Welcome to the 2013 Ringbelles Year End Awards – a trio of accolades where we acknowledge the standouts of what has been a bumper year for women’s wrestling around the world, and giving us plenty of candidates to chew over en route to picking our victorious three. Tomorrow and Sunday respectively, we reveal the Breakout Star and Wrestler of the Year – but first, we begin with the Discovery of the Year, and this was a complicated one. Let us explain, but first, we should mention some of the wrestlers who featured very heavily in our considerations.
The swelling of iPPV over the last year has afforded everyone great opportunities to find out about more stars, especially if we lack the means to be able to see them live. Instead of videos leaking onto the Internet and you having to stumble on them, live online broadcasts have meant that we have been introduced to new faces – many of whom have made an impression on us. As a result, we got the chance to enjoy the work of Barbi Hayden, who did a great job on two Women Superstars Uncensored cards in the latter half of the year; meanwhile, Xandra Bale also raised our eyebrows and was very unlucky to have suffered a fibula injury, as it meant she missed a potential standout match against Cheerleader Melissa at NCW Femmes Fatales XIII. Speaking of Canadian stars and WSU, Jewells Malone has also done some great work and enjoyed some quality exposure. Another up for consideration was Crazy Mary Dobson, who was a big hit for Insane Championship Wrestling: Fierce Females, and also made a good impression at the most recent SHIMMER tapings, and moved away from the death match stuff to also develop her wrestling skills in Japan.
The wrestler who just missed out on winning the accolade is Heidi Lovelace, who has really shone in 2013 with a great outing at National Pro Wrestling Day, as well as defeating Eddie Kingston in the main event of October’s Wrestling Is Heart show and was also part of one of the year’s best storylines, playing the infatuated party in a manipulative same-sex romance with Taeler Hendrix in Ohio Valley Wrestling.
The term “discovery” is an abstract one, and is subjective, depending as to when you were exposed to that particular wrestler. If you were to draw parallels with music, you could have someone who has been following a band in small venues for many years before they start to get signed to a major label, release singles and albums and start doing larger tours. One fan will discover the band at a different time to another, though both have experienced that initial exposure at one time. For that reason, the Discovery of the Year award goes to a woman who – like Portugal’s Perfect Athlete Shanna – made a big impact in the United States, but also had success in Japan… (more…)
Episode 62 with Allysin Kay
When we spoke to Allysin Kay last year for Episode 44 of the Podcast, she was the AIW Absolute Women’s Champion and was on the verge of defending her title in a big challenge at an upcoming Girls Night Out show. Fast forward to now, Kay’s *still* undefeated as champion and on the verge of *another* major title defence at Girls Night Out 9 & 10 this weekend. In the interim she’s been wrestling literally all over the place, including just returning Stateside from a three month tour of Japan. As well as looking forward to Girls Night Out this weekend, we talk the Japan excursion, how it came about, the culture and language issues of an extended stay in Japan (not to mention the humidity and constant fear of Earthquakes). We find out her favourite match from her trip, and her favourite match she saw as a fan, discuss this Instagram picture, and chow down on just where the best steak is in Tokyo. We talk her return to SHINE this past weekend, and the ongoing absence of Taylor Made at SHINE, the (presumably) upcoming reunion of Made In Sin at SHIMMER later in the month, her favourite SHIMMER moments to date, the apparently cursed tag team feud in WSU vs Annie Social & Kimber Lee, her mouthpiece assisted match with Cheerleader Melissa at NCW:Femmes Fatales and her upcoming return to Beyond Wrestling. Oh, and racist Japanese people… Oh Allysin…
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This weekend, Angelus Layne is one of the entrants in the 2013 version of ACW‘s Queen of Queens tournament – a big opportunity for this Midwest grappler who has been having a very productive 2013 so far. With that in mind, Stew caught up with Angelus for what was *in theory* meant to be a quick chat – but soon turned into a near podcast length discussion.
We talked Queen of Queens (and who she’s got her eye on in that tournament), getting advice from former QoQ winner Rachel Summerlyn, representing St Louis Anarchy and the fun times she’s had there (including working against babyface Jessicka Havok earlier in the year). We discuss working for AIW in Ohio (debuting at the last minute at Girls Night Out 8 earlier this year), and wrestling Darkness Crabtree for Wrestling Is Intense. We also have an in-depth discussion of hairstyles (yes, really), WWE hiring practices, social media, dig out a couple of comic book references and Angelus tells the story of “The Curse of July” and how it killed her chance to appear at NCW: Femmes Fatales last year.
