Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) has been able to survive the wrestling business for fourteen years, initially starting up back in 2002. In the beginning, women in TNA were simply used in a lingerie battle royal for the title of “Ms. TNA” which lasted for a whole three matches before this title was promptly retired. Between 2003 and 2006, TNA didn’t have a formal women’s division, but rather random matches between some of the more popular women on the independent scene, such as Trinity, Mickie James, Cheerleader Melissa, and Traci Brooks.
They would have some feuds between the women, especially for PPVs, but overall it was a scattered time when the women weren’t being fully utilized. Then in 2006, TNA put out a DVD titled Knockouts: The Ladies of TNA Wrestling, Vol. 1, which is where the eventual name for the division originated. Coming into 2007, most of the previous talent had left and TNA brought in a new crop of stars including Gail Kim, Jackie Gayda, ODB, Amazing Kong, Angelina Love, and Shelly Martinez.
From here out, the Knockouts division became a prominent part of TNA, and at times, even was the most intriguing thing in the entire promotion. With fourteen years in the books, there have been plenty of beautiful women who have battled it out in the ring, now it’s time to check out the twenty hottest among them.
20 Gail Kim
It only makes sense to start with who could quite possibly be the greatest Knockout champion ever. Gail Kim held the title five times for a total of 703 days, which is almost double second place. What makes it even more impressive is that she went back and forth from TNA to WWE and back TNA, still being able to amass those title reigns.
19 Reby Sky
Before getting into wrestling in 2010, Reby had a modeling and acting career that included being a dancer in a bunch of hip hop videos. She moved on to be in Playboy a few times, GQ, and Esquire Magazine, among other publications.
18 Karen Jarrett
In 2007, Karen began appearing with then husband, Kurt Angle as his manager for most of 2007 and 2008. Somewhere along the way she and Kurt got divorced and Karen began a relationship with Jeff Jarrett, who she married soon after in 2010.
17 Taryn Terrell
Taryn was yet another find via the WWE Diva Search (TNA really does love to grab anyone that falls out of the WWE’s grasp) she was stuck in development for almost three years before moving to ECW as its General Manager. From there, she moved to SmackDown, where she began her in-ring career for the company, but it lasted barely a year before she was released.
16 Traci Brooks
Starting in 2001, Traci worked her way up through the indies, eventually catching the eye of TNA who brought her into the fold in 2003. For the next nine years, she was a staple in TNA, never really as a main attraction, but always on TV in different factions like the The New Franchise and the Main Event Mafia.
15 Mickie James
Mickie has managed to have not one, but two successful runs in different companies; the WWE and TNA. After cutting her teeth in the indies, Mickie made her way to the WWE where she was able to capture the Women’s title five times and Divas title once. Her most famous feud will forever be with Trish Stratus, but her time with TNA was almost as good.
14 Thea Trinidad
Thea started her wrestling career early on at the age of 19, working in much of the Northeast for two years, before Tommy Dreamer discovered and gave her a tryout match with TNA in 2011. She impressed the company and was brought in as Rosita, the cousin of Sarita (who we’ll get to later in the list). Working alongside, Sarita, Hernandez and Anarquia, the group formed Mexican America, a heel stable that was anti-American while promoting Mexican-Americans.
13 Christy Hemme
Starting out in the 2004 Diva Search, it was easy to see that Christy was going to be a ball of fire right from the start. With a fun personality, she was able to win the competition and work for the company for the next two years.
12 Taeler Hendrix
Her wrestling career began back in 2008 as she worked all over the country before finding a home in Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2010. Here she was able to win their women’s title three times, becoming one of their bigger attractions.
11 Jackie Gayda
Initially working for the WWE, Jackie spent much of her time as a manager (remember Rico?) and flopping her way through terrible matches. She has the unfortunate honor of having one of the worst WWE matches ever against Trish Stratus, go check it out, horribly bad.
10 Lacy Von Erich
As the daughter of Kerry Von Erich (also known as Texas Tornado) wrestling was in Lacey’s blood, so it was no surprise when she was given a chance with the WWE back in 2007. Lacey’s entire wrestling career only lasted three years before moving on to her own marketing and modeling ventures.
Here’s what she said about being a wrestler:
“TNA is very different than WWE. WWE was very political. I wasn't in there yet. They were like, "You're a Von Erich. You better be amazing at wrestling," and things like that. And I wasn't. I'm more of an actress than I am a wrestler. I'd rather play a character than get hurt on the mat. That's what I'm better at. I'm better at acting. That's what I wanted to do. Vince called me. He's the one that got me into this. He's the one asked me, "Do you want to be a wrestler? Try to be a diva?" He brought me out and I signed the contract that night and went into training. I wasn't expecting it to come as much. It really blew up and they expected so much of me. But then TNA called and they really embraced me as like a family member.”
9 Velvet Sky
Velvet was a hustler right from the start, working for multiple independent promotions, while also dipping her toes into WWE by making random appearances in 2005 and 2006 as not only as a wrestler, but as a plant in the crowd, and even trying out for the 2007 Diva Search.
8 Maria Kanellis
Speaking of fantastic backsides, Maria just recently joined up with TNA alongside her real-life husband “The Miracle” Mike Bennett. Let’s be real though, TNA just really wanted Maria, but Mike comes along with the package.
Originally from California, most fans of the independent scene will know her as Mia Yim, where she worked for all the top companies since 2009. Aside from wrestling in Japan, she’s worked for Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling (yikes!), Shimmer, and Shine wrestling.
Coming out of a modeling career, Brooke was first picked up by the WWE through their Diva Search back in 2006; she only lasted about two years thanks to some backstage drama between her and some other employees. Brooke headed back to the modeling scene for a few years, before TNA brought he back to wrestling, first as Eric Bischoff’s assistant and then as the Knockouts Division Commissioner.
If Tara looks familiar that’s because she was also known as Victoria during her tenure with the WWE. Initially working in body building Tara met former WWE wrestler, Chyna who encouraged her to give wrestling a try. It was a good move because the WWE liked Tara immediately and she ended up working for the company from 2001 until 2009.
4 Shelly Martinez
After spending three years with the WWE, Shelly made her way to TNA under the name Salinas where she joined up with The Latin American Xchange along with Hernandez and Homicide. Spending much of her time as a manager, she did participant in a number of matches, but never really getting to the number one spot for the company.
3 Rhaka Khan
Getting into the business by the Diva Search, Rhaka didn’t quite make the cut, but was later given a developmental contract thanks to her unique look and 6’2” frame. Things didn’t work out so for the next couple of years she got some wrestling experience not only in the U.S., but Japan, as well.
Also known as Sarah Stock or Dark Angel, Sarita is one of those wrestlers who have worked literally all over the world; U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Japan. She debuted back in 2002 and was hired by TNA in 2009, working with pretty much everyone on this list. Sarita ended up being a tag team specialist winning the Knockouts Tag Team titles on two occasions.
1 Lauren Brook
This last one is cheating a bit as Lauren wasn’t officially a “Knockout” instead doing most of the backstage interviews for TNA. Before joining up with the company she had worked in tons of TV commercials, shows and music videos joining the wrestling business in 2007 (leaving two years later), often being taunted by many of the heel women as a way for them to get over.
After being in a number of angles with wrestlers like Abyss, Matt Morgan, Raven, and Daffney, Lauren left TNA to get back to her job with the Golf Channel, most notably she hosts their morning talk show, The Morning Drive.
Sources: TNAWrestling.com, WWE.com, Wikipedia.org
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