WWE tops the list of topics this week.
Layla returned from a year away from the ring at Extreme Rules on Sunday as the mystery opponent against then-Divas Champion Nikki Bella, and won the title in a short yet spirited match that was more of a device to get the title off the Bellas before their departure (which we will get to later). After suffering a double tear of the MCL and ACL in her left knee, you could forgive the 33-year old Brit for deciding to calling it a day and moving on with her life, as the rehab process to get back into ring shape is a lot more intensive than just recuperating to the point where you could live a normal life.
It is to be commended that she sucked it up and got back in the ring, especially since she is pegged as a Diva Search winner, and could be perceived as only seeing wrestling as a job, or something to do until the next big offer comes along. However, she went through the surgery, the pain, the impatience, the frustration and the physical testing that was necessary to return to WWE. In her post match interview on WWE.com, she described about how she had to learn to walk, to run and to jump, and she started welling up. Any doubt on whether she is in the for the right reasons should be kicked out of the window now – Layla is a wrestler, not a model pretending to fight. As a stone-hearted journalist, I felt for the woman, and I am happy that she is back doing what she enjoys.
I am also happy that she is back for personal reasons, as I was starting to enjoy watching Layla wrestle when she was struck down with a bad wheel. Sure, she wasn’t Sara Del Rey, but she was reaching the top of the pile when it came to Divas – and I concede, that is hardly high praise, but she was plugging away, and it was producing results. Plus, she was hanging with Michelle McCool, who was one of the most technically proficient female wrestlers WWE had at the time, even though I found her slightly cold in the ring and never really enjoyed her work. Being in the right place with the right people played into the former cheerleader’s favour – as did her dance background, as I am now a firm believer that if you want to turn non-wrestling women into wrestlers, go for dancers and gymnasts over models, as they are more open to pain, hard work and dedication, while models know how to stand there and look good, which doesn’t translate to the ring.
You could see fire and desire in Layla on Sunday – running all over the place, executing dropkicks and springboard flying bodypresses – and it was exciting, and it’s not often you can say that about Divas matches recently. Even Beth Phoenix, possibly the best wrestler in the Divas division, is hardly a thrill to watch these days, though it could be argued that some of that may be down to what she is working with. Either way, I had fun watching Layla defeat Nikki Bella on Sunday, and taking both Bellas out on Monday’s Raw, even though the match consisted of one dropkick and a schoolboy roll-up. It felt like wrestling, not a bunch of pre-arranged, mechanical moves, and Layla should be praised for that. It is also something that people like Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox should look at. Intensity is not screaming on cue.
Speaking of the Bellas, they are out of WWE, and didn’t even get their send off on TV. Instead, Eve Torres game them their marching orders on a segment on WWE.com after Raw, which is a huge slap in the face for two people who have been with the company for five years, regardless of whether you liked their work or not, or enjoyed their wrestling or not. Why not write them out in an angle on TV or do that segment on Raw? It only takes 30 seconds. Still, Brie and Nikki Bella – or Brianna and Nicole Garcia, as they are reverting back to their real names on leaving the company – are set to do a signing appearance on May 19 in San Jose Valley, California, which is how news of their departure came to leak onto the Internet in the first place. Sure, they were never the best wrestlers, and they were never the best talkers, but they did their jobs, did what they were asked to do and did it well. I for one with them well, as they may not have made that much of an impact, but they didn’t leave much of a stink either. See you down the road, ladies.
However, their departure was also muted because of another Internet buzz. What was being speculated by many places (including us) last week was that Kharma would return to take the title from Nikki Bella, destroy both twins and that would be the cause for their departure. However, when Beth Phoenix was deemed “unfit to compete” from her ankle injury, Eve Torres (who seems to be out to screw everyone for her own amusement) deemed that Nikki would defend the title against a mystery opponent, but assured her that it would not be Kharma. As we now know, it was Layla, but according to PWInsider, Layla was option #2. Up until as late as Sunday afternoon, it was going to be Kharma’s return so she could tie up the loose ends from the promise she made before she bowed out last year. Instead, that thread is left dangling, and we never got the payoff. And why? Because WWE thought it was too well speculated online, so they binned the idea.
What kind of ridiculous crap is that?!
