Reviews

DVD review: JoshiMania

I sit here, having watched 21 matches as part of the three JoshiMania events which took place at the start of December 2011. As I watched the three DVDs, I jotted down notes of the big moments and key incidents in the matches. I now have EIGHT pages of bullet points to go through, and one thing because blatantly obvious: doing a match-by-match review of JoshiMania would be incredibly laborious, repetitive and dull for you, the good reader.

So instead of going through JoshiMania chronologically, what this review will be about is the best matches, the standout stars and moments, and which shows were the best if you absolutely, positively can only by just the one DVD…

The shows had a bumpy road leading up to the first event in Philadelphia on December 2. Meiko Satomura, Madison Eagles and Command Bolshoi all had to pull out due to injury, leading to replacements such as Ayako Hamada, Kaori Yoneyama, GAMI and Portia Perez and a fair bit of rewriting to the matches, as the trio who didn’t make it would likely have been part of the matches at the higher end of the card. Hamada was the biggest beneficiary, as she ended up in two of the three main events (against Aja Kong on night 2, and taking on Sara Del Rey on the final show).

However, nothing can take away from the huge amount of organisation that took place to bring JoshiMania to fruition. As Mike Quackenbush revealed to us on the Women Of Wrestling Podcast the week before the shows, the introduction of Manami Toyota to CHIKARA came about thanks to retired Jumping Bomb Angel Itsuki Yamazaki. From there, it was thanks in part to Toyota’s reputation and contacts that facilitated stars from across Japan to come together for the shows, effectively closing down the joshi scene while tars from promotions like JWP, WAVE, OZ Academy, Union Pro and more came together for a series of interpromotional contests. Indeed, a lot of potential issues were circumnavigated and resolved to come to the point that these shows even took place. So how were they? Well, let’s see… (more…)


Retro DVD review: SHIMMER volume 1

This retro DVD review is all ass-backwards. Instead of us doing a review of a show from days gone by, instead, it is the review which is old and it is of the (then) newly-released SHIMMER: Women Athletes volume 1 – a show that you can still buy as part of the Collectors’ Edition.

Back in February 2006, Stewart Allen decided to pick up a DVD of this new SHIMMER thing – based on Beth Phoenix v Allison Danger – and wrote a review for Figure Four Weekly. So let’s jump in the time machine and go back five and a half years to see what Stew’s first impressions of SHIMMER really were…

***

I was initially attracted to the idea of checking out the new SHIMMER promotion for the sole intention of being able to see Beth Phoenix in competition. I’ve been a fan of Beth’s in OVW for some time (where she works as the valet to Aaron “The Idol” Stevens) and while she’s quick to get physically involved in his matches, I’d never seen her wrestle a proper match. It was a further bonus that on this Volume 1 release, she happened to be facing Allison Danger – one of the relatively few other women I know from the US indy circuit. So, the promise of some Phoenix/Danger action coupled with the fact that the promotion name was based on a song title by one of my favourite bands (“Shimmer Like A Girl” by Veruca Salt) meant that I actually laid down some dollars and ordered a DVD from ROHWrestling.com. Yay me.

I’ve got to say, I was very surprised to hear that the DVD is reportedly one of ROH’s fastest selling DVDs of all time. “Why??” asked a friend of mine when I told him this piece of information. I honestly didn’t know. I know why *I* bought a copy – but what was the attraction for everyone else? Either way, I unwrapped the DVD with some excitement tonight and stuck it in the machine. Fingers crossed it won’t suck. (more…)


Retro DVD Review: Glamour, Glitz and Divas – The Untold Story of Women’s Wrestling

This first came to my attention a year ago when I was searching Amazon for wrestling DVDs. From the “Editorial Review” I believed this was a documentary on female wrestling through the years and that it featured thoughts and insights from various females in the business. However, I was mistaken. This being an “Outside the Ropes” presentation, it is basically dozens of clips from various RF video shoot interviews spliced together into one video. In my mind, that’s not a documentary; however, I still gave it the benefit of the doubt and watched it.

