September 04, 2009

Booking Sarah Stock

Oringially posted on on 5/19/09.

Booking Sarah Stock

by FK9

You want to make somebody a star, have everybody in the company react like he IS one!!!
-Lance Storm.

I may take some heat from Newton Gimmick for quoting Lance Storm here but, damn it, this quote applies so I’m going to use it.

Since Gail Kim left TNA last year there have been plenty of wrestling pundits saying that the company needed to find someone new to take her place as the centerpiece of the Knockouts division. They tried Taylor Wilde out in that spot for a time, but despite being undeniably talented she didn’t seem to get over as much as they needed her to. I firmly believe that Melissa Anderson (Raisha Saeed) could’ve been the person they were looking for, but since TNA management just doesn’t seem to want to give her a shot for whatever reason, she’s off the table.

Then a few months ago TNA signed Dark Angel Sarah Stock and most circles seemed to agree that the company’s search for a new female centerpiece was probably over. There aren’t very many women out there in Stock’s league, so who better to fill Gail Kim’s shoes?

When she debuted for the company at her first set of TV tapings she started off with Xplosion matches against Awesome Kong and Taylor Wilde. She was even allowed to defeat Taylor, which is a bigger deal than you might think. The writers love Taylor and don’t let just anybody get over on her. So clearly TNA management thinks very highly of Stock if they’re already testing the waters with her matching up against the two most strongly booked women on the roster.

Now, before I go any further, I should address the report that TNA management was disappointed with these two matches. At the time of this writing, I have not seen the matches in question, but I think these rumors have been blown out of proportion.

They put Sarah Stock in the ring with Awesome Kong whose whole gimmick is about DECIMATING her opponents, not to mention the fact that she's got 10 inches and 150 lbs on Sarah. Plus, Xplosion matches usually only get about 4 minutes and change at most. I mean, realistically, what were they expecting? Did they think Sarah was going to be able to walk on water under those conditions? Give me a break; even Gail Kim would've looked unimpressive. Most people seem to have forgotten that Gail's first ever match with Kong (on iMPACT before BFG '07) wasn't great by any means either, because it was pretty short and she was basically booked to get squashed by Kong. If Kong vs. Sarah was booked similarly, then it's not surprising if it wasn't that good.

Presentation can make or break a wrestler and it can make or break a match. You can put the two greatest wrestlers on earth in the ring together, but if you present them in an idiotic way they could still have a stinker of a match.

And honestly, the report of Sarah having "weak offense" just makes me laugh. They've pushed Kong like an unstoppable engine of destruction; whose offense ISN’T going to look weak against that? Besides, in the brief clips of her debut that appeared in one of TNA’s Spanish language videos her offense looked just fine.

TNA has booked themselves into a corner with Awesome Kong by making her so dominant, and now pretty much every woman on the current roster (except maybe Taylor) has “weak offense” when they face Kong because that’s the way they’ve been presented. When Kong is obliterating people week after week for months on end, crushing her opponents in a matter of seconds, then OF COURSE other people’s offense is going to look weak. How could it NOT look weak? I would bet money that whatever problems there were in that match were due to the booking and the amount of time it was given, not Sarah.

The same report said that Sarah’s match with Taylor the next night was an improvement. So hopefully, TNA hasn’t given up on Sarah Stock being the new centerpiece of the Knockouts division just because she didn’t capture lightning in a bottle in her first match in the company, because I think she’s one of the few people who could actually pull that off.

The thing is, TNA already tried this once before with Taylor. She made her debut facing off against Awesome Kong and quickly scored two pinfall victories over her, immediately surpassing Gail Kim’s record against Kong. Supposedly, the writers were making an effort to create an instant new top star. Her push started out promisingly enough but ultimately it didn’t quite work out and in an earlier column I explained why I thought that was.

Taylor had the wrestling ability but what she lacked was the name recognition. People could see that she was a tremendous athlete but they had no idea who she was. And to have a virtual nobody walk in off the street and upset the dominant champion for the Knockouts title just didn’t fly with a lot of people.

With Sarah Stock this could potentially work. Like Taylor, Sarah is incredibly talented in the ring, but unlike Taylor, she’s also well known, at least by the smart marks. She’s competed in Shimmer, Ring of Honor and has been a star in Mexico for years.

