July 30, 2012

ROUNDTABLE: the Knockout Edition

Well, if you're reading this, then you probably know who I am. Today I'm joined by Shelbin, writer of Shelbin's Slant, and Jason Blade, writer of Knockout Shots, and we're going to be discussing a topic that I've long had a great fondness for. I got my start as an internet writer doing a column about the Knockout division for another site that shall remain nameless and I've never lost my enthusiasm for it despite it experiencing some real peaks and valleys over the last few years.

This is a column that I've wanted to do for a while now. I had the idea a few months ago, but it never materialized for various reasons. It wasn't until now that the timing was right and I could threaten coerce convince the right people to be a part of it.

Anyhoo, the Knockouts are ripe for discussion since the division seems to be in a bit of a transitional period at the moment. The recent Gutcheck tryout of OVW's Taeler Hendrix was apparently the catalyst for a lot of debates I've seen pop up on TNAsylum, twitter, diva-dirt, etc. So rather than buck the trend, I figured let's just ride this horse until it dies!

FK9: As any regular viewer of iMPACT WRESTLING is no doubt aware, the Knockout division has gone through some changes in the last year... or perhaps streamlining is a better word for it. The previous creative regime liked utilizing the entire division -- granted all the women weren't always used well and were often put in ill-conceived, ineffective and, frankly, bizarre storylines and gimmicks, but at least they were all on TV doing something more often than not.

When Prichard took over in October last year, he decided to take the opposite approach. It took some time for his M.O. to come together, but it's clear by now that Prichard and his team have identified the Knockouts they like and the ones they don't necessarily see money in, and it's blatantly obvious which women fall into which camp (with maybe one or two on the fence) -- the women they like get featured regularly on TV and the other ones we really don't see at all anymore.

Before we talk about the ramifications of this, I want to let you guys weigh in on it. Has Prichard's approach been better or worse in your opinion? From a business standpoint, I understand it; they think certain women are going to make TNA more money than others, so they've chosen to focus on developing them.

Russo's style was problematic because when you try to use everybody, there are so many talents to deal with that it gets harder to spotlight and effectively push and elevate any one person (ex. the clusterfuck of a Knockouts title match from BFG 2011). It makes sense to devote more quality time to the talents you see as being bigger stars in the long run, but to feature them so exclusively also means the division grows stale and repetitive that much quicker, necesitating an infusion of new talent, which we'll get into later.

Shelbin: I'm not sure how I feel about Bruce Prichard's approach, quite honestly. Although I agree with it in theory, I feel that the execution has been less than stellar. I believe a focus on a core group of wrestlers could accentuate aspects of the Knockout Division in a way that Vince Russo's approach could not, but in my opinion, Prichard and his writers have gotten mixed results.

This approach should have produced a profound sort of storytelling with well-developed characters and entertaining feuds, but unfortunately, I cannot recall a time when the aforementioned criteria were present. I never could have imagined that such a dynamic group of women would make so little impact and the blame falls squarely on Bruce Prichard and his crew.

The one exception, however, is the growth of Miss Tessmacher, who has absolutely flourished under the current regime. Conversely, one major positive has been the handling of the championship belt, which under Prichard's watch, has returned to the prestigious days of the Awesome Kong era - not since the Kong title reign has the title meant so much.

Overall, the division under Bruce Prichard has produced a commanding title reign, a promising young star-in-the-making, but very few memorable moments or feuds.

Blade: I totally agree with Shelbin in that not since the early days of the championship has the Knockouts title meant so much. If I had to say what the single biggest effect the Prichard booking regime has had on the Knockouts division it's that they were able to elevate the prestige of a championship that was in danger of becoming meaningless.

Unfortunately this elevation has come at a price. Whilst Gail Kim's title reign really helped solidify the importance of the belt, it became the Gail vs Knockout of the month show. The booking team seemed to just pick a random name out of a hat each month to have Gail defeat. Worse still was that some really good Knockouts didn't even get a chance to lose to Gail and the biggest victim under this new regime has to be Angelina Love.