So it’s the obvious option. Does that make it wrong? It was the logical choice to make, but WWE poo-pooed it because they thought too many people had called it, so went for the swerve instead. It would be OK if they had just played Layla’s music, but the company made the specific point of saying that it wouldn’t be Kharma, taking the wind out of fans’ sails. What a childish move to make, especially when going with Kharma would have been an amazing (or awesome) moment. Either way, it sounds like Kharma’s return is imminent, and hopefully she will start steamrollering some Divas before going after Layla’s Divas Championship, as I imagine that the matches between the two would be pretty good, as Layla’s spunky. Perhaps Kharma will take the title from her, and then we get the Beth v Kharma match at SummerSlam, as Beth was in the face role on Sunday, eager to be the courageous fighter who is willing to work hurt to get her title back.
Toshie Uematsu retired from wrestling yesterday, bowing out in the main event of Pro Wrestling WAVE at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall in front of a super no vacancy crowd of 1,443. She and her JWP and WAVE Tag Team Championship partner and longtime running buddy Ran YuYu beat Shuu Shibutani and Moeka Huruhi, though forfeited the WAVE titles to GAMI and Tomoka Nakagawa, who won an interim title match against Misaki Ohata and Hanako Nakamori earlier on the card.
Since debuting on April 15, 1995, 38-year old Uematsu has won titles in both Japan and the US, taking the WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship, and a slew of tag team titles in her native country, including the AAAW, JWP and WAVE doubles titles. The WCW belt was her first championship, won less than two years after her first match, but was a continuation of a run of tournament victories which started with winning her way to WCW through GAEA, but won GAEA’s tag tournament, and three tourneys in JWP between 2006 and 2010.
Uematsu recently returned to the US a year ago for CHIKARA where she wrestled and defeated Madison Eagles, then fell to Sara Del Rey the following day, and returned for CHIKARA in December for the three JoshiMania shows, losing to Manami Toyota on night 1, teaming with GAMI to beat Cherry and Sawako Shimono the following night, and teamed with the Batiri in a winning effort against Cherry and the Colony.
Since announcing her retirement, Uematsu has competed in most of Japan’s top joshi promotions – WAVE, JWP, Sendai Girls, Oz Academy, Ice Ribbon and Diana as well as for CHIKARA, meaning that you had as good a chance as any to see her wrestle before she bowed out. She is now expected to remain as staff for WAVE – with whom she aligned with a year ago – to teach new generations of wrestlers.
Said Hailey Hatred of Uematsu on the day of her retirement:
She is definitely someone who will be missed worldwide. She’s a prime example of someone able to do it all, and who gave back so much to the wrestling community. She has been involved in my development in Japan from my earliest days there, both in competition and in training. Completely irreplaceable. We’ll miss you lots.
Says it all, really.
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The best of the rest
The Beth Phoenix injury angle was just that – an angle. WWE is planning to do more worked-shoot injury segments in the future, backing them up with pieces on Twitter and its website… Rachel Summerlyn and Athena have been announced as two of the 12 participants in a Lethal Lottery in Live Oak, TX on May 27… The Sendai Girls matches at CHIKARA’s Anniversario weekend are starting to take shape. Meiko Satomura and Kagetsu will face DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko in Easton, PA on May 19… Akira Hokuto will be part of the Lucha Fan Fest in Mexico City on the same date…Things aren’t going well for the former Chii Tomiya. Micro was publicly fired from Pro Wrestling Wallaby on April 20 for “unprofessional behaviour” and “inappropriate remarks”… Gail Kim’s next challenger for her Knockouts Title will be Brooke Tessmacher. She defeated Kim on last week’s Impact… Maxine managed to escape the clutches of NXT to wrestle on Superstars last Thursday. She lost to Kelly Kelly… Speaking of NXT, Natalya wrestled on that show last Tuesday as a heel. I’ve