Setting the Stage
This is a series of columns I've been thinking about writing for a long time and there were a number of factors that made me finally decide to do it:
1. The writing and booking of iMPACT being sloppy, full of logic holes and pretty frustrating in general.
2. My unhappiness with the current state of the Knockout division.
3. The overall quality of the division being all over the map for the last year -- going from bad (anything involving the Beautiful People), to good (Mickie vs. Tara), to bad again (the continued push of Madison Rayne).
4. The New Year's Knockout Eve special from a little over a year ago drawing a pretty respectable rating despite the lack of male stars and, you know, airing on New Years Eve.
5. Continued complaints about TNA's overcrowded talent roster negatively affecting the product because trying to showcase so many people all at once prevents them from being able to spotlight anyone effectively and the popular argument that a second weekly show could alleviate this problem.
6. A hypothetical Knockout spinoff show that was rumored to be in the works a few years ago, which the now infamous TNAngry said was taken off the table due to Dixie Carter deciding that the women needed to stay on iMPACT because of their supposed drawing power.
7. A recent debate on a TNAsylum thread about how much of an effect (positive or negative) the Knockouts really have on the ratings. There were a lot of differing opinions, and IMO, nothing was proven conclusively one way or the other, but that isn't important here. What I found interesting was that this debate generated more comments in a single thread than I'd seen for any thread on TNAsylum in months previously. Even those who thought the women didn't draw ratings kept coming back to debate the topic at length. Clearly it was a hot button issue. Regardless of what was being said, people were talking about it a lot, and continue to do so in various other threads, I've noticed.
8. My growing belief that TNA's current creative team has very little understanding of pacing, character development, how to get wrestlers over and how to properly construct a story.
I'm going to try to address all of these things with this series.
It's long been my belief that a Knockout spinoff show could potentially work IF done right (a big IF, I admit). Would it work under current conditions? Probably not. Maybe it would have a few years ago when there were different people in charge of the Knockouts backstage, the division had a lot of buzz, the booking of it was great, they had a large and diverse talent roster, almost all of whom were over with the fans, could deliver good to great matches and were in spots they were well suited for.
That's not what we have right now. The roster has been gutted, the booking is a constant source of frustration, and to be honest, I don't feel like the people currently responsible for the Knockouts have much of a handle on what they're doing at all. Sometimes they get lucky, like with the Mickie/Tara feud, but more often than not, I see them trying to force round pegs into square holes, trying to do things with the women that I just don't see working out at all.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I could write a better show in their place, I'm not saying I know more about pro wrestling than them or anyone else, but I do know what I like. I know what kind of product I want to see as a fan. And I know that TNA isn't giving it to me right now.
So for all these reasons, and for the simple fact that I've got a lot of ideas that I just need to get out of my damn head, I hereby announce the start of the purely fictional, one hour a week, Knockout exclusive iMPACT spinoff show. This is TNA: TKO.
For the record, this is not a simple fantasy booking series I'm doing just to amuse myself. There are some important points I want to make with this about TNA's booking philosophy and creative direction. In terms of writing and booking they are just not giving me the kind of show I want. So I'm going to show them the kind of show I want.
The TKO roster consists of current Knockout roster members: Angelina Love, Miss (Brooke) Tessmacher, Christy Hemme, Cookie, Daffney, Madison Rayne, Mickie James, Sarita, SoCal Val, Tara, Velvet Sky and Winter.
The roster can include any women who have been signed to contracts, but haven't debuted yet (Divina Fly), anyone who is rumored, but not officially confirmed to be signed (Christina Von Eerie), as well as independent talents who have received recent tryout matches and could potentially be signed with minimal legwork (Jennifer Blake).
Also eligible for inclusion are any former Knockouts who are not currently with the company, but are available to return (this excludes any who are signed with WWE now) if TNA were to ask them back.
There is only one rule that TKO abides by: Absolutely nothing happens that could not conceivably happen if the show existed in real life.
And away we go...
