On Sunday at WrestleMania, WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix was pinned by Maria Menounos in the tag team match featuring Menounos and Kelly Kelly against Phoenix and Eve Torres. A showbiz TV host who it was announced had two cracked ribs and stress fractures in her feet; a woman who has had no more than a month’s total wrestling training in her life; a non-wrestler pinned the Divas Champion on the promotion’s biggest show of the year.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Menounos has pinned Phoenix – she had got a three-count against her with a sunset flip on last December’s Tribute To The Troops show. Now, I have no problem with that – or her victory on Raw in an 8 woman tag in 2009, as they are throwaway matches on shows that mean nothing in the grand scheme. However, for the woman who is supposed to represent the best in the division to be defeated by a TV show host makes a mockery of Phoenix, the title and women’s wrestling as a whole. WrestleMania is the show that casual fans may watch once a year, and they see that? It doesn’t sit well with me.
For starters, the match had next to no build-up, barring a 90-second skit on Menounos’ show Extra a few weeks ago where Phoenix and Torres crashed an interview with Maria and Kelly. There was no extra angles on Raw, as Menounos was training and/or competing on Dancing With The Stars, which also airs on a Monday night, nullifying any chance of a live appearance on Raw – besides, given the choice, DWTS will always win, as it is one of the most popular TV shows in America, boasting an average of 17 million viewers compared to Raw’s 4.5 million. As a result, the match limped into the show – literally in Maria’s case, as she was injured in training, cracking or breaking her ribs, depending on which reports you choose to believe.
As for the match, it was as good as it could be, given the circumstances. When you factor in Kelly is a poor wrestler, and – even though she is better than she has any right to be – Menounos is still only passable as long as she is limited to a couple of simple spots, the babyface side was knackered even before Maria was injured. After Maria got hurt, she really should have pulled out. While she is a WWE fan, gets it and is one of the better celebrities that WWE can boast about, the WrestleMania match and payday doesn’t really compare to the exposure and subsequent income which could be accrued from a strong run on DTWS – let’s face it, it didn’t do Stacy Keibler any harm.
Maria looked in so much pain with every spot that my suspension of disbelief wouldn’t take hold – much like when Kurt Angle wrestled at WMXIX – and Kelly’s abject fear or running ropes also annoys me no end. All in all, the match was doomed, and the result didn’t help at all.
Divas Champion Beth is now left deflated after losing to Menounos for a third time, Eve Torres’ heel turn hit a speed bump – though was rescued later, as you’ll see in The Best Of the Rest – and Kelly is still in the same position as before – still no good, unlikely to get another Divas Title run and relegated to a talking head to be put on mainstream TV to talk up WWE. The biggest tumble is clearly Phoenix, who was not featured on last night’s Raw, which is usually one of the highest-rated Raws of the year, and the one where new storylines are launched for the next few months. It is clear that WWE has no real plans for Beth’s reign, and have no real plans for any Diva apart from Torres, who is rapidly becoming the top female in the promotion. How this will relate to Phoenix and her Divas Title reign is something we’ll have to watch develop.
When Mickie Knuckles revealed her pregnancy – not literally, this is audio – on the Women Of Wrestling Podcast last month, it also meant that she would be forfeiting the Absolute Intense Wrestling Women’s Championship, but did so with a request. She asked if the next champion could be the winner of what was meant to be the match to determine a new number one contender, between Mia Yim and Allysin Kay, at Girls Night Out 6 on April 15.
Yim v Kay is the match that AIW said would never happen, though it took about two weeks for the promotion to change its mind. The reason why it said it would never host this match is because of their encounter at Girls Night Out 5 at the end of January when a kick from Yim broke Kay’s nose. What followed was some barbed comments on Twitter making out like the kick was either intentional or reckless, and there was legitimate heat between the two. However, it’s fair to say that if there was any ill feelings between the two, they have been put to bed and they have agreed to make money together. After all, what happened was likely an accident, but that moment turned what was a simple match into a feud, and makes any subsequent encounter even more of a draw. If AIW hadn’t gone with it, another promotion could have booked the pair and hyped it up based on the GNO5 match.
AIW is promoting this contest as an unsanctioned match, which makes sense from a storyline standpoint, as it means that they are not technically hosting it. In addition, the match is also no-rules, and it was announced on AIW’s YouTube show last week that a fans-bring-the-weapons stipulation has also been added. The sticking point is the fact that it is also for the Women’s Championship – if the match is unsanctioned, and thus “never happened”, how can it determine a new champion? Still, this is a minor query, and one that is easily overlooked.
