I have experienced the buzz you feel after a SHIMMER weekend on a number of occasions, though recently I have been following the enthusiasm from fans in a more remote sense. While the festivities were ongoing in Berwyn, IL on Saturday and Sunday, I was at home in the UK keeping up with results and reaction, and for the most part, everyone was buzzing so much that Chicago could have experienced a very unlikely earthquake.
With volume 63 being called one of the best shows in the promotion’s history and the Tag Team Championship match on the following volume being described as one of the greatest in the company’s seven and a half years. So many wrestlers – be they new faces or long-running stars – impressed and improved their standing that it’s tough to start.
Stew was there to watch the shows and is writing up thoughts for each taping – he’s still got two to do but is in the process of flying home and has been struck down with the dreaded SHIMvirus so we may have to wait a little longer for reactions to volumes 65 and 66 (though you can see the results and thoughts for 63-64 here), but he sent through some overall thoughts on who did well: (more…)
Following her two successful title defences over the weekend against Jazz and Mercedes Martinez, Ivelisse Velez faces a new challenge as part of the SHINE 18 card which was revealed earlier today. Coming for her title is Britain’s Saraya Knight, whose last appearance in the promotion was last October when she defeated Jessicka Havok in a Last Woman Standing Match as part of SHINE 14. In fact, Knight has yet to be pinned or made to give up in SHINE, having also beaten Jazz at SHINE 4 and Su Yung at SHINE 9 – with her only defeat being a DQ loss to Havok at SHINE 11.
Speaking of Havok, she will attempt to put her feud with former friend Allysin Kay to rest on a week on Friday in Ybor City, FL. After costing Kay and Taylor Made the Tag Team Championship at SHINE 17 in February, it seems as if these hostilities need to be concluded. After all, the pair went to a double DQ at SHINE 15, and a no-contest the following month in a No DQ affair. After two inconclusive results, the pair will collide in an Ybor City Street Fight to determine the better woman. (more…)
Getting injured seems to have had ultra-positive effects on Athena.
It’s not like the Wrestling Goddess was doing badly for herself when she went down with damage to her shoulder last August. She was a day away from challenging for the Women Superstars Uncensored Championship and was a mainstay in SHIMMER, as well as getting into Absolute Intense Wrestling. Things were going well for her – and while getting hurt could have been a huge setback that sent her skidding off the tracks, she has used the time away to her advantage.
Employing a look inspired by Game of Thrones, the 25-year old revamped her image with new gear, altered her character and has worked on her promos, employing the catchphrase of making “art out of war” and doing away with calling her opponents “hussies”. In addition, while the time off to let her shoulder heal may have been a frustrating wait, it has also allowed her body to recover from the constant grind of being on the road and wrestling on a regular basis. It’s likely that when she returned to action at the start of this year, she had no niggling aches and pains, which seems to have given her a new lease of life.
That renewed vigour was evident at WSU’s Mutiny show where she and LuFisto put together an early contender for Match of the Year which saw the Texan defeated – but gaining a lot of new plaudits along the way. That buzz followed her to AIW’s Girls Night Out tapings last weekend where she was such an integral part of the double show that promoter John Thorne skipped out of his own show to go and pick her up from the airport in Cleveland, OH after her flight was affected by inclement weather. The show experienced a long intermission to allow Athena to get to the building and wrestle Mia Yim in their scheduled match – which against received a wealth of thumbs-up reviews. (more…)
In a disappointing development, Shanna has been forced to withdraw from tomorrow’s Absolute Intense Wrestling Girls Night Out 11 & 12 tapings in Cleveland, OH.
In a statement on her Facebook page, Portugal’s Perfect Athlete announced:
Dear fans, due to personal reasons I will not be able to take part on Absolute Intense Wrestling’s GNO shows. My sincere apologies for this, you know I’d never ever cancel a show, I live to perform for you perfect peeps out there!
