In recent weeks we’ve been treated to TWO big returns to the Knockouts division – Mickie James in mid-November after a three month absence due to a health scare (it’s a cheap plug but you can get all the exclusive deets on that in Diva Dirt’s interview with the woman herself), as well as Velvet Sky on December 6 after a six month hiatus from the company. Both women have vowed to become the next TNA Knockouts Champion but there’s just one (or two, if you count her Hollywood boyfriend) thing standing in their way – the champion herself, Tara.
You’ll have to excuse me, as I’m not a regular follower of Impact Wrestling, but I believe the back story behind this match is that Mickie won a Knockouts battle royal (that also included former champions Madison Rayne, Miss Tessmacher, ODB and Gail Kim) on November 15 to become the #1 contender to the title.
Before we can get things underway, however, we are treated to a backstage interview with Tara and Jesse Godderz. Jesse corrects JB on his introduction of him, informing him that it’s Mr. Pec-Tacular thank you very much. After a fantastic sigh of exasperation combined with an eye-roll of Liz Lemon proportions, Tara deigns to answer JB’s query about her thoughts on Velvet Sky’s return to Impact Wrestling.
Tara says that the spotlight should be on her, but seems to be getting distracted by her boyfriend’s toned body. He’s busy on his phone, checking Twitter for congratulatory tweets from the likes of Bravo host Andy Cohen, Perez Hilton and Oscar winner Denzel Washington. Tara and Jesse have some good friends, let me tell you.
JB asks about her opponent tonight, Mickie James. Tara cares not for Mickie’s medical problems and says she’ll give her a reason to not show her face on TV ever again – she’ll beat her so bad that she’ll be too embarrassed to.
We’re back and ready for the Knockouts Championship match: defending champ Tara against fan favorite Mickie James. We’re shown the Tale of the Tape, which informs us that there’s many deciding factors tonight. It’s not long after Mickie’s return. Tara and Jesse are also riding high since her title win at Bound for Glory and she’s fended off challengers since. But the truly unknown factor is that Velvet Sky has her eyes on the prize – and her eyes on the winner of this match.
As “Hardcore Country” blasts over the speakers, we are treated to Bobby’s favorite part of TNA pay-per-views, the pan-up shot of Christy Hemme. I love Mickie, but she makes her way out to the ring wearing one of the most godawful outfits I’ve ever seen. Overalls. And it’s got rhinestones on the pockets too. Oh my. Personally I think you shouldn’t wear overalls unless you work at a farm. I think that’s playing up the country gimmick just that slightest bit too much.
After Tara is done fawning over her man and being Gorilla Press’d, the match is underway. The two lock-up, with Tara taking control via a side headlock. Mickie breaks free with a roll, then slaps her own headlock. Mickie takes Tara down to the ground, still maintaining her headlock, but Tara uses her legs like a scissor to trap Mickie’s neck. Mickie manages to break free but Tara starts working on her right arm. Mickie cartwheels out of the wristlock but Tara just throws her down. Mickie tries again to battle out, but once more, Tara throws her back down to the mat. Finally, Mickie gains the upper hand when she fights free and slams Tara down to the mat a couple of times via use of hair, before throwing her across the ring with a big hair mare.
Referee Taryn Terrell warns Mickie to watch the hair as Tara is calmed down by her loving man Jesse. She’s stunned moments later, however, when Mickie rolls her up for a pin, then follows through with a bridge in an attempt to end the match quickly. Tara kicks out, then kicks Mickie in the gut as punishment. She goes for a move, but Mickie retaliates with a beautiful Northern Lights suplex, once more bridging for the pin. Tara kicks out, then sends Mickie into the corner with a huge headbutt to the gut. She hits her with some hard slaps and punches while Taryn tries to restrain her. When Tara comes back to dole out some more blows, Mickie fights back with a kick and a hurricanrana. The crowd erupts in cheers as Mickie looks to go for the Mickie-DT, but Tara gets to the ropes, where Jesse pulls her out of the ring for a recovery period. Mickie’s not having a bar of it though and gives them both a nice swift kick from through the ropes.
On the outside, while Mickie goes to fetch her opponent, Jesse screams for Taryn to “do her damn job!” and Mickie fixes him with some of the most vicious glares I’ve ever seen in my life. On the apron, she delivers a headbutt through the ropes and warns Jesse to stay back. While this happens, Tara recuperates enough to kick her in the face and Mickie slumps to the floor like a rag doll. Jesse takes off his shirt and throws it in her face. This is relevant to absolutely nothing, I just thought it was hilarious.
Tara lifts Mickie above her head and drops her face first onto the apron. Ouch. She then rolls her back into the ring and hangs her up on her (Tara’s) back by her hair. Tara looks to go for her brutal Widow’s Peak, but Mickie sunset flips out of it and rolls through for a pin. Unfortunately for her, referee Taryn Terrell is busy admonishing Jesse for being on the apron and misses the pin attempt. Boo, Jesse, boo. Tara takes advantage of this to hit a big sidewalk slam, but Mickie kicks out at two.
Tara locks on a body scissor, before switching to a Chris Masters approved full nelson as the arena explodes into “Let’s go Mickie!” chants. Mickie powers out but Tara takes her down once more. As Tara goes to grab her from the ground, Mickie lands a few sharp kicks to the face. She blocks Tara’s forearm attempts and strikes her back, rebounding off the ropes to hit a series of clotheslines. Mickie hits some more hard kicks and follows it up with an enziguri. Mickie tries to capitalize with a pin attempt but Tara kicks out. Both Knockouts look furious that neither can seem to get it done.
Mickie throws Tara through the ropes, but Jesse is truly the perfect boyfriend when he saves her with a catch. The two stare lovingly into each others eyes as Mickie climbs to the top rope and sails off onto Tara with a Lou Thesz Press. Mickie is pumped. She tosses Tara back into the ring and as she goes to climb back in herself, Jesse jumps onto the apron and is poised for an attack. Mickie sees him coming, however, and nails him with a nice reverse roundhouse kick. Mickie goes to get back into the ring, but the distraction is enough for Tara and she grabs Mickie and hits her with the Widow’s Peak. A 1-2-3 later, and Tara is still your reigning Knockouts Champion!
In one of the final funny parts of the match, as Taryn has Tara’s hand raised in victory, she pushes Taryn out of the way and raises Jesse’s hand instead.
Thoughts: Good match between these two, as it should’ve been. They managed to tell a nice story, with Jesse providing a distraction (but not too much of one, just the right amount) and inadvertently foiling Mickie’s plans at the end.
On the other hand, I didn’t like how Velvet wasn’t even shown scouting the match at ringside or watching backstage or anything like that, but was so much of the focus throughout the pre-match promo, Tale of the Tape, etc. I am interested to see where she will fit into the equation, though.
Overall Match Rating: 4/5