Lisa Marie Varon is amazing. As well as being a great wrestler who can be all serious and eyes-on-the-prize, she is also secure enough in herself to be silly, be the butt of jokes and create some truly funny moments. One of them is part of this week’s Retro, which saw the WWE Divas dress up for a Halloween battle royal on the October 29, 2007 episode of Raw. While others dressed tough or sexy, Varon – then under the name of Victoria – donned a sumo suit.
Thinking about it, it’s a brilliant move, as the extra bulk of the outfit makes her difficult to throw over the top, because of the lowering of her centre of gravity – so much so that it saw her tumble down the ramp in her entrance, after ring announcer Lilian Garcia struggled to maintain her composure while introducing her.
Her appearance in this match is a stark contrast to the Retro we posted in the summer when she and Trish Stratus knocked lumps out of each other at the 2002 Survivor Series but it shows the versatility she possesses. Click the jump and enjoy. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (8 October 2013) – Saraya and Melissa settle things, AJ Lee injured, Total Divas in-ring debut
I certainly didn’t see it coming, and I doubt many others would have.
On Sunday evening at Bellatrix 7, I was fully expecting Saraya Knight to win the war against Cheerleader Melissa on her home turf by finally beating her decisively, ending the six and a half year feud between them – four of which were spent with silent hostility in the air from opposite sides of the Atlantic. However, instead of there being an out and out winner of the feud, there was a time limit draw following 20 minutes of battering each other both inside and outside of the ring. As a result, it seemed as if nothing was settled between them. With two wins, two losses and two draws each, it was a total stalemate – but that seemed to be perfectly acceptable to both. (more…)
Ahead of the release of the all-women TNA One Night Only PPV on September 6, the company has put together a preview video to sell the event to US viewers – ones in the UK will get it for free five days later. Hosted by Christy Hemme, it features a montage of all the Knockouts Champions since the title was created in 2007; a look at the Gauntlet Match at Bound For Glory in that year which determined the inaugural titleholder; a recap of the feud between Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell which featured a great Last Knockout Standing Match at Slammiversary this year and also a fine Ladder Match on Impact Wrestling in July; and a rundown of all the women who will be involved in the show itself.
The event was taped in March – you can read results of it here if you don’t mind spoilers – and it is interesting to see which Knockouts are no longer with the company in the time the show was recorded and it making to air. Tara, Taeler Hendrix and Madison Rayne have all gone – though Rayne didn’t wrestle on the show as she was already pregnant – while Brooke Hogan has also parted ways with TNA – which is a big continuity error, considering she is the one advertised as putting the event together but was unceremoniously dumped in the storylines. In addition, Terrell – who was clearly a big priority for TNA – has disappeared from our screens.
Still, it’s a nicely put together hard-sell for the show, so click after the jump, rekindle some memories and see if it can pull some money from your bank account. (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…)
Since her release from TNA in July 18, Tara has kept quiet about her feelings on the subject. However, she has broken her silence in an interview which was posted at the Wrestling Observer website about being let go and how she was going to leave anyway, as well as if she will return to the promotion in the future.
When asked about being released, Tara – real name Lisa Marie Varon – said:
It was a surprise to me. I went to TNA because I wanted to work with some of the great female wrestlers that I hadn’t faced like [Amazing] Kong, ODB, and Sarita. TNA has definitely shifted their focus as far as the women’s division. It was really my love of wrestling that kept me going. I didn’t think it was the right fit for me anymore. My contract was up in a month or two. They knew I wasn’t going to re-sign. First, they had the travel guy call me and tell me I was released. Then Dixie [Carter] called me later that day and said that it was a financial thing, and they knew I was ready to jump ship anyway. I think the classy thing to do would have been to give me the opportunity to quit rather than getting released. But at the end of the day, everyone got what they wanted. (more…)
The WWE Divas Championship turned 5 years old on Saturday, and has evolved from the secondary title on the SmackDown brand to being the top belt in the promotion. Some would argue that in that time, the prestige of the primary women’s title in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world has dropped for various reasons, but it’s what we’re being presented, and it would be worth a look to see what state the title and the division itself is in right now.
