The women’s revolution in wrestling today is a huge hit. TNA did their part many years ago attempting to build a credible division during the mid-to-late 2000s. The Knockouts division was created with their hopes of offering a plethora of different female stars with different wrestling styles, visual looks and characters. Some women just worked as managers or personalities while others represented the wrestling portion. For many years, TNA outdid the WWE in terms of the women’s division. The Knockouts segments consistently achieved the highest ratings on Impact during their early days on Spike TV.
Momentum grew early with the Knockouts finding success in various forms. Things unfortunately fell apart, specifically when Vince Russo started to book them like the women during the Attitude Era. The Knockouts division would go through many ups and downs through the years, but the peak period will always be most of the 2010 time period. We’ll take a look at the first wave of the female wrestling stars to make a name in TNA. Each woman had a different path during their TNA career and possibly beyond. Let’s take a look at what fifteen of the top TNA knockouts from the 2000s are currently doing today.
15. Awesome Kong: Actress
— Awesome Kong (@MeanQueenK) April 27, 2017
The talented Awesome Kong received her biggest break in the first year of the Knockouts division. Following success in Japan, TNA made her the top heel against underdog hero face Gail Kim. The two had perfect chemistry to create the first breakout feud in the Knockouts division to get momentum growing. TNA would start to underutilize Kong leading to her leaving the company.
A failed run in WWE brought Kong back to TNA a few times coming in and out of the company before leaving after a backstage fight with Reby Sky. Things worked out for the best for Kong as she found her dream acting role to start a new career. Kong is playing one of the women in the highly acclaimed G.L.O.W series coming to Netflix about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling making it her biggest commitment today.
14. Taylor Wilde: Firefighter
The TNA career of Taylor Wilde is one of the more depressing ones despite the fact that she achieved great success. TNA attempted to make Wilde the face of the division by having her win the Knockouts Championship. The departure of Gail Kim back to WWE led to TNA viewing Wilde as the woman to build the division around.
A story surfaced online about Taylor being spotted working at a sunglasses kiosk at her local mall in Canada during her TNA Knockouts Championship reign. It showed just how little TNA was paying their female talent. Wilde eventually left TNA and the wrestling to find a new career path. Taylor has been a firefighter for the past few years making a living in the new field. A recent social media from Wilde however teased a potential wrestling comeback to end her retirement from the squared circle.
13. Jackie Gayda: Nutrition Store Owner
TNA signed Jackie Gayda before planning their official women’s division to be a part of the storylines. Gayda was coming off her WWE tenure and TNA hoped she would provide a familiar face to contribute to the betterment of the television show. The big storyline saw Jackie become a reluctant part of Planet Jarrett after they blackmailed her with an implied private tape she didn’t want released.
Gayda would get pregnant during her TNA time to end the storyline without an ending taking her off television. The real life marriage between Jackie and fellow wrestler Charlie Haas has lasted from their time in WWE and is still going strong today. Gayda and Haas both run the nutritional store Custom Muscle Nutrition and Smoothie Shop together in Texas as they have transitioned outside of wrestling.
12. Jacqueline Moore: 2016 WWE Hall Of Fame Inductee
Another former WWE talent signed by TNA for the early stages of a women’s division was Jacqueline Moore. The tough Texan made her career by adding credibility to women’s wrestling during the more depressing times for the division in WWE. TNA brought her into the company with the intention to add the same credibility to their growing division.
Jacqueline worked as one of the stronger heels on the roster and became the manager for successful tag team Beer Money. The TNA run did not last too long as it was just intended to help establish the early roots of the division. Moore has retired from the wrestling business following the end of her TNA tenure. WWE eventually brought her back in to celebrate her career with an induction into the 2016 Hall of Fame.
11. Shelly Martinez: Acting & Modeling
Shelly Martinez joined TNA as a member of the LAX faction when they turned face. Konnan left TNA and the LAX group needed a new manager to appear ringside with Hernandez and Homicide. Martinez joined the company under the name of Salinas. The name was inspired by Dixie Carter’s husband Serge Salinas showing just how ridiculous things were in TNA.
