This week’s Roundup is a little different, as it’s a bit more personal. There’ll be the news information as usual, but it’s not as clinical as it tends to be.
The past week has seen a number of ‘goodbyes and good lucks’ in women’s wrestling, but all on varying levels. The first was last week when Britani Knight (Saraya-Jade Bevis) left her home in Norwich, England to head to Tampa, FL to report to Florida Championship Wrestling.
In a way, it was a great, and yet poorly kept secret. Yes, most people had knowledge that she had agreed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment to wrestle for it. However, reports of when she was starting varied all over the place, which is why we at Ringbelles kept quiet until every single hoop that WWE had put in front of her had successfully been jumped through. For the same reason, it is also why we have not reported on who (if any) tried out for WWE during the last European tour in the autumn – after seeing how many potential mines there are to tread on, it’s better to not enter the minefield.
While Stew wrote a personal piece about Britani’s career as he has a stronger friendship with her, I can’t let her departure slide by without saying something about it myself.
Similar to Stew, I first saw Britani almost five years ago to the day at ChickFight VII in Great Yarmouth, England, teaming with Melodi as part of the Norfolk Dolls against Destiny and Kharisma, in a filler match inbetween the semi-finals and finals. Unlike Stew though, I didn’t really give the match much more thought, but started to see her name crop up more and more often. Sure, I knew of the Knight family, but never had the opportunity to meet them personally – in fact, I never really had any sort of conversation with any of them until last year. Since then though, I have seen Britani wrestle a heap of times, put on stellar matches across the board, and prove to everyone that she is a prodigy. Still a teenager, she has more than six years wrestling experience under her belt and is more than ready to show what she’s made of in FCW.
She debuted under her real (yet shortened) name of Saraya for her first match, being eliminated from the match quickly (reports vary as to whether it was a battle royal with pinfalls or a tag team elimination match) but has already showed that she is there to work hard, listen intently to pointers and advice from veterans such as Ricky Steamboat, William Regal and Dusty Rhodes, and show that she is versatile to whatever is suggested of her. Quite what WWE has planned for her is anyone’s guess, but given her attitude to wrestling and commitment to the cause, I believe that she will make the most of any and every opportunity handed to her.
From a fan to a wrestler, I hope she succeeds massively in WWE. As a friend, I have to say that I’m enormously proud of her and (in the nicest way) hope that she doesn’t wrestle an indie show for a long, long time.
On Saturday, Ice Ribbon’s founder, matriarch, head spokesperson, trainer, booker and veteran wrestler Emi Sakura bowed out of the promotion after falling to the increasingly impressive Tsukushi at the Sendai Ribbon card in Sendai, Japan. The announcement was made last month, though there has been no reason given for her decision to depart the promotion that she built, starting with a group of girls grappling on mats, all the way to regular dojo shows in Saitama and supercards in places like Tokyo’s Korukuen Hall – such as for RibbonMania 2011, held on Christmas Day and saw Sakura and Tsukushi win the International Ribbon Tag Titles, and Hikaru Shida taking her first ICEx60 Championship.
I only discovered Ice Ribbon earlier this year as part of this website’s desire to cover wrestling from all over the globe. In fact, it was the first joshi promotion that I started to follow on a regular basis, and the reason why it grabbed me so quickly – it was fun.
Just looking at the match rundown at the start of RibbonMania highlights that – pretty much every wrestler on there (barring ones that have a nasty gimmick) had beaming smiles on their faces. Even for the inter-promotional tag title grudge match between Sakura and Tsukushi taking on Sendai Girls’ Meiko Satomura and Sendai Sachiko saw all four of them looking positive. No real hate, just a desire for healthy competition. In a way, Ice Ribbon has helped to shape what I want out of wrestling – a desire to find out who’s the best, not necessarily a desire to pound each other’s skulls into dust. Sure, there is still a place for that, but perhaps it should be used more sparingly so it has more of an impact on the audience. If a card is full or people who can’t stand each other, it dilutes the effect somewhat.
Last year, I wrote a piece about how happy Ice Ribbon made me, and I still stand by that. Emi Sakura’s little promotion that could changed the way I perceive wrestling, what I want from it, and how far I will go to find it – RibbonMania was the first wrestling show that I have ever sought online, and I did it because not only did I have a great desire to watch it, but because I know the feeling it will give me.
So to Ice Ribbon founder, and former ICEx60 and International Ribbon Tag Team Champion Emi Sakura, I say this: thank you ever so much for changing me in a positive way. Whatever you do next with your future, I believe it will put more smiles on people’s faces, remind them that wrestling doesn’t always have to be about hate, and (in my case anyway) bring tears of joy to their eyes.
