The image on the left is how most of us remember Sara Del Rey but it took a while for the Queen of Wrestling to get to this point. To illustrate this, let’s hop back more than a decade where Del Rey wrestled under a different name against another rookie looking to make her mark in the world of wrestling – as well as a couple of names you may recognise…
Following the death of Roland Alexander in November, Joey Ryan posted a match from his early days of wrestling in All Pro Wrestling in California. The match from May 24, 2002 features Del Rey under the name of Nikki teaming with Jardi Frantz & JoJo Fantastico against Ryan, Cheerleader Melissa and a gentleman by the name of Bryan Danielson, better known these days as Daniel Bryan.
Del Rey looks hugely different wrestling baggy denim, while Melissa is sporting a similarly modest set of threads. It is an interesting insight into the beginnings of two hugely successful wrestlers – one who is the reigning two-time SHIMMER Champion, and other who is mentoring the next generation of WWE Divas. (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…)
Roland Alexander, the owner of California-based All Pro Wrestling, passed away yesterday at the age of 59.
The Wrestling Observer reports that while the cause of death is not known, he has been in poor health in recent years with heart and diabetes issues.
While Alexander – who promoted shows in the state for 22 years – is probably best known for his appearance in 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat, he also has had a profound effect on the women’s wrestling scene, and is partly responsible for getting it to the size that it is today.
APW was where Sara Del Rey began her training back in 2001, and also was one of the main promotions where Cheerleader Melissa worked during the early years of her career, and also was the venue for all-women shows from October 29, 2004 – when the APW Garage in Hayward hosted the first ChickFight tournament which was won by Princesa Sugheit, defeating Candice LeRae, Nikki Roxx and Melissa to take the title. (more…)
On last Friday’s Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling show, I pointed out how while Jessie Kaye seemed to have some potential, she was hindering herself with a name which she selected which was too close to Jessie McKay, and also used the theme music which is synonymous with Madison Eagles. It got me to thinking about other wrestlers who have been repackaged with new gimmicks to increase their marketability. Five of them are after the jump.
Now keep in mind that these are mostly wrestlers who personally made the choice to alter themselves, though some were done by the companies they wrestled for at the time. One which didn’t make it was Victoria the ho to Victoria, the crazy enemy of Trish Stratus as there was a two year gap in-between one gimmick ending and other starting. The ones listed here are more sudden switches. (more…)
It was right around the time that SHINE Wrestling was crowning its first champion that SHIMMER posted up the deciding match to determine its first titleholder.
The first weekend in June 2007 saw SHIMMER hold a 16-woman tournament, with Sara Del Rey and Lacey making it to the finals. The American Angel made it to the last match by beating Cindy Rogers, Alicia and Dark Angel Sarah Stock, while the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew member got there by turning around a pretty crummy win-loss record up to that point to defeat Eden Black (remember her?), Nikki Roxx and Daizee Haze.
Of course, it was Del Rey who emerged victorious to become the first SHIMMER Champion, though if you don’t have volume 12, you can watch the final here – which also sees involvement from Rain, Allison Danger and Roxx. Click the jump to watch the full contest. (more…)
We’ve been itching to talk about it for a month, and are glad that now that it has been broadcast, there is nothing to stop us now. Paige is the first NXT Women’s Champion, spotlighting her as the top woman in WWE’s developmental division right now. It is the shining moment in the 20-year old’s 6-year career – the last 18 months of which has been spent in Florida in Florida Championship Wrestling and later NXT. It was also a testament to WWE’s faith in the Briton that she defeated two established WWE Divas en route to the final of the tournament, defeating Tamina Snuka and former Divas Champion Alicia Fox to make it to the decider against Emma.
In what was the opening contest of last Wednesday’s broadcast, Paige and Emma put together what has to be the best women’s match that WWE has presented in the last year at least. With big moves peppering the proceedings, a decisive finish via the Paige Turner and the endorsement of fellow Divas and WWE COO Triple H made it all feel like a really big moment – as it should have been.
Sara Del Rey seems to be doing a good job behind the scenes in WWE working with the women in NXT – there probably wouldn’t be a tournament to crown a Women’s Champion if things weren’t going well – but we thought we would delve into her back catalogue to show off one of her matches from close to a decade ago.
