Ringbelles Roundup (3 May 2011)
The Big News
We start with the departure from WWE by Michelle McCool, and my Women Of Wrestling Podcast colleague Stew Allen has stepped in to write a great biography of her career. I’ll let him take the floor.
After a few weeks of teasers, we finally got to see the WWE debut of the former Amazing Kong, now known as Kharma, but just as interesting is the sudden and unexpected departure of Michelle McCool, who by losing her match to former LayCool partner Layla El, is now “gone” from WWE. Taking to twitter soon after the match, McCool confirmed “I know there will always be rumours, but that was it – real talk!” News of McCool’s then impending departure was first broken by PWInsider a few days ago when it became clear that McCool’s challenge from SmackDown had been hastily (and badly) redubbed from “Loser leaves SmackDown” to “Loser leaves WWE”.
It has been an eventful seven year ride since married middle school teacher Michelle McCool-Alexander decided to apply to be a competitor in the inaugural WWE Diva Search in 2004. McCool was unique amongst the competitors not only for being the only one not supplied by a modelling agency, but also because she was an actual wrestling fan, having attended old NWA shows at the National Guard Armory in her native Palatka, FL. Though eliminated fairly quickly, McCool was amongst a clutch of Diva Search competitors who ended up being offered a developmental contract anyway. Her athleticism was undeniable (as she proved by schooling the WWE Divas in Dodgeball at SummerSlam of that year) and is undoubtedly genetic, as most of her family have excelled at sports. In fact, McCool herself picked up the Hancock Trophy in 1988 for her exploits in volleyball, softball and basketball at Palatka High. A forgettable early run on Smackdown ended when she was eventually redeployed to developmental territories Deep South Wrestling, and then Ohio Valley Wrestling before being returned to the main roster mid ’06. Unfortunately, much of the next two years saw a struggle as Michelle battled to find any real traction and identity, as WWE stumbled about from storyline to storyline. From “sexy schoolteacher” McCool, who was paired with the tag team of KC James & Idol Stevens (known affectionately as The Teacher’s Pets) to the object of Jamie Noble’s affections in a bizarre love triangle with Chuck Palumbo, McCool was on a road to nowhere. The undoubted highlight of early Michelle McCool for many was the unintentionally hilarious promo videos which saw her proclaim how much she was “lovin’ life” as she roller-skated, took a swim, and generally just stood around. These early years also saw personal tribulation for McCool, who divorced her former high school sweetheart Jeremy Alexander and ended 2007 with an enforced two week stay in hospital for an enlarged kidney, electrolyte balance and low sodium levels which could, in the words of WWE Doctor Ferdinand Rios, have led to heart or kidney failure. Rumours have persisted that these were side effects from the extreme dieting she had to do to maintain her perfect TV figure, though these rumours have never been confirmed by either Michelle or WWE. In recalling the incident, McCool says “One night I was apparently so dehydrated, Dr. Rios hooked me up to an IV. Thank the good Lord that he was with me — along with several WWE Superstars — who took such good care of me. I can never truly repay them”.
McCool made strides as a wrestler around this time, as WWE were going through their semi-regular “let’s take the women seriously” phase by introducing a second distaff championship – the Divas Title – and McCool saw herself thrown into the thick of things on the SmackDown side, and to the surprise of many, McCool ended up defeating Natalya to become the inaugural WWE Divas Champion at the Great American Bash 2008. While athleticism alone doesn’t necessarily translate to pro-wrestling, McCool actually proved herself to be very adept when it came to the technical side of the business – incorporating quite a few signature moves into her repertoire. “I’m glad somebody’s noticed because I’m trying to incorporate moves other women don’t try,” she said in an interview with the Palatka Daily News around that time. “It seems in the past the women’s arsenal has been clotheslines and arm-pulls and hair-pulls.” McCool’s adoption of AJ Styles’ Styles Clash and Chris Daniels’ Angels Wings as the Faith Breaker and Wings of Love respectively caused mini controversy amongst a vocal minority on the internet, though Styles later reported that he was “cool” with Michelle using the move. Michelle held the Divas championship for nearly six months before dropping it to Maryse and immediately turning heel.
