If last night’s Gut Check segment on TNA Impact Wrestling taught us anything, it’s that winning isn’t everything.
After winning her match against Lei’D Tapa on the February 28 episode of Impact, it seemed that the smart money would have been on Ivelisse Velez being offered a deal to join the TNA roster. Both received praise for their work in the match – which was doubly impressive considering the stinker between Velvet Sky and Tara earlier on in last week’s show – with calls for the company to sign them both. However, only one would go forward to the evaluation stage, live in the ring… and Velez was not picked, despite winning the match.
Later on in the broadcast, Tapa faced the music, with Ohio Valley Wrestling‘s Danny Davis and Al Snow giving her the nod, seeing her earn the contract by 2 votes to 1, much to the chagrin of the live crowd, who were audibly upset that Velez was eliminated.
You can see why TNA would be interested in her. Standing 6’2″, Tapa is certainly a physical presence, and that’s amplified with her enormous hair. Being a second generation wrestler also helps – her uncle and trainer Sione Vailahi enjoyed a long career primarily under the gimmick of The Barbarian. However, if TNA were so keen on Tapa, why book her to lose last week? Granted, Taeler Hendrix lost her Gut Check, though she was against Tara, so was portrayed as being the upstart against the veteran – in this case, Tapa and Velez were put on the same level and given the same treatment in the profile packages.
That situation must make it an even more bitter pill to swallow for Ivelisse, considering she too had a lot of elements which would have been attractive to TNA. As well as being attractive and photogenic, she used an MMA gimmick – was something that was relevant at the time considering Ronda Rousey‘s win over Liz Carmouche at the previous weekend’s UFC 157 PPV. In addition, Velez has WWE time under her belt though appearing on Tough Enough and spending a decent amount of time wrestling in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT, which TNA usually jumps all over. And let’s not forget, she won the match last week…
To be rejected must be a big blow, but the 24-year old Puerto Rican was picking herself up this morning, tweeting “It’s NOT the SIZE of the dog in the fight.. it’s the SIZE of the FIGHT in the dog.”
Velez won’t be short of work. Currently enjoying a big push as 20% of SHINE‘s top heel stable Valkyrie and becoming a regular in New York’s Family Wrestling Entertainment promotion, she has the chance to amass a bigger body of work to make herself more valuable to others in the future.
As for Tapa, she will likely be moved to OVW for more training, though for how long is anybody’s guess. Hendrix won the Gut Check last June, and has only made a solitary appearance on Impact since then. The situation isn’t too bad for Taeler as she had already made Louisville, KY her home, so she had no upheaval. Tapa is married and lives in Charlotte, NC, so that means some big life changes. We hope it pays off for her.
– Lee Burton