We at Ringbelles miss Maryse.
It’s not important that she wasn’t the best wrestler in the world, made a lasting mark on the industry or inspired any women to follow in her footsteps – I personally liked her and looked forward to segments involving her. Her character was one of the best in WWE at the time – self-obsessed, cocky and secure in her belief that she was the greatest thing that has ever or will ever exist. Her character believed it so strongly that there was never a question in the viewer’s mind that she thought she was the greatest thing since an egg-white omelette. Plus – the dismissive hand she threw in people’s faces? Awesome.
Despite her lack of ability, Maryse still won two Divas Championships – the first of which, at 216 days, is still the longest Divas Title reign in history. Her original title victory is the match we have for you for today’s Retro. (more…)
Former WWE Women’s and Divas Champion Michelle McCool must have talked to her official fansite MichelleMcCool.net for about a kabillion years for it to produce as many different releases about things she has said about her time in WWE. There are masses of quotes about Beth Phoenix, Maria Kanellis, Layla, Sharmell Huffman, Vickie Guerrero, Tara, Natalya, Torrie Wilson, Mickie James and more. Seriously, the interview must have gone on for about three hours to sufficiently cover all these topics. Quite why she has decided to do this now after spending more than 18 months out of the wrestling spotlight is a discussion in itself, as it is doubtful that she is doing to come back, and she has positive things to say about everyone, which doesn’t lead to that many juicy tidbits. However, it is her comments about her experiences with Melina which we found the most interesting.
The 32-year old discussed how they collectively got in trouble following their contest at Night Of Champions 2009, where McCool successfully defended the Women’s Championship, with one particular move on the outside of the ring causing the problem:
It was that day – I was like: “could you not tell anybody, but do you think we could do a DDT on the barricade?” And [Melina] was like: “Ohhhh! Yeah!!!” — Not even thinking twice about it. We kind of hid it all day, even though we did ask our agent for approval, I think it was Fit — which is no secret that he was always fighting for the girls. We just made sure that we can stand up and get our balance, but we never actually did the bump. She was the one who was going to take the huge bump, and there was no doubt, no hesitation, that she would make it look ridiculous — and it did! [During the match] She finally takes the bump, it looks sick [pictured above], pops off — up to that point, that was the best match I’ve ever had. We had the pay-per-view, we had time, I was really proud of that match. (more…)
Emi Sakura has had a hell of a year, and it’s been well documented here at Ringbelles. Her success since leaving Ice Ribbon has included setting up her own promotion in Thailand, having it migrate to Japan, winning the JWP/Daily Sports Tag Team Championship, securing the services of Kaori Yoneyama then having her take her side in some sort of Stockholm Syndrome scenario, forming a team to invade JWP and then taking hold of the promotion’s crown jewel by winning the Openweight Championship. In addition, she defended the belt in the UK for the first time in its history and won the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship on the same night. Indeed, it has been one hell of a year for the 36 year old. However, it seems as if 2012 is going to end on a mildly disappointing note.
Yesterday, 17-year veteran dropped the Openweight Title in the main event of Climax 2012 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall after 57 days – the second shortest reign in the title’s 20 year history (for the record, the shortest was Devil Masami’s 32 day run which ended when the title was vacated for unknown reasons). She was beaten by current Tag Team Champion Arisa Nakajima, who has also enjoyed a tremendous 2012. (more…)
Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers/listeners, who are spending the day eating roasted birds and things containing pumpkins while watching Gridiron football or the Macy’s parade. As Brits, we’re not entirely clued up on what goes on on this particular Thursday in November, but we have seen a lot of people talking about what they are thankful for. So, in the spirit of the day, we shall do the same.
We are thankful for every single one of you who chooses to visit our website, download an interview or podcast, read an article, leave a comment, share our contributions with others and so on. We are also thankful for women who go step into the ring and work hard to entertain the fans; we’re thankful for promoters who give them the opportunity to do so, and we’re thankful for every fan who spends money supporting the wrestlers and the promotions.
So as a thanks to all of you, we’ve got a series of videos of matches which took place around Thanksgiving, but may not necessarily have a Thanksgiving theme. As a result, we’ve got Trish Stratus v Molly Holly from WWF SmackDown on November 23, 2000; The Pilgrims (Michelle McCool, Layla & Jillian Hall) v The Indians (Kelly Kelly, Mickie James & Melina) from WWE Raw on November 23, 2009; Hannah Blossom v Josie from OVW Thanksgiving Thunder on November 28, 2009; and Winter, Angelina Love & Madison Rayne v Velvet Sky, Brooke Tessmacher & Tara from TNA Impact Wrestling on November 24 last year.
