What have Rachel Summerlyn, Nikki Storm, Amazon, Jenny Rose and Maria Kanellis all done this year, and what has Kurumi done twice?

If you guessed “win tournaments”, take yourself to the Winners’ Circle.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love a good tournament. It’s a great way to have multiple storylines running in one show, concluding some, forwarding others and starting a few more. It can also be a push for the winner, and even for a plucky name who gets further than you would expect them to. But the reason why I mostly love tournaments is because it’s a special occasion, much like your birthday, Christmas (although people who know me will know that I’m not fond of Christmas) or the release of a new Police Academy film. Across North America, the UK and Canada, there have been seven tournaments in the past 12 weeks.

Now, from the tournaments I’ve seen and read about, all of them – be they one night affairs like the ones at Pro Wrestling: EVE or 2CW’s Girls Grand Prix, or over a number of shows like the two in Ice Ribbon – have featured some quality wrestling and in some cases, have helped to establish new stars. Kurumi, for example, earned the right to team with Manami Toyota by winning one, and secured a shot at the IW19 Championship with the other – a match which she won, regaining the belt from Tsukushi last Friday. Elsewhere, Nikki Storm extended her winning streak in EVE, Rachel Summerlyn was a smash on the east coast, and Amazon elevated herself to become the top contender for Liberty’s WAWW British Championship. The issue I have is the frequency of the tournaments, as one can have too much of a good thing.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is suffering the same problem. With so many pay-per-views, Ultimate Fight Nights, shows on Fox, FX and Spike as well as The Ultimate Fighter, the number of fights and build-ups has reached saturation point. The same could be said about TV talent shows and WWE PPVs, but the point’s been made.

Although wrestling promotions have no reason to not run a gimmick match or whatever because another promotion is doing it, but as a fan, it can run the risk of being a little similar, especially if the only reason for doing the tournament is because it is something to do. In a perfect world, each one should have a backstory, or be made an event in itself, much like ACW’s American Joshi Queen of Queens, which is gearing up for a fourth year, or for PWWA’s Interim Title tournament, which is necessary as there is no real top contenders for the title at the moment, so why not let 8 women all have a shot at winning the belt?

This isn’t a rant, and neither is it some kind of plea – it’s just an observation on how if you eat steak every day, eventually you crave some ice cream. I like my steak – it’s a treat, much like tournaments. There are certainly other ways to determine champions or number one contenders – mixing it up from time to time will help keep things fresh, or spacing out tournaments over a number of shows like Ice Ribbon, the ongoing Riot City Wrestling Women’s Title tournament or the upcoming PWWA events. Maybe that’s the way to get fans more interested in following it and reaching a bigger crescendo (like Easter), and then the one night affairs can have a bit of a rest and be more of a special occasion (like Christmas).

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Layla’s recovery from her ACL/MCL tear is nearing its end. The 33-year old Diva Search winner, final WWE Women’s Champion and former Divas Champion has been out of action since May with the injury to her leg, which she suffered mere weeks after her babyface turn and split from LayCool partner Michelle McCool. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

Although she was a slow starter, Layla was reaching a point where she was getting it as a wrestler. Although not Bret Hart in the ring, she could convey a character, work a short match with no problems and could generate heat – we don’t know if she can generate babyface sympathy yet, as her run as a fan favourite was short and hindered due to the speed of the turn. In her final PPV match before going under the knife, Layla and McCool had a technically sound yet utterly heatless match at Extreme Rules which saw Undertaker’s Mrs leave WWE. It should have been the springboard for the British former Miami Heat cheerleader, but instead, her knee went ping and put her on the shelf for eight long months.

El returned from injury as part of a tag team match at Florida Championship Wrestling last Thursday, teaming with Audrey Marie in a win over Paige and Sofia Cortez. She came through the match unscathed, and even busted out some lucha, according to reports. She ended the contest by kissing her own knee, seemingly glad that everything held up. Incidentally, Layla was sporting a massive knee brace to hold everything in place. She may need to keep wearing that for the rest of her career, or it may be a temporary measure until the leg gets up to ring shape – either way, I’m sure she will accessorise it.

Having Layla back is something this writer is looking forward to. She connects with a crowd (though the LayCool gimmick got old due to its hyperpush and McCool being something of a heat vacuum), is technically sound (something which seems to be common among dancers turned wrestlers) and can be trusted to go in there and not mess things up. Considering the dearth of great WWE Divas matches that there has been recently, putting her into a title feud against Beth Phoenix seems a logical choice. The pair have history, as they have traded championships, and it would be interesting to have Layla as the face and Phoenix as the heel, as the dynamic was the other way around in the past.

