TNA Knockout

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TNA Knocked Out DVD by TNA Entertainment

Knockout is a term used by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) to refer to its female talent.[1] The term is applied universally to wrestlers, backstage interviewers, and managers/valets. They are analogous to the Divas of rival WWE.

History[edit]

The term Knockouts is relatively new and was not used when Total Nonstop Action Wrestling debuted in 2002. The name originated from a DVD release in 2006 by the company, Knockouts: The Ladies of TNA Wrestling, Vol.1, which focused on its then-current female stars. The name "Knockouts" as a catchall name for the women stuck after that. Female performers have been a part of TNA since the first national show,[2] which featured Alexis Laree, Elektra, Erin Bray, Francine, Miss Joni, Sasha, Shannon, Taylor Vaughn and Teresa Tyler, as well as other female talent, including backstage interviewer Goldy Locks and valets Aleesha and Fluff Dupp. Bobcat also debuted as a valet in a match that was taped during the first PPV, but aired during the second PPV.

Miss TNA (2002)[edit]

A Lingerie Battle Royal to crown the first 'Miss TNA' was taped during the very first NWA:TNA weekly PPV on June 19, 2002, and was aired during the second PPV on June 26, 2002.[3] Taylor Vaughn won the first Miss TNA crown.[4] She defended the title against Francine, who soon afterward abandoned her pursuit of the title and engaged in a brief feud with Jasmin St. Claire. Vaughn lost the title when she was defeated by male character Bruce a few weeks later. Although male, he claimed that he should be entitled to wrestle for the Miss TNA crown because he was gay.[5] Bruce held the crown for three months and during his time as Miss TNA he attacked many female wrestlers and fans, enraging the male stars of TNA including Jorge Estrada. The two then had a singles match with the stipulation that if Estrada won, Priscilla would become the new Miss TNA.[6] Although Estrada won the match, the crown didn't change hands because he won by disqualification. In the next weeks, Bruce's tag team partner, Lenny, tried to get Bruce injured (since the runner-up would then take over the crown should the champion be injured).[7] This led to the breakup of The Rainbow Express, and Bruce's homosexuality was questioned by backstage interviewer Goldy Locks, who claimed she had seen him in the shower with April Pennington. The storyline soon came to a close due to poor crowd reception, with Pennington and Goldylocks walking off together holding hands, as Lenny and Bruce fought over Pennington.[8] The storyline ended with Bruce declaring himself straight and handing his crown over to Pennington. The Miss TNA crown wasn't mentioned on-screen afterward. Throughout 2002, TNA also featured Belladonna in a valet role and former WWE Tough Enough contestant Paulina as a bodyguard.

Post-Miss TNA (2003–2006)[edit]

Women's wrestling continued to be a feature of the weekly PPVs before an official women's division was established in 2007. In 2003, cage dancers (many of whom were independent female wrestlers who were then unknown at the time, including Lollipop) were used near the top of the entrance ramp, but this concept was abandoned shortly after its conception. One of TNA's early controversial moments ensued on the March 12, 2003 pay-per-view when Lollipop had her top ripped off during a catfight with S.E.X. member Holly Wood and exposed her breasts throughout the fight. TNA also featured ring girl Athena in many feuds and altercations.

From 2003-2004, TNA regularly used several female wrestlers on their PPVs and television programs, including Trinity, Desire, Alexis Laree, Traci Brooks, Cheerleader Melissa, Nurse Veronica (who also competed as Simply Luscious), and Cheerleader Valentina (who also competed as JV Love); however, they were often primarily depicted as valets who occasionally wrestled. Of all the women utilized at this time, Trinity was the most active in the ring, as she feuded with Desire, Alexis Laree, and Traci Brooks, as well as competed in the X Division. During this time, TNA also briefly featured an all-female faction named "Bitchslap" that consisted of Nurse Veronica, Traci Brooks, Cheerleader Valentina, and Trinity (who only appeared twice with the group). They were engaged in a feud with TNA dancers Lollipop and April Pennington.