Happy Turkey Day, everybody! (more…)
On Sunday at WrestleMania, WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix was pinned by Maria Menounos in the tag team match featuring Menounos and Kelly Kelly against Phoenix and Eve Torres. A showbiz TV host who it was announced had two cracked ribs and stress fractures in her feet; a woman who has had no more than a month’s total wrestling training in her life; a non-wrestler pinned the Divas Champion on the promotion’s biggest show of the year.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Menounos has pinned Phoenix – she had got a three-count against her with a sunset flip on last December’s Tribute To The Troops show. Now, I have no problem with that – or her victory on Raw in an 8 woman tag in 2009, as they are throwaway matches on shows that mean nothing in the grand scheme. However, for the woman who is supposed to represent the best in the division to be defeated by a TV show host makes a mockery of Phoenix, the title and women’s wrestling as a whole. WrestleMania is the show that casual fans may watch once a year, and they see that? It doesn’t sit well with me. (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…)
“Taker and Michelle are coming back to WWE as a team. They’re going to be called UnCool.”
I saw that joke on Twitter yesterday and thought it was pretty funny, and it reminded me of Michelle McCool, so here for you this week is a match from her archives, back when she was in Deep South Wrestling.
We’ve featured a match from DSW before – that one featured current TNA Knockouts Angel “Angelina Love” Williams against Brooke “Tessmacher” Adams in the latter’s debut match. The promotion didn’t last for long, but it did its bit to showcase future Divas and Knockouts such as Krissy Vaine, Shantelle “Taylor Wilde” Taylor and others, including the aforementioned Miss McCool.
Michelle (now 31) got her first taste of wrestling after giving up her job as a schoolteacher in Florida to audition for the WWE Diva Search back in 2004 – in fact, she was the only woman in the top ten finalists to have not been there through some sort of agency. She participated in that year’s SummerSlam in the Diva Dodgeball contest against the women already on the roster, which played into her sporty background in basketball, volleyball and softball, but was eliminated from the contest soon afterwards. All was not lost though, as she was offered a three-year contract, and eventually wound up on SmackDown in a personal trainer gimmick. Run ins with Dawn Marie and obligatory bikini and modelling contests followed before she was posted to DSW to learn to wrestle and tone down her southern accent – in a promotion called DEEP SOUTH, no less… (more…)
I’ve been struggling with this week’s Roundup, as I wanted to write something about the Slammys, and the words just aren’t coming. Partly because there is nothing to say. What started as anger and frustration towards WWE has changed to a huge chunk of apathy – and that’s the worst feeling I could have towards it. At least with dislike, there is an emotion there. These days, I think a Vulcan could have more feeling towards WWE than I could. A real shame, considering that I wouldn’t have become a wrestling fan if it wasn’t for the WWF back in 1991.
I guess something cracked after yesterday’s Raw, when it became patently obvious that the Divas have had an utter stinker of a year. When WWE chose to go with Divalicious Moment of the Year instead of the usual Diva of the Year award, you could tell that they were screwed, mostly because nobody had a defining run this year, and Kelly Kelly’s Divas title run was the thing that could be most celebrated, and that was a disappointment, barring a couple of weeks leading up to SummerSlam’s match with Beth Phoenix. Even the appearance of Lita on the show was muted, as absence has not made the heart grow fonder in the eyes of the fans. Meanwhile, the appearance by Phoenix and her Pin-Up Strong teammate Natalya was also something that you could easily glaze over. Nothing matters. Nothing has an effect. Sure, Phoenix is the best Divas champ that WWE can have right now, but her alliance with Natalya blew up on the launchpad and has been a massive disappointment – partly due to there being no direction for the gimmick, and partly because she has precisely zero credible challengers for the belt. (more…)
Anyone see Raw this week? I mean besides the awesome stuff with CM Punk? I mean, the Divas match in particular between Kelly Kelly and Melina, with a post-match beatdown by the Bella Twins on Kelly and Eve Torres? Anyone see how Melina joined in with the beatdown? No?