no idea what side of the fence she sits on these days… Dixie Carter thinks the UK is saturated with wrestling, which is why TNA wouldn’t launch a version of Ring Ka King there. She’s right… Davina Rose made her ECCW debut in a losing effort against Women’s Champion Kc Spinelli. Spinelli will face new top contender Sammi Hall in the near future… Steve Austin tweeted that Kelly Kelly was his favourite Diva. Fair enough… AJ is featured on a posted for No Way Out, with Daniel Bryan tied to some railway tracks… Tasha Simone threw out an open challenge for her NWA World Women’s Championship on Twitter on Saturday… Gabby Gilbert lost the LLF Championship to Angelica in a 3-way elimination match on Friday, also featuring Lady Maravilla. She was eliminated first… Sara Del Rey defeated El Generico on Saturday’s CHIKARA show with a piledriver… Speaking of Del Rey, she faces Meiko Satomura on May 20. The pair were meant to wrestle at JoshiMania last December, but Satomura missed the shows due to injury… Pro Wrestling: EVE is mulling over whether to move their next show after their iPPV carriers revealed that they were already booked for July 14… Aksana kissed new SmackDown signing Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) in front of former beau Teddy Long on last week’s SD… Mercedes Martinez & Jessicka Havok traded the WSU Championship over the two DVD tapings on Saturday. They will meet at the Uncensored Rumble V on June 16 in a Casket Match. Elsewhere, Brittney Savage won the J-Cup for the second year in a row, and Rain has promised to retire if she doesn’t win the Rumble… April Hunter, who pulled out of her WSU J-Cup booking because of injury and family issues, was at an event call RockFest in Wisconsin on the day of the DVD tapings… April Davids completed another month long stint at Ice Ribbon. She wrestled 8 matches, winning six and losing two. She is expected to return to Japan in September… Miami and Savannah Summers will wrestle to be crowned the first ever Riot City Wrestling Women’s Champion on May 26… Tammy Sytch no-showed another show last Thursday. This is becoming a habit… Kana v Syuri has been announced for Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumon Mexico show at Arena Mexico on May 12… Kalamity will defend the nCw Femmes Fatales International Championship against Portia Perez on June 2… There is SO MUCH wrestling going on in Japan at the moment. It’s Golden Week over there, so most promotions are hosting supercards… Congratulations to Candice Michelle, who is expecting her second child. She experienced a miscarriage last year… Ayumi Kurihara won the DDT Iron Man Heavymetalweight Championship from Kana in WAVE at the weekend. She doesn’t have the physical belt, but it will be presented to her on Saturday.
April 24: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Luna Mágica, Marcela & Silueta b La Comandante, La Seductora & Tiffany
April 25: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Maki Natumiya b Meari Naito; Tsukasa Fujimoto b Hamuko Hoshi; Neko Nitta b Dorami Nagano & Miyako Matsumoto in a 3-way; Kyoko Kimura & Masahiro Takanashi v Marines Mask II & Sayaka Obihiro went to a time limit draw; Kana & Aki Shizuku b April Davids & Hikaru Shida
April 25: WWE NXT (Grand Rapids, MI) – Kaitlyn & Tamina Snuka b Maxine & Natalya
April 26: WWE Superstars (Detroit, MI) – Kelly Kelly b Maxine
April 26: Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Brooke Tessmacher b Gail Kim
April 26: Wrestling New Classic (Tokyo, Japan) – Lin Bairon & Yusuke Kodama b Aki Shizuku & Koji Doi; Kana & Mio Shirai b Makoto & Syuri
April 26: TNA (Kennewick, WA) – Gail Kim v Velvet Sky
April 27: WWE SmackDown (Grand Rapids, MI) – Nikki Bella b Alicia Fox
April 27: Melbourne City Wrestling (Tullamarine, Australia) – KC Cassidy b Kellie Skater
April 27: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto & Kurumi b Sayaka Obihiro & Maki Narumiya; Hamuko Hoshi b Neko Nitta
April 27: Lucha Libre Femenil (Monterrey, Mexico) – Angelica b Lady Maravilla & Gabby Gilbert in a 3-way to win the LLF Championship
April 27: Florida Championship Wrestling (Tampa, FL) – Raquel Diaz b Paige
April 27: TNA (Kent, Washington) – Gail Kim b Velvet Sky
April 27: Pro Wrestling Elite (Ayr, Scotland) – Carmel Jacob b Kay Lee Ray
