January 03, 2010

New Year's Knockout Eve text review

When I first heard about the New Year’s Knockout Eve show, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I thought it was a cool idea, sure, but the timing of it seemed curious to me. Why do a show like this when they only had a few weeks to put the card together for Genesis? The logical explanation is that TNA management just didn’t think there would be a lot of eyeballs on the screen because of the holiday, so they figured they’d just throw all the Knockouts out there since the Knockouts are the biggest ratings draw they have, and hope for the best. But if that was all this was about then the show wouldn’t have been four hours long. The fact that they chose to do a four hour special tells me that there was a little more to this than just trying to squeak by in the ratings for the week.

I know Dixie Carter recently said that they weren’t looking to add a second weekly show right now, but we’d be fooling ourselves if we thought for one second that TNA and SpikeTV representatives weren’t watching this thing very closely and considering it a trial run for that still-hypothetical Knockout spin-off show that has been rumored for ages. And even if it wasn’t, it was certainly the biggest step in that direction that they’ve taken so far.

The first reports I read about this show said that it was going to involve a Knockout tag team tournament. I thought this was great since the new tag team division needed and still needs a lot of work. And with news that several women from the indies were going to be booked for this show, I was really excited by the possibility of TNA trying out some of the great female teams out there to make this tag division a little more interesting.

Apparently, plans changed at some point and the tag tournament became a singles tournament. While this was disappointing to me, I didn’t object as long as something productive came out of it. I figured they could use this to build up a new challenger for the belt -- preferably one that hadn’t been in the title picture before (I had my fingers crossed for Alissa Flash). Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. And with ODB of all people winning the tournament and earning another shot at the title, I couldn’t help thinking that the whole thing had been kind of pointless.

Let’s be honest. After their underwhelming match at Final Resolution, was anyone really clamoring to see Tara vs. ODB again? For that matter, shouldn’t ODB, the former champion, have grounds for a rematch on general principles anyway? I mean, really, what was the point of going through all this if the end result was something that was probably going to happen regardless?

By that same token, what was the point of bringing in two random women from the independent circuit for Sarita & Taylor to face when they could’ve brought in an actual tag team instead? Did TNA officials not learn their lesson when every single one of the randomly paired teams in the inaugural tag team championship tournament a few months ago tanked?

April Hunter & Lorelei had nothing in common and it was obvious. They were clearly not familiar with each other and had no chemistry. This is the reason why those randomly paired teams I just mentioned didn’t work out. The Canadian Ninjas are a tag team. The International Home Wrecking Crew are a tag team. April Hunter & Lorelei Lee are not a tag team and they wrestled like they were not a tag team.

I imagine the point of this was to scout new talent. In that sense, this was a bust. I wasn’t terribly impressed with either woman. They weren’t bad necessarily, but they didn’t show anything out of the ordinary either. And at this point, signing women who aren’t anything out of the ordinary is going to diminish the Knockout roster, not add to it.

Taking all that into account, I think New Year’s Knockout Eve was kind of a missed opportunity. TNA could’ve brought in an actual tag team for Sarita & Taylor to face, but they chose not to. They could’ve used the tournament to build up a new challenger for the title that would match up better with Tara, but they chose to go with ODB again even though her singles matches with Tara haven’t been very good.

However, taken on its own merits, I thought the show itself was very enjoyable. Most of the matches were good and some of them were very good, they were a lot longer than usual, there were no bizarre, counterproductive gimmick matches and there wasn’t anything you could point to as being a waste of time. In other words, it was booked a lot better than the Knockout division usually is these days.

And probably the best part about the show was that Hamada made it to the finals, and even though she didn’t win, she was established as being a credible contender for the singles titles if and when the writers decide to take her in that direction in the future.

So in the end, the unfortunate part about New Year’s Knockout Eve was that it didn’t really break any new ground when it had several opportunities to do so. The independent talents they tried out failed to impress and the whole point of the tournament was apparently to set up Tara vs. ODB for the January 4th show which, if I’m being frank, is a match that I really don’t care to see again.

But the upside is that it was a good show in and of itself. TNA gave the Knockouts the spotlight for one night and the result could’ve been a hell of a lot worse, all things considered. We should keep that in perspective and give TNA credit because even though they didn’t get everything out of the show that they could have, they did make an honest effort to highlight their women’s division and do something special with it. God knows the WWE isn’t doing that right now; remember that Divas-themed episode of ECW that never happened?

So basically, what I’m saying is that, while I may not have agreed with the outcome, I did like the show quite a lot. Given the current state of iMPACT, this was actually one of the better shows TNA has put on in a while from a writing and booking standpoint. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but the Knockouts proved that they could deliver an enjoyable show on their own. So whether this was a trial run for a spin-off show or not, and regardless of what the ratings are, I think TNA can consider New Year’s Knockout Eve a success.

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