Rightly or wrongly, the Knockouts division in Impact has always been one of the buzzwords associated with the company. Much like the X-Division, the early work that gave it a prominence in the wrestling world didn’t last and for years it felt like an afterthought, with little emphasis on match quality of roster depth.
Gail Kim consistently remained front and centre, which is hardly surprising given her loyalty to the company and her talents, but it often made the division stagnant and repetitive.
That feels like it’s changing though. The Knockouts roster has been consistently improving over the past two years, with the likes of Rosemary, Jade (also known as Mia Yim), Sienna and Allie driving up the prominence of the division and the match quality therein. Under the new Callis and D’Amore administration, some more new faces have come in and with the stories they’re trying to tell at the moment it feels like an integral part of what Impact is trying to build.
With that in mind, it felt like it was worth breaking down the current roster as we continue to tick over towards Slammiversary in July.
The current Impact Knockouts Champion was definitely much more over during and immediately following her feud with Maria Kanellis, but she has been gradually pushed over the past year and her reign has been solid. Her matches with Laurel Van Ness were better than many would have expected, and it feels like they’ve got something special brewing with her feud with Su Yung and her friendship with Rosemary.
Given LAX’s prominence and centrality to Impact over the last year, it’s a real shame that Diamante has spent much of that time and unable to compete. She looks like a really solid prospect and I’d like to see more of her and now she seems healthy again, I hope we will during the remainder of 2018 and beyond.
The former Winter and Katie Lea Burchill, now 37, returned to Impact this week as Grado’s new ‘girlfriend’/valet. It’s an interesting use of her, and I like the fact they’re yet to acknowledge her previous run with the company and the weird lesbian manipulation storyline they did with her and Angelina Love. She won the Knockouts title twice during her previous stint in the company and judging by her match at the recent One Night Only show, she looks to be a very solid and welcome addition to the roster.
‘The Girl on Fire’ is a 23-year-old prospect who the management clearly see a lot in. She’s still a little green but she looks to be being featured more prominently and more exposure alongside the other talented women on the roster will, presumably, help her begin to realise some of her potential. She’s definitely an interesting one to watch over the next six to twelve months.
It was recently announced that the five-time Knockouts champion was returning to the company at the recent set of tapings. Rayne has always been solid and her addition definitely adds some further depth to the roster; it wouldn’t totally shock me for her to be brought into the title picture sooner rather than later.
A legitimate star. Not just for the Knockouts division but for the company as a whole. She’s easily the best in-ring worker in the division and her character work is some of the most compelling in the company. Her 266-day title reign that took up most of the first half of 2017 was solid if unspectacular but she is the obvious choice to continue to push the division forward and could be a pillar of the company if they push her in the right way.
Since losing her title at Bound for Glory last year, Sienna has been pretty absent from Impact. She was taken ill at the tapings in January and that explains her absence pre-Redemption but as far as I can tell, she was not at the most recent tapings in April. Whether that means she’s on her way out of the company, or whether she’s just still not healthy, I’m not sure. She is a solid hand and a convincing challenger, and could be a vital cog in the division if she is sticking around.
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Yung’s in-ring work but I’ll also give credit where it’s due – her character work since her debut earlier this year has been fantastic. She feels like a legitimate threat and I’m convinced that she’s on course to dethrone Allie and become the 20th individual to hold the Knockouts title since it’s inception in 2007. And from there, a collision course with Rosemary seems like the obvious direction.
Lucha Royalty has had a troubled tenure with Impact so far. After debuting last September, she was immediately engaged in a feud with Rosemary which was set to culminate at Bound for Glory. Her inability to get a visa killed that dead and also meant she was absent from Impact television until February this year. She eventually came out on the short end of the Rosemary feud and whilst she’s been featured regularly since then, picking up a win over Kiera Hogan at Redemption, she very much feels like an afterthought at the moment and for a woman of her talents that’s pretty disappointing.
Tessa made her debut at Redemption and is one of many moving pieces in the division who I expect to feature prominently over the course of this year. Whilst her in-ring often leaves a lot to be desired, her promos and character work are strong, and she obviously has the family lineage, something they played up in their video package on her this week.
With those ten women at their disposal, I think Impact can do something really special. They will need to build feuds and matches outside of the title picture and keep everyone competitive. Warm bodies are essential, and the likes of Kiera Hogan can serve that role for the time being, but I think maximising these women in contendership matches and tag team bouts on the undercard will ensure that the Knockouts division not only remains relevant but prospers throughout 2018.
The Week in Review
- My man Eli Drake, the undeniable kavorka himself, was mugged off this week. I was anticipating his title match with Pentagon and then it ended in just over six minutes. What we got was good, but it felt like a complete waste of his Feast or Fired briefcase.
- Moose vs Kongo Kong from House of Hardcore was so dull. It’s the third dreadful performance in a row from Kong, whose buzz has completely cooled in my opinion, and if they want to push Moose, he needs some stellar performances under his belt.
- DJZ and Andrew Everett are the tag team I never knew I needed but totally want. Their tag match with LAX was so much fun and there’s clearly so much more both teams could give in a future match. The story they are doing with LAX is engaging and I hope that Z & E triumph in their tag title match next week. Z deserves his spotlight after his injury troubles and Everett hasn’t really had the chance to showcase his talents properly since joining the company.
- I liked that they continued the Edwards/Callihan story. I am sceptical of the use of authority figures in storylines of any form, but it played well into the desperation story they are trying to tell with Edwards. Keep the sizzle going boys, keep the sizzle going.
- Next week we’ve got a tag title match, Tessa Blanchard’s Impact in-ring debut, Aries & Sydal vs
Fantasma and Pentagon and a funeral for Rosemary. Should be great.
Well, until next time…