I encourage you to attend this show, there will be lots of amazing talent performing as well as some new faces totally worth the travel! (more…)
At last November’s Survivor Series, we watched a pretty rotten 7 on 7 Divas elimination match. Not content with its badness, it was then repeated on Raw the following night. Having not learned that more does not necessarily mean better, WWE has booked a 14 woman match for WrestleMania XXX on April 6.
It came about on last night’s Raw after Divas Champion AJ Lee deliberately got herself counted out in her title defence against Naomi. Irritated, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero decided to punish AJ by booking her in a title defence at WrestleMania with 13 challengers. That means that going for the title in New Orleans, LA will be Naomi, Cameron, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Eva Marie, Emma, Aksana, Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes, Layla and Tamina Snuka.
How happy a Diva would be in being in this match depends on the Diva to whom you are referring. Should you ask Eva Marie, Cameron, Emma, Aksana, Alicia, Summer, Emma, Layla, Tamina or Rosa, I would imagine you would get a happy response – especially Rosa and Layla, who have barely been seen in recent months. Under normal circumstances, there would be little to no chance of them being involved in a title match at WrestleMania. Because of this booking, they can say they challenged for the belt at a WM and will receive a big pay-per-view payoff in the process. However the opposite feeling may be forthcoming from the rest – who could have held a claim for at one time being in the frame for a singles challenge on the show. (more…)
Although the match was originally announced last weekend after Ivelisse successfully defended her SHINE Championship against Leva Bates at FIP‘s ‘Everything Burns’ iPPV, SHINE Wrestling has this week been formalising their participation in WWNLive.com‘s ‘A Wrestling Odyssey’ show on April 4th in the form of Ivelisse’s next SHINE Championship defence. Her opponent – making her return to SHINE Wrestling, and absolutely no stranger to the Louisiana independent wrestling scene – former WWE Women’s Champion, Jazz.
In a video posted to YouTube today, SHINE Wrestling’s VP of Talent Relations Lexie Fyfe explained the rationale for awarding a Championship match to someone who has been out of the promotion ever since SHINE 9 – and quite frankly, it makes a lot of sense… not least the fact that Jazz holds a win over Ivelisse in SHINE competition (at the aforementioned SHINE 9 show – which was supposed to garner Jazz a spot in the SHINE Title Tournament at SHINE 11 – a spot that she relinquished due to injury). As a result of Jazz’s injuries, Ivelisse ended up with a second chance spot in the tournament, and although she didn’t win, that was the show (and the performances) which set the wheels in motion for Ivelisse to eventually challenge – and beat – the first champion Rain. (more…)
“Candice Michelle went to PWG in 2008 & raved about me to John Laurinaitis. When I saw him, he said ‘What does a Diva know about wrestling?’”
This is a tweet from Joey Ryan which he posted back in January – one of many which he wrote in reference to his tryout with WWE, where he asserts that was told that he was too old and too experienced to be in developmental.
Despite his wrestling persona being someone who is quite misogynistic and employs moves like the Boobplex, it is clear that he would not be allowed to do moves like this unless the recipients were comfortable with him – in fact, because of the amount of inter gender wrestling that he does, you could argue that he’s a huge advocate for women’s wrestling. With these tweets, one would imagine that Ryan is not thinking about trying out again, but it’s difficult to see if he has an axe to grind. If he does, it calls into question the validity of the claim – but if it is real, what does this say about WWE’s former Senior Vice President of Talent Relations?
Laurinaitis – who resigned from the post in July 2012 but still works within WWE – has form with not taking the Divas division very seriously. In 2006, he suddenly hired two models who he spotted in a catalogue – 20-year old Victoria Crawford and 19-year old Barbie Blank, who became known as Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly respectively. It doesn’t show that much respect for women who toil for years to become good wrestlers to see two women hired just by how they pose in swimwear. While WWE still does hire women with no wrestling background, they do seem to go for people who have athletic ability. Summer Rae for example, used to be part of the Lingerie Football League, while new signing Shara used to be a competitive arm wrestler. (more…)
We’ve sang the praises of Solo Darling here at Ringbelles on recent SHINE shows, and with good reason – she’s one to watch in 2014. Now firmly ensconced in Daffney‘s A.S.S. (indeed…) and tagging with Heidi Lovelace as The Buddy System, Solo’s really found her niche. So Stew finally caught up with the self-confessed Wrestler/Musician/Chemist/Baker/Insatiable Sponge to get the inside scoop.
