Well it’s been quite a few months since Knockout Knockdown was announced and taped. The air date was pushed back numerous times but the wait is finally over. The all-Knockouts PPV aired on the 6th in the US and will air in the UK on Challenge on the 11th. UK viewers and US fans that haven’t seen it yet can expect a lot of fresh match-ups and a couple of dream encounters. Current TNA Knockouts (current at the time – several have been released since this was taped) take on either returning Knockouts or brand new opponents from WWE or the indies. Nine qualifying matches to determine the participants of a gauntlet battle royal. The last remaining two of that battle royal duke it out to determine who will be “Queen of the Knockouts”. Read after the cut for my review.
The now former Knockouts VP Brooke Hogan called all the Knockouts to the ring to run down the format for tonight’s show. If anything we got to hear her catchy entrance theme one more time. She did not appear on the show again.
Roxxi may have declined an offer to appear but they still got her on the show anyway. We’re shown the match between her and Gail Kim at Bound For Glory 2007 – where Gail was crowned the first Knockouts Champion. After that we get an interview with Gail and an appearance from the recently released Madison Rayne.
Gail Kim vs Alyssa Flash:
This seems like a good way to start off the PPV. Alyssa Flash also got a little video promo before her entrance. I believe the last time Alyssa worked with TNA was with the Ring Ka King promotion in India – where she wrestled Mickie James and Angelina Love in 2011. Also another fact is that Gail was Alyssa’s first opponent in TNA when she was Raisha Saeed. One thing that made the match difficult to get into was that it came across as a heel vs heel encounter. Alyssa did smile a little and play to the crowd but she was very ambiguous and the crowd didn’t know who to cheer for. They popped a lot for Gail even when she tried to get heat from them. The match itself was more akin to something you’d see in Japan – lots of hold-for-hold wrestling and hard-hitting action. Unfortunately not a lot of character or wow-factor but solid wrestling nonetheless. Alyssa got plenty of offence in against the company veteran and her most memorable spots were an inverted Indian Deathlock and her patented Curb Stomp. She also busted out a nice Samoan Drop and a missile dropkick that genuinely looked as if she drilled Gail’s chin off. Gail pulled out the obvious win but did it with style – Alyssa rammed her into the corner but Gail rolled over her back and caught her with the Eat Defeat. Despite being a solid enough match, there was a lot lacking in terms of excitement. It ticked all the right boxes moves-wise but I could have seen them do a lot more.
Winner: Gail Kim via Eat Defeat. 6.5/10
Up next we get a replay of both Gut Check videos for Lei’D Tapa and Ivelisse Velez – they’re facing each other in a rematch.
Ivelisse vs Lei’D Tapa:
Ivelisse thankfully acted much more faceish during her entrance than the last time we saw her – the dispositions were clear from the start. Lei’D Tapa did of course win the Gut Check but has to appear on TNA television – she is currently competing in OVW and waiting for a call-up. The story of this was very much like their last one but it worked because it is one of my favourite types of matches. Tapa was the imposing giantess who assumed she’d be walking away with a quick victory. Ivelisse on the other hand gave her all she had to wipe the smirk off her face and come close to beating her again. This was a little longer than their Gut Check match and I saw a handful of moments where Tapa looked a bit confused. There appeared to be one or two miscommunications – Tapa appeared to go for a military press but couldn’t get Ivelisse up and so changed it to a Samoan Driver. Maybe that was how it was meant to be but it looked awkward to me. Nonetheless the rest of the work from these two was very solid. Ivelisse managed to fight back with a Litacanrana to send Tapa out of the ring. A splash from the top rope to the outside got the crowd chanting her name. She had a guillotine locked in and appeared to be going for Disdain but Tapa reversed into a swinging side slam for the win. Tapa winning makes sense – she is the one with the company now and this put her over and closes the door her loss at the Gut Check. Another good match between these two and Ivelisse really should be signed. With only Velvet Sky as a strong babyface in the Knockouts division, Ivelisse could be a great figure to build the division around.
Winner: Lei’D Tapa via swinging side slam. 7/10
We then got a replay of Tara capturing the Knockouts title at Bound For Glory, and then the debut of Jesse. This was followed by an interview with the two of them that had some nice verbal ping-pong.
