Lee's 2012 highlights

With Shazza McKenzie and her Zubaz at SHIMMER“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

Dolly Parton said that – wise woman.

The reason I started out this piece about my favourite memories from 2012 with that quote is because to truly appreciate the moments you most enjoyed, you need something negative to compare it to – and for me, that moment was back in mid-March when I was sat at home in the early hours of the morning updating the results of the SHIMMER volumes 45-48 tapings for Ringbelles.

I was at home because the inevitable happened – after eight trips to the Chicago area in four years, the coffers had run dry and I couldn’t afford to go. While Stew was at the Berwyn Eagles Club watching everything unfold, I was remotely keeping up with the festivities, feeling more and more disappointed that I wasn’t there. After his return, Stew let me know about the epic encounter that was Ayumi Kurihara and Ayako Hamada against Ray and Leon which saw the crowd lose their collective shit, as well as the whole Queens of Winning storyline play out, culminating in Courtney Rush and Sara Del Rey winning the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles. However, the ultimate low point for me would have been the ultimate high point if I was there, and that was Saraya Knight winning the SHIMMER Championship.

For someone who I had built a friendship with over the previous 18 months to win the promotion’s top title on a series of shows which some thought she may not be a part of due to her daughter not being there was a massive moment which I had to miss due to having a number of bills breathing down my neck. That sucked, though seeing her a couple of weeks later in front of her home crowd as the smiling babyface with the belt around her waist helped to make up for it.

At the time, I was chipping away at those debts due to massive financial cutbacks and working shedloads of overtime. By the summer, I had sorted myself, and was able to get on board for the October SHIMMER tapings, as well as adding a trip to Montreal for my first Femmes Fatales show. I’d earned it, and made the most of it – the wrestling, the laughs, the memories… it all helped to make sure 2012 ended on a massive upswing.

Kasey Owens and Erin AngelDomestically, there has been a lot of wrestling in the UK that I have been able to be a part of and enjoy. I maintained my personal record of being at every Pro Wrestling: EVE show since its inception in 2010, and have been thrilled to see the ascent of Nikki Storm to the position she is at right now. She really deserves it. I’m also happy for Rhia O’Reilly, who has matured into a solid hand this year, forming a tandem with Ayesha Ray in EVE and winning the British Ladies Championship in WAWW.

Speaking of WAWW, seeing those shows swell both in international popularity as well as in the skills of the roster has been great to see. Penelope is certainly one to watch, Liberty has all the tools to be a star, and Destiny regained that spark. I’m looking forward to 2013 when the promotion is rebranded as Bellatrix: Female Warriors, as the revamp can only bring more success.

However, my biggest UK highlight has to be the trip to Glasgow for Insane Championship Wrestling’s Fierce Females debut show, which had a fantastic atmosphere, some great wrestling and a brilliant main event between Carmel Jacob and Kay Lee Ray. Scotland is rapidly becoming one of the hubs for women’s wrestling in Europe, with the aforementioned Storm, KLR and Jacob tearing things up with both domestic and overseas talent, as well as others like the awesome Viper and Kirsty Love, and newer names like Bete Noire and Fiona Fraser. Being able to finally chat to Erin Angel at the Fierce Females afterparty was also a relief too, as we’ve been passing ships in the night for years.

With Angelina Love after Pro Wrestling: EVEOn the website, it has been a big year for audio, with the flagship Women Of Wrestling Podcast scoring massive numbers. Personally, my three favourite of the year were with Saraya, who hit us with more crazy stories from her eventful past; Lisa “Ivory” Moretti, which was an absolute thrill to speak to her for two podcasts in a week when she is quite guarded as to who she shares her time with; and Mickie Knuckles, who exclusively revealed her pregnancy and her forfeiture of the AIW Women’s Championship on the recording, and is still the most recent interview she has given, as she has dropped off the face of the earth in the last six months.

Meanwhile, an idea to give a platform to wrestlers looking to expand their profile also worked out well, with 11 wrestlers from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia all getting in touch to ask for some free interview time to push themselves and their upcoming projects. For something which started out as a vague undertaking has been a real success, and I look forward to us showcasing more rising stars in 2013.

So, there have been some ups and downs this year, but overall, things get a thumbs up. I’ve seen new promotions live, met some great people, vicariously felt success through people who I’ve lucky enough to form friendships with and feel a sense of optimism for women’s wrestling for the coming 12 months. I hope to be able to see as much of it as possible in person, overdraft and credit card balance permitting…

Also, as you can tell from the photos, I happen to wear the Great Wrestling Knows No Gender t-shirt a lot. Those photos with Shazza McKenzie, Erin Angel & Kasey Owens and Angelina Love were all taken at different times. It’s washed every time, I promise.

– Lee Burton

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