Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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The Guide to Impact (Jan. 4th, 2010): Knockouts Go Live, Brother

The much-buzzed ‘Monday Night War’ experiment is over… at least for now, with TNA Impact going live last night for a three hour show up against WWE’s Raw. With two Knockouts matches announced prior to the show, I kind of knew what to expect — and I got just that. I knew the ODB vs Tara bout wouldn’t be great as their past matches haven’t lived up to the hype, and I knew that the Tag Team Championship match between Sarita, Taylor Wilde vs Awesome Kong and Hamada would be awesome given time. So in terms of that, I’m good.

What TNA proved last night however, is just how erratic their booking and writing can be. We have two Knockouts segments here that are on the complete opposite ends of the scale. One left me thinking “WTF?!” and enraged me to the point of praying for Maryse over on Raw, while the other reminded me just why I was looking forward TNA last night and just why I wanted the show to succeed — a true alternative to WWE’s diluted Divas division. TNA are very lucky that Tag Team Title match came on after the Knockouts Title match, because it helped redeem/overshadow the awful handling of Tara’s title loss.

Let’s kick off with the Knockouts Championship match:

As both ladies get into the ring, ODB [wearing a brand new outfit for the occasion] attacks Tara as she takes her shirt off, with a kick to the stomach and begins clubbing her across the back. With the referee’s back turned, ODB begins choking Tara with her own t-shirt and then does something rather unsavoury~ with it. Note to Tara if you’re reading: Burn that shirt, please don’t use it again for the love of babies and kittens!

Tara is propped in the corner and ODB runs at her but the champion counters with an elbow, Tara then uses the ropes to launch her into a dropkick of sorts on ODB and follows through with a clothesline. Things pick up as ODB and Tara, both tough women, trade blows — I really like this sort of ‘test of endurance’, something I think more of their matches should have been made up of. Tara begins kicking ODB with left and right legs, ODB catches one of her legs though but Tara follows through with a lovely enzuigiri. Powerslam by Tara followed by her patented standing moonsault. Tara goes for a pin but ODB kicks out. ODB throws Tara into the corner and runs at her, Tara uses the ropes to jump onto ODB’s back and goes over the top rope and applies the tarantula submission move. She follows through with another old favourite, the over-the-top-rope leg drop.

Tara looks to be setting up ODB for the Widow’s Peak but ODB backs her into the corner. She picks up the champion for perhaps a TKO or fallaway slam but Tara hops off ODB’s shoulders and kicks her in the gut setting up the Widow’s Peak again. It looks as though she’s about to hit it but ODB manages to slip away and rolls up Tara quickly, pulling her tights, for the pin. Cue collective gasp and face-reddening-with-anger.

After the match, Tara attacks ODB… finally hitting the Widow’s Peak on her and unleashing Poison onto a fallen new champion. Tara poses with the Knockouts Title.

Tara had survived this long in wrestling without a wardrobe malfunction [that I know of], until tonight. Sad times!

But in all seriousness, I don’t know what the fudge they were thinking here and I am thoroughly annoyed. I don’t know what it is that the new TNA regime sees in ODB that they felt the need to put the belt back on her so soon, but I’m guessing they have some sort of plans for her or Hogan is high on her and wants to do something with her. I honestly don’t know what it is. This is the second time that the Knockouts Championship has been ripped out of Tara’s hands just days after winning it and if you ask me, the credibility of the belt is shot to hell when you have it passed around like candy. The past 6 months have not been kind to the Knockouts Championship. It’s been passed around like a bong, been vacated and been a prop for a comedy character for the past three months. And just when you thought that was all behind us in 2009, 2010 kicks off with the same inane booking.

ODB has proven to be one of the least effective champions the belt has had, if not the least, so of course they’d award her another run. Her title reign did not resonate with the fans and it was only until she turned heel in her feud with Tara, that she showed some spark as champion but even then, I’d say most didn’t want to see her feud with Tara continue after she lost the belt. In fact, I didn’t even want to see this match, but when it was booked I had hoped it would end up being a blow-off, but with Tara’s actions after the match it seems as though they’re continuing with this feud.

Watching the match last night and again for this review, the crowd was very into Tara and it just shows that even after all that’s happened to her in WWE and even TNA, this is someone fans support and want to see done right by finally. I’m sure Tara will continue to do her job as she has done for many years, with total professionalism but I have to wonder if she, like us, is as frustrated. After the 10-day run back in July, it was inconceivable that they’d do that to her again and they did. I just don’t get it. Sure, being lucky enough to win a belt is prestigious in itself but this is extremely disappointing for not only fans of Tara, but fans of the Knockouts division. It’s hard to take a belt seriously when it’s treated so laxly. Say what you will about WWE, but the title reigns for the Divas are usually lengthy and in my book, that makes them more memorable and prestigious.