Independent female wrestlers were frequently featured on TNA Xplosion and occasionally on TNA pay-per-views, including Angel Williams (who would later return as Angelina Love), April Hunter, Brandi Wine, Daizee Haze, Lucy (who previously competed as Shannon and would later return as Daffney), Malia Hosaka, Mercedes Martinez, MsChif, and ODB (who also wrestled as Poison).

TNA briefly recognized the NWA World Women's Championship in 2003. On March 12, 2003, Leilani Kai defeated Madison to win the NWA World Women's Championship in a dark match on a TNA pay-per-view.[9] On April 19, 2003, Kai defended the title against Desire at a house show, but she was later stripped of the title by NWA President Bill Behrens due to missing several subsequent NWA shows. According to Kai, she skipped the shows because she felt the NWA governing board was not treating the Women's Championship with the respect it deserved, such as not televising title matches on the TNA pay-per-views and TNA Xplosion.

Fewer women's matches were featured toward the end of 2004 and throughout 2005; however, TNA did feature pay-per-view matches pitting Trinity against former WWE Diva Jacqueline and Traci Brooks. TNA also featured Minsa in an on-air non-wrestling role.

Following the debut of the TNA iMPACT! television program in 2005, TNA featured former WWE Divas such as Gail Kim, Jackie Gayda, and Christy Hemme, as well as independent female wrestler Sirelda in prominent on-air roles and feuds. Although most of the prior female talent had left TNA by this time, Traci Brooks remained in an on-air role and TNA added a new ring girl, SoCal Val (replacing Athena) and backstage interviewer, Leticia Cline (replacing Goldy Locks). Gail Kim competed in a few matches that were televised and/or taped throughout 2006 against Sirelda and Traci Brooks, while independent wrestler Amber O'Neal competed at TNA house shows in matches against Kim and Jacqueline. In the fall of 2006, Sherri Martel appeared on TNA iMPACT! in her final televised appearance before her death.

TNA Women's Knockout Division (2007–present)[edit]

The formation of an official women's division began at Final Resolution in 2007 as TNA spent the early part of the year building up the feud between Gail Kim and Jacqueline, who made her on-air return at the pay-per-view also during the summer a feud between Christy Hemme and Roxxi Laveaux. The first TNA Women's Knockout Champion was crowned on October 14, 2007 at Bound for Glory in a 10-Knockout gauntlet match which Gail Kim won.[10] Around this time, TNA signed several additional female wrestlers and personalities, including Angel Williams, Amazing Kong, ODB, Shelly Martinez, and Talia Madison who were then renamed after the PPV, as well as valet Karen Jarrett and new backstage interviewer Crystal Louthan. In a stark departure to TNA's past programming where their female talent were often promoted as eye candy with little to no emphasis on athleticism or wrestling ability, in the same fashion as their WWE Diva counterparts during that time period, TNA's women's division emphasized on serious wrestling competition between their female talent, as well as their credibility on par with their male counterparts.[11] Since the inception of an official championship, matches and segments involving the Knockouts have contributed to drawing some of the better ratings of Impact shows.[12]

