When it comes to women's wrestling within the United States Impact Wrestling has been seen the king or should I say the queen of this area of pro wrestling as their female division also known as 'The Knockouts Division' is one of the most influential in the sport since the 1980's and 1990's back when female athletes dominated in Japan
However, it might not come as a surprise to you to hear that the importance of women in TNA/Impact wrestling didn't just start with names like Gail Kim, Awesome Kong and The Beautiful People but actually goes back to the early days of the company; in fact, many of these ladies have played a role of some sort in the company and have helped to establish what we would see within the Knockouts Division years after they've retired or moved on to other companies
Whether their time was short or long, they were able to grab the attention of the fans and those in management at the time and today I'll be paying some respect to those talented ladies whose body of work actually predates the Knockouts Division.
When you think of scary, demonic looking females in Impact Wrestling the first names that come to mind are Daffney, Su Yung and of course 'The Demon Assassin' Rosemary, however the first lady to actually make the spooky Goth look into her own was a female who appeared in the early days of TNA known as BellaDonna.
She's best known as being the female member of James Mitchell's group of freaks called "The Disciples of The New Church" who were one of the first major factions in TNA/Impact history while also serving as antagonist and even anti-heroes within the early NWA TNA era from June of 2002 to October of 2003.
While her appearances in the company were relatively small, she did wrestle in a match with the New Church against Chris Harris and James Storm of America's Most Wanted but she and her team lost.
Bella did however play in a role in Brian Lee and Slash of The New Church becoming the new Tag Team Champions after defeating Storm and Harris for the belts on the November 13th 2002 edition of NWA TNA with the image of BellaDonna rubbing the blood off the head of Slash following the groups title win.
By January of 2003, both Slash and Lee would lose the tag titles back to AMW in a Double Bull Rope match but by the time the feud between AMW and The New Church ended BellaDonna would be gone from the group as well as the company soon afterwards although the reasons for her departure remain a mystery.
After leaving TNA, she would continue to be a valet for other wrestlers in company's like A-1 Wrestling before retiring from Pro Wrestling in 2006; tragically she would pass away in January of 2019 at the age of 40, with many of her family and fellow colleagues in the New Church mourning her death on social media.
The usage of dancing ladies have recently been brought back to the wrestling world thanks to WWE's 'Raw Underground' project which lasted as long as Billy Corgan's run in Impact.
Before that however, TNA was doing the dancing girls idea in it's early days and one of the most iconic of these dancing women is Lolipop.
Lolipop (real name Jamie Lynne) was a wrestler who was allegedly trained by the famous Leilani Kai while also working in the Tennessee territory as a valet before becoming one of the many ladies who would be seen shaking their...assets to the crowd attending the NWA TNA shows from the safety of cages located near the entrance ramp.
Jamie would get the name of Lolipop due mostly for always appearing on TV with a lollipop in her mouth and as such the name stuck.
In 2003, she was attacked by a female wrestler (who'll be mentioning later on this list) on an almost weekly basis until Lolipop grabbed a microphone and challenged her attacker to a fight which was broken up by TNA security also immediately.
Soon afterwards, a new group known as "Bitchslap", who were looking for competition after management informed them that women could no longer compete in matches against male wrestlers.
This new group would issue an open challenge to any women who were looking for a fight which was accepted by Lolipop and fellow cage dancer, April Pennington (who was also a target for Bitchslap);This led to numerous fights until the angle and the group itself was dropped by the company due to the fact that they supposedly didn't have enough women on the roster for the group to compete with.
After her stint in TNA ended, she wrestled in promotions like Ring Of Honor and took on names like Gail Kim, April Hunter and Talia Madison aka the future Velvet Sky in TNA.
Known at the time for her work in multiple indie promotions including those in the Southern Territory, Amy Young aka "The Goddess" Athena was another female wrestler who was a part of TNA during the early days and was actually the company's first ring girl (females who would watch after wrestlers valuables).
During her time in the promotion, Athena was one of the most over females in the company, seriously there would be various PPV's of NWA TNA where you can hear fans cheering for Athena in various matches despite the fact that she wasn't wrestling in any of them.
Not only that, but she was also the first female in TNA to have her own fanbase who would hold up well constructed signs again despite her being on the outside of the ring she's was hugely over with the crowd.
Realizing that they had a very popular wrestler on their hands, the higher ups decided to put Athena in a handful of matches against names like April Hunter, Desire and Trinity; While most of these matches weren't the best, she was still over and was included in a few storyline angles with names like Sonny Siaki, David Young, Chris Vaughn and even Vince Russo.
By the time TNA/Impact began moving to cable networks like FOX and Spike TV, Athena was getting more and more phrased out of storylines and she would eventually leave soon afterwards; Athena would go into retirement in 2006 before returning to the ring outside of TNA in 2008 before becoming semi-retired in 2011.
Canadian pro wrestler Jamie Dauncey (who looks like WWE superstar Charlotte Flair in bodybuilder form) was trained by indie wrestler, Tyson Dux and Scott D'Amore...yes that Scott D'Amore.