Fresh off a two month trip to Mexico, then-four-year pro Del Rey returned to her home of All Pro Wrestling in Hayward, CA for its ChickFight III tournament, which was held over two days at the end of October in 2005. She and Cheerleader Melissa were disqualified in the opening round, so she was booked into another contest on the second day against APW Worldwide Internet Champion JJ Perez – that’s the match we have for you for this week’s Retro.
A week later, Del Rey would help to put SHIMMER: Women Athletes on the map by going to a 20-minute draw with Mercedes Martinez in the penultimate match on the first volume. (more…)
Episode 55 with Leah Von Dutch
Ontario’s Leah Von Dutch is less than two years into her wrestling career, but having already worked in Canada, US and Japan, she’s now coming over to the UK for a month to expand her wrestling horizons. She’s on WWE‘s radar already, she’s got the backing of WWE Hall of Famer Edge and she’s got her sights set on making it to the big time – and there’s a great chance she’s going to make it. So, on this edition of the Women of Wrestling Podcast, we cast the spotlight on one of wrestling’s fastest rising stars and find out just what makes this young woman tick. We talk about her upcoming UK tour, which includes dates for Pro-Wrestling: EVE and ICW: Fierce Females, working with Sara Del Rey in Chikara, experiences in Japan and working heel in SHINE. We find out the origins of the ‘Leah Von Dutch’ name, find out about how much an influence Cody Deaner has been for her, and how she got her start in the business first through helping out and then through the Edge scholarship for training – and find out how much the Rated R Superstar still guides her career. Plus before we chat to Leah, Stew and a SHIMvirus ravaged Lee discuss some thoughts on SHIMMER this past weekend – including Allison Danger‘s retirement, the returns of Madison Eagles & Serena Deeb, elevation for new stars, some excellent debuts and the impressive work of one Melanie Cruise. All here on your WOW Podcast. Happy downloading!
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Episode 54 with Maria Kanellis
Coming off a super busy WrestleMania weekend, we’re very pleased to welcome the wonderful Maria Kanellis to the Podcast for a chat. She shares her thoughts on the weekend and meeting up with friends both old and new. We talk about Sara Del Rey training the next generation of WWE Divas and hear all about her relationship with fiancé Mike Bennett (including wedding details and their engagement story). Back on the wrestling, we talk about her work in Crossfire Entertainment and her thoughts on working with Jessicka Havok, Reby Sky & Allysin Kay. We discuss how she got her start in wrestling via the Diva Search, and follow that story right through OVW with Paul Heyman and developing the ditzy character that eventually became her trademark in WWE. We talk Fit Finlay‘s influence on the Divas Division, some of her favourite WWE memories, including where her Slammy Award is now. We also talk whether music is still something she wants to do, just how she got her shot on Celebrity Apprentice, and more future projects – and of course we talk about a potential return to WWE, clarify some recent rumours regarding her future with ROH and discuss reported issues in the past with Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins. An absolute pleasure to chat to Maria. Get downloading.
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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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Much like when I sat down a few days ago to look back over the Podcasts we’ve done in 2012, when I think of the shows I’ve seen and covered for this website over the last year, either live or on video/download/iPPV, I can’t help but feel a bit gobsmacked – it’s been a busy, busy year. As far as live wrestling was concerned, I chalked up two more transatlantic trips (both times taking in SHIMMER in Berwyn and NCW:Femmes Fatales in Montreal), and more all-female shows than ever back here in the UK (I personally tallied up four WAWW/Bellatrix shows and an EVE show – and bitterly regret the fact that work stopped me making the first EVE show of the year, and the ICW:Fierce Females debut in Scotland). With those shows, plus the likes of WSU, AIW, Shine and more, there’s never been a better time to be covering women’s wrestling, at least at the indy level.
Back in December of 2008, Sara Del Rey took a trip to Australia where she competed in a few matches for the Professional Wrestling Alliance, including a six way match which saw precious little of her as the match didn’t go very long. However, during the tour she also participated in the match we’re bringing to you today – a singles contest from December 20 against the “Rate Tank” Kellie Skater.
The timing of the match is quite interesting, as it was before Skater debuted for SHIMMER, and you can see how she has changed over the last four years. The Rate Tank we see today is just as cocky, but has matured both physically and emotionally into a top quality grappler – one who has arrived in Japan in the last few hours to start her second tour, which includes a tag match for Stardom on Christmas Eve. Incidentally, after this retro match, Skater made her debut on the subsequent SHIMMER tapings the following May. Coincidence? (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…)
While being interviewed for the new WWE 13 video game, Amy “Lita” Dumas explained the difference between the Divas now and the ones from the Attitude era:
I think the women of The Attitude Era really did a good job at figuring out who they were and what they wanted to portray to the fans. So each woman was such an individual — you were never going to get Lita and Ivory confused. You’re not going to get the two confused, as opposed to now, is it the hot athletic girl with the short shorts on? No, it’s the other hot athletic girl with the short shorts on.