Throughout 2008, TNA continued to expand the Knockouts roster by featuring Alexa Jade, Payton Banks, Raisha Saeed, Rhaka Khan, and Sharmell. Lauren Brooke became the new backstage interviewer beginning at Lockdown. In August, Gail Kim's contract with TNA expired and instead of renewing it, she decided to return to rival WWE for a 2nd run. In the spring of 2008, then-TNA Women's Knockout Champion Awesome Kong held a $25,000 Fan Challenge where she put her title and $25,000 on the line against any fan in the building. The challenge was eventually won by Taylor Wilde, and featured try-out matches for Daffney and Josie Robinson (later renamed Sojournor Bolt), both of whom later became full-time wrestlers in the Knockout division. In early 2009, Madison Rayne debuted in TNA and joined The Beautiful People alongside existing members Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. Daizee Haze returned in a one time match on May 1, 2008 losing to Cheerleader Melissa who was also pulling dual role under the Raisha Saeed gimmick at that time. Tara, Sarita, Hamada and Survivor: The Amazon winner Jenna Morasca debuted throughout the spring and summer. In September 2009, Angelina Love left TNA due to visa work issue.[13] On September 20, 2009, Sarita and Taylor Wilde became the first TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions when they won the final match of an eight-team tournament at No Surrender. In September, Lacey Von Erich was signed to a contract and replaced Love as a member of The Beautiful People.[14] and Roxxi returned to TNA (after being released earlier in the year) in December. On December 31, 2009, TNA promoted a special four hour, all Knockout episode of Impact!, titled New Year's Knockout Eve, which featured a tournament for the number one contendership to the Women's Knockout Championship. April Hunter who competed with the organization in its early years returned in this special competing in a tag team match.[15] In January 2010, Alissa Flash would then depart from the company in mutual agreement and Awesome Kong asked for her release after her backstage altercation with Bubba the Love Sponge while Angelina Love returned to TNA within the new year. In March 2010, TNA released Traci Brooks after being with the company for 8 years while Roxxi was released again after returning to the company in December last year. Later that same month Awesome Kong was also given her release from the company.

Francine appeared in a pre-taped interview at the ECW reunion themed Hardcore Justice.[16] On April 18, 2010, at Lockdown Madison Rayne made history by becoming the first person to hold both the Women's Knockout Championship and the Knockouts Tag Team Championship simultaneously.[17] The following month Tara left TNA, after refusing to re-sign with the company due to not receiving a pay increase and Roxxi made her second return to TNA, although it was short lived as she was released from the company the following month along with ODB, who also departed from the company.

The division continued to grow although most vast majority of talents from the original inception of the division left during this time period. Tara made her return to TNA on July 11 at Victory Road. In August and September, Rebecca Treston and Mickie James were signed to TNA contracts.[18][19] In October 2010, TNA signed Katarina Waters to a contract, that same month she debuted as Winter.[20] while on November 11 Lacey Von Erich announced her departure from the promotion.[21] Hamada would then be released on December 6, 2010.[22] Three days later also Taylor Wilde's departure from the promotion was confirmed.[23] Throughout February and March 2011, Traci Brooks, ODB, Roxxi, and Alissa Flash all made one night returns to TNA in then-Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne' open challenge.[24][25][26][27] On March 15, 2011, Daffney's contract with TNA expired and was not renewed.[28] ODB, Jacqueline Moore and Traci Brooks were re-signed to TNA contracts in May, June, and July 2011, respectively.[29][30][31]

In October, Gail Kim returned to TNA, after spending the past three years with WWE during her second run.[32] Angelina Love would depart from the company in June 2012.[33][34] Jacqueline would not make any more appearances, before announcing on November 28 that her TNA contract had expired.[35] After months of inactivity, Traci Brooks would depart from the company yet again after her contract expired.[36]Taeler Hendrix was signed to a contract through the company's Gut Check Challenge, becoming the first ever woman to win the contest. The following month, another longtime knockout Velvet Sky was also granted her release from the promotion although would return to the company in December.[37] In August, Taryn Terrell joined the division as the official referee although later on would be transitioned into an active role to receive a push to feud with Gail Kim.[38][39] On September 6, Winter announced on her official website that her contract with TNA had expired, thus leaving her free for other projects.[40] After seven months of inactivity, it was reported on January 9, 2013, that Sarita and Rosita's contracts expired and had parted ways with TNA.[41][42][43] Lei'D Tapa was signed to a contract through the Gut Check Challenge, becoming only the second woman to win the contest. Tapa also became the first ever Tongan wrestler in the entire history of TNA. Later on in the month, Trinity, Jacqueline, Alissa Flash, and Sojournor Bolt returned for the company's new One Night Only pay-per-view specials that would air later on in the year.