Considering the backstory and the stipulations, this match was always likely to be either the semi-final or final match of the card – now that the AIW Women’s Title has become the cherry on the top of the cake, it is possibly the strongest main event of any of the GNO shows, and guarantees a new name will take the title, and either of them could conceivably win it. Kay has grown as a wrestler to become a third of Women Superstars Uncensored’s most intriguing faction in the Midwest Militia, as well as holding the WSU Tag Team Championship with MWM cohort Sassy Stephie. Yim has spent the last year hopping to Japan and back, wrestling for REINA, and has also grown as a wrestler to the point that she lives up to the hype that she was lumbered with in her rookie years. No doubt, GNO6 will be an interesting one.
The lineup for the PWWA Interim Championship Tournament has been completed. Joining Kellie Skater, Shazza McKenzie, Megan-Kate, Evie, Harley Wonderland and Jessie McKay is Eliza Sway – who’s been heeling it up in a feud against McKenzie in Melbourne City Wrestling – and in a surprising addition, the former Irina Janjic, now known as Alex Lee.
A graduate of the Storm Wrestling Academy, Bosnian-born Janjic was featured on the first season of World Of Hurt last year and was most infamous for doing a flip bump and nearly breaking her own neck. Despite not making the best impression on the show, she was signed to a WWE developmental deal and debuted in Florida Championship Wrestling on June 22, and was soon repackaged as Leah West. She made her TV debut in September, but she did not last very long – by December, her name was removed from the FCW roster and she was released from her contract.
Being the final name announced for the tournament is interesting. Where there could have been a Britenay or Savannah Summers or KC Cassidy, we have someone whose public exposure has been less than stellar, and even though she was a WWE contracted talent, it was not for very long. How is she as a wrestler these days? Does she have the motivation to excel, or has it been sapped from her in FCW? We will find out in the coming weeks.
The first round matches will be split, taking place on April 21 and May 5.
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The best of the rest
April Davids returned to Japan on Thursday to train with Ice Ribbon again. She had a stint there last summer, winning more matches than she lost… There’s been reports that Rima Fakih has signed a contract with WWE. She was hopeless on Tough Enough, but was kept on longer than she would have been if she wasn’t Miss USA at the time… Vickie Guerrero suggested on Twitter on Friday that Michelle McCool is pregnant… Sexy Star has been listed in a book of the top 54 female athletes in Mexico… Looks like Velvet Sky is finally going to get a rematch at the Knockout Title. She never got one after losing the title to Gail Kim last year… A second 19 Pro tournament has been announced to determine the top contender to Kurumi’s title… Speaking of tournaments, there’s another taking place on June 15 in Sherman, TX to determine the first ever Texoma Pride Wrestling Women’s Champion. Kyra Maya, Starr Venus, Erica Torres, Vanity, Jen Alise, Bree Ann, Missdiss Lexia & Katy Pace will vie for the title. Out of those 8, I’ve only heard of Jen Alise… The Cherry age storyline continues on April 8 in Union Pro when GAMI wrestles her with the same stipulation as the Cherry/Mio Shirai match – should Cherry lose, she must reveal how old she really is. GAMI stole Cherry’s passport after Miss Forever 18 defeated Shirai… That Union Pro show also marks the in-ring debut of (Princess) Makoto in the promotion, who is wrestling elsewhere since SMASH went under last month… Lilian Garcia declined to reveal her age in an interview just before WrestleMania saying there are some in WWE that “assess everything by a number”. For the record, she’s 45, and looks awesome for it… WWE Divas Tour Bus has officially been announced for the upcoming WWE Network… In an interview with Power Slam magazine, Dave Finlay – who’s reportedly been rehired by WWE – intimated that he wouldn’t have given Natalya a flatulence gimmick. He also pointed out it’s “heartbreaking” when people like Natalya and Layla don’t get to where they want to get to… Maria Kanellis is accepting phone calls through the Dial A Star gimmick. It will cost you $15 per minute. On a semi-wrestling related note, Angelina Pivarnick – the Jersey Shore girl who also wrestled on Impact once – is charging the same price… Birthday girl Allison Danger won the Adrenaline Unleashed Women’s Championship from NY Knockout Nikki on Saturday. On the same show, Davina Rose became the number one contender to the title… Alpha Female defeated Jenny Sjodin in London, England on Sunday to win Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship. The two had gone to a double count-out at EVE’s show on February. Some fans have questioned why the title change didn’t happen at the February show. Alpha will defend the title against Nikki Storm in July… Former WWF Women’s Champion and WrestleMania I participant Leilani Kai wrestled on Saturday night. She lost to former protege Amber O’Neal… Taylor Made accompanied Ricardo Rodriguez to the WWE Hall of Fame show on Saturday. Amy “Lita” Dumas arrived with CM Punk. Word is they are dating again, after going out in 2009… Eve Torres turned on Zack Ryder at WrestleMania. Poor sod has been rendered down to jobber to the stars… Madusa posted a photo of a royalty cheque she received from WWE of $305,000. She says most of that will go on taxes… When asked if she would like to return to WWE, Torrie Wilson – who attended WrestleMania with her boyfriend Alex Rodriguez – says she couldn’t handle the schedule these days… Taya Valkyrie valeted in AAA in Mexico at the weekend.
