This weekend at Turning Point, TNA Knockouts Champion Velvet Sky puts the title on the line for the first time since winning the belt at Bound For Glory last month against challenger and one half of the Knockouts Tag Team Champions, Gail Kim, in a match that is significant for both.
For Velvet, it’s her first title defence in her first reign – while for Gail, it’s her first opportunity to wrestle on live TV since returning to the promotion on the post-BFG Impact Wrestling show. With no editing suite to patch things up if she slips on a banana peel, and the pressure to wrestle someone who she hasn’t faced in many years, the pressure is on the veteran Kim to knock this one out of the park. Kim has also had critics who assert that she may have lost that spark from 3 years of doing nothing of note in WWE, and may be in TNA for the spotlight, rather than to promote and enhance the Knockouts division.
Meanwhile for Sky, she is looking to solidify her first run as KOs Champ, which was hardly launched in the best of circumstances – winning in an overbooked 4-way mess that did more to further the tension between Karen Jarrett and Traci Brooks more than anything else, and also saw Velvet win the belt by not pinning then-titleholder Winter to gain the title, but Madison Rayne. Both have things to prove to the audience and to sceptics, and many fans have an opinion on which way it will go. However, I have an opinion on which way it SHOULD go, so everyone involved comes out with what they need and offers some options for down the line.
Notwithstanding the fact that TNA had two concussion storylines running at the same time in title feuds – the other being James Storm – at least there’s some heat between Kim and Sky going into the match, which at least adds some emotion that was sorely lacking at Bound For Glory. With that said, I believe that in order for things to stay interesting after the match is over, Velvet Sky has to win at Turning Point.
Giving Kim the title seems like something TNA would do. It tends to bend over backwards to give ex-WWE stars a big push when they first come in to try and capitalise on some star power that the promotion thinks the person may have and that TNA doesn’t seem to have the confidence to create for its homegrown stars. However, by holding off and letting the programme run for a month or two more will create more heat for if – or inevitably, when – a title change takes place. If Gail wins, it kills Velvet’s babyface push dead, as she will look like a weak, fluke titleholder who won the belt because she was in the right place at the right time and couldn’t get the job done when it’s one on one. It will also make her look like Gail, Karen and Madison were right in that she isn’t good enough to be the top woman in the promotion.
Now, whether or not you believe that is true isn’t the point. The point is that if you kill Sky’s momentum, she is back down the ladder again, with fans doubting her and crippled with the “choker” tag that her babyface character neither deserves or needs. People won’t take her seriously if she was to challenge for the belt again, and if she does regain it from Kim, it could be argued that Gail was beaten by someone who she has already proven isn’t as good as her, thusly making herself look less credible in the process. Everybody loses.
We all know that Gail is a better wrestler than Sky. That isn’t up for argument. However, the goal is not to be the standout wrestler in a match – it’s to work together, within the boundaries of the lesser skilled person to put on an entertaining contest that the fans can buy into and get emotionally involved in, not to make your opponent look inferior just because you can. That makes you an arse. Therefore, I would propose that Gail work within Velvet’s limitations to have the best match that the pair can possibly have with Sky getting the clean win, adding credibility to her grasp on the title and giving Kim added impetus to pick herself off and use dirty tactics to try and wrest the belt from her in the future. After all, Gail’s a heel – having her win the belt clean is the equivalent of taking a knife and cutting Velvet’s neck with it.
However, this is TNA, where clean finishes in Knockouts matches are rare, so I would expect Karen to be involved at some point. I hope that it doesn’t happen, as these two deserve to prove their own personal points – that Kim has the drive and skill to put on a great match with a weaker opponent (something that she was hit and miss at in WWE), and that Sky is to be taken seriously as Knockouts Champion and gain the credibility that any new champion sorely needs.
Besides, to cut the legs off Sky at the first opportunity also sends a very dangerous message to the women who have toiled in TNA for the last few years – a message that is already being hinted at due to Kim and Rayne winning the tag straps last week – in that unless you’ve been to WWE, you’re not a star. Fair enough, former KO Tag Champ Tara is a former WWE Women’s titleholder, and partner Brooke Tessmacher also cut her teeth there, but Tara doesn’t have that WWE shine anymore – even though she’s just as good as ever – and Tessmacher’s run was about as noteworthy as Braden Walker’s. They dropped the belts to Kim and Rayne even though the heels already have good heat because of who they are and who they are aligned to – namely Jarrett, who is the most over woman in the promotion, despite the fact that she doesn’t wrestle (there’s something wrong there too). They didn’t need the belts, they’re not an established team and they won the titles on the first occasion that they teamed up, thus making TNT look like a pair of amateurish chumps. The precedent was set the week before when Tara was booked to be a glorified jobber for Kim, thus discrediting Tara, the title that she held and her lesser-skilled-yet-still-impressive partner. As booking burials go, it was a masterpiece.
Here’s hoping that the trend doesn’t continue at Turning Point on Sunday and that the Kim superpush is designed to be placed into the hands of Velvet Sky, who needs that extra shove. As usual, we will have a PPV report of the match a few hours after the show here at Ringbelles, so we can see if TNA is looking to hotshot the belt onto Kim, or play the long game with Sky. I’m hoping for the latter, for everyone’s sake.
– Lee Burton