The heel turn reinvigorated McCool, who won the Divas title back from Melina six months later, but while she had become technically very proficient in the ring by this time, her major weakness was always her perceived lack of charisma. Thank goodness, then, that she managed to find that charisma in the 5’2” form of Layla El, the British former Miami Heat dancer who had herself come through the Diva Search (by winning the 2006 version). The two were made for each other, as they were like interlocking parts of the same person. Michelle was the technician in the ring – the dependable hand – while Layla was the little stick of charisma who was still distinctly lacking as a wrestler. Each covered for the other’s weakness, and the sum of the whole (now termed simply LayCool) was considerably more than the two constituent parts. Over time, McCool seemed to become considerably more comfortable expressing herself, while Layla started to turn in some tidy performances in the ring. Here was a friendship where a clear and undoubted bond between the two women resulted in both people becoming better performers. Funnily enough, finding her perfect professional partner came around the same time as she found her perfect partner in real life, as McCool’s relationship with The Undertaker was formalised as the two wed in Austin, TX on June 26th, 2010.
The relationship with Undertaker naturally became a pretty large stick for McCool detractors to beat her with. While she kept a dignified silence over her personal life, former WWE Creative Team member John Piermarini, writing in his Creative Recall blog, took time to mention that “Michelle McCool gets zero favors because she is married to Undertaker. Michelle McCool accomplished everything she got because she was the best. “If you need to blame someone you need to blame me, because I was the one who would push hard for anything Michelle got on TV. Michelle could wrestle and Michelle could talk. A lot of MALE Superstars can’t do that and Michelle would have been successful with or without Undertaker. There were a lot of people who wanted to see Michelle fail and she fought that the entire time I was there.”
Ironically enough, LayCool’s “Mean Girls” inspired narcissism and general unpleasantness was a bit too effective for a lot of people, who genuinely railed against the duo, especially during their nasty feud with Mickie James. With LayCool proving to have a relatively short shelf life (less than eighteen months from start to finish) and reactions to the duo lessening by the week, the decision was made for the two to go their separate ways. A shame, then, that the LayCool break-up that was teased, then pulled back, then teased again has been blown off in such a quick manner. The obvious question is “why?” Clearly something happened between the taping of SmackDown last Tuesday and the first airing on Thursday that necessitated the hasty edit and change of stipulations. Nobody ever seems to “retire” in pro-wrestling, and Michelle acknowledges as much in her post-match tweet, but for some reason she seemed to want something more ‘final’ than just a Loser Leaves SmackDown stip. While I think it nigh on impossible that we’ve seen the back of Michelle McCool as a competitor, it’s pretty clear that she’s got no intentions of doing anything in the immediate future in the company.
So how will McCool be remembered? Pro Wrestling Illustrated gave her the top spot in their Female Fifty last year, as well as the Woman of the Year award, and as a four time Champion (and the first person to win both the WWE Women’s and WWE Divas Championship), you can certainly say she’s going out on a high. Her main problem is longevity. For a career that doesn’t even reach the seven year mark, only the last two and a half have really been anything to brag about – but it’s also fair to point out that she’s achieved pretty much everything she could ever hope to achieve as a performer in that time. While she’s likely to be remembered as one of the best “of her time” rather than one of the best “of all time,” she’s successfully gone from “Diva Search Girl” to locker room leader, to someone who will no doubt in due course be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame – and considering WWE really control the history of the business at this point, I imagine McCool’s legacy will loom large over the SmackDown locker room and be mentioned on TV by commentators for some time. Not bad for a self professed “small town tomboy”.
Talking to WWE.com, McCool says “”Thank you for the love and the hate. Thank you for being you and for watching. Hopefully I’ll see you around – not in the ring – but maybe someday.”