Announced on June 6, 2008 by then-GM Vickie Guerrero so the women on her roster would have their own title, with the inaugural champion being Michelle McCool, who made Natalya tap out at that year’s Great American Bash. At the time, McCool was the pet project for WWE’s future, having been in the original Diva Search in 2004 and floating around for a long while before hitting a groove as a wrestler. However, she was a pretty unexciting one – and despite defeating Maryse a number of times over the course of the next month, it was the French Canadian who wrested the title from her in December of that year, which saw McCool turn heel on friend and special ref Maria Kanellis after the contest’s conclusion.
Maryse embarked on what is still the longest Divas Championship reign in the title’s history at 216 days, but her matches were pretty poor, and could not compare to the Raw brand’s women’s roster which was seeing the likes of Melina, Mickie James and Beth Phoenix competing over the Women’s Championship. However, during Maryse’s reign, she was drafted from SmackDown to Raw and took the belt with her, while Women’s Champion Melina went in the other direction. (more…)
Considering the sudden news about the TNA release of Tara last night – something which she hasn’t publicly acknowledged as of now, it feel appropriate that we delve back into her history of matches spanning more than a decade, where she has been the focal point of both TNA and WWE. For this week’s Retro, we jump back all the way to November 17, 2002.
After a brief period as one of the Godfather’s Hos in the summer of 2000, Lisa Marie Varon was taken off TV for about two years for training and development, and repackaged as Victoria, the unhinged maniac who was given a storyline background with Trish Stratus which was partly based in reality, as both had been fitness models before joining WWE. Victoria re-debuted on the July 7, 2002 broadcast of Sunday Night HeAT, and the pair squared off on pay-per-view for the first time at No Mercy in October, where Stratus – who by this point had won her third Women’s Championship – successfully defended her title. However, the hostilities continued, and it reached the point where it was decided that the pair would face off again under Hardcore Rules at the Survivor Series in New York City’s Madison Square Garden… (more…)
As part of the ongoing cost-cutting measures that have seen several fringe TNA stars axed (in the Knockouts Division we’ve seen Madison Rayne’s contract allowed to expire – whilst pregnant, no less – and GutCheck winner Taeler Hendrix ask for her release), TNA this evening tweeted that they have released Lisa-Marie Varon, aka Tara from her contract.
So there you go. After just over four years in the company – where she picked up five Knockouts Championships, tying Angelina Love for most reigns with the title, and one reign as Knockouts Tag Team Champions (though the less said about those belts the better), she apparently finds herself surplus to requirements. (more…)
This week’s top piece is about a storyline which is ongoing, so I may be jumping the gun with my feelings on the matter, but I feel that more eyes should be directed towards what is happening, as it has the potential to do something really positive.
On Ohio Valley Wrestling TV between January and the end of April, Taeler Hendrix had been receiving gifts from a secret admirer. Considering the flirting which had taken place between the pair previously, the former Women’s Champion believed that the presents were coming from Ryan Howe, who had captured her attention since her OVW debut, much to the disappointment, anger and frustration of her put-upon boyfriend Dylan Bostic – who was not as cool, edgy or exiting as the long-haired newcomer sporting an electric guitar.
Things escalated to the point that on March 23, Hendrix and Bostic took on Howe and fellow former Women’s Champion Heidi Lovelace which ended in a no-contest when the men’s fighting got out of control. The following week, Hendrix came to ringside during Howe’s TV Title match against Rockstar Spud, which prompted both Bostic and Lovelace to come out, causing Ryan to be counted out of the ring. On the April 27 episode, Howe insisted that it was not he who was sending Taeler the gifts, leading a confused (and somewhat hurt) Hendrix to wonder who was showering her with these presents.
