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Perfect 10 of 2010: Tara (#5)

It’s that time of year once again: the Perfect 10 is back to count down the top 10 Divas and Knockouts of 2010. Based on their year’s successes, we’ve compiled (as best we can) the ten Divas and Knockouts we feel gave us a 2010 to remember in WWE and TNA. Check back over the next five days to see the countdown unfold, with the #1 being revealed on New Year’s Eve (Friday).

#5: TARA
LAST YEAR: #2 – 2008: —
After a career rejuvenation in 2009 when she made the jump from WWE to TNA, 2010 saw Tara with her feet firmly under the table in the TNA Knockouts division. Beginning the year as Knockouts Champion, Tara has gone onto hold the belt on two more occasions during the past 12 months. More importantly, perhaps, is Tara’s relationship with Madison Rayne as the duo have teamed up to dominate the Knockouts division in the last quarter of the year.

After defeating ODB for the Knockouts Championship in December, Tara put her belt on the line on the first Impact of 2010 — losing the title in shock fashion due to ODB cheating. However, she would regain the belt just over a week later, defeating ODB in a ‘best of three’ falls match.

Her longest Knockouts Title reign to date, Tara next found herself in the cross-hairs of the deranged Daffney. The ‘Zombie Hot’ Knockout targeted the Knockouts Champion over several weeks before things came to a head at March’s Destination X pay per view. Tara successfully defended her Knockouts Title in the match but Daffney got the last word, stealing Tara’s pet tarantula, Poison. Their next encounter was a First Blood Match that went all over the Impact Zone. Though Tara once again defeated Daffney, she didn’t get her pet Poison back.

The infamous Lockbox Showdown in April saw Tara lose her Knockouts Championship without even defending it in a match, though she did earn back her petnapped tarantula. This resulted in bad blood between Tara and the new Knockouts Champ, Angelina Love. The pair were forced to team up at LockDown in April, with Tara effectively costing Love the Knockouts Title when she was pinned by Madison Rayne.

In late April, Tara announced that she would be leaving TNA due to contract negotiations stalling over a pay increase. In storyline, she was booked into a ‘Career vs Title’ match against Madison Rayne at May’s Sacrifice pay per view, which she lost. We thought that’d be the last we saw of Tara… but how wrong we were.

Making her return as the Mystery Biker Chick in July, Tara attempted to aid Madison Rayne in her title defense against Angelina Love at the Victory Road pay per view by attacking Love. Instead, the referee spotted the attack and awarded Love the belt by DQ. Aligned with Rayne and hiding under a helmet, Tara was eventually unmasked in September as the Beautiful People imploded. Velvet and Lacey had turned on Rayne, and re-aligned with Angelina Love.

Now a heel and aligned with the woman who ended her career five months back, Tara returned to action and at Bound for Glory she won the Knockouts Championship in a fatal four-way match involving then-champion Angelina Love, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky with newcomer, Mickie James as special guest referee. The reign didn’t last though. The very next week on Impact, Tara laid down for Rayne — who felt she was responsible for Tara’s comeback & felt Tara should aid her career — allowing her to become the Knockouts Champ.

Despite losing the Knockouts Title, Tara has been front-and-center for the past several months, however, feuding with her fellow former WWE Diva, Mickie James. Claiming that Mickie was one of the reasons she left WWE, Tara had an axe to grind and took every opportunity to grind it. Their brawls backstage, on the ramp-way and in the ring filled weeks of television. Two much-buzzed about pay per view matches at November’s Turning Point and December’s Final Resolution still couldn’t get the job done in settling this bad blood.

It would take a main event steel cage match on Impact to settle the score between Mickie James and Tara. In perhaps the most personal and hard-fought Knockouts bouts of the year, James squared away her rival. Though Tara lost the match, both Knockouts earned the applause of fans and industry peers — Tara particularly for finishing the match with an injured elbow.

Though she took more of a backseat to Madison Rayne this year, and on yet on another two occasions lost the Knockouts Title under less than ideal circumstances, Tara proved to be one of the most consistent Knockouts in TNA. Turning heel for the first time during her TNA run, Tara added new layers to her character — incorporating her love of motorcycles and in recent months, even displaying a more playful ‘cougar’ side. It is perhaps her feud and matches with James that will most be remembered this year though, as she helped reinvigorate the Knockouts division, capturing a buzz about the women in TNA in the same way that Gail Kim and Awesome Kong did some years ago.

What does the future hold for Tara? Perhaps next year she will finally hold the Knockouts Title and not lose it in silly fashion i.e. having her reign cut short, losing it in a Deal or No Deal scenario or by having to lay down. There’s also the possibility of her and partner Madison Rayne becoming the Knockouts Tag Team Champions — or even imploding. Or perhaps both? One thing is for sure: Tara will continue to be one of the centerpieces of the Knockouts division.

Check back later for #4

Catch up on: the 2008 list, the 2009 list

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