“We have great, great chemistry. It doesn’t matter if you’re trained with the same person or worked with them before, it’s all about chemistry. We have that which is super exciting for me.”
-Taylor Wilde, on her and Sarita.
“We’ve seen on multiple occasions that the Beautiful People just don’t mesh well with any of these women. Madison Rayne & Tara work together fairly well, but that’s about it. Is it really so hard to match up the women who actually have in-ring chemistry and keep the ones who don’t away from each other? The writers aren’t doing the Knockouts any favors when they book matches like this.”
-KNOCKED OUT: the Month in Review 7/23/09-Hard Justice.
Just like the presentation issue that I’ve discussed before (KNOCKED OUT: Presentation is Key) the amount of in-ring chemistry shared between two competitors can make or break a wrestling match. You can have two great performers, but if, for some reason they have no chemistry together, they can deliver a match that stinks up the place.
The biggest recent example of this is Triple H & Randy Orton. Both very talented wrestlers, but I’ve lost count of how many times these men have faced each other and I don’t think they’ve ever had a single match that really excited me. And don’t even get me started on their Wrestlemania 25 debacle, which I literally fell asleep during.
Another good example would be Mickie James & Katie Lea Burchill. Two good wrestlers capable of having good matches, but they just couldn’t seem to have good matches together.
Both disappointing match ups that can be chalked up to a lack of in-ring chemistry.
We’ve seen this countless times in wrestling history. Some people just happen to work really well together and some people don’t. I still remember a match I saw back in the day in the original ECW between Kid Kash & EZ Money where Money attempted a top rope powerbomb and Kash astonishingly turned it into a hurracanrana in mid air. Later, I read an interview with Money in which he said that because of the chemistry they had, he could do things with Kash that he couldn’t do with anyone else and Kash could do things with Money that he couldn’t do with anyone else.
Now what does this have to do with the Knockouts, you ask?
As everyone knows, the feud that put the Knockout division on the map was Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong. The wars they had together were like nothing I had ever seen before in mainstream women’s wrestling. The reason their matches were so great was because they had an in-ring chemistry the likes of which you rarely see these days. Yes, Gail was an amazingly talented wrestler in her own right, but Kong turned out to be the perfect yin to her yang and when they faced each other in the ring they made magic happen every time. They were a female version of Kash/Money basically. The only problem was that Kong really didn’t have that same chemistry with any of the other girls (the ones not stuck with Muslim gimmicks anyway).
Not only has the Knockout division been lacking a feud of that caliber since Gail left last year, but a number of their matches in recent months have been subpar. Everyone will have their own explanations for that, but IMHO, this has been mostly due to bad match-making.
[Yes, TNA’s ridiculously short TV matches and notoriously awful booking played a part in this too, but we’ve all been over that a thousand times.]
Simply put, for most of 2009 thus far I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of Knockout matches being booked involving women who, despite being very talented, just don’t work well together because of a lack of in-ring chemistry. The frustrating part is that in many cases said lack of chemistry was obvious BEFORE those matches were made.
I could’ve told you before their Lockdown match that Angelina Love & Awesome Kong had very little chemistry together. They’d never even had a one-on-one match, but they’d had enough encounters in multi-person matches to tell me everything I needed to know. But this didn’t stop the TNA writers from booking a feud for them that – surprise, surprise – didn’t produce any noteworthy matches.
I could’ve told you after their match at Slammiversary that Angelina & Tara didn’t have much chemistry. I believe it’s the general consensus that none of their matches ever got out of first gear. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop that feud from happening either.
Then Angelina faced ODB in a brief feud that I think we’d all like to erase from our memories forever.
Those were the three feuds that Angelina had during her run with the belt, and that poor match-making made her title reign somewhat lackluster in a lot of people’s eyes. I’ve gone on record here saying that Angelina was a great champion and outside the ring that was true. She’s a good character and always delivers on the mic, cutting consistently solid and entertaining promos. However, inside the ring is where she ran into problems because the writers were not letting her work with women that she could have strong matches with.
