Hello there everybody. It’s Friday, and that means last night was another LIVE edition of Impact Wrestling! The Knockouts had one of their more featured nights in some time, with two matches, with one being for the Knockouts Title, and quite a few segments as well! Not only that, but we also witnessed the first ever female entrant in the Gut Check Challenge, which grants an independent worker a tryout match in which they must impress Al Snow, Bruce Pritchard, and Taz enough so that at least two out of three say yes to signing them to a contract the following week.
Tonight, Miss Tessmacher puts her gold on the line as the third Open Fight Night commences. We don’t know who she will be facing until the match begins, but Knockouts Executive, Brooke Hogan holds a series of backstage segments involving Madison Rayne, ODB, Velvet Sky, and Mickie James to discover which of them wants the title shot the most. On top of that, former OVW Women’s Champion, Taeler Hendrix shows up to the Gut Check Challenge, where she has quite the debut to make in facing off against mainstream veteran, Tara! Oh, and there’s also an insanely unbelievable end to the show involving Dixie Carter that you honestly have to see to believe…
Let’s get started!
Overcoming the Obstacles – Taeler Hendrix Meets Tara
Skip to 5:06
We are taken to a video package to promote tonight’s Open Fight Night competitor. She is the first female to take part in the series, and is a mainstay at Ohio Valley Wrestling, Taeler Hendrix. Taeler introduces herself to us and describes what made her get into wrestling. From there, she discusses some of the biggest obstacles she’s had to face in life, such as being diagnosed with cancer at just 21 years old. She describes it as feeling like the world ending, but overcoming it helped define her as a person. Taeler wants to come to TNA and become not only the next new Knockout, but hold both titles as well. Basically, she wants it all and she’s not going to stop until she reaches her goal. (Sidenote: I think… I’m in love.)
Before her big chance, we spot Taeler preparing herself backstage. After a brief break, we return to the ring with Jeremy Borash welcoming us to Gut Check and giving Hendrix a proper introduction. Taeler poses for the crowd and stands in anticipation for her opponent… Tara! The veteran steps out in some sick new gear, which looks to also affect her mood since Tara seems all business tonight by ignoring Taeler’s attempt to shake hands. From there, Tara goes on the attack and screams, “You want to be a Knockout?!” A snap suplex follows, but as Tara stands over her and screams out some insults, Taeler quickly rolls her up for a brief moment.
This momentum is quickly tarnished though, as Tara levels her with a clothesline. The lime green clad Knockout continues her dominance by choking Taeler out in the corner of the ring a few times. Finally, Taeler kicks her in the head and scores with a Trish Stratus-esque Stratusphere! Hendrix mounts a comeback with some punches and a nice spin kick to the midsection! Taeler hits a series of clotheslines and takes Tara down, claiming that she DOES deserve this opportunity. Hendrix with a brief choke hold, as a “Let’s Go Taeler” chant breaks out! Taeler goes for a roundhouse kick, but Tara ducks and drills her with the Widow’s Peak for the victory.
Finding a Contender ‘Apprentice’ Style – Mickie James, Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne, or ODB?
Backstage, we spot Mickie James, Velvet Sky, ODB, and Madison Rayne spread out around the office of who I assume to be Brooke Hogan. Brooke enters through the doors and sits down, as Velvet begins discussing her music video with Montgomery Gentry. Madison asks “boss lady” what this meeting they were summoned to is for, and Brooke replies that she wants to get to know why they want the Knockouts Title. (Cue the dramatic music as I liken this to a boardroom segment on Celebrity Apprentice!) ODB starts off and tells us that she’s different from any other Knockout around, asking Madison where her crown is and what pageants she ever won. Madison refutes that by claiming she’s won all of them, including Miss America (See that? She didn’t say Miss USA, and yes, they are two different pageants thanks to a quick Wikipedia search, so cool your jets, Twitter!)