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Ohio’s Absolute Intense Wrestling has announced the return of its successful Girls Night Out all-female shows – only this time with a twist, announcing not one, but *two* new shows, taped back to back on October 6th. Both shows will emanate from the regular home of AIW, Turner’s Hall in Cleveland – and one of the shows will feature an already announced main event of Allysin Kay defending the AIW Absolute Women’s Championship against top contender Veda Scott.
Kay, who won the title at Girls Night Out 6 on April 15, 2012 has been on a tear in the promotion, standing head and shoulders above everyone else to date. Veda Scott comes into GNO 9 & 10 not only as one half of Hope & Change (the current AIW Tag Team Champions, with Gregory Iron), but also having won two matches in one night at Girls Night Out 8 (including a four way ladder match) to secure this shot.
With SHIMMER already announcing a weekend of shows on October 19th in Berwyn, IL, Bellatrix 7 set for Oct 6th in the Norwich, UK and (one would anticipate, at least) shows to be announced from NCW: Femmes Fatales and SHINE Wrestling around that same time, October looks like it might end up as quite the month for fans of female grappling.
Episode 52 with AIW Promoter John Thorne
This Friday, Absolute Intense Wrestling brings their Girls Night Out franchise to iPPV via Smart Mark Video – so we’ve invited one of the AIW owner/promoters John Thorne onto the show to explain exactly why you should consider paying $14.99 of your hard earned cash on the show. We talk preparations for the show on the final week, Taylor Made‘s late pull-out and the addition of Addy Starr, the idea of iPPV (and whose idea it was) and the financial state of the company. We go back to the early days of GNO and talk about how important Hailey Hatred was to getting the first show off the ground, favourite shows so far, and how they’ve improved through each event. We talk the current status of former AIW Women’s Champions Mickie Knuckles and Jessicka Havok, touch on an AIW Women’s Champion who never was, and the 2012 ascent of Allysin Kay and Mia Yim to the main event – including the amazing finish to their Steel Cage match last August. We discuss the Indiegogo campaign to get Athena to GNO 7 last year, and John offers his opinion on some of the WSU/Drew Cordeiro twitter-drama from last week, and touches on an aborted GNO/WSU invasion/merger angle. We talk Allysin Kay’s mystery opponent for Friday (and maybe get a hint…), the formation of The Social Network and help give the final push for the iPPV on Friday. Some really interesting insight here from someone who was anything but a women’s wrestling fan a few years ago.
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So, this weekend is AIW‘s Girls Night Out 7 show from Cleveland, OH – a show headlined with a relative rarity in women’s wrestling – a Steel Cage match. Locked inside the cage will be the AIW Absolute Women’s Champion Allysin Kay (not coincidentally our most recent guest on the Women of Wrestling Podcast) and her top contender, Mia Yim.
As an appetiser for the show, AIW have gone and released the full video of their main event match at Girls Night Out 6 on YouTube. Bonus. We’ve already reviewed the full show a couple of months ago, and it’s the best GNO event that we’ve seen to date. Yim & Kay battled in the main event for the vacant AIW championship in an unsanctioned, no-rules grudge match – a grudge based on the fact that Kay’s nose was broken all over her face by Yim in January. If you haven’t listened yet, listen to Kay’s thoughts on the whole feud on the Podcast – where, amongst other things, she dropped the following threat… “This cage match is going to make machetes & light tubes seem merciful”
We’ll cover Girls Night Out 7 this weekend on the website, but until then, click through past the cut and whet your appetite for destruction…
Quite a few interconnected items to discuss this week, but they all start at the same point, so let’s go back to last Saturday night…
On the “Before They Were WWF Superstars” DVD back in 2001, we got a look at Edge and Christian’s background, learned about their friendship and how they were high school buddies. From there, they went back to their old school, walked the corridors and showed how a particular hallway entrance doubled up as their wrestling ring.
One element that is pertinent to this piece is that the group of friends that they hung around with were known as the Getalong Gang, as they got along with all the other cliques like the jocks, the geeks and so on. They were the middleground that everyone could be friendly with and not face any attitude, hostility or pretty grudges.
nCw Femmes Fatales is the Getalong Gang. (more…)
Back when it was still in single figures, we interviewed LuFisto for the Women of Wrestling Podcast. Among the mass of topics which were discussed, including her changing an Ontarian law which prevented men wrestling women and competing in brutal and bloody deathmatches, she pointed out one ambition which she held dear – one which has yet to be accomplished.
The last thing I would love to do is have one match with TNA. Just one. Dark match, whatever – I don’t care. I just want to experience what it is.