I would rank Angelina as important and as talented as any other woman on the roster but its been clear from day one that she has no support from Bruce P. I did a column a while ago where I broke down how much of a ratings pull Angelina Love has always been for TNA, but for whatever reason, the current creative team doesn't see money in her. By not using her, TNA are doing themselves, the fans and the Knockouts Division a disservice.

While I really like the booking that has gone on under Prichard I have to say that for me, not utilising Angelina Love, one of the best Knockouts the company has, is madness and something I'd like to see change. Other than that, he's been good.

FK9: I agree there have been positives and negatives to this new writing style. It seems the diverse roster and unique characters we used to see have been sacrificed for a more traditional, logical approach. I'm certainly not regretting the loss of Russo's clusterfuck booking and crazy gimmicks (who in their right mind thought the time traveling lesbian vampire thing was going to work?), but I admit the Knockout division we have now feels a bit more generic than what we had in the past.

One of the bigger culprits was, as Jason pointed out, the Gail Kim vs the challenger of the month title reign. While her matches were strong, you could argue that her run with the title was rather unmemorable due to a lack of dynamic feuds. That said, I felt the payoff was worth it. After going through every woman that means anything in this company right now, Gail became the longest reigning Knockouts champion ever and then put over Brooke Tessmacher in a big way, giving her a hell of a rub and helping create a bright new star.

This is the kind of thing that just wouldn't have happened during the Russo regime. He tried with Velvet Sky last year, but her winning the title at BFG 2011 had very little impact because of the game of hot potato that had been played with the belt for months prior, not to mention the fact that the match itself was a complete mess with them trying to feature about 4 different storylines at once.

There's something to be said for simplicity in this case, and I feel like Prichard's method, while perhaps uninspired at times, was effective in that regard. I don't think many will dispute that Tessmacher beating long-time champion Gail in a good one-on-one match free of overbooking was more effective in elevating Tessmacher than what Russo tried to do with Velvet last October.

Thoughts on the Tessmacher title win and her chances of having a good run with the belt?

Shelbin: I think we can all agree that, although his methods haven't been hugely successful in some aspects, Bruce Prichard has ultimately put into place a system that, I suspect, will prove to be very effective in the long run. He has essentially transformed a hodgepodge division into a hierarchical structure with a clear leader and her adversaries - a system in which occurrences such as the "dethroning" of the titleholder are often significant. For this reason alone, we will look back on Miss Tessmacher's defeat of Gail Kim at Slammiversary as one of the biggest moments in the history of the Knockouts Division whereas I couldn't tell you of a single title change under Vince Russo that made an impact (in the post-Awesome Kong era).

This, of course, in no way implies that any one of the women in this division could have had as momentous a victory as did Miss Tessmacher because, quite frankly, she was the ideal candidate. But it wasn't always the case. Tessmacher, under the watch of the current regime, was groomed for that very moment. She received the sort of support that so many others before her, under Russo, did not. In terms of her title reign, I can't imagine that the writers would have put the belt on her in such dramatic fashion if they weren't planning a long term story arc. Miss Tessmacher, in Bruce Prichard's hierarchy, is the top babyface and Gail Kim, clearly the top heel, is her adversary. It's a feud that will hopefully culminate in an impressively decisive victory by the champion in one final battle - whether it's on Impact or a future PPV event remains to be seen.

Incidentally, not since the hugely successful Gail Kim vs Awesome Kong clash have we seen such a clear conflict between two vastly distinct characters. That is the brilliance of Bruce Prichard.

Blade: I think that both of you have hit the nail on the head. The months long build up of the dominant champion (Kim) and the progression of the plucky challenger (Tessmacher) was something that certainly would never have happened under Vince Russo; it just wasn't his style. The build up to Gail vs. Tessmacher took a lot of patience and as a result the payoff was all the more special.