The shoots themselves have taken place in a variety of locations – everywhere from hotel rooms to studios even to a Waffle House. Some parts, such as the Waffle House segment with April Hunter and Talia Madison, are hard to hear unless you have the volume up high, but for the most part the audio is of good quality. The lighting is as well; you can see each woman as she speaks. At the very beginning, a quick clip of Sherri Martel speaking is shown, followed by “In Memory of Sherri Martel” along with her dates of birth and death, then a picture of her in the ring. As this DVD was released in 2008 and includes clips of her shoot, this was a nice gesture.

The women included in the video are: Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Luna Vachon, Sherri Martel, Ryan Shamrock, Joanie Laurer, Baby Doll, Jasmin St. Clair, Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, Francine, Jackie Gayda, Gorgeous George, Kimona, Dana Dameson, and Missy Hyatt. However, not every segment features a clip from every woman. (more…)


DVD Review: PWWA (3 September 2011)

Despite only taking place a month ago, the Pro Wrestling Women’s Alliance event which took place on September 3 was available for purchase at the recent SHIMMER: Women Athletes tapings in Berwyn, IL last weekend. Obviously, we had to pick up a copy to see the event, which was headlined by the first SHIMMER title defence outside of the United States, with then-Champion (still feels weird to think of her in that way) Madison Eagles defending against longtime rival/partner Jessie McKay, and former SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Nicole Matthews, who was making her first trip Down Under.

Eagles had been away from the promotion and its parent company the PWA for around six months to live in the US, making it onto the CHIKARA roster, but had to withdraw and return to Australia for treatment for an injured shoulder which she suffered in a car accident back in April. She had wrestled sporadically in North America since then – once in CHIKARA and another time at nCw Femmes Fatales VI in Canada in June where she defeated our latest Women Of Wrestling Podcast guest Courtney Rush. Upon her return to Australia, Eagles (who also holds the PWWA Championship) turned heel, attacking a newly-turned babyface McKay, who was trying to win the PWWA title which KC Cassidy had claimed as her own in Eagles’ absence. As it turned out, the belt was reclaimed by Eagles and she and Cassidy let things slide, even teaming together for Madison’s return match in her home country on August 8 against McKay and Shazza McKenzie.

The SHIMMER title match at PWWA was a big talking point ahead of time. Would Eagles be dropping the belt due to injury, and if so, to whom? How hurt was she? Would she be able to go at full-speed during the match considering she had only wrestled as few as three matches since the injury occurred four months previously? With that level of intrigue, it became a real possibility that the SHIMMER Championship would change hands in Liverpool, New South Wales. Obviously, we know she retained the title, but what participation did she have in the match? Let’s find out… (more…)


DVD Review: ACW 3rd Annual American Joshi Queen of Queens

I can’t say that I watch a lot of Anarchy Championship Wrestling – though I keep up with storylines and results, as it does well at producing episodic shows – but after watching last year’s American Joshi Queen of Queens tournament, I made a promise to myself that I would buy this year’s event and give it a watch. After all, last year – in its second annual outing – it firmly established itself as being one of the best tournaments in the western world. Even though I covered the results as they happened back in June, I wanted to see how it all went down, so I put my money down at Smart Mark Video and waited in anticipation of its arrival. Last Saturday, it arrived – while I was at a wedding in Italy, no less, so I had to wait until I got back two days later to slap it into the DVD player.

The first thing that you notice is the cover, which is clean and simple, featuring Amanda Fox and Serena Deeb. Last year’s edition featured a full-on Alice In Wonderland spoof featuring the participants taking up the different roles, so it was a nice change to present something different this year around. The discs – while DVD-Rs – also have a professional look to them, with the DVD cover image replicated on them. Thumbs up for first impressions.