This goes back to the Lance Storm quote at the top of the page as well as the presentation issue. Sarah Stock has all the qualifications, so if TNA presents her like a star the fans should perceive her as one.

This leads me to the whole point of this column. If TNA wants Sarah Stock to be their new female centerpiece (and reports suggest that they do) then they have to be smart with how they book her.

I was very encouraged by a recent internet article which said that the TNA writers were thinking ahead and already had the big matches planned for Bound for Glory. So that’s what I’m going to do here – plan a story arc for Sarah’s character all the way up to TNA’s biggest PPV of the year that will give her the best chance of success.

The first thing we need to do is disregard the webmatches she worked with Kong and Taylor. This will be easy because, as I’ve pointed out in the past, the webmatches have no bearing on what happens on TV. Besides, it’s not a given that TNA will ever upload them anyway.

We begin at Sacrifice. When the show starts we are informed that the winner of the Knockouts Monster’s Ball will receive a future title shot. The first women’s match of the night is the Knockouts championship match. Rather than facing Awesome Kong, Angelina Love defends her title against Sojourner Bolt because Bolt has the title match contract that she won from beating Taylor Wilde, which supersedes Kong’s revenge plans.

Angelina achieves a dominant victory over Bolt, squashing the #1 contender in under two minutes without the help of her Beautiful People cohorts. Post-match, the three members of My Pi Sexy beat down Bolt until she’s carried away on a stretcher and then stand tall in the ring celebrating the win as the announcers gush over how dangerous they are together and how the Beautiful People now appear to be ruling the Knockouts division.

Suddenly, Sarah Stock jumps out of the crowd. She climbs the turnbuckle, hits a missile dropkick on Madison, easily disposes of Velvet and nails one of her finishers on Angelina. All three of the heels are down within a matter of seconds. Sarah holds up the Knockouts title belt as her music plays.

The announcers go nuts, immediately recognizing her as an international superstar who was rumored to be coming to TNA, and Mike Tenay -- possessor of an encyclopedic knowledge of all things wrestling -- starts listing off her credentials from Canada, Mexico, Japan, etc. Then they cut to the Spanish announce table where Willie Urbina & Hector Guerrero are ecstatic. Hector holds up the latest edition of Super Luchas magazine to the camera and we see the picture of Sarah Stock on the cover.

Sarah lays the title belt over the unconscious Angelina and walks up the ramp, slapping high fives with the fans in the front row and leaves through the shoot of facial impact.

Later in the night, Sarah makes her in-ring debut in the Knockouts Monster’s Ball match. The announcers suggest that she’ll need to watch her back because Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne will definitely be gunning for her. Despite the Beautiful People’s best efforts to prevent it, Sarah wins the match by pinning Velvet Sky.

First we establish the Beautiful People as a dangerous force, then Sarah takes them all out (only by surprise, so the heels don’t look weak) which makes Sarah look formidable for getting the jump on them, and then she immediately establishes credibility by winning her debut match, the first ever Knockout’s Monsters Ball. Plus, the announcers already knowing who she is and then telling the casual fans who don’t makes her look important instantly.

The next Thursday on iMPACT, TBP come out to the ring too pissed off to even bother with their usual entrance. Angry about what happened to them at Sacrifice, Angelina demands that Sarah Stock show herself. Sarah comes out and tells the heels that she did what she did at the PPV to make a statement. Angelina talks trash and scoffs at Sarah. She says that My Pi Sexy has her in their crosshairs, that the last woman they targeted (Bolt) is now lying in a hospital bed, and that after Slammiversary, Sarah will be lying right next to her.

Not intimidated, Sarah informs Angelina that, if you read the fine print on the title match contract she won at Sacrifice, you’ll see that the match isn’t for Slammiversary, it’s for whenever Sarah wants it, and she wants it tonight. Sarah then issues a warning to the heels – she has plans in TNA, and those plans involve the Knockouts championship but they don’t involve Angelina. Irate, TBP attack Sarah but she grabs the ropes and escapes, looking like all they did was piss her off. She backs up the ramp, cussing out the heels in Spanish.