Two days in and Kharma’s a hit. She destroyed Michelle McCool on Sunday at Extreme Rules, then yesterday, smashed Maryse after interfering in her match with Kelly Kelly. The push is similar to the one that Kane received in 1997, interjecting himself into matches, killing poor souls and then leaving. It all creates intrigue before an actual debut match, has scored 2 for 2 in fan pops, and makes for great footage for a Titantron, at least…
Weirdly, Kharma left Kelly alone to cower in fear in the corner… probably to wrestle her in a proper match in the future, considering that could generate some buzz, while a Maryse v Kharma match would not.
Kharma’s debut means that Divas get to do something that they don’t necessarily get a chance to do; act scared. The close-up shots of the fear on Kelly and McCool’s faces was great and portrayed an emotion that the audience is supposed to pick up on and share. When you take into account the new awesome music, as well as the decision to not meddle with the Amazing Kong gimmick, it’s a thumbs up for WWE. Keep it up.
It’s been a successful second tour of Japan for Serena Deeb. She won all three of her matches during her recent tour with SMASH, most notably defeating Kana in a much-hyped contest earlier today at Korakuen Hall with a spear.
The 24-year old will be returning to Japan next month when she competes in a tournament to crown a SMASH women’s champion.
We’ve received an update concerning MsChif’s injury that she suffered two weeks ago at an AAW show in Berwyn, IL. She has informed Ringbelles that she suffered damage to her lateral collateral ligament and her popliteal muscle, as well as experiencing a slight tear in her meniscus.
The good news is that no surgery is required, and with some rest and rehab, she should be back in the ring by July.
The best of the rest
Rain, Betsy Ruth and Annie Social will travel out to Japan later this month to wrestle for new joshi promotion Diana. Meanwhile Mia Yim and Roxie Cotton are also appearing in Japan this month. They’ll be competing in REINA… Beth Phoenix may have been traded over to Raw by WWE to try and tempt her real-life boyfriend CM Punk into signing a contract extension. He’s not accepted a new deal yet… Looks like Jersey Shore’s Angelina Pivarnick won’t be doing any wrestling training for the rest of the year – TMZ’s reporting that she’s pregnant… LuFisto will defend her NCW: Femmes Fatales International Championship against La Parfait Caroline at Femmes Fatales VI on June 4 in Montreal . Madison Eagles’ opponent for the show has also been confirmed as Courtney Rush… Speaking of Eagles, she’s trying to shake off a partial tear to her rotator cuff after that car accident two weeks ago… There are rumours swirling that Isis The Amazon (Lindsay Hayward) will be Kurt Angle’s mystery partner for his mixed tag match against Jeff and Karen Jarrett at Sacrifice. She’s denied it on Twitter… Christy Hemme is now ring announcing at the Impact tapings… In an interview with Diva Dirt, Rima Fakih says she hid a rib injury during her time on Tough Enough. She alleges that Michelle caused it… Speaking of Rima, she was apparently USA Network’s top choice to win Tough Enough, but when it was clear she couldn’t hack it, she was let go… The next SHIMMER tapings (for volumes 41-44) will take place on October 1 and 2 in Berwyn, IL… Mickie James defeated Holly Blossom on Saturday to become the first Covey Promotions Women’s Championship… Nikki Roxx competed in a bodybuilding/fitness contest on Saturday in Uncasville, CT. She placed an impressive fifth in the figure category… Britani Knight is a title magnet. She became the Swiss Championship Wrestling Women’s Champion at the weekend… KC Spinelli followed in the footsteps of her Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling colleague Veronika Vice by appearing on Wipeout Canada on Sunday. She made it to the second round… Speaking of ECCW, Tenille Tayla’s final match before reporting to WWE is this Saturday in Vancouver… Oh, and Tough Enough: Ivelisse is hurt and Christina (who was in the bottom three but survived) seems a little too precious. Neither are well liked by the trainers.
