The wrestling community worldwide was shocked today as joshi superstar Ayumi Kurihara announced her forthcoming retirement at a press conference. Kurihara, 28, plans to retire at Korakuen Hall on August 4th. The reason for the retirement was given as a number of nagging injuries accumulated over a hard-hitting eight year career. Notably, she missed around a year and a half of action in 2007/8 with a broken clavicle suffered in a match in NEO (she still finished the match), and earlier this year suffered an orbital bone fracture in a match in WAVE. Kurihara said in her announcement today that she would not be happy competing at a level below her best, and that this has played a large part in her decision to retire.
However, some good news for fans of Kurihara – she will be competing in the USA one final time in just over one week’s time as part of SHIMMER Vol 53 at WrestleCon in Secaucus, NJ. Ayumi, a former SHIMMER Tag Team Champion, missed the October tapings last year, so this will be the first time she will compete under the SHIMMER banner in a year. The Vol 53 appearance will be a one-off, as she will not be at the Vol 54-57 taping block in Berwyn, IL the following weekend. Her opponent for Vol 53 has also been announced, and she will be taking on SHIMMER original Mercedes Martinez. The announcement of Ayumi completes the joshi lineup for the April SHIMMER tapings, with Ayako Hamada, Kana, Tomoka Nakagawa & the debuting Yuu Yamagata all already announced. (more…)
WARNING: Spoilers lay within.
TNA Wrestling is saying goodbye to the Impact Zone in Orlando, FL by hosting a series of One Night Only pay-per-views. In last week’s Roundup, we discussed the Knockouts Knockdown all-women show which saw a number of former Knockouts turn down the offer of being there. At the time, Traci Brooks was one of the women who had declined the offer, but it was not because she was holding a grudge of any description, tweeting “I had to say no to TNA for the KO ppv as I couldn’t make it that day. No other reason”.
Payton Banks (Rain) and Winter (Katarina Leigh) pointed out last week that they had also been asked but said no, while Salinas (Shelly Martinez) vlogged that she wasn’t asked. However, it was the former Roxxi who came out and explained in detail why she didn’t go back for Sunday’s show.
Nikki Roxx (who was messed around during her two stints in the promotion) spoke to the Greg DeMarco show about her turning down the offer, saying, “You can only get kicked so many times… I think that I had finally had enough. They had trouble treating me very well to begin with and I felt like I was being a glutton for punishment every time I went back… I felt like it was the right time to tell them no. It was like one of those bad relationships where you keep trying to get away from it… You can’t treat people badly and then hope that they’ll come back and hang out.” (more…)
It’s a big sacrifice to make, but Amapola had her head shaved as part of CMLL‘s Homenaje a Dos Leyendas show last night.
Both she and Estrellita had put their locks on the line for the match at Arena Mexico in Mexico City. The excellent Luchablog provided live results for the show, and reported that Estrellita won the match by 2 falls to 1 – Estrellita took the first and third with a casita (La Magistral) and arm submission respectively.
Despite being the longest reigning CMLL World Women’s Champion for a massive 1,442 days between 2007 and 2011 (by far the longest reign in the the title’s 20+ year history) Amapola’s Luchas de Apuestas record hasn’t been great. The 36-year old lost her mask back in 2006 after falling to Dark Angel, but beat Diana La Cazadora in a hair v hair outing the following year. However, she had her head shaved in 2008 after she lost to Lady Apache, meaning last night’s scalping is the second time she has gone bald. (more…)
On Sunday, I sat among 400 people in a hall in a small city in the west of England. The only reason why I had decided to go – well, apart from it being a 15 minute walk from my front door – was that it featured a women’s match that was pretty hyped up about. Unfortunately, the billed contest between Kay Lee Ray and Shanna had to be scrapped because of KLR suffering a broken toe two days previous, then wrestling for about 40 minutes on it the previous day – though as it turns out, her metatarsal had been broken for about a month, which was compounded by the broken toe. As a result, a suitable replacement was brought in to replace Ray, and it would more than compensate.
