For more than 20 years, Impact Wrestling has been providing a service for fans interested in another type of professional wrestling product. One of the most consistent features of the company was the Knockouts division.
From Gail Kim Vs. Awesome Kong by Deonna Purrazzo Vs. Mickie James, women from Impact Wrestling, managed to impress year after year. It all takes place this Saturday, January 8, at Hard to Kill, where Jordynne Grace, Chelsea Green, Lady Frost, Alisha Edwards, Rosemary and Tasha Steelz compete in the Ultimate X match, the first time women have done so. This brutal match, a typical X Division match, has helped improve the careers of many. Now these women will show what they can do in a match that could steal the show.
Prior to the Hard to Kill game, Impact Wrestling Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore spoke to Sporting News about how the Ultimate X got together, the continued success of the Knockouts division and the future of Impact Wrestling.
Sports News: There has never been an Ultimate X match in the Knockouts division. The match itself is known for its brutal nature. How hard was it to get this match to an end?
Scott D’Amore: Knockouts were part of the Last Knockouts Standing, rankings and cage matches. Throughout our 20-year history, it has been almost shocking to realize that the Knockouts Ultimate X match has never existed. Last year we had Slammiversary, which had the return of Ultimate X in the X-Division, where it always was. During that time, there was a chatter from Knockouts who wanted to do it.
It came about when Jordynne Grace came to see me, who is a fiery plug and strength not only in the ring, but also with her perseverance. Grace, Chelsea Green, and some other ladies drove me into a corner at some point. They wanted to talk about it and felt it was time. The prevailing sentiment was that everyone wanted the opportunity to be part of the Ultimate X match. Our Knockouts, like most of the people who grew up on Impact Wrestling, have seen all those great X-Division matches over the years. The ones featuring Petey Williams, AJ Styles, Low Ki and Frankie Kazarian. They wanted to have a chance to do it.
SN: What was the deciding factor after all that talk?
D’Amore: I tried to simplify it. I told them we should go to the ring and show me what you got. We went into the ring and everyone climbed the scaffolding and raced along the line. We thought we had something right away.
At one point, I thought we’d do it on Bound for Glory, but we felt this match would be best if we took some time and placed it on Hard to Kill. It would be the most incredible way to start the new year.
SN: So it was an easy decision based on the division’s reputation over the years?
D’Amore: Like this match, the Knockouts division met for women like Gail Kim, Traci Brooks and Jackie Moore. They were so persistent that they wanted to go out and compete and be taken seriously. We gave them the opportunity and they threw her out of the park. This is at a time when other societies could take women as second-class, with pillow battles in lingerie, etc. We gave them the opportunity to be themselves, so that women could go out and be promoted and emphasized as the wonderful athletes they are. Other companies are rightly doing so now.
For this match, it was another group of talented women who knew what they wanted. I’m sure they’ll do an incredible show at Hard to Kill.
MORE: Gail Kim considers Awesome Kong career overcoming barriers ahead of IMPACT Hall of Fame
SN: As is the case with the Internet, matches with such a risk would normally occur. The announcement met with a lot of praise. How do you feel knowing how hard these women have worked to make this struggle happen?
D’Amore: What we are seeing here is the evolution of the thought process of the general population in terms of how we treat women and diversity in general. This is the case with wrestling space and, hopefully, life. This match was not just for men; it was supposed to be an athletes’ match. He had to pick up incredible athletes, those who can do amazing things that the average person can’t. The long-awaited introduction of the incredibly athletic women we have. I was not in shock. It would be shocking if it wasn’t positive.
How does one not automatically think about what Lady Frost can do in a match, or what Tasha Steelz will come up with when she is high above the ring on those cables? How will Jordynne Grace use her super strength and sporting skills to do something unforgettable? The reception was a testament to the Knockouts division and how the thought process was changing what female wrestling was changing.
It’s 2022, honey, let’s move forward and continue writing history.
SN: Since the end of 2000, Knockouts will compete in Monsters Ball, Full Metal Mayhem and now Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo will compete in a Texas Death Match on the same card as Ultimate X. What was key here in terms of consistency?
D’Amore: Opportunity. There have always been amazing female athletes who could compete at this level and wanted to. There were times when opportunities did not arise. Impact has a long history of putting women in a position where they can compete and impress. Whether it’s a Last Knockouts Standing match, a Texas Death Match like we had with our Knockouts Championship, Ultimate X, cage matches, the Knockouts have earned it over and over again.
We talked about how great it could be, and we are convinced that women can handle it. Sitting here in 2022, it’s now 15 years of proof. No more hypothetical things, if it can be done, can be done. We’ve done it in decades and a half. That’s what makes Hard to Kill so special. Ultimate X is the ultimate boundary, the last barrier that can be broken. There is no doubt that women will go crazy and play an unbelievable struggle. Chris Sabin, the guru of Division X, is excited and wants to see what’s new and what Knockouts are putting into it.
SN: Speaking of barriers, the Forbidden Door was broken last year +. What wrestlers would you like to see at Impact?
D’Amore: The great thing about the Forbidden Door is that it breaks down all those barriers, the old days What if ; What if Rick Flair can chase Hulk Hogan, what if Bruno Sammartino is battling Harley Race? I would like to see an athlete like AEW Women’s Britt Baker enter the door, come here and compete for the Impact. I know she and Deonna wanted to stand together for a long time. I have great respect for Britt; has an amazing job. She would be fantastic.
One of the last parts of the banned door that hasn’t been kicked out is the 800-pound gorilla: WWE. Can you imagine a world where you see Mickie James in a fight with Charlotte Flair, Jordynne Grace and Becky Lynch? You have to make so many matches. We see so many individuals we never thought we would see, such as Kenny Omega and Jay White, who showed up unexpectedly. The possibilities are endless. You can sit down, make a list and come up with multi-year dream matches with wrestlers. Only time will tell.
SN: Impact Wrestling survived years at a time when some companies were less fortunate. What is the future of Impact and the Knockouts division?
D’Amore: The future of Impact is all about growth. There were several controversial times when it was not known what would happen. We talked a lot about it not being a quick fix; You can’t just slap the patch on major issues. You need to focus on a long-term plan. If you are a sports fan of a team that has had a rough bike, you need to make changes. Sometimes you have to say goodbye to the talent you admire and give the opportunity to a new generation.
It’s almost the 20th anniversary of Impact, and we’re going back to what we’ve always been; a place where we can take athletes who have been overlooked and have not been given the opportunity they deserve and to support, develop and empower them to be their best selves. Remember Deonna Purrazzo a year and a half ago and the set of work she built today. All she needed was a platform, a group that would allow her to develop and be the athlete she knew she could be. Remember Chris Beye, Ace Austin, and Trey Miguel, the other I met when he was a kid.
We will go there, take out remote values and take risks. When it comes to Knockouts Ultimate X, it’s all about giving women’s wrestling a chance to be taken seriously. The X-Division was not about weight limits; it was not about any limits. It is about taking chances, opportunities. We will take good people and put them in a position to succeed.
MORE: How professional wrestling saved and nearly ruined the life of IMPACT X Division champion Josh Alexander
SN: What would you say to fans who are heading to Hard to Kill?
D’Amore: If you watch, we will reward you with an amazing night. If you don’t agree with what’s out there, hit me, but I trust our team as much as possible. Impact Wrestling, we’re not just hard to kill, it’s hard to beat us.