Hello, Knockouts fans! I’m handling this week’s Write-Up in Chris’s stead. No worries, though – he’ll be back next week! On this week’s show, we follow up on the undressing of Angelina Love and Velvet Sky with – what else? – an Evening Gown match! Granted, it’s been a while since we’ve been subjected to this type of match from either brand, but I’m not looking forward to this “change of pace”. What’s the opposite of nostalgia?

Anywho, let’s watch the match:

Angelina and Velvet make their entrances first, both clad in black dresses hot off the racks of that one clubwear store in the mall with the secondhand mannequins. Madison Rayne and Brittany are next, wearing identical white dresses. I guess there’s only so many non-bridal floor-length white dresses in the Orlando area.

Velvet and Madison start things off, Velvet taking down Madison and slamming her head on the mat. Madison rebounds quickly, though, going on an offensive streak that ends in a drop toe-hold. When Angelina charges into the ring, Madison delivers one to her as well.

Brittany enters the ring and both babyface Knockouts go for the dresses, attempting to eliminate both of them at the same time. The Beautiful People slips out of the ring to safety and regroup, making sure their double stick tape is holding up before heading back to their corner. Angelina enters the ring to face off against Brittany.

They tie up, Angelina backing Brittany into her corner. The Beautiful People double-team her, drawing Madison’s ire, which distracts the incompetent referee. This gives Velvet an opportunity to choke out Brittany. Angelina lays into Brittany with stomps to the stomach, taunting Madison before she tags in Velvet, high five style.

Velvet drives her shoulder into Brittany midsection a few times before snapmaring her into the center of the ring, kicking her square in the back and hitting a sit-down dropkick to her chest. Velvet Irish whips Brittany into the corner, but Brittany blocks her attack with an elbow. She fights her off again with a kick to the face and gets fired up, hitting Velvet with a series of clotheslines and Russian leg sweep. This sets up Velvet for the handspring moonsault, which Brittany hits beautifully. She goes to take off Velvet’s dress, but Angelina runs in to break up the pin stop her.

Madison runs in to take out Angelina, once again drawing the attention of the referee. While he’s distracted, Angelina pulls Brittany’s feet out from under her and holds her down so Velvet can remove her dress. Brittany is eliminated! We head to commercial as Madison prepares for the two-on-one fight.

When we come back, Madison deftly takes out both Angelina and Velvet, tossing the Knockouts Champion out of the ring. This leaves it between her and Velvet, but Angelina soon makes her presence felt again, tripping Madison when she runs the ropes. Velvet takes Madison to her corner, choking her with a foot. She tags in Angelina, who kicks her in the stomach a few times and takes her to a neighboring corner before tagging Velvet back in.

She stomps on Madison and chokes her against the middle rope, standing on her back for extra leverage. Velvet takes her attention away from her opponent for a moment and pays for it – Madison starts to battle back, drawing Angelina back into the ring. She telegraphs it, though, and holds the ropes open for Angelina, who charges full-steam ahead to the outside.

Madison hits Velvet with the spear, and that’s enough to keep her subdued and strip her. Velvet is eliminated. Angelina jumps right back into the ring and attacks Madison from behind, punching her in the head and utilizing Velvet’s dress as a weapon, choking her with it. She breaks the hold at the referee’s insistence, but soon does it again. The referee then takes the dress to rid Angelina of the temptation.

Angelina goes for Madison’s dress, but she’s fought off. Madison lays a knee right into her spine, giving her time to find Velvet’s dress and use it herself, wrapping it around Angelina’s neck and tossing her across the ring with it twice.

Angelina gets to her feet and stops another attack with a kick to the stomach. Madison fights her off and hits the spear! But just then, Velvet reappears, wearing a towel. This distracts Madison (who is fed up) and the referee (who is still incompetent). She teases that she’s naked underneath the towel, and she must be showing something, because the referee gets all googley-eyed. This gives Angelina the opportunity to dip into her pink tote bag of tricks and spray hairspray into Madison’s eyes, blinding her. She strips Madison of her dress and wins the match.

Thoughts: Obviously, I wasn’t crazy about this match. I know that it sort of plays off of The Beautiful People’s heelish sexiness, but we’ve done that before without having to resort to cheap (and uncomfortable) T&A matches. No matter how you slice it, seeing a woman forcibly stripped of her clothes will make me uncomfortable. It did in the Attitude Era, and it does now. It just feels more out of place today because it’s rarer, and rightfully so, because there’s less and less room in today’s social media era for overt sexist practices. They still exist, especially in wrestling, but they’re fewer and farther between.

Personally, I see no need for T&A matches in today’s wrestling. I get that sexiness is part of the package, but there are ways to exploit that in character and clothing without having to humiliate the women. It’s about giving women control of their sexiness, allowing them to display it of their own free will and not as part of the loser’s parting gift. There’s something about the crowd oo-ing and ah-ing as an embarrassed woman runs away covering herself that makes it feel like some humiliation kink porn rather than wrestling.

I have to give the women credit, though: you could tell they were trying to compensate for the match’s stipulation with the moves they were using. This wasn’t your Attitude Era type of T&A match: they were busting out real wrestling moves and using the dress removal like a pin attempt, going for it after hitting their signature moves and not in some clumsy frenzy. I guess it helps that these are full-time wrestlers in this match and not part-time ones like we were used to seeing in that bygone era.

Aside from the (awful, awful, awful) commentary and the lame towel striptease at the end, it felt like a regular match, just in dresses…that were ripped off. Honestly, though, they did the best with what they were given, and I hope that absolves them from doing anything like this again.

On top of that loveliness, we witnessed the official debut of The Menagerie, a stable that includes new Knockout Rebel:

I’m not sure what to think of them quite yet. The sideshow/carnival idea is cool, as is her sort-of-contortionist routine, but I hope they let her do more than sexy splits. See: that is sexiness that’s not underscored with a creepy humiliation factor. It’s not a palette cleanser, but it’s a nicer (more positive) note to end on. So… let’s end it. Until next week, Knockouts fans, when Chris will rejoin you for the next Impact Write-Up!