November 11, 2009

Champion Without a Feud

“Sitting here with Knockouts Champ ODB. I just signed her new multi year deal.”

-Dixie Carter,

The only reason TNA management gave ODB the Knockouts title was to convince her to resign with the company.

If that’s not what you think then you haven’t been paying attention.

Don’t believe it? Well then, let’s rewind the clock a bit…

At Against All Odds, ODB challenged Awesome Kong for the title. The writers didn’t really make a big deal out of the match as it was clearly just something they were doing to buy time until they could come up with a better idea for what to do with Kong. ODB lost the match in fairly short order.

At Destination-X, ODB was involved in the “Win a Date With ODB” contest -- an absolutely putrid segment that was panned by critics and fans alike. Not only was it a complete waste of PPV time, but the whole purpose of it was to introduce Cody Deaner which, several months later, we would all come to regret.

At Lockdown, ODB was put in the Queen of the Cage match along with Daffney, Madison Rayne and Sojourner Bolt. The match was mediocre and completely pointless. The women weren’t competing for a title shot, or anything really. It was just a random match with absolutely no build up whatsoever thrown in there to fill out the card. So even though ODB went over in the match, the win ultimately meant nothing and went nowhere.

This win was followed by several months of ODB being largely overlooked in TNA. Her screen time was greatly reduced, she competed in a number of webmatches, but mainly she was seen standing at ringside while Cody Deaner lost matches, and even then she was only on TV sporadically.

The Cody Deaner storyline was going nowhere fast and ODB was quickly becoming irrelevant. I, myself, theorized around this time that the writers had run out of ideas for her and might very well let her contract expire when it was up in November.

Then, late in the Summer ODB suddenly returned to the forefront in the Knockout division, scored some pins on the Beautiful People and then won the Knockouts championship from Angelina Love at Hard Justice, all within a few weeks.

All this happened extremely fast and was done after ODB had barely been on TV for months. That alone was enough to raise my eyebrows, but it wasn’t the only evidence.

ODB’s first, and to date only feud for the title was against her now former boyfriend Cody Deaner at No Surrender in an absolutely horrid storyline involving Deaner trying to become “King of the Knockouts” (excuse me while I vomit). The feud was pointless, the match was pointless, and it really made me wonder about something -- why were the writers wasting ODB’s time with crap like this when they should have been building a real feud for her to lead into Bound for Glory?

ANSWER: because they had no intention of doing so.

At TNA’s biggest PPV of the year, instead of the Knockouts champion wrestling in a match that was about her, she simply piggybacked on the Kong vs. Tara feud, in essence spoiling the one-on-one encounter that had been teased for months.

And now in the shows leading up to Turning Point it’s been the exact same thing. Instead of getting a feud of her own, the Knockouts champion is now piggybacking on the Sarita & Taylor vs. the Beautiful People rivalry, being added to another absolutely pointless match, which everyone knows the heels have zero chance of winning and will most likely be awful due to Lacey Von Erich’s inclusion.

So far, since ODB won the Knockouts championship, the only program the writers have written specifically for her was the Cody Deaner debacle. Since then they’ve had her meandering around, inserting her into other people’s feuds because they clearly didn’t have a plan for what to do with her.

Obviously, the choice to make ODB the Knockouts champion was not made for creative purposes. It was a business move, plain and simple. Management decided that they wanted to keep ODB in the company and quickly pushed her to the top, giving her the title in order to placate her when it was time for her contract renegotiations.

If any of you think I’m wrong about that, then I ask you, why give ODB the title in the first place when doing so was obviously throwing a monkey wrench into several feuds the writers were in the middle of? Why do that when said monkey wrench could have been easily avoided by keeping the title on Tara when she won it from Angelina?

I know ODB has her share of critics. Personally, I’m not one of them. I’m not a huge fan, admittedly, but I don’t have a major problem with her (just with the way she’s used a lot of the time). I recognize that she’s very over with casual fans and she’s obviously a draw for the company. Did she deserve to be the champion? Sure, she did.

But let’s be honest here -- the time to give ODB a title push was a year ago when the Knockouts were hurting from the loss of Gail Kim and really needing a credible top babyface. THAT was when ODB (along with Roxxi) should’ve been pushed to the top, but for reasons I don’t understand to this day, the writers thought Christy Hemme was a better choice.

ODB’s eventual title win was given very little build up. It came only after months of her being largely ignored and rarely seen, her crowd heat noticeably diminished and her character bordering on irrelevance. Simple common sense tells us that it should have come at a time when her character was really hot, had momentum and had the fans really clamoring for her to win the belt, but that’s not what happened.

With the exception of the Cody Deaner thing (which is best left forgotten), none of ODB’s storylines since winning the title have been about her -- they’ve been about other people with her just tagging along.

