This past Thursday, Tessa Blanchard became the 21st woman to hold the Impact Wrestling Knockouts Championship, beating Su Yung and Allie.
In many ways her winning the title was never really much of a surprise, given her lineage as a third-generation wrestler. That phrase, ‘third-generation wrestler’, is one given a lot of credence in the industry but often with little to no meaning behind it.
For example, for every Randy Orton, there’s a Curtis Axel. That’s not to completely trash Axel, but it goes without saying that he never gets near a WWE ring if his father was a cleaner or a bank manager rather than Curt Hennig. Lineage does matter in wrestling, perhaps more so than in any other entertainment business, but is also often a painful substitute for talent.
Blanchard’s lineage has undoubtedly benefitted her throughout her career. She was trained by a combination of George South, Tully Blanchard (her father) and Magnum T.A. (her step-father) and made her debut in 2014.
The obvious step for her, with some experience under her belt, would be a career with the WWE. I mean, you just need to look at the way Charlotte is presented to see what opportunities were and maybe are there for Tessa. She has made some appearances there, featuring as a Rosebud, wrestling three times on NXT and being eliminated in the first round of the 2017 Mae Young Classic by eventual winner Kairi Sane.
Rumours notwithstanding, no long-term deal seemed to be forthcoming for Blanchard and she eventually found her way to Impact earlier this year, debuting at the April PPV Redemption.
Her presentation in her first couple of months was that she was brash and self-assured but perhaps a little too much so at times, getting caught with flash pins by Madison Rayne. Just before Slammiversary it was announced she had signed a long-term deal and from there it was obvious they would strap a rocket to her back and shoot her to the moon.
If you watch the show from week to week it’s apparent from Don Callis’ commentary that he thinks a lot of her and sees her as a face for the Knockouts division. That brashness and her early slip-ups have since been cleared from memory as she picked up wins over Allie, Alisha Edwards and Rebel to get herself in the title match at ReDefined. Her cocky attitude has helped her create a defined character that has gotten over with Impact fans and made her seem like a viable contender despite her youth and newness in the company.
It seemed all the more fitting then that Tessa won the title with a roll-up against Allie. She was an opportunist, someone who could see circumstances unfolding in front of her and making the most of them. It was cerebral, clever and perfectly fitting for her character progression thus far in the company.
Making her the champion is the right call. With Rosemary still on the shelf, Tessa is the most interesting person on the women’s roster. Allie and Kiera Hogan will be sympathetic babyfaces for Tessa to thrive against, whilst her popularity with the crowd means she’ll also be able to work well with Su Yung.
The naysayers will point to her in-ring work as an area that is still very much a work in progress. That’s undoubtedly true, she’s only four years into her career, but she has shown recently that she is growing as a performer and is as engaging as any other knockout. Her no disqualification match with Kiera Hogan showed real viciousness, whilst her back-and-forth match with Allie at Slammiversary was the best women’s match in the company this year.
Tessa is a real star, a diamond if you will, for Impact Wrestling. They did well to get her and even better to make her champion this past week. Her lineage might have brought her to prominence, but she’s undeniably doing this her own way and now she’s the woman with the target on her back. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up…
The Week in Review
- Viewership rose again this week, clocking in at 225,000. It’s still on the low side but it was up for a thoroughly enjoyable ReDefined special and hopefully that upward trend continues.
- Brian Cage/Fenix was an excellent way to open the show and the best match on Impact TV this year. The psychology behind Cage’s matches are brilliant – his opponent start at a blistering pace to try and wear him down but eventually his size, power and freak athleticism are just a tad too much.
- Cage and the Lucha Brothers vs OVE is a six-man tag that I need in my life.
- Eli Drake continues to be stuck in mid-card purgatory, although this week saw a potentially interesting development. If he continues to squash jobbers, maybe someone will come out and tell him to pick on someone his own size at Bound for Glory.
- I am currently enjoying my victory lap over the Moose heel turn. I thought it was superbly done, an interesting development for him, and a step that cements Eddie Edwards as the man with a mountain to overcome before he gets to Aries and the world title.
- Not much has been announced for next week as yet. We’ve got Grado & Joe Hendry against the Desi Hit Squad and we’ll hear from Moose about his betrayal of Eddie Edwards.
Well, until next time…