Impact Wrestling sure has faced its controversy and had its rough times over the years. But no one can deny the promotion has always been one step ahead when handling their female talent.
The Knockouts Division has been making history and setting the bar for a very long time – and continues to do so today – but looking back at the history of the division there is a woman who truly did provide a lot. From character work to standout matches against some of the best of the best, Tara is a woman we don’t talk about enough. Could this former WWE and TNA star be noted as the greatest Knockout of all time?
Debuting for TNA back in 2009, the crowd reaction spoke volumes as to just how popular Tara (known as Victoria at this stage) was with wrestling fans. Confronting fellow Knockout alumni in Angelina Love, Tara stepped up as the latest face to challenge Love and The Beautiful People, setting her sights on the Knockouts Championship. It was clear from the get-go that Tara was popular amongst the audience and joined an already interesting division but added even more star power.
Her WWE background meant she was a huge new addition to the TNA roster, let alone the Knockouts Division, and was a breath of fresh air, a new top dog, and a brand new challenge to the woman who had dominated alongside the rest of The Beautiful People. The immediate big storyline and rivalry with Angelina Love said a lot for her position on the roster and the standard at which the company held her to, and as two huge female stand-out names in the world of pro wrestling at the time, the collision between the pair generated a lot of buzz and attention.
Tara was able to pick up the gold she had her eyes on from day one, becoming the new Knockouts champion in June of the same year as her debut. She would go on to have four more championship reigns. While they may not all have been incredibly lengthy, she was a consistent champion who kept her eyes on the prize at all times and it was always so incredibly evident just how much the Knockouts Championship meant to her. The former Knockout defeated the likes of Angelina Love, ODB and Madison Rayne to capture the title throughout her career in several highlights, memorable encounters and storylines.
Over the years spent in IMPACT Wrestling, Tara continued to work against some of the biggest and best names in Knockout and female wrestling history. From Mickie James and Awesome Kong to Madison Rayne and ODB, to name just a few, she took part in iconic angles for the division. One of the most memorable storylines involved Mickie James. Another big name in the world of women’s pro wrestling, it’s no surprise to see these two women raised the bar and took part in some fantastic matchups and segments.
Both incredibly popular with the fans, Tara and Mickie picked up a level of attention and took part in a competition that was at a standard we weren’t seeing from women’s wrestling at the time. Making history on an episode of Impact, the pair main evented the show when they stepped into a steel cage becoming the first Knockouts to compete in such a match. The encounter is one that has gone down in history for its spots, the chemistry between the two and the standard at which they performed. This match remains one of the best of Tara’s Impact career and a highlight for the history of the Knockouts Division.
Of course, there were other times Tara made an impact inside the ring during her time with TNA. Working one on one bouts against other top talents such as Awesome Kong, it was great to see two different kinds of powerhouses collide, but Tara also proved to be a great catalyst for up and coming talent. The likes of Taryn Tarrell, Winter and Brooke Tessmacher all benefited from sharing the ring with the veteran that is Tara. Her collision with Winter stood out as a great clash of the two characters that shared their similarities, and the experience of Tara meant we got to see her bring out and showcase more of Winter’s character and in-ring talents.
Now, of course, there have been so many incredible Knockouts (past and present) who have done so much not only for the division but women’s wrestling, and Tara is without a doubt among them, but she has stiff competition for the title of the best knockout of all time. With the most title reigns, Angelina Love makes the history books alongside longest-reigning knockouts champion Taya Valkyrie and Hall of Famer Gail Kim. We then, of course, have to look at all Tessa Blanchard has done for the division in recent years. All these women have contributed to something so incredibly big to the division but despite her lack of many lengthy title reigns, Tara brought something different to the table.
She was one of the women who paved the way for the likes of Blanchard and Taya to do what they do today. She worked a huge standout opponent in the career of Angelina Love and helped build characters for the Knockouts Division with her experience, ring talent, popularity and charisma. The woman who is dubbed by many as the all-time great in terms of Knockouts is of course, Gail Kim. There is a strong argument to be made for the Impact Hall Of Famer, and with their fair share of collisions they have both proven just how, even despite their differences in styles, good they are together in the ring. It’s a shame the two never got to work even longer bouts.
I think what separates Tara from the rest of the Knockouts is how she subtly made such a huge impact. From making history inside a steel cage to playing a key and entertaining role as both a heel and a babyface moving with the times. This is a woman who did it all and set the bar. She may at times go forgotten, but this is an original talent who paved the way.
Storylines, matches and what she did for future talent was something we should all remember her for. Had opportunities been bigger for women at the time Tara was competing in Impact, I believe she could have been a part of even greater moments. She remains a prime example of an era that failed women, however she did indeed make the very best of the spotlight she was given, made history and changed the game.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @TezangiVictoria. Thanks for reading!