Mae Young 1923 – 2014

Mae Young HOF WWE

After two weeks of reports on the deterioration of her health – and misinformation about her deathWWE confirmed yesterday evening that Mae Young has passed away at the age of 90. The company’s website wrote:

WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Johnnie Mae Young.

“There will never be another Mae Young,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “Her longevity in sports entertainment may never be matched, and I will forever be grateful for all of her contributions to the industry. On behalf of WWE, I extend our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.” (more…)

Summer Loving

Summer RaeSummer Rae isn’t doing too badly for herself, is she? As well as being the first of the NXT Diva crop to make it to WWE TV, she was successful in her debut match, which also happened to be on pay-per-view. In that match, she and Fandango defeated Natalya and The Great Khali in a mixed tag, where the women were the better workers. This Sunday, Summer is one of the seven women taking on the Total Divas cast at the Survivor Series PPV – an impressive feat, considering former Divas Champion Layla is not part of the septet.

It seems that the 29-year old has some big supporters in WWE, and for good reason. This week’s Wrestling Observer reports that there are three acts that the company is high on – Roman Reigns from The Shield, Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston and our Summer. Considering she has only been part of the wrestling business for around two years, it’s an enviable progression…

Before signing with World Wrestling Entertainment in November 2011, Danielle Moinet was no stranger to contact sports in small amounts of clothing. As team captain and cornerback for the Chicago Bliss in the Lingerie Football League, her shining moment was being one of two Bliss players to make it to the LFL All-Star Game. Getting stuck into wrestling life very quickly, she debuted on Florida Championship Wrestling a month after reporting to Tampa by managing Abraham Washington and becoming the show’s ring announcer. In March 2012, she had her first run-in with new face Paige but ascended to the General Manager position the following week. The following month, she made her wrestling debut in a triple threat involving Paige and Sofia Cortez (Ivelisse Velez), which was won by the Puerto Rican spitfire. (more…)

A good half year for… a few others

A few others

So, you’ve seen our main six picks in our 2013 “A good half year for…” series – Kellie Skater, Ayumi Kurihara, Mickie James, Heidi Lovelace, Nikki Storm & Madison Eagles – and you can see even from those picks that we made our decisions on different criteria, and we stand by our picks as women who have all raised their stock since the turn of the year. However, the selection process of choosing a final six for full write-ups meant drawing up a longlist of potential picks, and we figured we’d wrap up the series by sharing a few of those women we thought had a great six months, but fell just below making the final six. Click through after the page break for… a few others. (more…)

A good half year for… Madison Eagles

Madison Eagles Slammin Ladies

This one seems so damn obvious, I’m almost apologetic at even including her. She’s the woman who was the best female wrestler in the world before she was struck down with a career threatening knee injury in late 2011, and she’s the woman who came back earlier this year and immediately laid down a marker that she’s *still* the best female wrestler in the world. She’s possibly part machine, and certainly lubricated by coffee – but whatever she is, she’s already a strong front-runner for 2013′s Wrestler of the Year award. She’s Madison Eagles, and let’s take a look at her 2013. (more…)

A good half year for… Nikki Storm

Nikki Storm Youji Kawauchi

Confession time – this choice was incredibly tight, as two other European-based athletes have enjoyed similarly successful half-years. However, the self-proclaimed “World’s Finest” has had a storming six months – pun intended – and narrowly edged into being included in our extended biographies. We will let you know about the ones who also had great half-years but just missed out in our wrap-up piece coming this weekend – but for now, we take a look at six months in the life of the Pro Wrestling: EVE Champion Nikki Storm(more…)

A good half year for… Heidi Lovelace

Heidi Lovelace 911 Wrestling

Our next selection for our “good half year” series isn’t someone who has won a major title this year, nor is she someone who is particularly well known in the wider wrestling world (yet) – but looking objectively about who has come really far in the first half of 2013, you really can’t deny that Heidi Lovelace has had a cracking six months. When we talked to her for a Fight Like A Girl show back in April, our first question was to ask her how excited she was about her wrestling life in 2013 on a scale of 1-10. Her reply? “Probably about a 15!”. Quite so – and things have gotten even more interesting since then. Let’s take a look at 2013 for Heidi Lovelace. (more…)

