On October 14, 2007, 10 women competed at TNA Bound For Glory to crown the first TNA Knockouts Champion. That Gauntlet Match was won by Gail Kim, who subsequently engaged in a series of matches with Awesome Kong which cemented TNA as being the place to be for women wrestlers who wanted to knuckle down and graft in the ring. It separated itself from WWE’s Divas division by having a wide range of different-looking women – from your Kongs and Kims to your ODBs, your Jackie Moores and your Roxxi Leveauxs. Most of them have come and gone – in Roxxi’s case, on a number of occasions – but through it all, there has been one woman who has been there uninterrupted. On Sunday, that woman became Knockouts Champion for the very first time.
30-year old Jamie Szantyr started out as a valet back in 2003 under names like Talia, Talia Doll and Miss Talia before settling on Talia Madison, soon forming a tag team with April Hunter, ironically called T&A. Before long, she was being booked around the country, winning her first championship two years later in Afa’s World Xtreme Wrestling in a battle royal. The following years saw her flirt with going to WWE, appearing as an extra on episodes of SmackDown and Heat, as well as wrestling Victoria on the latter show – Victoria was pretty much the test for most women in their tryouts, as Cheerleader Melissa and Mercedes Martinez also faced her in televised matches around the same time. Although unsuccessful in attaining an offer that way, she tried her luck in the 2007 Diva Search (which was won by Eve Torres), though didn’t make it through to the final 8.
By the time 2007 rolled around, Madison had been wrestling for four years, and she got her chance to be part of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s blossoming Knockouts Division. Although BFG was her first in-ring appearance, she featured in a couple of backstage segments and was also at ringside for Kong’s pre-BFG demolition of Kim on the go-home episode of Impact.
Soon after the Gauntlet match, Madison wrestled Kong and was soundly defeated, then changed her name to Velvet Sky so TNA could copyright it. As one of a slew of women who had just arrived, it was difficult for Sky to cut through, as compared to some of the other wrestlers, her skills weren’t as sharp – but what she had going for her was her stunning looks, and along with Angelina Love – who had changed her name from Angel Williams – she set out to carve her own niche in the Knockouts division.
Orginally known as Velvet-Love Entertainment, Sky and Angelina were babyfaces who helped Kim defend her title against Kong, but by March of 2008, the pair turned heel on Roxxi and started a campaign of bullying against her. Having been renamed The Beautiful People, Sky and Love became some of the most over heels in the promotion, causing Roxxi to get her head shaved after costing her the win in a ladder match, putting paper bags over their victims heads with images of themselves drawn onto the front, briefly adding Mickie Knuckles to their squad as the hired muscle, before roping in Kip James as their aide.
However, it was Love that was the better in-ring performer and consequently, the focus of title opportunities went to her rather than Sky. When Sky did receive a title match, it was presented as her receiving the shot through being an opportunist than being the better wrestler, and she was quickly defeated TWICE by then-champion Taylor Wilde. Things changed for Velvet when Love had to leave the promotion due to work visa issues, as she became the assumed leader of the Beautiful People, taking Madison Rayne and Lacey Von Erich under her wing, with them winning the vacant Knockouts Tag Team Championship along the way on the March 8, 2010 episode of Impact.
By the summer, Rayne was the Knockouts Champ and was being condescending to Sky and Von Erich, leading to the pair turning babyface, and Velvet reuniting with Love, who had sorted out her paperwork by then. As faces, the Beautiful People didn’t have the same sort of spark, but were still supported, thanks in a large part to their memorable entrance and zoomed-in camera shots of them grinding the middle ropes as they entered the ring.
Let the pigeons loose.
The introduction of Winter at the end of last year effectively killed off Love and Sky’s partnership, as Angelina fell under the spell of the mysterious newcomer, which led to a bizarre situation of Sky wanting to free Love from Winter’s grasp by promising to beat her up. This went on for what feels like forever, interspersed with her feuding with Sarita – featuring some of the worst lucha I’ve seen – and battling “invaders” Jackie Moore and ODB. It seemed during the spring and summer of 2011, Velvet Sky was involved in pretty much every feud that the Knockouts had. Clearly TNA was high on her, but her looks didn’t carry over into the ring, which made for some pretty disappointing matches.