After the cut, the Knockouts Tag Team Championship match:

I predicted that given the time, these four women could blow the whole show out of the water. For me, this was the match of the night. Styles vs Angle may have been great, but the tag match was more meaningful for me not necessarily due to the wrestling, though that’s definitely a big part of it, but in terms of emotional response also. Allowing the women to go out onto television and put on a match like this, truly showing what women’s wrestling can be for casual viewers, provide a real alternative to the Divas, I think that this accomplished a lot more on the larger scale.

We kick off in the ring with Hamada and Sarita, awesome! Lockup followed by an exchange of armdrags. Sarita gains control with a nice float-over DDT on Hamada before tagging out to Wilde. Taylor goes up top and jumps off hitting a nice arm drag on Hamada — don’t see that everyday. Hamada knees Taylor in the stomach and begins working her over and look at that, of course we are distracted by something that is going on backstage!

In the ring, Taylor has tagged in Sarita, they both lock hands with Hamada who runs at the rope for a plancha into a double armdrag. Hamada tags in Kong, Sarita tries to go for a crucifix while Taylor runs at her, Kong boots Taylor and hits a Samoan drop on Sarita. Meanwhile, Hamada runs at Taylor who manages to throw her over the top rope onto the apron and delivers a beautiful kick followed by front dropkicks on Kong but to no avail. Sarita then joins in and the two hit her with a double dropkick, finally taking Kong off her feet. Hamada & Kong are now both on the outside. Taylor goes up top and hits a crossbody on Kong while Sarita launches through the ropes with a suicide dive on Hamada. Great spot!

Following a commercial break we see that Kongada [yes, it’s now official!] are now in control as Kong holds Taylor as Hamada hits a low dropkick on her. They show what happened during the break, we see Sarita help Taylor hit a moonsault of sorts on Kong & also Taylor running at Kong who flicks her away with great ease. Back into the real time action, near pin by Hamada. Taylor begins mounting a comeback but Hamada puts a stop to it with a kick to the stomach followed by a headbutt. Hamada keeps Taylor out of her corner and away from Sarita, taunting her by slapping her hand away. Kong tags in and goes for a power bomb but Taylor slides over her shoulder and lands on her feet before following through with a Chris Jericho-like knee smash/codebreaker.

Taylor finally makes it to her corner to tag in the fresh Sarita. Sarita uses the middle rope to springboard herself into a dropkick that takes Kong off her feet. Hamada gets in the ring and blindsides Sarita with a kick to the face. Kongada try to double team Sarita, throwing her into the corner but Sarita finds her feet and again uses the ring as a springboard — climbing up the turnbuckles and turning into a crossbody on the challengers. Unfortunately for her, she’s caught by Kong and Hamada who then drop her. Taylor now back on her feet, hits a hurricanrana on Hamada and Sarita tries to do the same on Kong… err, why? Kong catches Sarita, Sarita goes for a sunset flip but Kong sits down on top of her. Ouch! Kong pins Sarita but Taylor breaks it up with a low dropkick.

Sarita tries to work over Kong, who hits a spinning back fast to Sarita’s knee, taking her off her feet. Outside the ring, we see Hamada throw Taylor into the side of the ring taking her out. In the ring, Kong sets up the Awesome Bomb and with Sarita perched on her shoulders, Hamada goes up top for a missile dropkick. Kong pins Sarita to become the new Knockouts Tag Team Champions.

This was an incredibly hard fought bout with fantastic performances from all four ladies involved. I am so ecstatic that we got to see the more talented of the Knockouts showcased on this particular show — be it by chance. Kong and Hamada really worked well together and showed a chemistry that I think will make them great champions and I cannot wait to see what they do with them. I’d like this to be booked as a “Who can stop this unstoppable alliance?” type situation. Perhaps even give the duo a mouthpiece to give them that extra dynamic. I actually had a little think about this a couple of weeks ago and my pick would be bringing in Missy Hyatt. I know she’s a huge fan of Kong’s work, so there’s an extra advantage there.

Sarita and Taylor were fantastic champions also, I have to hand it to them. They are fresh, fun and exciting to watch in the ring. This was easily their best match as a tag team.

I hope we get a rematch at the Genesis pay per view in a couple of weeks. I’d love to see another bout in this series and maybe even a third, fourth and fifth.

This match helped vindicate the earlier title switch and on the larger scale, in terms of the ‘Monday Night War’, it won the battle between the Knockouts and Divas for last night. There were a lot of casual fans tuning into both shows last night, some of whom have never watched TNA before or watched little of it — TNA’s goal was to attract those fans by delivering an alternative to what they could see on Raw at the same time, and on the proverbial checklist, they can definitely tick off “women’s wrestling.” The Knockouts did their part, I just hope the larger audience took notice of it.

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