She would also wrestle in a number of Canadian based promotions like Border City Wrestling before winning an organized competition event which was looking to sign the next possible star for TNA Wrestling.
Dauncey would make her presence known to fans when she helped the team of AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels defeated America's Most Wanted for the NWA TNA World Tag Team Titles at Slammiversary 2006.
She would soon be given the name of 'Sirelda' but she also had a nickname "The Neutralizer". Sirelda would continue to be the backup for Styles and Daniels in their feud with American's Most Wanted and it even led into a match up between her and AMW's valet, Gail Kim at that year's Hard Justice PPV which Gail won.
She'd make a brief return at Bound For Glory 2006 taking part in the Kevin Nash Open Invitational battle Royal which saw her get eliminated also immediately before leaving TNA soon afterwards.
6. Nurse Veronica
The Beautiful People is often credited as being the most popular female factions in not just TNA/Impact but in modern pro wrestling, however they were not the first female stable to be created under the TNA banner.
An independent wrestler known as Simply Luscious who had wrestled a number of matches on Xplosion was given the new name of 'Nurse Veronica' and was the kayfabe clinician for TNA; During her time in the company, she would join forces with Traci Brooks which would lead to the creation of the first ever all female stable in company history known as "Bitchslap" with Veronica dropping the nurse gimmick and becoming the leader of the group.
Bitchslap were looking to prove that they were just as much of an equal to their male counterparts when it comes to wrestling inside the square circle but after the higher ups prevented intergender wrestling in the company, the group set their sights on the female side of the roster and after issuing an open challenge to any women in the back, they got their respond in the form of TNA cage dancers, Lolipop and April Pennington.
The group would include females like Trinity during their war with the former TNA cage dancers before eventually the angle was dropped after the company didn't have enough women to continue the feud. As a result of this and the fact that Veronica refused to sign a two year contract with the company, led to Bitchslap being disbanded.
The story is that Veronica turned down that two year deal with TNA with the hope that she would get signed by either the WWE or a promotion in Japan but it never happened, leaving her to work in various independent promotions and becoming a relative footnote in the annuals of the company.
5. Traci Brooks
Traci Brooks is remembered as the valet/assistant to names like Michael Shane aka Matt Bentley, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Roode while also serving as a female referee on a number of occasions for the Knockouts.
She started her time in TNA in 2003 attacking cage dancer, Lolipop which would lead into a mini feud amongst many of the ladies in the company but as previously mentioned the angle wouldn't last long as the company didn't have enough women to keep the feud going.
Aside from her association with the female group 'Bitchslap', Traci would return to TNA in November of 2004 and would aligned herself with Shane Douglas and Matt Bentley to create "The New Franchise" which was a stable that went to war with Triple X (Christopher Daniels, Elix Skipper and Low-Ki) but after that stable finished, Traci would continue to be the valet for Matt Bentley even during Matt's feud with Frankie Kazarian (her soon to be husband).
Traci moved from angle to angle tackling numerous jobs like assistance to the TNA Directory of Authority to backstage interview before joining forces with Bentley once again in 2005. In 2006, she was would become the manager/valet of former Team Canada member, Bobby Roode while being referred to as 'Ms. Brooks'.
Soon after her partnership with Roode ended, Traci would be used as an on and off referee for many of the knockouts match and would be a fixture in TNA until her retirement in 2015.
Some valets are often forgettable and are usually over shadowed by the person their associated with, others tend to be more popular than the people they accompany and some are so good that you can't imagine them without being at the side of the person or people they manage and this point is best exemplified in the career of Kim Nielsen aka Desire.
Debuting in 2002, Desire would compete in a number of matches with names like April Hunter and Athena before she became the valet for former X Division Champion and future husband, Sonny Siaki.
By the end of 2002, both Desire and Siaki would become members of Vince Russo's heel faction, Sports Entertainment Xtreme (S.E.X.). During that time, she continued to be the manager and valet for Siaki but also to other wrestlers like David Young.
After Sports Entertainment Xtreme came to an end, Desire would suffer a broken back following a dark match with Trinity which took her out of action for months but she was able to finish the match. When she returned to the company she was given a warm welcome back as she was looking for revenge against Trinity which led to the first female rivalry in company history.
The feud was so intense that it led to the first ever stretcher match in TNA Wrestling with Trinity defeating Desire thanks to the help of debuting former ECW star, Big Vito. Ultimately, Desire would win the feud by defeating Trinity and Vito in a mixed tag team match with Sonny Siaki before making her last appearance for the promotion on September 8th 2004 after competing in a three on three tag team match.
After retiring from wrestling in 2005, Desire would have three children before making headlines again as a participant for the hit show "The Biggest Loser" where she would lose between 118-125 pounds, looking like her one self from the NWA TNA days.
3. Alexis Laree
If her face looks familiar then that shouldn't be surprising as this women is none other then former WWE and TNA women's champion, Mickie James. That's right Mickie James first appeared in TNA before she had her run in the WWE and while her time was short, she did leave quite an impression.
