Last Sunday at TNA Hardcore Justice, I questioned the Knockouts Title victory by Madison Rayne, saying that it was the right result in the right storyline – as it pertains to her advances to referee Earl Hebner – but it arrived too soon, as it cut the legs off the previous champion Miss Tessmacher, who was still finding her way in her first reign. The situation changed on last night’s Impact Wrestling when Tessmacher regained the belt after the law stopped leaning in the direction of Rayne.
Knockouts boss lady Brooke Hogan had clearly seen enough, and made the ruling that Hebner was not going to ref any more women’s matches, which bent the new champion out of shape as she waited in the ring for what she thought was going to be a victory party. She then got two further kicks in the teeth when she was informed that the rematch between her and Tessmacher would happen later in the show, and there would be a debuting ref, and it would be a woman – not that female refs are a new thing in TNA, as Traci Brooks donned the stripes for a while in 2008.
Rayne got in a cutting blow before leaving though, saying that Brooke was only there because of her surname – an interesting, and possibly close-to-the-bone line, considering that argument was raised in this week’s Wrestling Observer about how she’s not over and not much of a talker. Granted, her on-mic stuff here wasn’t great, but she’s hardly the worst ever – perhaps she’s being unfairly compared to her dad.
However, Hogan did herself no favours with the introduction of the new ref. It was a crushing letdown – not necessarily because it was former ECW GM Tiffany, going under her real name of Taryn Terrell in her first wrestling gig since being released from WWE in November 2010 following a public spat with her then-husband Drew McIntyre on the SummerSlam weekend the previous August, but because TNA could not mention all the reasons why we would possibly know her. They couldn’t talk about her being an official figure in WWE, being a former Diva (or even a former Diva Search contestant), or even her old ring name. We were just supposed to know who she was and recognise her face – which wasn’t easy, as she wasn’t the biggest star in WWE anyway. Still, a few ringside fans did chant “ECW” at her, so she has some recognition with the audience.
You’ll notice I haven’t talked about the match yet – that’s because there wasn’t much of one. Everything was done as a vehicle to show that Terrell was a fair ref, so she admonished both wrestlers for not following her instructions and had arguments with Rayne when she tried to get pinfalls by holding the tights or by putting her feet on the ropes. The irony came when Madison was yelling at Taryn for not counting a pin even though her feet were on the ropes – much like Tessmacher did with Earl Hebner at Hardcore Justice when Rayne broke up a pin by draping her leg over them – but then turned around into a Tess Shocker for the three.
I suppose normal order has been restored, but what now for the Hebner/Rayne storyline, which was going so well and has now had the rug pulled out from under it? Is Earl going to start interfering with Terrell’s officiating to discredit her? Will he find another way to scratch Madison’s back? Meanwhile, can Tessmacher regain the momentum she was carrying under her first reign?
Also, why flip the title back so quickly? This storyline with Earl’s “bad calls” could have stretched out to the next pay-per-view if they wanted, but they dumped it at the first opportunity. It’s a shame, as it was interesting. Hopefully it’s not the end, as Madison will surely get a rematch, so Hebner may get involved there.
Still, speculation is good, at least it generates intrigue and conversation. It’s much more than we’re getting from WWE these days.
– Lee Burton