If you’ve not seen Kana in the last six months, she’s evolved her look, adding more elaborate entrance robes and jackets as well as employing an array of different facepaints. It’s really separated her from the pack, and created a lot more buzz for her during her JWP Openweight Championship reign.
She was already painting her face when she won the title from Arisa Nakajima in August, antagonising the roster by rubbing her victory in their faces. Eventually, Nakajima regained the title on December 15 – but before that, Kana notched up a couple of successful defences. The first win was over Manami Katsu on September 16, and the other was the match we have for you today. Kana put the belt on the line against Hanako Nakamori on October 14 at the Tsubasa Kuragaki 15th Anniversary show in Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, Japan – click the jump to watch the match, and the post-fight antics. (more…)
With Nikki Storm and Kimber Lee announced over the last couple of days as the 2013 Discovery of the Year and Breakout Star of the Year respectively, the final question that needs to be answered in our 2013 Awards season is the big one. Who was the Wrestler of the Year for 2013 – following in the steps of previous winners Madison Eagles (2010), Hailey Hatred (2011) and Ayako Hamada (2012)? As is customary, before we make our final announcement of our winner, we’ll consider a couple of really strong contenders who ultimately we didn’t go with this year, but would have been worthy winners all the same.
A lot of people – including us, it must be said – made a lot of noise about Madison Eagles this year. After missing the entirety of 2012 with a career threatening knee injury, the fact that Eagles is back and competing at such a high level again is worthy of incredible praise. We remarked when reviewing Eagles’ US return match (vs Jessie McKay at SHIMMER 53 in April) that she “laughs in the face of ring rust”, and that’s pretty much dead on. Standout matches this year include a cracker with Kana at SHIMMER 55, and a couple of matches with Jessicka Havok (at SHINE 9 and SHIMMER 60), and although she started experimenting with fork-based humour in the second half of the year, her credibility at the highest level is still there. Eagles deserves an award for her achievements in 2013, but she just misses out on our biggie.
We’ve mentioned her above, but Kana was also up for consideration. When you factor in her amazing work at SHIMMER over the year against the likes of Eagles, McKay, Kalamity and Kimber Lee, as well as her success in her native Japan, it has certainly been an eventful 12 months in the life of the 32-year old. She was a losing finalist in the tournament to crown the first Regina di WAVE Champion but rebounded to win the WAVE Tag Team titles with Mio Shirai, holding the championship for four months before dropping it in July. In JWP, she became the outsider who won the Openweight Championship and rubbed her accomplishment in the faces of the regular roster before dropping the belt back to Arisa Nakajima earlier this month. As well as her in-ring accomplishments, Kana has reinvented her look, wearing crazy face paint designs and more outlandish outfits to really make herself stand out from the pack.
Also coming close was another name we’ve heard from a lot of people this year as we’ve gauged opinions both from fans and people in the industry – Cheerleader Melissa. From winning the SHIMMER Championship in a Cage Match in SHIMMER’s biggest show ever (Vol 53 at WrestleCon) to holding onto the title throughout the rest of the year, this has been the extended run with the title that she didn’t get first time round (when she lost the championship in the ring before the DVD documenting her title win was even released). It has also coincided with a slow-burn heel shift that has resulted in some of Melissa’s most interesting work for some time. North of the border, she’s also been integral to ongoing storylines for NCW Femmes Fatales, and has been involved in some of their most highly praised matches of 2013.
Eventually though – we went with the same criteria we did last year when we picked Ayako Hamada. Who was the best in ring performer of the year? Who regularly entertained and impressed us most? Who raised up other people to her level? We ended up choosing a sensation… (more…)
After yesterday’s announcement of Nikki Storm as our Discovery of the Year for 2013, it’s time to move on to our announcement of our Breakout Star of the Year. This award, as we’ve mentioned before, is given to the wrestler who, in our opinion, took the biggest strides in 2013. The wrestler who became a player during this calendar year and became an integral part of multiple promotions by getting over with the crowd and making herself indispensable. The wrestler who went from just being a promising name on a card to becoming someone you’d actually pay money to see. Someone who “gets it” and someone who expanded their horizons in a major way. As usual, we had a number of potential winners to sort through, but by the time we got down to our final shortlist, we had three top contenders to win. Before we announce our 2013 Breakout Star of the Year, let’s have a quick look at those who came within a hair of winning the award this year.