Finally, even though the connection is a little more tenuous, I also should say thanks to Bull Nakano, who retired on Sunday, her 44th birthday. If it wasn’t for her truly awesome match with Alundra Blayze (Madusa) at SummerSlam 94, I may not have become interested in women’s wrestling in the first place. I guess I should feel lucky in that way – I was 13 when that match happened, and I’m glad that match happened in my formative years instead of being a 13-year old now and thinking that the standard Divas fare that you get in WWE now should be considered the best that the women have to offer. Having said that, the introduction of Saraya, the impending return of Kharma and the expected arrivals of bona fide grapplers like Tenille Tayla may change the way women’s wrestling is perceived in the biggest wrestling company in the world, but we will see…
Bull was the real deal. Sure, she had blue veins painted on her face and has her hair standing up a good 18 inches from her head, but you looked at Nakano and knew that she was going to fight you with every fibre of her being. Much like many other joshis of that golden era, she was aggressive, spirited and determined to steal the show. The fact that even though she only spent around nine months in the WWF in the mid-nineties and is still one so well remembered only goes to show the effect that her presence had on fans.
As she stood in the centre of the ring at the end of the EMPRESS show at the Tokyo Dome City Hall in front of a sell-out 3,000 fans, you could see the closure on her face. She never got the chance to say a proper goodbye to her fans as well as the Bull character, and 14 years after she stepped away from the ring, she finally got the chance to do it. I’m happy that she has finally had the send off she deserves, and wish her all the best for the future, whether it is something to do with wrestling, or not.
Got any news, results or upcoming events that you want to tell everyone about? Are you a female wrestler looking to tell us about upcoming bookings? Are you a fan who went to a show and saw a match, and would like to tell others about it – what you liked, what you didn’t and would like to encourage others to check it out for themselves? Send us an email!
The best of the rest
Mickie James was the most Googled female wrestler in 2011. Velvet Sky came second, and the most searched for WWE talent was Michelle McCool… Melanie Cruise, Serenity, December, Nikki St. John and Taylor Made will all be part of a benefit show in LaVergne, TN on February 12… Beth Phoenix issued a grandstand challenge to Chelsea Handler after she mocked women’s wrestling on her show last Tuesday. It wasn’t even that cutting, and was closer to lame than anything else. Handler blew it off on her show two days later, making Phoenix look even sillier… Ice Ribbon’s Tsukasa Fujimoto will face Toshie Uematsu in WAVE on February 1… Dungeon Championship Wrestling is holding a tournament to crown a new Women’s Champion. So far, Morgan, Thunder Kitty, NY Knockout Nikki and Allison Danger have been announced, with four more names to come… Poor Natalya – since turning heel in August, she hasn’t won a singles match on TV… A new promotion is coming to UK TV called UK Women’s Wrestling. Tapings will start later this month and the programme will begin in April… Angelina Love talked to The Void UK website about her tattoos, saying that she would like more, but that she doesn’t think TNA will allow her to get any more ink… Kalamity will defend the nCw Femmes Fatales International Championship against Mercedes Martinez at Femmes Fatales VIII on March 10… Shelly Martinez revealed on her Twitter that she is interested in returning to WWE… April Davids will return to Ice Ribbon in June. She trained there for a month last summer… Rosita has had to pull out of the WrestleReunion shows later this month after being booked for those dates by TNA… Maria Kanellis is being referred to as the First Lady of ROH. Speaking of Maria, reports claim she was dressed up as the Pink Ranger at a show in Maine last week. She’s denied it was her… Despite reporting the contrary, Velvet Sky is still on the TNA UK tour… Shazza McKenzie will head over from Australia to Philadelphia next month to train with Chikara and CZW… Fellow Aussie Nikita Nariden (Kellyanne English) will travel Australia to Canada train with Lance Storm. Overseas wrestlers Tenille Tayla, Rhia O’Reilly and Becky James have all done the same in the past… Of all the ways I expected NXT Season 3’s Naomi Night and Tough Enough’s Cameron Lynn (Ariane Andrew) would debut on Raw, I wouldn’t have guessed it would be as backing dancers for Brodus Clay.
