About a month ago, Velvet Sky announced her retirement from in-ring competition (though she’s said she’ll still be around wrestling in various other capacities). Fans seemed to be a bit sadder and more emotional about this than I was expecting and it got me thinking about why that’s the case. What is it about Sky that made fans care about her so much? Today we’re going to take a short look at her career and see what made her so popular and one of the biggest stars in the history of the Knockouts division.

As is the case with a lot of wrestlers, Sky, then under the name Talia Madison (or something close to it more often than not), wrestled around the independent circuit. She had some success in WXW (World Xtreme Wrestling, owned by Afa the Wild Samoan) and appeared on a few WWE programs over the years. In other words, nothing all that special and only somewhat better than a bunch of women on the same circuit would have accomplished in their early years.

Then came the big break of her career as she joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in the fall of 2007 and, after a brief period under the Madison name, became Velvet Sky. She was soon paired with Angelina Love and after a short run as faces, the pair turned into the characters that made them far more famous than any other: the Beautiful People.

This was a very simple concept and one that’s always going to work: the Beautiful People are gorgeous, know they’re gorgeous, and hold it over the heads of people they think are beneath them. It’s a character that’s always going to work for one simple reason: everyone has known someone like that in their lives and it’s someone that they’d love to see get what’s coming to them.

The Beautiful People would be around on and off for the better part of ten years with Sky being involved more often than any other member. The team dominated the Knockouts division for a long while and was often the big bad, facing off with a variety of heroines over the years. While the team wasn’t always around, it was one of the easiest ideas in the world to bring back up and that happened several times, often with few changes save for a few lineup switches.

The team would often do horrible things like this:

TNA: Beautiful People Cut Taylor's Hair

In addition to the Beautiful People, Sky also had a pretty strong solo face run. After the Beautiful People were broken up by Winter in 2011 in the semi-lesbian/witch/vampire/mind control/I still have no idea what they were really going for with the whole thing story, Sky was ready to finally challenge for the Knockouts Title, the one thing that had eluded her in her entire run with the company.

After all the years that Sky had been in the company, she had never actually won the title. Love had held the title three times while part of the Beautiful People and fellow member Madison Rayne had held it twice before Sky had ever won it in the first place. That fact made Sky, who was now a face, someone people wanted to see finally win the title that they felt she had earned after all those years of not being the star of the group.

The title win FINALLY happened at “Bound For Glory 2011” in a four way (Because just having her pin Winter, who she had a major issue with in the first place, wasn’t an option, like because TNA. That’s the answer to a lot of the problems with this company: Because TNA.) with Sky pinning Rayne to win the title. The match wasn’t much to see but it was a heck of a moment because fans wanted to see Sky win the match.

Now why was it such a big deal? What was so awesome about Sky that made people want to see her win the title that badly? Well aside from the obvious (decent in the ring, passable talker, drop dead gorgeous with some rather fetching ring gear etc.), there was something cool about Sky. Love and Rayne were your stereotypical stuck up villains but on the other hand you had Sky, who definitely had the most personality out of the team. There was something about her that made her seem like a more engaging personality and that’s not something you can produce most of the time.

Yet another four way involving Sky:

Velvet Sky vs. Brooke Tessmacher vs. Mickie James vs. Tara

Above all else though, there were a series of vignettes/interviews about Sky that made people feel a bit more connected to her. During the build toward Sky’s title win, the company started talking about her being bullied back in high school. Sky talked about how she had to deal with a lot of people who picked on her for one reason or another, often times due to being a wrestling fan. She was sick of dealing with it though and it was time to reach her ultimate goal.

That idea is what made her feel like a big deal, at least for the time being. It’s a character that a lot of people can relate to. Based on her backstory, it’s easy to imagine that Love was the best looking girl in high school and thought everyone was beneath her. That’s not a character that a lot of people are going to be able to relate to. Being the person who was kind of nerdy and was picked on a lot is someone who a lot of people can get behind.

The moment worked, and while the reign was only a month long, it was the same idea behind Mick Foley’s original win: whatever happens after the three count goes down doesn’t matter in the slightest. The moment and the big win is all that matters and if the whole thing falls apart after that, it really doesn’t make much of a difference.

Sky would kind of meander around the division from then on, including leaving the company for a long time. Her comeback saw her be a bit tougher and the character didn’t work nearly as well, but it certainly wasn’t a disaster either. She won another Knockouts Title in 2013 (in another four way) and really that’s about it. Without the Beautiful People, things just weren’t quite the same but it could have been much worse.

Here’s part of her last run with the company.

Velvet Sky Returns.. What Is Angelina Love's Reaction (May 8, 2015)

Overall, Sky might not have been the top star but she had an attitude that worked incredibly well. She was part of the Knockouts division when it was being treated importantly (FAR more importantly than the Divas division at least) and became one of its top stars. It made her title win feel special and we had a reason to care. The company created a star with her and while she might not have been on top of the division for very long, she was a big deal for a while and that’s more than a lot of the Knockouts can say.


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