Ben Gartland vs. C.I.M
Best TNA Female Storyline
Since its inception over ten years ago, many great things have come out of TNA Wrestling. For example, the X-Division, the standard-setting matches and, most importantly, the Knockouts.
The TNA Knockouts have produced some of the best women's wrestling and feuds ever seen. When I was saddled with the topic of best female storyline in TNA, I was shocked at the number of fantastic feuds, matches and story lines in TNA's short history.
Take the example of the battle of beauty against power in The Beautiful People vs. Awesome Kong. I'm sure we all remember the original Beautiful People storyline with Angelina Love against Velvet Sky and, of course, the heartwarming Taylor Wilde "Cinderella story" as she beat Awesome Kong for the Knockout's title and $25,000.
Of all the fantastic stories and feuds, one stood out to me above all the others, which involved great villainous power against pure skills and heart. It was the original Knockout's feud that started off the division with a bang. I am of course talking about Awesome Kong vs. Gail Kim.
In the preview of this CvC matchup, Mr. Ashley Morris said that this feud would be the "safe bet" to try and advance to the next round. There's a reason it is. It's the best damn feud to come out of TNA altogether, let alone from the Knockout division.
This feud was the total package! It had everything a wrestling fan could want and more.
Observation 1: Wrestling
Performers' actual wrestling ability is often overlooked by casual fans. But even the most ignorant of fans could not have ignored the fantastic abilities these two women possessed.
Both Awesome Kong and Gail Kim trained their asses off on their way to the top. Both honed their skills in developmental leagues for many years.
Awesome Kong trained in some elite Japanese organizations such as AJW and WWWA. She learned MMA style moves along with the Japanese wrestling style. After that, she moved to SHIMMER, an American all-women's promotion. From there, she made her way to Ring of Honor and finally to TNA. Training with those elite programs shaped her talent such that it rivaled that of the amazing Gail Kim.
Gail Kim started in WWE developmental territory OVW before moving on to the WWE for a brief tenure. She was let go and quickly signed by TNA, where she crafted her great talent as a singles competitor, and was quickly at the top of the Knockouts when the division opened up.
These women paid their dues to become top talents in technical wrestling ability. Go to any wrestling website and say that these women do not have wrestling talent. You will be laughed at for going against the complete obvious.
Observation 2: Build Up
In 2007, TNA created the Knockouts division and the Knockouts title. Gail Kim outlasted a ten-woman gauntlet match that included Kong to become the first ever Knockouts champion.
However, the celebration was short-lived. After two short months with the title, Gail Kim ran into the freight train known as Awesome Kong. Kong wanted the title, and it's almost impossible to stop a woman when she wants something, let alone a 6'1", 275-pound athletic woman such as Awesome Kong.
After some brutal brawls and beat downs, TNA management gave the fans what they had screaming for since the division was created:
Awesome Kong was granted a shot at Gail Kim and the Knockouts title.
The backstage interviews by Gail were fiery and full of emotion. She was determined to best the viscous Kong. She said that if Kong wanted the title, Kong was going to have to kill her. But it was the ringside and backstage brawls that set the tone for the upcoming matches.
Gail would attack Kong and vice versa. It was exciting, and the fans were screaming to get these two in the ring for a match. The tension was in the air. The adrenaline was pumping. The stage was set. It was the unstoppable villain against the top face!
Observation 3: The Matches
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the wrestling abilities of these two women are second to none, and the matches they performed showcased their heaping amounts of talent.
However, wrestling abilities only go so far in making a match great. Performers also need to be able to tell a story whilst in the ring.
Gail Kim and Awesome Kong were masters of it.
The first match took place at Turning Point 2007, where Kong played the unstoppable villain, and Gail Kim the champ with a lot of heart. Kong dominated most of the match, but Gail Kim was able to get in some offense, even hitting a high-risk, high-flying maneuver that lead to a two-count. This led Kong to go ballistic get herself disqualified. Gail Kim kept the title but was obviously damaged.