There are more compliments to be extended, too. The opening montage introducing the show was very ACW – gritty, raw and emotional – and the official photos in the ring before the tournament was used to produce a nice angle. Portia Perez – looking and acting very different to how she does in places like SHIMMER and Squared Circle Wrestling – attacked fellow participant Lillie Mae with the wrench that she carries around with her, breaking her nose and putting her out of the tourney. Here in ACW, Perez is cold, calculating, devious and dangerous. She is easily the most intimidating woman on the roster. (more…)


DVD Review: AIW Girls Night Out 4 (29 July 2011)

Absolute Intense Wrestling presented its “Girls Night Out 4” show on July 29th in Lakewood, OH. As you’d expect from the show name, this is the fourth such card featuring the women of AIW. I’ve actually never seen any of the previous GNOs, so this DVD represents my first taste of the AIW product save for a brief YouTube clip here and there. Initial thoughts are that the DVD is nicely produced, with good VQ and sound, and the package includes an entire DVD of the four-match “Guys Night Out 4” undercard. Unfortunately, for a show boasting a really good number of top quality names, the attendance appeared to be quite sparse. Nevertheless, they reacted where they needed to for the majority of the show, which is a good thing.

My biggest complaint as far as the overall production is concerned – and I might as well get this out here rather than repeat myself time and time again throughout the review – is the heel commentator on the show, who seems to spend most of his time firing off misogynistic and at times offensive commentary in an apparent attempt annoy the viewer. It worked. I believe his name is Aaron Bauer, and hey… I’m a commentator myself, so I know that this guy is just playing his “heel commentator” role, but there are ways to add colour and be a heel without resorting to the basest comments and without overbearing the match. I mean, does wondering about whether they do apartment wrestling, or insinuating sexual situations with most of the women add a single solitary thing to the product? It certainly isn’t getting anybody over, and it constantly makes the viewer re-think why they’re bothering to invest any time in the product. Haven’t we learned anything from Michael Cole in 2011? On the other hand, the play-by-play guy Pedro DeLuca does a fine job calling the action.
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Show Review: Ice Ribbon “Ice’s Adventures In Wonderland 2011″ (21 August 2011)

It’s fair to say that we at Ringbelles have become quite the fans of Ice Ribbon – on the back of their weekly, free to air 19pro Ustream show, the easily accessible English information about the product (on twitter, tumblr and facebook) and the fact that their wrestlers are just really fun to watch – so when I got the chance to watch Ice Ribbon’s most recent Korakuen Hall show a mere two weeks after it happened, I jumped on it. Ice Ribbon usually run shows at their small Warabi Dojo in the Saitama area, but every so often they run Korakuen Hall in Tokyo (one of seemingly hundreds of promotions that run there regularly), and this most recent edition, entitled “Ice’s Adventures in Wonderland” promised the most enticing IR lineup at Korakuen this year.

The ethereal intro video introduces the main stories running into the show – Manami Toyota mentoring and encouraging Tsukushi, Sayaka Obihiro returning to face the challenge of JWP’s Kaori Yoneyama, Makoto’s final appearances (for now) with the company before heading off to SMASH, the feisty Riho challenging SMASH’s head man TAJIRI and the ICEx60 Title defense of Tsukasa Fujimoto against the dynamic Hikari Minami.
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Retro DVD Review: WWW – Champion v Champion

You know there are times when you buy a DVD and you put it in your collection, but don’t watch it, thinking you’ll get round to it at some point when you get the chance? The problem is, you buy more DVDs, watch them and the one you planned to watch in the very near future just gets forgotten about, until you see it one day and feel so guilty that you’ve neglected it for so long?

That’s the story with me and World Women’s Wrestling‘s Champion v Champion DVD. I bought it three years ago and always meant to get round to it, but the backlog of shows builds up and even though I had the best intentions, I never watched it. Until yesterday, when I finally slotted the disc into the player and settled down to see what I had been missing.