Martinez had a few different stints in TNA, including an embarrassing appearance on a One Night Only PPV with an all-time worst match against Rebel. The wrestling career of Shelly has officially ended with her announcement of retirement this year. Martinez is focused on her modeling and acting career to hopefully shine outside of the wrestling business. More fans will remember her time in WWE as Ariel more positively than the TNA run.
10. Daffney: Indie Appearances
The introduction of Daffney proved just how ridiculous it can be getting your foot into the door of a wrestling company. TNA hired her to join the Knockouts division, playing a parody of politician Sarah Palin when she ran as the Vice President in 2008. Daffney played “The Governor” fooling The Beautiful People into thinking she was the real Palin.
Once the horrible storyline ended, Daffney was able to play her goth character to more success. Bad luck with injuries and horrible treatment from the powers that be in TNA led to her career ending sooner than expected. Daffney endured serious injuries and TNA refused to pay for it. It caused her to end her in-ring career. The talent of Daffney is still involved in wrestling with her appearances at the occasional Shine Wrestling show as a manager.
9. ODB: Impact Wrestling/Bartender
— Jessie Kresa ODB (@TheODBBAM) May 9, 2017
One of the standout early talents to get over with a ridiculous gimmick in the women’s division was ODB. The outlandish character work became a hit with the Impact Zone to earn ODB a spot in the company for many years. ODB is a four-time Knockouts Champion with many storylines making her a stalwart in TNA for many years.
A departure saw her work in Ring of Honor among other companies for a short time period. TNA eventually brought her back in recent months to be a part of the Knockouts division again. ODB has however branched out into other fields making sure TNA isn’t her only source of income. The drinking gimmick in TNA carries over to real life as she works as a bartender and she is looking to sell her own personal branded alcohol.
8. Trinity: Roller Derby
The only two women employed by TNA during their early Fox Sports television deal on Friday afternoons were Trinity and Traci Brooks. Trinity pulled off some incredible stunts getting involved in cage matches and other dangerous situations. Brooks and Trinity both wanted to be the assistant to authority figure Dusty Rhodes which made them bitter enemies.
Trinity would leave the company before the women’s division started. WWE signed her to be a part of the ECW brand but she was barely featured on television. Following the end of the WWE career, Trinity moved on to her stunt career full-time. The athletic talent has changed paths in recent years by competing in roller derby. Trinity has become forgotten but deserves respect for all she contributed to TNA in the less celebrated days.
7. Roxxi: Fitness Industry
— Nicole Raczynski (@RoxxiNikki) May 9, 2017
Roxxi Laveaux did a great job standing out as a unique talent in the early years of the Knockouts division. The original placement in the company featured her as a manager for Road Dogg and Billy Gunn during their Voodoo Kin Mafia days. Roxxi moved into a singles role in a personal feud with The Beautiful People. The evil heels shaved Roxxi’s head and attempted to humiliate her. It just inspired a new look that worked out for the best.
Fans started to get behind Roxxi with her shaved head and new character as a hardcore wrestler. Much like most things with TNA, they didn’t capitalize on her popularity. Roxxi was eventually released and retired from the wrestling business. Since leaving professional wrestling, Roxxi has focused on her fitness career and running her own business of similar category.
6. So Cal Val: Model/Fashion Blog
Farewell #Bruges! I miss you already! I'm documenting my entire trip in an upcoming #blog post. Every memory, every excursion and every outfit. ??????#travel #travelblog #holiday #style #styleblogger #styleinspo #fashion #fashionblog #fashionblogger #fblog #fblogger #influencer @visitbruges @bruggebelgium @visitbruges @travelmagazine @travelandleisure @hotelsdotcom
So Cal Val was one of the rare longtime female employees of TNA that never actually wrestled. The roles of Val changed from ringside girl to manager to heel personality to broadcaster to backstage employee. Val’s peak was definitely the storyline with Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt fighting over her love. Following the end of her run with Dutt, Val did not have any storylines for her character.