The fans at Alternative Wrestling World in Wolverhampton had no idea who Emi Sakura was. To them, she was a Japanese woman who wears a lot of fabric, doesn’t show much skin and visually, didn’t look like much to write home about. Around me, I heard some borderline racist jokes about the “Chinese” woman in the ring and some unfunny gags about ordering Chinese cuisine in a mocking Far Asian accent. Her opponent also got the heckles, with a guy yelling “get your tits out” to Portugal’s Perfect Athlete – as if that line has EVER worked. Needless to say, we were dealing with an audience with spectacularly low expectations for the contest, and more than their fair share of xenophobia and ignorance. I’m stunned that I didn’t see anyone get up to go to the bar or toilets. They would have regretted it if they had, as little did they know, but they were going to be treated to a showcase featuring one of Europe’s best against one of the best in the world… (more…)
What do you mean, you thought Sarita already had left?
Considering she hasn’t been on the Impact Wrestling show since April 19 last year where she, Rosita, Gail Kim and Madison Rayne lost to Mickie James, Miss Tessmacher, Tara and Velvet Sky, it would have been a fair bet that she had left. However, she wrestled one more match on TV after that – a loss to Velvet Sky which was broadcast on Xplosion on May 2 – and also competed at a BaseBrawl show on June 14. After that – nothing. (more…)
2012 Diva of the Year (named by both WWE Magazine and the WWE fans via the Slammy Awards) AJ Lee is about as far away from WWE’s idea of what a Diva should be as you can imagine. Short, quirky, geeky, lacking the body shape that others have had in the past, she comes across as the person you would be more likely to meet over an Xbox Live session of Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 than at an awards ceremony or a fancy bar. She’s your friend, your buddy – she’s not what WWE would perceive to be the ultimate in femininity.
But scratch beneath the surface, and she may be more woman than anyone else on the roster. She’s independent, driven, and has forged a path which she was never meant to go down – and in doing so, forced WWE to take notice.
After all, at the start of this year, she was Daniel Bryan’s put-upon girlfriend – the one who was the foil for him to turn heel, and saw her end up being verbally abused and put in harm’s way. If anything, at the time she was another version of the antithesis of a Diva – meek, helpless and unable to take care of herself. However, when their relationship ended on the post-WrestleMania SmackDown following Bryan’s loss of the World Heavyweight Title – which he blamed on her – she went off at the deep end. It gave her character a chance to have an edge, and she ran with it. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (11 December 2012) – Divas future, intergender wrestling part 2, Portia’s tweets, Fierce Females DVD review & more
WWE knows the Divas division is in tatters at the moment, and seems intent on asking us what we want to happen to it, so the promotion has been contacting focus groups asking about the future of the women. PWInsider reports they were sent out to ask fans what they think of the Divas in the past, what they are like now, and which women they liked. Another question which was reportedly on the list is what role they wanted to see them in – be it as valets/managers, dancers, wrestlers, love interests and more.
This could be the opportunity that fans of women’s wrestling have been waiting for. If the data comes back in the way which we would hope for, it could see a resurgence of in-ring action for the Divas in 2013, along with some proper storylines with episodic character development, culminating in big matches at pay-per-views. It could see them take more prominent roles on the TV shows, and have their segments played out in front of interested, active crowds who care about what is going on. It could also see an injection of new talent into the ranks, possible gimmick revamps to make them more interesting, and having more options of big matches all as part of the quest to snare the Divas Championship.
Oh yes, it could be the start of something beautiful.
But what if it isn’t? (more…)
In a recent interview with Edge, he was asked why so many women are voluntarily choosing to leave WWE. His reply: “I don’t think they get a shot and that’s why most leave. No incentive.”
Now, I was all set to expand on this, but there is the flip side – what about the fortunate ones who do get a shot? Do they seize the opportunity with both hands? Well, one is certainly doing so at the moment, and she seems to be the only one on the main roster taking the her role as a wrestler deadly seriously.
