Victoria vs. Sarah Stock
“Sarah Stock was backstage at last week's set of Impact tapings, but not used.
However, vignettes were filmed to build for her eventual debut in the company,
although her debut is being delayed as a result of the sudden emergence of Lisa
Marie Varon (Victoria). The top female babyface spot in TNA was originally
pegged for Stock, but it now belongs to Victoria.”
Well, if you’ve been following the KNOCKED OUT column in recent weeks then you had to know that this one was coming.
A few months ago, TNA’s search for a new top female babyface to build the Knockouts division around led them to signing Dark Angel Sarah Stock (now dubbed “Sarita”). People across the board were thrilled about this. Stock is considered by many to be the best women’s wrestler in the entire industry and has the added bonus of mic skills that aren’t half bad, being drop dead gorgeous and incredibly marketable.
Unfortunately, they hit a bit of a snag. Her debut was held up when there was some kind of issue with her work visa. Once that problem was resolved, they brought her in to work 2 dark matches at the TV tapings. Some weeks later, her imminent debut was announced on TNA’s youtube page in one of their Spanish language videos. Her first photo shoot and interview were shown as well as clips from her dark matches and the stage seemed to be set for her to soon appear on television.
Then TNA signed former WWE Diva, Victoria, (now dubbed “Tara”). They rushed her onto TV and immediately pushed her into a title feud with Knockouts champion, Angelina Love, which is where the news item at the top of the page comes in.
It’s the same old story that, unfortunately, we hear far too often: TNA has an opportunity to create a big, new home-grown star, and instead they take the safe route with an ex-WWE talent.
There’s a bit of a debate going on about this in the IWC right now. Some people (myself included) think Sarah Stock would’ve been the better choice for the role of lead Knockout babyface while others prefer Victoria and a really solid case can be made for either woman.
In earlier columns I explained that TNA was looking for someone who could step into the ‘Gail Kim’ spot and be accepted immediately in that role, and whichever woman they chose for the job was going to need 2 crucial X-factors in order to pull that off: (1) great wrestling ability & (2) name recognition. Sarah Stock and Victoria have both those X-factors, but if we want to determine which of them is really better suited for the role TNA needs to fill then we need to take a closer look at all the intangibles.
1st, let’s look at the 2 X-factors. If we’re talking about a potential replacement for Gail Kim, then the fans will accept nothing less than a FANTASTIC worker. Stock definitely fits that bill. I wasn’t just blowing smoke when I called her the best in the industry. Even if she’s not THE best, she’s certainly one of the best, and her body of work speaks for itself.
With Victoria it’s a bit unclear. Is she an extremely talented wrestler? Yes. But it’s difficult to accurately judge HOW talented she is because we only have her WWE work to look at. She could clearly wrestle circles around most of the current WWE Divas, but a lot of those women are lousy workers, so that’s not necessarily saying too much.
However, we need to keep in mind that, more often than not, the WWE stars are not able to show their full potential because of the slow paced, plodding, watered down wrestling style that the WWE employs. Victoria herself has said that she wasn’t allowed to display her ability to its fullest in WWE because of this restriction.
“TNA approached me with the offer to come to their organization, work a lessSo now that Victoria is working for TNA, the handcuffs are off and she’s allowed to really cut loose. So I imagine the Victoria we’re going to see now will be the best wrestler she’s ever been. The big question is: will she be as good as Sarah Stock?
rigorous schedule, and more importantly, wrestle to the best of my ability with
Stock’s resume is damn impressive, but she’s had advantages that Victoria hasn’t had. She’s worked for companies that allow her to go as hard as she can without hampering her wrestling ability, not to mention the fact that she’s had much higher caliber opponents to work with. Stock has been tearing the house down with other great wrestlers like Sara Del Rey, Marcela, Amapola and Shu Shibutani while Victoria has been stuck working with idiots like Maria Kanellis and the Bella twins.
Stock has had advantages that Victoria hasn’t had, so comparing their respective bodies of work is a little unfair. Still, I think we have to give the edge to Stock on this one. We’ve seen what she’s really capable of under the best conditions and Victoria hasn’t been able to display this yet (through no fault of her own), and even when she gets the chance to do so there’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to deliver what Stock can deliver.
The 2nd X-factor is name recognition. This is a tricky one. Sarah Stock has worked primarily and had her biggest successes in other countries. Her most high profile work in America was probably in the SHIMMER: Women’s Athletes promotion. Granted, the smart marks know all about her, she’s been a star in Mexico for years and can certainly help TNA expand their fan base down there, but American casual fans probably won’t know who she is.
Victoria had a long run in WWE, so the casual fans are definitely familiar with her. She was a WWE star for the better part of a decade, but does she have star power? After the way she was booked as enhancement talent for the last several years of her WWE career many people might not think so. If casual fans see her as someone who couldn’t even beat Brie Bella then how is her steamrolling all 3 of the Beautiful People at once going to make the Knockouts division look? The fans know who she is, but if they know her to be a WWE jobber then that’s not necessarily a good thing.