On the June 20, 2013 episode of Impact Wrestling, Knockouts Division Executive Brooke Hogan stripped ODB and Eric Young of the title due to the fact that Young was a male talent. This ultimately resulted in the titles being deactivated, as it's no longer listed among TNA's active championships.[44] Madison Rayne would then depart from the company on July 3 after being granted a maternity leave in early March due to real life pregnancy and revealed on her Twitter social account that her contract expired also Taeler Hendrix would be released from her contract, making Lei'D Tapa the only female talent signed from the Gut Check Challenge.[45] On July 16 Tara was released from her contract.[46] Taryn Terrell would be granted a maternity leave in August due to real life pregnancy [47] and Mickie James would depart from the company again after her contract expired in mid-September. Madison Rayne would return to the company in late November after departing from the company earlier in the March.[48]

On January 16, 2014, Rayne defeated Gail Kim to win the TNA Women's Knockout Championship for the record-tying fifth reign.[49] It was announced on March 13 by TNA that a former TNA Women's Knockout Champion was re-signed to an contract and would be returning, which would later be revealed to be Angelina Love.[50][51] Few days later, Lei'D Tapa would depart from the company after her contract expired.[52] After her return, Love reunited with Velvet Sky as The Beautiful People once again and started a feud with Rayne.[53][54] On April 27, at the Sacrifice pay-per-view, Love defeated Rayne to win the TNA Women's Knockout Championship for a record-breaking sixth time.[55]

Knockouts Division Commissioner[edit]

In August 2008, it was announced on TNAwrestling.com that Traci Brooks was officially in charge of the Knockouts Division as the Knockouts Division Commissioner, also known as the "Knockout Law". On screen credit was given to Jim Cornette (at the time, the highest position of on-screen authority the fans saw), who was fed up with the Knockouts, and needed someone who "spoke their language" to control them. In January 2009, Brooks stopped appearing in TNA and Cornette resumed control over the Knockout division. Brooks returned on the March 12, 2009, edition of Impact! as a referee. She was released on March 4, 2010. On the September 30, 2010, edition of Reaction Miss Tessmacher was named the new General Manager of the Knockouts division.[56] However, just two weeks later she was fired from her position.[57] On the September 1, 2011, edition of Impact Wrestling, Karen Jarrett was named the new Vice President of the Knockouts division with Traci Brooks serving as her executive assistant.[58] Jarrett was fired from her position on the December 15, 2011, edition of Impact Wrestling.[59] Madison Rayne then served as the Vice President of the Knockouts division for a week, before being stripped of her power on the December 29 edition of Impact Wrestling.[60][61] In May 2012, it was announced on Impact Wrestling, that starting May 31 Brooke Hogan would be the new head of the Knockouts Division.[62]

Knockouts Division Commissioner: Date: Event: Notes:
Traci Brooks August 2008 — January 2009 TNAWrestling.com Brooks was appointed the job by Jim Cornette after volunteering for it.
Miss Tessmacher September 30, 2010 — October 14, 2010 TNA Reaction was named as the General Manager of the Knockouts Division by former Executive Producer Eric Bischoff.
Karen Jarrett September 1, 2011 — December 15, 2011 Impact Wrestling was named as the General Manager of the Knockouts Division by former Executive Producer Eric Bischoff.
Brooke Hogan May 31, 2012 – August 16, 2013 Impact Wrestling Appointed by (her father) Hulk Hogan, the former TNA Impact Wrestling General Manager.

Promotion[edit]

The popularity of women in TNA has resulted cross-promotion with other brands featuring the TNA Knockouts.

TNA Knockout DVDs and Television specials[edit]

Knockouts: The Ladies of TNA Wrestling

TNA Knockouts Trading Cards[edit]

TRISTAR Productions released a TNA Knockouts trading card series on April 28, 2009. The set featured Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Christy Hemme, Dixie Carter, The Governor, Jacqueline, Jenna Morasca, Lauren, Madison Rayne, ODB, Raisha Saeed, Rhaka Khan, Roxxi, Sharmell, SoCal Val, Sojournor Bolt, Traci Brooks, Taylor Wilde, and Velvet Sky. Also included are cards pairing the Knockouts with male TNA wrestlers.[66]

Playboy[edit]

Shortly before leaving TNA, backstage interviewer Leticia Cline appeared on the cover of the November/December 2007 issue of Playboy's Sexy Girls Next Door, which included her nude photo shoot.