Tara vs Mia Yim:
Now here’s an exciting match-up. Mia got a video promo to herself too and was on fire from the moment the bell rang. Tara played the cocky veteran who had the match in hand early on – but was ultimately too confident and poesy to keep in control. I had previously preferred Mia Yim as a heel but this was probably the best face match of hers that I’ve seen. They really played up the veteran vs rookie story here with Tara even yelling “go back to the indies!” at one point. Mia fought back with a nice arsenal of kicks that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Tekken game. Jesse’s interference was minimal which I liked because he didn’t distract from the ring work. Mia hit a Lionsault but sold that it hurt her ribs (either that or Tara has a *really* bony midriff) though continued to press on, delivering a brilliant German suplex. She had Kyoko Inoue on her mind as she scaled the top rope. Jesse got up but she kicked him down and went for the Skytwister Press. Unfortunately Jesse’s interference allowed Tara to roll out of the way. One Widow’s Peak later and Tara advanced to the gauntlet match. It was so weird to see Mia Yim in TNA (in a good way) because I’m so used to her at SHIMMER, SHINE and BLOW. But it was cool to see her wrestling on TV and working with someone like Tara. They worked very well together and produced a very sweet match. The crowd also responded well to Mia and chanted for her a few times.
Winner: Tara via the Widow’s Peak. 7.5/10
The crowd got a chance to relax now with a video package plugging the new Knockouts’ website. It is followed by a montage of some steamy swimsuit photoshoots. Even ODB got in on this one and she looked mighty fine. Sexiest of the sexy (see what I did there?) would have to be Velvet Sky. Who would have guessed that the trashiest woman on the roster three years ago could produce such great pictures? A close runner-up would be Gail Kim. She has never really been praised for her sex appeal but she is a gorgeous looking lady and can be very sexy when she wants to be. I realise I’ve spent way too long talking about a montage of bikini pics but that’s what you can expect from a reporter with a Y chromosome.
A replay of Brooke Tessmacher winning the Knockouts title at Slammiversary brings us back to the wrestling portion.
Brooke Tessmacher vs Santana Garrett:
I noticed Santana at the start but I had no idea she was going to be a heel. Not sure how I feel about that but I suppose it’s interesting to see her try it. Words cannot describe how happy I am that Brooke finally turned. Even watching this match confirmed to me that she is not able to play a babyface. During her entrance she looked very fake – and during her match she came across as very heelish. Santana showed some nice heel mannerisms and targeted Brooke’s arm initially. It was a tidy contest but Santana felt extremely watered down. I couldn’t watch this without thinking how much better it would have been with Santana as the face and Brooke the heel. Don’t get me wrong – Brooke is very solid ring-wise. She was on form here with all her moves. However she has never come across as likeable or someone I could get behind. She even manages to seem like a bitch when delivering the stink face. Santana missed a crossbody but eventually got Brooke in position on the canvas. Alas, the Shining Star Press didn’t connect and Santana fell victim to the Tess Shocker. As I said, a tidy match but with Brooke as the face, it was never going to be spectacular. Though I would love for Santana to get signed and work with Brooke now that she has gone heel – that would be a match to watch out for.
Winner: Brooke Tessmacher via the Tess Shocker. 6.5/10
ODB is up next for an interview and she informs us that her opponent is none other than pioneer Knockout Trinity! The lady who competed in X-Division matches and paved the way for more women to come into TNA. We also get the full replay of ODB’s wedding to Eric Young.
ODB vs Trinity:
On paper this match was a nice idea. However bear in mind that ODB is massive while Trinity is very petite. Also add in that ODB is far too popular to play the heel in such an encounter. The dispositions were a little confusing at first as Trinity played to the crowd in her entrance. She high fived fans and appeared polite enough. However she was suddenly a heel when the bell rang. And as a heel she was extremely limited in what she could do, against a physically larger face. Instead of going after the arm or the neck (which would have been a much better strategy), Trinity relied mostly on hair pulling and excessive ramming off the turnbuckle. As such, the parts with her in control were pretty boring. Things picked up slightly when ODB mounted her comeback but the ending looked awkward too. ODB had Trinity up for the TKO but she seemed to have trouble staying on ODB’s shoulders. Eventually she hit it and ODB advanced. It might be my imagination but ODB looked visibly annoyed after the match. I understand that Trinity is an original Knockout but they really should have put her against someone else. Perhaps have her go against Gail Kim and put Alyssa Flash with ODB? Anyway a very disappointing match in my opinion.
Winner: ODB via TKO. 4/10
We now get a video package detailing Taryn Terrell’s feud with Gail Kim, leading up to the Last Knockout Standing match. We also get additional footage of Taryn talking about the reactions to that match.