BACKSTAGE: Velvet, Winter and Angelina are arguing. Winter is trying to apologize for fighting with Velvet last week. She says she only did it because Velvet's false accusations really upset her. Velvet thinks Winter is full of crap and keeps insisting that she was the one who attacked Velvet backstage after she was eliminated from the 6-woman tag match. Winter denies this and says Velvet has no proof. Velvet says Winter was the only one who could have done it, but when Angelina asks her if she actually saw the person who laid her out, Velvet admits that she didn't.
Velvet doesn't trust Winter and thinks she's going to screw them over. Winter says this is ridiculous as she's done nothing but help Angelina, and points out that she was the one who helped Angelina win the tag title match when Velvet wasn't there.
Angelina tries to calm the 2 of them down. Velvet tells Angelina to back her up, but Angelina is trying not to take sides as Velvet is her best friend, but she's tag team champions with Winter. Angry that Angelina won't support her, Velvet storms off. Angelina isn't happy about the situation, but Winter says Velvet is just jealous and she'll get over it.
Starting here, Winter's "crazy" gimmick is being toned down. It didn't seem to be getting over and it was negatively affecting her in-ring performance.
iMPACT ZONE: Mike Tenay is in the ring and asks the entire Knockout division to join him. Once all the women have showed up, Tenay announces that after Against All Odds, the Knockouts will be moving to a new home. As part of TNA's continued growth, SpikeTV has greenlit a Knockout spinoff show for a one season trial run, a la ReAction. The trade-off is that the women will have their own show, but will no longer appear on iMPACT or PPVs. TNA's roster has become too large to feature effectively and this is being done in the hopes that it will free up more screen time to do that.
Tenay says that a Director of Authority has been hired to run the show and that person will be there next week.
iMPACT ZONE: Mike Tenay introduces the TKO Director of Authority: Traci Brooks! Traci, clad in a business suit, admits that this job is a huge undertaking, but she's going to bust her ass to get it done the right way. She says she's been on the phone with a lot of women from outside the company who want in on this, so everyone in the locker room had better up their game. Traci says that the wrestling business is about evolution and people who can't evolve with it don't last -- a lesson she herself had to learn a year ago. She has a lot of plans and not everyone is going to like them, but she promises that what she does will be what's best for this new show and what's best for TNA.
As Traci leaves the ring, Tenay wonders what she meant by "people who can't evolve don't last." Taz is more curious about these plans of Traci's that not everyone is going to like.
BACKSTAGE: As Traci is leaving the arena, many of the Knockouts come up to her, congratulating her, telling her how excited they are, asking questions, etc. Traci is glad they're excited, but can't answer any of their questions right now. They'll get their answers along with the rest of the world when TKO debuts next week.
Before Traci drives off, she takes Mickie James aside to tell her that she's going to be a big part of this show and that Traci is rooting for her to win the title at Against All Odds this Sunday.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
BACKSTAGE: Mickie James cuts a promo about how it's taken her months to get to this point. It's been hard, but that will just make it sweeter when she finally holds the title in her hands. She feels tonight is going to be her night.
Mickie leaves the frame and 4 women in the background come into view. The camera man zooms in and we see Traci, Winter and the Beautiful People in the midst of an argument. Angelina and Winter in particular are very angry. We aren't able to hear what they're arguing about.
KNOCKOUTS TITLE MATCH: MICKIE JAMES vs. ANGELINA LOVE vs. SARITA vs. MADISON RAYNE (c) (w/ TARA)
Traci joins the announcers at ringside. As Angelina walks to the ring looking pissed off and forgoing her usual entrance, Tenay asks Traci what the argument was about. She says it was business and she can't discuss it right now.
The finish comes when Tara tries to interfere, but it backfires, causing Madison to get pinned.
WINNER AND NEW KNOCKOUTS CHAMPION: Mickie James
As Mickie celebrates, Traci gets out of her seat, taking the Knockouts championship belt. This gets Mickie's attention and she happily invites Traci to join her in the ring. Instead, Traci, her face unreadable, backs up the ramp and leaves, taking the title belt with her.
The announcers have no idea what's going on. Neither does Mickie, who jumps out of the ring and goes after Traci.
BACKSTAGE: Mickie is told by a stage hand that Traci has left the arena.
The announcers say to expect fireworks when TKO debuts next week.
TO BE CONTINUED...