March 25: Tri City Wrestling (Kitchener, ONT, Canada) – Cherry Bomb b Courtney Rush
March 27: Florida Underground Wrestling (Largo, FL) – Jessie Belle Smothers b Mercedes
March 27: Diana (Kitazawa, Japan) – Keiko Aono b Piyota Mask; Sareee v Manami Katsu went to a time limit draw; Kyoko Inoue & Kaoru Ito b Jaguar Yokota & Mima Shimoda; Kyoko Inoue won a battle royal
March 28: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukushi b Neko Nitta; Hikaru Shida b Meari Naito; Kaori Yoneyama & Miyako Matsumoto b Masahiro Takanashi & Sayaka Obihiro; Aki Shizuki Maki Narumiya b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Dorami Nagano
March 29: NWA Ring Warriors (Ft Lauderdale, FL) – Jesse Neal & Christina Von Eerie b Chasyn Rance & Santana Garrett
March 30: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – April Davids, Dorami Nagano & Sayaka Obihiro b Tsukasa Fujimoto, Maki Narumiya & Tsukushi
March 30: Melbourne City Wrestling (Tullamarine, Australia) – KC Cassidy b Savannah Summers
March 30: Pro Wrestling Alliance (Camden, Australia) – Mikey Broderick & Jessie McKay b Bishop Sommers & Harley Wonderland
March 30: AAA (Queretaro, Mexico) – Cinthia Moreno, La Hechicera & Sexy Star b Fabi Apache, Lolita & Mari Apache
March 30: Preston City Wrestling (Preston, England) – Carmel Jacob b Kay Lee Ray
March 30: Chaotic Wrestling (Lowell, MA) – Nikki Roxx b Alexxis Nevaeh
March 31: New York Wrestlnig Connection (Deer Park, NY) – Nikki Syxx v Brittney Savage v Marti Belle v Tina San Antonio ended in a no-contest
March 31: Adrenaline Unleashed (Las Vegas, NV) – Allison Danger b NY Knockout Nikki to win the Adreneline Unleashed Women’s Championship; Davina Rose b Liz Sassi
March 31: Tribute to Championship Wrestling from Florida (Miami Beach, FL) – Amber O’Neal b Leilani Kai
March 31: Showtime Wrestling Alliance (Wallsend, Australia) – Scotty Matthews & Aurora b Bubbles & Cobey Starr
March 31: Rock n’ Roll Wrestling (Melbourne, Australia) – KC Cassidy b Nikita Naridian
March 31: Supreme League of Wrestling (Mattoon, IL) – Serenity b Lucy Mendez
March 31: CLASH Wrestling (Taylor, MI) – Leah Von Dutch b Mena Libra
April 1: Memorabilia (Birmingham, England) – Nikki Storm b Pollyanna
April 1: BritWresFest (London, England) – Alpha Female b Jenny Sjodin to win the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship
April 1: WrestleMania (Miami, Florida) – Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos b Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
April 1: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Eri Susa b Natsumi Showzuki; Saki Kashima b Yuuri Haruka; Yuka Yasukawa b Mayu Iwatani; Arisa Hoshiki b Kairi Hojo; Miho Wakizawa & Nanae Takahashi b Hiroyo Matsumoto, Io Shirai, Natsuki Taiyo, Yoko Bito, Yoshiko & Yuzuki Aikawa in an elimination tag team match
April 1 (Sapporo, Japan) – Shuu Shibutani b Sawako Kanno; Aya Yuki b Saruka Hirota; Ayumi Kurihara & Mika Iida b Kana & Mio Shirai; Aya Mizunami b Misaki Ohata; Manami Toyota, Moeka Haruhi & Yuu Yamagata b Ayako Hamada, Yumi Ohka & Cherry; Ran YuYu & Toshie Uematsu b GAMI & Tomoka Nakagawa
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 6: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Maki Narumiya v Dorami Nagano
April 6: Peachstate Wrestling Alliance (Heflin, AL) – Tracy Taylor v Tiffany Roxx
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 8: Union Pro (Tokyo, Japan) – Cherry v GAMI; Kengo Ohka & Mio Shirai v Choun-Shiryu & Princess Makoto
April 10: Premier Promotions (Bournemouth, England) – Erin Angel v Amazon
April 13: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukushi v Aki Shizuku
April 14: Jersey All Pro Wrestling (Rahway, NJ) – Mia Yim v Kimber Lee
April 14: CHIKARA (Rahway, NJ) – Sara Del Rey v Kodama; Saturyne v Kobald
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 20: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto v Sayaka Obihiro
April 27: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi v Neko Nitta
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) – Alpha Female v Nikki Storm
– Lee Burton