When we look back at 2012 and talk about what happened to the Knockouts division I have a feeling that the two things that will stand out will be the dominant reign of Gail Kim and the rise of Miss Tessmacher to championship status. The fact that these 2 moments came to a head in a match, is credit to the job TNA did building both into meaningful stories.

As for Miss Tessmacher being a worthy person to end Gail's reign of dominance? Absolutely. Tess' is a fresh face who is virtually a homegrown TNA talent (her WWE run was very unremarkable) and that was the perfect kind of person to end Gail's title run as opposed to treading old ground by giving the belt to a former champion. Can Tessmacher have a title reign to rival the one that Gail had? Time will tell. One thing is for sure though, if Tessmacher can continue to grow and improve at the rate she has done up until now, and if she is allowed to hold onto the strap for a while, she could end up having the sort of run that we talk about years from now as being an important time for the Knockouts division.

FK9: Having Brooke Tessmacher dethrone Gail was a right-person-right-time situation. Gail had been built up so much by then that beating her would really mean something. And as Jason just pointed out, such an accolade would've gone to waste had the honor of beating her gone to a Knockout who's already held the title. Tessmacher was the woman best positioned to get the most out of that rub, which made her the best choice. And with her as a first-time champion (and a possible Mickie James heel turn approaching), it changes the Knockout status quo, which could lead to some fresh feuds and match-ups in the coming months -- something the division has been lacking for a while now.

But going back to a point I made earlier, one of the reasons it was time for Gail's title reign to end IMO was that she was running out of compelling challengers. Not that she'd gone through every woman there was to beat, just every woman that matters at all.

Here's where one of the fundamental differences between Prichard and Russo rears its head. Russo tried to use everybody; sometimes this was beneficial, as it kept all the women on-screen and relevant to an extent. Other times it was just unnecessary, making the show needlessly cluttered. On the other side of the coin, if Prichard is looking at a talent that he doesn't have anything good for, he simply won't use them.

This philosophy has become increasingly prevalent in the last 6 months or so. The focus of the Knockout division has been narrowed to where only about 5 or 6 specific women get featured at all. The others we just don't see anymore period, and at this point, I get the feeling that they're only being kept on the roster to pad the division should the writers need someone to eat the pin in an enhancement match on Xplosion.

This is where Taeler Hendrix comes in. With TNA getting more aggressive with developing newer, younger stars, she's the first of what I believe will be a number of new female talents we'll probably be seeing in the not-too-distant future (similar to what's going on with the X-division right now). Given that there are only so many spots available, those forgotten Knockouts that creative has nothing for these days may now be looking at the first of the women hired to replace them. My question to you is this: Should they be replaced?

As fans, we form attachments to wrestlers, and it's really easy for us to say that, "Wrestler-A has so much untapped potential, they could do this and that with Wrestler-B, and Wrestler-C could be a ratings draw if the writers would just blah, blah, blah..." And with that mindset some fans may not want any of the current Knockouts to go, because of what they could do if they were used differently, or used at all for that matter. But the brutal reality is that it just doesn't look like the Prichard regime has plans for them anymore.

Whatever his reasons are isn't really the issue; Prichard just doesn't see money in certain Knockouts and has chosen to stop featuring them. So given the choice between keeping these women on the roster in the hopes that they might one day get a renewed push (which seems highly unlikely at this point), and forgoing our attachments, cutting them from the roster and replacing them with new Knockouts that the writers would actually want to use in a meaningful way, what would you have TNA do?

Shelbin: It might seem like quite a conundrum for Bruce Prichard but if you further examine the facts, you'll notice a common theme among the wrestlers on the bench - they simply are not over with the live crowds. You can certainly make a case for each one that they deserve a push, whether it'd be talent, internet fan admiration, or likability factor, but it's also ill-advised to ignore the fact that they provoke little or no reaction from the crowd.

Surely, you can't say the same about the Knockouts who are currently on Prichard's radar, with the possible exception of Madison Rayne. I suppose one could find a reason to hang on to Angelina Love, Winter, Sarita, and Rosita but it'd be at the expense of signing new talent and the allocation of funds for the division.

