Wrestling Gold: The History of the TNA Knockouts Championship
Throughout the history of professional wrestling, the business has awarded championship belts in many divisions. While some have been forgotten over the years, some titles have stood the test of time.
The WWE has seen almost 30 titles defended, but today only six remain.
TNA Wrestling began with three titles—the NWA World and Tag Team Championships as well its own X-Division title, but today it owns its own belts and fans see six titles defended between its ropes.
Ring of Honor began with just two, but has since added another title to its ranks.
While Shimmer has only been around for a few years, the most well-known all-women’s wrestling promotion currently holds two titles.
Wrestling Gold will concentrate on the active titles of the companies listed, as well as the NWA World and Tag Team Championships, and any other active title the readers would like to see!
That’s right, if there’s a championship you’d like to see included, it will be added to the series.
For this edition of Wrestling Gold, I present the TNA Knockouts Championship.
Even though they’ve been around for a decade, TNA Wrestling never had an actual women’s division until the fall of 2007.
Before that, the women in TNA competed for Miss TNA in 2002, which was won by Taylor Vaughn, Bruce and April Pennington before it was dropped. The company also had an award for Babe of the Year that was given from 2003-2007.
It was in September 2007, though, TNA announced that they would be creating a women’s division and title. A month later at Bound for Glory, a gauntlet match was held to crown the first women’s champion.
Soon called the Knockouts title, the women of TNA weren’t just eye candy rolling around; they were wrestlers competing for gold.
Despite being called the TNA Knockouts Championship, the word “Knockout” does not appear on the belt.
Throughout the titles almost five year history it has seen 25 champions. So let’s get started!
Defeated: Traci Brooks, Jacqueline, Salinas, Awesome Kong, ODB, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Christy Hemme and Roxxi Laveaux
Where: Duluth, Ga.
When: Oct. 14, 2007
Event: Bound for Glory
Title Reign: 85 days
Gail Kim won a 10-Knockouts Gauntlet Match to become the first Total Nonstop Action Knockouts Champion.
Gail made her debut in 2000 on the independent circuit in Canada. She was signed by WWE in 2002 and made her official debut in June.
In her very first match, Gail participated in a battle royal to win the WWE Women’s Championship. She would only hold it for four weeks, though.
She soon aligned herself with Molly Holly to feud with Trish Stratus but went down with an injury in November 2003. She made her return in April 2004 and appeared sparingly until her release in November.
Gail was soon signed by TNA Wrestling and debuted in October 2005. She acted as the manager to America’s Most Wanted before helping to create the Knockouts division in 2007.
After a feud with Awesome Kong, and many great matches, Gail left TNA to go back to WWE in August 2008.
Defeated: Gail Kim
Where: Orlando, Fla.
When: Jan. 7, 2008
Title Reign: 169 days
Awesome Kong debuted in 2002 in Japan. She dominated there for five years while also wrestling for Shimmer, Ring of Honor and other independent promotions. She made her TNA debut in 2007 and continued her dominating ways.
With Raisha Saeed as her mouthpiece, Kong dominated the Knockouts division for three years having memorable feuds and matches with Gail Kim, Taylor Wilde and the Beautiful People.
She would win this title twice while also capturing the Knockouts Tag Team Championship on one occasion with Hamada.
After an altercation with Bubba the Love Sponge in January 2010, Kong became frustrated with the way things were being run in TNA. She would be released in March.
Defeated: Awesome Kong
When: June 24, 2008
Title Reign: 121 days
Taylor Wilde debuted in 2003 on the independent circuit. She signed with the WWE in 2006 and competed in developmental for a year. The closest she came to the main roster was wrestling dark matches under a mask.
She was released in 2007 and contacted by TNA shortly afterwards. She debuted in May 2008 trying to answer the challenge of Awesome Kong but wouldn’t get chosen until June.
While she lost the match, she came close to defeating the champion and challenged Raisha Saeed to a match. Per the stipulation, Wilde earned another shot at Kong after she won.
Wilde would take the title off Kong and hold the belt for a little over three months.
She had random feuds for the next year until she started teaming with Sarita, eventually becoming the inaugural Knockouts tag team champions in September 2009. They held the belts until January and broke up during the summer.