A good half year for… Mickie James

Mickie James

Mickie James‘ run in TNA has seen a resurgence, especially since April. After a stop-start 2012 which saw storylines stopped in their tracks and medical worries hindering her momentum, the 33-year old has been given an angle to get her teeth into, prospects for the future and is also engaging in other projects outside of the ring. While a lot of the early months of 2013 were spent putting together and then promoting her latest studio album, we’re focussing on her wrestling career… (more…)

A good half year for… Ayumi Kurihara

Ayumi Kurihara

A bit of a weird one this, I’ll grant you. Considering earlier this year, the 28 year old joshi puroresu standout announced her retirement from the sport due to nagging injuries (citing her 2007 clavicle injury in particular), you’d think Kurihara would be as far away from a discussion like this as it is possible to be – and while, yes, seeing a superb young talent being struck down in the prime of her career is a terribly sad thing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody go on a more joyful final retirement road. Kurihara’s last six months in the business have seen her experience so much, achieve so much and do it all with a huge smile on her face. If she’s leaving wrestling, she’s packing an entire career’s worth of memories into 2013. (more…)

A good half year for… Kellie Skater

Kellie Skater Rob Myers

There is a feeling of deja vu with this, considering the Rate Tank was also singled out for praise at this time last year too, but credit where credit is due – Kellie Skater has had a storming first six months of 2013.

As with in 2012, the Australian started her year in Japan restrengthening the ties which she had built during her first extended trip there, wrestling in both WAVE and Stardom, straddling the battle lines which exist between the two promotions – though it was in the latter promotion where she primarily competed during her visit, and also experienced new accomplishments… (more…)

Your SHIMMER Vol 53 Primer for iPPV viewers

SHIMMERiPPVPoster-53So… we’re hours away from SHIMMER Vol 53 on iPPV via WWN. Sure if you’re a regular visitor to the site and a supporter of the women’s wrestling scene you’ll be aware of who’s who, what’s what and why you should care – but what if you’re a curious first time buyer, getting into the WrestleMania hype weekend buy purchasing one or more of the dozen or so wrestling/MMA events available this weekend? Need a primer? We’ve got you covered.

Main Event: SHIMMER Championship/Steel Cage Match – Saraya Knight (c) vs Cheerleader Melissa
This is, naturally, the big draw – as the six year long feud finally reaches the steel cage with the richest prize in women’s wrestling on the line. Saraya and Melissa first met at ChickFight 7 in Great Yarmouth, UK in January of 2007 – in the opening match of the first round of the tournament that night. In a gritty and tense match, Melissa advanced to the next round, leaving hometown heroine Saraya hanging by her neck in the ropes and causing an uncomfortable and scary few minutes as local wrestlers, including Saraya’s daughter – 14 year old Britani (now Paige in WWE) – struggled to extricate Knight. They met again later that year at an RQW event in Colchester – a match now infamous as the night Saraya’s kneecap was torn from her leg during a pre-match brawl that never reached the ring. Melissa, apparently aware of the injury, continued to attack the knee for several minutes as friends and family tried to tend to their fallen loved one. The injury, believed career threatening, kept Saraya out just six months – and the Saraya/Melissa feud entered a period of what can only be described as “cold war”, with both on different continents. With Saraya’s debut at SHIMMER in March of 2011 (initially as part of “The Knight Dynasty” with Britani), the potential for escalation was there again – but didn’t surface until the following year. Melissa had won the SHIMMER Title from Madison Eagles at the last taping of the October 2011 block, so in March 2012 Saraya started interfering in, and sending out hits on the new Champion. Nicole Matthews & Portia Perez of the Canadian NINJAs were sent at Melissa in title challenges, along with an intimidated Jessie McKay, but Saraya eventually got the job done at the end of those tapings, challenging an injured Melissa (injured because Saraya had taken out her knee with a pipe – in an attack tinged with irony) and winning the SHIMMER Title on a submission. The following tapings in October 2012 saw Melissa work towards getting a title rematch, including pinning Saraya in a 5 on 5 elimination match on Vol 50. Melissa received her shot at Vol 52 – only to be screwed out of her opportunity by interference from the Canadian NINJAs and Saraya’s British compatriot, Rhia O’Reilly. (more…)

Davina Rose debuts in WWE developmental

Davina Rose Lindsey Hauser Sunset Flip PhotographyWhile we didn’t mention it at the time – despite other places doing so in some form or fashion – we have been waiting for Davina Rose to make her WWE debut since signing her developmental deal last month. On Tuesday, WWE Hall Of Famer Dusty Rhodes mentioned her (by real name) in a tweet, and on Thursday it happened, with the Californian making her first appearance in a WWE ring as part of an NXT live event in Tampa, FL. Teaming with Charlotte and Paige, she defeated Emma, Summer Rae and Audrey Marie in a six-woman tag match, with a curious new addition to her gimmick – a mask.

