In the late noughties, TNA/Impact Wrestling was leading the original women’s revolution.
In stark contrast to WWE at the time, TNA was presenting women’s wrestling as a serious attraction and hiring actual wrestlers rather than lingerie models.
Most weeks, any segment featuring the women of TNA drew the highest ratings. The women’s roster was producing matches of a quality that western audiences had not seen for some time.
Capitalising on the success of its female division, TNA crowed their first Knockouts champion in 2007 (the term Knockouts came from a title of DVD in 2006 on the female stars of TNA).
The Nashville-based operation rapidly expand its women’s division, signing new stars such as Awesome Kong, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love and ODB to join existing talents.
By late 2009, the Knockouts division was so large they needed a way to feature more of their talent. Introducing the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship…
At the ‘No Surrender’ PPV in September 2009, Sarita and Taylor Wilde were crowned the first-ever TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions after surviving an eight-team tournament.
Over the next three and a half years, the title would go on to develop a complicated legacy, producing some of the best women’s wrestling western audiences had seen to that point before fading into insignificance and disappearing altogether.
Now with Impact Wrestling Producer Gail Kim teasing the return of the Knockout Tag Titles, let’s look back and rank every team to hold the Gold from worst to best.
9. Eric Young and ODB
Okay, so this may have been the obvious choice for the worst team.
This is largely due to the fact that Eric Young was a man holding a woman’s championship which devalued the title to the point it was retired. Young as champion also denied a female star the opportunity to be featured (don’t worry, we know it was not Eric Young’s fault he was booked in this role).
The ‘highlight’ of their reign was Young and ODB getting married in their underwear, in the ring, in a steel cage on an episode of Impact Wrestling. The pair had an opportunity to show off their comic chops and demonstrate why they are still beloved by Impact fans.
Despite being the longest-reigning champions, holding the titles for 478 days, Young & ODB would only defend the Knockout Tag titles on a couple of occasions.
Eventually, Young & ODB would be stripped of the belts by Brooke Hogan due to Young being a man. It must have been a surprise to management to discover that Young had actually been a man for all of his year-plus reign.
8. Hamada and Taylor Wilde
The team of Japanese wrestling legend Hamada and Taylor Wilde were a thrown-together team and won the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship on their first time tagging together.
Hamada and Wilde would defend the titles on only two occasions in very entertaining bouts, defeating different combinations of The Beautiful People; Lacey Von Erich and Madison Rayne and then Von Erich and Velvet Sky.
These would be Hamada’s last matches in TNA and she would return to Japan shortly afterwards and request her release from the company. Hamada and Wilde stripped of the titles after Hamada was granted her release and Wilde left the company shortly afterwards. Hamada and Wilde never had the opportunity to properly demonstrate what they could do as a team.
7. Awesome Kong and Hamada
Awesome Kong and Hamada was your traditional monster tag team. Initially teaming on the house show circuit, they debuted as a team on TV in December 2009 and began squashing opponents such as Sarita & Taylor Wilde and The Beautiful People (Madison Rayne & Velvet Sky) in matches that lasted less than two minutes.
Kong & Hamada would beat Sarita & Taylor Wilde to become the second holders of the championship. The team would begin a brief feud with The Beautiful People before real-life events got in the way.
Radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge would claim that he was attacked by Kong due to his offensive comments regarding the Haiti earthquake and the relief effort. Bubba was close with Hulk Hogan who had just been brought into TNA. Kong was suspended and eventually released from TNA while still being Knockout Tag Champions with Hamada.
6. Sarita and Taylor Wilde
At No Surrender 2009, Wilde and Sarita defeated Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky to become the inaugural Knockouts Tag Team champions. Sarita and Wilde became began tagging in the run-up to the tournament and had a style that complimented each other.
Over time, Wilde and Sarita developed their own tag team manoeuvres and began wearing matching ring gear, setting the standard of what a good Knockouts tag team should be. Scott D’Amore would describe Wilde and Sarita as a “female version of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express”.
