Let me start of by saying that I am not the biggest fan of TNA.
As a matter of fact, I'm hardly a fan at all. Not only do I find the current product of Total NonStop Action Wrestling to be, for the most part, far inferior to World Wrestling Entertainment, but I also believe that the company itself is a sinking ship that cannot be saved.
In midist of that sinking ship, however, are two well-peserved lifeboats that have kept the company from meeting its eventual demise on a much sooner date. The two lifeboats I'm talking about are TNA's tag team division and, more specifically, their Knockouts division.
Despite TNA becoming an absolute train wreck in the past two years, these are the two divisions that TNA has the upper hand on over WWE, and they are also what's keeping the company alive. You'll find absolutely no criticism from me when it comes to its tag teams and female talent.
Unlike WWE Divas, who are mostly models that can barely cut a promo or know what to do inside a ring, TNA Knockouts are not only beautiful, but they can also talk and wrestle as well. That fact alone makes TNA the company with the superior female talent.
And over the past two years, one female talent in particular has risen through the ranks to become the queen of the Hogan-Bischoff regime - the current Women's Knockout Champion, and my personal favorite TNA Knockout - Madison Rayne.
Madison Rayne made her TNA debut back in January 2009 and quickly became the third member of The Beautiful People.
Rayne initially started off as a memeber-in-training that assisted Angelina Love and Velvet Sky in their matches. After several months, she was kicked out of the stable and subsequently humiliated by her former partners.
But shortly after Rayne's exile, Love was temporarily released from her contract due to Visa issues. This not only allowed Rayne to rejoin the stable to fill in the space, but slowly take control of it as well. When Love finally returned a few months later, she became a face and attacked the group. This allowed Rayne to become the new de-facto leader of The Beautiful People.
After assuming leadership, Madison Rayne became the new Knockout Tag Team Champion with TBF on the March 8th, 2010 edition of TNA Impact!, and would also win the Women's Knockout Championship at Lockdown on April 18th, 2010.
Rayne held both titles for several months, before losing them in mid-2010 to Love at Victory Road and the team of Hamada and Taylor Wilde respectively. She would later win back the Women's Knockout Championship from Love just 48 hours after her defeat, only to drop the title back to Love again on The Whole F'n Show the following month.
It was around this time that Rayne had become increasingly power-hungry, which caused Sky to turn face and reunite with Love. By reforming the original Beautiful People, Rayne was left to fend for herself...or so the fans thought...
After being permanently kicked out of the now-face Beautiful People, Rayne became a brunette and formed an alliance with returning TNA Knockout Tara. Tara, who had previously been forced to retire, became a bodyguard of sorts to the same Knockout that had "retired" her.
Tara's loyalty to Rayne proved to be so strong that after she defeated Love for the Knockouts title at Bound for Glory, she would deliberately lay down for Rayne the following week on Impact!, making Rayne a three-time Knockout Champion in the process.
Rayne has since proven her dominace over the Knockouts division, particularly against her newest rival, former WWE Diva Mickie James. She defeated James at both Genesis in January and Against All Odds this past month.
As I write this, is still the current Knockouts Champion. With her third singles title run clocking in at 140 days so far, Rayne has become the second-longest reigning Women's Knockout Champion in TNA history; her 250 day record is beaten only by Awesome Kong, who was champion for a total of 347 days.
Taking things one step further, if Rayne were to hold the title for another two months, her current reign would become the longest in TNA history. As The Miz would say...awesome.
There are many things wrong with TNA's current product today. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff have done more harm than good to the company, and their presence alone may very well make TNA go the way of WCW and ECW before it. Even the most hardcore of fans would agree with me when I say that Impact! was a much better show to watch before Hogan and company arrived.
There's no doubt that in the past year, TNA has destroyed many of the things that made me watch the show in the first place. The X Division is now known as Jay Lethal and Robbie E. The Global Championship division is non-existent. Don't even get me started on the main-event. And I'll admit, even the tag team division is starting to fade.
But I've still got the Knockouts division to look forward to. If the Hogan-Bischoff regime has given me anything to be optimistic about, then the rise of Rayne is one of the only things I can think of. Being a fan of her's is one of the only reasons I watch TNA anymore, and that's definitely not on a weekly basis.
It's funny how when everything else is falling into a downward spiral, a select few stars manage to work hard and rise to the top.
Rayne is one of those few.
Long live the queen.