World Women’s Wrestling came about as an all-female offshoot from Massachusetts-based New England Championship Wrestling, a promotion which has been about since 2000, and has seen wrestlers such as John Cena and Kofi Kingston wrestle there early in their careers. It has also boasted an impressive women’s division back when many independent promotions presented solitary matches with a rather small roster – with IWA: Mid South being an obvious exception. On the strength of their hard work, WWW was formed in 2006, a few months after NECW created a Women’s Championship, which was first held by Mercedes Martinez.

Meanwhile, over in Rhode Island, PWF Northeast also had its own Women’s Champion, and both promotions agreed to co-recognise the titles, and eventually amalgamate them. When the first WWW show was held in March 2006, both titleholders were babyfaces – Nikki Roxx held the NECW Women’s belt, while Ariel was the PWF Mayhem Women’s Champion – though things would change before this title for title showdown… (more…)


DVD Review: Girl Talk with Shelly Martinez

I don’t know why – I’m sure some will say I’m being pig ignorant or obtuse or something – but I don’t know much about Shelly Martinez. Sure, I know the basics, that she was Ariel in the revived WWE incarnation of ECW, she left there due to some altercation or other with Batista and then she enjoyed a run in TNA as Salinas, the feisty valet of tag team LAX. But that’s about it. I can’t tell you why I don’t know much about her, but that puts me in a fairly privileged position for this review of Girl Talk with Shelly Martinez, a shoot interview from Highspots conducted by SHIMMER interviewer and ArenaChicks commentator Amber Gertner.

This is Amber’s first attempt at a one-on-one extended interview, and straight out of the gate, I’m going to tell you that she did a great job. She has a plan on where she wants the interview to go and what topics she wants to cover, though isn’t afraid to deviate from her crib sheet if something sounds interesting. She also contributes to the conversation – and it’s a proper conversation, not a list of questions rifled to the interviewee – when she has personal opinions or insight into a subject.

It’s something Amber agrees with. Before writing this review, I asked Amber for some thoughts. When it came to the conversation, she admitted that “It was a real pleasure to conduct my first shoot interview with her. I felt it was more like an intimate chat rather than just a shoot interview.” (more…)


DVD Review: ACW American Joshi Queen of Queens 2010

In 2009, Anarchy Championship Wrestling based out of Austin, Texas started an annual tradition when they promoted the first “American Joshi Queen of Queens” tournament (won by Daizee Haze). I got it and enjoyed it, and really didn’t think much of anything about ACW until the next show came along. This is therefore the first ACW DVD I’ve picked up since then, and the lineup looks stellar – so let’s see if the action delivers.

We start with some sort of skit with a group calling themselves The Submission Squad. I recognise Athena, but I have no idea who the others are. Whoever they are, they are completely annoying. One of them is wearing a belt of some kind, and I assume they’re wrestlers. You wouldn’t necessarily know that to see them. The skit involves someone called Davy Vega who may or may not have had a plane crash and who may or may not have crawled four miles from the wreckage of the plane to get here. One of the guys says “What the hell is going on?”. I agree with this.

Next up is Jessica James backstage. She is apparently a last minute addition to the tourney, and it becomes clear that she’s up against Sara Del Rey. “Crap”, she says. Again, I agree with this comment.

We’re now inside the building, and there are more men that I’ve never seen before talking about things I know nothing about. I hit FF. After three consecutive skits, we get… a skit. This again features Athena and some of the annoying guys from the first skit. All things told, that’s ten minutes of the DVD and I haven’t seen a wrestling ring yet. Oh dear.

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DVD Review: ArenaChicks Volume 1

Firstly, an apology – I’ve been meaning to write this review for some time, but other commitments got in the way. However, these are excuses, and I’m remedying that right now by producing for you a review of ArenaChicks Volume 1.

