Hey everyone! Welcome to Part 4 of our running series Impact Profiles! Today, I’m going to profile what is, I’ll admit, my favorite division in Impact Wrestling, the Knockouts! If you’ve missed our previous parts, check them out here, here, and here!
Why are the Knockouts my favorite division? Well, there’s a few reasons. First, the Knockouts Division really is the epicenter of the so-called ‘Women’s Revolution.’ Despite what certain Billion Dollar Princesses in Stamford, CT want to claim, WWE more or less disrespected women’s wrestling after Trish Stratus retired. Sure, they had Lita, but once that damn butterfly belt hit the scene, we were quickly left with 5 minutes starring Kelly Kelly.
I wanted more. And then-TNA delivered. Led by Gale Kim and Awesome Kong, the Knockouts started putting on hard hitting matches that made them back up their looks with damn good in ring performances. Oh, and yes, I’ll admit to looking forward to whenever Tazz would declare “Let the pigeons loose!”
For over a decade, some of the best women’s wrestlers in North America have held the Impact Knockouts Championship. Now, not every woman who’s stepped between the ropes for Impact has been a stellar wrestler (I’m looking at you, Lacey Von Erich!), but for the most part the Knockouts have always been able to hold their heads high.
Second, and related to the level of competitors who’ve stepped through the ropes, is that the Knockouts Division is one of the best parts of Impact. Even during the horrible Hogan/Bischoff Era, the Knockouts delivered more diamonds than duds. And they’ve always been able to mix sex appeal with kickass appeal.
What do you call yourself when you’re not only the longest tenured Knockout in Impact, but also a 5 time former Knockouts champ? Oh, and to top it off, can legitimately call yourself one of the most beautiful women in wrestling?
Well, if you’re most people, you call yourself a legend. If you’re Madison Rayne however, you call yourself the Locker Room Leader, and the Queen Bee. Introduced as the third member of the iconic group The Beautiful People all the way back in 2009, there’s almost nothing in Impact Madison hasn’t done.
Champ? 5 times. She even held the now defunct Knockouts Tag Team belts twice.
Queen of the Knockouts? Did it. You doubt her, check the entrance music. It’s called ‘Killer Queen’ for a reason.
Double crossed the baddest girls in Impact? More than once.
Oh, and she’s done all this by the time she’s 33.
In real life, Madison’s also married to Impact announcer Josh Mathews, which is a constant source of in-jokes between Mathews and fellow Impact commentator Don Callis. Listen for them, it’s funny.
In other pursuits, Madison’s not always been successful. Her roughly two years in ROH was a certified dud. Her hot minute in the Mae Young Classic felt to me like her checking the box, and WWE quickly jobbed her out to Mercedes Martinez in the first round. So returning home to Impact felt great to me. Heel or face, I appreciate me some Madison.
Sadly though, I feel the Knockouts might have passed her by. Madison’s not a bad wrestler, in fact she’s pretty damn good. But she’s not quite strong enough, fast enough, or skilled enough to counter the likes of Taya, Tessa, Rosemary, or some of the others on this list.
But she’s a wily vet who still has a trick or two underneath her tiara. Any match she’s in, you better keep an eye out before she hits you with a Rayne Drop or CrossRayne and you’re counting the lights.
While I think the days of Madison winning the Knockouts Championship might be past except for a final farewell thank you, that doesn’t seem to matter to her. She’s embraced her role as the Locker Room Leader and veteran presence. Under her tutelage, she’s both kayfabe and IRL mentored quite a few of the young Knockouts.
So will she be considered a Legend when she finally hangs up the tiara? I don’t know. Despite her 5 Knockouts title reigns, there are other names that come to mind when you think of the Knockouts Mount Rushmore.
But if she isn’t a Legend, or a certified Hall of Famer, that’s a damn shame. Because Madison Rayne is the epitome of Knockout through and through. Brains, brawn, and beauty, all should hail the Queen Bee.
On the other end of the spectrum from Madison Rayne is Jessicka Havok. Whereas Madison’s wily, petite, and built like a pinup model, Havok is a monster. Like, legit. The first five seconds of her entrance theme pretty much says it all… WREAK HAVOK!
Havok’s another veteran on the roster, and also a former Knockouts champion. Coming to the ring wearing a sort of gas-mask inspired respirator thing, she brings with her size and power that is pretty much unmatched in women’s wrestling. Only a prime Awesome Kong could go power for power with Havok.