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The best of the rest

Talk about life imitating art – World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan is dating Brie Bella. The pair were involved in a romance storyline a little over a year ago… Alissa Flash (Cheerleader Melissa) will defend the River City Wrestling International Title against RCW Champion AJ Summers in a title for title match on April 14… Jessicka Havok’s upcoming bookings lists her as being at ACW’s American Joshi Queen of Queens on June 24… Winter won the FWE Women’s Championship on Saturday night after turning Maria Kanellis’ first title defence against Rosita into a triple threat. She pinned Rosita with a bulldog to win the belt. Winter will now defend against Melina at the next FWE card… Mima Shimoda & Zeuxis won the REINA Tag Team Titles at REINA 29 on Saturday… Current WAVE Tag Team Champion Ran YuYu has announced that she will retire at the end of this year. Her championship partner Toshie Uematsu announced her intentions to retire last year, and will do so shortly… Four more matches have been announced for Girls Night Out 6 next month, bringing the total of contests up to ten… Hiroyo Matsumoto suffered a massive shiner to her left eye when a tope attempt failed in her match against Tsubasa Kurugaki in OZ Academy on Sunday. She then went from Tokyo to Osaka to take on Nanae Takahashi in Stardom… Skarlett reportedly suffered a concussion in the main event of WAWW’s show on Saturday… Megan-Kate and Harley Wonderland have been added to PWWA’s Interim Championship Tournament… Kelly Kelly named Arn Anderson as her favourite wrester from the 1980s… Maria Menounos suffered two broken ribs in training for Dancing With The Stars, though on the show they were described as “strained”. It’s unknown whether it will affect her appearance at WrestleMania in the Divas tag team match… In an interview with Busted Open, Jake Roberts referred to TNA President Dixie Carter as a “mark”… Sara Del Rey will challenge Kalamity for the nCw Femmes Fatales International Championship in July.

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Results

March 20: Florida Underground Wrestling (Largo, FL) – Mercedes Justine b Jessie Belle Smothers

March 21: Florida Championship Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Paige b Audrey Marie & Sofia Cortez

March 22: Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Eric Young & ODB b Sarita & Rosita

March 22: Florida Championship Wrestling (Tampa, FL) – Layla & Audrey Marie b Paige & Sofia Cortez

March 23: WWE SmackDown (Newark, NJ) – AJ b Brie Bella

March 23: WWE (Lakeland, FL) – Eve Torres b Kelly Kelly

March 23: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Surrey, BC, Canada) – Kc Spinelli & Sammy Ball b Mary Jane & Raven Lake

March 23: World Association of Wrestling (Norwich, England) – Sweet Saraya b Queen Maya

March 23: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Maki Narumiya & Dorami Nagano b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Sayaka Obihiro; Kurumi b Tsukushi to win the IW19 Championship

March 23: Resistance Pro (Chicago, IL) – Serenity b Taylor Made

March 23: New England Championship Wrestling (Blackstone, MA) – Adrianna b Mistress Belmont

March 23: Northeast Wrestling (Poughkeepsie, NY) – Melina b Velvet Sky

March 23: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Estrellita, Goya Kong & Marcela b Amapola, La Seductora & Tiffany

March 24: TNA (Indiana, PA) – Gail Kim b Mickie James

March 24: WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Tomoka Nakagawa b GAMI; Yamagata Hirota & Morley b Moeka Haruhi & Yuu Yamagata; Sawako Shimono b Nana Kawasa; Ryo Mizunami v Misaki Ohata went to a time limit draw; Yumi Ohka & Cherry b Shuu Shibutani & Kana; Mio Shirai b Toshie Uematsu; Toshie Uematsu v Mika Iida went to a time limit draw

March 24: REINA 29 (Tokyo, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto b Neko Nitta; La Malcriada b Apple Miyuki; Leon & Yumiko Hotta b Saya & Hikaru Shida; La Silueta b Aoi Ishibashi; Mima Shimoda & Zeuxis b Lluvia & Luna Magica to win the REINA Tag Team Championship

March 24: PROWL (Brisbane, Australia) – Storm b Baby Devine

March 24: WWE (Bowling Green, KY) – Alicia Fox & Tamina Snuka b Beth Phoenix & Natalya

March 24: WWE (San Juan, Puerto Rico) – Eve Torres b Kelly Kelly

March 24: United States Wrestling Alliance (Jacksonville, FL) – Santana Garrett b Samantha Steele to win the USWA Women’s Championship