We first heard of a new project from ArenaChicks founder Amber O’Neal way back in 2009 when she spent the interval between DVD tapings at SHIMMER taking down email addresses from the fans for an upcoming venture. We didn’t hear anything about it for a year, and assumed it had come to nothing. Then we got wind of ArenaChicks – a new DVD series being produced with CWF Mid-Atlantic in the North Carolina area of the US. This is the first offering of what O’Neal is hoping to become another viable stage for female wrestlers to ply their craft, so let’s take a look and see what it’s like…

Now, unlike shows such as SHIMMER, NCW: Femmes Fatales, WSU and Pro Wrestling: EVE, ArenaChicks doesn’t produce one night of action – instead, it has individual matches on a number of cards and collates them all onto one show. For that reason, this is a collection of what you may refer to as exhibition matches, rather than having shows which build to a crescendo of a main event. Because of that, you need to remember the matches are filmed in chronological order, which means the best or highest profile match may not necessarily be the final one. (more…)


Show Review: Ice Ribbon “Ribbon March” (21 March 2011)

Up for review here is Ice Ribbon‘s “Ribbon March” show at Korakuen Hall on March 21st, headlined by ICEx60 Champion Tsukasa Fujimoto defending her title against the masked Ray. This was the first big Ice Ribbon show since the Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami that crippled the country only ten days prior, so this show not only has the emotional weight of the disaster on its shoulders, but is presented basically “bare bones” as far as presentation is concerned, due to energy conservation – so no special lighting effects etc.

Elimination Match: Hikari Minami, Kurumi & Tsukushi vs Tamako, Riho & Maki Narumiya

So we start with a six girl elimination match. I don’t know an awful lot about some of these girls, and in fact one of them (Tamako) is making her pro debut here, while another (Narumiya) had only debuted less than a fortnight earlier. It does feature a bunch of the absolute youngest girls on the roster though… Kurumi is 10 years old, Riho is 13, while Tsukishi and Hikari Minami are both 15 years old. Bizarrely, the aforementioned new girls Tamako (at 21) and Narumiya (at 26 years old) are double the age of some of the other competitors here. Absolutely insane. Anyway – Tamako is super cute, but is clearly not at all ready, muddling her way through 54 seconds with Tsukishi before being pinned by a terrible schoolgirl. Riho works with Kurumi and pins her with a Northern Lights Suplex Hold at 2:43 to even the odds. Narumiya doesn’t look too bad before Hikari Minami pins her with a Finlay Roll – which leaves Riho alone against Tsukishi & Minami. Here’s where it started to pick up. Riho worked for three here, handling both with the polished aplomb you *really* don’t expect a girl of 13 to have. She eliminated Minami via ringout (causing your opponent to hit the floor – a common Japanese variant of the usual elimination rules), duelled with submissions and rollups with Tsukishi before eventually being pinned in 8:40 with a victory roll. The first half of the match was pretty awful, but Riho saved it with some excellent stuff in the second half. Good job.

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DVD Review: NCW Femmes Fatales 1 (5 September 2009)

First off, dear reader, I have a confession to make.

Despite reporting on NCW: Femmes Fatales and even interviewing its figurehead LuFisto on the ninth episode of the Women Of Wrestling Podcast, until this weekend, I hadn’t watched any of the shows. All of my knowledge has come from word of mouth, reading various reports and from general research.

In fact, it’s much like when I became a wrestling fan in the first place – I had seen WrestleMania VII in bits, but then started buying WWF Magazine in August 1991, which is where I picked up a huge amount of knowledge, history and trivia… as it was a good magazine back then. Eight months on, I had someone tape WrestleMania VIII for me, and everything went into a new level. In a similar vein, I know enough about Femmes Fatales to engage in a decent conversation, but had no knowledge of the DVDs, the quality of the wrestling or the intricacies that you can’t pick up from the written word. So a month ago, I picked up the first three shows, and put the first one in the DVD player yesterday. Here’s what I thought… (more…)


19 Pro: Free wrestling? Hell yeah, I’ll watch!

As Stew discussed earlier this week, there’s a much bigger world of wrestling out there than the Divas or Knockouts stuff which leaves us disappointed on a weekly basis. It’s not entirely the girls’ fault – they get fed crap and have to go out there and make the best of it – but considering how often they train and wrestle – especially in the case of the Divas – then some of them should be much better than they are.