Mia Yim came ridiculously close. This was the year where Yim really started to excel and fulfil the potential she has undoubtedly had since she started. This year, I’ve heard first-hand from people who really weren’t on the Mia Yim bandwagon tell me that this was the year that she changed their minds. Yim was undoubtedly one of the biggest breakout stars of Fight Season in October, and the SHIMMER weekend in particular, where her matches demonstrated what appeared to be a new confidence in the ring. Likewise in SHINE she’s found herself in more and more important matches as the year progressed, including discovering what might well be her perfect opponent in Ivelisse Velez. Santana Garrett also was amongst the final three shortlisted – having managed to not only debut for WSU and AIW, continue to impress in SHIMMER & SHINE, she managed to appear on TV for both TNA (as part of the Knockouts Knockdown PPV) and WWE (on their NXT brand) in this calendar year. Yes, depending on where you live in the world, those appearances may be either PPV or VOD, but she’s certainly moving in the right circles and making the right connections to get on the radar for the national promotions. Her matches weren’t as high up the card as Yim’s or our eventual winner, but as far as “breaking out” and reaching for the stars, Garrett is a perfect example of someone who has used 2013 as a springboard to bigger and better things.
Our winner though? For our money, our winner stepped up in multiple promotions, gained confidence by the bucketload, delivered quality throughout and… well, she’s going to have to clear a little bit more space on her mantle for her second Ringbelles Award… (more…)
Ohio Valley Wrestling’s women’s division has had an interesting year.
The first four months of 2013 saw a litany of title changes, with Jessie Belle, Heidi Lovelace, Taryn Terrell and Epiphany claiming the championship at some point, before it landed in the hands of a returning Trina Thompson, who gravitated towards a feud with Lei’D Tapa before her 5 month reign came to a sudden end due to a knee injury a week before they were to square off at September’s Saturday Night Special.
Over this time, Lovelance and Taeler Hendrix were drawing more eyes to the division by their beautifully played out same-sex unrequited manipulative romance with Lovelace having eyes for the conniving redhead and being bent to do Hendrix’s bidding in order to show how much she cared – including fighting friend Trina, who was doing her best to make her see sense. The storyline got a bit skewed near the end as it was cut short fairly quickly, but Lovelace ended up seeing how she was being played and got her revenge against her former crush. It was a great showing by both parties and really helped to show off their versatilities as characters.
The success of this storyline meant there was a huge amount of interest in who the vacant Women’s Championship was going to end up on, and was decided in a 4-way Ladder Match with Tapa, Hendrix & Hannah and Holly Blossom all looking to climb the rungs to victory. As it turned out, the underlying friction that the twins were experiencing at the time came to a head as Hannah knocked her sister off the ladder to snare the title – though quickly lost it to Tapa while repairing the bond with her sibling.
Unfortunately, since that high, things have fallen apart. (more…)
Have you listened to the latest Women Of Wrestling Podcast with Taeler Hendrix yet? Without hyperbole, it is one of our favourite shows in a long time. Interesting, insightful and revealing, the former TNA Knockout talks about how she had no idea what the result of her Gut Check would be or that Joey Ryan was going to gatecrash the segment, was told very little about what her future in the promotion would be or that they were planning to release her.
She also reveals that she wasn’t fully open with them either, as the reason why she put on the weight in-between appearances was to keep herself healthy to fight off the possibility of cancer, and because she was suffering pain when she wrestled as she had no padding on her body when she was bumping. That weight issue is something that I discussed with recovering anorexic and former gymnast Sarah Robertson, and she practically said the same thing.
Taeler also discussed her time in Ohio Valley Wrestling, how she was disappointed with her start in the promotion despite winning the Women’s Championship, and how an instinctive “wrong” move saw her fortunes turn around. She also revealed her intentions to release a book, form a tag team with distant relative Cherry Bomb – all is revealed in the interview – and wrestle in as many places as possible. Instead of moping, shaking her fist at the world or complaining that she’s the victim of a conspiracy theory, she dusted herself off, made a plan and is executing it. (more…)
The second day of tapings for SHIMMER Women Athletes is underway, with a big SHIMMER Championship match announced, as well as a return match which could feature some very brutal consequences.