As it turns out, it was Heidi Lovelace, who came out to reveal the truth before leaving the ring. (more…)
Episode 56 with LuFisto
On April 6th at the iPPV broadcast of SHIMMER Vol 53, Montreal’s “Super Hardcore Anime” LuFisto crashed out on a moonsault to the floor during her match – a landing which caused what is medically referred to as an “exploded kneecap”. Now, a month (and a surgery) later, LuFisto talks exclusively to the Women of Wrestling Podcast, and updates us on her current status. LuFi takes us back to that fateful afternoon and gives us a blow by blow account what happened in the ring, the immediate aftermath in the back and the days following. She’s also got an update on the injury status of her pupil Kalamity, who feared she had broken her foot in training in the last week. We talk about some of the things that she missed out on because of her injury, including SHIMMER the following weekend, her WSU World Title shot at Jessicka Havok and her being stripped of the NSPW Title. We talk rehab – including the part BonRoxx Fitness is playing in helping her get back to her best – and estimate her return date. We talk her experiences in AAA, her admiration for Konnan and her future in that company; her feud with Mercedes Martinez in WSU & NCW:FF; facing Saraya Knight and Jazz; taking on Ivelisse in SHINE and ambitions to face Tara some day. We also revisit the comments made by Al Snow following her Gut Check for TNA and her current feelings on the Gut Check Challenge voting, and there’s quite a deep discussion on LuFisto’s ever-changing relationship with the business, what it means to have “succeeded” in wrestling, and bring up the prospect of retirement. It’s a pretty exhaustive hour and a half with an awesome lady. Download, spread the word and enjoy.
(left click on picture to stream, right click and “save as” to download)
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…)
Not making it to Bellatrix 5 in Norwich, England on Sunday may have been unfortunate, but it did provide me the opportunity to utilise the option to watch the show on iPPV. Considering a lot of the changes from Bellatrix 4 last November were being done because of this one being broadcast live, it was interesting to be able to assess if those changes were successful.
Improvements to aesthetics like giant wall hangings of the roster, an improved entranceway, ringside barriers and more attention paid to start and running times were coupled with the venue being a purpose-built TV studio with full-scale lights and sound systems, the Epic Studios in Norwich looked vastly different to 5 months ago. The benefit of it being a proper studio also made it easier for the show to be streamed online, as the facilities to broadcast were all there, and had been tried and tested with previous unrelated shows. As a result, Bellatrix 5 was one of the slickest women’s wrestling iPPVs produced to date. (more…)
WARNING: Spoilers lay within.
TNA Wrestling is saying goodbye to the Impact Zone in Orlando, FL by hosting a series of One Night Only pay-per-views. In last week’s Roundup, we discussed the Knockouts Knockdown all-women show which saw a number of former Knockouts turn down the offer of being there. At the time, Traci Brooks was one of the women who had declined the offer, but it was not because she was holding a grudge of any description, tweeting “I had to say no to TNA for the KO ppv as I couldn’t make it that day. No other reason”.
Payton Banks (Rain) and Winter (Katarina Leigh) pointed out last week that they had also been asked but said no, while Salinas (Shelly Martinez) vlogged that she wasn’t asked. However, it was the former Roxxi who came out and explained in detail why she didn’t go back for Sunday’s show.
Nikki Roxx (who was messed around during her two stints in the promotion) spoke to the Greg DeMarco show about her turning down the offer, saying, “You can only get kicked so many times… I think that I had finally had enough. They had trouble treating me very well to begin with and I felt like I was being a glutton for punishment every time I went back… I felt like it was the right time to tell them no. It was like one of those bad relationships where you keep trying to get away from it… You can’t treat people badly and then hope that they’ll come back and hang out.” (more…)
Well, it had a difficult birth – with most of the former Knockouts banding together and turning down offers to work the show – but TNA have managed to put together a Knockouts only PPV as part of their taped “One Night Only” series after all, and managed to pull a coup out of the bag by featuring Serena Deeb‘s first match since October 2011. Deeb took on fellow OVW trainee Mickie James in the match, which it is believed will likely air in the July or August slot on TNA’s One Night Only calendar. (X-Travaganza will air in April, the Jokers Wild Tag Tournament in May, and TNA’s live Slammiversary will air in June). All of the early matches were termed as qualifiers for the main event “Queen of TNA” Gauntlet match, which is TNA’s Royal Rumble style timed-entrance Battle Royale with the final two facing off in a pinfall/submission standard match.
Interestingly, one former Knockout did show up despite not being booked – as Daffney, fresh off resolving litigation with the company, was seen protesting the show with an “I’m here independently” sign (in reference to her threat to challenge the so-called ‘Independent Contractor’ clause in TNA contracts).
