In TNA, Awesome Kong has long been accompanied by Raisha Saeed, billed as an associate from her days in Japan. She has served as Kong's tag team partner as well as a manager, being her spokesperson in interviews.
Covered head to toe in clothing, she is completely different to the alter-ego beneath, Cheerleader Melissa. Melissa is one of the best active female wrestlers. She is well known for her work in SHIMMER and ChickFight, both of which she still regularly appears for, and has faced women from all over the world.
Raisha Saeed on the other hand, does not show her great talent. She is adequate in the ring, but stifled because of her complete transformation. Few wrestlers are that adaptive. Her charisma is also hidden by her Saeed persona.
Melissa is a talent that has not been used to her full potential in TNA. She is a background character, playing second fiddle to Awesome Kong, but she can do a lot more. She could be a major asset of the Knockout's Division as Melissa.
Melissa needs to reveal herself and step away from just having the Saeed persona in TNA. Saeed isn't true to Melissa's capabilities.
As Melissa, she is a much bigger name than Raisha Saeed and openly appearing as Melissa would help the prestige of the Division.
As Melissa, she would be able to compete more in the ring and with her normal style. This would result in some high quality matches.
With Ayako Hamada signed, Melissa's Japanese experience would make her an ideal opponent or tag team partner, perhaps before Ayako faces Awesome Kong, as she is slated to do in the future.
Not only that, but she has faced Sarah Stock in the past in SHIMMER. Sarah Stock's lucha libre style isn't something all the Knockouts can work with yet.
Melissa can work with her, which means the quality would be higher if they were partners or opponents. Again, this could ease Stock into a higher position.
Melissa can make Stock and Hamada look good. It is important that neither Stock nor Hamada are rushed into a feud with Kong.
Taylor Wilde is skilled, but when she was rushed into the spotlight, the crowd had yet to accept her. The same would happen with Stock and Hamada for the viewers who aren't familiar with them. Melissa could be a perfect opponent before they face Kong.
But this raises the question, if we introduce Melissa, what happens to Saeed?
Saeed does not need to be disposed of. She does play a role, but as her role generally does not involved strenuous activity, Melissa can continue to play Raisha Saeed. This was proven at the May 1, 2008, edition of TNA iMPACT! where she appeared as Cheerleader Melissa for a match and then reappeared as Saeed to manage Kong.
Christopher Daniels proved playing two roles can work on a regular basis, which he did when he filled in for Kaz as Suicide.
Saeed rarely interferes for Kong (she can manage just fine on her own) and since Kong is more of a babyface now even Saeed's promos aren't as needed.
She has matches here and there, but the Saeed role is rather small. Melissa is more than capable of playing both Saeed and her own persona.
She doesn't even need to do that. Backstage, for fun, Sharmell once dressed up as Raisha Saeed and impersonated her whilst she talked to another Knockout for 10 minutes. The other Knockout didn't realise it was Sharmell in the costume until later.
If Sharmell can do a good Saeed impersonation, she could potentially fill in her role as a manager of Kong, with Melissa only doing the matches. This way, Sharmell does more to contribute and Melissa would be able to put even more into her matches.
In the event that Melissa is in a match against Saeed, Sharmell can don the costume and just take a lot of the offense (which she does now anyway, so that the match isn't a Kong squash match) and otherwise not spending much time in the ring. Sharmell isn't a real wrestler, but she knows enough to play the role.
Besides, how many of you would be pleased at the thought of Sharmell getting her behind kicked again and again? Annoyed with Sharmell? Tune into a Saeed match and prepare to cackle evilly.
This approach might be particularly helpful at PPVs and it would also act as a safeguard if Melissa gets injured. Like Suicide, Raisha can be filled by another character and continue as normal.
At the May 26 iMPACT! tapings of this year, Melissa appeared as "Future Legend" Melissa Anderson in a dark match against Kong.
The "Future Legend" comes from the award given to her by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2004: it's a huge honour and an indication of great potential.
She could very well become a centerpiece of the Division. TNA dropped the ball with Roxxi and ODB, who has lost the popularity she used to have. This started before the Deaner storyline, but that isn't helping.
Melissa would add more depth and wrestling skill to the Division as herself and along with Tara (formerly Victoria), Wilde, Stock and Hamada, could create a strong group of face challengers for Kong and enough challengers to prevent any from looking to stale or weak if TNA books them adequately, if not wonderfully (which we really cannot expect of TNA).
Kong may not always be dominant, but she will always be strong. A diversity of characters is needed to not only keep the Division fresh, but strong face challengers will allow Kong to believably lose and give others the spotlight, also stopping Kong from getting too stale.
Perhaps this recent appearance could mean that TNA management is in the process of realising the benefits Melissa has without the Saeed garb.
If not, TNA would do well to consider it more deeply.
Partial Sources: TNA Wrestling News, Cauliflower Alley Club
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!