Angelina has no chemistry with Kong and Tara (don’t even get me started on ODB); her matches with them were very forgettable. Angelina benefits from having a fast opponent -- put her in the ring with Taylor Wilde and she’ll deliver a much better match, and they haven’t even gone near each other yet, but I’m sure you’d get similar results by matching her up with Sarita.
And there have been many other such examples this year. ODB & Daffney showed in a mixed tag match on iMPACT that they didn’t work particularly well together, but that didn’t stop the writers from pitting them against each other in the Queen of the Cage match at Lockdown (albeit with two other women).
Sojourner Bolt doesn’t seem to have chemistry with ANYONE on the TNA roster, but the writers put her in a match with Awesome Kong at Destination-X that I’ve been trying like hell to forget about ever since.
Kong vs. Angelina at Sacrifice was the same type of thing -- decent enough, but pretty unremarkable.
Tara vs. Angelina at Slammiversary – disappointing any way you look at it.
The mixed tag Monster’s Ball at Slammiversary was a different story though. Taylor & Daffney had shown previously that they worked well together. They had enough chemistry that they could deliver solid matches given the opportunity. They got the opportunity at Slammiversary and they had a strong match. Yes, their feud ultimately fell victim to bad booking and gimmick match overload, but Taylor & Daffney proved that if you just put them in the ring and let them wrestle each other they will give you something good.
Concurrently, the same can be said to a greater extent for Sarita & Alissa Flash. After seeing them face each other in just a handful of matches (and knowing about their tremendous battles in SHIMMER) I think we may finally have a new ‘Kim/Kong’ type of rivalry in the Knockout division with these two. And by that I mean their chemistry is such that they don’t need any elaborate storyline or tons of overbooking to have a great match that gets really over. Just put them in the ring, let them wrestle and they will deliver the goods every time.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure the same can be said about the women at the top of the card.
At the time of this writing, Tara & Awesome Kong have come to blows on a couple of occasions on the iMPACT show and the way the writers are building this it’s probably leading up to a Bound for Glory match. I was excited about that prospect at first, but the more I see of them together, the more I’m starting to think that this could be a bad idea. And why? Because of their obvious lack of chemistry. In the brief moments when these women have locked horns their exchanges have not looked very good. See for yourself:
Is it my imagination or did that look kind of crappy? It was definitely a far cry from Awesome Kong/Gail Kim, not to mention the fact that the audience really didn’t react to it that much. From the way those punches were timed they were clearly trying to provoke the classic dueling “BOO!” “YEAH!” chants when a face and heel start wailing on each other, except it didn’t really happen. Tara also had a lot of trouble climbing onto Kong’s back.
Is this a prelude to what we’re going to get at BFG? I hope not. I really hope Kong & Tara prove me wrong, but I don’t have high hopes for that match right now. They’re both great wrestlers, but what if a lack of chemistry prevents them from having great matches together? That means TNA will have spent several months building up to a BFG match that doesn’t deliver, and we’re already going to have to suffer through too many matches on that PPV that won’t deliver anything if Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner & Booker T are going to be on the card.
At the very least put Kong & Tara on the house show circuit immediately to see if they work well together. If they do then we don’t have to worry. If they don’t then TNA management will still have time to figure out how to book their eventual PPV match to disguise that fact or simply change their plans before the match happens.
There are several replacement matches they could go with if Kong vs. Tara doesn’t work out. Kong vs. Alissa Flash, Kong vs. Ayako Hamada, Sarita vs. Alissa Flash, Sarita vs. Taylor Wilde. Any one of those matches would be amazing. Hell, I’ve only seen Sarita & Taylor wrestling against each other for about 5 seconds in the youtube video that introduced Sarita and I can already tell that that’s a money match waiting to happen.