Headlining Volume 60 will be Cheerleader Melissa defending the SHIMMER Title against LuFisto, after the Super Hardcore Anime came to the aid of Leva Bates and Allison Danger on Volume 58, as well as Hiroyo Matsumoto on Volume 59 (you can see all the results here). It should be an emotionally charged contest between the increasingly-viscious Melissa (who is riding high after also coming top of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 yesterday) and the never-say-die challenger.
Also announced yesterday is a rematch from Volume 59, where Nicole Matthews and Hikaru Shida will face off in a contest where Shida’s kendo stick will be legal. The bamboo weapon was instrumental in Matthews’ win yesterday, using it out of the sight of the referee – but today, it’s in play, and both women could be battered and bruised by the end.
Elsewhere, the Global Green Gangsters put the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship on the line against Sassy Stephie & Nevaeh, Matsumoto takes on kleptomaniac Portia Perez, Heidi Lovelace wrestles Nikki Storm, Santana Garrett faces Mercedes Martinez, and Allysin Kay battles Kana.
It’s SHIMMER Time! Yes, once again The Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL is the home for some of the best female wrestling in the world, as SHIMMER Women Athletes presents the DVD tapings for Vols 58-61 across two days. Today features Vols 58 & 59, and Ringbelles will have you covered with both live results as they happen and eventually also full analysis of the day’s events. Japan’s Hikaru Shida debuts today, as does Europe’s Nikki Storm – and Shida features in the (as yet) only announced match for the tapings, taking on Mia Yim in what should be a pretty great showcase for both. Join us after the cut for running results, thanks to Reid Allen, who is in attendance – as is Stew, but international data roaming costs are sky high… (more…)
Women Superstars Uncensored announced a mild change in ownership at the Blood And Thunder iPPV on Saturday, with it being revealed that Combat Zone Wrestling boss DJ Hyde was becoming a co-owner along with Drew Cordiero, who bought the promotion from Sean McCaffrey last June. Hyde was greeted by WSU Champion Jessicka Havok, who dropped him with an Air Raid Crash after successfully defending her title against Lexxus, eliciting a big positive reaction from the fans in Voorhees, NJ. The move positions Havok as more of a babyface than ever, and possibly distancing her from her Midwest Militia teammates Allysin Kay and Sassy Stephie – especially the latter, as the pair have entered a distant war of words.
The developments make for an intriguing future for WSU, but seeing as it’s been just over a year since the first Cordiero-run card, it seems like as good a time as any to see how things have gone. What has worked? What has been less successful? And what should we expect from WSU down the road? (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (17 September 2013) – Courtney Rush speaks on her injury, rejigged matches, Total Divas finale
There is never a good time to sustain an injury – but for Courtney Rush, the timing of her current ailment has to feel horrendous for her.
Tweeting yesterday, she said: “I don’t know how to say this so I’ll just spit it out: last night I broke my collarbone & will be out of wrestling for the rest of the year. The past 24 hours have been the most frustrating and heartbreaking I have experienced in a very long time. But I must remain positive. A thousand thanks to those who showed such compassion and love and did everything to help me through the pain and emotion. I love you all.”
Speaking exclusively to Ringbelles, Rush revealed that the injury happened in a “freak accident” while she wrestled under a mask as La Tigre Diablo against Jasmine in the warm up match at Sunday’s Smash Wrestling CanUSA Classic show in Toronto, ON, Canada – explaining why she did not feature on the show in her announced match against Candice LeRae. While the fractured collarbone is a massive blow, it also means a lot of Courtney’s plans for the next month or so are out of the window. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (27 August 2013) – Speculation on Tara’s future, Total Divas, #PipeBombshell & more
It’s been a pretty quiet week as far as news from the world of women’s wrestling is concerned, but one thing which stood out was what one former TNA Knockout said about the company – as well as what she didn’t say.
