Happy New Year everyone! What a successful year 2014 has been for all of women’s wrestling. Cheers to such a great year, full of memories and historic moments and as we head in to 2015, wishes are that things only continue to grow to become glorious!
For TNA, 2015 symbolizes a year for a brand new fresh start. It’s an opportunity for TNA to relaunch unlike previous years where promises of relaunches only seemed have to met halfway. Leaving behind their ten plus year home of Spike and entering their new home of Destination America, TNA has already began to take small steps to try and change the direction of where they want their company to go. With a new look, new upcoming show and new design for the Knockouts title, it’s a pretty exciting time for fans. Before we begin the 2015 Knockouts journey, there is still just one more week of TNA Impact Throwback Thursday to get through!
During the 2009 New Year’s Eve edition of Impact, TNA brought in the new year in a very special way, by hosting a fully dedicated show to their Knockouts division. This special Knockouts edition of Impact dubbed “New Year’s Knockouts Eve”, would have eight women compete in a tournament to determine the new number one contender to newly crowned Knockouts champion Tara after defeating previous champion ODB at Final Resolution.
Taking part of the very first match of round one in this tournament would be Madison Rayne and Hamada. The match begins with a tie up between both Knockouts, with Hamada getting the best of it with a standing head lock. Madison manages to escape with a roll through and ties up with Hamada again. As with last time, Hamada takes control of Madison, focusing to damage her right arm with an arm hammer lock from behind. An arm drag later, Madison escapes Hamada’s hold and begins some trash talking to her international opponent. Hamada lets her action speak with a kick to the face.
Hamada gets creative and climbs the top rope to attempt an arm drag but doesn’t connect. Madison tries to take control of the match with a neck breaker, turn pin attempt on Hamada but only comes short. Back in her feet, Hamada delivers a beautiful kick to the face Madison with a combination of chops and headbutts following afterward. With Madison down on the mat, Hamada goes for a moonsault, only to land on her feet once Madison gets out the way. Almost taking out Madison’s head with a spinning kick, Hamada finishes the match up with a Hamada Driver for the three count and next spot in the Knockouts tournament.
Backstage we meet with Christy Hemme who interviews the Knockouts champion awaiting to see who she will face in the near future. Tara says all the Knockouts participating in the tournament are pretty tough but gives her word she will remain champion no matter who her opponent turns out to be.
In the second match of round two, Traci Brooks takes on the former Knockouts Champion ODB, who wastes very little time adjusting to her heel persona by spitting some of her liquid content to Traci’s face. That’s one way to waste cheap booze. Blinded by the early cheap tactic, ODB takes full control of the match, dominating Traci and focusing on damaging her right arm for most of the match.
Just as ODB looks to end this squash match, Traci escapes ODB’s TKO, shoves her to a corner and delivers a spear that takes ODB down! Traci builds momentum, Hogan style brother, with chops to ODB, a hair pull takedown and knee shots to the back of ODB. It isn’t enough to keep ODB down for long, as ODB manages to drag Traci’s already damaged right arm from the top turnbuckle and hits her TKO finisher for the win, advancing on to try and regain her Knockouts title.
We go backstage with Christy Hemme once again, where this time Christy meets up with The Beautiful People, who refer to Christy as a mic stand. Velvet Sky seems fully confident in her upcoming match against Roxxi, going on to say Madison’s lost was to “soften up” Hamada for her when she advances on to the tournament. Eh… nice save? Lacey Von Erich is displeased with Christy’s tone, telling her that the only reason she was around was due to Lauren being fired after she “assaulted” Lacey. The mean girls warn Christy that of she doesn’t clean up her act, she too would meet the same fate as Lauren did. All is takes is three words (or four in Lacey’s book of spelling) to TNA management: unsafe work environment.
As previously mentioned, the third match of the first round of the tournament would be Velvet Sky taking on hardcore Knockout Roxxi. Velvet Sky gets first strike with a kick to the midsection and goes for an early pin after landing a bulldog. After not getting the three count, Velvet tries an octopus stretch, with some biting on the side. Roxxi escapes with a sunset, kicks Velvet in the face and takes control of the match. A couple forearms later and Roxxi successfully hits Velvet with the Voodoo Drop, picking up the pin thus eliminating The Beautiful People from the tournament.