We talk SHINE, her chemistry with Heidi and how far they can go, her *actual* chemistry experience, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Stew pines for Solo’s old “Bronx” accent, in-ring influences, the art of selling, and her eventual aims in the business. It’s about half an hour of an effervescent party for your ears – and you’re invited!
(right click on the picture and “save as” to download, or stream in our media player below)
If the plan is still for AJ Lee to defend the Divas Championship against Naomi at WrestleMania XXX, then WWE is certainly going round the houses to do it – that’s if they’re even planning to do it.
Before her injury to her eye socket occurred, it was reported that the plan was for Naomi to be the one to end AJ’s mammoth title reign (which is now the longest run in WWE history be it for singular or combined reigns) though it was said that the plan would still be on for WrestleMania on April 6 if the Funkadactyl could be cleared in time. It was partly because of that possibility that AJ had a title defence against Cameron at Elimination Chamber and again on the subsequent SmackDown. However things have gone in another direction in the last week as there now seems to be a queue of pretenders to the throne.
Natalya made AJ tap out in a tag match on SmackDown on Friday and is to get a Divas Title shot on tonight’s live edition of Main Event. Meanwhile on last night Raw, Nikki Bella got the pin on the titleholder as part of another tag team match, after which she held up the Divas belt while Natalya – who was on commentary – looked on. It seems as if there is a bottleneck of challengers, though it’s also up in the air as to who the champion may be by the time we get to WrestleMania. (more…)
These Brits seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. In WWE, Paige is still NXT Women’s Champion after defeating Emma on the first live show in the feeder system’s history. Broadcast on the WWE Network, social media was buzzing after the match with praise for both women – though it was the 21 year old from Norwich who had the focus as the winner.
As a showcase for the up and coming women in Florida, it was a great piece of work which dispelled the recurring criticism that Divas can’t wrestle. Given the chance to go out there with no gimmicks or distractions as well as enough time to tell a story, the pair proved that women do have a place in a wrestling ring in the top company in the world. That sentiment was shared by trainer Sara Del Rey, who said “Congratulations @RealPaigeWWE and @EmmaWWE you both are paving the way!!!”, and Stephanie McMahon sang their praises in a post-show interview. Indeed, there were many plaudits singing their praises.
As well as having the confidence to let Paige and Emma go out there and do their thing, they also put the marketing machine behind its Women’s Champion by releasing a t-shirt for her. Considering how little merchandise WWE had for its women up until last year and how she isn’t even on the main roster yet, it’s a real sign that the company is high on the former Britani Knight. (more…)
SHINE 17 live results: Tag Team Title tournament; Ivelisse Velez defends SHINE Title against Mercedes Martinez
After crowning a singles champion at SHINE 11 last June, SHINE adds another title to the promotion by establishing Tag Team Champions. Eight teams are vying for the gold – some established, some new, some who are relatively fresh-faced and some who have years of ring time. We have taken a look at the more viable contenders, though it is really anybody’s guess as to who will walk out of SHINE 17 with the championship.
Elsewhere, new SHINE Champion Ivelisse Velez puts her belt on the line against Mercedes Martinez, though the titleholder is likely to have an eye on the other non-tournament match on the card where the woman who replaced her in Valkyrie – Serena Deeb – takes on Angelina Love.
Eva Marie is a stunning woman. With her great looks and amazing figure, she is a visual asset to WWE’s Divas division. Her presence is a striking one as she stands out from the pack with her pillarbox red hair, coupled with red lipstick framing a beautiful smile. Looks-wise, she is every inch the Diva, with the sort of figure that teenage boys would likely sketch in a schoolbook. Her appeal is also experiencing crossover value as she made such an impression on Total Divas that she graced the pages of Maxim Magazine last August. On paper, Eva Marie has everything it takes to be a star in the women’s division of World Wrestling Entertainment…
Until she steps foot in the ring, it seems.