Love vs. Stock for the title is booked to be the main event of the show (the Main Event Mafia can take a backseat for one week, can’t they?), which emphasizes the importance of the match, the Knockouts championship and Sarah Stock herself. Velvet and Madison attack Sarah on the ramp before the bell rings to soften her up and pull all their usual interference tactics during the match. Sarah fights through everything and gets the pin despite all this, winning the title in a huge upset. Angelina is shocked, the announcers are shocked, but Sarah acts as if the outcome was never in doubt at all. The show ends with her celebrating with the belt as Tenay and West talk about how the arrival of Sarah Stock has turned the Knockouts division on its head.

The next week, Sarah Stock, now the Knockouts champion, cuts an in-ring promo, calling out Taylor Wilde. Not sure what’s going on, Taylor joins her in the ring. Sarah now elaborates on those plans she alluded to the week before. She explains that she’s been in the business for years, won countless accolades, wrestled all over the world, never stopping, never slowing down because she didn’t just want to be great, she wanted to be the best women’s wrestler in the world and TNA is the last stop on the road to achieving that goal.

She says that when she first started out, she made a list of all the top women in the industry that she would have to beat in order to prove to the entire world that she was the best, and after several years of busting her ass there are only three names left on that list. The reason she signed with TNA is because those three remaining women are all current members of the Knockouts division and one of them is Taylor Wilde.

Sarah then challenges Taylor to a match at Slammiversary. She offers to put the Knockouts title on the line, but adds that there is nothing at stake for her because she doesn’t plan on losing. Taylor might be the best in TNA, but she’s never faced anyone like her before and may not be in Sarah’s league. Excited about a title shot and intrigued by the opportunity to test her skills against someone like Sarah Stock, Taylor says she just might prove Sarah wrong.

The Beautiful People interrupt them. Angelina is furious about losing the championship and demands a rematch immediately. Sarah agrees to it without hesitation. In their rematch, Velvet and Madison once again interfere on Angelina’s behalf. But this time they’ve learned from their previous mistake and their interference is more effective. It looks like Angelina is on the verge of winning when Taylor appears and fights off the heels at ringside. Now that the match is a fair contest, Sarah rallies and pins Angelina a second time.

Post-match, the babyfaces shake hands, stare each other down, and Sarah Stock vs. Taylor Wilde for the Knockouts championship is set for Slammiversary with the announcers wondering who the other two names on Sarah’s list are.

Later in the show, Sarah interrupts Raisha Saeed during a backstage promo about how Awesome Kong is still hungry for revenge for what TBP did to her. Sarah suggests that instead of saying how angry Kong is, maybe Saeed should grow some guts, try thinking for herself for a change and be upset about losing her own hair at the hands of TBP.

The next week, Sarah and Taylor compete in a fatal four way with Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne. Trying to one up each other, each of them pin one of the heels at the exact same time. The referee counts for both but judges that Sarah was just a little bit faster and declares her the winner.

Later, Sarah interrupts another Raisha Saeed promo and encourages her to be more than just Awesome Kong’s lackey. Saeed insists that she’s nobody’s lackey, but Sarah laughs at this, saying that no one believes that, not even Saeed herself. Saeed says nothing else, but appears to be thinking about what Sarah is telling her.

A week later, Sky & Rayne demand a rematch and the same situation occurs, this time with Taylor coming out victorious. “Taylor is showing Sarah Stock that anything you can do, I can do better,” says Mike Tenay. The announcers agree that Sarah will have a fight on her hands at the PPV and suggest that Taylor may have found her athletic equal.

During a backstage segment, Saeed and Kong are seen arguing about something. Tenay & West say it looks like all the recent frustrations are starting to get to the two of them.

Later still, TBP, enraged by all their recent humiliations, barge into Jim Cornette’s office and demand an outlet for their anger. Happy to oblige, Cornette books another match for Slammiversary with them facing the women whose hair they cut off recently, Daffney & Raisha Saeed, and their partner, the woman TBP screwed out of the title at Lockdown and has been dying for payback ever since, Awesome Kong.

At Slammiversary, TBP, now pissed off beyond belief, eradicate their opponents. They keep Daffney and Saeed isolated from Kong. This is made easy because Saeed refuses to tag in Kong, wanting to beat TBP herself. My Pi Sexy win the match by pinning Saeed. Kong never even gets a chance to tag in and is very upset with Saeed afterward. The announcers make note of this, saying that Kong and Saeed don’t seem to be on the same page anymore.

