As of my writing, there has been no response to my last rant by one Glenn Gilbertti. I must admit that, yes, I HAD sort of been expecting some sort of reply. Instead, Glenn has no-sold my diatribe and, perhaps, deservedly so. Whether he’s been too busy, too uninspired, or just never saw it, Mr. Gilbertti has yet to retaliate to my thorough handing to him of his backside in last week’s column. Seriously, though, I preface this week’s writing in this way because, frankly, TNA did something this week that knocked my socks off.
Yes, you read that right. I have been a fan of TNA, in varying degrees, since a few months after its inception. I remember watching my first TNA event, which featured a great bout between AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, and Low Ki for the X-division title, and the night’s main event – which saw Ron Killings capture the NWA title from Ken Shamrock. Other than some nonsense about a hardcore “Dupp Cupp” (a match which featured the man who’d later become Trevor Murdoch), I was very, very impressed. Much since then has kept TNA at least on my radar, whether or not I always manage to watch it. Plenty in TNA has, in fact, captivated me but, I’ll tell you, I never even considered the possibility that I’d be emotionally sucked in to the current TNA product.
Those of you who have followed Offbeat Shenanigans might know of my fandom for a certain Voodoo Queen of TNA. Roxxi Laveaux is a talented wrestler – she has, after all, hung her boots in the SHIMMER locker room – and has become a captivating personality in recent months, due to her feud with TNA ratings-darlings, Velvet Skye and Angelina Love. It’s a classic build, too, with the “Beautiful People” picking on the “freak” and, often times, coming out on top. That’s something a lot of us can relate to and, yeah, it’s definitely pulled me in.
The battle royal at Sacrifice didn’t really appeal to me initially, but it ended up working way better than I’d expected. Gail Kim gaining “immunity” seemed a little convoluted to me. Little did I know what a difference it would make to the match!
For those of you who didn’t see TNA’s Sacrifice, allow me to recap the Knockouts battle royal. Essentially, the Knockouts were all competing for a number one contendership spot. The match was contested under battle royal rules, up until the final two women in the ring. Then, the remaining two women would have to grab at a contract suspended above the ring. The winner would get a shot at Awesome Kong at a later date, while the loser was to have her head shaved.
Angelina Love was eliminated last in the battle royal portion of the match, which left only Gail Kim and our girl, Roxxi. Since Gail Kim had won immunity on last week’s Impact, she could not get her head shaved, no matter what happened. So, if Roxxi Laveaux won the match, it would be archnemesis, Angelina Love, getting her head shaved. WHOA! Oddly enough (and maybe this is because of the match’s confusing rules more than anything else) I didn’t see this coming.
TNA officials secured Love in the barber’s chair and, even though I’d suspected Roxxi was going to lose this one from when the match was first announced, I began to believe that, perhaps, she wouldn’t be the unlucky shavee. And, you know what else? So did the fans at the Impact Zone.
The fans in attendance were totally involved in the match, engrossed even. As the two faces battled on the ladder, trading some moves you’d expect in an RVD ladder match, the crowd rallied solidly behind the Voodoo Queen. Of course, so did I. Gail Kim even began to experience, for the first time in a LONG time, a few boo’s. Those jeers were purely because of the crowd’s support for Laveaux. Eventually, though, with the unwitting assistance of Love, Gail won the match and the number one contendership.
The aftermath was really difficult to watch, given the emotional investment we’d all just made in Roxxi. She’d have to, it turned out, REALLY get her head shaved. Fans of “Fire Russo!” and “This is Bull****!” broke out as, in tears, Roxxi had her hair abruptly shaved off. Sure, some of those chants were due to having to watch a head (any head) be shaved, instead of watching actual wrestling. But something about the overall atmosphere, the chants of “Roxxi! Roxxi!” moments earlier, made this writer sure that most of the post match chants had to do with the fact that the crowd felt sorry for the woman elsewhere known as Nikki Roxx.
I was really, really pissed off after reading Dave Meltzer’s review of WrestleMania. The lackluster review he gave to the Flair match – probably the most emotional display I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring – left me with little confidence in his opinions. And, I’ll tell you, while the Roxxi Laveaux head shaving didn’t approach the Flair retirement on the tear-jerk-o-meter, it did have me averting my eyes and feeling choked up. A grown woman was crying in a product where even the best actors are usually pretty bad, so it sure felt real to me.
So yes, Roxxi was crying, the fans were let down, and we all wanted justice, dammit! If this makes me or anyone else a gullible mark, then it’s just reaffirming what I’ve known all along. But wow…was that some great TV. Kudos to Roxxi, Angelina, Gail, and all in creative involved. If TNA could get me this interested in all of their storylines, I might just run out of things to write about! I really hope that, for going through with this, Roxxi finally gets the push she deserves. Go girl!
Kevin McElvaney is also a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler / Inside Wrestling. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.