Consider what WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres has been up to in the last week. She was featured in a profile video for American Latino which focuses a large amount of time on the self defence for women programme she offers – something that she believes very passionately about. She teamed up with the Gracie Academy for the Women Empowered DVD set, and has worked hard promoting women being able to take care of themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
The interview also saw Torres justifying her heel character in WWE by saying she is a woman who gets what she wants, and her holding the WWE Divas belt is proof of that. It’s weird logic, but she has a point – it gets around the fact that she is a heel too, even though she is purporting herself to be on the side of the good girls. (more…)
Last night’s scary incident involving Jerry “The King” Lawler’s heart attack during the live broadcast of Monday Night Raw in Montreal, Quebec, Canada saw an outpouring of support across the Internet, with various woman involved in wrestling taking to Twitter to wish the WWE Hall Of Famer all the best. AJ Lee, Vickie Guerrero, Velvet Sky (who worked on shows with Lawler in Aruba at the weekend) and former wife Stacy Carter all expressed their sentiments.
Lawler’s current girlfriend Lauryn McBride took to her Facebook to let everyone know the situation:
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. It has been confirmed that Jerry did have a heart attack…he is in stable condition and breathing on his own & heart is stable. I’m getting on the first flight out of here to be with him & will keep everyone posted. He is a strong man and we will get him back at his best as soon as I can get him home! I love you so so much baby!!
An interesting riddle is arising surrounding the future of CMLL‘s Dark Angel, Sarah Stock (also known as Sarita in TNA) as a result of her current tour of Japan for the STARDOM promotion. Apparently CMLL executives are intensely unhappy at Dark Angel for booking herself for an extended tour of Japan off her own back when CMLL’s chosen business partners at REINA x World have been unable to secure dates on the Canadian. Not only that, but by securing her own deal with Stardom, CMLL are missing out financially on the booking fee they would otherwise command from REINA (or any other international promotion looking to book her).
Dark Angel last worked for STARDOM back in March for a couple of dates, to help celebrate Io Shirai‘s 5th anniversary in wrestling, and to be presented with flowers and a plaque to commemorate her own ten year anniversary. However, since agreeing to go back over there for the an extended STARDOM tour (including the currently running 5*Star GP), CMLL have continued to advertise Dark Angel for shows in Mexico while apparently *in full knowledge* that she will be unable to make the bookings. (more…)
A pretty quick turnaround for this little slice of history from a fortnight ago, as it represents the first time a one-on-one match between two women has headlined a CMLL lucha card in Arena Mexico in the 50+ year history of wrestling in the building. Buoyed by the surprisingly good turnout for the recent 10 woman cage match (where the loser of the fall lost her mask or her hair), which headlined the Arena, CMLL World Women’s Champion Marcela and challenger Tiffany were selected to go and main event opposite AAA‘s TripleMania XX show elsewhere in Mexico City. It was a poisoned chalice, and consequently, the show didn’t draw particularly well, but Marcela and Tiffany ended up putting on a really dramatic and dynamic two-out-of-three falls match with a shaved head being the prize for the loser. Well worth a watch. (more…)
Ayumi Kurihara‘s reign as CMLL World Women’s Champion was not very long – winning the belt in November last year and dropping it in March – but it certainly had its moments, one of which we bring to you this weekend.