Appearing in the vert first TNA event back in June of 2002, Alexis took part in the lingerie battle royal to see who would be crown Miss TNA, sadly though she was unsuccessful.
Alexis would return on the March 26th 2003 show where she teamed with X Division star, Amazing Red in mixed tag team match against Kid Kash and Trinity. The word "feisty" could best be used to describe Alexis Laree as she and Trinity went after each other without any hesitation and they almost surpassed the high flying action between Kash and Red in this match as well...now that's saying something.
Seeing that Laree and Trinity would be a great match, the next NWA TNA show saw Trinity take on Alexis Laree and the match didn't disappoint but it was the events after the match that got people taking as Raven (who showed up in the finals moments of the Laree/Trinity match) would DDT Trinity and take Laree with him.
This marked the beginnings of Raven's new faction in TNA known as The Gathering where names like Julio Dinero, CM Punk and Laree herself would loyally serve the demented Raven and even involve themselves into his feuds with names like Jeff Jarrett and The Disciple of The New Church.
It's also interesting to know that during Raven's feud with Jarrett and The New Church, that Alexis Laree wrestled in two 'Clockwork Orange House of Fun' matches making her the first and only female to do so. Following this, Alexis would get signed to a development deal with OVW and then headed to the WWE as Mickie James where she wrestled from 2005-2010 and again from 2016 into the present day.
She would return to Impact at Bound For Glory 2010 and would go on to be one of the leading faces of the Knockouts Division from 2011-2015 whilst winning the Knockouts Championship three times and even releasing some of her country music around this time.
2. Goldy Locks
There have been a lot of names who started in TNA who've been forgotten by the company and one of those names is Goldy Locks; Goldy Locks (real name Moon Shadow) was the first backstage interviewer in TNA and she was the first female to be given a major and recurring role in company that didn't involve her wrestling or doing any cage dancing.
While she didn't leave much of an impact in first couple of weekly PPV's (no pun intended), she would develop a tough persona after numerous misogynistic moments by the wrestlers on screen.
Following this, Goldy's character when dealing with wrestlers both male or female could best be described as "Not Given an F###" and because of this she became a mainstay in the early days of the company especially when she transitioned from backstage interviewer to valet to manager for names like Erik Watts, Alex Shelley and even the monster Abyss by playing the role of a spoiled rich girl.
Sadly, Goldy's time in the company would end over numerous reasons with some saying because of her attitude to other rumors which proved to be false but she was let go anyway.
While the company has largely forgotten her, Goldy's legacy in pro wrestling is starting to get the attention it deserves from fans today, plus her work as a musician mostly making theme songs for wrestler and wrestling personalities like Dixie Carter has certainly kept her busy over the years.
1. Stephanie Trinity
Stephanie Trinity isn't well remember by Impact fans today but her in-ring contributions to the company are important as it helped to introduced intergender wrestling as a mainstay in the promotion but her work also helped in the creation of what would be the Knockouts Division.
After appearing as a valet in late 2002 for the company, Trinity would officially make her debut in a mixed tag team match which saw her team up with Kid Kash against Sonny Siaski and Desire which saw the team of Kash and Trinity come out victorious.
In fact, Trinity's association with Kid Kash is what some fans best remember her for as she not only helped the former ECW star become X Division champion but helped him remain as champion for a number of months while also planting the seeds for Kash to turn heel on Trinity and setting up a feud between the two which would last for months.
Trinity made history on March 19th 2003 as she was the first woman in the company to wrestle for a male championship as she faced off against Kid Kash and Amazing Red in a Triple Threat match for the TNA X Division Championship on an episode of Impact but she was unable to win the title.
She would move on to wrestle other young female athletes who would later shoot to fame in TNA and the WWE like Mickie James, ODB and Angelina Love before being a member for the short lived faction "Bitch Slap".
In 2004 she became a heel after attacking backstage interviewer, Goldylocks and she formed a stable known as the "New York Connection" or NYC with names like Disco Inferno and Johnny Swinger.
In April of that same year, Desire returned from a back injury caused by Trinity thus leading to the two ladies competing in a series of matches as mentioned previously.
Trinity would also leave her mark on PPV as she was the first opponent for a debuting Jackie Moore at Victory Road 2004; She also feuded with Traci Brooks in a series of tag team matches from Destination 2005 and Hard Justice 2005, Not to mention she delivered a spectacular moonsault from the top of a steel cage onto a number of male wrestlers at Lockdown 2005.
Trinity would leave the promotion in 2005 and retire from wrestling 2007 until she would return to in-ring competition in 2013 at the One Night Only Knockout Knockdown event where she ironically competed against and lost to ODB in a singles match to finish off her career before heading back into retirement.
While her name maybe forgotten by modern wrestling fans, her influence can best be seen in names like ODB and Tessa Blanchard who compete in high profiled intergender matches but also the continuing growth of the company's Knockouts Division which is still running strong today.
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