April 27: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Surrey, BC, Canada) – Kc Spinelli b Davina Rose; Nicole Matthews & Alex Plexis b Ethan HD & Mike Santiago
April 27: Destination 1 Wrestling (Charlestown, IN) – Crazy Mary Dobson b Thunderkitty
April 28: International Pro Wrestling UK/Nu Wrestling Evolution (London, England) – Hannah & Holly Blossom b Nikki Storm & Shanna
April 28: Showtime Wrestling Alliance (Wallsend, Australia) – Aurora b TJ Star
April 28: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Taeler Hendrix b Epiphany
April 28: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Marcela b Tiffany
April 28: Australian Wrestling Alliance (Carina, Australia) – Mighty Mel b Minx
April 28: Dynamite Championship Wrestling (Greenwood, DE) – Jessie Kaye b Trixie Lynn & Kacee Carlisle to win the DCW Women’s Championship
April 28: Women Superstars Uncensored J-Cup (Deer Park, NY) – Annie Social b Nikki Syxx; Brittney Savage b Ezavel Suena; Athena b Kimber Lee; Alicia v Lexxus went to a double count out; Allysin Kay & Sassy Stephie b Luscious Latasha & Jana; Brittney Savage b Annie Social; Tina San Antonio b Marti Belle; Mercedes Martinez b Jessicka Havok to win the WSU Championship; Jessicka Havok b Marti Belle; Rick Cataldo & Ezavel Suena b Annie Social & Kimber Lee; Jenny Rose b Nikki Syxx; Lexxus b Luscious Latasha; Sassy Stephie b Jessie “Bonesaw” Brooks; Jennifer Cruz b Jana; Alicia b Allysin Kay; Rain b Athena; Jessicka Havok b Mercedes Martinez & Brittney Savage in a 3-way to win the WSU Championship
April 28: CHIKARA (Chicago, IL) – Sara Del Rey b El Generico
April 28: New Focus Wrestling (Evansville, IN) – Epiphany b Aleida Ortiz & Serenity in a 3-way
April 28: Riot City Wrestling (North Adelaide, Australia) – Harley Wonderland b Eliza Sway
April 28: Family Wrestling Entertainment (New York, NY) – Rosita b Robbie E; Winter b Melina
April 28: Pro Wrestling WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Tomoka Nakagawa b Mika Iida; Misaki Ohata & Hanako Nakamori b Kana & Mio Shirai; GAMI, Ayako Hamada & Hamuko Hoshi b Ryo Mizunami, Aya Yuki & Sawako Shimono; Moeka Haruhi b Shuu Shibutani; Yumi Ohka b Toshie Uematsu; Toshie Uematsu won a battle royal
April 28: Herts & Essex Wrestling (Takeley, England) – Sweet Saraya b Skarlett
April 29: Australian Wrestling Alliance (Carina, Australia) – Minx b Mighty Mel
April 29: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – La Comandante, Princesa Blanca & Princesa Sugheit b Estrellita, Luna Mágica & Silueta
April 29: AAA (Magdalena, Mexico) – Mini Chessman & Sexy Star b Cinthia Moreno & Mascarita Dorada; Cuervo, Espíritu & Ozz b Daga, Jack Evans & Pimpinela Escarlata
April 29: Pro Wrestling WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Moeka Haruhi b Aya Yuki; Yuu Yamagata b Ryo Mizunami; Yumi Ohka, Misaki Ohata & Hanako Nakamori v Shuu Shibutani, Kana & Mika Iida went to a time limit draw; Ayako Hamada b Kyoko Kimura; GAMI b Toshie Uematsu; Toshie Uematsu, Shuu Shibutani & Moeka Haruhi b GAMI, Yumi Ohka & Ryo Mizunami
April 29: Diana (Koga Gymnasium) – KAZUKI b Piyota Mask; Keiko Aono b Sareee; Dump Matsumoto b Bambi; Kyoko Inoue & Sachie Abe b Kaoru Ito & Kaori Yoneyama
April 29: REINA (Chiba, Japan) – Hiro Tounai b Kaji Tomato; Goya Kong b Dalis la Caribeña & Hamuko Hoshi; Yumiko Hotta b Basara; Mima Shimoda & Zeuxis b Aki Kambayashi & Aoi Ishibashi
April 29: Sendai Girls (Sendai, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto & Kagetsu b Nana Kawasa & Rabbit Miyu; Command Bolshoi b Sawako Shimono; Kayoko Haruyama b Sakura Hirota; Ray & Leon b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Kagetsu; Meiko Satomura & Shinobu Kandori b DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko
April 29: OZ Academy (Osaka, Japan) – Apple Miyuki b Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru; Apple Miyuki b Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru; Manami Toyota b Nao Komatsu; AKINO & Ayumi Kurihara b Tsubasa Kuragaki & Tomoka Nakagawa; Aja Kong & Sonoko Kato b Mayumi Ozaki & Mio Shirai; Chikayo Nagashima & Toshie Uematsu b Carlos Amano & Ran Yu Yu
April 29: WWE Extreme Rules (Chicago, IL) – Layla b Nikki Bella to win the Divas Championship
April 29: CHIKARA (Lafayette, IN) – Obariyon b Sara Del Rey