It’s harsh, but fair, and she has a point.
There are eight women on the main roster who are considered wrestlers rather than valets or managers, and for the most part, they are interchangeable curvy shapes with little character to speak of. The obvious exception which jumps out is AJ Lee, who despite being tiny, geeky and – compared to the others but probably not in real life – could be considered mousey or plain, is the most developed personality of all the women who step into the ring… and that’s something that Dumas pointed out:
I think it’s interesting to see the Divas of today and to see who the fans are attaching to. Obviously, right now, it’s AJ Lee, who’s not the strongest; she’s not one of those classically hot chicks. But she sets herself apart, and you have emotion when she’s out there and you get a sense of who she is, and so I think that’s really cool to see the kid that wasn’t supposed to make it being the one that’s out there, and that’s who the fans want to know more about.
On Monday, we revealed that Gail Kim won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 for 2012 based on her title wins, string of victories and high profile that she has received over the past year. Three days on, we have the full list, and we’ve got it listed after the jump. Before that though, there are a few names which jumped out, after the official statement from PWI Senior Writer Dan Murphy:
All candidates were primarily evaluated for their accomplishments during the period of September 1, 2011, through August 30, 2012, though accomplishments outside that time parameter also were taken under consideration. We evaluated each woman on championships won, quality of opposition, won-loss record, technical proficiency, and momentum/promotional ‘push’ during the evaluation period.
First off, despite being a bit part since dropping the Divas Championship in April and not exactly having many wins while holding it – though the ratio of wins to losses was good – Beth Phoenix takes the top WWE spot by taking the runner-up spot, which is even more curious considering after dropping the belt, she barely won on TV. The top independent wrestler was Cheerleader Melissa, who snagged the bronze medal due to her successfully defending the SHIMMER Championship three times in March before dropping it to Saraya Knight, who places at number 8.
In fact, the top 5 is dominated by indie women, as coming in 4th is Sara Del Rey (whose placing is based on her time before joining WWE) while Women Superstars Uncensored World Champion Jessicka Havok comes 5th.
Still, if you wanted to see who came where, click the jump and have a read. Leave us your thoughts in the comments section about who surprised you – because honestly, Tamina‘s position sticks out a bit, especially as she’s placed higher than Divas Champion Eve Torres… (more…)
“I don’t think there’s a better female wrestler in the world right now.”
Not my words – though I agree with them – but the words of WWE Champion CM Punk, who confirmed that Sara Del Rey has been employed as a trainer for the company and will be working in its developmental facilities in Florida.
We have stayed deathly quiet over Del Rey’s signing with WWE since we found out, as they notoriously hate their private business affairs being discussed openly, and would not want to jeopardise the position of anyone signing a contract with them. For that reason, we wait until the ink is dry and they appear in WWE facilities. That happened on September 28 when Bill DeMott sent out a Tout video of Joey Mercury, Norman Smiley and Del Rey in NXT trainers’ shirts offering a small pitch for wrestlers to come and try out. A photo of the trainers soon followed, and then came the confirmation from Punk at the Ohio Comic Con on September 29.
“We recently hired Sara Del Rey to train our future Divas. I know a lot of people will be like, ‘Oh, that sucks, Sara should be on television’ and maybe you’re right, but I’ve talked to her about it. This is her dream job. She gets to wrestle everyday and she gets paid for it.” (more…)
We are coming up to the time that the winner of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 is revealed – though the magazine itself will not be released until mid to late November. Since its launch in 2008, the second week of September is when the winner’s name comes out, so I’ve been having a think about who PWI could possibly select as the woman who will sit atop the heap.
Now bear in mind that PWI still bases the criteria for the winner in the way any legitimate sport could be judged, so victories, title wins and lengths of reigns come way above match quality or column inches, so whoever you may think would win may not necessarily be the same as who PWI has in mind. When we asked the question on who you would think would win on our Facebook and Twitter, AJ Lee‘s name popped up a couple of times, with the reasoning being that she is the WWE Raw General Manager and has been embroiled in the WWE and World Championship pictures this year. However, she is unlikely to win the PWI editors’ pick because as an in-ring performer, she has only wrestled a handful of times, and hasn’t won any championships. Likewise, Sara Del Rey is probably an outside bet to win – despite placing in the men’s PWI 500 due to her victories over men in CHIKARA – as she doesn’t have many championship wins or reigns to speak of, and has lost quite a bit recently. (more…)
There has been a lot of focus on the continent of Australasia recently, and most of it centres around one kick-happy wrestler from New Zealand.