In an interview with The Sun, Traci Brooks confirmed that Playboy magazine (which previously had a partnership agreement with WWE prior to the organization converting to PG-rated television content) reached a new partnership agreement with TNA. Brooks was originally scheduled to be featured in the November 2009 issue. She would become the first TNA Knockout to appear in Playboy, although Knockouts Christy Hemme and Jenna Morasca posed for the magazine prior to joining TNA.[67] However, on September 2, 2009 it was reported that Playboy decided not to publish Brooks' photo shoot in their magazine.[68] The photo shoot was instead released online through their Cyber Club website on September 17, 2009.[69][70]

Other[edit]

Publications[edit]

Beautiful People members Angelina Love and Velvet Sky were featured on the cover and in a pictorial in the December 2009 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine, which also included photos of Lauren Brooke and SoCal Val.[71] Velvet Sky was named "Woman of the Year" by Modelsmania magazine after featuring on the cover and in a pictorial in the August 2013 issue of the publication.[72][73] Earlier that year Sky was reunited with former team-mate Angelina Love when they featured together on the cover and in a pictorial in the January/February 2013 issue of Modelsmania magazine.[74]

Media[edit]

In 2009, Taylor Wilde and The Beautiful People (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky) appeared in the U.S. reality show MTV Made to compete in a match involving a teen trained by A.J. Styles.

Some of the current and former TNA Knockouts have had short television and movie careers outside of TNA. Former backstage interviewer Lauren Brooke hosts Top Ten and Destination Golf on the Golf Channel.[75] SoCal Val appeared in a television commercial for Morphoplex.[76] Christy Hemme had roles in Bloodstained Memoirs, Fallen Angels, and Bubba's Chili Parlor. Hemme has also pursued a singing career and released songs on MySpace and iTunes.[77][78] Traci Brooks had a role in Zombie Beach Party.[79] Alissa Flash has a role in the 2010 documentary False Finish.[80] Former backstage interviewer Leticia Cline appeared in the fifth season of the reality series Beauty and the Geek in 2008, as well as the Howard Stern reality series Bowling Beauties.[81] Angelina Love had a role in the 2008 indie film titled Good Intentions starring country music star LeAnn Rimes and Luke Perry.[82] In 2012, Tara appeared in the U.S. reality show MTV Made coaching an aspiring teen trying to be a professional wrestler while Brooke Tessmacher and Velvet Sky also former Knockout Angelina Love appeared in the episode. In June 2012, Velvet Sky had the lead role in Montgomery Gentry's music video for their song "So Called Life".[83] In July 2012, Mickie James featured in Bucky Covington's music video for his song "Drinking Side of Country".[84] In June 2013, Mickie James starred in a Dr Pepper advert, which was part of the company's new advertising program. It featured "one of a kind" individuals talking about the role of Dr Pepper in their lives.[85]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Current Championships[edit]

Championship Current champion Date won Location Previous champion First champion
Knockouts Championship Gail Kim June 21, 2014 Bethlehem, PA Angelina Love Gail Kim

Former championships[edit]

Championship Last champion Date won Location Previous champion First champion
Knockouts Tag Team Championship ODB and Eric Young February 28, 2012 Orlando, Florida Gail Kim and Madison Rayne Sarita and Taylor Wilde

Miss TNA[edit]

The first Miss TNA was crowned on June 26, 2002, when Taylor Vaughn won a 9-woman lingerie battle royal. The title was abandoned in November 2002.

Wrestler: Reigns: Date: Place: Notes:
Taylor Vaughn 1 June 26, 2002 Huntsville, AL Defeats Alexis Laree, Elektra, Erin Bray, Francine, Miss Joni, Sasha, Shannon, and Teresa Tyler in a "Lingerie Battle Royal"
Bruce 1 July 31, 2002 Nashville, TN
April Pennington 1 November 27, 2002 Nashville, TN Pennington was given the crown by Bruce and the title was immediately abandoned
Title Abandoned November 27, 2002

TNA Babe/Knockout of the Year[edit]