Post match, Jeremy Borash gets a word with Roxxi at ringside. Roxxi says she’s glad to have rid the tournament of some of the trash that was in it, has the upmost respect for Tara and looks forward to meeting her in the ring. Though not part of the tournament, Lacey runs down the ramp during Roxxi’s interview with JB, taking her down with her ugly stick and choking Roxxi out.
We’ve reached the final match of the first round of the tournament, where Awesome Kong would battle it out with Daffney. Raising her arm in the air, Daffney challenges Kong to a test of might, using it as a bluff to strike Kong’s leg and running the ropes shoot her knees from behind. Even while on her knees, Kong wins a second test of strength and punishes Daffney with chops to the chest. Kong then tosses Daffney across the ring and puts all her weight on Daffney’s leg. Daffney looks for an escape outside the ring but is hunted down shortly and thrown to the steel steps. An Impact Buster back in the ring and Kong easily advances to the semi finals of the tournament.
Keeping with the all Knockouts filled night, Knockouts Tag Team Champions Taylor Wilde and Sarita make a backstage cameo with Christy. They tell her that although they would love to have put their tag team titles on the line against their mysterious opponents that night, Awesome Kong and Hamada were already due a title shot in a few days. Regardless of who they step in to the ring with, they promise to go out and bring their all to show why they are the best tag team in all of wrestling.
Taking a break from the single matches coming from the Knockouts tournament, we set up for some Knockouts tag team action and come to reveal that Taylor and Sarita’s mysterious opponents would be April Hunter and Lorelei Lee.
Sarita and Lorelei start things off, with Sarita rolling a pin attempt shortly after the bell rings but only gets a two count. That fast paced Sarita tags her partner and the tag champions begin the double team offense. Lorelei manages to make a tag to April who hits Taylor with a side slam upon entering the ring. April retreats and tags Lorelei who now deliver their own double team attack to Taylor. After an unsuccessful pin attempt, Lorelei tags in April once more. April shoves Taylor as she’s down but Taylor fights through, delivering a knee back breaker and making a tag to Sarita.
Sarita elbows Lorelei and hip tosses her ever so crisply. She ducks from on coming April, sending her out the ring. A tag to Taylor Wilde, along with some teamwork of lifted leg dropkick and a lifted moonsault give the tag team champions the win in this non title contest.
Backstage Christy meets with ODB who continues to celebrate the New Year with bottle at hand and the determination to win back her “Knocked Up” championship back from Tara.
The semifinals continue with a contest between Hamada and Roxxi, who is spotted with some bandages around her ribs due to her assault earlier that evening at the hands of Lacey.
Hamada takes down Roxxi early on but Roxxi counters with a roll through. Hamada slows Roxxi with a drop toe hold, bringing her back up for an arm hammerlock. Roxxi breaks out of it and stare down in middle infuses. Hamada works on Roxxi’s lower body, taking shots to Roxxi’s leg until she manages to lock on a cross arm breaker. A rope break later and the hold is broken, leaving both women at a stalemate.
After some back and forth arm drags, Hamada begins to take advantage of Roxxi’s injuries by making them her target with a very advance octopus stretch. As Roxxi tries to catch her breath, Hamada makes her way to the top rope at the turnbuckle and stomps on the back of Roxxi. Even through, a Boston leg crab, chops and head butts, Roxxi finds inner strength to suplex Hamada and deliver a big boot. When that is enough for a three count, Roxxi attempts to fly from the top rope but is stopped in her tracks when Hamada hits a spinning kick out of nowhere! Hamada joined Roxxi at the top rope to land a big hurricanrana into a pin attempt. Frustrated at only getting a two count, Hamada climb the top rope and lands a flying drop kick to Roxxi’s injured ribs!
Not out of the game yet, Roxxi out, manages to land a snap Voodoo Drop to Hamada for a two count. Giving it one more try, Roxxi sets Hamada for a second helping of the Voodoo Drop but Hamada manages to counter it with a roll up for the three count win and guaranteed spot in the Knockouts tournaments finals! Nevertheless, this was a fantastic match between both women.