After feuding with Sarita, Wilde began a team with Hamada and won the tag titles one more time in July 2010. She was used sparingly despite being a champion and was eventually released in December.
Taylor Wilde had her final match on Feb. 5, 2011 and then retired to finish school.
Defeated: Taylor Wilde
Where: Las Vegas
When: Oct. 23, 2008
Title Reign: 178 days
In December 2010, Awesome Kong signed with WWE. It wouldn’t be until April 2011 that videos started to air hyping her debut.
In the videos she would rip apart Barbie dolls while laughing maniacally. She finally made her much anticipated debut in May at Extreme Rules as Kharma.
She destroyed Michelle McCool that night and spent the next few weeks attacking the WWE Divas on the roster. Before her character could really take off, though, Kharma revealed that she was pregnant and had to take some time off.
She was last seen as a surprise entrant in the 2012 Royal Rumble.
Defeated: Awesome Kong and Taylor Wilde
When: April 19, 2009
Title Reign: 67 days
This was a triple threat Six Sides of Steel cage match.
Angelina Love made her debut in 2000 on the independent circuit. She spent four years there before signing with the WWE in 2004.
Angelina spent three years in WWE’s developmental territory Deep South Wrestling and was there when it closed its doors. She was then sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she was released after a day.
Defeated: Angelina Love
When: June 25, 2009
Title Reign: 24 days
Tara made her debut in 2000 as one of the Godfather’s Hos during the “Save the Hos” campaign. She was soon put through a table by a heel Godfather and sent for training. She returned to the main roster in July 2002 as Victoria in a storyline with Trish Stratus.
As a demented heel, she and Trish feuded into 2003 and Stevie Richards soon joined Victoria in the storyline. She won the Women’s Championship in the process but lost it back to Trish at WrestleMania XIX.
She soon entered into a few random feuds but was kept in the title hunt by competing in No. 1 contender’s matches. During this time she also competed in the first ever women’s steel cage match in the WWE against Lita.
At the end of 2003 she became the No. 1 contender and turned face after being attacked by heel champion Molly Holly.
When: July 19, 2009
Event: Victory Road
Title Reign: 28 days
After being released by the WWE, Angelina wrestled for various independent promotions and the Asistencia Asesoría y Administración promotion in Mexico.
She spent the summer of 2007 doing that before being contacted by TNA Wrestling.
Defeated: Angelina Love and Velvet Sky
When: Aug. 19, 2009
Event: Hard Justice
Title Reign: 27 days
This was a tag-team match between ODB and Cody Deaner and the Beautiful People where Angelina Love’s TNA Knockouts Championship was on the line. After Cody Deaner got the win, ODB was declared the new champion.
Deaner was so proud that he got the pin that he thought the title belonged to him, though, and he took it instead of giving it to ODB.
TNA executive share holder Mick Foley then decided on Aug. 27, 2009 that the title was to be held up until the next pay per view No Surrender where ODB would face Deaner for the title.
ODB made her debut in 2001 on the independent circuit. She also tried out for Tough Enough but didn’t make the cut. She appeared for TNA Wrestling in 2003 in a match against Trinity and returned in 2004 as Poison in a feud with her.
She debuted for Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2006 and became the first OVW women’s champion. She left OVW in 2007 after being contacted again by TNA Wrestling.
Defeated: Cody Deaner
When: Sept. 20, 2009
Event: No Surrender
Title Reign: 91 days
ODB defeated Cody Deaner for the held-up title.
ODB made her full-time TNA debut in October 2007 as a heel. Her antics in the ring caused the TNA fans to cheer her, though, so she became a face because of it. She participated in random feuds before being paired up with Cody Deaner.
Deaner was a “fan” that won a date with ODB and ended up becoming a regular character. ODB would enter into the title picture during this and won the title after Deaner picked up the win in a tag match.
Because he won, though, Deaner thought that he was champion so the title had to be held-up. ODB defeated him in a one-on-one match making her a two-time champion.
She then entered into a feud with Tara, eventually losing the title to her in December 2009. ODB then became a heel winning the title one more time before leaving TNA in June 2010.