And she can move for her size. A legit six feet and over two hundred pounds, Havok won’t be doing any tope suicidas, but she’s gotten herself into good shape recently and can move very well. She’s so talented that she’s been part of every PWI Women’s list since 2010 (minus 2017).
She’s been up and down in weight, but has always maintained her presence as a physical beast. Flat out, she’s legit. She’ll put opponents away with a Harlot Slayer chokeslam, a Tombstone piledriver, a sitout powerbomb, or my personal favorite, the Demon Drop over the shoulder back to belly piledriver.
So why hasn’t Havok become an even bigger star? Well, part of it is business. When she left Impact back in 2015 to explore her options with the WWE, she was caught up in a similar social media scandal that Lars Sullivan found himself in (namely, racist and homophobic media posts from years before). In Havok’s case, WWE hadn’t signed her yet, didn’t sign her, and her name was basically mud on TV for a long time. It’s only recently that she’s been able to work herself back onto TV and rehabilitate her image.
Havok’s second weakness is her persona. Great, she’s a semi-supernatural ass kicker. Hell, she’s had James Mitchell as her manager at times. But in a roster with Rosemary and Su Yung (our next Impact Profile), she’s the most recent return, and her presence makes the supernatural corner a little crowded. Maybe that’s why Mitchell hasn’t been hanging around with her quite as much, to give Havok a slight separation from the supernatural and just make her an anarchist ass kicker again.
The final problem Havok has is also her strength. She’s a female Andre The Giant, which means unless she’s being fed a constant stream of victories, her star wanes slightly. So far though, Impact’s done a good job of distracting her from the title belt, and she’s got a good future in Impact again.
As I’ve mentioned, right now Impact has a triumvirate of supernatural based characters, with Rosemary, Havok, and perhaps the most horrific of them all, Su Yung. The Undead Bride bathes her persona, her matches, and her opponents in blood quite frequently, whether it’s with her dress, her facepaint, her music… and most disgustingly, her bloody glove.
All that changed in September 2019 as Su Yung was supposedly ‘killed’ in a match with Havok before coming back to life as ‘Suzie,’ an amnesiac girl in a white dress who’s about as Barbie as you can get. She makes My Little Pony look downright lewd. Suzie’s spent her time since then walking backstage and noting how ‘nice’ people are. Oh, and scaring the hell out of people.
As Cousin Jake Deaner said, “Why is this creepier than before?”
So it will be interesting to see where Su Yung/Suzie goes from here. We know Father James Mitchell’s involved. So is Rosemary. And I bet Havok will be pulled in as well. I mean, she did kill Su Yung at one point.
In the ring, Su’s very hardcore. She brawls, she throws herself around, and she plays mindgames. A LOT of mind games. All of this is to set up the Panic Switch, or more recently using her bloody glove for a Mandible Claw. Honestly, of the Impact Supernatural Trio, she’s a lot like Mick Foley. She even does the flipping dive off the apron.
But as a performer, Su Yung’s also got limitations. First off, her Undead Bride entrance is a bit… repetitive. It’s got some awesome entrance music, but her semi-orgasmic convulsions go on, and on, and on. Second, as the Undead Bride she doesn’t speak. Well, except in garbled creepy sounds in vignettes. But she never cuts promos, and needs a mouthpiece. James Mitchell fills this role well, but he seems to be part time with the company, popping up one week before disappearing for a month.
Out of the ring, Su (real name Vannarah Riggs) is married to Rich Swann. And the two have had their… turbulence. However, for eighteen months now things seem to have worked out between them, so here’s to hoping this is a wrestling marriage that doesn’t end in tragedy. But this is a marriage I don’t see ever crossing into on screen performance, as Swann and Su are just too different.
So what’s the future for the Undead Bride? Well, for the next 3-6 months, I see her out of the title picture. They need to clear up ‘Suzie,’ and get her back in the ring. Will this be as Suzie or Su Yung is yet to be seen. And she has issues with both Rosemary and Havok. Now how Impact uses that will be interesting.
Me personally? I’d like to see Rosemary take the Knockouts Title from Taya, only to have to face Havok and Su. It’s even interesting to think of ‘Suzie’ being Rosemary’s new ‘pet,’ only to turn on her at some point.
Either way, Su Yung’s still young (30), and has a great connection with the fans. Lots of people look forward to the return of that creepy entrance music, and for the blood to rain again.
Lil’ Mama Pump, Thicc Mama Pump, or The Hossette. Regardless of what she wants to nickname herself, Jordynne Grace is a roughly five foot two inch powerhouse. And she’s made a name for herself very quickly. Besides eliminating Brian Cage at the Over The Budget Battle Royale at All In, Grace also challenged Jazz for the NWA Women’s Championship before signing with Impact.
