It has been discussed for a couple of days, and now it is official: Velvet Sky and TNA have parted ways. In a statement released in the last hour on her Twitter, the former Knockouts singles and Tag Team Champion stated:
I have been granted my release by TNA at this time. It’s what’s best for me right now and I wanted to thank TNA and all the fans for their constant support in me. Stay tuned though. And I also want to thank Vince Russo for creating and believing in the team of The Beautiful People. We had a great run!
The 31-year old’s departure from the promotion comes at what is reportedly a critical time for TNA. As documented by Cageside Seats, the promotion has been renegotiating contracts with a number of names to try and save money as overheads have gone up because of offering live TV every Thursday. Flying in the names every week and putting them up means it is more expensive than filming three or four shows over a couple of days, so costs would have had to be cut somewhere, and it seems TNA is trying to do it by slicing off the top of wrestlers’ paychecks. That may be fine for the bottom line, but it can’t make the talent feel valued at all. In addition, the restructuring comes at a time when TNA has a lawsuit ongoing with WWE, so it is unlikely that any released TNA talent is going to be able to head to Titan Tower to try their luck there. That puts the wrestlers in an amazingly poor bargaining situation, as it’s TNA or bust. Looks like Sky called their bluff.
Velvet’s departure has been rapid and confusing. As reported on the Wrestling Observer update yesterday, her profile was taken down from TNA’s website, then restored, so nobody had a real idea what was going on, apart from her status being uncertain. That confusion was cleared up with Sky’s tweet.
So why pass up the TV exposure and her spot as one of the most marketable women on the roster? Well, firstly, as a performer, Sky had won everything that she could possibly win. Along with Lacey Von Erich, she held the Knockouts Tag Team Championship in 2010, and last October at Bound For Glory, won the singles belt in a four-way match. However, she dropped the belt the following month in her first defence against Gail Kim, and never really got another sniff at getting it back. As a title prospect, she was done. Throw on top of that the fact that TNA is looking at bringing in new talent like Taeler Hendrix, and it must feel like the writing is on the wall for someone who has been there for close to five years like Sky.
Additionally, perhaps Velvet felt lowballed by her deal and decided to take her chances on the independent circuit with a Beautiful People reunion tour alongside fellow recently-released Knockout Angel Williams (Angelina Love). Obviously, the Velvet Sky name will have to go, so she will need to revert to her old moniker of Talia Madison, but put a picture of them on the poster and everyone will know who you’re talking about. There could also be something of a reunion with her T&A partner April Hunter too, so in the short term, she won’t be short of work, and she can manage her own bookings without the prospect of TNA yanking her off a card with short notice (such as her scheduled appearance from Pro Wrestling Syndicate in September, which she would not have been allowed to do under her TNA deal as it is for iPPV, so that should have been a warning sign), which makes promotions more reluctant to book her. Financially, she may do quite well from cutting herself loose… in the short term, but how about looking further into the future?
What about when her shine of being a “former TNA Knockout” fades and she becomes just Talia Madison again? Will she see as many bookings, and will she be forced to drop her fee to keep the dates in her diary? As we have discussed in the past on the site, Sky is more of a character than a wrestler, and the attraction of having her there just to look at is going to wear thin with fans after a while. Unless she is well booked, with strong, cohesive storylines, her star may fade quickly.
In that situation, she may be forced to look at TNA as an option again, and with even fewer options available to her, there is always the chance of her being lowballed even further. I hope that she can stay marketable and make TNA realise that she is a commodity to them, as she can certainly liven an audience with her entrance, charisma and beauty.
- Lee Burton