If the Impact Wrestling fate of the aforementioned wrestlers is in my hands, three of the four would be hugely disappointed. Angelina Love would be the lone survivor and the reason for that is quite simple: I'd reform the Beautiful People with Velvet Sky. The duo, in their prime, was one of the most interesting aspects of women's pro wrestling and I truly feel that they were torn apart much too prematurely, initially by Love's visa problems and later by Vince Russo's horrific storyline involving Winter.

Of the remaining three, Sarita is the only one I'd have a difficult time releasing. She's a tremendous talent whose skills, unfortunately, have not translated into a successful career in TNA. It's easy to point the finger at the writers for never quite giving her an opportunity as a singles competitor but I tend to look at it differently: it's simply not a good fit. Through no fault of her own, Sarita has never clicked for me in an Impact Wrestling ring. I'll leave it at that.

Blade: In order for a wrestling company to be successful, the time will inevitably come for the people in charge to make the difficult decision to release older talents and replace them with fresher faces. It's a tough thing to do and a lot of times as fans, we have a hard time dealing with it because, as FK9 rightly said, we each have our own favourites that we grow attached to.

Whilst no one likes to see their favourites go, we have to understand that at the end of the day it's the wrestling BUSINESS and for any business to succeed they have to move with the times. For those of us who have followed wrestling for a long time, we all know too well what happens when a company keeps wrestlers around past their prime and fails to create new stars - the company inevitably goes under. The Prichard regime in TNA seems intent on creating new stars and for that I applaud them. TNA should be looking to the future.

Now, in order to create a future for the Knockouts division, some girls will have to move aside to allow others a chance. It's tough, but it's the nature of the beast. When you take a look at which Knockouts Bruce Prichard hasn't really used since taking charge, they are the ones that seem like they're in line to move on. Winter, Rosita and Sarita are all really talented in their own right, but I would be hard pushed to think of what more they can do in TNA. While I like all 3 of them, I can't help but think their spots may be better used for others. The same goes for Tara. She is a solid hand in the ring and its always good to have a veteran in the locker room but, Gail Kim and Mickie James are more than capable of filling that role now and the roster spot Tara occupies would be much better used for the likes of a Jennifer Blake.

Again, it seems harsh but you have to be level headed about these things. The only person not used by Prichard who I felt had/has lots still to give was/is Angelina Love. The fact that she was basically abandoned once Prichard took over creative is criminal.

FK9: I think we're all on the same page with this one. Winter, Sarita and Rosita look like they've done everything they're going to do in this company. And while I would regret the loss of Sarita (who I maintain has been completely misused in TNA), the fact that they've all been sidelined for so long now pretty much tells you how this is going to end. And since it's been so many months since these women have really meant anything in the Knockout division, I'm afraid the growing irrelevance of their characters has brought me to a place where I don't really care that much anymore and feel more excited by the idea of new Knockouts being introduced. It happens in wrestling all the time; talents come and go. If they're not going to be used, it's probably for the best that these women leave.

And if only this column had been finished a few days earlier, we would've all looked like prophetic geniuses because news came out last night that Angelina Love and TNA have parted ways. TBH, I can't say I'm surprised. Frankly, I was calling this months ago. Much like Winter, Sarita and Rosita (and possibly Tara as well), Angelina just didn't seem to be in the Prichard regime's plans. And while there might have been money in a Beautiful People reunion, I'm not terribly upset about this.

Angelina was one of those Knockouts that had done so much in the company that I was starting to wonder what else there was for her to accomplish. And no offense to her, but since she hadn't been used in months and hadn't been pushed in almost a year, it doesn't feel like much of a loss, I'm afraid. Angelina simply had no place in the current Knockout landscape. I think her departure will have more impact in regards to the spot it opens up for someone new to come in than anything else.

And that leads us to the subject of the most recent Gutcheck angle where OVW's Taeler Hendrix earned herself a TNA contract and a spot on the Knockout roster. The fact that Angelina's release quickly followed this can't be a coincidence. I think as new female talents start coming in, the women we've just discussed will be heading toward the exit door. And since the Knockout division has been in need of a revamp for quite a while now, I can't say I'm disappointed.

