IN DEFENS: A look at Scotland’s finest

Scotland has given the world a great many things. Whisky, penicillin, the telephone, the television, Sean Connery and deep fried pizza are all up there. Not bad for a country with a tiny population (as of the last Census, it was a shade over 5 million). However, this harsh environment (the average maximum temperature is about 64 degrees Fahrenheit) may be one of the main reasons why it has such tough people, both mentally and physically.

Some of that toughness is making its way into women’s wrestling in Europe. At the last Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon event, close to half of the EVE talent emanated from Scotland. Therefore, it’s worth a quick introduction to the uninitiated as to who some of the names are that you should expect to see more of in the future.

Possibly the hottest prospect of the lot is Nikki Storm, the mouthy 22-year old Glaswegian who we have spoken to on a couple of occasions. Debuting in 2008, the current World Wide Wrestling League Women’s Champion was trained by names including Mikey Whiplash, Johnny Moss, Damian O’Connor and Fergal Devitt, and has warred with the likes or Carmel Jacob and Sara-Marie Taylor in the Scottish Wrestling Alliance, Premier British Wrestling and Scottish School of Wrestling.

South of Hadrian’s Wall, her career has involved Jetta for the most part, either wrestling her at adult-oriented promotion Triple X Wrestling, or being her protege in EVE’s European Empire faction. The two have also tangled north of the border, with the roles reversed from TXW and seeing Storm as the babyface and Jetta in her more recognised heel persona. Having said that, Storm is a fine heel and follows in the footsteps of Coventry’s Loudest by spending a lot of the time arguing with fans, but uses a wider repertoire than her manager/former rival. In addition to Jetta, Storm lists Erin Angel, Lisa Fury and Saraya Knight as being great influences on her.

After impressing EVE fans in her debut match against Saraya last autumn, Storm turned heel, joining the Empire and making it to the finals of the EVE title tournament in April where she lost against Britani Knight. However, her star rose last month at EVE v Ice Ribbon by wrestling matches against Hikaru Shida and Tsukasa Fujimoto and gaining more plaudits in the process. Even at 22, Storm has accomplished much, and is set to achieve more in the future, including possibly being part of the EVE contingent if the EVE v Ice Ribbon 2 event in Japan goes ahead next year – which will see her be able to tick another ambition off her list.

Debuting for EVE on the promotion’s very first show, Sara-Marie Taylor and Carmel Jacob’s Glamour Gym is the only affiliation which still exists from the original concept. That is likely down to the synergy that the two possess, given that they have been opponents and partners during their careers. 22-year old Taylor was the heel for the most part, debuting in 2007 and wrestling Britani and Saraya on a number of occasions, teaming with former WWE Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion Drew “McIntyre” Galloway as part of mixed tag matches, and winning the W3L Women’s Title in her debut year, beating Britani in the final. With her furry boots and tall frame and beauty, there is much to dislike/be jealous of when it comes to Sara. She, like Storm, also likes to converse with the audience, but unlike Storm’s rough Glaswegian twang (something that she’s observant of, so I’m really not insulting her there), Taylor’s Perth dialect is so piercing yet lovely that it’s like getting stabbed in the ear with a feather duster. Still, she gets a rise out of any audience and can generate great heat. Undoubtedly, she is one of the most pronounced female wrestling characters at the moment.

23-year old Jacob debuted around the same time as Taylor and shared the ring with her in both single and mixed tag matches – at the time, there were not enough women for all-female tag team contests, and fans are (unfortunately) more likely to get emotionally involved in a women’s match if there are men involved. Given that most of the audience is men, there’s something Freudian there that we could investigate at a later date…

The most well-travelled of all of the women we’re looking at in this piece, Jacob has plied her trade in Germany and France as well as in England and her native Scotland, wrestling the likes of Portugal’s Shanna, Norway’s Miss Mina and France’s Amy Morgane. She was also the first opponent of “Girl Dynamite” Jennifer Blake when the Canadian flew to Europe for a title tournament with SSW – she lost, but she – and Storm, who defeated Blake in the final – proved to Blake that Scotland was building up a healthy women’s division.

