the Female Terminator
“Looks like we could be seeing the last of Kong’s Syrian cohort in TNA. According to our partners at the Wrestling Globe Newsletter, TNA is dropping the ‘burkha babe’ character soon. Raisha Saeed, real name Melissa Anderson, will be taking on the persona of ‘Future Legend’ Melissa Flash.
Anyone who has seen Melissa’s SHIMMER matches can attest to how smashmouth and hard-hitting she can be and is probably salivating for her debut. Well, you have a long wait ahead. In three weeks time, Flash will have her official debut against fellow newcomer, Sarita on Impact.
Personally, I never cared much for Raisha Saeed as a character, so I’m glad to see her go. Especially if the trade off is Cheerleader Melissa. Melissa, along with Sarita, could be serious contenders for the Knockouts title in the near future.”
If you’ve read just about any installment of the KNOCKED OUT column since I started writing this thing back in November then odds are you’re well aware of my unconditional, unabashed and slightly obsessive adoration for indy women’s wrestler Melissa Anderson a.k.a. Cheerleader Melissa a.k.a. TNA Knockout, Raisha Saeed. So you can probably imagine the cartwheels I was doing when I read the news item you see above.
For those who don’t know, Melissa is one of the best female competitors in the wrestling industry, but if you’ve only seen her as Raisha Saeed in TNA you really wouldn’t know that. TNA signed a woman who is so skilled, so aggressive, who takes so much glee in punishing her opponents that she’s affectionately known in fan circles as the female terminator, and they made her a manager. And enhancement talent. And a Muslim for some reason.
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.
This is Melissa on the independent circuit:
And this is Melissa in TNA:
Would you believe this is the same woman? I mean, good lord! To say that Melissa has been the most underutilized talent on the entire TNA roster since she signed with that company is a colossal understatement.
Truth be told, I didn’t mind the Raisha Saeed gimmick too much in the beginning. Sure, it hindered Melissa in the ring, it never got over in the least, it was campy, stupid, kind of offensive and it didn’t make any sense. But it did add a little something to Awesome Kong’s act and it provided her with a mouthpiece, which she needed, being a character that wasn’t allowed to cut her own promos for some reason.
It seemed acceptable as a way to introduce her character. I figured TNA would do this for a few months, then have her and Kong turn on each other, unmask Saeed, unleash Melissa and let her start destroying people like only she can.
A YEAR AND A HALF LATER… Raisha Saeed was still on my TV, still getting zero crowd reaction, still jobbing to every woman on the roster, still making me want to pull my hair out by the roots. But that wasn’t even the worst part.
The worst part was that TNA management had been given innumerable chances to realize that they had missed the boat with this woman and should let her contribute to the Knockouts division in far greater ways than they were allowing her to and they just never seemed to get the picture.
The 1st of the 2 most maddening examples of this came about 13 months ago. Melissa (in her cheerleader gimmick) was given a match against fellow Shimmer regular, Daizee Haze, that somehow ended up airing on iMPACT despite neither of them being on-screen characters. The match was the highest rated segment of the show and was better than any singles match Melissa had worked as Saeed up to that point. Not only that, but Melissa was over; REALLY over. She was over like ODB used to be before the heat on her cooled off. She had the audience completely behind her despite the fact that she was playing the heel during the match.
Many fans were thrilled (I know I was) and took this as a sign that TNA management had finally wised up, was going to phase out the increasingly pointless Raisha Saeed character and finally allow Melissa to be herself.
To this day, Melissa has not appeared a 2nd time on TNA television unless it’s been from under that damn burqa.
The 2nd example made things even more frustrating. Gail Kim left TNA, and in the months that followed we were treated to one report after another saying that TNA management felt the Knockouts division was suffering without her and that they were searching for a suitable replacement to fill the void and become their new female centerpiece figure. In the meantime we were forced to suffer through inexplicable pushes that the writers began giving to woefully mediocre talents like Christy Hemme and, even more disturbingly, Sojourner Bolt & Rhaka Khan – 2 women who shouldn’t even be on television.
And to add even more poison to the knife, right after Gail left they did an angle on iMPACT where ODB unmasked Saeed backstage, off camera, then came out and displayed the stolen burqa for all the world to see, getting a big pop from the crowd, clearly teasing the end of the Muslim gimmick. And how did TNA follow this up? They didn’t. Kong defeated ODB at the No Surrender PPV and they continued on with the Saeed character as if it never happened.
It was at this point that I really started to wonder if the people in the TNA writer’s room had any idea what they were doing with their female roster, or worse yet, if they just didn’t care one way or the other. Because the bottom line is this: after Gail left, they could have unmasked Saeed, pushed Melissa into the ‘Gail Kim’ spot, and they could’ve continued on without missing a step. Period. Why they didn’t do this, I have absolutely no idea.
But it’s possible that this may finally be coming to an end now. At last month’s TV tapings Melissa faced Awesome Kong in a dark match that, from all reports, tore the house down. According to the spoilers, Melissa received a huge reaction and had the crowd 100% behind her. Shortly afterward, the following report came out:
“People were raving about the Melissa Anderson vs. Awesome Kong match that
took place as a dark match at the last set of iMPACT tapings. Anderson is better
known as Cheerleader Melissa or Raisha Saeed. The match was said to have blown
The match was so good that when it was over, Raven
remarked that it was the best women’s wrestling match he had seen in ten years.
For what it’s worth, Raven isn’t known for being generous like that when it
comes to complimenting someone’s work. Word is that if it was compared to the
Kong vs. Gail Kim matches of 2008...
At the next set of TV tapings, Melissa wrestled as herself again, but under the name ‘Alissa Flash’, this time against new Knockout, Sarita (Sarah Stock). At the time of this writing, Sarita is scheduled to make her iMPACT debut in 2 weeks, and unless it turns out to be a webmatch or dark match, her 1st official TV match will be with Melissa.
The question is: has TNA finally gotten a clue and decided to start using Melissa the way she should be used or is this just going to be another one time thing like the Daizee Haze match was?
I’m cautiously optimistic that it could be the former. In the Daizee Haze match Melissa was billed as ‘Cheerleader Melissa’, but it’s significant that they’ve changed her name because TNA has a real hang up about owning their on-screen characters’ names for licensing reasons. There would be no point in changing Melissa’s name if she was just going to continue on as Saeed and only work as herself in dark matches.
So has Melissa’s time finally come or is this just another cruel tease sure to further frustrate and torment her fans?
We’ll find out soon enough. Cross your fingers.