September 05, 2009

Knockout Tag Team Titles

Originally posted on on 9/01/09.

Knockout Tag Team Titles

by FK9

Did you hear that challenge that Storm just put out? I so hope that is for the
knockouts because you and me we would be knockout tag team champs. I
mean, really, that would be amazing.

-Roxxi, on her & Taylor Wilde becoming tag team champions.

The tag division is not something fans have gotten to see with the women professionally, and that’s what TNA is going to offer next, and I’m so excited about it.
-Taylor Wilde.

I didn’t spend too much time pondering the 1st quote above when Roxxi said it on iMPACT back in February, but I’ll admit it raised my eyebrows. Two weeks later the knockouts competed in a 4-corners tag team match with the Beautiful People vs. Taylor/Roxxi vs. Kong/Saeed vs. Bolt/Khan and the wheels in my head started turning.

Then, earlier this week I read the 2nd above quote in an interview with Taylor and I figured it was only a matter of time.

The very next Thursday TNA made it official. The announcement was made in a backstage interview that the company was starting a tournament to crown the first ever knockout tag team champions.

If you’ve seen the Knocked Out DVD then you know that TNA’s women’s division is something that Dixie Carter is especially proud of. And who could blame her? They draw big ratings on iMPACT and with the exception of some bumps in the road over the last year their matches have been, for the most part, very good. If Ms. Carter wants to continue to push the envelope with it then a tag team division would be the next logical step.

This may come as a surprise to the readers of this column, but I think this would be a bad idea.

Years ago, in the dying days of WCW, the higher ups in that company decided to institute cruiserweight tag team titles. Despite being a huge fan of the cruiserweight division I was completely against this for many reasons – the main reason being that the decision makers had obviously not put enough thought into the idea to really execute it properly. This could turn into a similar situation if TNA is not very careful.

When you think about it, TNA management seem to have been testing the waters with knockout tag teams since the division was first created. There have been several notable tag team feuds including Gail Kim/ODB vs. Awesome Kong/Raisha Saeed, Roxxi/Taylor Wilde vs. Kong/Saeed and Roxxi/Taylor vs. the Beautiful People. Most of the time, these matches have been good to great.

I still don’t think it would work though -- at least not right now. TNA just wouldn’t be able to do it properly and there are several reasons for this:

1) the more championships you have, the less important they all are. For a perfect example, look at the other company. WWE has EIGHT (nine until recently) championships and they mean so little that I’m not even sure who all the champions are anymore. They did at least do something to better this situation by unifying the two sets of tag team titles at Wrestlemania 25, but what about what they’re doing with the women? They have a women’s championship and a diva’s championship and both titles are practically worthless (sorry, Mickie, but it’s true). They created a second title for the divas on Smackdown but all they really accomplished was shining a spotlight on how much they had watered down their women’s roster by splitting it up across two separate brands (ECW doesn’t really count).

In comparison, TNA has five championships to their company’s name and also currently has the IWGP tag titles being defended on their show as well. If you add women’s tag team championships to the mix on top of that then suddenly TNA is starting to rival WWE in terms of the number of title belts they have lying around. And let’s be honest – not all of those belts are made to look important these days. The X-division title doesn’t mean what it used to unfortunately and the legend’s title is even more worthless than the WWE diva’s title right now.

So far, the TNA knockouts title has been portrayed as something very prestigious – at least it was until the writers pissed all over it with the ODB/Cody Deaner mess. If tag team titles were created, a lot of that focus would be taken off of it.

Plus, there’s the possibility that this is being done, not because it’s the right time to do it, but because management simply wants to get a return on their investment in the women who don’t get much screen time. One of the criticisms about the knockout division right now is that the roster is so crowded that many of the women are not seen for weeks at a time, if ever. But the key thing here is that there is a very good reason why some of those girls are hardly ever used – they have no talent to speak of. A tag team division would give these women something to do, yes, but why do people think that’s a good thing?

Seriously, does ANYONE really want to see the Rhaka Khan/Sojourner Bolt tag team even getting TV time, much less vying for title belts? Lord, no! Either as a tag team or as singles wrestlers, those two no-talent idiots are a complete waste of time, space and money and need to be cut from the roster yesterday. To have losers like them being anywhere near a set of tag team championships would just prove that those belts mean nothing and were only meant to be vanity titles created to give the jobbers on the roster something to do other than simply take up space.

2) they don’t have enough (talented) women. If you create a tag team division you’re going to need a certain number of bodies to compete in it. With the current roster they could have a knockouts title picture or a watered down tag title picture, but not both. If they wanted both there are some things that would need to happen first. They’d have to make roster cuts to get rid of the dead weight and free up some space and then they’d need to sign four or five more women. And that leads us to…

3) they don’t have enough tag teams. Putting two random singles wrestlers with nothing in common together does not make them a team. Tara & Christy Hemme are not a team. Traci Brooks & Sharmell are not a team. Teams are two people who dress in similar ring attire, have tandem offense and a team name. Ex. Motor City Machine Guns, Beer Money, etc.

