment of the show. The talent within the division included the likes of Gail Kim, Mickie James, Angelina Love, Winter (Katarina Waters), Rosita, Sarita, Awesome Kong, Daffney, Cheerleader Melissa, and many more quality workers.
However, it seems that with the new emphasis on other aspects of the company, the Knockouts took a less and less important role and soon these quality workers started to leave one by one, some in the good graces of the company, yet other instances, including Awesome Kong, left in a bit of controversy and have seemingly shut the door on ever hoping to getting her back. Such was also the case with quality workers like Daffney and Roxxi, who are now gone and look to have severed ties completely with the company. No clearer sign can be seen than when looking at the list of “No Thank You” responses to participate in the One Night Only Knockout PPV, with the total now being 7 ‘confirmed’ no’s (Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Peyton Banks, Roxxi, Sarita, Traci Brooks, Winter).
Now, I’m not totally sure as to the reasons for all of the no’s. As stated above, some may be personal beefs with the company regarding past situations. Some may just have previous commitments or other things conflicting with the scheduled taping. Or, it is possible, that some are voicing an opinion about the way the division is handled both on TV and backstage. Since the high point several years ago, the division has been whittled down to almost enough performers to count on one hand (According to the Official Roster shown on Impact Wrestling.com only 7 active wrestlers; 2 Gut Check wrestlers that are actually in OVW and not on TV, and 4 female on-screen personalities that are not currently in-ring performers). Even still, of the 7 ‘active performers’ there are active only 4 have been used on a routine basis (Tara, Velvet Sky, Mickie James and Gail Kim). This is a division on life support.
Please understand I’m not trying to say WWE is any better, because it is not. The Women’s (I refuse to use ‘Diva’s here) division is highly stagnant and lacking in workers as well. The few workers they do have are either the Champion (though she is green), or working a program where she doesn’t really wrestle save for a match on the Saturday Morning kids show. The hiring of Sara del Ray was a nice sign, but change takes time and so far, nothing much has come from it. It seems as though the indy scene with CWZ, Shine and other promotions are seemingly the places to see women’s wrestling be given the due recognition and resources. Yet, the nice thing to see from the WWE is that they are able to seemingly bring back some of their more recognizable personalities from the past who were performer (or at least those who can try and perform) in order to try and rebuild the division or at least hold them over until the next group of young and (hopefully) skilled competitors can take charge, be put over by the vets and help lead a division.
So, I am not trying to say the WWE is the pinnacle of existence or way to run the women’s division, because they are still a ways away from coming close to respectable even. I am simply making the point that TNA was once dominating the race and had many quality performers and could have even carried a Knockouts-only TV show and it may have been a good special episode of Impact or a Good PPV idea. But now, you can barely have a scheduled match with the Knockouts, let alone try and have a PPV without only doing one night deals with indy stars who will simply leave when done. I mean, when was the last time you even saw Madison Rayne or ODB compete in the ring, or former Champion Miss Tessmacher for that matter?
This is seems to be truly the post-golden era for TNA Impact and unless changes are made, there may not be a division at all, either through lack of time giver or lack of talent used. But, from the rumblings that are read by many about Mr. Guuuut Cheeeck and his beliefs, it doesn’t seem likely.
-Brent “Kane Kittens” Grambrell