03 September 2013

The Knockouts will Bow Down to The Queen

"The Knockouts will Bow Down to The Queen"

When you think about the current state of the TNA Knockouts Division, what comes to mind?  Until recently, I would have said things like "Exciting Women's Wrestling" or "Unique Characters that aren't just pretty faces" or "The Show-stealers on IMPACT".  However, somehow in the last month or two, those thoughts have kind of lost their gusto and the division is starting to feel like a "Broken Record" or "The Same Old Stuff".  How did things get to this point?  Well let's try to figure that out.

The most odd thing about this current off-putting feeling towards the Knockouts division is that they had the whole world buzzing about the amazing match from Slammiversary between Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell.  The risks taken in that match rivaled crazy things done by any wrestler, man or woman, and proved yet again that TNA has the best women's division in pro-wrestling.  The ladies were riding high and had gained the attention and adulation of the entire industry.  Hell, when I attended the Las Vegas tapings in late June the match that everyone was talking about was the rematch of Gail & Taryn in their quality ladder match.  Mickie James was playing her new heel role perfectly at that time and the future of the division seemed very promising.  Now fast-forward to today and things have seemingly became very stale and repetitive.

Now granted, contrary to popular opinion, I actually enjoy ODB in all of her wonderful crude and crass ways.  She is super over in front of the LIVE crowds and brings more skill to the table than she gets credit for.  In my mind, she totally deserving of being the #1 contender, and it would be believable if she ended up beating Mickie for the title.  But then where do we go from there?  Do we get ODB vs Gail again?  Or ODB vs Velvet?  It's starting to sound like Groundhog Day where the participants remain the same and we are living the same day over and over and over again.

There have been some unpredictable, and in some cases, necessary changes to the division in recent months that have affected the overall quality.  The most recent one was Taryn's fiery emergence as a great, new competitor only to have it halted due to a rumored unexpected pregnancy that has temporarily sidelined her.  Taryn's unexplained absence squashed some momentum that TNA had gained, and left a hole in the line-up which had to be quickly filled.  Also, the release of Tara was not totally devastating but it did affect the depth of the division and eliminated a key player.  In some ways Madison Rayne has also been missed with her heelish persona and screeching voice.  Have these 3 Knockouts missing really made the division this monotonous?  Maybe or maybe not, but the solution (in my mind) is a debuting new lady.......or Lei'D that is.

The impending TNA debut of Lei'D Tapa is going to take some fans off-guard, but not those of us that have kept an eye on the current OVW happenings.  She has been a dominant force in Louisville since her arrival on the scene, honing her skills and throwing other female performers around like rag dolls.  Some fans have compared her to Awesome Kong, and I can understand the logic behind such a comparison.  While there are some similarities in style and power, fans will soon find out that Queen Tapa is her own woman that will command others to bow down to her regal greatness.

It's safe to say that the Knockouts are in need of a dominant heel.  Although Gail and Mickie have somewhat both fit that role at times recently, it just feels like something is missing from it being a perfect fit.  Think back to when the women of TNA were at their apex of popularity and importance in late 2007 and 2008.  Gail Kim and Awesome Kong had some great matches and the Beautiful People were very popular.  There were other factors that made the division enjoyable at that time, but the crux of why the ratings and attention were garnered revolved around a monster heel (Kong) dominating the other women mercilessly. 

The formula of the monster heel and the surrounding cast of women is a proven winner.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Lei'D Tapa should be brought in the same exact way Kong was and that they should follow the exact same pattern of how she was used.  However a variation of that formula could be very effective.  Queen Tapa has been gaining her experience and  necessary time in the ring down in OVW, but at some point she will be ready to come up to the main TNA roster.  When that time comes (hopefully sometime in late 2013 or early 2014) the booking of her initial debut will be crucial for the future success of the KnockOuts Division.  It needs to be treated as a big deal and be given the proper time to translate well on TV, painting the picture that a true royal presence is in front of our eyes.  The presentation and attention to detail will make a huge difference in the audience respecting and buying into this storyline.

Most people know that Lei'D has strong roots in pro-wrestling, as her uncle is Tongan wrestling veteran The Barbarian.  Her family lineage shows in her impressive stature too, as she stands at 6 feet tall and weighs in at  powerful 220 lbs.  The national audience got a taste of her intimidating presence in the Gut Check match last February against Ivelisse Velez as she threw Velez around with great strength and ease.  The audience in the Impact Zone reacted to her in a way that most heels dream of, which was even more impressive considering the increasingly quiet environment in Orlando.  Even though she was fairly green at that time, you could tell that she had immense potential and that it would be worth TNA's time to invest in her future.  That future is hopefully approaching soon as I am convinced that Tapa would provide an element that TNA's women desperately need. 

The character and persona that is coming to life in OVW for Lei'D is very promising.  Her attitude and skill is being refined and she is working very hard to make sure that she will be successful in TNA.  The Tongan Queen will command respect from her audience and more importantly her fellow Knockouts.  When she commands that they 'bow down" they will either have to comply or she will force them to bow down before her feet.  Tapa has a natural connection with the LIVE fans, and that will translate well on TV as her true heel persona will demand boos and jeers from those in attendance.   

So before she comes in to TNA and lives up to the hype, you can say you heard it from me:  Lei'D Tapa is the future of the Knockouts Division.  Does she have a lot to prove?  Sure.  Nobodies success is guaranteed, but I saw something in her last February that you cannot be taught and the whole world will see that soon.  She is going to breath new life into a division that has become the same ole, same ole as of late.  You don't have to like her, but you will learn to love her.  Just remember, as Bully Ray has shown you, true heels are ones that you love to hate. I am confident that you will have the same "love to hate" feeling for the glorious and tyrannical Queen Tapa.

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