Considering she has been wrestling her entire adult life in numerous countries (and spilt blood in many of them – either her own or someone else’s) it sounds like a modest request. Debuting at the age of 17 in 1997, the Montreal native has broken barriers for women in her home country of Canada, competed and won championships in Combat Zone Wrestling, hanging with the guys there along the way, won deathmatch tournaments (one of which saw a piece of broken fluorescent bulb glass lodged in her back for around four years), and also proven that she’s not a one-trick pony by wrestling in SHIMMER without the benefit or distraction of weapons. Much like Mick Foley’s transformation from Cactus Jack and cellar dweller Mankind to the cuddly guy who is everyone’s happy uncle, LuFisto transitioned from a violent, partially masochistic maniac character to one which is based around Japanese anime and peppered with fun and happiness. LuFisto is a pioneer for women’s wrestling who has been trying for a number of years to get a foot in the door at either WWE or TNA, with the usual response being that she doesn’t have the “look” that they are after. However last Saturday, on the 15th anniversary of her debut, she got the opportunity she’s been after for years, when she got a chance to wrestle in a TNA ring as part of its Gut Check before the card in Oshawa, Ontario. (more…)
There are three strands to Women Superstars Uncensored’s hellraising triumvirate known as the Midwest Militia. At the top of the heap is Jessicka Havok, the current dual singles champion in the promotion, undefeated in singles competition and general baddest bitch on the block. She is backed up by Sassy Stephie, former Spirit Champion, current Tag Team Champion and SHIMMER regular. And then there’s the third corner of the triangle, Allysin Kay – tag team partner of Havok in Team Be Jealous, other half of the Tag Team Champion and the owner of wrestling’s most colourful tattoo. However, there was something about Kay that felt like she was placed 3rd out of three when it came to the Militia’s pecking order. I can’t put my finger on it, as it is an intangible that is difficult to define, but there was a perception that while she was an integral part of the Militia, her accomplishments left her at the back.
That is, until last weekend.
On Saturday, Stephie and Kay defended the Tag Team Championship against the team they defeated at WSU’s 5th Anniversary Show last month, Alicia and Brittney Savage. Though the booking could be questioned – after all, the Militia defeated the challengers in an Uncensored Rules match back in March – it really did a world of good for the champions’ reign to prove that they are no fluke team who weaselled their way to the straps by beating an already exhausted Jana & Luscious Latasha, who had just defeated Lexxus & Destiny and/or Tina San Antonio to win the titles for themselves. By beating two of the promotion’s top babyfaces under regular tag team rules rather than a big brawl with tornado stipulations served them well as established them as a tandem who would be difficult to take down. Credibility asserted, Kay then went on to Cleveland, OH to compete for the vacant Absolute Intense Wrestling Women’s Championship in the main event of Girls Night Out 6… (more…)
We’re in that post-WrestleMania period where everything is supposed to kick off for the next year. Brock Lesnar is destroying John Cena and making him spit blood, the word “yes” is replacing “what” and “whoo” as the cool thing to say, and CM Punk is being drowned in alcohol. But there is nothing for the Divas Champion Beth Phoenix. In fact, there is less than nothing.
The only in-ring Divas action on regular TV (as NXT hardly counts) for WWE since WrestleMania is a sub-three minute affair between Nikki Bella and Phoenix, which Bella won after Beth was distracted by Kelly Kelly. Presumably, this would lead to a title shot for Nikki, as she had just pinned the Divas Champ. That may happen on the live SmackDown happening later (though it may be a foregone conclusion, as I’ll discuss later), or a continuation of Kelly v Phoenix from WrestleMania, even though it was Maria Menounos who got the pin on Beth. Either way, things are flimsy at best, and it hasn’t looked good for the titleholder for many months.
Barring a decent build and match against Tamina Snuka in February, Phoenix has hardly set the world alight in 2012. This may be a combination of forgettable matches, no storylines – including the fizzling of the Pin-Up Strong angle when it should have exploded – or no interest from any of the writers. Indeed, nothing has happened with the in-ring product involving WWE’s women for at least half a year, and it must be frustrating the Champion. (more…)
Jennifer Blake returns to Absolute Intense Wrestling next Sunday for Girls Night Out 6, after beating Brittany Force then losing to Hailey Hatred at the original GNO on May 15, 2009, and being defeated by Jessicka Havok at GNO2 on October 10 of the same year. In 8 days time, she takes on Kimber Lee, who has gone from valeting at Combat Zone Wrestling to putting on the boots and stepping into the ring.