Hailey Hatred‘s challenge for the title came less than a month after dropping the JWP Openweight Championship to Tsubasa Kuragaki, and winning the CMLL World Women’s strap would have been a great way to bounce back and get on track again. Kurihara, meanwhile, was not keen on dropping the title. She had already retained the belt over Cherry at Union Pro on January 3, and claiming the scalp of Hatred would be a great boost to her credibility while enjoying her first world title reign in any promotion. Click the jump to watch the entire 2 out of 3 fall contest from REINA 24 held on January 15… (more…)
After seeing women successfully headline Arena Mexico for the first time in June (in a 10 woman escape-the-cage match), last night saw two luchadoras earn the right to main event Arena Mexico with the highest of stakes on the line – hair vs hair. At the end of the night, it was Tiffany who left bald after dropping the third and decisive fall to current CMLL World Women’s Champion Marcela. The 39 year old ruda had earlier refused a hair vs hair challenge from Marcela on more than one occasion (saying she wanted to hold out for a championship match), but CMLL went ahead and announced the match anyway, putting them in the main event – and putting them on the same night as AAA presented its TripleMania XX supershow elsewhere in Mexico City. (more…)
Velvet Sky was released from TNA last week, and I’m sure it wasn’t a decision that she came to lightly. However, following the departure of her longtime tag team partner Angelina Love at the start of July, she thought out loud on Twitter about a Beautiful People reunion, and there was no way that could happen on TNA TV, so we should have read into that at the time. Well, now it’s set to happen, as Sky and Love (now going under her original guise of Angel Williams) will be on the same show for Northeast Wrestling on September 22 in Fiskhill, NY, and have been booked to participate in a tag team match for Family Wrestling Entertainment on October 5 in Brooklyn, NY against Maria Kanellis and a partner who has not been announced yet.
Like I pointed out when the news of her release was announced, Sky must imagine that there must be a lot of money on the table for the Beautiful People to do a tour. However, as well as taking the money on the table, both she and Williams have the opportunity to give back too. (more…)
Several weeks ago, the luchadoras of CMLL competed in an Infierno en el Ring match – what’s that? A high stakes “escape the cage” match with ten competitors with the absolute biggest price to pay for the loser. Last one out loses their mask or their hair! The competitors for the match include tecnicas (babyfaces) Dark Angel (aka TNA‘s Sarita – not that you’d know), Estrellita, Goya Kong, Dalis La Caribena and CMLL World Womens Champion Marcela and rudas (heels) Amapola, Princesa Blanca, Tiffany, La Seductora & Lady Apache.
Goya Kong and La Seductora (who are the only two women in the cage with masks) started the issue that directly built to the match several weeks prior, but the interconnected rivalries grew to include almost all the regular luchadoras. Estrellita has been one of the stronger pushed luchadoras, feuding with Amapola and Tiffany. Lady Apache has recently turned to the ruda side – and is feuding with Dark Angel, while Blanca is recently feuding with Dalis. The match is historic as it is the first time ever that a women’s match has headlined a major show in Arena Mexico… (more…)
Two weeks ago, Marcela won the CMLL World Women’s Championship for the third time from Ayumi Kurihara, as we reported here. Well, the match has emerged online, which means we can get to see the battle that took place on March 9.
Even though you already know the result, this is a match which is worth going out of your way to watch. The first two falls end with crazy submissions, while the third is a ribcrusher which is seldom seen. This is a real thumbs-up of a match.
When it comes to holding championships, it has been a rough couple of months for Kurihara. She dropped the WAVE Tag Team Championship that she held with Kana to Toshie Uematsu & Ran YuYu on February 5, then she dropped the CMLL belt in this match, and last weekend, she and Ayako Hamada were dethroned as SHIMMER Tag Team Champions at the weekend – albeit after a record-equalling seven successful title defences.
Having said that, Ayumi’s matches have been consistently excellent, putting over the quality of matches which are associated with the championships and making them seem more valuable as a result. Kurihara should wrestle everywhere – she can do joshi, a more western-style, and also (as evidenced in this match) lucha. She is a wrestling chameleon. (more…)
The CMLL World Women’s Championship is now back in the hands of Marcela, who won the title for a third time last night at the promotion’s card in Mexico City, Mexico. Defending champion Ayumi Kurihara took the first fall of the contest, but then lost the following two, eventually being defeated after two knees to the chest from the second rope in the decisive third fall.
