Not making it to Bellatrix 5 in Norwich, England on Sunday may have been unfortunate, but it did provide me the opportunity to utilise the option to watch the show on iPPV. Considering a lot of the changes from Bellatrix 4 last November were being done because of this one being broadcast live, it was interesting to be able to assess if those changes were successful.
Improvements to aesthetics like giant wall hangings of the roster, an improved entranceway, ringside barriers and more attention paid to start and running times were coupled with the venue being a purpose-built TV studio with full-scale lights and sound systems, the Epic Studios in Norwich looked vastly different to 5 months ago. The benefit of it being a proper studio also made it easier for the show to be streamed online, as the facilities to broadcast were all there, and had been tried and tested with previous unrelated shows. As a result, Bellatrix 5 was one of the slickest women’s wrestling iPPVs produced to date. (more…)
The last week has seen the continued downfall of two women who were among the most popular females in the wrestling in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Starting with wrestler-turned-porn star Chyna, who collapsed three times between Thursday and Saturday while in Miami Beach, FL for the 2012 Exxxotica Expo, where she was promoting her latest appearance in a skin flick, playing She Hulk in a porn parody of The Avengers. The first incident happened on Thursday when she passed out in the Catalina hotel’s pool at the Expo’s launch party and was asked to return to her hotel room to sleep it off. But all Chyna did was recover for another assault on the bar the following day.
The following morning, the former WWE Intercontinental and Women’s Champion passed out at the convention itself, right in front of the main stage. After being checked out by paramedics, the 41-year old was helped back to her hotel room for more rest and relaxation – and she needed that help, as video footage posted on TMZ showed that she was in no condition to walk unaided. One day later, she was back, and was seen slumped in the lobby. She was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach after the third incident, and did not return to the event.
Now, I’m not writing this to poke fun at or mock Chyna. On the contrary, this is a plea for her to reassess her life.
Before her one-off in-ring comeback at TNA Sacrifice a year ago, word had gone around that she was planning to move to Japan and teach English as a foreign language – something that I fully supported. It would be a good career for her to be part of, would make a positive difference in people’s lives and could see her slip away from the spotlight that was eating her alive. After all, she had taken part in a very public rehabilitation on Celebrity Rehab in 2008 which she took part in after admitting that drugs had seen her life spiral out of control – she claimed she was in the middle of her drug use when her sex tape, later released as One Night In Chyna was filmed. Before Celebrity Rehab, she had undergone private rehab after a revealing interview with Howard Stern where she said she didn’t want to do drugs anymore, but if a line of cocaine was put in front of her, she would have to have it. (more…)
A week ago we talked to the lovely Lisa Moretti, aka Ivory – and we left her on the verge of heading off to Los Angeles to attend the LA premiere of GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. A week on, it’s time for another chat to discuss how the premiere went, what she thought of the documentary, and who showed up. From there, it’s time for a headlong dive into the massive second part of Lisa’s wrestling career, as Ivory in WWE. We talk how she got into the promotion, her ho psychology, getting up to speed after so many years away from the business… and just WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT PURPLE SCARF?? We talk working with The Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young, the horrendous Armageddon ’99 Evening Gown Swimming Pool match, Miss Kitty as a locker room poison, the Right to Censor and her program with Chyna, and Steve Austin‘s opinion on their WrestleMania match. Lisa also discusses Stacy Keibler & Torrie Wilson (and deviating from the script), Fit Finlay and the evolution of the Divas division and the end of her road with the company. Once again, an absolute pleasure and a class act. Enjoy.
(left click on picture to stream, right click and “save as” to download)
Yesterday, TNA announced that they were forming a working relationship with Ohio Valley Wrestling to be a “training and developmental facility”, much like the setup that OVW had with WWE until 2008.
In a statement, TNA declared:
NASHVILLE, TN (November 7, 2011)– TNA IMPACT WRESTLING announces that they are entering into an exclusive relationship with Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), effective immediately, as the official training and developmental facility for TNA’s current and future stars of TNA IMPACT WRESLTING. Former wrestling star and OVW owner Danny Davis will work closely with TNA SVP of Programming and Talent Relations Bruce Prichard in the development of the talent through training, live events, and weekly television production allowing talent to explore every aspect of the business.
“OVW is the best of the best as far as training and nurturing potential superstars. Their track record speaks for itself. Whether looking to develop brand new talent or to fine tune existing talent, OVW has the talent and program to fit our needs.” says TNA’s Prichard. “TNA is providing developmental talent the opportunity to hone their craft in an environment that will allow them to grow and prosper.”
