Female backstage interviewers are as rare as rocking horse poop in World Wrestling Entertainment, and finding a good one is hugely unlikely. In late 1994, Stephanie Wiand signed on, co-hosting WWF Mania with Todd Pettengill, and also worked a few pay-per-views in 1995, though very few fans remember her, and probably could not pick her out of a lineup. Rue DeBona also did a bit of backstage mic work on SmackDown in 2004, but wasn’t around long enough to do anything apart from marry (and later divorce) Josh Mathews. Some Divas also turned to asking the questions rather than answering them. Lilian Garcia has done the job at pay-per-views in the past, Terri Runnels performed interviewing duties between 2002 and 2004, Sunny did the odd bit in 1997 but seemed to be more keen on having the spotlight for herself, and after being eliminated from the Diva Search, Maria Kanellis worked the backstage but was given the ditzy gimmick where she asked poor questions, got wrestlers names wrong and simpered a lot.
However, WWE seems to have stumbled across a diamond in current interviewer Renee Young.
In a recent Q&A on his website, Jim Ross described the 29-year old as having “plenty of talent and should continue to do well in WWE as I see her role expanding and then see other opportunities coming her way.” It’s a sentiment which seems to be shared by fans and by bigwigs in WWE itself as her profile and duties have rapidly expanded since making her first TV appearance on the company’s main shows on March 29 this year.
While it took around six months for Renee Paquette to be renamed and put on the “proper” WWE shows, the Canadian had already been cutting her teeth in the same way as developmental wrestlers would – by working in NXT. She also co-presented the 2012 Survivor Series pre-show and later moved onto hosting on the WWE app before interviewing Randy Orton, the Big Show and Sheamus on SmackDown shortly before WrestleMania XXIX. Since then, she has also muscled her way onto the WWE YouTube series The JBL and Cole Show, co-presents on Vintage Collection with Mean Gene Okerlund and has also started taking to the commentary table on NXT to add an extra voice to the women’s matches. It’s a huge growth for someone who has only been with the company for a little over a year. In fact, one could argue that she’s WWE’s fastest rising star as she hasn’t had to worry about being derailed by the whim of a writers’ pencil.
Part of the reason for her success is her background. With a sports broadcasting background and working on the Right After Wrestling show (later renamed Aftermath) on The Score, Young had knowledge of working for TV and had an interest in wrestling, meaning that she understood how it works – something that names like Mike Adamle, Joe Fowler and others didn’t get. While being a fan isn’t always the most positive of attributes in certain portions of WWE – the writing team immediately jumps out as an example – her enjoyment of the product has been a real benefit to her upwards mobility. It meant that she could hit the ground running and could get that balance right between taking things seriously and knowing when to react to situations. Her interactions with the likes of Emma on NXT are great – watching her try to avoid bubbles being sprayed in her face and get out of the way of her interviewee’s dancing are always fun to watch. In contrast, she has a mild look of revulsion, disgust and annoyance with Summer Rae but manages to keep it unbiased for the sake of the interview. As she also revealed in a backstage video for a photoshoot with Toro Mag, she is comfortable being the butt of the jokes, and doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Another aspect which has worked in her favour is her appearance. While WWE Divas seemingly look like they wake up in the morning looking all sparkly and perfect, Renee’s look is more understated. While not unattractive in any way, she is less striking than the Divas – and that is a very good thing, as it means that the attention of the viewer is on the wrestler and not Young herself. While Sunny, Runnels and Kanellis had to try and slip into the background a bit more, the Ontarian strikes a great balance between looking great on camera and making sure that she doesn’t hog the shot. Couple that with her ability to correctly react to what her interviewee is saying to convey different emotions to the viewer, and you’re onto a serious winner. Essentially, she’s attractive enough for you to be drawn to her without feeling intimidated, but she’s also someone with whom you could easily chat about wrestling – to some, that must be perfection.
WWE seems to be very high on Renee Young, and rightfully so. While other backstage interviewers have straddled their WWE work with their other aspirations – Todd Grisham and Jonathan Coachman also worked on “legitimate” sports broadcasts during their tenure, this is seemingly the zenith for the latest name to rock the microphone.