A violent and brutal brawl after a Christmas-themed gauntlet match on Impact indicated that the war was not even close to over as Kim and Kong prepared for a match at Final Resolution.
If it's even possible, the match at Final Resolution was even better. Once again, the masterful storytelling came into play. Again, Kong was playing the unstoppable villain, but Gail Kim transformed into an angry veteran who had figured out her opponent. Unlike their first match, there was an equal amount of offense for both women. Kim ended up winning with an unimaginable pin.
But the war was still far from over.
Their next hook-up was a match on Impact. Just to show you how important this feud was to the company, this wasn't just a match, but the main event.
This time, a new variable was thrown into the mix, as Awesome Kong debuted her new manager, Raisha Saeed. In another fantastic match, Saeed helped distract Kim so that Kong could win the title. For the first time in this feud, Kong had come out victorious.
The feud would continue, with both women competing in tag-team matches against each other. However, the title never changed hands. Gail Kim would take on Awesome Kong as well as ODB in a triple-threat match at Destination X, but Kong walked out with the title.
Four months after their last one-on-one encounter, Gail won a match to become the new No. 1 contender to Kong's title. Their fourth match again took place on Impact, and was again totally awesome.
Kong retained the title again but not with ease, as Gail Kim had one of the most adrenaline-pumped offensive series I have ever seen. The fans were going absolutely crazy in the stands. If you had to watch just one of the matches between these two women, it should be this one. It was just fantastic.
Now, on to their fifth and final match.
It had been three months. Kong was no longer the champion but the hatred between Kim and Kong was still boiling. There was going to be one more match. No title. Nothing but pure animosity. In one of the smartest decisions in TNA history, this was made a street fight.
A fitting finale to this epic feud.
With Gail Kim's sister at ringside, Kim and Kong battled for one last time all around the Impact Zone. The fight was ferocious and breathtaking. Kong won the bout and the series with an intense finish. It would prove to be Kim's last match in TNA, effectively ending the greatest Knockout feud in TNA history.
Observation 4: Entertainment
The Knockouts are generally entertaining, but this was different. This one had the two best female wrestlers in the world going at it for nine months.
A great testament to how great this feud was lies in the fact that the fans never tired of it, from the first match through the middle match and all the way through the final match. In fact, the fans became progressively more excited as the feud went on. It takes a great amount of talent to keep the fans excited, especially through five high-caliber matches spread over nine months.
The matches were all Match of the Year candidates. The feud was a Feud of the Year candidate. No feud in TNA Knockouts history that comes close to the phenomenal show these ladies put on!
The most entertaining part of the storyline, as I stated before, is the great story it told; the story of anger, emotion, heart and resilience against the unstoppable force.
Another thing that made it so great is that it was not an underdog story. After their first match, they fought as equals, even with the considerable size difference. They fought as two women who had tremendous talent, and two women who gave it everything they had to beat the other.
When it was first announced that Awesome Kong would be coming to the WWE, the first thing on everyone's mind was that she could face Gail Kim again. That's a huge tribute to what these women did! The fans still want more from Kong and Kim even after four years!
No feud in recent memory has done that.
I hope I've explained to you why this was the best TNA female storyline, but in reality it was more than that. It was two more things:
1) The best female storyline of any promotion in the past decade.
2) The best storyline ever to come out of TNA.
This feud set an extremely high bar for today's women's wrestling—a bar that I'm sorry to say no one in either the WWE or TNA has yet reached.
Once Kharma (previously Awesome Kong) returns from her absence, the entire IWC will be screaming for her to face Gail Kim again.
The only question is, can we handle that much awesome?
Thank you for reading and please don't forget to vote this weekend (preferably for me) for this CvC 2.0 round.
I also would like to thank Joe Burgett and everyone else who has helped with the CvC. Whatever happens in the voting, I had a blast writing this and I hope to be writing again in the next round.
Once again, thanks for reading, commenting and "propsing."
Don't forget to be awesome.