The TNA tenure eventually ended when the company started to make cuts. Val has since moved to the United Kingdom to start a new life there with her significant other. The career path today features her working as a broadcaster for Fite TV remaining in the wrestling business. Val also works as a model and has been expanding her profile with a fashion blog.
5. Gail Kim: Indie Circuit
The first big star in the Knockouts division to showcase how important it could be was Gail Kim. TNA made the right decision by having Gail become the first ever Knockouts Champion when the title was introduced in a gauntlet. Kim tried her luck in WWE one more time but grew frustrated enough to leave for a return to TNA.
Gail has remained loyal to TNA since her second return claiming she has no desire to leave them again. The six-time Knockouts Champion is without a doubt the most successful female talent in TNA history. It was well deserved when she entered the TNA Hall of Fame. Kim is still a member of the TNA roster but has been wrestling more often on the independent circuit lately. Despite her words of never wanting to return to WWE, you have to wonder if the TNA legend will want to give it one more try with Impact fading away.
4. Velvet Sky: Indie Circuit
The Beautiful People stable of Angelina Love and Velvet Sky featured the duo playing egotistical and conceited heels that tormented the other female wrestlers on the roster. Both women became huge success stories in TNA working together. Sky specifically became a standout performer and later went on to become one of the top faces on the show.
Velvet would have multiple stints with TNA coming in and out of the company. TNA’s financial issues created many issues like this with talent leaving after not being paid. The current status of Sky has her outside of TNA working primarily on the independent scene often appearing with her boyfriend Bully Ray. Velvet also does live show work for Fite TV whenever they’re carrying a show Bully happens to be performing at that she travels to.
3. Angelina Love: Impact Wrestling
— The Queen. (@ActualALove) May 12, 2017
Angelina Love was the other half of The Beautiful People and managed to create a great dynamic with Velvet Sky. The accomplishments of Love speak for itself with an incredible six Knockouts Championship reigns. Love often played the top heel in the company and had stronger wrestling skills than Velvet which put her in the big match situations.
Various issues through the years led to her leaving TNA and returning a total of four times. Angelina is back in TNA today working alongside her husband Davey Richards. The two actually met in TNA during her prior stint and the two fell in love. Angelina gave birth to their first child in 2016 before making a return to the ring. The fact that she gets to continue wrestling for the company she is used to with the person she loves most makes it a great situation.
2. Traci Brooks: Motherhood
— Traci Brooks (@TheTraciBrooks) April 23, 2017
Traci Brooks was the original Knockout in TNA lasting through all of the early changes from weekly PPV to Fox Sports to Spike TV. Brooks worked as both a manager and a wrestler often being the top female presence on the show before more joined the company. Traci did a good job in her various roles but fell down in the pecking order when the bigger names came aboard.
TNA eventually released Brooks showing little loyalty for one of the longer tenured employees. Traci wrestled for a short time period before retiring from the business. Brooks has stayed out of the spotlight but is currently dating Frankie Kazarian. The two worked together in TNA’s early days proving good things could come from the company. Traci is now a mother after the couple had their first child in 2013.
1. Christy Hemme: Motherhood/Writer
A big signing at the time for TNA saw them bring Christy Hemme into the company after she was released from WWE. This was before TNA signed just about every ex-WWE name and before they had any female stars. Hemme became the face of the women’s roster for projects like calendars, DVDs and photo shoots.
Christy eventually moved into a wrestling role with the inception of the Knockouts division before an injury ended her in-ring career. Hemme would become most known for her long tenure as a ring announcer. TNA and Christy would split ways when money and time became an issue. Hemme did write for TNA’s Knockouts division towards the end of her stint. That inspired her to go to writing school in hopes of having a long career as an inspiring television writer.
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