The 29-year old made her debut at SummerSlam Axxess on August 18 where she and Brie Bella lost to Natalya and Maria Menounos (still undefeated, by the way), but her first TV contest wasn’t until October 7 when she, JoJo and Natalya defeated Aksana, Rosa Mendes & Alicia Fox. She has wrestled 12 matches in total, all of them in tag team contests or battle royals. However, the 13th and most recent contest technically doesn’t exist as even though it was recorded for last week’s episode of SmackDown, it was never broadcast – and probably never will be. (more…)
We now have the eight teams announced for the tournament at SHINE 17 on February 28 to crown the first SHINE Tag Team Champions. They are Made In Sin (Allysin Kay & Taylor Made), the SNS Express (Sassy Stephie & Jessie Belle Smothers), the West Coast Connection (Su Yung & Tracy Taylor), Leva Bates & Mia Yim, Brandi Wine & Malia Hosaka, The Buddy System (Solo Darling & Heidi Lovelace), the Kimber Bombs (Kimber Lee & Cherry Bomb) and MsEerie (Christina Von Eerie & MsChif). Most of the tandems certainly have viable chances of winning, but I reckon that there are five that have a greater chance of prevailing… (more…)
When I was 19 years old, I went to a friend’s house to watch SummerSlam 2000. We had known each other for about a year after meeting at university and discovering that we were both wrestling fans. I was in his house for about 10 minutes when his 15 year old sister came in, introduced herself and then hitched up her underwear over her hips and said that she was a Lita fan.
Apart from not knowing where to look, what to say or anything, I was surprised at how someone who had just met me was so keen to impart the fact that she was a fan of Lita. Granted, she knew that I was a wrestling fan, but that sort of stuff shouldn’t happen, should it? I put it down to how cool Lita was and left it at that, but when you look back on her influence during WWF Attitude, you could argue that she was the best representation of women that the company had ever presented up to that point.
Unlike her rival Trish Stratus, Lita wasn’t a barbie doll. She was rough and ready, looked a little messy and did not dress to impress – she dressed for comfort. Copying the Hardy Boyz look with the baggy pants, she coupled it with a tight sports top or t-shirt and got stuck in against the guys. She delivered flying ranas and bodypresses to the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Test, Albert, Edge and Christian, and was happy to take the lumps too. She was powerbombed by the Dudley Boyz, Guerrero and Test as well as getting speared by Edge. She was a game girl who settled things in a way that no woman before her had done so. As a consequence, she was amazingly cool and was arguably more or a role model for women than Trish was. Stratus was too perfect, like she was almost above it all, whereas Lita would hang out with you, drink with you, share a laugh and be your friend. She was the opposite of a Diva, and that made her stand out from the – admittedly smaller in that era – pack.
It is fitting that Amy “Lita” Dumas is going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. At 38, she is one of the youngest inductees, though she may have done more to draw women to WWE than any other female before or since. (more…)
Both Shanna and Alpha Female made their first appearances in a TNA ring during the recent UK tour, though they handled the publicity for it in different ways.
Portugal’s Perfect Athlete got the word out early that she would be booked on the February 1 show in London, England, as well as the following date in Birmingham. She wrestled singles matches for the Xplosion tapings – the first against Alpha and the next saw her take on Gail Kim. I was at the Birmingham taping, and while I won’t spoil the result, Shanna looked perfectly comfortable in that ring in what was a big opportunity for her to impress. She wasn’t just cannon fodder for the full-time Knockout either – she got in her fair share and even got to nail the Perfect Press.