TNA talent will be arriving soon at the facility to begin an extensive training program with the industry’s leading experts. The program is akin to a college scholarship program where talent is provided a scholarship style agreement with TNA to learn the craft. The talent to attend the program is selected by TNA’s Prichard and TNA officials who will be monitoring the progress of each wrestler at camp and the live events.
Now, nonwithstanding the fact that TNA’s press office can’t spell “WRESTLING” – even though it matters – this will be a good opportunity for many aspiring young talent in TNA. Quite frankly, it’s something both WWE and TNA need, as the limited number of approved places for wrestlers to get more experience in either company is pretty slim. However, this is also a two way street, as some wrestlers who currently consider Louisville, KY their main base could use it as an opportunity to make contacts and get spotted – or re-spotted, in the case of the former Sojo Bolt, AKA current OVW Women’s Champion Lady JoJo.
For example, if TNA wants to give its tag team division a bit of a revival (yes, I realise what I just said) then there are two potential teams waiting to go. The first would be the combination of the Smothers Twisted Daughters, comprised of Izza Belle and Jessie Belle Smothers – the latter of which really is the daughter of the awesome Tracy Smothers. (more…)
The future of women’s wrestling in Britain was looking bright. In May 2010, Pro Wrestling: EVE debuted with a lot of fanfare, announcing a working relationship with World Association of Wrestling, meaning Sweet Saraya and her daughter Britani Knight would be part of the proceedings, along with other WAW talent Destiny and Amazon (and later, Liberty and Melodi). The partnership seemed to be working well, with training seminars being held with WAW, and EVE making Britani its first Champion two months ago.
Fast forward 13 months, and things are looking much muddier.
Last Saturday, less than two hours before Britani would defend the EVE title against Jenny Sjodin at an XWA Wrestling show in Morecambe, Saraya took to her Facebook to say that the relationship with WAW and EVE was being permanently severed, and would not be healed. In addition, it also said that WAW talent would no longer be on EVE shows.
While our Twitter exploded with requests for information, both from fans and wrestlers themselves, I was sat in the crowd at Morecambe unaware, much like EVE promoter Dann Read and the participants in the match. As it turned out, not even Saraya’s daughter knew that this decision was going to be made, nor that it had been made public and was being discussed.
There was no massive incident that caused the split, but more of a lot of little niggles that eventually became too much. Britani travelled to Morecambe against the wishes of family members as she was ill, with swollen legs and voice gone, presumably still suffering the after-effects of the glandular fever that she wrestled with on the EVE Championship weekend. According to Saraya, she did so because of promises made by Dann Read that he wanted to get her booked all around the country and get a number of successful defences under her belt – thereby increasing EVE’s national exposure. It seems that when Saraya learned that Britani would be dropping the title that night, it went against what they were told would be happening with Britani, and saw it as a betrayal of trust. We must point out that it isn’t down to Britani being upset with the booking decision and refusing to drop the title – it apparently is down to promises being made then then reneged on.
Saraya also went on to say that she would be reviving World Association of Women’s Wrestling – a promotion which promoted a number of cards between 2006 and 2009. (more…)
The Big News
In what was a pretty classy move by WWE, not only did they let Kharma go out there and tell the truth, they also left the door open for her return.
Following a week of speculation – started by the Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online by saying she would be out of action for nine months – Kharma came clean to the world and revealed her pregnancy on Raw last night.
In a straight promo – much like Edge’s when he revealed he had to retire – she told us about how she had two dreams, the first of which was to be a WWE Superstar (note she said Superstar instead of Diva… telling. Also, she said the word “wrestling” or “wrestler” three times). She talked about applying for Tough Enough 2 back in 2002 – something I’ve documented in the past – and how Jim Ross thought she was too fat to make it. Undeterred, she travelled to Japan, scrubbed floors and earned the right to train and become a star there, as she told to us in the Women of Wrestling Podcast last year.
From there, Kharma also talked about how she had always wanted a family, and officially let us know about her pregnancy – something that received a nice reception from the fans. She described it as a “high risk pregnancy”, which is understandable considering her working environment, thanked the audience for their support and said that she would return in a year.
Of course, with this being WWE, there was an interruption by the Bella Twins who mocked Kharma with some poorly written, and even more poorly delivered, insults. Seriously, if Nikki and Brie were any more wooden, they could have been part of the hull of Noah’s Ark. Perhaps they didn’t fully believe or support the words they were saying, so it came across that way in the promo. Still, Kharma promised that she would be back for them in a year, which makes sure that we haven’t seen the last of her in WWE. (more…)
There were two matches involving female in-ring action last night at TNA Sacrifice (are they still called TNA or is it now Impact Wrestling? We can’t tell, it’s confusing). In one match, Mickie James retained her Knockouts title by beating Madison Rayne with the help of Rayne’s now-former associate Tara, who clocked her overbearing boss with the infamous loaded glove to free herself from her their agreement; in the the semi-main event, Kurt Angle and Chyna defeated Jeff and Karen Jarrett.