When: Dec. 20, 2009
Event: Final Resolution
Title Reign: 15 days
As Victoria and Molly feuded into 2004, Victoria would win her second women’s title in February. The rematch occurred at WrestleMania XX in a hair vs. title match which Molly lost. As a result her head was shaved.
After losing the title in June to Trish Stratus, Victoria remained in the title hunt until 2005 when she returned to being a heel after losing a bikini contest to Christy Hemme.
Victoria then left the title picture and began a storyline with Candice Michelle and Torrie Wilson. As heels, they feuded with Diva Search winner Ashley Massaro as well as Trish. After the storyline ended, Victoria remained a heel but reentered the title hunt in 2007.
She would never reclaim the title and entered into Diva obscurity until she announced her retirement in January 2009.
When: Jan. 4, 2010
Title Reign: 13 days
ODB returned to TNA in February 2011 answering an open challenge laid out by Madison Rayne. She lost the match and disappeared until May when she attacked Velvet Sky.
Soon aligned with Jacqueline, ODB went on a crusade wanting to rid TNA of Velvet saying that the company went for beauty over talent when it came to releasing her and keeping women like Velvet.
Once the storyline ended, ODB appeared sparingly until she was paired up with Eric Young for the Wild Card Tag Team Tournament in December.
Despite losing the tournament, the storyline took off and the duo won the Knockouts Tag Team Championship in March. A month later, a wedding ceremony was held and the champions were married in storyline.
ODB was last seen defending her title alongside EY at Lockdown against Sarita and Rosita.
When: Jan. 17, 2010
Title Reign: 78 days
Victoria would sign with TNA Wrestling in May 2009 and began attacking the Beautiful People, making her a face. She feuded with the group until the summer, winning the Knockouts Championship in the process.
She then entered into a feud with ODB over the title and the two traded the belt back and forth for a few months. As 2010 hit, she entered into a feud with Daffney which culminated in a first blood match.
She would lose the title in a tag-team steel cage match and left TNA in May after she didn’t re-sign her contract.
To explain her departure, she lost a career vs. title match against Madison Rayne.
Defeated: Lacey Von Erich
When: April 5, 2010
Title Reign: 13 days
This match was an 8-Knockouts tag-team elimination Lock Box Match.
Once one knockout was pinned, both wrestlers were eliminated and the winner was given a key to unlock a box with either Tara’s spider, an open contract to challenge anyone, a striptease, or the TNA Knockouts Championship inside.
When Angelina Love defeated Lacey Von Erich, her key unlocked the title crowning her the new champion.
Angelina made her TNA debut in October 2007 and soon found herself aligned with Velvet Sky as Velvet-Love Entertainment. The name was soon changed to The Beautiful People, though.
The duo dominated the Knockouts division for two years, adding two reigns as Knockouts champion for Angelina and a new member in Madison Rayne.
Angelina Love would be released from TNA in September 2009 after problems with her work visa arose.
Defeated: Angelina Love and Tara
Where: St. Louis, Mo.
When: April 18, 2010
Title Reign: 84 days
This was a tag-team match between the Beautiful People and Angelina Love and Tara where both the TNA Knockouts Championship and the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship were on the line.
If Angelina and Tara won they would win the tag titles, but if the Beautiful People won, the one that scored the win would become the singles champion. When Madison Rayne scored the pinfall victory, she became the new champion.
Madison was stripped of the title on July 11, 2010 when a female biker attacked Angelina during a match. The referee thought the biker was a member of the Beautiful People, and in the match, if a member interfered Madison would be stripped of the title.
Madison Rayne made her debut in 2005 on the independent circuit in Ohio. She spent four years wrestling the independents while also wrestling for Shimmer. As Ashley Lane, she won the Shimmer Tag Team Championship with Nevaeh.
She left Shimmer in 2009 when she was contacted by TNA Wrestling. While wrestling for TNA, she appeared briefly as Amber Lively in the Wrestlicious promotion.
When: July 11, 2010
Event: Victory Road
Title Reign: two days
Angelina was awarded the title after Madison Rayne was stripped of it as per the stipulation.
After being released by TNA, Angelina spent time on the independent circuit, most notably Women Superstars Uncensored.
As soon as she was able to, Angelina returned to TNA in January 2010.