Hendrix has been the subject of some debate since she showed up, with some people (including some of the Gutcheck judges) thinking she might not be as ready as she could be. I, myself, felt that this happened a bit too soon and more time in developmental would have done her good. That said, the way the fans took to her is hard to ignore. The iMPACT Zone crowd got behind her immediately, she got easily the best reaction any Gutcheck contestant has received yet and 89% of the online poll voters wanted her to get signed.

The prospect of a new talent infusion has a lot to do with this, I think. After her tryout, I read quite a lot of comments from people saying that they hoped Hendrix would get a contract simply because they were tired of seeing the same Knockouts every week. Nevertheless, I've seen enough of her work to believe she has something to offer. IMO, she's got the tools to succeed in TNA even if she's still rough around the edges at this time.

Thoughts on Taeler Hendrix -- do you think signing her was the right call or should TNA have told her, "Not yet," and kept looking?

Shelbin: I was saddened to hear the news of Angelina Love's departure, although I was not surprised. Based on the amount of times that she appeared on Impact the last six months or so, her release was inevitable. Of course, there's always a possibility that she could return at some point - hopefully to re-form the Beautiful People. In the meantime, I wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors. I imagine she'll be quite active on the indies.

The arrival of Taeler Hendrix, now officially a member of the Knockouts Division, is one that leaves me feeling conflicted. I recognize her enormous potential, inside the ring and on the mic, and genuinely believe that she could at some point in the future become a serious contender for the Knockouts title. However, I also have to take into account that her biggest weakness could very well be an inability to make an immediate impact in a division that so desperately needs the infusion of new blood.

We tend to forget sometimes that Impact Wrestling is a major international pro wrestling promotion that is expected to showcase some of the best talent in the world, so I'm not sure it's wise to expose developmental talent to a mass audience when they're not quite ready. Unfortunately, we've seen it much too often in TNA with such talent as Rob Terry, Garett Bischoff, Crimson, etc., and oftentimes, it backfires.

With all that said, Taeler Hendrix received a tremendous amount of support from the TNA fans, online and live in the Impact Zone so perhaps they're willing to overlook her inexperience. I suppose they're fully prepared to take a ride with Hendrix on her journey, and the highs and lows that will most likely come with it.
Interestingly enough, her journey sounds quite a bit like Miss Tessmacher's.

For the record, I voted YES for Taeler Hendrix.

Blade: I too voted yes on Taeler Hendrix, but only just, and believe me, had the choice been Taeler Hendrix or Angelina Love then I'm afraid my vote would've gone to Angelina. While the release of Angelina Love did not surprise me (the tell tale signs were there that it was coming), it's still a bitter pill to take. It just seemed to me like even if she didn't have much support from the office, Angelina still had more to offer TNA than say Tara, Winter, Sarita or Rosita. Shame.

I'm really going to miss Angelina and I think TNA will too. Maybe some day she can return and make that Beautiful People reunion seem all the more special but until then, TNA will be hard pushed to fill the shoes that Angelina has left behind.

This shouldn't detract from Taeler Hendrix earning herself a spot on the Knockouts roster though. Let's not underestimate the importance of being able to connect with an audience and Taeler was able to do that with the Impact Wrestling crowd in a very short time. Is she green? Yes. Will she make mistakes? Probably. Are TNA in dire need of new blood for its women's division? Absolutely. I think the way that people rallied around Taeler however is a sign that they are willing to tolerate some inexperience in exchange for something that feels fresh and right now Taeler Hendrix does feel fresh.

Will all of this translate into success for Taeler and TNA? Time will tell, but she says she is ready for this and I believe her. TNA is ready for her too, or anyone new for that matter. The Knockouts division is crying out to be shaken up and Taeler Hendrix may be the one to do that. Good wrestler, good on the mic and good looks, Taeler seems like she has all the tools to be a star, and dare I say, there's something about her that reminds me of Angelina Love from 5 years ago. If she can develop her personality and tighten up her ring work then she might go along way to helping fill those shoes that Angelina leaves behind.