No doubt, WWE should do all that it can to hold onto her. By giving her a world of duties, it seems as if they are giving her every chance to succeed – and it makes sense, as she is young, pretty and “gets” the product in a very special way. Working alongside Okerlund on Vintage Collection is probably the biggest tell-tale sign that she is being groomed – one would not imagine that Mean Gene needs a co-anchor, but at 71 he’s not getting any younger and the generation which watched him during his first WWE run may not be around anymore. A new face for a fresh set of viewers is probably appropriate, and Renee Young could be it.
She also has webbed toes.
It’s a shame that the Gail Kim/Taryn Terrell feud was cut short after just two matches, though they were a great two matches. The Last Knockout Standing contest at Slammiversary is stronger than their subsequent Ladder Match, but both far exceeded everyone’s expectations, partly because nobody had much idea of whether Terrell was any good. As Tiffany in ECW, she didn’t really do much, and her cumulative ring time wasn’t that high. Kim has revealed in a long interview with the Miami Herald that she also shared that trepidation at first:
We really didn’t know if she could go in the ring, and the only thing I knew prior to having the stipulation matches against her [in TNA], she does a little bit of stunt work on the side. When you have stipulation matches, it’s all out there, and you can do whatever you want to do. I’ve always been in favor of those types of matches. I’m a little bit nuts, and I’m always willing to push the envelope.
In my 14 years of wrestling, I never met a girl who wanted to step it up to that level with me. I’ve been in the ring with many, many talented girls, whether they were skilled technically, strong, experienced, and I still never met a girl who wanted to get to that level of craziness.
With Taryn, I just knew, and she really stepped it up when it came to that Last Knockout Standing match. We both really wanted to bring it that day. I don’t think anyone had any expectations for that match. The feud was really built up, but the stipulation hadn’t been built up. So I think people were like, ‘OK, it’s a match between Gail and Taryn,’ but we surprised everyone.
Surprise everyone they did. While Kim controlled the proceedings, Terrell was no slouch and was willing to take her lumps. She missed a tope from the ring to the elevated rampway, and also won the match with an Ace Crusher from the ramp to the floor, which must have hurt like all hell. However, the end result was a massive standing ovation for both, though a large chunk of that must be out of sheer amazement at how far Taryn was willing to go.
Out of all the years in my career, that match was definitely one of my highlights. This past year, those two matches I had with her, the Last Knockout Standing and the ladder match, were definitely highlights for girls to get that kind of reaction. It’s very rare to be a professional wrestler and to get that type of crowd reaction. It’s one of those moments you don’t want to go by too quickly. You want to relish that moment. I only had those magical moments in the past with Kong, and that was a very different kind of feud. It was a David and Goliath thing. With Taryn, a model looking girl that no one expected this from, I’m just happy that nobody had those expectations, because we just knocked it out of the ballpark that day.
Taryn is currently away from the ring due to being pregnant and will likely be out until the middle of next year, at least. I would imagine that her super-push will resume when she returns, as she was definitely being given every opportunity to succeed, and was rumoured to be the one who would have unseated Mickie James to win the Knockouts Championship. As it turns out, Gail now holds the title – perhaps the Kim/Terrell feud will continue next year with the Knockouts title as the cherry on top.
We’ve added quite two videos to the website over the last week. As well as the Retro featuring a Lingerie Battle Royal from the early days of TNA which featured Mickie James, Daffney and Francine, there is also Mistress Belmont’s win over Alexxis Nevaeh to win the World Women’s Wrestling Championship.
Got any news, results or upcoming events that you want to tell everyone about? Are you a female wrestler looking to tell us about upcoming bookings? Are you a fan who went to a show and saw a match, and would like to tell others about it – what you liked, what you didn’t and would like to encourage others to check it out for themselves? Send us an email!