Right now TNA only has two, possibly three really viable female tag teams:

-the Beautiful People.
-Awesome Kong & Raisha Saeed.
-Taylor Wilde & Sarita, who have all the makings of a great team and just need to be repackaged as one.

Three good teams won’t sustain a competitive division for long. At the bare minimum you’d need two more teams, three more to be really safe, and they couldn’t be just anybody either. There’s apparently going to be eight teams in this tournament, which means that the writers are probably going to be cannibalizing the entire knockout roster, throwing together a bunch of women who have never even worked with each other before just to create tag teams to compete in it. That simply will not work.

And TNA couldn’t just sign two women who had never met before, give them matching tights and call them a team either. Believable chemistry is very important in tag team wrestling and it’s not something you can manufacture; either you have it or you don’t.

4) there isn’t enough screen time to go around. Even now the TNA writers rush through angles and storylines every week just to cover all the ground they want to cover. With new women, new teams and a new championship, things would be rushed even more. There just isn’t enough screen time available to give it the attention it would need.

Would a female tag team division work under the current conditions? I really doubt it. Would it work under ideal conditions? Possibly. But a lot of stars would have to align before TNA would be able to pull it off successfully.

1st, they’d need more screen time. I don’t mean freeing up extra time on iMPACT -- I mean TNA would need a second weekly show. A while back there were rumors that TNA and SpikeTV were toying with the idea of giving the women their own spin-off show because they had been drawing so well on iMPACT. Recently, there were new rumors that TNA was angling to get a second weekly show for the X-division. If TNA wants to create female tag team titles then getting that second show (even if it’s only one hour and not specifically for the women) is the first thing they need. You could leave the aging, lazy, broken down veterans off the program and give the show over to developing the undercard and/or building a new championship and devoting enough time to it to make it mean something without sacrificing the importance of the original title. This addresses issues #1 and #4.

2nd, to address issues #2 and #3 management would need to make changes to the roster. With a new division and new talent required to fill it out that locker room would be packed to the rafters. Ergo, they’d need to make roster cuts. Nothing drastic -- just get rid of the people who obviously have no talent and/or nothing to contribute to the product.

Rhaka Khan, Sojourner Bolt, Christy Hemme, Sharmell, Jenna Morasca – get rid of them. All of them. With the possible exception of Hemme, none of these women can wrestle their way out of a paper bag and are not even remotely over. I suppose Hemme could be kept around on the condition that she continues to improve her wrestling skills, but believe me, no one would miss the rest of those people. Ever.

Now that you’ve freed up some space, you need to get hiring. You would need more teams to pad the division and it couldn’t be just a bunch of random people thrown together. A good tag team division needs real TEAMS. The best way to do this would be to scour the independents for established female tag teams and it would probably be easier than people think as there are a lot of really good ones out there.

If I were doing the hiring (and assuming I could get them), these are the people I would bring in:

-the Canadian Ninjas: Portia Perez & Nicole Matthews, the current SHIMMER tag team champions. Perez had a tryout match late last year and was already on my list of women I want TNA to sign. She’s a strong wrestler, a terrific heel, and Matthews isn’t bad either.

-the International Home Wrecking Crew: Rain & Jetta. Jetta, another name on my list, is one of the most entertaining heels on the scene today IMO. Rain already had a brief stint in TNA as Robert Roode’s manager, Payton Banks. For some reason or another they decided not to keep her around, which was too bad as she never really got a chance to shine in her feud with Traci.

-Nevaeh: Madison Rayne’s tag team partner on the indies. The two of them were the inaugural SHIMMER tag team champions until they were dethroned by Perez & Matthews and they would have a ready-made feud since Madison just split from the Beautiful People.

So assuming TNA could sign all these women, that would give them six solid female tag teams, enough for a real division. If they couldn’t get all of them they could simply rearrange some of the women they have now. Personally, I would unmask Raisha Saeed, reveal her to be Alissa Flash, split her from Kong and pair her up with Daffney as there is a past association there with them knowing each other through MsChif. Then I would pair up Awesome Kong & Ayako Hamada since they have a history as well. Pit those two teams together and you have another ready-made feud.

So at any time they could have three or four teams feuding for the tag team belts and still have plenty of women to feud for the singles title.

If they could accomplish all that then I think it would work, but the odds of TNA being able to pull all those things off are slim right now. Maybe female tag team championships could work at some point in the future, but TNA is not at a point yet where they could do it right, which is why I say take the idea off the table for the time being.

Right now TNA has more pressing matters that need to be dealt with, like the ODB/Cody Deaner debacle at Hard Justice, but that’s a whole different column altogether.

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