One of the benefits of watching any weekly television show is that you get to appreciate the minutiae in a character’s development, seeing how they evolve and grow into a role.
That sentiment couldn’t be more accurate for television wrestling, as some people are cut out for it because of their look or natural charisma and some very much grow into their gimmick and become a star in front of your eyes. One such evolving star is Tessa Blanchard.
When Tessa debuted for Impact 10 months ago, it was clear that she had all the fundamentals together and was ready-made for television wrestling but still required some rounding out, something only possible through repeated exposure to a wider audience on television and social media.
Whilst she spent her first couple of months spinning her wheels against the likes of Madison Rayne and Kiera Hogan without achieving much, she did manage to get over her gimmick – the entitled, brash product of a rich history in the wrestling business. As soon as the ‘Undeniable’ one signed a long-term contract with Impact, Don Callis and Scott D’Amore strapped a rocket to her back and belted her up almost immediately.
That sense of nascent entitlement that was evident when Tessa debuted became stronger and stronger as she grew into the role of Champion and face of the women’s division on the weekly television show. Tessa added really good in-ring work to her excellent character skills, being involved in the two best women’s matches in the company last year (against Allie at Slammiversary and against Taya Valkyrie at Bound for Glory).
An important wrinkle to Tessa’s character was the story with the referees. Although it is something that’s been done before countless times in the industry, it suited her gimmick. She seemed to become even more like a spoiled golden child and that difficult relationship with authority eventually would cost her the belt at Homecoming to Taya Valkyrie.
It was obvious that as soon as Gail Kim was announced as the special guest referee for that match that the eventual plan was for Tessa vs Gail. Retirements in wrestling are often false so I was not particularly annoyed at Gail coming back, especially as it’s likely to only be for one match – a passing of the torch from one generation to the next, from one ace of the women’s division to the next. Although North American wrestling doesn’t really do aces in the same way Japan does, Gail Kim was the ace of that division for more than a decade after its initial inception. At 23, Tessa is clearly being groomed as the next ‘ace’ of the division, the big name that everything and everyone has to go through to get to the top.
In order to do achieve that ace potential though, Tessa needed to continue to evolve. The spoiled personality and great look wouldn’t be enough, she’d need to show a lot more and more is exactly what she’s shown over the last couple of weeks. In the street fight title match against Taya Valkyrie, Tessa demonstrated a much more vicious and spiteful streak, something essential in any ace for quashing contenders not on the same level. Jump to this week and Las Vegas and Tessa interrupted a match between Alisha Edwards and the debuting Delilah Doom, decimating both to make a point that she is the real star of the women’s division.
Next week, Tessa will face off with the plucky Delilah Doom. It’s a good chance to get Doom over with the Impact crowd (assuming she’s sticking around) and a way to give a more ruthless and slightly unhinged Tessa a big victory as she moves towards the eventual Gail Kim showdown.
Over the last 10 months, Tessa Blanchard has matured on Impact’s weekly television product. In demonstrating a more vicious and unhinged streak, this Diamond has evolved and is poised to become the ace of the women’s division.
The Week in Review
- Unsurprisingly, the fatal four-way from last week has provided no further clarity on the main event scene. You’ve still got Kross and Moose lingering, Cage being denied and Impact looking smarmy – it’s almost certain to my mind that the former Johnny Nitro is turning heel.
- I really dug the Rascalz vs Desi Hit Squad match. The DHS are improving as a team and the Rascalz bumped well for them; I just wish they had more for Trey, Dez and Zach to do.
- Eddie Edwards vs Eli Drake was great, a ***1/2 match for me. Drake’s pre-match promo was a timely reminder why he is a massive star and I’m very intrigued to see where these two go next – do they do the disjointed tag team partners gimmick or do we get a big singles match at Rebellion.
- The LAX vs Lucha Brothers main event was good but was also the weakest of the teams’ three matches thus far in Impact. The mask tearing angle was interesting though.
- Glenn Gilbertti. Really Don?
- This week it was revealed at varying times that Impact have signed up some more talent and they’re all people I suggested earlier this year: Ace Austin, Josh Alexander and Reno SCUM. I’ll be profiling Austin and Alexander over the next two weeks in these columns.
- Next week we’ve got Jake Crist vs Willie Mack, Zachary Wentz vs Ethan Page, Tessa Blanchard vs Delilah Doom and a tag team main event with Brian Cage and Johnny Impact teaming up to face Moose and Killer Kross.
Well, until next time…