Let's Take a Look at the TNA Knockouts!
Due to the success of my debut articles, Let's Take a Look at the WWE Divas, Part 1: RAW Edition and Part 2: SmackDown Edition, I figured I'd do the same type of article on the TNA Knockouts!
TNA Debut: June 19, 2002 at NWA: Total Nonstop Action.
TNA Re-Debut: June 5, 2008 at Impact.
Real name: Shannon Claire Spruill
Age: 35 (July 17, 1975)
Championships and accomplishments: In TNA, 0.
Heel or Face?: Heel. I don't remember her much as a face, but I don't think she'd be able to pull it off under her current gimmick. I have to admit, I loved her gimmick as the Governor. Aka the Sarah Palin spoof/ripe-off! Good stuff! I don't remember if she was a heel or a face during this though.
Ring Work?: I haven't seen her wrestle much lately, save her match with Angelina Love last month. I've heard she's quite good though. 7/10.
Mic Work?: I don't think I've ever heard her speak or cut a promo outside of her governor gimmick. I'm sure she has, I just never heard it. 5/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 0x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: Daffney has never been one of the focal knockouts in TNA, so I'm gonna say no. It's worth noting that her knockouts title feud with Tara earlier this year wasn't half bad, and featured a First Blood match for the title.
Manager/valet?: Wow, who hasn't this girl managed?! Everyone from David Flair (yes, Ric Flair's wrestling son) in WCW, CM Punk in ROH, and Raven and Stevie Richards in TNA, among others. I think since she isn't used much in the knockouts division, let her be a valet to Abyss again or something. Either that or just get rid of her, and that'd be kinda sad if they did. Still, it's kind of a waste to have someone on the roster and not use them. It's a waste of what little money TNA does have.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: Doubt it. She's 35. And while TNA seems to keep their women's wrestlers on longer when it comes to age in comparison to WWE, I still doubt it.
Additional thoughts: Daffney isn't your usual women's wrestler, and definitely stands out from the rest of a normal blonde Barbie dolls of the pack. I don't know if it's just that she's not popular enough or what as to why she's not being used much of late. Or maybe it's just because TNA seems to think that The Beautiful People and Angelina Love are their entire knockouts division. Whatever the case, lets hope this doesn't continue in the future. She's already 35, and the clock is ticking. Not that age is so much of a factor, what with people like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on the roster, but still. TNA needs to use the talent they have and stop trying to bring all these new/old people in. Mickie James, I'm talking to you!
Fun fact: Did you know…Daffney was once the co-WCW Cruiserweight Champion with Crowbar? It's worth noting that the following week on Nitro, the two faced off to determine the undisputed champion and Daffney won, thus becoming the second-ever woman to hold the Cruiserweight Championship.
TNA Debut: October 11, 2007 at Impact.
Real name: Lauren Williams
Age: 28 (September 13, 1981)
Championships and accomplishments: 4-time TNA Women's Knockouts Champion.
Heel or Face?: Face. I think she pulls off being a heel better. Her current character seems more like a tweener to me than a face. I guess we'll soon see in the coming weeks what becomes of this.
Ring Work?: One of the better knockouts by far, wrestling or otherwise! 8/10.
Mic Work?: Same goes with cutting promos. Some people know how to do it, others don't. Simple as that. This girl definitely knows how to cut a promo, heel or face. 8/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 4x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: Definitely yes! The fact that she was the first-ever, 4-time TNA Knockouts Champion says enough in itself!
Manager/valet?: On her Wikipedia page, it says she's managed a whole slew of people. I'm gonna assume this was all on the indy scene or during her WWE developmental contract run in OVW and DSW. In TNA, the only managing she's done is with her ex-Beautiful People counterparts, Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne, and Cute Kip. I'd say leave her a wrestler. She's far too talented to be used a manager.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: Definitely yes! Angelina Love is the face of the Knockouts Division, or as the IWC likes to say, “the Trish Stratus of TNA.” Hey, they're both from Toronto too! She's not going anywhere anytime soon!
Additional thoughts: I like Angelina Love, and she's definitely my favorite of TNA Knockouts! With that said, I think it's a shame she's not in WWE right now. They definitely dropped the ball on releasing her from her developmental contract in May of 2007. Rather or not she'd of accomplished everything she has in TNA if she hadn't been released is anyone's guess, but probably not. Maybe someday soon we'll see her in a WWE ring again, maybe not. Whatever the case, she has a bright future ahead of her no matter what.