Since announcing that she would be wrestling for TNA, Shanna has encouraged her fans to get the attention of the company to demonstrate her fanbase and how much she wants to be part of the promotion. She has retweeted many of the messages sent to TNA, and is showing her enthusiasm and overwhelming desire to sign a contract, while also increasing her brand and marketability. No doubt, she has a lot of people backing her, which is very encouraging. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (28 January 2014) – Ivelisse Velez strikes gold, Rain retires for real, Nevaeh & Leva Bates impress
It’s been some comeback by Ivelisse Velez from being released by WWE in August 2012. Refusing to be a statistic, she picked herself up and got back in the saddle. While she has experienced TV exposure with WWE by being in the most recent Tough Enough in 2011 and in TNA for its Gut Check (which she weirdly lost, even though she won her match against Le’D Tapa, who ended up getting the contract), leading to working the Knockouts Knockdown and World Cup PPV tapings, arguably her biggest achievement happened last Friday in Ybor City, Florida.
It’s funny – WWE’s rumoured reasoning for releasing Velez was that she had “attitude issues”. I would say that rather than “attitude”, she has self-confidence and determination, and they are major contributing factors as to why she holds the SHINE title. (more…)
Valkyrie‘s biggest challenge happens tonight at SHINE 16 – though instead of it being a new challenger looking to take the faction down, the challenge lays from within. After receiving advice from many sides, Ivelisse Velez takes on her stablemate Rain for the Radiant One’s SHINE Championship. Teammates Allysin Kay and Taylor Made advised her to back out, Rain acted diplomatic about it and VP Lexie Fyfe said she received the opportunity because she deserved it and not because of some underhanded plan to destroy Valkyrie from within. However, that is a possible outcome of this match, regardless of who leaves the Orpheum in Ybor City, FL as the champion. Together, we’ll see what goes down.
Elsewhere on the card, Kay and Jessicka Havok collide for a second straight month, though this match will be No Disqualification. After last month’s no-contest, we will definitely have a winner here, as the two former best friends collide with no sympathy, no compassion and no mercy to be seen.
The other big match sees Nevaeh face Leva Bates in a straight wrestling match following their Friday The 13th Massacre Match last month. Both have been sniping back and forth at each other since Nevaeh threw down the challenge – so much so that both were legitimately reprimanded by SHINE for their conduct online. With tensions running high, this could be a show-stealer.
Also, Serena Deeb makes her SHINE debut against Santana Garrett, Angelina Love faces Leah Von Dutch, and Daffney says she has a new team to square off against SNS Express members Sassy Stephie and Jessie Belle Smothers.
This weekend is the real kick-off of the all-women promotions for 2014, and it begins with the promotion which closed out 2013.
Things were left somewhat up in the air at the end of SHINE 15 on December 13. Rain had just backed out of her impending retirement after retaining the SHINE Championship by beating Amazing Kong via count out. However, her gloating came to an abrupt end when she was informed that her next challenger would be fellow Valkyrie member Ivelisse Velez, who had beaten Mia Yim earlier in the night – that is, if Ivelisse decided to accept the opportunity. What followed was a series of videos where a number of people offered their thoughts to the would-be challenger. Starting proceedings was fellow stablemates Taylor Made and Allysin Kay who implored their friend to not accept the match, and was followed by Rain, who echoed those sentiments. Afterwards, SHINE VP Lexie Fyfe told Velez that she was picked because she was the most deserving, not because of some sort of plot to destroy Valkyrie from within. (more…)
So Kaitlyn has left WWE. I’m not going to lie here – it totally sucks. Considering she is just 27 years old, considering how she had a personality and physique which could make her stand out from the other Divas, and considering how eager she was to work, she’s a massive loss. The worst part is that her departure is totally understandable as WWE had failed her. Given different circumstances, she could still be a Diva, kicking bottom and being a valuable asset to the company. The reason that she’s not is WWE’s fault, not her’s.
According to the Wrestling Observer, Kaitlyn was keen to get stuck in and was looking for a new storyline. She was reportedly promised that certain opportunities would be forthcoming, but when they were not, she decided that enough was enough and she would hand in her notice. Here was someone who was eager to work, contribute and deliver the goods, and she got nothing. Instead of twiddling her thumbs and receiving a paycheck, she wanted to work. That has to be respected.
