WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the next several weeks of TV. If you don't like spoilers and prefer being surprised, stop reading now. [/ass covered]
What's old is new? Of course not! Let it go already!
I loved the idea of Gail Kim holding an open challenge to women outside of TNA to come in and take a shot at her. It seemed like a simple, expediant way to introduce fresh talent into a Knockout division that desperately needs it, and has for years now. That's why, for the life of me, I don't understand the mentality of a lot of fans I've seen lately on twitter, comment sections, message boards, who have been name-dropping all sorts of former Knockouts as well as former WWE Divas that they want to see take part in this. Women like Angelina Love, Madison Rayne, Winter, Jillian Hall and many others have been mentioned. And to all those people, I have to ask a very important question: WHY?
All due respect, but anyone hoping that these challengers will be former Knockouts or Divas that Gail Kim has already faced numerous times before in either company is completely missing the point of this angle.
Let's be frank here. Sure, she was a big player in the Knockout division for several years, but what would be the point of bringing Angelina back at this stage? What is there left for her in TNA that would be new and fresh and interesting? What could she possibly do that she hasn't already done? Feud with Gail again? Reform the Beautiful People again? Win the Knockouts title for a sixth time? Because that all sounds like been-there-done-that territory to me.
Winter? Oh, sure. Never mind the fact that she was such a colossal flop during her previous run in TNA that she took Angelina down with her; a setback that TNA's former golden girl never recovered from.
Don't get me started on Madison Rayne again. Just don't.
And anyone hoping for Jillian Hall should probably just stop reading this blog right now. I promise you, we want entirely different things and I won't be saying anything you're going to like.
Still reading? Okay. Let's continue.
It's the same deal in every case: been-there-done-that-and-got-the-t-shirt. And it's the same problem the division is now facing -- the few remaining stalwarts have all been around for ages and are running out of new things to do, which is why NEW female talent is needed so badly. New Knockouts would give the old Knockouts new people to interact with and play off of, and create new match-ups and situations that the fans haven't seen before. Personally, I have absolutely zero interest in seeing a former Knockout (or Diva for that matter) dethrone Gail in a match I've already seen them have fifty times and get her fourth, fifth or sixth title reign when a brand new Knockout defeating Gail in a match I've never seen before and getting her first title reign is infinitely more appealing to me.
Call me crazy, but the last few weeks of Gail Kim's open challenge have generated the first genuine spark of interest I've had in the Knockout division since her feud with Taryn Terrell last summer. I was glued to my seat when Candice LeRae hit the ring. I marked out when I learned that Cherry Bomb was going to challenge Gail next. And why is that? Because even though the matches have been basically squashes so far and not even that impressive (though I maintain that the LeRae match was criminally rushed and cut short, thus causing timing issues), at least they were finally giving us something different. At least they were offering up a match that we hadn't already seen countless times before. And after sitting through months of TNA just refusing to stop booking Gail Kim vs ODB until their total number of matches eclipsed Styles/Daniels, two minutes of Gail beating up Hannah Blossom felt like heaven to me.
I understand missing certain former Knockouts and wanting them to return, but bringing back women that have already been on TV for years, already feuded with most, if not all of the current Knockouts and already done everything there is for them to do is not going to fix anything. That's why this mindset makes no sense to me. The fans saying that the division is stale are the same fans yelling at TNA to bring back women who have nothing new left to offer and would just end up doing the same stuff and feuding with the same people they were feuding with from 2007-2012. That would just make the problem worse!
Yes, I read the spoiler about Madison Rayne being back, and it depressed the hell out of me. Why is that, you ask? Because aside from the fact that she's an overrated, overpushed, glorified utility player who couldn't get over after four years of being shoved down the fans' throats, she has hardly anything interesting left to do. She's already held the title multiple times, already feuded with ODB, Velvet and Tessmacher, and been aligned with Gail for ages. So she can feud with Gail and feud with Lei'D Tapa (neither of which is a terribly compelling match-up), and after that, it's right back to being the same tired, played out performer she was when she got released from the company months ago.