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The best of the rest
Congratulations to Kaitlyn, who got engaged to her bodybuilder boyfriend PJ Braun during her trip to Turks and Caicos just before the Survivor Series. While they had known each other for years, they only started their romantic relationship in the summer… WWE.com caught up with Lisa Marie Varon, where she told them about how she got a crash course in training to be ready for her tryout: “I called [UPW] and said, ‘I have 28 days to learn how to wrestle, can I come visit your facility?’” Varon said with a laugh. “Of course, you can’t learn how to wrestle in 28 days.” She also covered working in Ohio Valley Wrestling, her feud with Trish Stratus and alliance with Stevie Richards, as well as plugging The Squared Circle, though she not mention returning to WWE. A photograph was also used where she was wearing a Jessicka Havok t-shirt… Paige got in the face of Emma on last week’s NXT episode ahead of their upcoming Women’s Championship match. She then ran down Natalya for being more about Total Divas than wrestling before offering to put up her belt against the former Divas Champion. Looks like Paige is getting more heelish these days. Elsewhere, Bayley looked for Charlotte to try and get answers as to why Ric Flair’s daughter turned on her two weeks before, but only encountered Summer Rae and Sasha Banks, who fobbed her off… Naomi has been spending time in the recording studio recently. Not sure what it’s leading towards though… When asked on Twitter about what her 2014 goals will be, Cameron responded that she would like an “amazing storyline” so she can get more ring time… PWInsider says Layla’s absence down to a medical issue that WWE is aware of… Speaking of Cameron, she is releasing a single through iTunes called “Bye Bye”, and has an album coming in the future. This comes just after a photo emerged of fellow Funkadactyl Naomi in a recording studio. While it’s perfectly possible to juggle a wrestling and music career, Cameron is hardly established enough in WWE to start dividing her interests. Maria Kanellis was with WWE for 6 years and they still had a problem with her doing outside projects, and it was a similar story with Mickie James. Perhaps WWE’s vice-like grip on its talent doing external duties is loosening; perhaps it’s special dispensation for the Total Divas cast, or more likely, WWE is producing it… The nominations for this year’s Slammy Awards have been announced, with the one we’re interested in being the one curiously entitled “Total Diva of the Year”. That could mean that the likes of AJ and Kaitlyn are being snubbed, or it could be angle where AJ confronts the winner. The Slammys will take place on next week’s Raw… Natalya pinned AJ Lee in the 6-Diva match on Raw last night. To the surprise of nobody, it was a roll-up. Afterward, it was announced that AJ would defend the Divas Title against Natalya at TLC on December 15… Nikki Bella also had a brief pop at sister Brie on a Tout video after the 6-woman match, asking why she wasn’t tagged in by her twin and Natalya was. Looks like the Bella split angle may be back on.
Lei’D Tapa spoke to the Miami Herald newspaper about TNA, saying she was grateful for the opportunity afforded to her in the Gut Check earlier this year. She also put over Gail Kim as a great teacher.
Su Yung will defend the Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Championship against Rhia O’Reilly on December 15… The intergender match scheduled for last Wednesday’s Ohio Valley Wrestling taping did not take place. Instead, it escalated to the point that Lei’D Tapa offered to put the Women’s Championship on the line against Bodyguy at the Saturday Night Special this weekend… They meet for the first time on Saturday – Melanie Cruise defends the Great Lakes Championship Wrestling Women’s Title against Serena Deeb… New bride Brittney Savage has revealed that she and husband Jesse Neal are expecting a boy… Nicole Matthews’ match against Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling titleholder El Phantasmo on Saturday was a good news/bad news situation. On the plus side, she won the match; on the minus side, it was via DQ… Angel Blue won the Wrecking Ball Wrestling Women’s Championship on Sunday night by beating Paige Turner… Heidi Lovelace has been added to the Randi West v Thunderkitty v Jordynne Grace match IWA Mid-South’s show on Friday to make it a 4-way.
Syuri successfully defended the Wrestling New Classic Women’s Championship on Friday, defeating former titleholder Lin Byron, who had to vacate the title due to injury. Syuri ended up winning the tournament to crown a new champion… Syuri visited the Philippines to promote a show taking place in Manila on January 25. She is doing a lot of publicity for it as she is half-Filipino, half-Japanese… Tsukasa Fujimoto made her fourth successful defence of the ICEx∞ Championship on Sunday, beating Hamuko Hoshi… Tokyo Women’s Wrestling delivered its debut show on Sunday after holding exhibition matches over the last year and a half. Miyu Yamashita defeated Chikage Kiba in the main event… Joshi4Hope returns for its fifth show on March 9 in Tokyo. The Global Green Gangsters of Kellie Skater and Tomoka Nakagawa will defend the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles on the show.