Backstage, Saeed is angry about Kong chewing her out. Sarah approaches her and says that if she were in Saeed’s place she would never let Kong treat her like that. Saeed listens intently.

Sarah Stock & Taylor Wilde have their title match. No heel tactics, no funny business, just two people trying to find out who the better woman is. The match is given plenty of time with both of them pulling out all the stops and Sarah is ultimately victorious. Sarah celebrates post-match, indicating that there are now two names left on her list. Meanwhile, Taylor, clearly taking the loss very hard, trudges to the back, disappointed and kicking herself for coming up short.

By making her PPV debut as the Knockouts champion at Slammiversary (one of TNA’s “big 4” PPVs) Sarah Stock is put over like a big deal, and by defeating Taylor, who is the most credible babyface in the Knockouts division, she proves that her wrestling ability is second to none.

The next Thursday on iMPACT, Sarah cuts another in-ring promo, saying now that she’s crossed Taylor Wilde off her list it’s one down and two to go. Then she calls out the next woman on the list: Awesome Kong. Tenay & West say that if Kong was on Sarah’s list then her actions over the last month are now making sense. She was obviously trying to drive a wedge between Kong and Raisha Saeed, her closest ally, to make it easier to defeat Kong.

Sarah offers Kong the same thing she offered Taylor, a title match at the next PPV, Victory Road. Kong quickly accepts, but then Sarah warns her that if what happened at Slammiversary is any indication, she might not be able to trust Saeed anymore. Kong and Saeed stare at each other uneasily as Sarah leaves the ring with the announcers wondering who the final name on her list is because after Taylor and Kong there don’t seem to be any other likely candidates.

Unlike the build up to Slammiversary, the build up to Sarah’s Victory Road match consists of her playing mind games with Kong and Saeed, continuing to push Saeed to become more independent of Kong. Saeed starts listening to her more and more, because the more Sarah does this, the angrier Kong gets at Saeed for listening, the more Sarah does it, the more Saeed listens, and so on. This all escalates until Kong & Saeed nearly come to blows on the go-home show and need to be separated by security.

This puts over Sarah Stock as not only being a tremendous competitor, but also being very smart and cunning on top of that.

At Victory Road, before the match, Saeed and Kong cut a promo where Saeed says that they’ve worked things out, cooler heads have prevailed and that Sarah will not come between them.

Seemingly back on the same page, Saeed accompanies Kong to the ring. Kong’s raw power allows her to slowly get the better of Sarah until, during one of Sarah’s hope spots, Saeed attempts to interfere on Kong’s behalf as she usually does. Her interference backfires, which leads to Sarah taking advantage and getting the upset pin on Kong.

Afterward, Sarah quickly leaves the ring, leaving Kong and Saeed alone. Kong is absolutely livid. The two of them start to argue, Saeed slaps Kong in the face. She tries to do it again, but Kong catches her hand, nails her in the gut and awesome bombs the crap out of Saeed! Kong turns to leave the ring, but then stops. She turns around, glares at Saeed’s unconscious body, walks back to it… AND TEARS OFF THE BURQA!

Tenay and West are astounded, but not so much that they fail to realize and point out that without the burqa, Raisha Saeed doesn’t look Muslim at all. She’s obviously Caucasian. Sarah smiles as she watches all this from the entranceway.

The next Thursday on iMPACT, Kong wins a squash match (against who doesn’t really matter) showing that she’s still as dominant as she ever was despite the loss to Sarah. Suddenly, Raisha Saeed appears in the entranceway. She’s wearing American street clothes and couldn’t look less Muslim if she tried. She gives her former friend a death stare, looking like she wants Kong’s blood in the worst way… and then charges down the ramp and attacks Kong like a bat out of hell! Kong has an obvious size and strength advantage, but amazingly, Saeed seems to get the better of the exchange before they are separated by security. Jim Cornette comes out looking very concerned and instructs security to take Saeed to his office immediately.

A week later, Jim Cornette comes out to the ring to explain the situation. He then asks Saeed to join him, referring to her as “Melissa Anderson”. He explains that after researching her contract he’s made some surprising discoveries. Apparently, in late 2007 Melissa made a deal with the TNA marketing department, and was offered a contract on the basis of her being a certain person (Raisha Saeed) while on television. Now that she’s not wearing the burqa, not pretending to be that person anymore, it technically puts her in breach of contract, meaning that he has to fire her.

