A decade ago, TNA was heralded for it’s advanced Knockouts division, lead by Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, Angelina Love, Mickie James, Madison Rayne and more, which was heads above the Divas emergence in the WWE. But in 2017, WWE now leads the pack with their women’s division, both on the main roster and in NXT, while growing promotions like Shimmer, Stardom and Shine continued to create buzz and becoming healthy alternatives. With the beginning of the new Anthem era of Impact Wrestling (TNA is now gone), alongside the seeming return of former Knockouts division producer Scott D’Amore in some creative capacity, it’s starting to show signs of a return to its place at the top of the women’s wrestling chain following the debuts of several top indie women wrestlers to the Knockouts division, plus a surprise return.
Here’s a quick list of the Knockouts division after the first day of tapings under the new regime. NOTE: There will be no match results or match-ups posted, this is strictly a list of all the women wrestlers announced or who appeared during the first day of tapings. Also, Impact is also filming a One Night Only PPV event during these tapings, so some names may in fact only be signed for the one appearance.
Rosemary: The Knockouts Champion has become one of pro wrestling’s most intriguing characters and her recent feud with the now departed Jade was great wrestling television.
— The Demon Assassin (@WeAreRosemary) March 3, 2017
Laurel Van Ness: With Maria gone, Laurel Van Ness is now on her own, still wearing her wedding dress and seemingly out of her mind. An extension of the character we saw on tonight’s episode.
Allie: Allie is now with Braxton Sutter, following the wedding last week. Since she was former indie darling Cherry Bomb, we’ll probably see her finally show she can wrestle. But maybe not before we have a super cute angle where Braxton has to train her.
Sienna: Another lone wolf now that Maria has left, Sienna will finally get to show what the indie fans have seen in her other persona, Allysin Kay.
Brandi Rhodes: Looks like Cody is sticking around for a bit and so is Brandi Rhodes.
Angelina Love: She’s now back to wrestling as well, and her new duo alongside real life husband “The American Wolf” Davey Richards now has a name: The Natural Born Killers.
Scoop #63: Angelina Love & Davey Richards are The Natural Born Killers now pic.twitter.com/UJTZVZF1Mq
— Jacob Cohen (@MrJacobCohen) March 3, 2017
Brooke Adams: The former Knockouts Champion (and former Brooke (Ms.) Tessmacher) returned recently after a nearly two year hiatus and will be continuing on.
ODB: One of the most entertaining women’s wrestlers in TNA, ODB was released in 2015 and spent last year as the companion to the Briscoe Brothers in Ring of Honor. Well, get ready. The Bitch is back.
Of course there’s still a few cliffhangers yet. No sign of Gail Kim, but one would assume she’s just not appeared yet. She had just made her return to Impact Wrestling a few weeks back following an injury that forced her to relinquish her Knockouts championship.
Santana Garrett, Shimmer, Shine, Stardom, NXT: She’s been an indie staple for the past few years all over the world, but Garrett may soon be off the market if she goes Impact exclusive like Anthem seems to want. Interestingly, Santana is tag team partners with Laurel Van Ness (as Chelsea Green) in Shine.
— Chelsea Green (@ImChelseaGreen) February 28, 2017
Leva Bates, Shine, WrestleCircus, Queens of Combat, NXT (as Blue Pants): Despite a cult following in NXT, WWE passed on the cosplay queen of wrestling. Like Santana Garrett, she’s one of the top draws for indie women right now.
— Leva Bates (@wrestlingleva) February 20, 2017
Rachael Ellering, Shine, Ring of Honor, Queens of Combat, WrestleCircus, NXT: Daughter of WWE Hall of Fame manager Paul Ellering (Road Warriors, Authors of Pain), this Lance Storm protege has entered the Impact Zone.
Angel Rose, Shine, Queens of Combat, NXT (as Priscilla Zuniga): She recently debuted with Shine and now seems to be going for the Deonna Purrazzo Special. She could potentially be on NXT and Impact Wrestling the same week if both sets of tapings lay out the same way.
KC Quinn, Shine (as Brandi Lauren), ACW (as Brandi Lauren): Another Shine star, she’s the only one who had to change their name. Although most likely due to Brandi Rhodes first names being the same.
Jade: One of the more surprising departures, especially considering her incredible and physical feud the past few months against the Knockouts Champion Rosemary, including a stellar cage match, a Monster’s Ball match and tonight’s Last Woman Standing match. She’s got a rock solid indie career going on as well, where she wrestles as Mia Yim in Shine, Shimmer and just about all over. Wouldn’t surprise to see her in the upcoming WWE Women’s Tournament.
Maria Kanellis: Not entirely unexpected, as Maria had been talking of early retirement in recent interviews, but it seems they disagreed with the new management as well. Bennett will bounce back somewhere, perhaps initially back to Ring of Honor, but Maria may be done for good. Time will tell.
Marti Bell: Marti’s release was a few weeks back, but it didn’t get much press as an isolated event. But seeing the pattern that followed, she’s another former Knockouts star who’s an equal indie star as former fellow Dollhouse member Jade. She could also potentially find herself in the WWE tournament.
Even if no new faces debut (or return over the next few tapings), Impact has dramatically freshened up their Knockouts division and injected some solid new blood to recreate the excitement that the mid-2000’s Knockouts division used to create.
Main Photo: Rosemary (Courtney Rush)’s Instagram