March 24: CHIKARA (Vaughan, ONT, Canada) – Kobald b Sara Del Rey

March 24: World Association of Women’s Wrestling (Norwich, England) – Rhia O’Reilly b Violet O’Hara; Amazon b Penelope; Lady Lory b Chanelle; Liberty b Amy Lee; Amazon b Rhia O’Reilly; Queen Maya b Jewel; Sweet Saraya & Skarlett b Busty Keegan & Destiny

March 24: IndyGurlz (Boonton, NJ) – Shazza McKenzie b Sienna DuVall; Kylie Pierce b Aida Marie; Jenny Rose b Jessie Brooks; Veda Scott b Sienna DuVall; Shazza McKenzie b Jana; Jenny Rose b Kylie Pierce; Veda Scott b Shazza McKenzie; Amber O’Neal & Angel Orsini b Jessie Kaye & Mia Yim; Jenny Rose b Veda Scott

March 24: Family Wrestling Entertainment (New York, NY) – Winter b Maria Kanellis & Rosita in a 3-way to win the FWE Women’s Championship

March 25: Herts And Essex Wrestling (Harlow, England) – Sweet Saraya b Priscilla

March 25: Ice Ribbon ‘Nagoya Ribbon’ (Nagoya, Japan) – Neko Nitta b Meari Naito; Shigehiro Irie & Kurumi b Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi; Hikari Minami b Maki Narumiya; Jun Kasai & Miyako Matsumoto b Konaka & Sayaka Obihiro; Hikaru Shida & Tsukasa Fujimoto v Tsukushi & Aoi Kizuki
went to a time limit draw; Neko Nitta won a Battle Royal

March 25: OZ Academy (Tokyo, Japan) – Moeka Haruhi b Nao Komatsu; Yumi Ohka & Mio Shirai b Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue; Tsubasa Kuragaki b Hiroyo Matsumoto; Toshie Uematsu & Ran Yu Yu b Carlos Amano & Tomoka Nakagawa; Aja Kong & Sonoko Kato b AKINO & Ayumi Kurihara; Chikayo Nagashima b Mayumi Ozaki to win the OZ Academy Openweight Championship

March 25: WWE (Nashville, TN) – Beth Phoenix & Natalya b Alicia Fox & Tamina Snuka

March 25: WWE (Charlotte, NC) – Eve Torres b Kelly Kelly

March 25: TNA (Erie, PA) – Gail Kim b Mickie James

March 25: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Megumi Yamushita & Morley b Micro & Rabbit Mita; Ken Ohka b KAZUKI; Leon & Ray b Cherry & Sachie Abe; Kayoko Haruyama b Manami Katsu; KAZUKI, Morley & Sachie Abe b Leon, Hanako Nakamori & Misaki Ohata

March 25: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Nana Sato b Yagami Aoi; Kayoko Haruyama, Leon & Ray b Hanako Nakamori, Manami Katsu & Tsubasa Kuragaki; KAZUKI & Morley b Cherry & Sachie Abe; DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko b Command Bolshoi & Rabbit Mita; Kyoko Kimura b Kaori Yoneyama

March 25: Stardom (Osaka, Japan) – Natsumi Showzuki b Yuuri Haruka; Miho Wakizawa b Eri Susa; Arisa Hoshiki & Mayu Iwatani b Kairi Hojo & Saki Kashima; Yoko Bito & Yuzuki Aikawa b Act Yasukawa & Yoshiko; Nanae Takahashi v Hiroyo Matsumoto ended in a time limit draw; Natsuki Taiyo b Io Shirai

March 25: Diana (Osaka, Japan) – Bambi b Piyota Mask; Kagetsu b Sareee; Yumiko Hotta b Keiko Aono; Jaguar Yokota & Kaoru Ito b Kyoko Inoue & Mima Shimoda

March 25: CHIKARA (Ottawa, ONT, Canada) – Sara Del Rey b Leah Von Dutch

March 25: World Wide Wrestling League (Penicuk, Scotland) – Nikki Storm b Carmel Jacob

March 25: Real Championship Wrestling (Baltimore, MD) – Mia Yim b Jenny Rose & Kimber Lee in a 3-way

March 26: WWE Raw (Atlanta, GA) – Kelly Kelly b Eve Torres

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Upcoming

March 29: NWA Ring Warriors (Ft Lauderdale, FL) – Jesse Neal & Christina Von Eerie v Chasyn Rance & Santana Garrett