But Cornette is sympathetic to Melissa’s situation and offers her a deal: he’s going to give her a match at Hard Justice and if she can defeat the opponent that he selects he’ll tear up her existing contract and present her with a new one that allows her to compete in TNA as herself rather than as Saeed. Melissa says she’ll beat anyone Cornette puts in front of her and asks who her opponent is.

Sarah Stock’s music hits the loudspeaker and she walks out wearing a $h!t-eating grin that can only mean one thing: Melissa is the last woman on her list. Tenay & West are flabbergasted as they finally put it together that Sarah was orchestrating this whole thing from day one.

The next week, Cornette tells Sarah that since this match is about Melissa’s contract status she’s not required to put the Knockouts championship on the line. But Sarah wants to do it anyway because she’s confident that she will defeat Melissa and doesn’t want to be a paper champion who won’t defend her title against all comers. This makes the match title vs. career. Mike Tenay says that she may have a pretty high opinion of herself, but no one can accuse Sarah Stock of not being a fighting champion.

Rough Cut videos spotlighting Melissa begin airing on iMPACT detailing her background and how she broke into the business. Through these videos we learn that the story of Melissa and Kong training together in Japan was always true. The only thing that was ever a lie was the part about her being a Muslim from Syria – that came about one day when her former friend, Kong, let Melissa know that TNA management was looking to add another woman to her act. But the marketing department didn’t want some girl off the streets of San Francisco, they wanted someone who could add to Kong’s mystique. So Melissa made a deal with them -- she put on the burqa and learned to speak with the accent, all so she would be offered a contract and get her foot in the door in TNA.

Melissa says that she knew the burqa was necessary, but she always hated it. She explains how difficult it was to wrestle in the Muslim garb because it was so restricting that she couldn’t move properly and couldn’t do her normal move set, which caused her to lose many matches. She says now that she’s not wearing it anymore people will finally see what Melissa Anderson is truly capable of and promises to defeat Sarah Stock at Hard Justice.

On the go-home show, Sarah and Melissa have an in-ring confrontation. Sarah explains that while they have to play dumb when the cameras are rolling, behind the scenes all the Knockouts always knew that Saeed was actually Melissa and that’s why she set this whole thing up. Sarah didn’t want to beat the joke that was Raisha Saeed; she wanted to beat Melissa Anderson (Cheerleader Melissa), the woman widely regarded as one of the best female competitors in the industry. She wanted to beat Melissa at her absolute best.

Melissa says that unlike Taylor Wilde and Awesome Kong, she is not going to be a stepping stone for Sarah and tells her that she has bitten off more than she can chew because at Hard Justice, Sarah is only fighting for bragging rights whereas Melissa is fighting for her livelihood. Melissa says that after Hard Justice, not only will she have her new contract, but she will be the new Knockouts champion.

At Hard Justice the match turns into a brutal contest. Tenay and West point out that the difference between Saeed and Melissa is night and day, and now that she’s free of the Muslim gimmick Melissa seems like a completely different wrestler – it’s as if she’s been reborn. Melissa defeats Sarah, winning a new TNA contract as well as the Knockouts championship.

Sarah is absolutely crushed – she underestimated Melissa and after coming so close to achieving her goal, she was beaten. Not only that, but she lost the Knockouts title that she chose to put on the line in the first place.

This accomplishes three important things:

1) it rids Melissa of the counterproductive Muslim gimmick that prevented her from wrestling to the best of her ability and provides a logical and realistic excuse for her terrible win/loss record when she was Saeed.

2) by defeating Sarah Stock, who by then had been built up into an extremely credible character, the repackaged Melissa immediately establishes herself as the new top of the food chain in the Knockouts division, creating a new top star.

3) it shows us that for all Sarah Stock’s many talents, she isn’t perfect and she is beatable. We see that she has a tendency to get overconfident and underestimate people, and also that she demands a lot from herself and takes losses extremely hard. This adds a new layer to her character, making her more three dimensional and thus more interesting.