Since then, the 23 year old has garnered a lot of attention, catching a lot of fire on the indy scene. Debuting for Impact in October of 2018, Jordynne’s been throwing girls around on the regular ever since.
If I could compare Jordynne to another wrestler, I’d call her Vader-esque. And that’s a compliment. Jordynne’s got a hard hitting style that looks effective. She works a big girl’s style with a good dose of athleticism. But she’s not going to go all flippy-floppy on you. she’d rather smash your jaw in with a powerful elbow, hit a couple of Vader Bombs, and finish you off with a Grace Driver, a pumphandle Michinoku driver that hits hard.
There are a few weaknesses though about Jordynne Grace. First, she’s still young, and green on camera. This isn’t a problem in the ring, but her vignettes still need work. This will work out in time.
Second, and this might be a personal thing, is her ‘stats.’ A big part of Jordynne’s persona comes from her being a supposed avid powerlifter, and Impact’s bragged about her having a 225 lb (100 kg) squat and a 170 lb (77 kg) bench. In fact, without her image and numbers, she’s sort of just a ‘thicc chick.’
But, and I say this as someone who’s done meets and follows a lot of the powerlifting scene, Jordynne’s numbers aren’t world class. Now, I have no problems with someone using ‘strength athlete’ as a character trait. Lots of memorable names have. But the ones who do it have legit elite numbers to their names. Mark Henry comes to mind, Bill Kazmaier, even Dino Bravo all had legit elite numbers.
Jordynne Grace doesn’t. Put it this way, Daniella Melo, a powerlifter the same age as Jordynne, is in a similar weight class. Buuuut… Dani squats over twice what Jordynne does, and almost twice her bench as well. Now that’s a girl who could make one hell of an Impact Profile if wrestling were her thing.
But Jordynne wouldn’t even have qualified for the recent USAPL Raw Nationals based off her numbers. In fact, there were competitors 50 pounds lighter than her who put up better numbers.
That’s a problem. You gotta have the stats, or the lied about pro wrestling inflated stats, to back up your persona.
Another exciting young prospect, Keira Hogan’s Impact Profile is a joy to do. Not quite the youngest Knockout at 25, Keira is the least experienced with only 4 years of in ring time. She’s also the shortest Knockout at a smidge under five feet tall.
Signing with Impact back in 2017, she won her debut match in 2018 against then-champ Laurel Van Ness before losing a title match later that same night. Since then, Keira’s been what you might call the high midcarder of the Knockouts. She’s fluttered among those Knockouts getting title shots, putting on good matches but not winning the belt. She played the sidekick in Impact Wrestling’s Undead War, but in the aftermath underwent a transformation of her own. Ditching the fan favorite ‘Girl on Fire’ persona, Hogan adopted a new hair color and a lot more attitude.
Hogan’s blue hair is part of her new attitude. She’s a clear heel with plenty of heel tactics, who cheats to win and will hold nothing back doing so.
Paired with her ‘best frenemy’ in Madison Rayne, the Frenemies have created a lot of chaos in and out of the Impact ring. Bullying jobbers, disrupting matches… you name it, Keira’s done it over the past six months.
In the ring, Keira’s about what you’d expect of someone with only four years experience. She’s highly athletic, but sometimes botch prone, and scrambles a bit when things don’t go to plan. But she moves well, and I think her heel turn has been done well.
On an outside the ring note, Hogan’s also publicly lesbian, having come out in 2019. Stating she’s in a relationship with former Impact Knockout Diamante, Hogan’s also become much more public about her support for LGBT causes.
Since coming out though, Hogan’s in-ring work volume has dropped. In fact, other than some multi-Knockout matches, she’s done very little since before Bound For Glory. Perhaps this is due to injury, or her also doing WOW tapings.
Maybe Impact feels she needs some more sharpening before she gets a push to the title. I do think that’s a reason she’s been paired with Madison recently. Who better to mentor the young prospect than the veteran?
Perhaps it’s just that the Knockouts field is crowded now, and Impact creative wants to make sure she doesn’t get lost in a meaningless feud. After all, Impact’s got enough rebuilding issues to deal with without wasting a talent like Kiera’s. She’s on a multiyear contract, she’s not going anywhere.
Overall though, I can see Keira being a strong talent for Impact for a long time. She’s got a high ceiling, as talent scouts say, and is unique enough that with a little more seasoning, can be a future Knockouts Champion.