That’s because it didn’t happen. The two-time Divas Champion and three-time Women’s Champion was left in the shadows after being defeated in 100 seconds by Kelly, having only got in three moves, and two of those were kicks. It could be claimed that the match was short – so short that Melina was introduced in the ring and din’t even get to do her signature entrance with the paparazzi and the splits – because the show was overrunning. Some would say it’s a big push for Kelly, given that she is the Divas Champ right now, and that she has a title defence this weekend on the Money in the Bank pay-per-view against Brie Bella - and that’s all true. However, Kelly could have beaten any number of women on the Raw roster in what was effectively a squash match – Maryse would have been perfect for that role. It is telling that WWE chose to send out Melina – its former golden girl, the woman who was the figurehead of the division for years and the woman who has seemingly been in the Diva doghouse for all of 2011 – to lie down… (more…)
37 year veteran and former WWE producer/agent Dave “Fit” Finlay appeared on Right After Wrestling last night with Arda Ocal & Jimmy Korderas. Finlay was famous for being the man responsible for training the Divas during the period when they moved from mostly bra & panties matches to actual competent wrestling matches.
When asked about being the Divas trainer, Finlay admitted “I think it was a bit of a joke”. He noted that “I have a reputation of being very tough and working with the girls is like dealing with a bunch of personalities. And working with these girls to work in ‘lingerie matches’ or ‘Thanksgiving gravy matches’ was a little embarrassing for both me and those girls sometimes. But you make the best of it and it really worked and later took off.”
It’s not the first time that Finlay has spoken with some pride about the work he did with the likes of Trish, Victoria, Mickie James and Lita. Earlier in the year, speaking to Fighting Spirit Magazine (and quoted online by The Sun), he said “I got all the girls together one time, and said, ‘Girls, I’m embarrassed doing this stuff, but what I would like to do is teach you how to wrestle, and bring you higher up the totem pole wrestling-wise.”
In last week’s Roundup, I posted a bit of a rambling vent about the booking of the Divas and (mostly) the Knockouts. While it received support, it also received criticism, saying that it implied that all the fault of the poor state of women’s wrestling in TNA and WWE was entirely down to the writers and promoters, and didn’t take into account the actual wrestling ability – or in many cases, lack of it – of the performers involved. So for the sake of fairness, I’m going to put the actual wrestling skills of WWE Divas and TNA Knockouts under the microscope…
Before we go on, there’s going to be a lot of criticism here, and names will be named. I’m just calling it as I see it, and it’s just one man’s opinion. If you don’t agree, that’s fine – I’m not saying that my word is gospel, and you may enjoy what’s presented to you. If that’s you, great, and more power to you. However, we at Ringbelles have committed to being honest, even if it’s not a popular opinion.
And for anyone who may say that I’m in no place to comment as I’ve never been in the ring before, that also means that my compliments are not valid either, as I’ve clearly never been in a ring – unless you count a few ring announcing gigs. (more…)
The Big News
Christina Crawford was eliminated from Tough Enough last night, putting an end to any prospect of a woman winning the show for the first time since 2002. She was cut by Steve Austin for not showing enough charisma during this week’s challenge, and had lost her confidence after suffering an ankle injury on last week’s show when her leg buckled from delivering a top rope axehandle.
It doesn’t seem to have made a difference to her prospects of ending up on WWE TV though, as she was filmed last week wrestling at Florida Championship Wrestling, where she had been training previously before getting out of her developmental deal to compete in Tough Enough. The indication that she has returned back to the situation she was in previously just shows that she had a fall-back option in case she was cut, in that she could return to Florida and pick up where she left off. It must annoy other female wrestlers who applied that this was possibly an “easier option” for Christina, rather than being her best chance at making it to WWE.
In fact, many women – Brittany Savage, Mercedes Martinez, She Nay Nay, Athena, Jessicka Havok, Roxie Cotton and the like – must be pretty disappointed how for the most part, none of the girls made any impression on the show in one way or another. None of them won a skills challenge, and between the five girls, they featured in the bottom three on a total of eight occasions in eight episodes. (more…)
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…)
The Big News
We start with the departure from WWE by Michelle McCool, and my Women Of Wrestling Podcast colleague Stew Allen has stepped in to write a great biography of her career. I’ll let him take the floor.