Fun fact: Did you know…while under contract with WWE, Angelina Love had matches with the likes of current WWE Divas Michelle McCool, Serena, and Natalya in DSW and OVW?
TNA Debut: October 11, 2007 at Impact.
Real name: Jamie Szantyr
Age: 29 (June 2, 1981)
Championships and accomplishments: 1-time TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion – with Madison Rayne. Lacey Von Erich was also recognized as a champion and the three defended the titles under the Freebird rule.
Heel or Face?: Heel. I don't think she's ever been a face in TNA, but that might be changing here shortly what with the way things have been going of late with the Beautiful People. My bet is she'll be teamed up Angelina Love again by the year's end as a face to counter the heel tandem of Madison Rayne and Tara.
Ring Work?: Great from what I've seen! Plus, she uses submission moves, which is rarity in women's wrestling. 8/10.
Mic Work?: Like her ex-Beautiful People counterpart Angelina Love, Velvet Sky is also quite excellent on the mic, and I always enjoy hearing what she has to say. She doesn't come off as whiny like some women's wrestlers on the mic. And no, I'm not mentioning any names. 8/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 1x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: The fact that Velvet Sky has never won singles gold in TNA and is only a 1-time knockouts tag champ is baffling to me. She's one of the better knockouts, wrestling or otherwise. But, I suppose TNA knows what they're doing. Still, I standby my opinion that it should have been her that won the knockouts title at Lockdown earlier this year and not Madison Rayne.
Manager/valet?: Wow, Velvet Sky actually used to manage WWE SmackDown commentator, Matt Striker in 3PW (otherwise known as Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling) a few years ago. Small world! In TNA, she's managed mostly just her ex/present Beautiful People counterparts, Angelina Love, Cute Kip, Madison Rayne, and Lacey Von Erich. I say leave it this way! She can do both!
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: She just signed a new contract with TNA, so I'm thinking that means a definite yes.
Additional thoughts: Besides Angelina Love, Velvet Sky's another favorite of mine. I remember them being the first knockouts I ever saw on TNA when I started watching two years and absolutely loved their Beautiful People gimmick. Arrogant blonde Barbie dolls, whose main goal is to "cleanse" TNA “one ugly person at a time", based on their belief that their physical appearance is superior to all others.
The fact that this gimmick was also based on Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, as well as the movie Mean Girls is a hoot! In regards to Velvet Sky, I think if she does turn face and team up with Angelina Love again, this could make for some interesting television. Lets hope TNA doesn't either botch this up or choose not do it due to internet speculation, like they did, or shall I say didn't do, at Victory Road.
Nonetheless of whatever she does, I'm sure she'll be just fine and will be around entertaining fans for years to come.
Fun fact: Did you know…Velvet Sky auditioned for the 2007 WWE Diva Search, but didn't make it to the final 8 contestants?
TNA Debut: May 29, 2008 at Impact.
Real name: Shantelle Lalawski
Age: 24 (January 26, 1986)
Championships and accomplishments: 1-time TNA Women's Knockouts Champion, 2-time TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion – with Sarita (1, inaugural) and Hamada (1, current)
Heel or Face?: Face. I've never seen her as a heel. TNA's version of Kelly Kelly in my opinion. Just a more talented and less annoying Kelly Kelly.
Ring Work?: I remember some of her matches with Awesome Kong not long after she first debuted, and she really held her own. Good stuff! 7/10.
Mic Work?: I know she cuts promos sometimes, I just don't remember any she's done of late. 5/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 3x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: Yes! She's a 1-time singles champion and a 2-time tag team champion. She's popular enough with the crowd to put someone over if called upon!
Manager/valet?: She hasn't managed anyone from what I could find, and it's probably better that way. She's far too talented to waste away as a valet.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: She has age on her side, as well as ability, so definitely yes!
Additional thoughts: Going back to my earlier comments about how when Taylor Wilde first debuted and holding her own against Awesome Kong in their program together, due to the Beautiful People's reign over the knockouts division of late, we don't see much of that Taylor Wilde anymore. The Taylor Wilde we see now is mostly just a tag team wrestler, and thus a 2-time knockouts tag champ. I wanna see the old Taylor Wilde who was the face of the knockouts division. Not so much that she has to be the face of the knockouts division again (it's safe to say, Angelina Love has taken up that throne), but at least so she's not always stuck in the knockouts tag team division. Come on TNA, make it happen!