I just don't get it. Why would fans want Angelina and Madison (both of whom peaked years ago) back, when them returning means there's one less spot for a new girl who would be far more interesting at this point simply because she's new? Why would fans call for the return of former Knockouts who were only adding to the staleness of this women's roster back when they were still a part of it? Why, when they could have women like Candice LeRae and Cherry Bomb instead, who I guarantee have far more to offer the women's division than Madison Rayne does at this point, and who could actually provide fresh matches and opponents for the current Knockouts, and by extension make those women more relevant because they would now have new people to work with for a change?
I want to see some NEW women get an opportunity, damn it. If you want Angelina and Madison and Winter and all those other people back, so be it. But in the event that that happens, don't be surprised if I completely stop caring about this Knockout division altogether.
*steps onto soapbox* GIVE ME NEW KNOCKOUTS OR GIVE ME DEATH!!! *steps off of soapbox*
New characters breed new interest
One of the big announcements TNA made in an effort to take some of the sting out of their move back to Universal Studios was that they would be introducing a number of new characters in the coming months. Well, color me intrigued because after the long-overdue roster cuts they made this year, their talent pool could do with some refurbishing, and the results thus far have me quite optimistic.
They knocked it out of the park with the introduction of Ethan Carter III. Just one vignette with the Samuel Shaw American Psycho-esque artist character got me more interested in this guy than Sam
[NOTE TO TNA: I still say put the Blossoms and Magnus together and you've got a money-making trio on your hands.]
That's a nice start right there. Kudos to TNA for doing what, quite frankly, they should be doing every year after Bound For Glory: overhauling the roster, eliminating talents that aren't working out, introducing new stars to keep the show fresh. I just hope that going back to taping TV in one location and minimizing costs again doesn't allow them to forget that just because the roster cuts were something they were forced to do for budget reasons, it doesn't mean those cuts didn't need to be made. We don't want TNA going back to having a bloated roster full of people they don't need and hardly ever use, and thus waste a lot of money on, now do we?
And while we're at it...
TNA made a lot of smart cuts when they were trimming the fat out of the roster this year, but IMO they didn't go far enough as there are a number of additional cuts I feel they should make before they stop -- people who have nothing left to contribute, are undeserving of a spot on the roster due to a lack of talent or who have simply run their course. In no particular order, these people are:
Whose coffee did Todd Keneley piss in?
TNA has apparently added OVW's Gilbert Corsey to the announce team and he is now Jeremy Borash's broadcast partner on Xplosion. TNA definitely needed to get some new blood in there because lord knows Tenay and Taz are long passed their respective expiration dates. That said, while Corsey isn't the worst announcer in the world, he's a clear step down from Todd Keneley, who had a definite chemistry with Borash that he doesn't seem to have with Corsey yet, and if TNA were going to shake up the announce team, I don't see why they wouldn't just #BringBackTodd instead, since the general consensus seemed to be that he did a great job during his time there. I know there were a lot of bad decisions made during the Hogan/Bischoff/Prichard era, but hiring Keneley was not one of them.
Well, as long as you've got it...
Something I suggested in the comment section a little while ago was that if the developmental roster was going to be relocating to Orlando like we heard, the company should revamp Xplosion and turn it into a show for TNA like what NXT is to WWE. Go back to the Spin Cycle being an internet exclusive feature, do away with all the other stuff they put on Xplosion and make it a one hour minor league show where the developmental talent can hone their skills and characters, and talent not being used on iMPACT can actually have something to do. I mean, if you're going to have all these people on hand anyway, why not make use of them?
A rejiggered Xplosion sounds like an ideal place for Samuel Shaw to iron out the kinks in his new gimmick before he makes his iMPACT debut, for Lei'D Tapa to polish her wrestling skills or for names like Kenny King and Jay Bradley to actually get some face time. And since it airs exclusively in the UK, having Rockstar Spud and the Blossom Twins competing regularly on the show certainly couldn't hurt.