A few days ago TNA president, Dixie Carter, posted the message on her twitter page that you see at the top of this column indicating that she had signed ODB to a new multi-year contract.

Wow… I bet her being the Knockouts champion was pretty good motivation for her to stay with the company, wasn’t it? Awfully convenient the way that worked out…

I feel bad for ODB because her title reign could’ve meant so much more than it has, and now that she’s been locked in with a new deal the writers will probably be taking the belt off her as soon as they line up a decent challenger (TBP don’t count). But as unfortunate as this situation is, the real reason for this column is that ODB’s mishandled run with the title is indicative of a larger problem in the Knockout division -- one that I’ve examined before (KNOCKED OUT: the Price of Tunnel Vision).

The TNA writers have tunnel vision when it comes to the Knockouts. Plain and simple. By that I mean that they only focus on a few select women and all the others are virtually ignored.

ODB might have had a feud of her own for No Surrender if this absolutely INTERMINABLE push of TBP had not necessitated her being added to their feud with Sarita & Taylor.

TBP have been pushed endlessly this year. Even when they were being made to look like complete idiots in the Governor Palin skits, they were still all over the place. Angelina had a lengthy, but lackluster run with the Knockouts title, during which the faction enjoyed even more ample screen time. Even after Angelina (by far the most talented member of the group) was released from the company and replaced with a black hole of wrestling ability named Lacey Von Erich they were STILL not deemphasized in the slightest. These women have been pushed to the moon for the better part of a year at this point and this has happened despite the fact that they have not delivered a single match worth talking about in all that time.

Let’s just put all our cards on the table right now…

The Beautiful People suck.

Madison Rayne is a decent enough worker, but she’s never been given the opportunity to really display that in TNA. Velvet Sky is a good performer with good mic skills, but athletically the woman just cannot go in the ring -- she might as well have “MANAGER” tattooed across her forehead. And then there’s Lacey “Rhaka Blonde” Von Erich, who can’t even seem to lace up her own boots without botching something, who desperately needs to be taken off TV and sent back to wrestling school so she can, you know… learn how to wrestle.

Why do these women continue to get more screen time than all three of the champions? Why on God’s green earth are these women getting title shot after title shot? Why in the world have they been pushed so hard for so long? Why is ODB wasting her time in a pointless 6-woman tag match with Lacey Von Erich and Velvet Sky when she could be defending her title against someone who can actually wrestle and actually DESERVES a title shot? Even if Angelina were still there TBP would not warrant the amount of screen time they get when ultra-talents like Alissa Flash and Hamada are being completely ignored and wasted as enhancement workers.

This was a problem a year and a half ago and it’s still a problem now. The writers focus all their attention on a few select women and all the others get shafted. In this case, the chosen few are Awesome Kong, Tara and TBP. ODB, Sarita & Taylor are the champions, but these other women are the ones getting all the spotlight.

To Kong and Tara’s credit, at least they can wrestle, but what the hell have TBP done to deserve this much attention? They might still be over, they might sell merchandise (I’m assuming), but they just can’t back it up in the ring. And if they can’t deliver in the ring where it counts then pushing them so hard is a complete waste of time.

If you’re dead set on keeping this group going then relegate them to backstage skits, make them managers or valets -- they’re still on TV, they’re still in a position to draw for the company, but they’re not offending our eyeballs by delivering crappy matches all the time.

Give the ring time to the women who can actually deliver the goods in the ring. Give some of the other women an opportunity for a change. Put the spotlight on the champions and challengers that are actually worth getting interested in. Stop having Kong & Tara constantly monopolizing the top of the card.

It’s not that hard to make a new tag team that can get through a match without botching and doesn’t have to be carried by Sarita & Taylor.

It’s not that hard to come up with a good challenger for ODB.

ODB was given the title at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t mean her title reign has to be a joke. The champion just needs a feud.


Costa said...

Ed, don't be surprised if TBP sweeps all the KO titles for the simple reason: blond hair, blue eyes, big tits=ratings. Why do you think Trish Stratus is the "greatest woman wrestler ever".

Anonymous said...

"The only reason TNA management gave ODB the Knockouts title was to convince her to resign with the company. "

Interesting analysis and most likely correct. Actually at this point I am ready to bet that ALL the recent booking decisions regarding the KO title have actually nothing to do with creative and everything with contract issues : Tara being given the belt for just ten days on signing a new contract (see Spin Cycle), Angelina dropping the title two weeks before being released, ODB winning the title then retaining at BfG just prior to signing a new deal. Because frankly not one of those decisions makes any sense writing wise (and it's worth noting also that nobody gets ever a rematch, even when a controversial finish arises, the feud are just dropped). And so far the results of months of booking only by backstage politics have been disastrous, almost stripping the title of any value it could bear.