Having said that, Sky now is better than Sky a few years ago. I remember her trying to execute a laughable figure four a few years ago, and some of her moves seemed so contrived. However, she has tightened up her game since then, and while still not the best wrestler on the roster, she can be trusted to go out there and not produce a four finger stinker, and for a promotion which doesn’t put as much stock into its Knockouts division as it did three of four years ago, is probably the best we can hope for these days. In addition, she is wrestling in AAA and keeps getting invited back, so when you consider that they could pick from any number of women and keep booking Velvet, that has to be a good confidence boost for her.
Sky’s first – and only – pay-per-view title shot was at Bound For Glory on Sunday. Before then, she had only had two Knockouts title matches in four years, and both of those were on Impact. While it would have been nice for her to have won the Championship from Winter in a one on one match with promos, video packages highlighting their history and some interactions between the two, TNA did a decent job in promoting the four-way featuring Winter, Sky, Mickie James and Rayne, but overbooked it by throwing in the ongoing tussle between Knockouts VP Karen Jarrett and her subordinate Traci Brooks. Jarrett made herself the referee and favoured the heels, but was taken out of the match by Winter’s poison mist. This prompted Brooks to take to the ring and count the winning pinfall by Velvet on Rayne – again, it would have been nice if she had been booked to pin the champ to win the title, but we can’t have everything I suppose…
I have no problem with Sky being the Champion. She has been a good company employee for TNA, is very marketable due to her popularity and beauty, and having the Knockouts belt on her can only heighten her drawing power. Fair enough, there are better wrestlers, but if you look at it as a business decision, putting Sky on a poster with that title is likely to wrest some money out of someone’s pocket to buy a ticket or order a pay-per-view. I’m not saying it will generate hundreds of thousands of sales, but an extra one is better than nothing.
There have been comparisons made between her winning the belt and Kelly Kelly getting it, but I also think that’s a little unfair. Sky trained to be a wrestler, can be trusted to do a promo – fair enough, generating sympathy isn’t a strong point, but she can do an angry one very well – hasn’t had things handed to her on a plate and can run the ropes. Kelly she is not.
The post-BFG Impact tapings haven’t happened as of press time, so things may change – Jarrett may void the decision due to Brooks counting the pin rather than herself, for example – but I hope they leave the belt on Sky for a little while. Give her a run with it, see how she does and assess it from there. Don’t cut the legs off her before she’s had a chance to prove if she is worthy of being the Champion. I wish Sky the best of luck – after four long years, she deserves a run at the top.
Erin Angel and Pro Wrestling: EVE and Nordic Women’s Wrestling Alliance Champion Jenny Sjodin were booked to wrestle in a tag team match this Saturday at the Stadthalle in Walsrode, Germany, for the Deutsche Wrestling Allianz on a card that also features former WWF Tag Team Champion Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and former WWF talent Joe Legend. However, they were pulled from the card – not because of scheduling, fees, booking or even because of a falling out with the promoter. They were removed because the owner of the building thought that women wrestling was “too sexual”, according to an announcement by Angel. On her Twitter, Sjodin also recounted what she had been told:
No joke – The owner of the venue that DWA has booked for the event next weekend doesn’t like female matches so the match is cancelled.
For a second, I thought we had all hopped into Doc Brown’s DeLorean and shot back to 1955. Either that, or the owner of the Stadthalle is still living there in some sort of paradoxial bubble. Too sexual? Clearly he has never seen women’s wrestling and just has a perception of what it would be, probably involving additions like mud, baked beans or something. If he had seen some of the footage of EVE v Ice Ribbon a week and a half ago, he may have demanded they be in the main event…
It is puzzling how a number of people who make the big decisions are vehemently against women’s wrestling. In the UK, original One Pro Wrestling owner Steven Gauntley was so against women in wrestling that there were no women on the show even as valets, let alone in the ring. XWA promoter Greg Lambert never booked women’s wrestling on his shows before entering into a deal with EVE, which led to Britani Knight losing the EVE title to Sjodin on an XWA show earlier this summer. At the time, Lambert admitted that he didn’t watch much women’s wrestling, but had the impression that it wasn’t up to the standard of the men, but had changed his stance after Knight/Sjodin was arguably the match of the night. If only more promoters took a punt at booking a match on their shows featuring quality women wrestlers – it could change so many fans’ perceptions, so they don’t think all matches involving females are 3 minute Diva affairs. Admittedly, their view would not change immediately, but given time and familiarity, it would make a great difference to the women who fight as hard – and in many cases, harder – as men to be taken seriously.