Fun fact: Did you know…Taylor Wilde studies psychology at York University, and also has ambitions to study broadcast journalism at Seneca College?
TNA Debut: January 8, 2009 at Impact.
Real name: Ashley Nichole Simmons
Age: 24 (February 5, 1986)
Championships and accomplishments: 2-time TNA Women's Knockouts Champion, 1-time TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion – with Velvet Sky. Lacey Von Erich was also recognized as a champion and the three defended the titles under the Freebird rule.
Heel or Face?: Heel. She debuted as a face, but sadly, I don't remember much of this. It was awhile ago. I like her better as a heel and see her as one for awhile.
Ring Work?: She's gotten miles better than where she was at this time last year. She still needs some work, but at least she's trying. 5/10
Mic Work?: She's right up there with Angelina Love and Velvet Sky! This girl can cut a promo and make it believable, so you actually care about what she has to say. 8/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 3x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: Yes from the way TNA's been booking her since April. She's had everyone from Tara to Roxxi put her over, ending their careers in the process. Rather or not she can put someone over herself remains to be seen, but I doubt it just yet. Besides, there aren't many girls on the roster who haven't been there as long as she has already.
Manager/valet?: It seems the only manging Madison Rayne's done is in TNA, and with the Beautiful People. Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Lacey Von Erich. She could actually benefit some more from being a valet, even if she's progressed somewhat. There's always room for improvement.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: She's one of three girls on the roster who are 24, and that in itself screams yes. The younger you start in wrestling and the younger you make a name for yourself, the longer of a career you'll have. Plus, TNA's been pushing her to the moon the past few four months so that also screams yes.
Additional thoughts: No offense to Madison Rayne, but I honestly don't think she should have been pushed to win the knockouts title so early in her career. The belt should have gone to Velvet Sky.
Now obviously, the reason TNA gave her the belt is because everyone expected it to go to Velvet Sky, so they wanted to do a little swerve. I get that and all, and I'll admit she's had a good two reigns as champ, but all the same. Giving her both the knockouts single and tag championships at the same time so early in her career is a bit much in my opinion. If they'd given it to Velvet Sky, it would've been a way of saying thanks for all the years of dedication to our company, but Madison Rayne had only been with the company for a little over a year at this point. I guess I shouldn't be complaining. I can't really argue with TNA's booking, because their current way of breaking up the Beautiful People couldn't have been done if Madison Rayne wasn't champion. Plus, I think another reason they might have given Madison Rayne the belt over Velvet Sky is because they knew Angelina Love was coming back at this point, and they wanted her to feud with Madison Rayne and not Velvet Sky. Whatever the case, Madison Rayne has certainly come a huge way from being squashed by Awesome Kong in her TNA debut, and that's saying something.
Fun fact: Did you know…Madison Rayne was Homecoming Queen and a varsity cheerleader in high school? She also ran track and was a member of the drama club, as well. Neat!
TNA Debut: May 28, 2009 at Impact.
Real name: Lisa Marie Varon
Age: 39 (February 10, 1971)
Championships and accomplishments: 2-time WWE Women's Champion, 3-time TNA Women's Knockouts Champion
Heel or Face?: Heel. In WWE, she could do back and both and do both. In TNA, I don't see how it'll be an different.
Ring Work?: The best of all the knockouts besides Hamada, in my opinion, when it comes to in-ring skills. She's got experience on her side. 9/10
Mic Work?: Same goes with mic skills, excluding the Hamada mention. 9/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 5x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: Yes, yes, and yes again! A 2-time Women's Champion in WWE and 3-time Women's Champion in TNA. Put that on top of the fact that she's way over with the fans, can actually wrestle, and has charisma. Enough said!
Manager/valet?: Most of the managing Tara did in her career was in the WWE as Victoria. Some of which were Candice Michelle, Stevie Richards, Torrie Wilson, and Natalya. The only managing she did in TNA was with Christy Hemme, and that didn't last very long. Currently managing Madison Rayne as the mysterious biker chick. I'm gonna assume this is to help establish Madison Rayne as a legit main eventer in the Knockouts Division, and nothing more. We shall see!
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: She's 39, so I doubt it. And if so, lets hope she's just putting people over and not still winning championships.