Viper and Danni Hunter will compete for the FutureShock Wrestling Women’s Championship on December 14… Miss Louise Jane appeared with Flatliner on BBC TV’s The One Show on Wednesday as part of an exercise segment. She also got a chance to say a few words… Viper, Violet Vendetta, Pollyanna Peppers, Addy Starr, Erin Angel, Kay Lee Ray, Carmel Jacob, Princess Nadia Sapphire as well as rookies Shauna Shay, Jenna Jett and Felony have been added to the Leicester Championship Wrestling Roses roster. Its first show will be on January 25, with the first singles match announced being O’Reilly v Starr… Viper finally won the Scottish Wrestling Entertainment Future Division Championship on Saturday, defeating Jason Costello… Special guest referee Kay Lee Ray practically gifted a victory to Carmel Jacob and Nikki Storm over Leah and Kasey Owens at Insane Championship Wrestling’s show on Sunday. She delivered a Gory Bomb to Leah after she was accidentally hit with a missile dropkick. It’s getting a little confusing as to where the Fierce Females Scottish Champion’s priorities lie… Pro Wrestling: EVE is set to resume running shows again in 2014.
Zeuxis spoke to Fuego en el Ring about her trips to Japan making her a better wrestler. She also said she would like to challenge for Marcela’s CMLL World Women’s Championship in the future.
Australia & New Zealand
Warzone Wrestling in Australia is planning to relaunch its women’s division in 2014… Saraya Knight made her Australian debut on Friday, defeating Kellie Skater at New Horizons Pro Wrestling’s show in Perth to earn a shot at Madison Eagles’ IndyGurlz Australia Championship – she won the belt the following day and returned to the UK with it yesterday. She is scheduled to defend it in Europe and will return to Australia to defend it should she still have the title by that time.
November 26: WRESTLE-1 (Kagoshima, Japan) – Hiroyo Matsumoto b The Female Predator “Amazon”
November 26: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Dark Angel, Estrellita & Goya Kong b Amapola, Tiffany & Zeuxis
November 27: WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – GAMI, Kyoko Kimura & Tomoka Nakagawa b Hikaru Shida, Kana & Yumi Ohka; Mio Shirai, Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto b Cherry, Mika Iida & Shuu Shibutani; Aya Mizunami b Fairy Nihonbashi; Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata b Natsuki Urabe & Rima Yamashita; GAMI, Kyoko Kimura & Tomoka Nakagawa b Mio Shirai, Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto
November 27: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Ray Lynn b Dani
November 27: Championship Wrestling From Hollywood (Bell Gardens, CA) – Shelly Martinez b Sage Sin
November 28: TNA Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Lei’D Tapa b Velvet Sky
November 28: Lucha Libre Feminil (Monterrey, Mexico) – Tsunami b Lady Maldad; La Justiciera b La Chacala; Katary b Lady Flamer & Lady Puma in a 3-way; Angelica v Estrella Explosiva ended in a draw
November 29: Wrestling New Classic (Tokyo, Japan) – Mio Shirai & Misaki Ohata b Makoto & Miyako Matsumoto; Syuri b Lin Byron
November 29: New Horizons Pro Wrestling (Maddington, Australia) – Saraya Knight b Kellie Skater
November 29: European Wrestling Federation (Worpswede, Germany) – Chris Rush & Melanie Gray b Aaron Insane & Svetlana Kalashnikova
November 30: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Kurumi & Kaho Kobayashi b Hikaru Shida & Kyuri; Cherry b Miyako Matsumoto; Tsukushi b Risa Sera; Tsukasa Fujimoto & Mio Shirai b Hamuko Hoshi & Maki Narumiya
November 30: New Horizons Pro Wrestling (Maddington, Australia) – Saraya Knight b Madison Eagles to win the IndyGurlz Australia Championship
November 30: Melbourne City Wrestling (Craigieburn, Australia) – KC Cassidy b Siren Munroe
November 30: United Pro Wrestling (Brisbane, Australia) – Toni Storm b Nikita Naridian
November 30: Fight Club Finland (Helsinki, Finland) – Sara Elektra b Leah Von Dutch; Heimo Ukonselkä & King Kong Karhula b Bjørn Sem & Jessica Love