That’s right – as you can tell by the image on the left, Davina has her face obscured, and her gear is also a lot darker than the oranges and greens which SHIMMER fans were getting accustomed to seeing.

Now, before anyone starts kicking off about her wearing a mask and accusing WWE of maltreatment, gimmicks change all the time, and she’s only been there for five minutes – I have an open carton of apple juice in my refrigerator that has been there longer than Rose has been a WWE employee. It’s called developmental for a reason, and I’m sure there will be more tweaks to her look and character until they’re happy with it – in fact, she wrestled the following day as a heel against Charlotte without the mask, losing via a backslide. One thing that they will likely not have to work on for very long is her wrestling, as over the last four years, this Rose has blossomed into quite the athlete, and has grabbed a lot of attention along the way… (more…)

The fortunes (and misfortunes) of NXT season 3

A week on Sunday, Kaitlyn will challenge Layla for the WWE Divas Championship at Night Of Champions in a match that she earned by way of winning a battle royal on the August 20 episode of Monday Night Raw. As it has been claimed since then, the ending was not meant to have Kaitlyn winning, and it should have been Eve Torres getting the shot – which adds credence to why everyone seemed so confused with the result and Eve being shoehorned into the build-up for the match – so it could end up being a three-way, but as it stands, it’s still Kaitlyn v Layla for the belt, and shows how far the challenger has come since winning the third season of NXT.

In fact, today marks two years to the day since Kaitlyn’s WWE TV debut on the first episode of the show as a last-minute replacement to become Vickie Guerrero‘s rookie Diva. Then 24, Celeste Bonin had only signed a WWE contract less than two months previous, and had made her first appearance on Florida Championship Wrestling TV a month before making it onto the main roster, and that was only as a lumberjill. To say that she was nowhere near ready to be on NXT would be an understatement, but she seized the opportunity, displaying her quirky personality and accidentally becoming a wedge between Guerrero and her protege/boyfriend Dolph Ziggler throughout the course of the show. As a wrestler, she was lime green, but her character carried her through, and since then, she has been working to become a credible grappler.

Granted, for the 18 months following her victory, Kaitlyn was nothing much to write home about, but more recently, WWE has been putting her in the ring with Natalya, with the third-generation Hart getting the upper hand at the start, but the former fitness model, bodybuilder and model has since started running away with the victories, leading up to getting the win – regardless of whether it was booked or not – in the battle royal. In some ways, Kaitlyn earned her way into this title match in the same way that she got onto NXT – through being in the right place at the right time. If her history is to repeat itself, she may end up winning the title, especially since Layla’s run as Champion has been pretty unspectacular.

But what of the rest of the NXT season 3 contestants – what happened to them? Well, let’s take a look at where they are now, and let’s start with the one who never made it to TV and was replaced by Kaitlyn… (more…)

A good half year for… a few others

Over the last week, we have given you our rundown on the seven wrestlers who have raised their stock in the last six months, all of whom have done so in various ways (and you can read about them all right here). However, as with all lists, there is always some discussion about whether the right choices were made. Believe us when we tell you that there was quite a bit of conversation on who should get the article treatment, as there were a number of names who were considered. With that, we bring you the ones who were on the list because of their achievements, but didn’t make the final cut… (more…)

A good half year for… Athena

As you may have seen from our list of wrestlers who we feel have had good half-years, the way they have achieved it has varied from person to person. For Jessicka Havok, it was all about creating a brand for herself and capitalising on that to reach the top of Women Superstars Uncensored. For Sweet Saraya and AJ, it was about having an absorbing character. Tsukasa Fujimoto was about titles, Kellie Skater was about education and applying that knowledge, while Allysin Kay was about seizing the opportunity when it arises, no matter in what way that should manifest. For “The Wrestling Goddess” Athena, 2012 (so far) has been about turning heads and establishing herself as one of the most consistently high-level performers in the United States – which is what she has done with a string of show-stealing appearances throughout a number of promotions. (more…)

A good half year for… Allysin Kay

“AK-47. The very best there is.
When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.”
(Ordell Robbie, Jackie Brown, 1997)