Additional thoughts: In all honesty, I really don't know why Tara's still wrestling. What else could there possibly be left for her to prove? Nothing, I suppose. I guess she just wants to continue wrestling because she can and is still in shape for it. If that's the case, I say more power to her! The only thing I'll say it that I hope as she gets older she doesn't turn into the Hulk Hogan of the Knockouts Division. Hogging the spotlight from the younger talent. She doesn't seem like that type of person, so she probably won't. All the same, it was worth a mention.
Fun fact: Did you know…Tara once owned a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky called Fat Tony's Pizzeria, but sold it in May 2007?
TNA Debut: July 19, 2009 at Impact.
Real name: Sarah Stock
Age: 31 (March 4, 1979)
Championships and accomplishments: 1-time, inaugural TNA Knockout Tag Team Champion – with Taylor Wilde
Heel or Face?: Heel. Can do either or just fine. More entertaining as a heel.
Ring Work?: Not bad at all. 7/10.
Mic Work?: From what I've heard from her, she's pretty good. 6/10.
How Many Times Champion?: 1x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: Considering she's only a former 1-time knockouts tag champ, I'd say no for now, but maybe yes in a few years. All depends on how she's booked.
Manager/valet?: Hasn't done any managing in her career. She's probably better off this way.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: She's one of the newbies, so I wanna say yeah. And she's only 31, so she'd be 36 in 5 years. Of course, if anyone had asked me a year or so ago if Awesome Kong would still be in TNA 5 years from then I would've said hell yeah! Just goes to show that anything can happen from now to then! But still, I think she'll be around.
Additional thoughts: Sarita hasn't been in TNA very long, a little over a year. And over the past year, TNA's been a little too preoccupied with having The Beautiful People as the focal point of the Knockouts Division. Once Awesome Kong and Tara left, this got even worse. As of late though, it seems like they're at least trying to make an effect to give some of their other knockouts air time, so lets hope this continues. If it does, Sarita may very well be on her way to winning the TNA Women's Knockouts Championship in the next year or so.
Fun fact: Did you know…Sarita was an honors student at the University of Manitoba and completed a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry?
TNA Debut: August 27, 2009 at Impact.
Real name: Ayako Hamada
Age: 29 (February 14, 1981)
Championships and accomplishments: 2-time TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion – with Awesome Kong (1) and Taylor Wilde (1, current)
Heel or Face?: Face. She's never been a heel in TNA.
Ring Work?: Superb from what I've seen of her! Arguably, the best knockout on the roster! 10/10.
Mic Work?: Does she even cut promos? I've never heard her speak. And from what Tazz said on Impact last week, she doesn't speak much English so I'm gonna give her a 3/10 to be nice.
How Many Times Champion?: 2x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: She doesn't seem to be used for anything besides a tag team wrestler in TNA, so I'd say yeah to a tag title feud. Not so sure about a singles feud. I think she could pull it off due to her superb in-ring skills, but her lack of speaking much English (if Tazz is right, I don't know if he is or not) could be a factor in backstage interviews and in-ring promos.
Manager/valet?: Too good to be a manager/valet, and from the research I've done on her, she hasn't done any manging in her career. Keep it this way, Hamada! Enough said!
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: Considering she also wrestles in Shimmer Women's Athletes and Jersey All-Pro Wrestling, as well as all sorts of other places around the globe, this could go either way. She may still be in TNA 5 years from now, but then again she may not. I think it's all gonna depend on how TNA books her and whether or not they use her a lot. If they don't use her much, she already has something else she could fall back on so it's a win-win either way with her. I all honesty, I don't see her in TNA 5 years from now. But then, I've been wrong before!
Additional thoughts: What with the leave of such TNA Knockouts as Awesome Kong, Gail Kim, and ODB, Hamada is the sole non-Barbie doll type wrestler on the roster, not counting Tara and Rosie, and probably the most respected one at that. A champion wrestler all over the world, Hamada has been wrestling since the age of 17 and the year 1998. Now 29 in the year 2010, it's amazing how much she's accomplished over the years, as you'll read below. Definitely a one in million is Hamada!
Fun fact: Did you know…Hamada is a 2-time WWWA World Heavyweight Champion, a 1-time WWWA Tag Team Champion, a 1-time AAAW Singles Champion, a 1-time AAAW Tag Team Champion, a 1-time IWRG Intercontinental Women's Champion, a 1-time NEO Japan Tag Team Champion, a 1-time UWA World Women's Champion, and finally, a 1-time WWA World Women's Champion? Yeah, I didn't either! This is all very impressive!