April 30: Pro Wrestling WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Sakura Hirota b Mika Iida; Aja Kong & Yuu Yamagata & Sawako Shimono b Ayako Hamada & Aya Yuki & Tsukasa Fujimoto; GAMI & Tomoka Nakagawa b Misaki Ohata & Hanako Nakamori; Hamuko Hoshi b Ryo Mizunami; Ayumi Kurihara b Kana; Cherry b Yumi Ohka; Toshie Uematsu & Ran Yu Yu b Shuu Shibutani & Moeka Haruhi
April 30: Diana (Kawasaki, Japan) – Sachie Abe b Piyota Mask; Eiger b Masked Sun; ZAP I & ZAP T b DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko; Keiko Aono b Leon; Jaguar Yokota & Sareee b Yumiko Hotta & Aoi Ishibashi; Kaoru Ito v Tsubasa Kuragaki went to a no contest; Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue b Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda
April 30: WWE Raw (Dayton, OH) – Layla b Nikki & Brie Bella in a 3-way
May 3: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Mayu Iwatani, Eri Susa & Saki Kashima v Kairi Hojo, Natsumi Showzuki & Yuuri Haruka; Arisa Hoshiki v Act Yasukawa; Io Shirai v X; Miho Wakizawa & X v Natsuki*Taiyo & Yoshiko; Nanae Takahashi v Hiroyo Matsumoto
May 4: Pro Wrestling Syndicate (Rahway, NJ) – Maria Kanellis & Brittney Savage v Jillian Hall & Reby Sky
May 4: Union Pro (Tokyo, Japan) – Cherry v Mio Shirai
May 5: Ice Ribbon ‘Golden Ribbon’ (Tokyo, Japan) – Hikaru Shida v Kana; Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi v Sayaka Obihiro & Aoi Kizuki
May 5: Pro Wrestling Alliance (Casula, Australia) – Megan-Kate v Evie; Eliza Sway v Shazza McKenzie
May 5: I Believe in Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Rain v Santana Garrett
May 12: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Allysin Kay v Jennifer Blake
May 12: Solent Wrestling Federation (Gosport, England) – Amazon v Erin Angel
May 12: Toryumon (Mexico City, Mexico) – Kana v Syuri
May 12: IWA Unlimited (Onley, IL) – Sassy Stephie v Nikki St John
May 13: REINA (Tokyo, Japan) – Basara & Saya v Hikaru Shida & Tsukasa Fujimoto; Aki Kanbayashi v Kimberley; Mima Shimoda, Ray & X v Aja Kong, Zeuxis & Dalys; Princesa Blanca v Lady Apache; Aoi Ishibashi & Mia Yim v Kyoko Inoue & Sareee; Yumiko Hotta v La Commandante
May 18: New York Wrestling Connection (Deer Park, NY) – Nikki Syxx v Sara Del Rey
May 19: Crossfire Entertainment (Nashville, TN) – Reby Sky v Jessicka Havok
May 19: Remix Pro Wrestling (Marietta, OH) – Velvet Sky v Sassy Stephie
May 19: Lucha Fan Fest (Mexico City, Mexico) – Chika Tormenta & Vaquerita v Io Shirai & Keira
May 19: CHIKARA (Easton, PA) – Meiko Satomura & Kagetsu v DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko
May 20: CHIKARA (Manhattan, NY) – Sara Del Rey v Meiko Satomura
May 20: International Wrestling Cartel (Newell, WV) – Sassy Stephie v Marti Belle
May 20: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Rachel Summerlyn v Angel Blue; Athena & Davey Vega v Su Yung & Matthew Palmer
May 26: Riot City Wrestling (North Adelaide, FL) – Miami v Savannah Summers
May 26: United States Wrestling Alliance (Mansfield, OH) – Nevaeh v Sassy Stephie
May 26: New Horizons Pro Wrestling (Freemantle, Australia) – Kellie Skater v Shazza McKenzie
May 27: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Live Oak, TX) – Su Yung v Angel Blue
May 27: Wrestling New Classic (Hiroshima, Japan) – Tajiri, Mikey Whipwreck & Kana v Dave Finlay, AKIRA & Syuri
June 2: NWA Hammerlock (Tonbridge, England) – Jenny Sjodin v Rhia O’Reilly
June 2: Northern Championship Wrestling (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Kalamity v Portia Perez
June 16: Women Superstars Uncensored “Uncensored Rumble V” (Deer Park, NY) – Jessicka Havok v Mercedes Martinez; Sassy Stephie v Brittney Savage; Alicia v Lexxus; Kalamity v Sweet Cherrie; Tina San Antonio v Annie Social
June 24: Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Queen of Queens (Live Oak, TX)
June 30: World Wrestling Council (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) – Melina v Mickie James
July 1: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Allysin Kay v Mia Yim
July 7: nCw Femmes Fatales (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Portia Perez & Nicole Matthews v Sweet Cherrie & TBA; Kalamity v Sara Del Rey
July 13: Squared Circle Wrestling (Watertown, NY) – Mickie James v Rachel Summerlyn
July 14: Pro Wrestling: EVE (Sudbury, England) – Alpha Female v Nikki Storm
– Lee Burton