Click back after the break for an exclusive pic of Daffney & Amber O’Neal at the show, along with full results, which also saw the return of other former Knockouts, a former Diva, Gut Check competitors and independent talent (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (5 March 2013) – Paige’s rise, AJ Lee’s fall, Femmes Fatales XI, ABC Catch and more
On Saturday night in Kalamazoo, MI, Paige defeated AJ Lee at a WWE house show in a match refereed by Hornswoggle. The following evening in Cleveland, OH, the same match took place with the same outcome. The results of a WWE house show don’t usually mean much, but in these instances, they may mean a great deal.
First off, let’s look at the 20-year old Briton. It’s the second time that Paige has been on the road with WWE since she first reported to developmental in Florida 14 months ago – the first time round saw her team with Layla to beat Aksana and Natalya in tag matches in South Carolina at the start of December. However, she’s been given an even bigger shot in the arm by wrestling singles matches and beating AJ – the most over woman in WWE last year. (more…)
The two big stories coming out of Women Superstars Uncensored’s An Ultraviolent Affair were Jessicka Havok retaining the WSU Championship by beating Athena with a top rope Air Raid Crash, and LuFisto defeating Mercedes Martinez in a Falls Count Anywhere match to become the next number one contender. However, after the latter match, a double-turn took place, with Mercedes Martinez turning heel and LuFisto turning babyface.
As a result, Martinez is now the aggressor in all the big-name women’s promotions in North America. Previously, WSU had been the exception to the rule, with her smiling and playing nice while in SHIMMER, NCW Femmes Fatales and SHINE, she was hankering for the jeers of the fans. Likewise, WSU was the only place where LuFisto was working heel. What that now means is that there is a status quo amongst the big players on the continent, so fans don’t have to work out whether they should be cheering or booing somebody. While this makes it easier on the audience, does it create a natural harmony that isn’t necessarily needed? (more…)
TNA’s Impact Wrestling is being recorded in London, England at the moment, and a big development with the Knockouts has taken place. However, seeing as it is a spoiler for the show which won’t be broadcast until February 21, you may not want to know. If you DO want to know, click the jump… (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…)
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…)
Mickie James challenges Tara for the TNA Knockouts Championship after returning from three months on the shelf.
• James earned her shot at the belt on the November 12 episode of Impact Wrestling by winning a battle royal. It was her first appearance on Impact since August 2 – she’d been out after having surgery to have a benign mass removed.
• Tara faced her challenger last Thursday on Impact, and was interrupted by the returning Velvet Sky, who made it clear that she wanted to regain the Knockouts belt in 2013.
• The two veterans started out with some mat wrestling, but quickly got more aggressive, with Mickie throwing Tara about by the hair and following it up with some quick pin attempts and a headscissors out of the corner.
• All the time, the challenger was keeping an eye on Tara’s boyfriend Jesse Godderz, though her concern with him gave the titleholder the opportunity to strike, and attacked her on the outside of the ring.
• Jesse’s interference also meant that a flash sunset flip pin by James was missed by referee Taryn Terrell, who was admonishing him for climbing onto the apron.
• James managed to mount a comeback with upkicks and clotheslines, as well as a big Thesz Press from the top to the floor. However, as she cut Godderz’s interference off with a kick, she was snared by Tara, who hit the Widow’s Peak for the pinfall. (more…)
In a recent interview with Edge, he was asked why so many women are voluntarily choosing to leave WWE. His reply: “I don’t think they get a shot and that’s why most leave. No incentive.”
Now, I was all set to expand on this, but there is the flip side – what about the fortunate ones who do get a shot? Do they seize the opportunity with both hands? Well, one is certainly doing so at the moment, and she seems to be the only one on the main roster taking the her role as a wrestler deadly seriously.
Consider what WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres has been up to in the last week. She was featured in a profile video for American Latino which focuses a large amount of time on the self defence for women programme she offers – something that she believes very passionately about. She teamed up with the Gracie Academy for the Women Empowered DVD set, and has worked hard promoting women being able to take care of themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
The interview also saw Torres justifying her heel character in WWE by saying she is a woman who gets what she wants, and her holding the WWE Divas belt is proof of that. It’s weird logic, but she has a point – it gets around the fact that she is a heel too, even though she is purporting herself to be on the side of the good girls. (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…)