FK9: I think the general consensus across the board is that Taeler Hendrix is likable and the star potential is there, but she's a bit of a work in progress. Pushing her might be slightly risky at this time, but, hell, Tessmacher was in that same boat a year and a half ago, and look how far she's come. And Taeler's more ready now than Tessmacher was then, so I'd say she has a shot. They may have brought her up from OVW earlier than I would have preferred, but that doesn't mean she can't rise to the occasion if she wants it bad enough, which she seems like she does.

And who knows, maybe TNA is just the environment she needs to flourish. I imagine she'll improve faster with women like Gail Kim, Tara and Mickie James to learn from than she would if she stayed in OVW, working with women who aren't at that level. Time will tell, but I think she'll get there; she certainly has the fan support. She got more over in just 2 appearances than a lot of other Knockouts have in their entire TNA careers, so she's off to a good start.

But the issue that seems to come up the most with Taeler is reconciling TNA's serious need for new female talent with the temptation to sign a new Knockout just because she's there. Taeler may have what it takes, but there's a question of whether she should have gotten signed before women who are more ready for TV than she is right now. If the Knockout roster wasn't so depleted and stale at the moment, would that 89% of the pole voters have been so eager to see her get a contract, or would they have been more receptive to letting her continue to hone her skills in developmental for the time being while TNA looks for women whose potential is more fully realized?

I guess we'll never know, but the bottom line is the Knockout division needs to be restocked and the addition of Taeler is only a bandaid for a wound that needs stitches. Angelina is gone now, and if we're assuming that Winter, Sarita and Rosita (and maybe Tara) are also on borrowed time, then TNA can't stop with Taeler. They need more new Knockouts, and I mean like three or four new ones.

So for our last topic before we wrap this up, we're taking a look at potential future signees. But let's try to keep this limited to women that might realistically have a shot. Everyone's going to have their own wish list, but there are the female performers we like and the ones TNA might actually be interested in. Some compromise on our parts might be necessary, but there are some really nice possibilities out there.

If these last few months are any indication the main places new talent will coming from are OVW, Ring Ka King, Gutcheck seminars, and given recent developments, we should add PWG and Chikara to the list as well. Female talent from these places will have the best chance.

-OVW- from what I've heard, the Blossom Twins are due back later this year. After Taeler, they're the only women left from OVW that belong anywhere near TNA as far as I'm concerned (sorry, Epiphany fans), and the Knockout tag team titles seem like such a perfect fit for them that I keep wondering why they haven't been signed already.

-Ring Ka King- Alissa Flash FTW! She'd be great to have back, but only if TNA had learned from their mistake. If they were to completely waste her like they did the last time she was there, I'd prefer they not bring her back at all. She deserves better.

-Gutcheck Seminars- we learned via twitter that SHIMMER stars Courtney Rush and Lufisto tried out just recently. TBH, despite her impressive wrestling skills, I've always found Lufisto pretty obnoxious, and Al Snow seemed a bit put off by her on TNAtoday as well.

On the other hand, Courtney Rush is a very entertaining personality IMO; I saw a youtube video of her trying to get Sara Del Rey to dance to Lady Gaga and pretty much fell in love instantly. I could definitely see her as a Knockout. Rush would be on the short list of candidates if it were up to me.

-Chikara & PWG- There doesn't seem to be much there right now. Of course, Sara Del Rey is the one everybody points to, and she did have tryouts in the past, but TNA told her she needed to be more like the Beautiful People. I don't think either side is interested in doing business these days and there are reports that she's been offered a WWE deal, so that window is probably closed. My knowledge of Saturyne and Candice LeRae is limited to what the Chikara and PWG roster pages say, so I won't bother with them. 