While not a total surprise – considering Marcela defeated Kurihara in a non-title affair last week – there was some speculation amongst lucha fans that Ayumi would retain the championship in this match ahead of the big REINA anniversary card taking place in May which featured a stack of female CMLL stars, and a title change may take place then. However, as has quickly become customary since Marcela’s last title win over Amapola last October, the stability which Amapola brought to the title by holding it for four years has been replaced with some more unexpected results. (more…)
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, how about a look at two of the romances running in WWE that involve two of the biggest storylines going on at the moment?
On Raw this week, the relationship between Zack Ryder and Eve Torres ground to a halt when Eve decided to kiss John Cena after he helped to rescue her from the clutches of Kane. Unfortunately, a crushed Ryder saw the whole thing, though Torres claimed it was a heat of the moment thing, then called things off with him, hoping that they can remain friends.
On the plus side, this storyline is the best opportunity that Torres has every had to show some personality in her near five year WWE tenure, even though it has caused her to experience derision from the audience for knowingly or unknowingly screwing over one of the favourite wrestlers in the promotion right now – someone who has captured the hearts and imagination of fans by standing up to his bosses with his YouTube Z! True Long Island Story, getting over in spite of his booking (or lack of it) and then being sucked into one of the most asinine and ridiculous storylines in years, that being Cena v Kane, by being the whipping boy who is the real life equivalent of Kenny from South Park being murdered on every show. By screwing over the guy who has the sympathy of fans, Eve is positioned as a heel… for now. (more…)
It’s been a pretty successful couple of months for Ayumi Kurihara. At the start of October, she won the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship with Ayako Hamada, and successfully defended it through to the end of that batch of tapings. At the end of last month, she and partner Kana won the Dual Shock WAVE Tag League to claim the promotion’s doubles straps, and today, the 27-year old won arguably the most prestigious title in her career to date by becoming the CMLL World Women’s Champion, defeating Marcela by coming from behind to win by two falls to one – the outgoing champ had only won the belt at the end of last month on her thirteenth attempt.
The previous champion, Amapola, held the title for a whopping 1,442 days. Marcela’s latest reign lasted just 29 – the shortest in the title’s history. This victory makes Kurihara the fourth Japanese woman to hold the championship.
This isn’t the first singles title that Ayumi has held. She has also been the Xtreme Latin American Wrestling Extreme Champion, as well as being the final NEO/NWA Pacific Champion before the promotion closed down at the end of last year. However, this World Championship (a title that has been in existence for close to 20 years) is undoubtedly the biggest shot in the arm for Kurihara, who won the belt in the main event of her 6th Anniversary celebration show in Tokyo, made even sweeter in that she had the belt presented to her by the first titleholder, Bull Nakano, who – as you can tell from the photo – is still piling on the weight ahead of her retirement show in January. (more…)
One of the longest women’s title reigns in wrestling came to a halt on Friday night when Marcela defeated Amapola to win the CMLL Women’s Championship, ending a reign that began on November 16, 2007 – that’s a staggering 1,442 days.
This was far from the first bite of the cherry for the 40 year old Marcela, who won the CMLL World Women’s Championship at the thirteenth time of asking. It’s estimated that Marcela and Amapola have contested in excess of 25 singles matches against each other in the last six years, and it’s easy to see why – the two have tremendous chemistry and have been the cornerstone of the CMLL women’s division ever since the company decided to bring back regular female wrestling in 2004. Marcela was actually the surprise first CMLL World Women’s Champion following the belt’s re-activation in 2005 (most expected Lady Apache to get the title before she decided to jump to AAA), so it was quite the vote of confidence in the technically sound Marcela that she had the entire success or failure of the new women’s division foisted on her shoulders. It was sink or swim time, and luckily for her, the promotion and the burgeoning division, Marcela swam – and picked up plaudits from observers based on her technical ability. (more…)
Last month, we featured an “In Video” post highlighting the cartwheeling Ice Ribbon sensation Ray as she captured the first CMLL-REINA Jr Championship in a match at REINA.12, defeating CMLL‘s own Zeuxis in a three fall match. Since then, the champion was busy, heading off to Mexico almost immediately thereafter for a several week long stay. During the course of the trip, she had cause to defend her newly won championship against another CMLL regular, Silueta. Any excuse to highlight Ray is fine with us – so check it out, why don’t ya?