So let us take a look at what worked, what didn’t, and what was downright awful: (more…)
Last week, we discussed the TNA debut for former WWF Intercontinental and Women’s Champion Chyna. We covered her recent issues, her plan to become a teacher, and how we feel about her returning to wrestling.
Well, it was televised on Impact last night, and on the face of it, everything looks peachy – there was a big pop for her, Madusa commented on it, and she was trending on Twitter (like that even matters, as you need a tiny percentage of tweets to do that). But if you scratch beneath the surface, things may be a little less awesome.
The Big News
Some wrestlers who quit the business can’t stay away from the spotlight and return time and time again. Some – like Bob Backlund – think they still have one more run left in them. Some have to keep wrestling because they can’t afford to stop – Flair, I’m looking at you. And some look like they’re happy to be consigned to history, only to show up out of the blue and shock us all.
And that’s what Joanie Laurer’s done.
Well, I say Joanie Laurer, but as of 2007, that’s no longer her name – in fact, she’s legally changed her name to Chyna, which is why TNA has been able to use the name that she used when she was in the WWF as part of her return to the grap game after nine years away. Her last main stage matches were in New Japan in late 2002, though her last appearance on US wrestling TV was in May 2001 – exactly 10 years ago – when she was the WWF Women’s Champion. She unceremoniously left the promotion after being benched for a few months – while still the champ – because she and the WWF could not reach a deal in her contract negotiations. To take her off TV while still in possession of the title shows just how pissed off they were with her.
Over the last decade, most of the reports and appearances of Chyna have shown her spiralling out of control – she’s been hospitalised a few times due to medication overdoses, as well as appearing on rehab programmes and complete freakshow The Surreal Life.
Things took a positive twist earlier this year when it was reported that Chyna was looking to go to Japan and teach English as a foreign language. As someone who has a number of friends who have done the very same thing in South Korea, it sounded like a great plan for her to get a career and her life back on track. It seemed like she had put wrestling behind her.
Then TNA came calling. (more…)
Considering the news from the latest Impact tapings, it’s probably worth a look at the last time Chyna wrestled for a major promotion. For the trivia buffs, that was in 2002. Nine years ago.
Joanie Laurer had left the WWF the year before after hitting a brick wall in contract negotiations – allegedly, she wanted the same kind of money that Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H were getting – and was benched from June 2001 until her contract expired in November. As she was the Women’s Champion at the time, the belt became inactive, and was won by Trish Stratus for the first time at Survivor Series. Her last match on WWF pay-per-view was a decent match against Lita at Judgment Day in May 2001 – ten years to the month – which was notable for having quite a bit of heat, and for one of Chyna’s massive boobs almost falling out of her gear.
After her contract expired, Laurer signed a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling, where she debuted as a ref in the Steiner Brothers v Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kensuke Sasaki on May 2, 2002, then returned in September for four matches. The match we have for you here was her penultimate match to date. From October 14, here’s Laurer v Masahiro Chono.
That title is not a typo. In the year TWO THOUSAND AND ELEVEN, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer has returned to professional wrestling by joining TNA (or Impact Wrestling, as it will apparently soon be called) as Kurt Angle’s love interest and his mystery partner for their mixed tag team match against Jeff and Karen Jarrett at Sacrifice on May 15.
From last night’s tapings, which will be broadcast on May 12, courtesy of the Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online:
Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan all came out. Hogan demanded the network rep who was promised to appaer come out. It was Mick Foley. Foley said Hogan conned his way into running the company, but the network has been paying attention and Hogan may run TNA, but the network is adding a new promotion to its schedule, Impact Wrestling. The show is all about wrestling. That’ll last about a week. He announced a 25 man Battle Royal with the winner facing Sting for the title. Foley then introduced Kurt’s tag team partner against the Jarretts as Chyna.
Battle Royal came down to Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Bully Ray and Mr. Anderson. Jarrett dumped Angle when Karen helped out. As they are celebrating, Chyna got in the ring and threw out Jeff. She went after Karen but Jeff dragged her away. Anderson managed to eliminate Ray to win the match.
It’s hard to convey any reaction to this, apart from shaking my head so hard that it may dislocate and fall off my shoulders. (more…)