Impact Wrestling has been celebrated for their decision to make female wrestlers one of the main attractions on their weekly programming which eventually led to the creation their own division known as "The Knockouts Division" in 2007.
But which of these ladies from the early days of TNA to the golden age of Knockouts Division helped the defy the 2000's for the brand, the division and most importantly women's wrestling going forward?
Well today in honor of Knockouts Month in January, I present to you the first of many articles in my 'Best Knockouts of All Time' series, a list on who I believe are the Top Five Impact Wrestling Knockouts of the 2000's.
Over the top characters in wrestling usually stick out in the minds of fans but in the case of Impact Wrestling's One Dirty B###h aka ODB, her loud and brass persona coupled with her smash mouth style of wrestling, iconic flask among other things have helped to ingrain her into the minds wrestling fans the world over.
After making a few early appearances in TNA and later working in Ohio Valley Wrestling, ODB work make her way back to Impact in 2007 where she competed in the legendary Ten Knockouts gauntlet match to see who would be the very first Knockouts Champion at that years Bound For Glory.
From there, ODB went on to feud with names like Daffney, The Beautiful People and Awesome Kong before eventually getting into a short lived feud with her storyline boyfriend, Cody Deaner who had pinned one of the Beautiful People at the Hard Justice pay per view to become the Knockouts Champion but at No Surrender the following month, ODB defeated Deaner to become Knockouts Champion for the very first time in her career.
In the final months of the 2000's ODB would represent the company as the Knockouts champion while also feuding with Kong once again as well as newcomer to the Knockouts Division, Tara but their feud would continue on into the next decade.
Like many on this list, ODB would return and compete for the company in the next couple of decades but her work around this time helped to make her a star in professional wrestling.
4. Taylor Wilde
A forgotten and underrated talent in the grand scheme of the Knockout Division, Taylor Wilde became one of the most talented wrestler's of her generation and went on to become one of the hardest workers in the division...which is really saying something.
Following Gail Kim's departure from Impact to the WWE in 2008, the company needed a new female wrestler who could take her place and stand up to one of the division's most dominant athletes for the Knockouts Division and as it turns out Taylor Wilde was that wrestler when she defeat Awesome Kong for the Knockouts Championship and won $250,000 in July.
Taylor would spend the rest of 2008 and the first half of 2009 in rivalries against Kong, The Beautiful People and Daffney with the latter seeing both women compete in the first all female Monster's Ball match at Sacrifice and a mix tag team Monster's Ball match at Slammiversary the following month.
As impressive as those accomplishments are, Taylor Wilde would go on to make history in the Knockouts Division when she and tag team partner and new acquisition to the company, Sarah Stock aka Sarita defeated the Beautiful People to become the first ever TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions at No Surrender 2009 plus, this made Taylor the first Knockout to have won the KO singles and tag team titles in her career.
Sadly Wilde's time in Impact after this was became an afterthought as aside from Sarita turning on her and the feud mostly playing out on Xplosion and winning the tag titles once again but with a new partner Ayako Hamada, Taylor would be gone from the company in late December of 2010 and a few months later she would quietly retire from pro wrestling in 2011 though she has recently made a return to the minds of wrestling fans the world over thanks to her new podcast called 'Wilde On' which is available on platforms like Apple Podcast.
3. Angelina Love
If Taylor Wilde was the clean cut, blonde haired babyface of the Knockouts Division then the next entry on this list is the complete and polar opposite of that.
Much like the previously mentioned ODB, Angelina first appeared in the early days of TNA Wrestling but by 2007 the company was looking to create their own women's division and Angelina (known at the time as Angel Williams) became one of the many faces to stand out.
However for as long as people talk about Angelina Love and professional wrestling, she will always be remembered for one time and one time only and that's her association with The Beautiful People.
Originally created with founding member Velvet Sky and later including names like Billy Gunn and Madison Rayne, The Beautiful People were a trio of vain, fashion obsessed blondes who would antagonize their opponents on the microphone and use beauty products or any other weapons at their disposal to walk away with the victory
During the group's reign of terror in the 2000's, Angelina would become Knockouts Champion on two different occasions and most notably battled the like of Gail Kim, Tara, Roxxi, Awesome Kong, ODB and Taylor until she was released from the company in September of 2009 in order to address some issues regarding her visa but came back in January of the next year.
Overall, Angelina Love went from being just another female wrestler at the start of her time in TNA to becoming one the Knockout's Division's most enduring and respected figures.
When you talk about innovators in the Knockouts Division, this woman's name usually gets lost in the shuffle which is unfortunately as the lady known as Trinity would go on set the standards for all of the female athletes that would come after her.
Debuting the early years of TNA Wrestling late 2002, Trinity would become a valet for a handful wrestlers like EZ Money, Sonny Siaki and former ECW wrestler, David 'Kid' Kash; Kash and Trinity's partnership is perhaps the most well known as their time together saw Kash become X Division for 77 days and Trinity would slowly become a fan favorite due to her athleticism and risking taking attutide which of course stems from the fact that she was also a stunt woman in a number of Hollywood movies.
While her matches weren't always the best, Trinity did a lot things during her time in the company that has become commonplace in modern day Impact Wrestling for example, on the March 19th 2003 event she became the first woman to challenge for the X Division title in a three way match which also included Amazing Red and Kid Kash.
She also became a part of the first all female stable in TNA history known as "Bitchslap" along with fellow Knockout, Traci Brooks and a number of other ladies. Trinity became the first female wrestle in TNA to have a series of feuds with names like Alexis Laree (aka the future Mickie James) and Desire not mention she wrestled names that would become legends in the industry like Mickie James, Angelina Love and ODB.
To sum it up, Trinity is a woman who's body of work in TNA/Impact helped to directly or indirectly created one of the best women's Division's within the United States and tragically she has been forgotten by mainstream wrestling fans but as the years have gone on more and more people are starting to giving "The Godmother of the Knockouts Division" her just due.
1. Awesome Kong
An dominant force in the ring and a trailblazer outside of it, Kia Stevens aka Awesome Kong has become one of the most recognized and respected names in modern female wrestling.
Before she came to TNA/Impact, Kong started her work in a variety of promotions like Ring of Honor, SHIMMER, All-Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling and many others where she homed her craft and became an international star in the process.
In 2007, Kong would make her TNA debut handily defeated her longtime rival and fellow trailblazer, Gail Kim in front of the entire Knockouts Division...talk about making a statement. Gail and Kong would continue to feud from Turning Point 2007 to Final Resolution 2008 with the latter bout being regarding as one of the best in company history and it eventually lead to Kong winning her first Knockouts Championship and the introduction to her manager, Raisha Saeed.
Kong also ranked number one on Pro Wrestling Illustrated's very first PWI's Women 100 in 2008 and continue to battle names like ODB, Roxxi and Taylor Wilde; In 2009, she created her own faction known as "The Kongtourage" and months later she would become Knockouts Tag Team Champion with Ayako Hamada before leaving the company following an incident involving herself and Bubba The Love Sponge.
While she would appear multiple time into the next decade and even continued to wrestle in places like AEW, her work in the 2000's are perhaps her work in her career and that is why I think Awesome Kong is the best Impact Wrestling Knockout of the 2000's.
Do you agree or disagree with my picks?
And forget to check out my next installment in the Best Knockouts Of All Time series when I talk about the Top 5 Impact Wrestling Knockouts of the early 2010's (2010-15).
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