Originally posted on www.TNAwrestlingnews.com on 1/18/08.
The Price of Tunnel Vision
[Before I do anything I’d just like to say that while I may not be a fan of certain talents on the TNA roster, I don’t like seeing anyone get injured. So I’d just like to take a moment to say get well soon to Christy Hemme, Awesome Kong and Kevin Nash.]
In the weeks leading up to Genesis, I was not looking forward to the scheduled Knockouts title match of Hemme vs. Kong. I thought the push of Christy Hemme was extremely ill-advised. She simply wasn’t ready for the spot she was in and making her the Knockouts champion would be a huge mistake as the standards that come with that championship are just too high for her to meet yet.
Then, a few days before the PPV, it was reported that Christy had suffered a neck injury that would require surgery and would not be able to compete at Genesis after all.
The next day it was reported that Awesome Kong had suffered a back injury that was bad enough to not only take her out of the match at Genesis, but to take her off TNA’s upcoming UK tour as well.
So now Hemme and Kong are both on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time and the laundry list of problems this creates is quite long. But the biggest problem actually started long before this.
For some reason the TNA writers seem to have an extreme case of tunnel vision when it comes to the Knockouts. By that I mean that most of the time they put nearly all the focus on the top babyface and the top heel, or failing that, whoever is currently in the title picture. Everyone else tends to get ignored and falls by the wayside.
Ex. Gail Kim & Awesome Kong.
Pretty much every woman on the Knockouts roster was sacrificed in order to make these two look good. And the writers never bothered to build up any of the other women into credible stars with the exception of Taylor Wilde, whose push didn’t catch on with enough of the audience for it to be a success. ODB’s popularity got her a healthy push initially, but she never went anywhere after that and Roxxi only seemed to get mini pushes that didn’t last long enough to get her to where she needed to be.
Then when Gail left the writers lost their top female babyface and had practically no one to fall back on. Taylor wasn’t getting over well enough to be the person they needed and ODB & Roxxi, having been on the backburner for several months, then had to be rebuilt in a hurry.
It’s been months since this happened and the Knockouts division just hasn’t been the same. And to make matters worse, the writers obviously did not learn from the mistake they made with Gail because they went and made the exact same mistake with Awesome Kong. For proof, look no further than the Knockouts match at Genesis.
The originally scheduled lumberjack match for the title became a 6-woman tag with the one who got the pin earning a future title shot. The three women on the babyface team would not look out of place in a championship match, but the huge, glaring problem was with the heels.
With Kong unable to wrestle, the newly christened “Kongterage” have become the defacto top heels in the Knockouts division until she’s healthy… and every single one of them has been treated like a jobber since day one.
Raisha Saeed, Sojourner Bolt & Rhaka Khan (what are the writers smoking when they come up with these names?). The only reason these women aren’t on the bottom rung of the ladder is because that spot is occupied by the Beautiful People. Bolt has yet to win even one match. Khan’s only win was as part of a 3 person team in a bimbo brawl where her teammates and opponents had to carry her. Saeed’s only victories have come in tag team matches when she was partnered with Kong and even those were few enough to be counted on one hand. In singles competition, none of them have ever beaten anybody. Even Velvet Sky has a better win/loss record.
It was kind of sad to hear the commentary during the Genesis match. Tenay & West kept trying to sell the idea that the women in the Kongterage might want to get of Kong’s shadow and win the title shot for themselves and not a single person believed for one second that it would happen because the creative team had hammered into us over and over again that these three women are nothing but enhancement talent and Kong is the only real threat. And in the event that one of them did actually win the title shot were we then supposed to believe that a woman who has never won a single match is going to have a chance of beating Awesome Kong?
TNA had been presenting Christy Hemme as the top babyface. She’s now on the shelf, awaiting neck surgery.
They had Awesome Kong as the top heel but she hurt her back and can’t wrestle for a while.
What they’re now left with is three babyfaces with varying degrees of credibility against three jobbers and the Beautiful People, who are whatever is below jobber status at this point. If Velvet & Angelina couldn’t even figure out that “Sarah Palin” wasn’t actually Sarah Palin then they’ll never figure out how to win a title match.
So now the Knockouts division is in a position where they need a new top babyface and a new top heel immediately. Taylor Wilde already had a shot as top babyface but the fans didn’t accept her in that role, which leaves ODB & Roxxi to choose from. With the heels, the options are even more limited because not a single one of them has anything even remotely resembling credibility right now.
In order to begin rectifying this problem one of three things NEEDED to happen in the 6-woman tag at Genesis.
1. ODB winning the title shot.
2. Roxxi winning the title shot.
3. Raisha Saeed winning the title shot, then unmasking, ending the Muslim gimmick and launching the TNA career of Cheerleader Melissa.
ODB won the title shot. This solves the problem of needing a top babyface. ODB is the most popular woman TNA has. For that matter, she and Roxxi are the only female babyfaces TNA has that are actually over. Roxxi is the better worker of the two, but the fans will accept ODB in this role for the time being.
On the next iMPACT a rematch from Genesis was booked in which Roxxi got the pin for her team by pinning Rhaka Khan which was exactly what should’ve happened. Khan is an atrocious wrestler so she should always be the one to get pinned if the heels are booked to lose. And since ODB got the pin at the PPV, putting Roxxi over in this match was the right thing to do. With only three babyfaces right now they all need to be kept strong.
However, they still need a credible heel to hold down the fort until Kong is healthy and there just aren’t any on the current roster. They never built up any heels besides Kong and now they’re paying the price. And outside of bringing in new talent to pick up the slack (which they also need to do), there’s only one option left to them:
But… for reasons that they could only have arrived upon while being touched by the presence of sheer and utter lunacy, the creative team doesn’t seem to have any intention of doing this. So be it.
If they insist on keeping the Raisha Saeed character then have Melissa play both. Debut Melissa as a completely separate person who immediately starts a feud with ODB and then have her throw on the burqa and continue to play Saeed as well. This could be done quite easily as the show is taped in advance and segments are often filmed out of order.
Plus, they already know that the fans will accept Melissa in the top spot. Early last year, there was a match on iMPACT -- Cheerleader Melissa vs. Daizee Haze. This was Melissa’s first and only appearance in TNA as herself rather than Saeed (who she also appeared as on that show), and as it turned out, she was over. She was REALLY over. The match only lasted about three minutes, but the pops and chants she got from the crowd during those three minutes were equal to, if not greater than anything ODB gets on any given day.
Awesome Kong can’t wrestle until she gets healthy. In the meantime, TNA needs a new top female heel to step up and fill the void. On the current roster, Melissa isn’t just the right option, she’s the ONLY option.
Of course the writers wouldn’t have such limited options if they had bothered to build up the other heel Knockouts, but they didn’t. They put all their eggs in one basket with Awesome Kong and when she got injured they were left with nothing to fall back on – it’s the Gail Kim situation all over again. They made the same mistake and ended up back in the same place, with the same problem.
Such is the price of tunnel vision.