January 2: CMLL (Puebla, Mexico) – Lluvia, Luna Mágica & Marcela b La Seductora, Tiffany & Zeuxis
January 3: WWE NXT (North Little Rock, AK) – Maxine b Kaitlyn
January 4: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Epiphany b CJ Lane
January 4: WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Aya Mizunami, Aya Yuki & Sawako Shimono b Katsu, Nao Komatsu & Mika Iida; Hiroyo Matsumoto b Sakura Hirota; Cherry, Misaki Ohata & Yumi Ohka b Yuu Yamagata, Leon & Moeka Haruhi; Shuu Shibutani b Ayumi Kurihara; GAMI & Tomoka Nakagawa b Kana & Mio Shirai; Ran YuYu b Toshie Uematsu
January 4: Ice Ribbon ‘New Year Ribbon 2012′ (Tokyo, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi b Dorami Nagano & Meari Naito; Neko Nitta & Makoto Oishi b Sayaka Obihiro & Black Buffalo; Emi Sakura b Aoi Kizuki; Ribbon Takanashi b Miyako Matsumoto & Yasu Urano in a 3-way; Hikaru Shida, Maki Narumiya & Hikari Minami b Tsukasa Fujimoto, Tsukushi & Kurumi; Tsukushi won a Battle Royal
January 5: Audrey Marie b Saraya, Cameron Lynn, Caylee Turner, Raquel Diaz & Sofia Cortez in a battle royal
January 5: Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Gail Kim & Madison Rayne b Mickie James & Traci Brooks
January 5: Wrestling in Fairfield (Fairfield, ME) – Lulu b The Pink Ranger
January 6: TNA (Westbury, NY) – Gail Kim & Madison Rayne b Mickie James & Velvet Sky
January 6: WWE SmackDown (North Little Rock, AK) – Tamina b Natalya
January 7: Ice Ribbon ‘Sendai Ribbon’ (Sendai, Japan) – Misaki Ohata b Dorami Nagano; Hailey Hatred b Neko Nitta, Meari Naito & Miyako Matsumoto in a handicap match; Kurumi & Ribbon Takanashi b Sayaka Obihiro & Shuou Fujiwara; Tsukushi b Emi Sakura; Hikaru Shida & Maki Narumiya b Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi; Manami Toyota b Tsukasa Fujimoto
January 7: Tulalip Championship Wrestling (Marysville, WA) – Su Yung b M.J. Aurora
January 7: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Taeler Hendrix b Taryn Shay
January 7: Premier Wrestling Federation Northeast (Providence, RI) – Amber b Ivy
January 7: I Believe In Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Santana Garett b Christina Von Eerie
January 7: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Vancouver, BC, Canada) – Kc Spinelli b Raven Lake; Nicole Matthews b Red DeNero
January 7: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Saki Kashima b Eri Susa; Yoko Bito b Yuuri Haruka; Io Shirai & Kellie Skater b Arisa Hoshiki & Mayu Iwatani; Yuzuki Aikawa b Kairi Hojo; Natsuki*Taiyo, Yuu Yamagata & Yoshiko b Nanae Takahashi, Hiroyo Matsumoto & Miho Wakizawa
January 8: Bull Nakano retirement show (Tokyo, Japan) – Ayako Hamada b Aja Kong; Bull Hirota (Sakura Hirota) won a battle royal; Shinjiro Otani, Ikuto Hidaka & Daichi Hashimoto b Osamu Nishimura, Hakushi & Super Delfin; Kayoko Haruyama & Ryo Mizunami b AKINO & Maki Narumiya; Dump Matsumoto, Kyoko Inoue, Leon, Sawako Shimono & Tsukushi b Jaguar Yokota, Manami Toyota, Tomoka Nakagawa, Natsuki*Taiyo & Cherry; Kana b Kagetsu; Nanae Takahashi, Meiko Satomura & Emi Sakura b Ayumi Kurihara, Yoshiko & Tsukasa Fujimoto; Yuzuki Aikawa b Hikaru Shida
January 8: TNA Genesis (Orlando, FL) – Gail Kim b Mickie James
January 9: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Moon Mizuki v Aoi Yagami went to a time limit draw; Micro b masu-me; KAZUKI & Maury b Mochi Miyagi & Nana Kawasa; Sawako Shimono b Manami Katsu; Toshie Uematsu, Ran Yu-Yu & Leon b Command Bolshoi, Kaori Yoneyama & Rabbit Mito; Sachie Abe & Cherry b Hanako Nakamori & Misaki Ohata; Tsubasa Kuragaki & Kayako Haruyama b DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko
January 13: Resistance Pro (Chicago, IL) – Melanie Cruise v Serenity; Cheerleader Melissa v Sassy Stephie
January 13: NWA Houston (Cypress, TX) – Barbi Hayden & Jen Alise v Angel Blue & Pink
January 13: All Star Wrestling (Surrey, BC, Canada) – Mary Jane Payne v Sammi Bambi Hall; Kc Spinelli v Raven Lake