Quite how the owner thought that women wrestling each other was too suggestive, yet muscly grown men with oiled up bodies in tight trunks was acceptable is anyone’s guess, but there you go…
WILD Wrestling has admitted that its World Title (currently held by Winter) isn’t really a World Title, as it has never been defended outside of California or Nevada. For that reason, it has made steps to sort out this issue. However, those steps do not include having title defences across the world, or even across North America.
Instead, WILD GM Ashley Massaro tweeted that the promotion is introducing new championships. The first is the North American title, which has been award to Terra Calaway (who is currently the #1 contender to the World Championship) as she is in possession of what was the LuchaPro title. In addition, a WILD European Championship will be introduced and defended in the UK as part of UK Wrestling (which already has a women’s championship of its own). On top of this, the World Title (which they have already conceded isn’t a World Title) will remain in the hands of Winter, and the match between her and Calaway will be a title for title affair. Confused? We are.
First off, we like Terra Calaway, but we think she – as a babyface – should not be just “awarded” a title, as it cheapens it straight away and doesn’t make her look like a fighting competitor. Secondly, if her belt is the North American title, and the World Title hasn’t been defended anywhere other than North America, doesn’t that make both belts pretty much the same thing? Moreover, if the promotion has admitted the World Title doesn’t have much of a claim as a World Title, why is it still being called a World Title?
Thirdly, does Europe (and more specifically, the UK) really need another women’s championship? In the UK alone, as well as the UKW belt, there is the Pro Wrestling: EVE title, the WAWW British and World titles, the FutureShock Women’s Championship and more. Introducing another belt to a small country with a limited number of female wrestlers is going to be another step to saturation of all the belts. Fourthly, why have a title for title match straight away when the North American belt has no lineage yet? Fifthly, does a promotion that has presented no more than 10 matches in 2011 really need THREE singles championships? Why not promote the hell out of its existing title and book Winter to defend it in many different parts of the US?
The best of the rest
Gail Kim participated in a live shoot interview on Wednesday night where she confirmed that WWE messed her around and wouldn’t talk about the pay issues in TNA – presumably because she doesn’t want to kick her potential future employers in the balls… Christina Von Eerie has debuted alongside Ink, Inc in TNA under the name of Toxine… Sassy Stephie and December have been added to the roster for Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan’s Resistance Pro. Simply Lucious, Cheerleader Melissa, Serenity and Taylor Made are already in… On Thursday, Women Superstars Uncensored revealed a new design for the Spirit Championship belt at Breaking Barriers 2 on November 19. After receiving a less-than favourable response, the promotion invited fans to send them their own designs… Pro Wrestling: EVE teased a new logo (similar to the old Doctor Who logo) on Thursday with the line “It’s coming”… WWE has announced plans for a Divas reality show for its upcoming network. In the bumf, it claims it will be “a reality show that welcomes you aboard the private Divas tour bus as it travels from venue to venue. Cameras will roll 24/7, capturing the unscripted bonds, battles, and behind-the-scenes drama that only our WWE Divas can deliver when their public and private lives merge on the open road.” If only they would concentrate on the Divas storylines on Raw and SmackDown… WAVE, JWP, REINA, DIANA, Sendai Girls, Stardom as well as Freelancers all have teams at a Flash Tournament interpromotional event in Tokyo on October 26. Representing Diana will be Kaoru Ito, Kyoko Inoue, Keiko Aono and Jenny Rose, while Ice Ribbon will have Hikari Minami, Emi Sakura, Hikaru Shida & Tsukushi… Friday’s edition of 19 Pro will be a special featuring the Ice Ribbon girls’ visit to the UK for Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon… MMA fighter Kim Couture told Sportstown Chicago that she and Cris Cyborg have been approached by TNA. Couture was involved in an angle with Tara at Bound For Glory 2009 that Tara wasn’t expecting and it went nowhere. Earlier this year, it was reported that Cyborg was in talks with WWE… Jemma Palmer is expected to get an agent after she leaves the Big Brother house, meaning that her rate for indie shows may go up to cover agents’ fees. Faye is likely to do the same… The Ice Ribbon International Ribbon Tag Team Championship is vacant after DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko v Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi went to a 20-minute time limit draw on Saturday… LuFisto is moving out of Montreal at the end of the year and is keen to get bookings overseas… Marcela challenges Amapola for the CMLL World Women’s Championship on Friday. It will be her 13th attempt at trying to win the belt… Kalamity makes her first defence of the nCw Femmes Fatales International Championship this Saturday against Angie Skye… Kay Lee Ray and Carmel Jacob compete in Insane Championship Wrestling’s first ever women’s death match on Sunday… Eve Torres will challenge Beth Phoenix for the Divas Championship at WWE Vengeance this Sunday… Madison Eagles had to miss a scheduled appearance for Melbourne City Wrestling last weekend due to injury… Former Nitro Girl Spice will be at the WrestleReunion shows in Los Angeles next January… EWW Women’s Champion Skarlett retained her title by beating Saraya Knight last Saturday. Meanwhile, Skarlett will wrestle Lucy Clayden at WAWW’s return on November 19… PWInsider reports that Gail Kim will return to TNA at this week’s Impact tapings. She reacted with shock on her Twitter that this was being reported.