Spotlighting wrestlers for this “good half year” series isn’t easy – everybody has an opinion and everybody has different criteria when choosing. For me, one of my biggest criteria was to choose people who are in a better position now than they were in January – and on that basis alone, Allysin Kay was right at the top of my list. Surely an early contender for our year-end breakout star of the year award, Kay has been riding a major wave of upward momentum this year, collecting title belts and plaudits wherever she has gone. Make no mistake, 2012 has seen the woman nicknamed “AK-47” go from a supporting role to a burgeoning star in her own right. (more…)

A good half year for… Kellie Skater

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… (more…)

A good half year for… AJ

It almost seems a given that the most spotlighted female performer in the biggest wrestling company in the world would have had “a good half year”. Certainly from an exposure perspective, it’s pretty much impossible to have had a better six months than the so-called “Geek Goddess” – as she has starred in a major role in one of the company’s top storylines, and been a focal point of feuds surrounding both the World and WWE Championships. For AJ though, as we discussed recently, her rise to prominence has been not as a wrestler – but as a character. And what a character she has been.

It’s technically just outside of the six month assessment period for this article, but Monday Night Raw this past week had AJ all over the show. She had multiple backstage vignettes, wrestled during the ten o’clock quarter hour in a fairly random mixed tag match (and won), and closed the overrun quarter with a deeply disturbing new level in her “crazy chick” gimmick when she threatened to put herself through a table in order to get attention. The final shot viewers had was AJ on the ropes, chanting “YES! YES! YES!”. WWE believe they’ve got something special with AJ, and we’re very much in agreement. Her ability to take what could have been (and probably was going to be) a nothing happening storyline and make her personal performances so compelling that the company is building *entire storylines* around her is to be commended. I’ve heard on many occasions about how Vince McMahon likes to give the speech about how talent have to “get themselves over” and “grab that brass ring” – well, 2012 has seen AJ go above and beyond every other Diva in the company make herself an integral part of WWE programming – and fair play to her. (more…)

A good half year for… Tsukasa Fujimoto

January was an uncertain period for Ice Ribbon. After the departure of founder Emi Sakura, there were a lot of questions as to the future of the promotion, how it would react and adapt, and which wrestlers would fill the void that Sakura had left. At the same time, Tsukasa Fujimoto was also in a state of flux. Having lost the ICEx60 Championship to Hikaru Shida on December 25, she was also facing an uncertain future. However, the following six months would see the 28-year old former actress rack up the wins and amass a shedload of championships in the process… (more…)

A good half year for… Sweet Saraya

Stunned. Shocked. You can use a hundred different descriptors to try and properly encapsulate the reaction of the crowd on March 18th at the Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL. To the red headed woman maniacally grinning and holding the SHIMMER Championship above her head, I imagine it felt a lot more like redemption.

Saraya Knight was never supposed to get over like she had in SHIMMER. In fact, when she and her daughter came over to the US for their SHIMMER debuts a year earlier, Saraya told us on the WOW Podcast (Episode #19) that she almost felt she was there as an “add on” on the back of her daughter, Britani, who was skyrocketing to fame in her own right. However, much to her own genuine surprise, Saraya was like nothing Berwyn had ever seen – SHIMMER reinvigorated Saraya’s dedication to the business, and as a result, the havoc wreaked by the Knight Dynasty was immense. (more…)

A good half year for… Jessicka Havok

Seeing as we are halfway through the year, it’s worth a look at the movers and shakers of the last six months. We have sat down over some Coke Slurpees and come up with a list of wrestlers whose stock his increased in that time – essentially, who is more valuable now than they were one January 1? And with that, we start with one who is a bit of a no-brainer…

Rolling into 2012, Jessicka Havok was on a tear – one of the reasons why Ringbelles named her as the Breakout Star of 2011 last December. Leader of the Midwest Militia, in possession of the Women Superstars Uncensored Spirit Championship and sporting an enviable undefeated steak in singles competition in the promotion, the then 25-year old from Massillon, OH had everything going her way. (more…)

Taeler Hendrix – the redhead turns dark

Timing is everything, and ours was particularly poor when it comes to Taeler Hendrix.

When we spoke to her earlier this month ahead of Absolute Intense Wrestling’s Girls Night Out 6, we focussed on her upcoming Midwest debut for AIW, and only briefly touched on her work in her home promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she has been Women’s Champion since November 12 of last year, when she defeated longtime titleholder Lady JoJo (now Josette Bynum) for the belt. The reason for that is because her title defences on OVW TV and at the Saturday Night Specials had been sporadic, and at times, too short to let her showcase her abilities. In addition, the lack of a strong storyline and not enough of an opportunity for her to display her character beyond being a likeable, smiley redhead had meant that the connection with her and the audience was not as strong as it could potentially be.