January 14: Dynamite Championship Wrestling (Farmington, DE) – Kimber Lee v Jessie Kaye
January 14: World Xtreme Wrestling (Minneola, FL) – Mercedes Martinez v Kimberley Maddox
January 14: Millennium Pro Wrestling (Simi Valley, CA) – NY Knockout Nikki v Thunderkitty
January 14: Pure Wrestling Association (Listowel, ONT, Canada) – Jewells Malone v Seleziya Sparx
January 14: Tulalip Championship Wrestling (Marysville, WA) – Su Yung v Malia Hosaka
January 15: World Power Wrestling (Costa Mesa, CA) – Infernal & NY Knockout Nikki v Lil’ Cholo & Amanda
January 15: Anarchy Championship Wrestling Guilty By Association VI (Austin, TX) – Portia Perez v Robert Evans; Athena v Angel Blue v Lillie Mae; Rachel Summerlyn v Jessica James
January 15: REINA (Tokyo, Japan) – Ayumi Kurihara v Hailey Hatred;
January 15: Newcastle Pro Wrestling (New Lambton, Australia) – Harley Wonderland v Baby Devine
January 19: SMASH (Tokyo, Japan) – Tomoka Nakagawa v Kana
January 20: HQ Pro Wrestling (Yuciapa, CA) – Terra Calaway v Lucky O’Shea
January 21: Dungeon Championship Wrestling (Newhall, CA) – Morgan v Thunderkitty
January 21: Women Superstars Uncensored (Stirling, NJ) – Amber, Lexxus, Sassy Stephie, Allysin Kay & Tina San Antonio v Marti Belle, Brittney Savage, Alicia, Jana & Luscious Latasha; Jillian Hall v Traci Brooks; Mercedes Martinez v Jennifer Cruz; Jessicka Havok v Becky Bayless; Jessie “Bonesaw” Brooks v Rick Cataldo
January 22: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Io Shirai v Natsumi Showzuki; Arisa Hoshiki & Mayu Iwatani v Eri Susa & Saki Kashima; Hiroyo Matsumoto & Yuuri Haruka v Natsuki*Taiyo & Yuu Yamagata; Nanae Takahashi & Miho Wakizawa v Yuzuki Aikawa & Kairi Hojo; Yoko Bito v Yoshiko
January 22: Insane Championship Wrestling (Glasgow, Scotland) – STIs & Sara Marie Taylor v Bucky Boys & Lambrini
January 27: ArenaChicks (Los Angeles, CA) – Angel Orsini & Amber O’Neal v Shelly Martinez & Becky Bayless
January 27-28- Lucha Vavoom!! (Calgary, AB Canada) – Kaos & NY Knockout Nikki v The Crazy Chickens
January 28: Melbourne City Wrestling (Thornbury, Australia) – Eliza Sway v Shazza McKenzie v Savannah Summers
January 28: Pro Wrestling Xtreme (Orlando, FL) – Jillian Hall v Leva Bates
January 29: FutureShock (Stockport, England) – The Artiste Formerly Known As Becky James v April Davids
January 29: Absolute Intense Wrestling Girls Night Out 5 (Cleveland, OH) – Mickie Knuckles v Sara Del Rey; Allysin Kay v Cherry Bomb; Marti Belle v Mia Yim; Gabby Gilbert v Angel Dust
February 1: WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Toshie Uematsu v Tsukasa Fujimoto
February 4: World Wrestling Fan Xperience (Quezon City, Manila) – April Hunter v Jillian Hall
February 10: UNION (Tokyo, Japan) – Mio Shirai v Sexxxy Eddy
February 18: Pro Wrestling: EVE (Sudbury, England) – Jenny Sjodin v Alpha Female
February 19: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Live Oak, TX) – Angel Blue v Mia Yim
February 22: Joshi4Hope (Tokyo, Japan)
February 24: Squared Circle Wrestling “Girls Grand Prix” (Binghamton, NY) – Rachel Summerlyn v Serena Deeb; Portia Perez v Cherry Bomb; Courtney Rush v Sara Del Rey; Nikki Roxx v Alexxis Nevaeh
February 25: Family Wrestling Entertainment (New York City, NY) – Tara v Maria Kanellis
March 3: Women Superstars Uncensored (Deer Park, NY) – Mercedes Martinez v Jessicka Havok; Sassy Stephie & Allysin Kay v Brittney Savage & Alicia; Annie Social v April Hunter; Gabby Gilbert v Athena
March 10: nCw Femmes Fatales (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Kalamity v Mercedes Martinez
March 10: IndyGurlz (Lebanon, PA) – Shazza McKenzie v Simply D’Vyne
March 17-18: SHIMMER Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
March 24: World Association of Women’s Wrestling (Norwich, England)
March 30: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Nanae Takahashi v Meiko Satomura
April 4: Purely Obsessed Wrestling World (Onley, IL) – Sassy Stephie v Nikki St John
– Lee Burton