In an interview released on the Wrestling Observer, the former Tara (Lisa Marie Varon) talked about how she will “never” return to TNA, kept tight-lipped about the worst things concerning the promotion, and also openly praised WWE’s direction with the Divas both on the main shows and in NXT. Now, I would imagine that because of her being so direct about her lack of desire to return to the promotion, there are probably some stories there but are being held back out of professional respect to not run down a company which still has people she likes working there, or she’s saving it for when the time is right. She also goes out of her way to praise the opposition, which raises an eyebrow or two. (more…)
Another 6 episodes of Total Divas have ordered by E! for a season extension. The current 8 episode run ends on September 15, with the next half dozen starting on November 17. The show has been a big hit for E! so far, with audiences rising between episodes 1 and 3. Starting out with 1.3 million viewers, it rose to 1.52 million the following week and reached 1.67 million last week.
However, numbers dropped a little for Sunday’s most recent episode to 1.35 million – though that’s still higher than the premiere episode. One of the reasons may be is because it clashed with SummerSlam – though anyone who watched the pay-per-view will see that despite Total Divas being a hit, it’s not caught the imagination of many wrestling fans. In fact, it could be argued that the crossover audience isn’t as big as you may imagine. (more…)
Kana is not afraid to put herself in the line of fire. In 2010, her joshi manifesto – which called for wrestlers who aren’t worth anything to quit the business, stop wrestling like women and to refrain from using blatantly fake moves – caused some annoyance because of its brash nature, and she has been accused of working unnecessarily stiff in her early years despite being asked to tone it down.
The controversy was incorporated into her character when she starting wrestling for SMASH, as saw her become the first Divas Champion in the promotion. She then became a part of SMASH’s replacement and looked likely to win the Wrestling New Classic Women’s Championship, but quit the promotion at the end of last year after claiming that they owed her four months’ pay. In a weird twist of fate, walking away from WNC may have been the most prudent move she has made in her 9-year career, as it saw her take more bookings for JWP and lead to today – where she won the Openweight Championship for the first time from Arisa Nakajima. (more…)
So that’s it. After announcing in March that she would be retiring, embarking on a farewell tour which would start in SHIMMER in April and making final appearances in OZ Academy, WAVE, Diana, Ice Ribbon, Gatoh Move and Sendai Girls, Ayumi Kurihara has made her final appearance as an active wrestler.
Despite citing nagging injuries for her reason for bowing out of her eight year career, the 29-year old certainly didn’t hold back or take it easy on herself as she did her farewell rounds. She made the promise in her blog where she revealed her intentions to walk away that she would “continue to fight with all her strength and all her heart until August 4th”, regardless of the damage that it could do to the clavicle injury which was forcing her out. As a result she took part in more than 40 matches in 5 months, including some hard-hitting contests with the likes of Mercedes Martinez and Mayumi Ozaki – something which earned her a recognition in our Good Half Year series last month. (more…)
A bit of a weird one this, I’ll grant you. Considering earlier this year, the 28 year old joshi puroresu standout announced her retirement from the sport due to nagging injuries (citing her 2007 clavicle injury in particular), you’d think Kurihara would be as far away from a discussion like this as it is possible to be – and while, yes, seeing a superb young talent being struck down in the prime of her career is a terribly sad thing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody go on a more joyful final retirement road. Kurihara’s last six months in the business have seen her experience so much, achieve so much and do it all with a huge smile on her face. If she’s leaving wrestling, she’s packing an entire career’s worth of memories into 2013. (more…)
Sitting in the Tokyo ward of Sumida, Japan, Ryōgoku Kokugikan is primarily a venue for sumo wrestling, hence the alternative name of Sumo Hall. Hosting tournaments throughout the year as well as three special events in January, May and September, the 28-year old building holds a lot of tradition for sports other than sumo. The building also hosts boxing, concerts and professional wrestling. However, when it comes to joshi, Sumo Hall may well have been in Narnia, as there has not been a show there since Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling held an event there on February 12, 2007.
The show featured the semi-finals and final of a 10-woman All Star Tournament with Shinobu Kandori pinning Meiko Satomura to win the whole shebang. Attendance numbers are disputed, though the reported figure was about 5,800, which is less than half of the 13,000 that the building can hold.
Since then, there has not been a joshi show held there, though that will change next Monday, when Stardom presents its biggest and most ambitious show in its two and a half year history with a stacked card which features wrestlers from a number of different joshi promotions. (more…)
A week ago, Allison Danger announced her retirement from in-ring competition during the taping of SHIMMER Vol 57 in an emotional moment that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.