On the next iMPACT, Melissa cuts an in-ring promo saying that, in her mind, the winner of the match was never in doubt. The reason Sarah is no longer the champion is because she took Melissa lightly and another person who took Melissa lightly was Awesome Kong. She says Kong threw away an eight year friendship out of fear – fear that Melissa was growing beyond her control. Melissa says that Kong is afraid of her and she always has been because Melissa knows her better than anyone else. She knows how Kong thinks, how she fights, how she wrestles. She knows Kong’s strengths, she knows Kong’s weaknesses, and the only thing Kong knows is that she can’t beat Melissa. And at No Surrender she’s going to prove it. Then Kong comes out. Unafraid, Melissa meets her on the ramp and they start tearing into each other.

Later, Taylor confronts a demoralized Sarah backstage. Taylor says that now Sarah knows how much it sucks to be a stepping stone for someone else. She says she recognizes the look on Sarah’s face because she saw that same look in a mirror once upon a time. Taylor suggests that maybe it isn’t Sarah’s failure to beat Melissa but rather the loss of the Knockouts championship that’s really bothering her.

Ever since Sarah beat her at Slammiversary that loss has been eating at Taylor and she’s been dying for a rematch. At Hard Justice, Taylor saw Sarah look vulnerable for the first time since she came to TNA, so what better time than now? She tells Sarah to prove that she’s still the better wrestler and challenges her to a rematch. This seems to spark something in Sarah and she accepts.

In the weeks leading up to the PPV, Melissa decides to give Kong a preview of their upcoming match by beating the one woman in TNA that everyone says has always seemed to have Kong’s number: Taylor Wilde. Melissa defeats Taylor in a very close, hard fought match that looks like it could’ve gone either way. The announcers point out that, while Melissa did gain the victory over Taylor, she didn’t come by it easily. Taylor came closer to beating Melissa than Sarah did and a rematch down the road seems inevitable.

At No Surrender, Taylor and Sarah have their rematch. Sarah, her confidence still shaken from the loss to Melissa the month before, is off her game, and this time Taylor is the victor. Mike Tenay says this win is validation for Taylor as she proved that she is as good as Sarah Stock.

After the match Sarah is pissed off. The two women get into an argument and come to blows. Using this as a distraction, Melissa hits the ring and destroys both of them. The announcers deduce that Melissa knows both of these women are likely to be in line for title shots in the near future and she’s taking care of them before they become a problem for her. They caution Melissa to not look passed Awesome Kong, who is shown watching on a monitor backstage.

When Kong and Melissa face each other for the Knockouts title later in the show we see Kong in a position that we’ve never seen her in before. Proving exactly what she said, Melissa outwrestles Kong at every turn. Every time Kong attempts one of her signature moves Melissa has it scouted. She escapes the implant buster. She escapes the awesome bomb. Every single thing Kong attempts Melissa has a counter for it. Kong’s strength advantage allows her a good deal of offense despite this, but ultimately, Melissa wins the match in impressive fashion, leaving everyone stunned that Kong was beaten so easily.

Many people might question an angle that makes Awesome Kong look so weak. To those people I pose this question: does being vulnerable to kryptonite make Superman a more interesting character or a less interesting character? The answer is more interesting. Without kryptonite creating a chink in his armor for people like Lex Luthor to exploit, Superman is the most powerful being in the world with no weaknesses whatsoever and that is BORING.

The same thing applies to Kong. She’s the most powerful, dominant woman in the wrestling industry, except she can’t beat Melissa because Melissa is her kryptonite. She’s beaten nearly everyone else who’s ever gotten a pin on her (Gail, Taylor, Christy) and Sarah only beat her at Victory Road because Melissa’s interference backfired. But for some reason, when she’s in the ring with Melissa, she just can’t seem to get the better of her because Melissa knows her too well.

Yes, this gives Kong a vulnerability, but that vulnerability makes her more layered and interesting – suddenly she becomes more than just the indestructible monster who destroys people. Kong ceases to be a cardboard cutout and becomes an actual character. Plus, it gives the fans a reason to rally behind her whenever she faces Melissa. Sometimes it’s not necessarily a bad thing for a character to look weak (something Triple H has forgotten).

The next night on iMPACT, Melissa comes out to the ring to celebrate what she calls toppling the giant. She says that, to her, the Knockouts title means restitution after the worst year of her life that she spent hidden under a burqa. She says she will die before she lets anyone take it from her.

She is interrupted by Sarah. Sarah thanks Taylor for the match and actually thanks Melissa for attacking her at No Surrender because those two things helped Sarah get her head straight and shook her out of the funk she was in. But she says Melissa should be careful not to poke the bear because when you poke the bear, the bear gets angry. Sarah challenges Melissa to a match that night, vowing not to underestimate her a second time.

