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Wednesday, August 08, 2012
An Open Letter to Bruce Prichard
Dear Mr. Prichard,
Unfortunately, my support for you has to end somewhere and I'm afraid it comes down to what, for me personally, is the most important part of TNA - the Knockouts division. I have been a fan of women's wrestling for a long time or rather, I have been a fan of GOOD women's wrestling for a long time. Good women's wrestling was something I was proud to say that TNA offered. When TNA introduced a Knockouts Championship in late 2007, it was an exciting time for me. I had spent years tracking down tapes of GAEA and AJW, female promotions from Japan, where the women are treated as athletes and the matches are taken seriously. I was a huge fan of these promotions and I longed for the day when a mainstream American company could put on a similar female product. I never thought it would happen. But it did. TNA made it happen!
Since its inception, the TNA Knockouts division has the best women's division in pro wrestling. It blew anything WWE had to offer, right out of the water. The matches were great, enough time was dedicated to stories and angles and there was an amazing roster of girls including Awesome Kong, Hamada, The Beautiful People, Alissa Flash, Roxxi, Taylor Wilde... the list goes on and on. The TNA Knockouts division was a real gem in the TNA crown and something that I, as a fan of TNA and women's wrestling, was proud of. But those days are gone.
Here we are, 10 months into your booking regime, Mr. Prichard, and one cold hard fact keeps coming to me - it just seems like you're not a fan of women's wrestling. Less time is dedicated to the Knockouts than at any other time since the division was created, storylines and angles are minimal and Gail Kims long title reign and the rise of Miss Tessmacher aside, you haven't really done anything with the Knockouts division. What I would like to know is why.
Let's be clear, the booking team before you didn't always do their best for the ladies of TNA. There have been questionable booking decisions all the way back to 2007, but the difference is that at least they tried. You just seem like you cannot be bothered, Mr. Prichard. Under your guidance, TNA creative appears to have treated the Knockouts division as something it "has" to use as opposed to something it "wants" to use. What frightens me is that this attitude could steer the TNA Knockouts division into the same territory as the WWE Divas division, namely, filler.
Perhaps the most bitter pill to swallow is the depletion of what was once the best women's roster in pro wrestling. Since taking control of TNA creative, you let it be known that if you didn't like someone, then you just wouldn't use them and unfortunately, that covered a lot of the TNA Knockouts. It didn't seem to matter how talented or how over someone was; if you didn't like them, then they were gone. This wouldn't be so bad if you replaced them with new hungry, talented women who could carry the division for years to come, but you haven't.
The only female signing under your watch has been Taeler Hendrix, who is still years away from making any kind of impact (if ever). So in the meantime, realistically what have we got? There's Miss Tessmacher, Tara, Mickie James, Gail Kim and Madison Rayne. I love these girls and they're all are great in their own right, but five women does not make a division. There are also others under contract, but you don't use them, so really, this list of five is it. That doesn't bode well for the future of the division.
The lack of roster depth and talent exodus aside, your creative vision for the Knockouts division just isn't working and it's simply because there is nothing there. There has been no great storyline or angle to follow and no build up to a big match that we as fans can get behind. I understand there are other things to concentrate on and you only have a 2-hour show (the men's tag team division is also a shell of what it once was) but just because you are limited on time does not mean you should be limited on motivation to actually do something with the women (or tag teams) on your roster.
You have (and had) a lot of talented girls under contract and furthermore, there are lots of talented girls on the independent scene just waiting for a chance. What these girls need is not time spent waiting for their booker to give them a turn at losing to whomever the current champion is at that moment. What they need is a booker who believes in them, has plans for them and uses them to the best of their abilities.
I don't have all the answers as how to fix what's wrong with the Knockouts division, but anything you could try would be better than not trying at all. In an ideal world, I would love to see a TNA where you simply book the heavyweights and the X Division (you've done great for both) while Scott D'Amore books the Knockouts and tag teams. You could then put your ideas together and produce what I think would be the best product in all of wrestling. But I know this is a pipe dream and we must face reality, and right now the reality is that the TNA Knockouts division just isn't great and something needs to change.
You have the most difficult job in wrestling, Mr Prichard, and no one will tell you different but as the head of creative and the head of talent relations, you have the power to make changes for the benefit of the Knockouts division. Sign some new girls, bring back some old girls, throw us a few storylines/angles or just give us something we can sink our teeth into. You're smart enough and creative enough to do it. It's just a case of whether or not you're motivated enough to do it. I hope you are and that you will. I just hope that you do it before it's too late and before the division that I love is transformed forever from what it once was.
Posted By JSO
An Open Letter to Bruce Prichard