I feel for Alisha Edwards. I really do. While she’s actually been a wrestler since 2006, she was more or less in-ring retired for nearly four years in 2017. She’d done a few shows, one appearance for TNA in 2015, but that was about it.
Then in February 2017, Alisha returned to Impact to help her husband, Eddie Edwards. Most of her returning storyline has her and Eddie the innocent victims of betrayal at the hands of Davey Richards and Angelina Love before those two left the company.
And since then, Alisha’s… well, been around. She’s dealt with Eddie going more than a little crazy. Ace Austin’s tried to bang her. No, I’m not being crass, that’s literally his shirt.
If there’s been any payoff to the Ace Austin/Eddie/Alisha storyline, it’s that she’s now back with Eddie after a year or so of them being on or off estranged.
But she’s not a good wrestler. I hate to say that, I really do. But for a thirteen year veteran, she looks green. Like, two months of training green. As in, she doesn’t even take a decent bump green. I didn’t even know she was trained until I looked it up online.
I honestly have no idea why she has a job other than she’s Eddie’s wife or works cheap.
Listen, Alisha is going to lose. Doesn’t matter if her opponent’s a face or a heel, she will lose. The few wins under her belt are due to outside interference, DQs, or other such shenanigans. I don’t even know what her finisher is, or if she even has one.
But, Alisha’s apparently happy. She gets to work with her husband, she makes some cheddar off of it… so why not?
It’s hard to really do an Impact Profile on Tenille. Not because she isn’t famous, she might be the most famous person in this article. After all, she was Emma, and it’s all about her.
But it’s hard to do a profile on Tenille Dashwood because she’s done so damn little in Impact. Debuting at the end of August, Dashwood was hotshotted to a title opportunity against Taya Valkyrie mainly off of her fame and some outside the ring beatdowns.
But her match, as you may have read in my review of Bound For Glory, well… sucked. She was a step slow, a step off, and didn’t look good. And she hasn’t done anything since then. So an ‘Impact Profile’ on Tenille is hard to say.
So let’s look at her career as a whole. Tenille is, as I mentioned, perhaps the most famous Knockout due to her time in WWE as Emma. The Australian left WWE and plied her skills on the indy scene and ROH for 2018 and the first half of 2019, including an appearance at AEW’s All Out, before signing with Impact.
Dashwood also seems to have a burgeoning career as an Instagram influencer. With about 1.5 million followers, Tenille often posts pictures of her in swimwear, or eating food at luxury travel locations.
But as for her in ring skills, Dashwood’s nowhere near the Emma that people remember from her best days as NXT’s bad girl. Now, maybe it’s health related. Check her Instagram, she’s up front and honest about her issues with auto immune disease (warning, not pretty pics). And she ended her time in ROH with shoulder surgery.
Maybe it’s that she doesn’t want to risk her Instagram money for in-ring accolades. Maybe she just doesn’t want it anymore after spending half her life in the ring.
I don’t know. But I know the potential that Tenille has. I know that the sunglass wearing, funky ass half glove toting ass kicker still is in there somewhere. So I’m hopeful. Unlike Alisha Edwards, who I have no hope for, I’m still hopeful that we can see Tenille at her best while in Impact.
Hopefully, something kicks her right in her motivation and we see what she can do.
So there you go! Are the Knockouts at their strongest they’ve ever been? No, I think they’re rebuilding some after the financial issues Impact had right about the time Anthem bought them. And some fans always yearn for the days of Awesome Kong, The Beautiful People, Gail Kim, or even The Dollhouse.
But the Knockouts have had far worse eras. And in-ring, they might be as strong as ever. I mean seriously, when you’ve got Jordynne Grace or Jessicka Havok as your midcarders, you’re doing pretty damn well.
So I feel good for the Knockouts. They’re strong, they’re consistent, and top to bottom I’d match them against any of the WWE brand rosters and feel happy about it. I’d even say that a ‘dream card’ of WWE vs. Impact would have some Match of the Year candidates on them. Imagine an unleashed Asuka versus Tessa Blanchard? Charlotte vs. Taya? Or an old favorite, rekindling “Red vs. Blue” and have Rosemary vs. Mia Yim in a ladder match?
Lots of great matches.
Anyway, up next on our Impact Profiles Series, I’m going to skip the X Division (mainly because so many names have already been covered) to look at another crowded group in Impact: The Odd Men. Whether it’s their size, their persona, their schtick, or just ‘WTF is this guy doing here?’ these people make up a good chunk of Impact. And you better know them before they make you touch their… well, you’ll see.