In their non-title rematch, Sarah defeats Melissa, the last person on her list, finally accomplishing what she set out to do when she first came to TNA. But seemingly not caring about that, she grabs the Knockouts title belt and holds it over Melissa, looking insanely pissed off.

The next week, Sarah and Melissa meet in the ring. Sarah says that beating Melissa last week should’ve been the shining moment of her career. It was the end result of years of hard work, but it didn’t feel that way at all. Instead it just felt empty because there was one piece of the puzzle missing.

Sarah says she’s now beaten everyone there is to beat, she’s proven that she’s the best women’s wrestler in the world, but maybe that doesn’t mean what she thought it meant. She’s realized that a queen isn’t a queen without a crown and now it’s time to get her crown back. She challenges Melissa to a championship match at Bound for Glory.

Before Melissa can answer, they’re interrupted by Taylor Wilde. Taylor says that since she won at No Surrender, that should make her the #1 contender, not Sarah. And just when it’s about to become a triple threat match, Awesome Kong appears, lays out all three of them with a steel chair and awesome bombs Melissa through a table.

The match is booked for Bound for Glory: Melissa defending the title in a fatal four-way against Sarah Stock, Taylor Wilde and Awesome Kong.

Melissa, who despises Kong, now knows that Sarah can beat her and fears Taylor may be able to beat her as well, but will do anything to keep the title even when she has to defend it against three former champions.

Taylor, who has plenty of history with Kong, wants to prove she has what it takes to beat Melissa, and has an increasingly personal rivalry with Sarah.

Kong, who hates Melissa with a passion and wants nothing more than to prove she can beat her, has always hated Taylor for taking the Knockouts title from her the first time she held it and hates Sarah for using her as a stepping stone, wanting to even the score with her too.

And Sarah, who, by defeating Taylor, Kong and Melissa, has accomplished her goal of beating everyone on her list, thereby giving her the claim of being the best women’s wrestler in the world, but realized that all that is meaningless without the richest prize in the sport: the TNA Knockouts championship.

Four women, the current champion and three former champions, all of whom want the title, but who also have very personal reasons to want to tear each other apart that have nothing to do with the title. They meet at Bound for Glory, TNA’s biggest show of the entire year and they have a match that turns into an absolute war.

Sarah ultimately wins the match and the title by pinning the champion, giving her best two out of three against Melissa and completing a story arc that has been developing over the past five plus months.

The pros of this storyline:

-the Knockouts title gains importance by having four women of this caliber fighting over it for months.

-two new women are elevated into the title picture and are made to look like credible contenders, which is something the TNA writers have had a problem with in the past because of their tunnel vision (re: KNOCKED OUT: the Price of Tunnel Vision).

-Melissa Anderson, in a way that is both realistic and organic to her character, is freed of a gimmick that was holding her back and is established as a powerful force in the Knockouts division.

-Taylor Wilde gains some notoriety by garnering a win over Sarah and taking Melissa to the limit, proving that she belongs among the elite women in the industry.

-Awesome Kong is made a more three dimensional character and is given two new potential rivalries with women she can have believably competitive matches with.

-the Bound for Glory match sets up several potential offshoot storylines such as Kong and/or Taylor struggling to gain a win over Melissa, Taylor & Sarah’s eventual rubber match, and so on.

And last but not least…

-Sarah Stock, now more humble from her experiences and having a better grasp on what is truly important to her, is firmly established as the premiere female superstar in the company by becoming only the 2nd two time Knockouts champion in history, winning the title on TNA’s biggest stage. And this is accomplished through an angle that takes advantage of the two necessary components she needed to be a viable replacement for Gail Kim (her wrestling ability and name recognition) by using them as a story-telling device.

The cons of this storyline:

-some people might question the freshness of this matchup since these women will have been feuding with each other in various combinations for months by the time Bound for Glory roles around. That’s a valid point, but if you go back and read closely you’ll see that every time these women face off in the ring the match ends up telling a different story. Every time the match has a different purpose. Others may not buy that as an excuse, but IMO, I think it works.

And that brings us to the end of this column, as I’ve been typing for hours and my hands are cramping up.


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