When: July 13, 2010
Title Reign: 27 days
Madison was awarded back the title two days later when the TNA board of directors decided that it was unclear whether the female biker was a member of the Beautiful People.
Ashley made her TNA debut in January 2009 as Madison Rayne and was the lackey of the Beautiful People. Madison wrestled regularly but would mostly lose her matches.
When Angelina Love left TNA due to work visa problems, Madison had the chance to shine and she did. Instead of the lackey, Madison became the leader of the group. Lacey Von Erich was soon brought in to fill the spot Madison had before she took control.
She became the top heel of the division after winning both the singles and tag-team Knockouts titles. Despite losing the singles title to a returning Angelina Love, Madison got it right back very quickly.
The Beautiful People disbanded after she and Tara cost Velvet and Von Erich the tag titles and Madison began referring herself as the Queen Bee of the Knockouts Division.
Defeated: Madison Rayne
When: Aug. 9, 2010
Event: The Whole F’n Show
Title Reign: 62 days
Upon Angelina’s return to TNA, she began a feud with her former group the Beautiful People. She wasn’t too happy that she was replaced by Lacey Von Erich, and Angelina eventually won the feud.
She then entered into a feud with Tara over the title and captured it briefly in April. After losing the title to Madison Rayne, Angelina once again feuded with the Beautiful People but it resulted in Angelina and Velvet reuniting.
The original Beautiful People were back but when Winter debuted that fall, it lead to the second demise of the team.
Winter became obsessed with Angelina and they eventually won the Knockouts Tag Team Championship together after Winter replaced Velvet after she was taken out backstage.
Angelina soon turned into a zombie and helped Winter in her quest to win the title.
Angelina is no longer a zombie but is still with Winter. Despite being one of the division’s top draws in the past, Angelina Love is now used sparingly.
Defeated: Angelina Love, Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne
Where: Daytona Beach, Fla.
When: Oct. 10, 2010
Event: Bound for Glory
Title Reign: one day
This was a fatal-four way match.
Tara would soon re-sign with TNA and return in July wearing a massive motorcycle helmet. She would assist Madison under the helmet and her identity was finally revealed in September.
While as Madison’s lackey, she would win the title one more time much to the dismay of the woman who owned her contract. She only held the title for one day as Madison would force her to lay down for her the next day.
She would be freed of Madison’s clutches with help from Mickie James in May 2011. Tara and Madison then feuded for a few months, which Tara eventually won.
In July, she formed a team with Brooke Tessmacher known as TnT and they won the Knockouts Tag Team Championship shortly afterwards. They would hold onto them until November.
Tara is still with TNA, last seen in storyline challenging Gail Kim for the Knockouts Championship in February.
When: Oct. 11, 2010
Title Reign: 188 days
Madison would have quite the lengthy reign, holding the title for six months and defeating anyone that dared challenge her. After losing the title to Mickie James, Madison feuded with Tara before disappearing for a few months.
She returned in September and soon aligned herself with Knockouts vice-president Karen Jarrett and the returning Gail Kim. She and Gail would capture tag-team gold in November while Gail also captured this title a few weeks later.
Madison would earn a shot at Gail’s title in mid-February and the tension cost them the tag belts in March.
Gail would retain the title at Victory Road and despite the tension caused by the match, Madison and Gail remain side by side.
Defeated: Madison Rayne
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
When: April 17, 2011
Title Reign: 112 days
Mickie James made her debut in 1999 on the independent circuit as a manager. Under the name Alexis Laree, she soon started to wrestle and caught the eye of TNA Wrestling in 2003.
She appeared as a member of Raven’s new flock, The Gathering, and became the first woman to ever compete in Raven’s signature match, the Clockwork Orange House of Fun.
By the end of the year, she was picked up by WWE and sent to OVW for further training. She debuted in 2005 as Mickie James, an obsessive fan of Trish Stratus.
The angle resulted in Mickie winning the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 22.
After Trish retired, Mickie became the most popular Diva in the company and remained a face all the way up to her release in 2010.
Her time with the company resulted in winning the Women’s Championship five times and the Divas Championship on one occasion.