There is so much women’s wrestling action every week that your best plan is to vote with your remote and your wallet. However, if you’re short on cash and don’t want to take a punt on something just in case you don’t like it, there’s some free wrestling out there to watch too… as long as you’re not at work or asleep or something… (more…)


DVD Review: Joshi 4 Hope (30 November 2010)

Amongst the offerings for sale at the S-Ovation table at the most recent SHIMMER tapings was a DVD entitled “Joshi 4 Hope”, and featured matches from the self-produced show this past November at Shin-Kiba First Ring. As well as the four young joshi talents who regularly impress at SHIMMER and who symbolise the “Joshi 4 Hope” concept (Ayumi Kurihara, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Misaki Ohata & Tomoka Nakagawa), the show featured the Japanese debut of SHIMMER Champion Madison Eagles along with an international cast which featured Canadian (Cherry Bomb), American (Hailey Hatred) and Mexican (Sexi Star) talent along with a number of other joshi names such as then NEO Champion Yoshiko Tamura. In fact, it was the first-time meeting between Eagles and Tamura along with an Ayumi Kurihara vs Tomoka Nakagawa rematch that persuaded me to be parted with the cash for the disc. Let’s see what sort of investment I made… (more…)


Ringbelles DVD Review: PWWA Last Woman Standing

The PWWA Last Woman Standing tournament took place on July 3, 2010 in Liverpool, Australia and while there are a few women on this DVD whom will be unfamiliar with, there are a few who you will definitely recognize from SHIMMER.

The first match of this very solid tournament belongs to then PWWA Champion Madison Eagles and Shazza Mckenzie. The match started off with some great mat wrestling. You would think Madison Eagles would easily have the advantage due to her finely tuned wrestling & mixed martial arts background, but Shazza did a great job keeping up with the veteran. Madison seemed to be gaining all the momentum and looked like she was on her way to a somewhat easy exit on to the second round, but that was altered when Shazza countered one of her signature moves into a neck breaker. By this point the tables are completely turned and Madison actually looked like she could be taking a very unexpected early exit. She mounted a comeback, eventually getting Shazza up for the “BRAIN BUSTA!” but it’s countered. Shazza then attempted to deliver a move of her own to Madison, but is hit with “Hell Bound” for the three.

Next up we have the Lady Gaga-lite Harley Wonderland sashaying out to the hit song “Paparazzi” for her match against Savannah Summers. The match started off with Harley bullying Savannah and pushing her to the mat twice during both attempts to lock up. The tide quickly turns when Savannah gives Harley a piece of her own medicine with a couple of nice shoulder blocks. Savannah started to pump up the crowd, but her momentum was temporarily stopped when Harley knocked her down with a drop kick. Savannah eventually found her streak, but got herself in trouble yet again, though as the old saying goes “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again” and it works for Savannah as she picks up the win with a roll up. (more…)


Ringbelles PPV Review: Royal Rumble

Tonight’s Divas match at the Royal Rumble produced two surprises, but neither one turned out to be what many people expected.

Right as LayCool and Natalya were squaring off, Raw’s General Manager interrupted with a message for all three women. Michael Cole reads that with Teddy Long indisposed, the GM is in charge. This match is now a fatal four way: Natalya vs. Layla vs. Michelle McCool vs. the following Diva…

Perfect chance for Amazing Kong to debut, right? Wrong – instead we got Eve. Seriously? The audience seemed to be as confused as everyone at home. (more…)