I think it all depends on whether you thought she was a talented yet underutilized wrestler in WWE or whether you bought into the WWE’s presentation of her as enhancement talent for the last few years. If the former, then it’s all good. If the latter, then TNA would need to rebuild her character before you could take her seriously as a top babyface.
But the bottom line is we’re talking about simple name recognition here. If an American casual fan passed both women on the street they would be more likely to recognize Victoria, so the edge goes to her.
In addition, there are 2 more intangibles that factor into this heavily and they have to do with who would be the right woman to go with from a business standpoint.
The 3rd is marketability – basically, which woman has the potential to make TNA more money. You might think this one would go to Victoria, what with her coming from WWE. But the problem with this is that she was in WWE for quite a long time. Her run in that company lasted for 8 or 9 years, eventually fizzled out and ended with a whimper rather than a bang – that’s enough for a lot of people to lose interest.
It’s the nature of the business that often times a talent that has been around for a while is pushed to the side to make way for the ‘fresh meat’. Victoria was fresh meat when she debuted in the WWE as a psycho with a vendetta against Trish Stratus, but that freshness has long since worn off and changing her character from sadistic heel to goofy heel didn’t do much to change that. I don’t remember her being particularly over in WWE for a long time, and once a character stops being over it can be difficult to get that back.
Unless a tenured performer can successfully reinvent themselves and keep their character relevant when the need arises then newer talent usually will be (and in most cases should be) given priority. It is possible that Victoria can do this. Showing up in a new company with new opponents for her to face, looking like she’s in the best shape of her life and wrestling without restrictions for the first time could do a lot to help her reinvent herself. But will it be enough to generate interest in her again from the mainstream audience? Maybe and maybe not.
“Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for newcomer Tara (Victoria) as her TNASarah Stock is a new and exciting talent that has never seen mainstream exposure in America before and there is intrigue and curiosity that comes with that. She has an interesting international background and TNA doesn’t have any other women like her so she will be very unique and stand out from the crowd. Plus, she’s a dynamic performer and can be incredibly exciting to watch. Marketed correctly, Sarah Stock could be a big home-grown star for TNA, which -- let’s be honest – they really need more of.
in-ring debut against Madison Rayne lost 45,000 viewers.”
Victoria could very well be a star in TNA, but she’ll never be a home-grown star because she made her name in another company first. TNA will never be able to really brand her as a TRUE TNA star, as hard as they might try to do it, because most people will always associate her in some way, shape or form with the WWE.
Sarah Stock can be branded as a TNA original and Victoria cannot, ergo Sarah Stock is more marketable.
The 4th intangible is their dedication and commitment, and unfortunately this means I have to play the age card. Sarah Stock is 8 years younger than Victoria. She has more time left in the business and (to my knowledge) her wrestling career is still #1 on her list of priorities.
Victoria, while clearly still having the desire to wrestle, has admitted that she had reached a point where she was looking for a lighter schedule and now also wants to divide her time between wrestling and MMA at this stage of her athletic career.
“I have to address why I left WWE. I left because I didn't enjoy my role,
and I didn't see it changing. That, in addition to the brutal travel schedule,
made it an easy choice for me to walk away…
The only serious
considerations I had were 1) Would I still be able to train for MMA? 2) Do I
miss wrestling and want to do it on a regular basis? 3) Can I entertain TNA fans
in a way that they deserve to be entertained? I believe so to all three. I
still have time to dedicate to MMA. I definitely miss wrestling…
I’m not saying Victoria can’t successfully split her focus between wrestling for TNA and training for mixed martial arts at the same time; she obviously believes she can and more power to her if that’s true. But what if she has a change of heart 6 months from now and wants to devote a little more time to MMA and a little less time to wrestling? What’s going to happen if and when she schedules her 1st professional fight and requests that TNA not book her in any matches for the month before to reduce the risk of being injured and jeopardizing the fight? Things like these are what turned the Bobby Lashley situation into kind of an embarrassment for TNA and the last thing they need is for something like that to happen again. For these reasons, the edge should once again go to Stock.
4 different factors that could determine which woman is the best choice to take Gail Kim’s place as the top babyface/centerpiece figure of the Knockouts division: wrestling ability, name recognition, marketability and dedication. In 3 out of those 4 you have to give the nod to Sarah Stock, IMO. And even though Victoria would arguably have greater name recognition, because of the WWE’s treatment of her in recent years it’s now debatable how much value her “name” actually has.
Ultimately, Sarah Stock is the better choice. Apparently TNA see things differently, and that’s too bad. But the great thing about this is that we’re trying to choose between VICTORIA and SARAH STOCK here, and that is an embarrassment of riches to be sure.
Sarah may not have the top spot like I hoped she would, but once she debuts her talent will speak for itself. After that it will only be a matter of time before she works her way to the top. Until then, we’ve got Victoria, and that’s not half bad.
“And my goal is not only to be the best in a very tough Knockout division,
but to elevate the performance of the entire division.”
“I really want to become the “maximum” here in TNA. It’s my intention to
dominate this female division and I’m going to start with all those that are put
in front of me. Basically, I want to prove that I’m the best one here in the