Click through the link for another uniquely lucha match, this time from AAA, which gives new meaning to the term “Dark Match”
Very WWE heavy at the top of this week’s Roundup, as I take a look at the last three shows the promotion has presented on TV, and how the writers have made a complete balls-up of the Kelly Kelly v Divas Of Doom storyline. Personally, I’d have produced things a different way, so I’m going to list what happened, my grievances with it and what I would have done instead. Bear in mind, this is just one man’s opinion, and I’m sure many will disagree with what I say, but I believe that this is logical, and not just the rantings of some fanboy.
On the go-home episode of SmackDown in Toronto before Night of Champions, Beth Phoenix defeated AJ, then delivered a promise to defeat Kelly at the pay-per-view. And that’s it.
Considering hometown girl Trish Stratus was on the show, it was a wasted opportunity. Stratus was only featured in backstage segments with Edge, Christian and Zack Ryder, and had no interaction with the girls. The chance was there for Trish to use some of the superstar status she has to give Kelly the rub (take your heads out of the gutter, you filthy people) and maybe get some heat for Beth at the same time. On goes my fantasy booking hat… (more…)
While the joshi scene in Japan isn’t what it once was, there are still quite a number of promotions out there pumping out quite a lot of good stuff – each struggling to develop its own identity in the sea of puroresu indy feds. One such promotion is the fairly new REINA promotion. Officially debuting several months ago (May 2011) following a few pre-launch “Fiesta” shows, REINA has (at publication date) ran over a dozen events in front of small but enthusiastic crowds, and tried to forge its own personality by incorporating a lucha style and having a strong bond with the oldest lucha libre promotion in the world, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). As a result, a number of CMLL luchadoras have made their way across to Japan for extended tours – CMLL World Women’s Champion Amapola, Marcela, Silueta, La Commandante and Zeuxis (the latter three of whom have appeared as regulars), as have various other gaijin, such as Mia Yim, Kellie Skater and Luscious Latasha. It makes for a unique blend of wrestlers and styles.
While REINA recognises CMLL’s World Women’s Title (and in fact will be hosting another defense of the belt in a few hours at REINA.13 as Amapola defends against Ayumi Kurihara, it has taken the opportunity to develop a brand new co-recognised champion with CMLL. The belt, debuted in July and named the CMLL-REINA Campeonato Internacional (International Champion), is intended to be fought over by wrestlers with under ten years of experience. A tournament was held, with CMLL’s Zeuxis and Ice Ribbon’s Ray as the two finalists – with the two squaring off as the headline attraction of REINA.12 at Edogawa-ku Tobu Friend Hall on October 9th.
Click on after the page break to see the remainder of the match
Earlier this week, Ringbelles found out about a show taking place on January 8, 2012. We knew nothing about it except that it was taking place at the Tokyo Dome CIty Hall and would be called Bull Nakano Produce “EMPRESS”. And that’s all we knew… until Dave Meltzer furnished us with more information as part of this week’s mammoth Wrestling Observer.
Keiko “Bull” Nakano will be appearing – but not wrestling – on her retirement show on her 44th birthday. Barring a very brief nostalgia comeback when she teamed with her mentor Dump Matsumoto in 2001, Nakano has had very little to do with wrestling since retiring in 1997 at the age of 29 due to injuries suffered because of her hard-hitting style and weight, which was around 220 pounds at the time.
After her retirement, Nakano dropped a shedload of weight – last year, she was reportedly down to 130 – and took up professional golf in 1998. The learning curve turned out to be very steep, and finished 250th place of 251 in a LPGA Futures (essentially a farm system for rising golf stars) Qualifying Tournament in November 2004, and didn’t fare much better the following year when she finished 261st out of 271. However, she managed to make it into Futures in January 2006 a couple of weeks after her 38th birthday. (more…)