By virtue of trying out for Gutcheck and/or being involved with those companies, these women will probably have a leg up on the competition when it's time to bring in the next Knockout prospect. Of them, Rush and the Blossoms are keepers IMO, and the ones I'd most want TNA to consider. 

Shelbin: I must admit, I'm not as big a connoisseur of women's pro wrestling as FK9 and Jason Blade are so any recommendations I make will not be based on my vast knowledge of women's wrestling in the indies. With that said, if there's a wrestler who has demonstrated to me the ability to come in and immediately disrupt the pecking order among the women in the Knockouts Division, it's Alissa Flash. I think we can all agree that her talent alone is reason enough to sign her, but she also possesses the one thing that's currently lacking in TNA's women's division - a brute force who can, on any given Thursday night, enter the ring and mercilessly beat her opponent.

With the addition of Taeler Hendrix and, potentially, an Alissa Flash, the Knockouts division would be, in my opinion, set for the rest of the year, or at least until Bound for Glory in October. As we know, Bruce Prichard's system only affords his writing staff a limited amount of characters to focus on so, at most, I suspect the company could sign one more wrestler this Summer. If that's the case, not many would improve the roster as much as Alissa Flash would.

Let's cross our fingers, however, that TNA aren't tempted to resurrect Raisha Saeed.

Blade: The bad news for the Knockouts division is that TNA allowed a really well-stocked roster to deplete and stagnate until it is now in the current state it's in. The good news however is that I can't recall another time when the independent scene was so loaded with talented female performers, and if TNA are serious about restocking the Knockouts division and pushing it into 2013 and beyond then there is a plethora of talented girls to choose from.

-OVW- The Blossom Twins
I'm not as familiar with the Blossoms as FK9 is, but I've seen a little of them and OVW seems like the easiest place to start looking for new talent, so why not take a shot on them? And If TNA are going to insist on still having Knockout tag team titles then for crying out loud, GET SOME ACTUAL FEMALE TAG TEAMS!

Which brings me to...

-Independents- Sara Del Rey & Courtney Rush
The superbly named 'Queens of Winning' are the reigning Shimmer tag champs. They would be another great addition that would help bolster the Knockout tag division as well as providing the singles title with 2 great new challengers somewhere down the line.

-Ring Ka King- Alissa Flash
What can I say that you guys haven't already said? She is an amazing wrestler capable of great technique as well as being able to get really physical. She just looks like a star and the fact that TNA never knew quite what to do with someone that talented and that good looking when she was there is unbelievable.

-AAA- Jennifer Blake
Given the relationship between TNA and AAA, I'm surprised that none of the girls from AAA have made their way onto impact before now. But there's no time like the present and no better person to start with than 'Girl Dynamite' Jennifer Blake. This fiery butt kicking blonde could add a lot to the Knockouts division.

Also, are you sure its not too late to bring Angelina Love back? I miss her already. LOL

FK9: You're preaching to the choir, Jason. I've been bitching at TNA for not signing Jennifer Blake since her tryout and will continue to do so until the day she shows up on iMPACT. 

If we're talking tag teams I'd put the Canadian Ninjas at the top of the 'Sign Them Yesterday!' list, but unfortunately Nicole Matthews has said that she doesn't have much interest in working for TNA; doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have her partner Portia Perez, though (and she had a tryout at one point too). 

Just for the hell of it, I'd also throw Athena's name out there. I don't know if she's on TNA's radar, but damn it, she should be! 

And if this were a perfect world, I'd love to see TNA work out some kind of arrangement with Pro Wrestling EVE like they have with Chikara. Maybe they could then send Madison Rayne across the pond in exchange for Kay Lee Ray. Sure, TNA would be getting the better end of that deal by a HUGE margin, but they could sweeten the deal by sending ODB and Velvet Sky as well. Frankly, I'd take Kay Lee Ray over all three of them combined.

Big thanks to Shelbin and Jason Blade for participating in this little joint venture, thanks to everyone for reading and to Talon for the cool graphic. If you want to see this Roundtable format return, let us know. Until then... Peace. Out.

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