However, at the time we spoke to her, she was in the very embryonic stages of a storyline which could see her change people’s perception of her character, and give the fans more of a reason to have an opinion on her. It involves a man, a relationship, and where the power lies in that particular union – and it all started on the St Patrick’s Day episode of OVW TV on March 17… (more…)

Kurumi will team with Manami Toyota

Back on April 1, 2000, Manami Toyota was already a bona fide legend. Having already claimed singles and doubles championships in All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, GAEA, JWP and OZ Academy, winning tournament after tournament, as well as accruing ten five star matches and two Match of the Year awards from the Wrestling Observer, Toyota had already done it all by the turn of the millennium.

So why is that date so special? Well, as it happens, April 1, 2000 was the date when her tag team partner for the upcoming Ice Ribbon March event was born.

Last month, Stew discussed who could end up being Toyota’s teammate for her challenge of the International Ribbon Tag Team Championship against Tsukasa Fujimoto and Tsukushi. Names that were suggested included Ray, Hikari Minami and Hikaru Shida, with outside bets on Miyako Matsumoto, Dorami Nagano, Maki Narumiya or Riho. As it turns out, none of them would gain the honour – after seeing off Matsumoto and Narumiya in a four woman tournament that also included Neko Nitta, Kurumi earned the right to tag with Toyota against the champions. It is a massive show of support for the 11-year old, who has come a long way since we first started watching her wrestle close to a year ago… (more…)

My first TNA live experience

I swore off going to WWE shows back in 2005 when I decided that they weren’t worth my time. I felt that the ratio of entertainment to investment wasn’t good enough, so after having gone to at least one WWE show a year since 1996, I walked away. Since then, I have been to smaller shows, and avoided events from the bigger wrestling companies.

That is, until this Thursday, when after seven years away, I headed to Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena for the first UK date of the TNA Maximum Impact IV European tour.

To be honest, I was looking forward to it, as I had always heard good things about TNA house shows, while the Impact Wrestling shows are more hit and miss. Buoyed by my interview with Tara earlier this month, I was confident that I was going to enjoy myself, even though I’m not as much of a TNA viewer as have been in the past. So along with fellow wrestling fan and work colleague Tom Campbell (the voice of the infamous Big’Un in Wigan), we hopped into my car and – barring an unscheduled stop because of my brakes almost catching fire – made the 90 minute drive to Nottingham. (more…)

IN DEFENS: A look at Scotland’s finest

Scotland has given the world a great many things. Whisky, penicillin, the telephone, the television, Sean Connery and deep fried pizza are all up there. Not bad for a country with a tiny population (as of the last Census, it was a shade over 5 million). However, this harsh environment (the average maximum temperature is about 64 degrees Fahrenheit) may be one of the main reasons why it has such tough people, both mentally and physically.

Some of that toughness is making its way into women’s wrestling in Europe. At the last Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon event, close to half of the EVE talent emanated from Scotland. Therefore, it’s worth a quick introduction to the uninitiated as to who some of the names are that you should expect to see more of in the future.

Possibly the hottest prospect of the lot is Nikki Storm, the mouthy 22-year old Glaswegian who we have spoken to on a couple of occasions. Debuting in 2008, the current World Wide Wrestling League Women’s Champion was trained by names including Mikey Whiplash, Johnny Moss, Damian O’Connor and Fergal Devitt, and has warred with the likes or Carmel Jacob and Sara-Marie Taylor in the Scottish Wrestling Alliance, Premier British Wrestling and Scottish School of Wrestling.

South of Hadrian’s Wall, her career has involved Jetta for the most part, either wrestling her at adult-oriented promotion Triple X Wrestling, or being her protege in EVE’s European Empire faction. The two have also tangled north of the border, with the roles reversed from TXW and seeing Storm as the babyface and Jetta in her more recognised heel persona. Having said that, Storm is a fine heel and follows in the footsteps of Coventry’s Loudest by spending a lot of the time arguing with fans, but uses a wider repertoire than her manager/former rival. In addition to Jetta, Storm lists Erin Angel, Lisa Fury and Saraya Knight as being great influences on her. (more…)