Lacey Von Erich
TNA Debut: October 1, 2009 at Impact.
Real name: Lacey Adkisson
Age: 24 (July 17, 1986)
Championships and accomplishments: 1-time TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion – with Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne. Lacey Von Erich was also recognized as a champion and the three defended the titles under the Freebird rule.
Heel or Face?: Heel. She'd make a decent face if booked the right way.
Ring Work?: 2/10. To say Lacey Von Erich isn't even green in the ring is an understatement. I was watching her tag title match alongside Velvet Sky with Taylor Wilde and Hamada this past week, and she was horrible. Whoever's idea it was for her to wrestle majority of the match needs to watch back like I did. Not pretty at all!
Mic Work?: 5/10. What she lacks in wrestling skills, she makes up for in personality. I don't think I've ever really heard her cut a promo though. Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne seem to do all the talking in The Beautiful People.
How Many Times Champion?: 1x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: She's still a newbie and too unaccomplished in the ring to be put in a singles title feud with anyone. Tag title feud yeah, but not singles. Maybe in a few years, maybe not. It all depends on how much or less she progresses.
Manager/valet?: Managed Ric Flair on Hulk Hogan's “Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin” tour last fall, as well as Billy Kidman and Victoria Crawford (Alicia Fox) in FCW. Currently managing Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky in their Beautiful People faction. Rather or not Lacey Von Erich should mostly manage depends on her in-ring skills, and at the moment they're lacking…a lot! I'd say now that she and Velvet Sky have dropped the tag titles, keep her in valet role for the time being until she gets better in the ring. She has potential, I'm sure. She just needs to work at it, and maybe some of her fellow Knockouts can help her out.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: Like Taylor Wilde and Madison Rayne, she's another one that's got age on her side. But age may not be able to save her from her less than decent wrestling skills. And what with it looking like Angelina Love and Velvet Sky are gonna team up again against Madison Rayne and Tara, where exactly does this leave Lacey Von Erich? There were some reports a few months back that she was thinking about leaving wrestling altogether to be with her son more since her and the boy's father are supposedly fighting for custody. Rather or not this is true isn't really anyone's business to begin with, but still TNA could give her sometime off to sort out her personal life and then come back better than ever if she trains while out. Just a thought. But in short, I do think Lacey Von Erich will be around 5 years from now. As a wrestler or a valet is anyone's guess, but she'll still be around.
Additional thoughts: Like Angelina Love, Lacey Von Erich was also under a developmental contract with WWE and released in 2007. It's too bad she wasn't called up to the main roster in WWE, 'cause I think she would've done fairly well there. You know, since they like the Barbie doll types. Plus, the fact that she's a third generation star would've worked in her favor more there than TNA, as WWE likes to brag up second and third generation stars more than TNA does I've noticed.
Fun fact: Did you know…Lacey Von Erich runs her own advertising company in Southern California?
TNA Debut: June 3, 2010 at Impact.
Real name: Mary-Kate Duignan
Age: 25 (January 17, 1985)
Championships and accomplishments: In TNA, 0.
Heel or Face?: Face.
Ring Work?: She's only wrestled once in TNA, so from what I remember of her debut match, I'm going say 3/10. Not good at all.
Mic Work?: She didn't sound too bad to me, but considering she's only appeared in TNA once I'm gonna say 3/10. I remember her sounding slightly annoying on the mic.
How Many Times Champion?: 0x
#1 Contender? Beyond this, yes or no?: No, no, and no again! If used the right way, maybe yes. But TNA doesn't seem interested in using her so…
Manager/valet?: Managed The Naughty Girls in Wrestlelicious, that's about it. I'd say leave her a valet myself. She's not that good in the ring.
Still be in TNA 5 years from now?: Doubt it, she's only appeared in the company once. What does that say?
Additional thoughts: Apparently, Rosie Lottalove was brought into TNA to replace Awesome Kong. Yeah okay, they've done a great job with that! Enough said!
Fun fact: Did you know…on the independent circuit, Rosie Lottalove is known as Betsy Ruth, the great-granddaughter of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth? Her gimmick involves wearing pin stripes like the New York Yankees and wearing face paint similar to the Baseball Furies gang from the film, The Warriors.
So B/R, what'd you think? Like, dislike? Comment away!