After a few weeks of teasers, we finally got to see the WWE debut of the former Amazing Kong, now known as Kharma, but just as interesting is the sudden and unexpected departure of Michelle McCool, who by losing her match to former LayCool partner Layla El, is now “gone” from WWE. Taking to twitter soon after the match, McCool confirmed “I know there will always be rumours, but that was it – real talk!” News of McCool’s then impending departure was first broken by PWInsider a few days ago when it became clear that McCool’s challenge from SmackDown had been hastily (and badly) redubbed from “Loser leaves SmackDown” to “Loser leaves WWE”.
It has been an eventful seven year ride since married middle school teacher Michelle McCool-Alexander decided to apply to be a competitor in the inaugural WWE Diva Search in 2004. McCool was unique amongst the competitors not only for being the only one not supplied by a modelling agency, but also because she was an actual wrestling fan, having attended old NWA shows at the National Guard Armory in her native Palatka, FL. Though eliminated fairly quickly, McCool was amongst a clutch of Diva Search competitors who ended up being offered a developmental contract anyway. Her athleticism was undeniable (as she proved by schooling the WWE Divas in Dodgeball at SummerSlam of that year) and is undoubtedly genetic, as most of her family have excelled at sports. In fact, McCool herself picked up the Hancock Trophy in 1988 for her exploits in volleyball, softball and basketball at Palatka High. A forgettable early run on Smackdown ended when she was eventually redeployed to developmental territories Deep South Wrestling, and then Ohio Valley Wrestling before being returned to the main roster mid ’06. Unfortunately, much of the next two years saw a struggle as Michelle battled to find any real traction and identity, as WWE stumbled about from storyline to storyline. From “sexy schoolteacher” McCool, who was paired with the tag team of KC James & Idol Stevens (known affectionately as The Teacher’s Pets) to the object of Jamie Noble’s affections in a bizarre love triangle with Chuck Palumbo, McCool was on a road to nowhere. The undoubted highlight of early Michelle McCool for many was the unintentionally hilarious promo videos which saw her proclaim how much she was “lovin’ life” as she roller-skated, took a swim, and generally just stood around. These early years also saw personal tribulation for McCool, who divorced her former high school sweetheart Jeremy Alexander and ended 2007 with an enforced two week stay in hospital for an enlarged kidney, electrolyte balance and low sodium levels which could, in the words of WWE Doctor Ferdinand Rios, have led to heart or kidney failure. Rumours have persisted that these were side effects from the extreme dieting she had to do to maintain her perfect TV figure, though these rumours have never been confirmed by either Michelle or WWE. In recalling the incident, McCool says “One night I was apparently so dehydrated, Dr. Rios hooked me up to an IV. Thank the good Lord that he was with me — along with several WWE Superstars — who took such good care of me. I can never truly repay them”. (more…)
It was a case of swapsies for the Divas division at Extreme Rules. Leaving WWE is Michelle McCool, after rumours of her hanging up the boots starting swirling a few days ago, while Kharma has finally arrived, taking out McCool in the process.
And for anyone who’s thinking that she will be back in three weeks or whatever, McCool went on Twitter to give us some “real talk”:
Thx for the love guys….I know there will always be rumors,but that was it – real talk!
We’ll have a biopic of Michelle McCool’s career in tomorrow’s Ringbelles Roundup, but for now, let’s take a look at her final night in WWE and assess what was good, what was bad, and what was downright ugly… (more…)
LayCool’s partnership will end for good at Extreme Rules this Sunday, and thanks to some pretty horrendous dubbing, the stakes have been raised.
We found out earlier this week that Michelle McCool and Layla would physically settle their dispute at the pay-per-view in a no count-out, no-DQ match, with the original stipulation being that the loser would leave SmackDown – a pretty lame forfeit, as that means that the woman who’s defeated will essentially be promoted to Raw. However, this week’s episode of SmackDown has another squabble between the former best friends where they lay out the match for Extreme Rules, and when McCool was to say “Loser leaves SmackDown”, they cut to a shot of Layla and a really awful piece of audio overlay changes “SmackDown” to “WWE”. Click after the jump to find out the possible reason behind the change – and how it poses a massive problem for the Divas on the blue brand. (more…)
The Big News
Again, sorry about the shortness of the Roundup this week. We’ve been in Las Vegas for fun and giggles with Allison Danger.
She got paid tens of thousands of dollars to essentially do a lunge, a handspring hip attack and a cartwheel into a splash to get the win for her, Trish Stratus and John Morrison at WrestleMania XXVII on Sunday in Atlanta. They defeated LayCool and Dolph Ziggler in the only women-related wrestling action on the show. However, it only lasted around 3 minutes, was in the graveyard slot after the well-received Triple H v Undertaker match, and was probably the wrong result for longevity.