Defeated: Mickie James
When: Aug. 7, 2011
Event: Hardcore Justice
Title Reign: 18 days
Winter made her debut in 2000 in England as Nikita. She spent two years wrestling the independents before debuting with Frontier Wrestling Alliance in London. She wrestled for them as well as independent promotions in the United States before being signed to the WWE in 2006.
As Katie Lea, Winter wrestled for OVW until 2008 when she debuted on Raw as Katie Lea Burchill. Along with her “brother” Paul Burchill, the two hinted at an incest gimmick.
She bounced back and forth between brands for the next two years before being released in April 2010 without accomplishing anything with the company.
Where: Huntsville, Ala.
When: Aug. 25, 2011
Event: Impact Wrestling
Title Reign: 17 days
Mickie wrestled on the independent circuit before returning to TNA in October 2010. After refereeing a match at Bound for Glory, she immediately began to feud with champion Madison Rayne.
It took her five months, but Mickie captured her first Knockouts Championship in April 2011.
After trading the title with Winter, Mickie stayed in the title hunt and began to feud with Gail Kim after she won the title. Despite multiple tries, Mickie failed at recapturing the belt.
Mickie is still with TNA and is in and out of the title hunt.
Defeated: Mickie James
When: Sept. 11, 2011
Event: No Surrender
Title Reign: 35 days
Winter made her TNA debut in August as a mysterious figure that only Angelina Love could see. She finally made her debut for “all to see” in November when she saved Angelina during a brawl backstage.
The storyline would result in tag-team gold for her and Angelina as well as two reigns as Knockouts champion.
Winter is still with TNA, and still aligned with Angelina, but she is used sparingly.
Defeated: Winter, Mickie James and Madison Rayne
When: Oct. 16, 2011
Event: Bound for Glory
Title Reign: 28 days
This was a fatal-four way match.
Velvet Sky made her debut in 2003 as Talia Madison. She worked as both a valet and a wrestler throughout the independents while also make a few appearances for WWE in 2005 and 2006.
She also tried out for the 2007 Diva Search but failed to make the cut.
She caught her first big break when she was brought into the Knockouts division of TNA in 2007. She was soon aligned with Angelina Love as The Beautiful People.
As Velvet improved in the ring, she was mostly used as eye candy in TNA during her five years with the company. Once she finally went out as a singles competitor, she began to gain a following and gained a shot at the title at the 2011 Bound for Glory.
After four years of hard work and being pushed aside by former WWE Divas, Velvet finally won the title. She didn’t have it for long, though, as she lost it to the returning Gail Kim.
Velvet would then be involved in feuds outside the title hunt while never getting her rematch for the title.
She finally got her rematch last month at Lockdown but she failed in reclaiming the title.
Defeated: Velvet Sky
When: Nov. 13, 2011
Event: Turning Point
Title Reign: 178 days and counting
Gail Kim re-signed with WWE late in 2008 and made her official return in March 2009. Despite being pushed upon her return, she was never able to recapture gold in the company.
She spent two years with WWE basically doing nothing. She was used sparingly.
She left WWE again in 2011 and returned to TNA after Bound for Glory. She won the title a month later and remains as champion.
Final Thoughts and Statistics
Most Reigns: Angelina Love (5)
Longest Reign: Madison Rayne (188 days)
Longest Combined Reign: Awesome Kong (347 days)
Shortest Reign: Tara (1 day)
The TNA Knockouts division is filled with many very talented women. Whether it’s a former talent like Awesome Kong or someone on the current roster, the women of the Knockouts division have always been trained wrestlers.
Early on in the division, the Knockouts would garner such high ratings that Gail Kim and Awesome Kong main evented an episode of Impact! in January 2008.
Today, the Knockouts still bring in some of the highest ratings for TNA’s weekly show Impact Wrestling.
The division certainly isn’t what it was back during the Gail Kim/Awesome Kong feud, but the women of TNA consistently put on good matches each and every week and on pay-per-view. Even their subpar matches are miles ahead of anything the WWE Divas put on.
If there is anything that TNA truly does better than WWE, it’s women’s wrestling.
Thanks for reading! Come back next week for the final women’s title, and the start of the tag titles, the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship!
The title “Wrestling Gold” thought up by editor Jeff D. Gorman
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