As we have documented, Evie has been catapulted into everyone’s line of sight, winning both the IPW Women’s and PWWA Championships in the space of seven days – the first in a triple threat match with Megan-Kate and Britenay, and the latter against Jessie McKay just last Saturday.
When approached for comment, the Auckland resident told Ringbelles:
Winning the IPW Women’s Title and then the PWWA Interim Title… words can’t pinpoint the feelings I felt over those nights. I was extremely emotional… a few tears were shed, and it definitely is the highlight of my career to date. I came away from both matches battered and bruised, but it was all worth it in the end… after five years, I finally feel like a champion.
The fans have also been rad… I can’t believe how much support I received through those tournaments, both online and in person. It was amazing!
Pro Wrestling Illustrated may still hold the pretence that wrestling is totally legit (oh, don’t act like you didn’t know) but there is still a lot of buzz around who will top its annual PWI500 list, which runs down the top 500 wrestlers in the world. This year’s was won by CM Punk, as the magazine still recognises wins and title reigns as more important than anything, so it was obvious that he would sit atop the heap. However, our interest lies in who sits in spot 430 – it’s Sara Del Rey.
While PWI generally doesn’t observe women for its list, the magazine says Del Rey’s inclusion comes down to her victories over men in promotions like CHIKARA, where she has seen off the likes of Tim Donst, Ophidian, Ares, Kodama and the massive Tursas over the last 12 months – most as part of the 12 Large: Summit, of which she almost reached the finals.
Sara is the fourth woman to be featured in the men’s list – preceding her are Jackie Moore (back when she was Miss Texas), Chyna and Madd Maxxine – the latter of which we had to do some research on, but she was a 6’2″ West German wrestled briefly for the WWF‘s women’s division in the mid-1980s and also fought some mixed and intergender matches in the Universal Wrestling Federation, teaming with Jack Victory or facing the likes of Percy Pringle (Paul Bearer) on her own. (more…)
Cheerleader Melissa defends her newly-won SHIMMER Championship against Nicole Matthews, Athena looks to settle the score with Mercedes Martinez, and four women make their debuts.
1. Courtney Rush pinned Rhia O’Reilly with a Skyward Suplex.
2. Melanie Cruise & Mena Libra defeated Shazza McKenzie & Veda Scott. Cruise got the pin following a top rope legdrop on McKenzie.
3. Sara Del Rey beat Leon following a big powerbomb.
4. Sweet Saraya made Davina Rose tap out to the Knightmare (half crab).
5. Jessie McKay beat Mia Yim with the Boyfriend Stealer.
6. Ray pinned Kellie Skater with a Phoenix Splash.
7. Hailey Hatred & Kalamity beat LuFisto & Kana. Hatred pinned LuFisto following a running powerbomb.
8. Ayumi Kurihara & Ayako Hamada retained the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship by beating ReGeneration X – Allison Danger & Leva Bates. Hamada pinned Danger with the AP Cross.
9. Athena defeated Mercedes Martinez with the O-Face.
10. SHIMMER Champion Cheerleader Melissa retained the title by beating Nicole Matthews with the Air Raid Crash. (more…)
Former WWE and ECW personality Dawn Marie seems to have a good heart. Setting up Wrestlers Rescue in 2008 (and the subsequent Pro Wrestlers Relief) in 2009, her goal was to make life easier for wrestlers with medical issues to help them pay their bills – a common problem for wrestlers outside of WWE who may not be able to secure the proper insurance needed to cover their ailments.
In the last week or so, her charity has received a battering from James “Kamala” Harris, who has had both of his legs amputated due to complications stemming from diabetes and high blood pressure. He claims that Wrestlers Rescue and Boston-based independent wrestling promotion the Millennium Wrestling Federation promised to help him out financially, and never did so, calling Dawn Marie “no good” and accusing her of keeping the money that was raised for him.
Wrestlers Rescue has not had the best of reputations in its short existence, but following this high-profile attack on her work, Dawn Marie decided to go public with all the details. (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…)