To highlight her work ethic, she posted a video telling fans that she is busy planning her wedding, working with a new fitness company and is also setting up her own firm to sell workout clothing for women, entitled Celestial Bodiez – derived from her real name of Celeste Bonin. (more…)
Episode 65 with Portugal’s Perfect Athlete Shanna
It’s taken over two years since she said “yes” to a podcast appearance to get everything aligned for this show to come together, but the delay has been all for the better because she had a big year last year with US tours taking in appearances in WSU, AIW and SHINE – and she’s on the verge of a third US visit next month to challenge Jessicka Havok for the WSU World Championship at WSU Mutiny on February 8th. We talk to Shanna about all manner of things, including her experiences on her last two US tours, the origins (and pronunciation) of her ring name, her initial years in the business, working with ABC Catch in mainland Europe, injuries, the match that Shanna describes as her “best match ever”, thoughts on TNA (where she finished second in last year’s GutCheck voting), exclusive news and teasers about upcoming US tours and possible bookings and some of her loves away from wrestling… including, yes… 80s rock music~!
(right click on the picture and “save as” to download, or stream in our media player below)
After defeating Amazing Kong to successfully defend her SHINE Championship at SHINE 15 last month – and renege on her intentions to retire – Rain was told by VP Lexie Fyfe that the number one contender for the title would be her Valkyrie stablemate Ivelisse Velez, who had beaten Mia Yim earlier in the night. The show closed with an awkward mood in the air, as it seemed that the lure of the title would drive a wedge into the promotion’s most dominant group.
Over the past week or so, Velez has been given advice and opinions from a number of different people – Valkyrie teammates Allysin Kay and Taylor Made, Rain and Fyfe. Earlier today Ivelisse gave us her decision, and it means it’s Valkyrie v Valkyrie at SHINE 16 on January 24… (more…)
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing a lot of retrospective articles. From the looks back to the 2012 award winners to the announcing of the 2013 recipients, from the personal highlights of Stew and myself to reviews of of the Women Of Wrestling Podcasts and our other audio shows, there has been a big look into the past. Now, here’s a look into the future.
Both Stew and I have written a list of things we would like to see happen in 2014. Neither of us have a crystal ball – or more critically, a booking sheet – so we can’t say whether any of these will actually happen, but this is what we would like to see in a perfect world.
Seeing as I’m here, I’ll start:
• I would love to see LuFisto win the SHIMMER Championship. After storming through the last set of tapings and working up a pretty heated rivalry with reigning titleholder Cheerleader Melissa, she ended Female Fight Season standing above her enemy at the end of Femmes Fatales XIII. While no plans have been put in place for SHIMMER 62 in New Orleans, LA, I would be happy to see Melissa and Lufisto in the main event with the Super Hardcore Anime taking the title which would mean the world to her. Even if she only holds it until the DVD tapings the following week, I would love for it to happen. (more…)
The first thing I think when I look back over my own personal memories of the last year of women’s wrestling is, as usual, my regular trips to SHIMMER live events in Berwyn, IL. I can’t say enough about the whole experience, but if you’ve ever even vaguely considered making the pilgrimage, DO IT. I believe this year represented my tenth and eleventh trips there, and yeah, I’m still keen to return in the coming year and still love the whole experience. Dave Prazak has often described SHIMMER as a DVD product (and it basically still is), but for me, (and I think a lot of the people I see returning time and time again), it’s become live product more than anything else, and it’s like getting together with your friends from all over the world twice a year. They’re long weekends for the fans, but they’ve ultimately given me such great memories. From seeing the return from injuries of the likes of Serena Deeb & Madison Eagles, to seeing people like Kimber Lee wrestling live for the first time, to seeing Nikki Storm get over so huge on her first trip there, to openly weeping in public as Allison Danger wrestled her last match – all things that will live long in the memory. Sure, the October taping was beset by a number of integral people missing for various reasons, but I’m still glad I was there (Kimber Bombs!!), and only underlines how much talent there is to return in 2014. (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…)