Anger, frustration and confusion. These three words describe the reaction to the recent booking of the former TNA Knockouts Champion, Madison Rayne. It’s taken a bit of time to produce this piece, lying in wait for a big moment to come for Rayne after her return to TNA Wrestling. Sadly, that moment was nowhere in sight and we are left feeling as if this title reign was only given as a form of holding pattern until someone else with a “bigger name” debuted or returned. Without TNA Wrestling knowing any better, they have someone who can carry the Knockouts Division on her back easily. Without TNA Wrestling knowing any better, they possibly could have the John Cena of the Knockouts Division right infront of them.
That’s a helluva statement there and one that will absolutely cause debate and discussion. And why not? We also have Gail Kim, who is arguably the best female professional wrestler in the United States today. But who else is there in TNA Wrestling’s Knockouts Division who can have the appeal and has proven to have the drive to be successful for herself and TNA’s mainstream visibility? This is absolutely not a knock on the talented ODB, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky or any other Knockout before and today. However, Madison Rayne has the look and ability to become more than what she has been booked to be. If Madison Rayne has the potential to be the John Cena of the Knockouts Division, Gail Kim is on the same level as a Randy Orton of the Knockouts Division. The comparisons aren’t made to disrespect the talents both women have and have set with their own names and sacrifices, it is only to gauge the level they can achieve and the heights they can attain. Focusing again on Madison Rayne and the recent booking, just what is TNA doing?
Madison Rayne returned and became Knockouts Champion. You hear talk of change and renewed focus and this looked to be the starting point to what the Knockouts Division would and could be. However, as champion, Madison Rayne only had one great outing and that was against Gail Kim in a successful title defense at this year’s Lockdown event. And then what? Episode after episode, Madison Rayne continually went under in singles and tag matches. In promos, she was made too weak and was never portrayed as a strong champion deserving of holding the championship. It’s unconventional to have the champion look so weak heading into a pay-per-view and then lose it in uneventful fashion at the pay-per-view. To the TNA fanbase, Madison Rayne had no chance against Angelina Love and the storyline was never given the proper balance to highlight Angelina Love fairly and Madison Rayne fairly, if not better considering she was the champion. The handling of Madison Rayne for this particular title reign was disrespectful to Madison and showed a lack of trust in her. The writers and creative heads can say they were following a story, telling a story, “Oh, she’ll come back better than ever and win the title back!”, but the damage is done. Not to say that Rayne will not be champion again, because she will, but will the fans care? How was the handling of Madison Rayne beneficial for her character? How was it beneficial for the Knockouts Division? How was it beneficial for keeping the prestige and honor of the TNA Knockouts Championship? Quite simply, it wasn’t.
What’s next for Madison Rayne? Unfortunately, it would seem she will be moved along in favor of someone else stepping up to face Angelina Love. A better way to go would be to have Madison Rayne come back for her title with a vengeance, losing her “face” persona in a way and go vicious against The Beautiful People. Outside of the storyline and show, work with Madison to tighten her move set or work with her on mic work or let her share her own ideas and work to build not just a character, but someone who can eventually be her own brand. The Knockouts Division is scarce as is and, with all due respect, the next babyface with TV time is Brittany and she hasn’t done anything to really place herself as a legitimate threat in the title picture. Gail Kim can certainly do it, but she is so much better as a badass Knockout. This goes back to Madison Rayne being the one. If TNA management and creative can work with Madison Rayne to develop the character and stories that will grab our attention, much like the good ol’ days of the Knockouts Division, then there’s gold on the horizon.
The look, the marketability, the skill set, the determination and the want to be better by learning more and developing is evident. Madison Rayne came from being just another pretty face to being a legit professional wrestler, and championship caliber at that. The only thing to do now is to actually give her the ball to run with instead of faking her out. Let’s retract the comment about Madison Rayne being the John Cena of the Knockouts Divison. She shouldn’t be the John Cena of the division, she should be the Madison Rayne of professional wrestling.
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