October 8: Riot City Wrestling (Adelaide, Australia) – Savannah Summers b Miami
October 11: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Silueta b Dalis la Caribeña, Lady Apache, Goya Kong, Princesa Sugheit, Kiara, La Seductora & Princesa Blanca
October 11: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Lady JoJo b Izza Belle Smothers & Taeler Hendrix
October 11: WWE NXT (Dallas, TX) – AJ b Maxine
October 12: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Taeler Hendrix b Lady JoJo by DQ
October 12: WWE (Monterrey, Mexico) – Beth Phoenix b Kelly Kelly
October 13: WWE (Merida, Mexico) – Beth Phoenix b Kelly Kelly
October 14: WWE SmackDown (Dallas, TX) – Beth Phoenix b Kelly Kelly
October 14: Big Time Wrestling (Newark, CA) – Davina Rose b Amber O’Neal
October 14: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Ayumi, Marcela & Ray b Amapola, Mima Shimoda & Princesa Blanca
October 14: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Dorami Nagano b Sayaka Obihiro; Tsukushi & Tsukasa Fujimoto b Dorami Nagano & Kurumi
October 15: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Kurumi b Sayaka Obihiro; Maki Narumiya b Meari Naito; Emi Sakura, Hikaru Shida & Hikari Minami b Neko Nitta, Mochi Miyagi & Dorami Nagano in an elimination match; DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko v Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi went to a draw, meaning the International Ribbon Tag Team Titles are vacant
October 15: Neo Spirit Pro Wrestling (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) – Courtney Rush & Allysin Kay b Cherry Bomb & Leah von Dutch
October 15 (Hamiliton, Ontario, Canada) – Mickie Knuckles b Trash Cassidy
October 15: Purely Obsessed Wrestling World (Fox Lake, IL) – Melanie Cruise, Milad & Chazz Moretti b Sassy Stephie, Nikki St. John & Jimmy Blaze
October 15: New Age Wrestling (Albion, Australia) – Nikita Naridian b Lowzen
October 15: Dungeon Championship Wrestling (Newhall, CA) – Allison Danger & Sara Del Rey b NY Knockout Nikki & Morgan
October 15: Warzone Wrestling (Berwick, Australia) – Shazza McKenzie b Sway
October 15: CWF Mid-Atlantic (Burlington, NC) – Angel Orsini b Simply Dvyne, Jana Marlene & Veda Scott in a 4-way
October 15: Extreme World Wrestling (Hastings, England) – Skarlett b Sweet Saraya; Pollyanna b Lucy Clayden
October 15: REINA (Edogawa, Japan) – Lady Afrodita b Nan Kawasa; Saya b Aoi Ishibashi; Mia Yim b Dama de Hierro; Aki Kanbayashi & Yumiko Hotta b La Commandante & Zeuxis
October 16: IWRG Wagner (Naucalpan, Mexico) – Jennifer Blake & Sexy Star b Ludark Shaitan & Sexy Lady
October 16: ERLL (Apodaca, Mexico) – Lady Flamer & Pequeno Flamer b Aguila Guerrera & Rocker Boy
October 16: OZ Academy (Tokyo, Japan) – Nao Komatsu b Manami Katsu; Manami Toyota b Takako Inoue; Aja Kong & Carlos Amano b Ran Yu-Yu & Yumi Ohka; Chikayo Nagashima b Hiren; Mayumi Ozaki & Hiroyo Matsumoto b AKINO & Tomoka Nakagawa
October 16: Sendai Girls (Akanashi Hospital, Japan) – Ryo Mizunami b DASH Chisako; Miyako Morinobesiegt Eiger; Meiko Satomura & Sendai Sachiko b Aya Yuki & Kagetsu
October 16: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Kaori Yoneyama b Sayaka Obihiro; Emi Sakura b Kurumi; Hikaru Shida b Dorami Nagano; Tsukasa Fujimoto went to a time limit draw with Mochi Miyagi; Tsukushi b Riho
October 17: WWE Raw (Mexico City, Mexico) – Eve Torres b Beth Phoenix