April 26: Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (Mexico City, Mexico) – Estrellita & Tiffany & Princesa Blanca b Dark Angel & Estrella Magica & Luna Magica
April 27: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Maki Narumiya b Meari Naito; Emi Sakura b Mochi Miyagi ; Chii Tomiya went to a 10 minute draw with Makoto Oishi; Tsukasa Fujimoto & Miyako Matsumoto b Makoto & Nekko Nitta
April 27: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Hannah & Holly Blossom b Jessie Belle & Isabella Smothers
April 27: Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (Zacapoaxtla, Mexico) – Jennifer Blake, La Hechicera & Sexy Star b Fabi Apache, Lolita & Mari Apache
April 28: WWE Superstars (Raleigh, NC) – Natalya & Gail Kim b Melina & Alicia Fox
April 28: TNA Impact (Orlando, FL) – Angelina Love b Velvet Sky
April 29: WWE SmackDown (Greensboro, NC) – Layla and Michelle McCool went to a no contest
April 29: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Makoto b Maki Narumiya; Mochi Miyagi b Miyako Matsumoto; Ken Ohka & Hikari Minami b Makoto Oishi & Neko Nitta; Tsukushi & Chii Tomiya b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Emi Sakura
April 29: Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (Tokyo, Japan) – Sachie Abe & Yagami Aoi b masu-me & Manami Katsu; Command Bolshoi b Leon; Leon b Command Bolshoi; Kayoko Haruyama, Tsubasa Kuragaki, KAZUKI & Jaguar Yokota be Hanako Nakamori, Tomoko Morii, DASH Chisako & Yagami Aoi
April 29: Osaka Pro (Osaka, Japan) – Yutaka & Syuri b Kanjuro Matsuyama & Apple Miyuki
April 29: OZ Academy (Osaka, Japan) – Sonoko Kato, Mio & Io Shirai b Nao Komatsu, Manami Toyota & Hiren; Takako Inoue b AKINO; omoka Nakagawa & Hiroyo Matsumoto b Carlos Amano & Ayumi Kurihara; Ran Yu-Yu b OZ Academy Openweight Champion Aja Kong to win the title.
April 29: Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling (Surrey, BC) – Tenille b Veronika Vice
April 29: World Independent Ladies Division – Amanda b Lucky O’Shea
April 30: SMASH (Osaka, Japan) – Serena Deeb, Syuri & Makoto b Kana, Mo Shirai & Io Shirai
April 30: STARDOM (Tokyo, Japan) – Eri Susa b Ryo Mizunami; Haruka vs. Masked “Hiroyon” went to a 3 minute time limit draw; Nanae Takahashi vs. Yoko Bito went to a 5 minute time limit draw; Nanae Takahashi b Mayu Iwatani; Nanae Takahashi b Eri Susa; Nanae Takahashi vs. Haruka went to a 5 minute time limit draw; Nanae Takahashi vs. Yuzuki Aikawa went to a 5 minute time limit draw; Nanae Takahashi vs. Arisa Hoshiki went to a 5 minute time limit draw; Natsuki*Taiyo b Yoshiko
April 30: Covey Promotions (Glenville, WV) – Mickie James b Holly Blossom to win the first ever Covey Pro Women’s Championship
April 30: Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling (Tokyo, Japan) – KAZUKI b masu-me; Aiger/Eiger b Bolshoi Kid; Shinobu Kandori & Sachie Abe b Takako Inoue & Yumiko Hotta
April 30: Magnificent Ladies Wrestling (Trenton, TN) – Jazz b Angelina; Tina San Antonio b December; Taylor Made won a six-woman elimination tag team match that included Nikki, Auburn Thunder, Jennifer Justice, Tina San Antonio, and Pandora; Arella Angel & Angel Dust b Destiny & Brittany Force; Melanie Cruise b Amy Lee; Tiffany Roxx & Rock C b Sassy Stephie & Simply Luscious to win the MLW Tag Team Championship; Veronica Fairchild b Black Widow
May 1: Diana (Yamagata, Japan) – Keiko Aono b Sari; Kagetu b Moeka Haruhi; GAMI b Nagisa Nozaki; Kaoru Ito & Kyoko Inoue b Ayako Sato & Aya Yuki in a best of 3 falls match
