My contract w/ TNA has ended. I want to thank you all for the constant love & support and PROMISE you I will be back in the ring again soon!
And with that tweet, Madison Rayne bade farewell to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling after four years with the company. The former four-time Knockouts singles and two-time Knockouts Tag Team Champion has been inactive since March where she revealed that she was pregnant, though her shining moments had passed by that point. However, the 27 year old has plenty of boast about, and for a decent amount of time was the focus and rudder of the entire women’s division…
Following four years on the independent circuit under the names of Lexi Lane and later Ashley Lane – highlighted by being one half of the first ever SHIMMER Tag Team Champions with fellow Ohio native Nevaeh – the Columbus native arrived in TNA in January 2009, quickly aligning herself with Velvet Sky and Angelina Love in the Beautiful People, serving them in a lackey position in the Mi Pi Sexy sorority, but was kicked out following a number of screw-ups. She apologised to the pair who welcomed her back, and Rayne substituted for Love in the tournament to crown the first Knockouts Tag Team champs when Angelina had to leave the company due to visa issues – however, Velvet and Madison were beaten in the finals by Sarita and Taylor Wilde.
With the addition of Lacey Von Erich, Rayne became a more integral part of the Beautiful People, becoming Sky’s equal to win the tag straps in March 2010, and then added the singles title to her collection the following month at Lockdown, which saw her ascend herself to a Queen Bee situation, which caused friction between she and Sky. During this time, Rayne was also given a career-killer moniker, as she sent both Tara and Roxxi backing in back to back pay-per-views by beating them in Title v Career contests.
The reason why Rayne has so many singles title reigns is party due to her working the system to have the title returned to her after losing it, such as when Angelina beat her for the belt by DQ under a ruling that if Von Erich or Sky got involved, Madison would lose the belt. However, she successfully argued that it couldn’t be proven that the mysterious woman in a motorcycle helmet was either of them – it later turned out to be Tara, who became her new running buddy.
October saw her using screwy tactics to win the Knockouts title for a third time when she forced her sidekick to lay down and ostensibly hand over the belt which she had won at Bound For Glory, then held it for a mammoth 188 days – to that point, the longest reign in the title’s history – before dropping the title to Mickie James at Lockdown in 2011.
Tara and Madison went to Splitsville soon afterward, with Rayne then aligning with Gail Kim later in the year, and then linking up to win the tag titles in November, beating Tara and Brooke Tessmacher. They held on until March, where they were beaten by ODB and Eric Young.
Rayne’s final big storyline was a long-running angle about her admiring a man in TNA. The object of her affection turned out to be referee Earl Hebner, who then starting to appear to throw matches in her favour, resulting in her winning her fourth and final singles title from Tessmacher at Hardcore Justice in August 2012, though she lost the belt at the next Impact Wrestling episode when Taryn Terrell was introduced as Knockouts referee to replace the smitten Hebner.
While away from the ring, Madison was blogging for the new Knockouts website, with her most recent piece taking aim at Tessmacher, who also seems to be off TV at the moment. It felt as if it was setting up for a programme in the future, but all of that is redundant now.
Some may dismiss Rayne as being the figurehead of a dull period for the Knockouts division, but they are overlooking her effectiveness as a heel. In the ring, she didn’t do anything flashy, meaning the babyface could have the spotlight for their more spectacular offence, and also wound up audiences to the point that people were aching for her reign of bratty terror to come to an end. I’d say she did a great job keeping the ship in the right direction when the whole division was in a state of flux due to multiple departures and shoddy writing.
So what’s next for Rayne? Well, she’s got her baby due next month, is happily married and seems to be more interested in fitness competitions – in which she experienced success last year – which must be a more attractive prospect that being on the road, especially when you consider her small frame must rattle when she takes bumps. WWE also seems unlikely for similar reasons.
There may also be the prospect of wrestling part-time, especially when you consider that there are a number of promotions close to her like Remix Pro, and she also wrestled for Family Wrestling Entertainment in New York on a number of occasions. In addition, she made a surprise appearance in SHIMMER in October 2011 to take on former partner Nevaeh.
Either way, a four year run in TNA with six title reigns and being positioned as the main star of a division which also featured former WWE names like James, Kim and Tara is a big accomplishment, especially when her win/loss run was beyond pathetic. In fact, she won her first Knockouts title in a tag match at a point where she was yet to notch up her first one-on-one victory. To be able to turn her fortunes around is very admirable, and she should be very happy with her run.
– Lee Burton
– Photos by TNA