Girl Dynamite was touted as one of the next big things in women’s wrestling back in 2008 when she travelled from her native Canada to debut in SHIMMER: Women Athletes on volume 17. That seemed like a lot of pressure to heap on someone’s shoulders when they were starting out, and it showed, as nerves seemed to get the better of her in the early matches. However, Blake did have some good outings in the promotion, one of the notable ones being against Rain on volume 25.
As well as the aforementioned AIW bookings, working for Wrestlicious as Autumn Frost and a solitary appearance in Jersey All Pro Wrestling, Blake withdrew from wrestling in the US to try her luck in Mexico for AAA, where she briefly changed her name to Jennifer Blade before reverting back to her standard ring moniker. Starting out as a cohort of Konnan in rudo stable La Legión Extranjera, she hooked up with Christina Von Eerie, Sexy Star and Rain, and formed a splinter stable called Las Gringas Locas. As time passed, Von Eerie and Rain departed, leaving Blake and Sexy Star to cause havoc. (more…)
The “One Girl Revolution” Taeler Hendrix hits Cleveland, OH next Sunday for her Absolute Intense Wrestling debut at Girls Night Out 6, and Ringbelles has had a chat with her about her match with former Women Of Wrestling Podcast and fellow Fight Like A Girl guest Annie Social.
In this 15 minute chat with the Ohio Valley Wrestling Women’s Champion, Taeler discusses how she was almost part of one of the earlier GNO shows, moving from the north-east to Louisville for OVW, and how it would have come a lot earlier if it wasn’t for a health scare. The 22-year old redhead also took the opportunity to create an exclusive moment as it pertains to her OVW title, so jump in and have a listen.
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When we received a message letting us know that Mickie Knuckles was looking to speak to Ringbelles’ Women Of Wrestling Podcast to make a special announcement, we leapt at the chance. After all, the former NWA Midwest/IWA: Mid South and Ohio Valley Wrestling Women’s Champion, and current Absolute Intense Wrestling Women’s titleholder was someone who we had been looking to speak to for some time now. Before getting to her big news, we were able to discuss the key points of Mickie’s career, including her time in IWA: MS, getting knocked out in her first ever match, and being part of the women’s division that would be the blueprint for SHIMMER. She also covers getting into wrestling death matches, and offers her thoughts on two women who debuted at Queen of the Death Matches tournaments – Rachel Summerlyn and the infamous BB Walls. From there, we look at her frenetic summer of 2008, including appearing on Jerry Springer, TNA, Mike Levy and breaking her leg in two. Finally, Mickie explains how she got back into wrestling, the Izza Belle Smothers character, and also has some very pointed words about OVW and Jessicka Havok before making the announcement that affects Girls Night Out 6 on April 15. This is an edition that you don’t want to miss.
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So, Kharma’s back.
After all the speculation about when she would give birth after going through a high-risk pregnancy, as well as whether she would choose to leave WWE and concentrate on being a full-time mother, we saw the return of the biggest and most physical woman in the Divas division in the 2012 Royal Rumble match, entering as a surprise at number 21, causing Michael Cole to scamper with fear, then attacking Dolph Ziggler, eliminating Hunico, and being eliminated by Ziggler himself. Sure, it was short, but it was enough to whet the appetite of fans – and let’s face it, what more would you expect from a woman who gave birth less than a month ago?
TMZ reports that Kharma delivered a baby boy on December 31, who has been named Jamie. Four weeks later, she’s putting back on the leather and stepping foot in a WWE ring to reprise the role which was put on hold on May 30 when she announced she was pregnant on Raw, a week after crumbling in the ring in tears. When she left, she was a heel with a heart, as people empathised with her desire to be a Diva and a mother – and she achieved both at the same time – and was then verbally attacked by the Bellas, before promising to get at them when she returned. Throw on top of that the fact that everyone she had a physical interaction with at the Rumble was a heel, and must was now assume that Kharma is a babyface? If also you consider that the current titleholder Beth Phoenix is the top heel who has been steamrollering the rest of the division and Kharma will inevitably be gunning for the belt, that must also position her as the fan favourite, right? (more…)
Three and a half years after breaking her leg in a match in IWA: Mid South, Mickie Knuckles put that unfinished chapter in her life to bed by defeating her opponent in that match, Sara Del Rey, tonight at Absolute Intense Wrestling’s Girls Night Out 5, successfully retaining her AIW Women’s Championship in the process.
The broken leg was brought up in the match as Del Rey attacked the champion with kicks, before turning her attention to Knuckles’ arm in order to break that. However, Mickie fought back, avoided Sara’s third Capo Kick and nailed the challenger with a powerbomb to get the winning pinfall. The win is another feather in the cap of Knuckles, who is enjoying a renaissance in her career since leaving IWA:MS, spreading her wings and gaining new plaudits and accolades in wrestling promotions all over the US.