Fair enough, Trish is the Tough Enough trainer, and it wouldn’t look good for her to lose the day before the new season began, but it meant that Michelle McCool – who was the only person who was legal on her side for the entire contest – had to sell for a woman who hasn’t wrestled in more than a year, and for a sub-five foot heavy drinker from Jersey Shore.
I’m not knocking Snooki though – after all, she did what she was asked to do, and exceeded my expectations. The mainstream media coverage wasn’t forthcoming though – HLN did mention Snooki, but it was because a school has paid $32,000 to have her talk to the pupils about something completely unrelated to WrestleMania.
However, this leaves McCool and Layla in a tough spot. The planned break-up seemed to be back on, as Michelle shoved her partner before the contest began, and they had a number of miscues which led to their downfall. The problem is that they are near-heatless together these days as fans are sick of them, but separately, they are likely to struggle. McCool – though talented – is something of a heat vacuum, and while Layla is a great character, she’s not polished enough in the ring to lead as a heel, and not sympathetic enough as a babyface. (more…)
Yesterday, WWE shot a big angle for WrestleMania XXVII‘s mixed tag team match of John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki taking on Dolph Ziggler and LayCool, though reports on the Jersey Shore star’s conduct vary. Instead of doing a mass of analysis, we will let you be the judge.
First off came the initial report from popthecrowd.com:
World Wrestling Entertainment shot a major angle earlier today at Miami Mike’s Sports Zone in East Hanover, NJ involving Snooki, Trish Stratus, and Lay-Cool to air this Monday night on Raw. The segment features Lay-Cool searching the bar for Snooki and Trish Stratus. Snooki gets into a fight with a guido first and then Lay-Cool finds her and a bar room brawl breaks out.
Originally the segment was to begin filming at 10 AM but Snooki didn’t leave her room until 1 PM. Filming didn’t begin until 3 PM and they shot until close to 8 PM.
Snooki was said to have been drinking heavily during the entire day and was rude to people, including the owner who she called a “weirdo” before leaving. She said she was leaving to go bowling after the segment was finished taping and would return later for more drinks.
Snooki also told the bartender she was going to be a full-time WWE Diva after Jersey Shore is finished.
Last week’s fun sprint of a match between Madison Rayne and ODB certainly entertained me, and having read the spoilers from TNA’s Fayetteville tapings, I was rather looking forward to this week’s edition of Impact too – but it seems like the next stop on Madison’s “brush with greatness” tour won’t be until next week (the second half of the Fayetteville tapings), so instead, Impact gives us the payoff to the Velvet Sky vs Sarita feud that has been simmering for… well, it seems like months.
While there may have been no Divas match scheduled at Elimination Chamber, it featured a number of angles and announcements involving WWE’s women.
Jennifer watched the pay-per-view and fills us in with the details: (more…)
Oh boy. This was not what you’d call a good week as far as TV wrestling is concerned, which is a shame as I had been quietly looking forward to Eve vs Natalya on Raw. To be honest, Eve & Natalya wasn’t bad – it started tremendously and then kinda went off a cliff towards the end, but it was a creditable performance, and with practically zero competition this week, it’s our TV match of the week.
Big news for TV wrestling this week, as females actually get to headline one of WWE’s two top branded shows, battling over the World Heavyweight Title (albeit in mixed tag action), the Knockouts go for knockouts, and someone, somewhere thinks that Tamina vs Melina would be a good match…
TV match of the week is an easy one, with the Smackdown main event of Edge & Kelly Kelly vs Dolph Ziggler & Laycool (in a handicap mixed tag match with Edge’s World Title on the line) taking top honours, thanks in large part to the performance of one Kelly Kelly…
Tonight’s Divas match at the Royal Rumble produced two surprises, but neither one turned out to be what many people expected.
Right as LayCool and Natalya were squaring off, Raw’s General Manager interrupted with a message for all three women. Michael Cole reads that with Teddy Long indisposed, the GM is in charge. This match is now a fatal four way: Natalya vs. Layla vs. Michelle McCool vs. the following Diva…
Perfect chance for Amazing Kong to debut, right? Wrong – instead we got Eve. Seriously? The audience seemed to be as confused as everyone at home. (more…)