November 30: Scottish Wrestling Entertainment (Dundee, Scotland) – Sammii Jayne b Debbie Sharpe via DQ; Debbie Sharp & LJT b Ian Ambrose & Sammi Jayne; Viper b Jason Costello to win the SWE Future Division Championship
November 30: HXC Wrestling (Manchester, England) – Leah Owens b Jenna Jett
November 30: WrestleCade (Winston-Salem, NC) – Maria Kanellis b Jillian Hall
November 30: New York Wrestling Connection (Deer Park, NY) – Blake Morris & DJ Hyde b Dickie Rodz & Nikki Addams
November 30: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Marti Belle b Veda Scott
November 30: AAW (Berwyn, IL) – Heidi Lovelace b Heather Patera; Markus Crane, Dan Lawrence & Knight Wagner b Tony Rican, Marion Fontaine & MsChif
November 30: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Vancouver, BC, Canada) – Nicole Matthews b El Phantasmo via DQ
November 30: Alternative Wrestling Show (South Gate, CA) – Hudson Envy b Kitana Vera; Candice LeRae b Veda Scott
December 1: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Kurumi & Kyuri b Miyako Matsumoto & Kaho Kobayashi; Tsukushi b 235; Hikaru Shida & Mio Shirai b Maki Narumiya & Risa Sera; Tsukasa Fujimoto b Hamuko Hoshi
December 1: Tokyo Women’s Wrestling (Tokyo, Japan) – KANNA b Ayumi Takada; Nonoko & Yuka Sakazaki b Ura Erika & Shoko Nakajima; Miyu Yamashita b Chikage Kiba
December 1: WRESTLE-1 (Fukuoka, Japan) – Hiroyo Matsumoto b The Female Predator “Amazon”
December 1: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Kana b Yako Fujigasaki; Kayoko Haruyama b Natsuki Urabe; KAZUKI & Raideen Hagane b Leon & Manami Katsu; Hanayashiki Hanako b Sachie Abe; Arisa Nakajima, Leon & Ray defeated Command Bolshoi, Kayoko Haruyama & Yako Fujigasaki
December 1: Insane Championship Wrestling (Glasgow, Scotland) – Nikki Storm & Carmel Jacob b Leah & Kasey Owens
December 1: Wrecking Ball Wrestling (Dallas, TX) – Angel Blue b Paige Turner to win the WBW Women’s Championship
December 2: WWE Raw (Oklahoma City, OK) – Natalya and Brie & Nikki Bella b AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka & Summer Rae
December 6: Preston City Wrestling (Preston, England) – Leah Von Dutch v Addy Starr
December 6: IWA Mid South Wrestling (Clarkesville, IL) – Randi West v Thunderkitty v Jordynne Grace v Heidi Lovelace
December 6: Lucky Pro Wrestling (Clinton, MA) – Nikki Roxx v Alexxis Nevaeh
December 7: International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (Swanley, England) – Olivia v Rhia O’Reilly
December 7: Acclaim Pro Wrestling (Greely, ON, Canada) – Vanessa Kraven, Deeno & Cheeky v Jody D’Milo, She Nay Nay & Portia Perez
December 7: Pure Wrestling Association (Kitchener, ON, Canada) – Beautiful Beaa v Jasmin
December 7: Great Lakes Championship Wrestling (Waukesha, WI) – Melanie Cruise v Serena Deeb
December 7: Family Wrestling Entertainment (Brooklyn, NY) – Angelina Love v Ivelisse Velez; Taeler Hendrix v Christina Von Eerie
December 13: SHINE 15 (Ybor City, FL) – Rain v Amazing Kong; Jessicka Havok v Allysin Kay; Sassy Stephie & Jessie Belle Smothers v Santana Garrett & Amber O’Neal; Ivelisse Velez v Mia Yim
December 14: FutureShock Wrestling (Manchester, England) – Viper v Danni Hunter
December 14: Pro Wrestling Syndicate Bombshells (Avenel, NJ) – La Rosa Negra v Missy Sampson; Jennifer Cruz v Amber Rodriguez
December 15: WWE TLC (Houston, TX) – AJ Lee v Natalya
December 15: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Su Yung v Rhia O’Reilly
December 21: Herts and Essex Wrestling (Takeley, England) – Infinity, Penelope & TBA v Brett Meadows, Skarlett & Dominator
December 28: Alternative Wrestling Show (South Gate, CA) – Christina Von Eerie v Candice LeRae
January 4: NWA Smoky Mountain (Kingsport, TN) – Kacee Carlisle v Jessie Belle
January 25: LCW Roses (Leicester, England) – Rhia O’Reilly v Addy Starr
February 8: Women Superstars Uncensored (Voorhees, NJ)
March 2: Bellatrix 8 (Norwich, England)
April 5: SHIMMER Women Athletes (New Orleans, LA)
– Lee Burton
– Data collated from (but not limited to) Cagematch, joshifans.com, PuroLove, Dramatic DDT, Luchablog, Lords Of Pain, Wrestling Observer, Open The Puroresu Gate, Ringstars, PWInsider, NHB Girls, North Starz, WrestlingData