Sunday 5 August 2012

Knocked Out

Over the last ten years TNA has managed to do a few things better than their chief rival WWE. One was the innovative X Division. While the X athletes have had some rocky spells over the years they are currently on the way back to becoming an important part of the company’s programming again. New signings are swelling the ranks and the booking team seem determined to make us care about the belt with the X again.

Another area TNA used to outperform WWE in was the booking of their female talent. In 2007 the company became serious about featuring women as wrestlers and established the Knockouts division. Performers such as Awesome Kong, Gail Kim and the Beautiful People were hired to fill the ranks. They did everything the company could have hoped for: they produced excellent matches and got over.

While the TNA Knockouts division is still superior to WWE’s Divas league it is has seen far better days. The recent departures of both Angelina Love and Velvet Sky, two of the promotion’s most over wrestlers and stalwarts of the women’s division since it was introduced, indicates that TNA is no longer serious about promoting the Knockouts.

Mickie James, shown here as Knockouts champion, could still attract viewers if TNA booked their female wrestlers better

Part of the problem is the signing of Brooke Hogan. She has been brought in as the authority figure of the Knockouts division, a move that has predictably lessened the amount of airtime the existing roster receives while also making Hogan’s daughter the focal point of the division, rather than the wrestlers. It’s a pointless role created to give Hogan’s firstborn something to do.

TNA still has some excellent Knockouts on board. Gail Kim, Mickie James, ODB, Tara, Madison Rayne and Sarita are all solid workers and make a great foundation to build a division around. Brooke Tessmacher and Taeler Hendrix are both still rough around the edges but could and should improve if they’re allowed to keep working with such a talented locker room. Meanwhile the creative freedom TNA grants its employees should ensure that the women continue to have their own voices.

Perhaps the best news for fans of the once mighty Knockouts division is that Kharma, formerly TNA’s Awesome Kong, has been released from her WWE contract. If TNA want to get serious about their women’s branch again she is the ideal person to sign.

The question is whether or not that’s actually what TNA wants. Letting talented performers walk away makes it seem as though the women aren’t a priority for the company right now, and the slapdash booking and decreased time backs that up. If that is the case then things need to be reconsidered down in the IMPACT Zone because promoting the Knockouts as competitive athletes and relatable characters is a very simple way of attracting a new audience and differentiating themselves from WWE.

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