Of course she’s not leaving wrestling for good – she’ll continue in a backstage role at SHIMMER – and while everybody there that weekend was fortunate enough to be able to say their own personal thanks to the woman herself, we kinda figured that Danger deserved something more. So, without her knowledge, we started recording video messages across the weekend with the idea of putting them together as a lasting tribute to someone who has meant so much to so many.
Now that the woman herself has had a chance to see the video, we happily share our video with the Ringbelles readers. Some messages are heartfelt, some are funny… some are, well, you’ll see… (more…)
After the events of yesterday, SHIMMER returns for its DVD tapings for volumes 56 and 57.
Expected to continue on from yesterday’s tapings include the quest by the Global Green Gangsters to secure another Tag Team Title shot at the Canadian Ninjas; Saraya Knight‘s reign of terror is being curbed by the officials; meanwhile, Jessicka Havok wants to leave more bodies in her wake, and Cheerleader Melissa is looking to retain the SHIMMER Championship. Also, these tapings mark the final matches for Allison Danger, who retires from the ring on volume 57.
As with yesterday, we will bring you results after the jump, along with pictures on thoughts on the show in due course. For now, click into the results and enjoy. (more…)
It’s the kickoff to SHIMMER’s Vols 54-57 tapings in Berwyn, IL at the Eagles Club with Vols 54 & 55 being recorded today. We’ve got a big preview of the Vol 54 taping up already, and we’ll be updating this page with results after the conclusion of both of today’s volumes. As noted in the preview, we’ll be back with thoughts and pictures from the event at some point thereafter. Enjoy!
It’s WrestleMania weekend, which means it’s also WrestleCon – and the return to action for SHIMMER Women Athletes for their Spring taping season. While there’s a weekend of festivities in prospect next weekend in Berwyn for four tapings across two days, there’s the small matter of today – right now – when SHIMMER makes its iPPV debut in front of its biggest live crowd to date.
You’ve read our primer, you’ve watched Eagles/McKay from Vol 35, you’ve listened to Athena’s podcast and you’ve followed Saraya’s winding road to Vol 53 with successful title defences in both Bellatrix and Femmes Fatales, and you’re ready for action, right? Well, we hope you’re watching live on iPPV via WWN, but we’ve got your results right here as they come in anyway. (more…)
Five women, you ask? Well, yes.
When the tournament was announced to crown a singles champion (the first in WAVE’s 5 and a half year history), the four participants were laid out as Ohka, Ayumi Kurihara, Mio Shirai and Misaki Ohata. However on February 16, Kurihara was forced to withdraw before the semi-finals which were due to take place the following day due to a nasal and orbital floor fracture – so she was replaced by Kana.
Ohka and Kana advanced, defeating Ohata and Shirai respectively, though a diversion was thrown in the road when Kurihara was allowed to take over Kana’s spot in the tournament if she could recover by today’s event and then defeat her on the undercard. Kana won that match to secure her spot in the final, while Ohka – who was given a match of her own on the show to make sure she didn’t have an unfair advantage for the finals – defeated GAMI. Twists and turns over with, Kana and Ohka then met in the main event, with the 33-year old winning the match, the tournament and the title with a big boot, securing the highest profile singles title in the 11-year pro’s history. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (26 February 2013) – wrestling’s equivalent of Ronda Rousey, Girls Night Out 8 and more
Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche delivered in spades on Saturday as part of the main event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC 157 pay-per-view. While PPV buyrates are only an estimate – though expected to be around the 400,000 mark – the other numbers are amazing.
With those two headlining the show, the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA drew 15,525 fans with a gate of $1.4 million and reportedly fewer comps than usual. It’s the highest attendance for a UFC show in the building, which includes UFC 121 with Cain Velasquez against Brock Lesnar. Admittedly, both Rousey and Carmouche hail from the state, which means that both had a relative hometown crowd, but it’s evidence that women can headline male-dominated shows, given the right booking, promotion and hype. Additionally, the fact that it outdrew Velasquez v Lesnar is even more astounding considering it’s a Hispanic market which would be behind Cain, and Brock is one of the UFC’s biggest draws in its history. (more…)
And so it’s come down to this. With Kimber Lee and Allysin Kay installed as Discovery and Breakout Star of the Year respectively, it’s time to unveil the winner of our main Year End Award. To be honest, it’s been a strange year in that there are a number of contenders for the award, really depending on what criteria you use to determine what makes a “Wrestler of the Year”. Let’s take a look at some of the top contenders.