May 1: SMASH (Nagoya, Japan) – Serena Deeb b Syuri; Jessica Love b Yuji Kito; Makoto & Takao Omori beat Lin Bairon & Michael Kovac via DQ
May 1: WWE Extreme Rules (Tampa, FL) – Layla b Michelle McCool
May 2: WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Ryo Mizunami & Aya Yuki b Moeka Haruhi & Tomoka Nakagawa; Cherry & Hiren and Mio & Io Shirai b GAMI & Sakura Hirota in a 3-way when both Cherry & Io simultaneously pinned GAMI; Kagetu vs. Sawako Shimotsuke went to a 10 minute time limit draw. Misaki Ohata b Ayumi Kurihara; Nagisa Nozaki b Yumi Ohka; Toshie Uematsu b Kana
May 2: WWE Raw (Miami, FL) – Maryse and Kelly Kelly went to a no-contest
May 3: SMASH (Toyko, Japan) – Serena Deeb b Kana; Tajiri & Makoto b Hajime Ohara & Jessica Love and Michael Kovac & Lin Bairon; Syuri & Hikaru Shida b Mo Shirai & Io Shirai
May 5: Ice Ribbon (Tokyo, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto v Tsukushi; Emi Sakura & Ray v Hikaru Shida & Syuri; Kagetu v Chii Tomiya; Mochi Miyagi & Hamuko Hoshi v Miyako Matsumoto & Maki Narumiya
May 6: Ring Wars Carolina (Lumberton, NC) – Mia Svensson v Kacee Carlisle
May 7: Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling (Vancouver, BC) – Tenille Tayla v Nicole Matthews
May 7: Purely Obsessed Wrestling World (Dubuque, IA) – Nikki v Melanie Cruise v Taylor Made
May 8: REINA Universal Women’s Pro Wrestling (Tokyo, Japan) – Amapola v Marcela, Ayumi Kurihara v Mima Shimoda
May 8: Turkish Power Wrestling (Bursa, Turkey) – Shanna v Alpha Female
May 14: CHIKARA (Burlington, BC) – Daizee Haze v Grizzly Redwood
May 14: Extreme World Wrestling (Hastings, UK) – Skarlett v Lucy Clayden
May 14: New England Championship Wrestling (Carver MA) – Alexxis Nevaeh v Mistress Belmont
May 14: Family Wrestling Entertainment (Brooklyn, NY) – Jillian Hall v Winter
May 15: Diana (Kowasaki, Japan) – Rain v Aka Yuki
May 15: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Evening Gown Match: Athena v Rachel Summerlyn v Jessica James v Sara Del Rey v Amanda Fox v Portia Perez
May 20: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Lakewood , OH) – Jessicka Havok v Mickie Knuckles
May 26: Freak Show Wrestling (Las Vegas, LV) – Amanda v Allison Danger
May 27: Pro Wrestling Syndicate (Queens, NY) – Belle Saints v Boston Shore; Brittney Savage v Nikki Styx
June 4: NCW: Femmes Fatales (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Cheerleader Melissa & Mercedes Martinez v Portia Perez & Kalamity; Mary Lee Rose v Mistress Belmont; Madison Eagles v Courtney Rush; LuFisto v La Farfaite Caroline
June 5: FutureShock (Stockport, UK) – Gauntlet match to crown the first Women’s Champion
June 25: Women Superstars Uncensored: Uncensored Rumble (Union City, NJ) – Mercedes Martinez v Brittany Savage; Marti Belle & Jazz v The Boston Shore; Serena v Nikki Roxx; Alicia v Jessicka Havok; Sassy Stephie v Rain; Cindy Rogers v Allison Danger; Kristin Astara v Tina San Antonio; Niya v Barbie; Amy Lee, Jamilia Craft & The Soul Sistas v Rick Cataldo, Allysin Kay, Jennifer Cruz & Monique
June 26: Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Queen Of Queens (Live Oak, TX) – featuring Serena Deeb, Amanda Fox, Mia Yim, Christina Von Eerie and Daffney
September 17: IndyGurlz (Boonton, NJ)
September 24: IndyGurlz (Worcester, MA)
October 1 & 2: SHIMMER: Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
October 8 and 9: Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon (Doncaster, UK)
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