Brooke questions why Madison feels she’s better to be selected than ODB to get the title shot tonight. Rayne cites her lengthy title reign, second only to Gail Kim who she helped retain on numerous occasions. Mickie smartly asks who beat her to end that reign, but Madison has no reply as Brooke chimes in. She wants to straighten out Madison’s little crush that we’ve seen on Impact ately. Velvet still wants to know where her rematch is (since she had to earn the right to face Gail back at Lockdown), and ODB wants a title shot since she hasn’t had one in ages. They bring up the fact ODB holds the Tag Team Titles (really… if you even can count those as a belt since they’re never used). Mickie butts in and calls herself the GREATEST female wrestler in the world, having been the only woman in history to hold the Women’s, Divas, and Knockouts Titles. Madison again brings up her lengthy run as champion, and Brooke understands that, but things around here are changing and none of her back talk is going to ease Brooke’s decision! She tells them that Miss Tessmacher is practicing all the time on her off days, and ODB hilariously adds that she should be since she’s been in the business for a cup of coffee’s time span! Brooke tells Madison to have a great time with her dream guy on her off days, but when she’s at work, her focus has to be on work. Madison… You’re Fired! Oh wait, I mean, Madison… You’re eliminated from contention!
Skip to 7:47
Back to The Apprentice: Brooke Hogan Edition we go. We’re down to just Velvet Sky, Mickie James, and ODB now. She wants to discuss where to go from there, starting with Velvet’s horribly screwed title run back at Bound For Glory. Brooke wants to find out who’s 100% focused on the title, bringing up ODB’s relationship with Eric Young. Hogan informs ODB that once she can control the situation that is her marriage, she wants to bring her back in strong and take the division at full force. But until then, ODB… You’re eliminated! Brooke apologizes, thus confirming she’s no Donald Trump, but ODB shrugs it off and asks where Hulk Hogan’s office is. Brooke informs her that she’s standing in it and tells ODB to make sure Eric doesn’t get jealous if she makes the moves on Hulk! ODB simply ends it by amazingly stating that Eric can just watch, before exiting the room with a “Bammmm, bitches”, and leaving us with just two choices left.
A Champion’s Defense – Brooke Tessmacher Takes On….
Out to the ring we go for some Knockouts Championship action! Following the “Pan Up Christy Hemme Shot of the Week” (which I’m now trademarking), the addiction that is “I Tease U Touch” hits, and out skips our Texas clad champ, Miss Tessmacher. Once Tessmacher’s inside the ring, we flash to the back staging area with Brooke Hogan standing beside Mickie James and Velvet Sky. She informs them that she’s all about equal opportunity, and since Velvet did get the Montgomery Gentry music video, she’s ultimately decided it will be Mickie James facing Miss Tessmacher for the title! Brooke instructs the music to be cued, as HAAAAARDCORREEEE COUNNTREEHHHHH blasts out into the speakers. Mickie heads up the stairs and through to the stage, looking ready as ever for this match. The referee holds the belt up, as Mickie poses a bit and the bell sounds.
Both women circle around the ring and lock up, with Mickie backing the champion into the corner. James lets up as some screams from Earl Hebner inform her to, before Brooke locks in a wrist lock! Mickie flips out with a cartwheel and reverses the hold, bridging into a nice, well, bridge. James turns it into a headlock, before Tessmacher switches out into another hammerlock. Mickie with a fire(wo)man’s carry, as she tears the Champ down with some shoulder tackles. Tessmacher eventually flips out into an arm drag, following it up with a dropkick!
Brooke applies a waistlock and runs forward into the ropes with Mickie, who holds on and forces Tessmacher to back off. When Brooke doesn’t let up right away, Mickie violently elbows her in the head and sends her falling to the canvas in pain… not nice, MJ. She goes for a quick pin and looks pretty angry when a three count isn’t reached. Nonetheless, Brooke tries to fight out, but to no avail as the challenger snapmares her and scores with the basement dropkick for a two count. Mickie still seems a little ragey tonight, simply slamming Tessmacher’s head into the canvas and hitting a vicious punch to the kidney region. Mickie with another snapmare, this time applying an arm lock submission until Brooke can fight out. Tessmacher’s comeback is short lived though, as she’s met with the flapjack into a kip up by James!