With one spot in the finals already filled, there would be only one more space to fill. ODB and Awesome Kong would battle it out for that last spot in the finals. Finishing up her bottled drink to the last drop from earlier that night, ODB makes her way to the ring and is all ring ready to take on the dominating force that is Awesome Kong.
ODB’s impaired mentality sends her to go after Kong before she even makes it to the ring! This outside brawl backfires when Kong manages to get the best of ODB, sending her to the steel steps. ODB is able to shake some of this off and land a few forearms to the beastly foe. A quick roll in to the ring to break the referee’s count out and now it’s ODB using the steel steps onto Kong. Losing focus for just a second is enough for Kong to regain control of this match, with a clothesline to ODB and throwing her in to the ring. Once in the ring, Kong slams ODB to the may with ease, going for a splash only to miss as head to a quick break.
Back from the break, ODB and Kong are still going at it with ODB feeling mighty and attempts to lift Kong, only to fail halfway and be crushed by Kong’s weight for a pin. Kong takes full control of the match from here, nailing clothesline after clothesline and even a her rear end to ODB’s face. All odds look against a resting ODB from the corner until Kong took out the shielded referee with a charge meant to ODB. With the official out, ODB smashes her empty bottled glass she’s kept at ringside to Kong, who was preparing for an Awesome Bomb! The referee conveniently doesn’t see this (or broken glass), giving ODB the three count when she pinned Kong. With the win, ODB joins Hamada in the finals of this everlasting Knockouts tournament.
Reaching the final hour of the night, it all comes down to this final match between ODB and Hamada. ODB starts the match with a slap to Hamada, to which Hamada responds with a kick to gut and a combination of chops and head butts afterwards. She takes the liquored up ODB with a brilliant head scissors and wraps it all up with a tornado DDT.
ODB retreats to the outside ring to catch her breath and eventually gets back in the six sided ring before being counted out. Once back in the ring, Hamada still holds the upper hand over ODB, with a kick to the face as multiple attempted pin falls. All goes well for Hamada until ODB knocks off Hamada from the top rope as she was going for a moonsault. She dangles from the turnbuckle as we take a quick commercial break.
We return from the break with ODB in control of the match, hitting a classic fall way slam to Hamada. Kip up and an unsuccessful cover later, ODB goes for a submission to Hamada with a bear hug to the corner. With her quickness, Hamada dodges an incoming ODB and hits the former champion with a variety of kicks. Just as ODB halts Hamada’s momentum with a jawbreaker, out comes the woman ODB eliminated from the tournament and Hamada’s new partner, Awesome Kong. She brings with a the present of a table that she begins to set up but is sent to the back shortly by officials at ringside.
Getting closer and closer to the outside where that table is, Hamada kicks ODB to the outside of the ring and from the apron, rolls out a flying somersault. With ODB down, Hamada sets ODB onto the table as the Impact Zone fills with “We Want Table!” chants.
The fearless Knockout climbs to ring, on to the turnbuckle only to crash and burn onto the table that ODB barely rolls out of the way. The weakened Hamada is tossed back to the ring, where ODB quickly lands a TKO for the three count cover and new number one contender for Tara’s Knockouts title.
As always, I give TNA tons of kudos for really having a lot of faith in their women’s division, allowing them to host an entire show themselves on New Year’s Eve. It really felt like a second show that was all about the Knockouts, a project that was once brought up but never really followed through.
As for the winner of this entire tournament, I would’ve much preferred a different outcome given that ODB still had that rematch clause following her defeat from Tara at Final Resolution. Hamada was the shining star throughout the entire night, really delivering it in the ring in all her matches and interacting with the crowd when she could, despite the language barrier that existed. It boggles me how a woman as talented as Hamada was never really got that push in the singles department.
So concludes this final edition of the mini Impact Throwback Thursday series. While it was fun to take a trip down memory lane and highlighting some memorable moments from the Knockouts division, I think I speak for many fans who say they are ready for when Impact returns in a live special next week, along with the Lockdown taping already announced for next week, all which yours truly will be attending.
So what will this anticipated first episode of Impact look like? We all find out next week!