If you consider your Wrestler of the Year to be the one who elicited the most emotion from the crowd, then you may well choose SHIMMER Champion Saraya Knight. Her late career renaissance has been incredible, and was topped this year by winning the SHIMMER Championship, and reviving her long-simmering rivalry with Cheerleader Melissa. Nobody can hold a crowd in the palm of her hand like “Sweet” Saraya, and she’s taken that momentum with her throughout the calendar year. On a similar note, the WSU Champion Jessicka Havok (last year’s Breakout Star of the Year) has managed to create and foster a very fervent fanbase in a year that has seen her win the WSU Championship (twice), and compete for (amongst others) Crossfire, NCW:FF, ACW & Shine – winning plaudits everywhere she competed. It’s a shame, really, that with the transition of ownership in WSU, Havok only had one appearance in her “home” promotion in the second half of the year. Havok & Knight had achievements in 2012, but arguably the person who has had the most personal achievement in 2012 is none other than Emi Sakura, who started 2012 with absolutely nothing, having left Ice Ribbon in late 2011. From nothing, Sakura ends 2012 promoting her own shows in both Thailand & Japan (under the Gatoh Move banner), a regular gig in JWP and owning the oldest joshi belt in Japan (the JWP Openweight Title) and Europe’s Pro Wrestling EVE Title concurrently. From the outhouse to the penthouse, Sakura went from nowhere to become one of joshi puroresu’s most important names. And then, of course, there’s the dark horse pick – which for us this year was “Rate Tank” Kellie Skater. Skater started 2012 in Japan, and returned from the Land of the Rising Sun a much improved grappler. She had career-best performances in SHIMMER (such as Kana on Vol 48 and Yumi Ohka on Vol 50), had two outstanding matches with Evie back at home, and made a believer out of EVERYBODY in the Eagles Club that she was going to beat Saraya Knight for the SHIMMER Championship at Vol 51. In fact, had Skater won the title that night (or even the NCW:FF International Championship in Montreal the following weekend), there’s a great chance she could’ve won this award. Kudos to an outstanding year to all of these women.
However, for the sake of this award, we have chosen to take the term “Wrestler of the Year” quite literally, and recognise quite simply the best in-ring competitor of the year. Bar none. (more…)
Over the years, the number of taboos in wrestling seem to have evaporated. After all, few bat an eyelid about wrestlers who have barely reached their teens stepping into the ring in Japan. Wrestlers with disabilities are given the same opportunities as anyone else, and nobody tells anyone that they are too old to lace up the boots, even though some really should be. However, the prospect of a man facing a woman in a wrestling match still seems to be something which makes some fans squirm in their seats.
I can see some of you imagining it right now.
For a long while, mixed matches seemed to be a no-no, but then it hit the mainstream with the late comic Andy Kaufman wrestling women and calling himself the Intergender Champion of the World, before Jerry Lawler piledrove him onto his head. From there, we saw the odd mixed tag team match on special occasions – WrestleMania VI with Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire against Randy Savage and Sherri Martel being a prime example – but very seldom did the women interact with the men… but times changed. (more…)
Today’s Wrestling New Classic card was already newsworthy as Kana was defeated by Nagisa Nozaki in the Women’s Championship tournament – but the real drama took place in the dressing room after the match, where the “World Famous” star announced that she was quitting the promotion and choosing to wrestle as a freelancer instead.
Speaking to Ringstars (and with the aid of a shoddy translator as well as intelligent human beings Chris Carpenter and Matt Nordstrom), the former SMASH Divas Champion explained that her decision to go was based around money. She alleges that she has not been paid by WNC for four months, and received no reply when she emailed the promotion’s President Tsutomu Takashima about it. As a result, she made the decision to walk away, insinuating that she had lost trust in the company, though was very careful to not say it outright. (more…)