Elsewhere on the card, despite losing the opening match on the card to Marti Belle, Mia Yim became the number one contender to the championship by beating and bloodying Allysin Kay (Cherry Bomb didn’t make it to the show), rookie Veda Scott (who has just a year of ring time under her houndstooth belt) continued to impress fans, and Gabby Gilbert followed up her sneak attack on Portia Perez at GNO4 by using underhanded tactics again to defeat former champion Angel Dust.
Thanks to David Muscarella for the results, which you can read by clicking after the jump, as well as taking a look at what Allysin Kay looked like after her match: (more…)
It’s been a massive turnaround of fortune for Mickie Knuckles over the last few years. After being on the verge of stardom in TNA‘s Knockouts division in 2008, the former IWA: Mid-South Women’s Champion and Queen of the Death Match suffered a devastating injury, snapping her femur during a match against Sara Del Rey. Surgery followed, and later a breaking of ties from Ian Rotten‘s IWA: MS Promotion. Following that, Knuckles began a path of reinvention, turning herself into the comeback kid in the process.
She started expanding her horizons, taking bookings all across the US, and changing people’s opinions of her. Knuckles had been pigeonholed as a garbage wrestler – someone who could only do death matches and had no discernible wrestling ability, though a look at her early days when she was wrestling the likes of Daizee Haze and MsChif would disprove that – and was now proving that she was as good or better than her opponent across the ring. Team that up with a second character – the feisty Izza Belle Smothers – and you have a versatile grappler who is marketable because of her ability, her character and her look.
Currently the Absolute Intense Wrestling Women’s Champion, Mickie sat down for an interview with the promotion before her title defence against Mia Yim with Gail Kim as the ref in late November last year. She briefly discusses her training, snapping her leg, the alteration of the Mickie Knuckles character, the match against Mena Libra where Libra broke her foot in three places, taking on Hailey Hatred and her desire to wrestle Del Rey again. On that last front, Knuckles will get her wish on January 29 at Girls Night Out 5 in Cleveland, as Knuckles will defend the AIW Women’s Title against the Queen Of Wrestling. Click after the jump to see the video, as well as the other matches signed for Girls Night Out… (more…)
This Sunday sees Bull Nakano issue her official goodbye to pro wrestling as part of her EMPRESS retirement show on her 44th birthday at the Tokyo Dome City Hall. So far, only two matches have been announced, though the former WWF Women’s Champion has spent the last few months visiting numerous joshi promotions, offering blue envelopes to wrestlers, ostensibly inviting them to be part of the show.
As well as handing out invitations like she’s on an episode of My Super Sweet 16, Nakano has also been preparing herself, putting on weight and growing her hair so she can become the image that she was when she was wrestling – 230lb with hair spiking straight up, and blue veins etched onto her face. It is a big change from a couple of years ago, when as a professional golfer, Keiko Nakano’s weight had dropped weight all the way down to 130lb – partly to ease the pressure on her injured knees that had taken a battering during her hard-hitting 14-year career between 1983 and 1997 (though she returned for one more match in 2001). For that reason, it is unclear if Nakano will wrestle on the event, though nothing should be ruled out. (more…)
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.
Summer’s on its way out, the nights are drawing in and the temperatures will start to drop soon. What better way to cheer yourself up than watching some of the slew of women’s wrestling DVDs which are available for purchase and pre-order right now? No joke – there are stacks of them, and buying them will help support the promotions which can live or die by their sales. From tournaments to marathon matches to crazy brawls to nuclear heat to funny British accents, there is surely something here to whet your appetite. Besides, it’s around $15 for each of these DVDs which last around three hours, and is more bang for your buck than a solitary 4 minute Diva or Knockout match on pay-per-view.
If any of the DVDs grab your attention, just click on the picture and it will transport you through to the order page…
The first offering is from SHIMMER, which released volume 37 a few weeks ago, and is probably the best volume in the promotion’s history – something which we claimed at the time, which shows how it stood out straight away. Notable moments include LuFisto and Tomoka Nakagawa‘s hard-hitting comedy match, Courtney Rush busting out massive suplexes on Mena Libra, the debut of ReGeneration X, Christina Von Eerie holding her own against Sara Del Rey, all the way up to the return of Rebecca Knox and the debust of Saraya and Britani Knight, Daizee Haze and Serena Deeb putting on a wrestling showcase, 3S becoming the most popular tag team and Madison Eagles taking on Mercedes Martinez at her own game, this DVD has everything you could want. Buy it. Just buy it. (more…)