Mickie climbs up to the top rope and goes for the Thesz Press, but Brooke dodges and finally mounts some offense with a series of forearms! Brooke rallies the split crowd up, but Mickie signals for the Mick-A-Rana! Brooke moves out of the way and drops her with the faceplant out of the corner! Cover, but just a two count. Brooke attempts the Tess Shocker, but Mickie drills her skull with the Mick Kick! Tessmacher thankfully kicks out, but this only sparks Mickie to signal for the Mickie-DT! Brooke quickly counters into a sunset flip for the one… two… three! Brooke retains the title and mouths, “I love you, but not today” in reference to her title. Mickie looks PISSED with the result, and if you know anything about Mickie, she gives the best facial expressions ever. Loving this transformation!
Did I Really Just See That? – Dixie and AJ’s “Secret” Revealed
Skip to 8:12
We take it to the ring, where AJ Styles and Dixie Carter stand with a microphone in hand. Dixie tells us that this situation has been going on for a long time and there is usually never a positive outcome in the end, and… well, she simply cannot continue on. AJ tells our President that they don’t have to do this. They can simply leave right now! They look into each other’s eyes and make their way towards the ring ropes before they are cut off by an unidentified female. She walks down the ramp, nearly in tears, and heads into the ring claiming she “can do this!” AJ helps her in as we find out who this mystery woman is…
She takes the microphone and informs us that her name is Claire Lynch. We don’t know her (clearly), but Dixie has been like a member of her family. She also states that she’s known AJ for years. Claire informs us that she could come to Dixie with anything… and when she needed help, Dixie was there. She listened to her problems, and AJ helped out as well. (Umm…) Claire has come to tell us the truth! AJ and Dixie are NOT the father… Wait, I mean, they are NOT having an affair! She reveals that she’s an addict who’s been trying to get clean. First it was drinking, and then things spiraled out of control. She drinks… she does pills… it got so bad she took money from her family even. (Side note: I honestly have no words right now.) Claire reveals that she woke up in a stranger’s hotel room a few times. (Another side note: Claire is clearly pregnant, and I’m kind of concerned about her status for Mother of the Year with all this information.) She went to AJ and Dixie for help, with him taking her to rehab and both of them keeping her secret! Claire didn’t want anyone to know about this, but reiterates that both of them were there for her. Unfortunately, Daniels and Kazarian got in the way with the photos. Claire explains that it was not them embracing, but rather them looking out for her! A “Jerry” chant breaks out, as Daniels screams for them to shut her up. Dixie and AJ embrace this woman with hug as she screams out how sorry she is that Daniels is a (exaggerated crying voice) LIAARRRR. Claire is now in tears, as Daniels walks out and AJ levels him with punches. Claire and Dixie exit the ring, watching on in fear at these men fighting inside the ring.
Thoughts: Lots to discuss this week on Impact Wrestling — just as I like it! This felt like the Knockouts dovosopm I used to love where they would get two matches on a show and multiple segments backstage in between. Granted, there are still flaws such as a few of the ladies going weeks — or months — without appearing on TV, but baby steps are what it takes to improve, and showcasing as much Knockout related stuff as they did tonight is certainly a step in the right direction.