October 22: Melbourne City Wrestling (Thornbury, Australia) – Shazza McKenzie v Madison Eagles
October 22: North Shore Pro Wrestling (Quebec City, Quebec, Canada) – LuFisto & Colby Corino v Gabby Gilbert & Simon Martel
October 22: Northern Championship Wrestling (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Kalamity v Angie Skye
October 23: Insane Championship Wrestling (Glasgow, Scotland) – Kay Lee Ray v Carmel Jacob
October 23: WWE Vengeance (San Antonio, TX) – Beth Phoenix v Eve Torres
October 23: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Barbi Hayden v Angel Blue
October 26: SMASH (Osaka, Japan) – Syuri & Makoto v Kana & Mio Shirai
October 27: Flash Tournament (Tokyo, Japan) – Command Bolshoi, Kayoko Haruyama, Kaori Yoneyama, Leon & Hanako Nakamori v GAMI, Toshie Uematsu, Yumi Ohka, Shu Shibutani & Moeka Haruhi; Meiko Satomura, DASH Chisako, Sendai Sachiko, Kagetsu & Miyako Morino v Emi Sakura, Hikaru Shida, Tsukasa Fujimoto, Hikari Minami, Riho & Tsukushi; Yumiko Hotta, Aki Kambayashi, Saya, Aoi Ishibashi & TBA v Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki*Taiyo, Yoshiko, Yoko Bito & Mayu Iwatani; Kyoko Inoue, Kaoru Ito, Keiko Aono, TBA & TBA v Jaguar Yokota, Manami Toyota, Mio Shirai, Sakura Hirota & Nancy Mari
October 28: SMASH (Tokyo, Japan) – Kana v Aki Shizuku; Syuri v Makoto v Ray v Tomoka Nakagawa
October 28: Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling (Surrey, NC, Canada) – Nicole Matthews v Kc Spinelli
October 29: Nitro Pro Wrestling Alliance (Blackpool, England) – Kay Lee Ray v Jenny Sjodin
October 29: CHIKARA (Reading, PA) – Sara Del Rey v Serena Deeb
October 30: CHIKARA (Williamsport, PA) – Sara Del Rey v Tursas
November 4: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Barbi Hayden v Athena v Lillie Mae v Angel Blue
November 4: Grand Pro Wrestling (Wigan, England) – April Davids v Jenny Sjodin
November 5: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Rachel and Jessica’s Excellent Tag Team v LOS v Team Sex v The Lost Boys; Portia Perez v Angel Blue
November 6: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Barie Hayden v Athena v Portia Perez v Rachel Summerlyn v Jessica James v Lillie Mae
November 6: New Scene Wrestling (Birmingham, England) – Kay Lee Ray v Carmel Jacob
November 6: Happy Hour (Roppongi, Japan) – Dump Matsumoto v Jenny Rose
November 19: World Association of Women’s Wrestling (Norwich, England) – Sweet Saraya v Allison Danger; Queen Maya v Amazon; Destiny v Miss Mina; Busty Keegan v Nikki Knight; Liberty v Penelope; Lucy Clayden v Skarlett
November 19: International Wrestling Cartel (Meadville, PA) – Traci Brooks v Gail Kim
November 19: Women Superstars Uncensored (Long Island, NY) – Jetta & Rain v The Boston Shore; Serena Deeb v Melina; Mercedes Martinez, Alicia & Brittney Savage v Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay & Sassy Stephie; Nikki Styx v Gabby Gilbert; Becky Bayless v Rick Cataldo
January 8, 2012: Bull Nakano retirement show (Tokyo, Japan)
March 3, 2012: Women Superstars Uncensored (Deer Park, NY) – Mercedes Martinez v Jessicka Havok; Sassy Stephie & Allysin Kay v Brittney Savage & Alicia
March 10, 2012: nCw Femmes Fatales (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Got any news, results or upcoming events that you want to tell everyone about? Are you a female wrestler looking to secure more bookings? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get the message out there.
– Lee Burton