March 30: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Nanae Takahashi v Meiko Satomura

March 30: Melbourne City Wrestling (Tullamarine, Australia) – KC Cassidy v Savannah Summers

March 30: Pro Wrestling Alliance (Camden, Australia) – Mikey Broderick & Jessie McKay v Bishop Sommers & Harley Wonderland

March 30: Preston City Wrestling (Preston, England) – Carmel Jacob v Kay Lee Ray

March 31: Adrenaline Unleashed (Las Vegas, NV) – NY Knockout Nikki v Allison Danger; Liz Sassi v Davina Rose

March 31: Showtime Wrestling Alliance (Wallsend, Australia) – Bubbles & Cobey Starr v Scotty Matthews & Aurora

March 31: Rock n’ Roll Wrestling (Melbourne, Australia) – KC Cassidy v Nikita Naridian

April 1: BritWresFest (London, England) – Jenny Sjodin v Alpha Female

April 1: WrestleMania (Miami, Florida) – Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres v Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos

April 4: Purely Obsessed Wrestling World (Onley, IL) – Sassy Stephie v Nikki St John

April 6: Dynamo Pro Wrestling (Glen Carbon, IL) – Santana Garrett v Christina Von Eerie

April 7: Pro Championship Wrestling (Rowville, Australia) – Nikita Naridian v Siren

April 7: Remix Pro Wrestling (Marietta, OH) – Hailey Hatred v Mia Yim

April 7: Traditional Championship Wrestling (Fort Smith, AR) – Mickie James v Cheerleader Melissa

April 14: Jersey All Pro Wrestling (Rahway, NJ) – Mia Yim v Kimber Lee

April 14: WrestleReunion (Toronto, ONT, Canada) – LuFisto v Kalamity

April 14: Squared Circle Wrestling (Rome, NY) – Cherry Bomb & Pepper Parks v Muscle Marcus & Nikki Jett

April 14: Women Superstars Uncensored (Dunelleny, NJ) – Jessicka Havok v Marti Belle; Sassy Stephie & Allysin Kay v Brittney Savage & Alicia

April 14: All Action Wrestling (Perth, Australia) – Imogen Jane v Storm

April 14: River City Wrestling (San Antonio, TX) – Alissa Flash v AJ Summers

April 14: Union of Independent Professional Wrestlers (Toronto, ONT, Canada) – Cherry Bomb v Seleziya Sparx

April 15: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Serenity v Lady Poison

April 15: Dungeon Championship Wrestling (Monrovia, CA) – Allison Danger v Athena

April 15: Absolute Intense Wrestling Girls Night Out 6 (Cleveland, OH) – Allysin Kay v Mia Yim; Jenny Rose v Hailey Hatred; Sara Del Rey v Veda Scott; Annie Social v Taeler Hendrix; Sassy Stephie v Cherry Bomb; Melanie Cruise v Taylor Made; Miss Heidi v KC; Crazy Mary Dobson v Venus; Gabriella Vanderpool v Seleziya Sparx; Kimber Lee v Jennifer Blake

April 15: Ice Ribbon ‘Teens 5′ (Saitama, Japan)

April 28: Women Superstars Uncensored J-Cup (Deer Park, NY) – Jessicka Havok v Mercedes Martinez; April Hunter v Nikki Syxx; Alicia v Lexxus; Athena v Christina Von Eerie; Brittney Savage v Ezavel Suena

April 28: International Pro Wrestling UK/Nu Wrestling Evolution (London, England) – Nikki Storm & Shanna v Hannah & Holly Blossom

April 29: Apex Pro (Huntington Park, CA) – El Jefe & Terra Calaway v Tyler Bateman & Raze

May 5: Ice Ribbon ‘Golden Ribbon’ (Tokyo, Japan)

May 12: Solent Wrestling Federation (Gosport, England) – Amazon v Erin Angel

May 13: REINA (Tokyo, Japan) – Princesa Blanca v Lady Apache; Goya Kong & Dalis v Zeuxis & Mima Shimoda

May 19: Crossfire Entertainment (Nashville, TN) – Reby Sky v Jessicka Havok

June 2: NWA Hammerlock (Tonbridge, England) – Jenny Sjodin v Rhia O’Reilly

June 16: Women Superstars Uncensored “Uncensored Rumble V” (Deer Park, NY)

July 7: nCw Femmes Fatales (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Portia Perez & Nicole Matthews v Sweet Cherrie & TBA; Kalamity v Sara Del Rey

July 14: Pro Wrestling: EVE (Sudbury, England)

- Lee Burton