I’ll start out with Taeler Hendrix and her tryout. The video package was exceptionally well done and really helped us to connect with her since she’s essentially someone we know nothing about unless you’re familiar with her work prior. I’m going to be honest, I really really like her and feel she has potential. Not only that, but she’s so different from everyone else on the roster with her look. I wasn’t crazy about her performance in the match, but I don’t really think it was all her fault. The match wasn’t even three minutes long, and half of it was Tara controlling her. I understand why they put her up against Tara because who better to work a tryout with, right? But I didn’t feel like the moments Taeler was in control felt very believable because she is so much smaller than Tara. It’s sort of like that time on SmackDown where we were to believe AJ could destroy Natalya. Regardless, I’m hoping she gets signed. I fear this whole Gut Check thing anyways because I feel like the people who get hired will never be used on TV since there’s already so many people employed who barely get screen time. But regardless of how I feel on the whole thing, it’s on TV so all I can do is base my opinion on whether I want someone signed or not, and I do want Taeler in. It feels like forever since Impact Wrestling hired a new Knockout (minus the few weeks of Toxxin), and she could definitely freshen things up. Good luck!
The backstage segments to set up the Knockouts Title match were interesting. I still like Brooke in this role and feel that since she joined TNA I’ve been more invested in the division as a whole than I’ve ever been since Karen left. If it’s up to either me not caring as much about TNA or liking it yet seeing basically everyone I follow on Twitter insult Brooke to no end like she threatened their families or something, I’ll take the insults as long as I’m enjoying the product, which I am. I will say that I thought she said last week she was going to book a fou- way, but I’m kind of glad they decided against it since we just had one a few weeks ago. It was a unique way to set the match up by telling the Knockouts not chosen what they need to clear up and get out of the way in order to get back into the spotlight, but why were only those four options? I’d understand if it was Mickie, Velvet, Madison, and Gail (yes, I remember her “vacation”, but I’m just speaking in general) since they are essentially the four women who are spotlighted most outside Miss Tessmacher, but ODB (nothing against her) has been used about as much as Winter, Angelina, Sarita, and Rosita. Did she draw the shortest straw out of those five to get the last spot… only to be eliminated anyways? Confusing, but still, it’s great to see them at least getting speaking roles again. That was one of my major complaints with the division earlier this year, and things already seem to be picking up.
Speaking of picking up, Mickie James and Miss Tessmacher put on a much better showing tonight than their previous singles bouts back when Tessmacher first returned. I thought they flowed great and nothing came off overly slow or awkward (which I was worried about due to those past matches). There wasn’t anything mind-blowing about the match, but I’d rather see something like this than a match where someone goes for a big spot and it doesn’t come off well. I think they did everything right with this bout, from Tessmacher winning with a quick roll up to Mickie’s reaction afterwards. Some may think Mickie dominated a little too much, but that’s exactly what I liked. Mickie is a veteran compared to Tessmacher, and she should control a majority of it. Having Miss Tessmacher win by roll up does no damage to Mickie, and it keeps her going in the “lucky underdog” type role which is how I want her to be booked during her reign as champion. I do want her to cut some promos soon though because part of what can make or break a title reign is mic time. I don’t personally feel people can connect to a non-outlandish character if they don’t speak, so I really hope Tessmacher gets some speaking time within the next few weeks.
And finally, that ending. Well… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was good, decent, or even made sense in the least bit. I felt it was kind of a “so bad it’s amusing” type of segment because it was such a huge mess that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen (or stop laughing). I don’t like to judge anyone on their ability to act because God knows I could never do it, but this wasn’t a wrestler or someone who can back it up elsewhere. This was just a random female role (as far as I know) so I don’t see why they couldn’t go for someone else who could… put on a little better of a performance. It was really — and I mean really — cringeworthy at times, and it’s a shame that they did something like this when they were starting to get great reviews about the product as of late. Who knows? Maybe they’ll salvage it well in the coming weeks. Not everything comes off well when it debuts, and I think that’s a problem since most fans have no patience. I’ll give them some time to unfold and see where they take this, um… situation. But regardless, this was one of the biggest trainwrecks of an ending to any wrestling show I’ve ever seen, and yet, I’m intrigued to see what happens next week so… job well done?