Taryn Terrell vs Jackie Moore:
This will be the last time we see Taryn for a while as she has announced she is pregnant. Jackie was a nice surprise as I think I mistakenly read that she had turned down an offer to appear. Immediately Taryn was on fire and I loved it. She has always been able to find a balance between being aggressive without coming across as too bitchy – something Tessmacher never quite got the hang of. Amazingly enough Taryn was fierier than Jackie and the pace really slowed down when she took control. Jackie mostly pulled a bit of hair and delivered the odd suplex. I had expected a full on Joshi-style brawl between two women this aggressive. This one was shorter than the previous ones, clocking in at only five minutes. The finish was rather abrupt as Taryn went for a bulldog off the top rope, Jackie side-stepped her and dropkicked her in the face. That was the finish and Jackie became the first returning Knockout to win her match. The finish was a bit lacklustre and I would have rather seen Jackie get the win with a more high-impact move. Still, Taryn sold it well enough and made it appear believable as a finish.
Winner: Jackie Moore via dropkick to the jaw. 5.5/10
We get a video package recapping the TNA British Bootcamp with an announcement from Dixie Carter that the Blossom Twins would be getting opportunities to earn TNA contracts. There’s also an interview with Hannah Blossom who is competing alone tonight in a triple threat match.
Hannah Blossom vs Taeler Hendrix vs Sojo Bolt:
Sojo Bolt gets a video promo while Taeler Hendrix does not. Hendrix and Trinity must have used the same mind-altering hairspray because Hendrix smiles and high fives fans – but turns heel immediately as soon as the bell rings. Hendrix and Bolt formed an instant alliance and worked over Hannah for a bit. The crowd was either very stupid or very bipolar – one moment they chanted “U-S-A!” (the heels were both American) and then started a “Let’s Go England!” chant. Hannah unfortunately seemed to get lost in the shuffle. She is primarily a tag team wrestler and looked very out of her depth here. She did a couple of good moves but she got eclipsed by the story between Hendrix and Bolt. Naturally their alliance imploded when it came down to pinning Hannah. The two of them were both very animated and I prefer Hendrix as a heel. She’s able to show more personality that way. We saw some nice triple threat spots, including the House of Pain pictured above. The end came where Bolt held Hannah back so Hendrix could hit her – she hit Bolt by mistake and Hannah floored her with a bicycle kick for the win. I suppose Hannah spending most of the match lying on the canvas makes more sense if she’s going to be wrestling later on. However she works much better in tag team competition and didn’t showcase her abilities very well here. A decent enough little match but more akin to ‘good match on television’ as opposed to ‘PPV-worthy bout’.
Winner: Hannah Blossom via bicycle kick (on Taeler Hendrix). 6/10
Velvet Sky vs Jillian Hall:
Now here was a nice surprise. Jillian was advertised for the PPV but it was a treat to see her against Velvet. It’s rather poignant that Velvet – the most tenured Knockout that hasn’t wrestled for WWE – is the one to face the former Diva. Jillian grabbed a microphone and of course busted out a song – her own version of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” (because she’s facing one of the *Beautiful* People). Things really picked up with this match and Velvet was on point. I personally felt that her second Knockouts title reign (which was when this was taped) was where we saw some of her best work. I enjoyed this match a lot more than most of the others for one reason – it was entertaining. Velvet Sky is far from being the best wrestler there is but she is a great entertainer. She goes out there and can hold the crowd in the palm of her hand. She makes a match fun and entertaining to watch. She and Jillian really had a chemistry that Velvet of course doesn’t share with everyone. Jillian’s offence was pretty basic and the standard schtick that we expect from her – sadly no 450 splash. The crowd were a bit more into this match and Velvet was very over. Jillian went for the handspring elbow, Velvet caught her with a victory roll and Jillian countered that, grabbing the ropes for leverage. The referee caught her however and Velvet finished her off with In Yo’ Face. Probably one of my favourite matches of the evening and I have missed seeing Jillian do her thing.
Winner: Velvet Sky via In Yo’ Face. 7.5/10
Next is a replay of Mickie James winning her first Knockouts title with a separated shoulder in under a minute.
Mickie James vs Serena:
At first I thought Christy Hemme said “Sarita” but I really popped when I saw Serena. This was indeed a dream match for me and I never expected to see it considering the TNA talent can’t work as many indie shows these days. Things started off as friendly competition though I suspected one of them would turn heel eventually. I was leaning more towards Mickie because this was taped leading up to her heel turn. But it was Serena who ultimately turned, though not until the middle of the match. Things started off with a brilliant flurry of offence from both women, Mickie giving us half her moveset in the opening three minutes. Sometimes I worry that Mickie just phones it in these days but then she’ll always come along and surprise me. In fact, the year 2013 has seen a renewed fire in Mickie and she’s produced excellent matches – this being one of them. The heel turn came halfway through the match, the story being that Serena realised she couldn’t outwrestle Mickie so she had to resort to cheap shots. After an intense battle that lasted eleven minutes, Mickie capitalised with the DDT and got the win. Match of the night definitely and it sure as hell lived up to the hype of the two names involved. This match could have slotted onto a regular TNA PPV just fine.
