For many wrestlers, Japan is still the mecca when it comes to what they do. Many strive to get there, and some accomplish it. For some, it is for a booking or two, or maybe a stint with a specific promotion. For Kellie Skater, she packed up her suitcase and headed out to Japan for three months with no set plan on how many times she would be wrestling, or for which promotions or against which talent. What ended up happening was a rapid evolution of the Rate Tank, maturing into a more well-rounded competitor – so much so that it caused more than a few people to sit up and take notice…
Skater’s 2012 started in Japan, prefaced with her debut on December 23, teaming with Tomoka Nakagawa in a losing effort against Hailey Hatred and Rabbit Miyu at Joshi4Hope. That was followed up with a win in REINA with Kyoko Kimura over Aki Kanbayashi & Saya, and celebrated Christmas Day losing to Io Shirai in Stardom. Not a bad first week in an unfamiliar country for the 24-year old.
Through having a good attitude, making good contacts and showing a willingness to work wherever she was asked, the Australian was offered opportunities to grow and learn on the job, plus train in a number of different disciplines like kickboxing and shootboxing. Anyone who has seen Skater at a SHIMMER afterparty knows that she can tend to be the life and soul of an occasion, and her demeanour also made her an attractive prospect for bookers, as they could be confident that she could fit into their locker room. For that reason, the Colossus of Bacchus Marsh became one of the rare names who had the chance to wrestle not only in Stardom, but in rival promotion WAVE, putting her among very elite company.
In WAVE, she tangled with Kana and Ayumi Kurihara in separate tag team matches, while in REINA, she stepped into the ring against veterans Manami Toyota and Mima Shimoda. For someone who has primarily seen her in SHIMMER, this sounds like pretty unusual company for her to be around.
For the most part, Kellie Skater’s SHIMMER career has seen her as a solid opening match talent, getting the crowd going at the start of each DVD taping with her comedy schtick of 1lb free weights, tension bands and protein supplements, as well as being trusted to go against less experienced wrestlers. As a 5-year pro she is a safe hand, though when booked against tougher names as part of her headstrong open challenges, she tended to come up short, with the iference that she tends to bite off more than she can chew. Following her visit to Japan and a quick detour to Montreal to defeat Kira for nCw Femmes Fatales VIII in March, the Rate Tank got the chance to get serious at SHIMMER the following weekend.
Even though she was beaten in her singles outings against Kana and Ray, she had exciting and competitive outings with both, as well as picking up wins over Veda Scott and Kc Spinelli – the latter described as ‘shockingly good’ with ‘great chemistry’ (you can see full results here and here). Breaking out new kickboxing and lucha aspects in her matches, Kellie was showing off her new skills, and were well received by a somewhat surprised group of fans who didn’t expect to see it from her. Moreover, the perception on Skater changed in the eyes of the fans from an opening card act with twinges of comedy to somebody who wanted to mix it up, take on new challenges and prove herself to the audience as well as the rest of the roster. The ‘roo-roids’ accusation and fun may never fully go away, but she has made sure that there are many more reasons to take notice of her.
Following more than three months away from home, Skater returned home to Australia, getting to the semi finals of the PWWA Interim Championship tournament and defending her IndyGurlz Australia belt elsewhere. She hit her home turf with a new vigour, confidence and more aspects to her game, and is transitioning from a hot prospect to a bona-fide star. When approached for comment, Skater told us:
2012′s start has been the most amazing experience of my life. I have been blessed to work with and learn from people from across a few different countries. I feel my experiences in Japan helped me grow as a wrestler and a person and I hope I can build on what I have learnt going forward.
A return to Japan may be on the cards in the future, and judging from how successful she was in her first trip out there, you can assume that the next trip could be longer than three months. For a person as good as Kellie, her options are as extensive as her ring announcement at SHIMMER. For some time now, you could have filed her in the ‘underrated’ category. It won’t be that way for much longer.
- Lee Burton