Jacob is more wrestling-driven than character-driven, but still is a worthy member of the Glamour Gym. As a unit, Jacob and Taylor are great to watch, and can be relied upon to generate some noise in the crowd.

Many English fans got their first experience of Kirsty Love and Viper (also stylised as Vyper, and known as Miss Viper in some promotions) at the EVE v Ice Ribbon weekend, where both brought along their gear looking to prospectively make it onto the EVE roster, and both achieved it, putting on a sleeper performance that showed how things are progressing in Scotland when it comes to female talent. Viper was tough, mean and aggressive while Love (who is just 19) was a sympathetic babyface, sold well and succeeded in getting the crowd behind her, even though next to nobody knew who she was.

Even at the time, both Stew and I were totally sold on both of them. As part of the night two wrap-up, Stew posted:

For two girls who didn’t expect to be even wrestling on the shows, to being on all three shows and getting big wins too… it says a lot for them. Viper’s got an obvious position on the card as a heel bruiser, while Love is all kinds of tremendous. I think we said it yesterday too, but Love has an uncanny likability that means people want to cheer for her. She actually works very well in cheerleading the crowd without it becoming too corny. To some degree, Viper and Love are the biggest success stories of the entire weekend – coming from nowhere to gaining themselves international recognition. Well done to them both.

20-year old Viper debuted last year, with Love wrestling her first match this spring, having worked as a referee in the past while training – in fact, Love’s first match in the SWA was against Viper, and she won. However, both bounce off each other well, with Viper being aggressive, and Love being so easy to get behind. Having said that, Kirsty has also tried her hand at being a heel, swapping the smiles for sneers and applying the black lipstick instead of pink for a nastier edge. While I’ve yet to see her wrestle as the antagonist, I’ve seen photos, and the expressions she delivers are top notch. Expect to hear more from both of them in the future, as they both deserve to be booked in more places, both against each other and with a wider range of opponents.

So that brings us to the final – and most uniquely looking – Scottish female wrestler – 19-year old Kay Lee Ray from Glasgow. I say that she is unique-looking, as it’s hard to not spot her with her bright blue gear clashing with her bright red hair. She looks like she has just stepped out of a comic book, and that’s good. Really good. Guaranteed, if you see Ray once, you will remember her, and that’s even before the bell rings.

Also starting out as a referee, Ray was trained by Kid Fite and Colin McKay, who also had a hand in training Carmel, and made her debut in mid-2009, with her earliest recorded match being a 30-person Rumble in the SWA in May of that year. With Carmel being her most prolific opponent, the two have stood across the ring from each other in SSW, British Championship Wrestling, PBW and also Insane Championship Wrestling, which is where the two of them made history last month, competing in the promotion’s first women’s Death Match.

Described as “great”, “brutal” and “bloody” by fans in attendance in Glasgow, their contest at Fear and Loathing 4 proved that women are ready to engage in the hardcore gimmick matches, and was perfectly fitting for these two, considering how they had traded wins in the past in the promotion and the match before not even making it to the ring, as Jacob attacked Ray as she was making her way to the ring, leading to a no-contest.

In addition to brawling, Ray is one of the few flyers in women’s wrestling in the UK, and coupled with her speed, engaged in a great three-way contest with Angel and Fujimoto at EVE v Ice Ribbon, as well as enjoying a spirited match against Hikaru Shida. Instantly recognisable and possessing a great warmth to her, she deserves to be on any wrestling show poster.

So there you have it. Six great names to check out from Scotland. Hopefully, each of them will see their careers flourish over the next few months and years as they enjoy even more international recognition. Still, thanks to fellow Scots John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell, we can enjoy some of their matches, courtesy of the Internet. Below you can see a few of their outings.

- Lee Burton