January saw TNA launch its Gut Check Challenge with the promise that the winner of the vote would be offered a chance of a match on Impact Wrestling and an evaluation from the judges, which could lead to a TNA contract. However, things were a mess from the start.
Without consulting the people who had taken part in their sessions in the US, Canada and the UK, the company put personal details of the wrestlers on their website – real names, professions, home towns – leading to some such as Mia Svensson going with it, but saw others like Courtney Rush show anger for a breach of confidence. On top of that, you could vote before the actual poll began – not that it counted – and the official start date was moved on three occasions.
Some wrestlers like LuFisto lobbied hard for votes. Her campaigning in particular was so successful that she was leading her bracket by a country mile, but then the next mess-up occurred when a glitch meant that people could register multiple votes, meaning that LuFi went from leading the bracket to a distant fifth. TNA went with it until realising that the vote was being royally skewed, and shelved the whole thing in mid-February. By that point, a number of wrestlers – including Athena – had washed their hands of the whole debacle – but now, it’s back.
According to the press release, the brackets have been rearranged with each one running for three days starting from April 4, and the winners advance to a final poll, with the overall victor getting the live Gut Check match. However, the number of women involved has nosedived.
Foxy Roxy (Bracket 9), Kowgirl Kissey (11), LuFisto (11), Luscious Latasha (12), Mia Svensson (12) and Starr (15) are included, while Shanna (2) and Nikki Storm (13) – who were part of the recent Nottingham session – have been added. So that’s eight names – though in the original vote, there were no less than sixteen women involved. What happened to the rest – such as Niya, Lylah Lodge and Tina San Antonio, for example?
We have been in touch with a number of women who have been part of Gut Checks to see if there was any reason why they were left out. Apparently TNA sent through emails asking former participants if they wanted to be added to the poll – and presumably all who said yes have been included, and those who said no were left out. However, others did not know they weren’t part of the new vote until we got in touch with them, and were surprised to find out that they had been omitted. As a result, women who may have wanted to be part of the Gut Check Challenge have missed out – possibly because they did not see the email, had it go into a junk folder or never received any notification at all.
Consequently, it’s another botched Gut Check vote – but even if it was all in order, just how legit is it?
As explained in the (frankly, excellent) Rise of the Aces and Eights videos, Bully Ray revealed that Wes Brisco‘s Gut Check win was part of a storyline, meaning that TNA is not above using the process as a plot development, rather than as a legitimate talent search, which makes you question just how seriously we should take all of this. Compounding that is the most recent Gut Check where despite winning their match, Ivelisse Velez was passed over in favour of the defeated contestant Lei’D Tapa – who ended up winning the contract. There’s not an argument about Tapa’s win, but to overlook the person who won the match was a terrible decision that hurt the contest’s legitimacy.
A number of wrestlers have rejected the whole contest, while others – such as current World Of Stardom Champion Alpha Female (someone who was very keen to be part of TNA) – are not part of the proceedings, while others may be reluctant to push as hard for votes this time after the previous one ended in such a farce. In addition, it doesn’t seem to matter what you bring to the table – the decision on if you will be successful may not be above board, or may only make the wrestler a pawn in a plot device. For a number of reasons, the attraction of this Gut Check Challenge has faded, and makes you wonder how much stock anyone should put in it.
If you were part of the original Gut Check and are not anymore – for whatever reason – we would love to hear your thoughts. Send us an email and we will treat it in the strictest confidence.
– Lee Burton