Winner: Mickie James via jumping DDT. 8.5/10
The crowd gets another chance to relax as we get recaps of each winner of the previous match-ups in the evening before it’s time for the main event.
Queen of the Knockouts Match:
This works much the same way as the 2007 Bound For Glory match; a Royal Rumble style battle royal (though the participants enter every 2 minutes this time) – the final two Knockouts have a singles match. Hannah Blossom was the first entrant and unfortunately had Gail Kim as the second. Despite getting a quick stream of offence against Gail, the veteran made short work of her and she was eliminated before the next entrant appeared. Number 3 was Lei’D Tapa and Gail sold being wary of her – perhaps remembering her battles with Awesome Kong? Lei’D Tapa lasted very long and dominated her part of the match. It took the combined efforts of Gail and entrants 4 & 5 – Mickie James and Tara – to eliminate her. There was an unfortunate botch there where Mickie was nearly eliminated – she let go of the bottom rope and one of her feet touched the floor. You could even see Tara and Gail hesitating, not sure if the referee would rule Mickie to be eliminated. Brooke Tessmacher was out next and once again came across as very un-faceish by taking it to Tara in a manner that wasn’t quite justified by their feud. It came across as a sneak attack by a heel. Jackie Moore and ODB were the next participants and the women in the match paired off and did their own spots. Jackie Moore was the first of these to be eliminated by the final entrant – Velvet Sky. Again, the remaining women did their spots and teased eliminations. ODB was next out and Velvet followed her pretty soon. Tessmacher was the first of the final four to go and it wasn’t long before Tara got thrown out too. Predictably that left Mickie James and Gail Kim as the final two.
Mickie got her standard bursts of offence in for around two minutes. Gail appeared to have injured her leg. They really milked this injury for all it was worth. Just when you thought Gail would sucker Mickie in, she didn’t and they even had her remove her boots and get help from an EMT. Finally she caught Mickie off guard with a school girl to get the – again predictable – win. Her BFF Madison Rayne came down to the ring to present her with the crown. Weirdly Gail shooed her away once she was crowned, giving a lacklustre ending and odd send-off for Madison. This battle royal had some fun moments but was hurt by the gap of time between entrants. For the early on, two minutes was far too long to wait. Battle royals don’t have the same unpredictability as pinfall matches – there are no near-falls or submissions to get us excited. So to have one run so long really wasn’t suitable for a main event. It was also incredibly predictable to have Gail Kim and Mickie James last to the end. And even more predictable to have Gail be the winner. Of course Gail must beat everyone, especially entering at number 2. One thing that really annoyed me was that the woman who was champion at the time (Velvet Sky) was eliminated too soon. She belonged in the final 4 at least. We’ve seen Gail vs Mickie several times and it’s a match that has never excited me. The action was good but far from great.
Winner and QUEEN of the Knockouts: Gail Kim. 6/10
As you can see from the majority of matches getting 6/10, the PPV was quite average. I’m not sure what the deal was – perhaps a lot of the women wanted to take it easy since they’d be wrestling a long battle royal later? Or perhaps a few wanted to play it safe since they were wrestling opponents they were unfamiliar with. A few of the girls were clearly out of their depth. Hannah Blossom didn’t have a good night. I saw no reason for a triple threat match when they could have brought Holly over too and had them face Hendrix and Bolt in a tag match – then tell a story between the twins in the battle royal. The Blossoms are tag team wrestlers and it would have been better to bring them both or just leave them off altogether. Considering how many former Knockouts turned down offers to wrestle on the PPV, we shouldn’t be too surprised. Some of the independent women were very impressive like Mia Yim, Serena and Ivelisse, while others were watered down like Santana. On the other hand I thought Lei’D Tapa came out of the PPV looking very good. She was put over nicely in the battle royal and was able to dominate for quite long. And in the end it took three veteran Knockouts to eliminate her. She came out of the PPV looking like a potential top Knockout. One thing that was especially annoying for the entire evening was the commentary. Taz was clearly in a mood that night and he irritated me throughout the entire show. He spent the majority of one match referring to Mia Yim as “Mia Yam” and clearly was not taking the show seriously. I wanted to watch the PPV on mute just to ignore his comments. I’d suggest watching a SHINE iPPV if you want quality women’s wrestling in the USA these days.
Final show rating: 6/10