Having said all that, I really doubt it will happen. One thing we know about TNA by now is that when this company makes up its’ mind about something they’re going to do it whether it’s a good idea or not (ex. reverse battle royal, Sharmell vs. Jenna Morasca, etc). I’m sure we’re going to have Tara vs. Awesome Kong in the near future, if not at BFG, and that match could very well be great, but it could also be a disappointment if it turns out that they have no in-ring chemistry together.
So in the interest of putting together strong, interesting match ups in the future, as well as avoiding bad or just plain boring ones, I have put together a list of women on the current roster that each of the Knockouts can and can’t have strong matches with because of in-ring chemistry or lack thereof.
Although, a lot of this comes from simply paying attention and observing their matches very closely, some of it is educated guess work. Bear in mind, there are a lot of other factors to consider: proper booking, how versatile certain women are, how well one person can carry or be carried by another, etc. I wouldn’t bet my life on how well I’ve nailed this, but I think it will turn out to be pretty accurate when it’s all said and done.
ALISSA FLASH/RAISHA SAEED
GOOD MATCH UPS: Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Ayako Hamada, Christy Hemme, Daffney, Madison Rayne, ODB, Sarita, Sojourner Bolt, Tara, Taylor Wilde, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
BAD MATCH UPS: Rhaka Khan.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Ayako Hamada, Daffney, Sarita, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Awesome Kong, Christy Hemme, Rhaka Khan, ODB, Sojourner Bolt, Tara.
UNDETERMINED: Madison Rayne, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Ayako Hamada, Christy Hemme, ODB, Sarita, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Angelina Love, Daffney, Madison Rayne, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Daffney, Madison Rayne, ODB, Sarita, Tara, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt.
UNDETERMINED: Christy Hemme, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Awesome Kong, Sarita, Tara, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: ODB, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt, Traci Brooks.
UNDTERMINED: Angelina Love, Ayako Hamada, Daffney, Madison Rayne, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Angelina Love, Ayako Hamada, Madison Rayne, Sarita, Tara, Taylor Wilde, Velvet Sky.
BAD MATCH UPS: Awesome Kong, ODB, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt.
UNDTERMINED: Christy Hemme, Traci Brooks.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Ayako Hamada, Daffney, Sarita, Tara, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Awesome Kong, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt.
UNDETERMINED: Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, ODB, Traci, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Awesome Kong, Ayako Hamada, Sarita, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, Daffney, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt.
UNDTERMINED: Madison Rayne, Tara, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: No one.
BAD MATCH UPS: Everyone.
UNDTERMINED: Why on earth hasn’t she been released yet?
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Ayako Hamada, Christy Hemme, Daffney, Madison Rayne, ODB, Sojourner Bolt, Tara, Taylor Wilde, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
BAD MATCHUPS: Rhaka Khan.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Ayako Hamada, Sarita, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Christy Hemme, Daffney, ODB, Rhaka Khan, Tara, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
UNDETERMINED: Madison Rayne.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Ayako Hamada, Christy Hemme, Daffney, Madison Rayne, Sarita, Taylor Wilde, Traci Brooks.
BAD MATCH UPS: Angelina Love, Sojourner Bolt, Rhaka Khan.
UNDETERMINED: Awesome Kong, ODB, Velvet Sky.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Angelina Love, Awesome Kong, Ayako Hamada, Christy Hemme, Daffney, Madison Rayne, ODB, Sarita, Sojourner Bolt, Tara, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky.
BAD MATCH UPS: Rhaka Khan.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Sarita, Tara, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Awesome Kong, Christy Hemme, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt, Velvet Sky.
UNDETERMINED: Angelina Love, Ayako Hamada, Daffney, Madison Rayne, ODB.
GOOD MATCH UPS: Alissa Flash, Daffney, Sarita, Taylor Wilde.
BAD MATCH UPS: Awesome Kong, Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt, Traci Brooks.
UNDETERMINED: Angelina Love, Ayako Hamada, Christy Hemme, Madison Rayne, ODB, Tara.