Wilde and Sarita would go on to drop the belts to Hamada and Awesome Kong. Afterwards, the team would go on a losing streak, split up and begin feuding with each other ending a team that had the potential to be the cornerstone of the tag division.
5. Angelina Love and Winter
Possibly the most infamous team to hold the Knockout Tag Titles. Winter replaced an injured Velvet Sky to team with Love and defeat Madison Rayne and Tara to win the vacated championship in a tournament final.
When Winter first appeared on Impact, only Angelina Love (and those watching on TV) could see her, making other members of The Beautiful People think Love was going mad. Eventually, Winter appeared in front of others to save Love in a backstage brawl.
Love and Velvet Sky continued to team as The Beautiful People while Love held the tag titles with Winter.
Winter would create dissension between Angelina and Sky, which would be made worse by Love and Winter eventually losing the Knockouts Tag Team Championship to Mexican America, after interference by Sky backfired.
Love and Winter’s time together is better remembered for what came after their title reign as Winter somehow had Love under mind control and was able to separate the Beautiful People and use Love as some type of zombie.
4. Mexican America
TNA was trying to recapture the magic of the original LAX with its new stable, Mexican America. Led by Hernandez and consisting of Anarquia, Sarita and Rosita (now better known as Zelina Vega), Mexican America were able to dominate their respective tag divisions.
Capturing the belts from Love and Winter at Victory Road 2011, Rosita and Sarita would light up the division with consistently-entertaining matches with the likes of the Beautiful People and TnT.
When not competing, themselves they were out supporting Hernandez and Anarquia and interfering in matches. Unfortunately, Rosita and Sarita would have their reign end early as a result of Sarita suffering an injury.
Despite being a weekly highlight on Impact, much of their reign was overshadowed by the Angelina Love and Winter mind control angle.
3. Gail Kim and Madison Rayne
Possibly the two greatest wrestlers in the history of the Knockouts division, their time together can be summed up as friendly rivals who put-on top-quality matches with their opponents and on a few occasions, each other.
After her second stint in the WWE, Kim returned to TNA and aligned herself with Rayne as the new power duo of the Knockouts division who had sway with management.
Within a few weeks, they would capture the tag belts from TnT and two weeks later Kim would go on to win the Knockouts title, making her a double champion.
Rayne would win a battle royal to become the number one contender to Kim’s Knockouts Championship and in the weeks that followed the Kim and Rayne relationship began to break down to the point they lost the tag belts to Eric Young and ODB.
Kim would retain her belt against Rayne and they would eventually reconcile and continue to put on great matches together as a team.
Brooke Adams in the WWE was not viewed as a serious wrestler. Most fans looked at her as eye candy; another Diva signed just because of her good looks. Any wrestling fan watching Adams in TNA competing as Brooke Tessmacher could have been forgiven for not realising that she was the same person.
Tara and Tessmacher may have only defended the Knockout Titles on a few occasions, yet their reign is fondly remembered as showcasing what Tessmacher could do in the ring as a serious competitor for the first time.
Together, Tara and Tessmacher put on high-energy matches against Mexican America, Jackie Moore & ODB and Angelina Love & Winter before dropping the Titles to Gail Kim and Madison Rayne.
TnT would continue to team together as Tessmacher became a breakout star and captured the Knockouts Title at Slammiversary X in a contender for match of the night.
1. The Beautiful People
The most influential woman’s wrestling stable of all, it could be argued that the Knockouts Tag titles are synonymous with The Beautiful People even though they only held the titles on one occasion.
The Lacey Von Erich, Madison Rayne, and Velvet Sky version of the Beautiful People would capture the vacated Knockout titles and would defend them using the Free Bird rule. Rayne would also capture the Knockouts Title, becoming the first person to hold both the Knockouts singles and tag belts simultaneously.
During their five-month reign, The Beautiful People would dominate the entire Knockouts roster and beat every challenger normally through dirty tricks. Never the best technical wrestlers, The Beautiful People more than made up for it with their charisma and ability to draw heat.
For the next few years, The Beautiful People would always be top contenders for the titles and even though they never captured the tag gold again their legacy on the wrestling business is still being felt to this day.