AJ Lee got into a bit of trouble at last Wednesday’s Tribute to the Troops show. The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer says she gave NBC presenter Michelle Beadle an obscenity-laced tongue-lashing in public for talking to her boyfriend, CM Punk. Beadle referred to it in a tweet, saying “Lost another friend to CGFN… crazy girlfriend neutering. It’s real people. Check your buddies. Affects everyone.” She later claimed that she thought AJ was joking, so didn’t react to it at the time, but then believed it wasn’t after a while.
Another account says that AJ was working because she was told to do so by an agent for a segment on the WWE App, and then everyone acted surprised when she did it, as if it was some sort of double cross on her, while another says AJ wasn’t yelling, and was standing up for Punk after Beadle allegedly said something that rubbed him the wrong way (even though he would likely say something himself if that was the case, so the whole scenario seems implausible – and a skit for the app would allude to Punk and AJ being an item, which is something that has never been brought up or acknowledged anywhere in WWE, so that lacks credibility too). The story has since been disregarded as being bogus.
In order to quell the rumours, Beadle put forward the full side of her story in a series of tweets on Sunday evening, saying “Once and once only: I’ve known CM Punk for years. Considered him a friend. When I saw him at the arena, I said ‘hey f&$?face’. The exact same way I talk to everyone. His girlfriend was nowhere near this. And I kept walking along with my assistant and two members of WWE PR. Next thing I know, I’m being yelled at. I honestly thought it was a joke. Period. The event went on and it was amazing.”
WWE was reportedly very embarrassed and angry over AJ’s behaviour, mainly for “coming off like her character in real life, and not in a good way,” according to Meltzer. Whether she was in the right or wrong is irrelevant – WWE covets the mainstream media, and this has created a lot of negative buzz at the taping of what is one of WWE’s biggest PR exercises of the year. Because of what has gone on, the focus is on AJ’s alleged tantrum and not on the company trying to recognise the US armed forces. It’s thought she will be disciplined for her actions in some way.
AJ is seen in some circles backstage as a figure of fun, mocking her tattoo on the back of her neck symbolising the date she won the Divas Championship, as well as how her wrestling character may be perilously close to her real life persona. There is also allegedly a drawing being passed around that eludes to her wanting to emulate Lita by dating her idol’s ex. While the cartoon is in really bad taste and the tattoo does make her out to be holding her wrestling gimmick very tightly, I can’t really criticise her for that.
Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Steve Austin all took what they did for a living very seriously and it is because of that intensity in their craft that they ascended to the top of the heap. It could be argued that AJ is getting stick for doing the same thing because of her gender, which seems a bit misogynistic. While you could fault her for blowing up at an invited guest from a major TV network, you shouldn’t throw barbs at her for wanting to excel in her job.
A curious thing happens when you mention Natalya to some wrestling fans. It’s as if there is a statement aching to be said but nobody has the guts to be the one to say it first – but then, somebody does, and it unleashes a torrent of conversation. The statement circles around the recognition that the third-generation Diva isn’t as great as she is made out to be.
There is evidence to back that up. For much of this year, the former Divas Champion has been wrestling in average matches, and has been doing things that you would expect someone of her calibre or experience to not do – a key example being the mess where she let go of the Sharpshooter on AJ Lee before there had been a tap out, leading to an awkward situation where AJ was submitting to a move that had been released. That sort of stuff shouldn’t happen to a 13-year pro, but she gets a pass from many fans because she’s from the Hart family, and people desperately want to like her and do well. Also, because she was brought in as a wrestler rather than being hired and then trained, she tends to be given more slack when her performances aren’t up to scratch. To criticise Natalya was sacrilege, as she was a descendent of wrestling royalty, and was beyond reproach. As a result, every kept tight-lipped as she continued through an extended rough patch.
Having said all that, whatever complacency and lethargy she displayed for much of the year seems to be gone, and she is finishing off the year in a strong way.
It started at the Hell In A Cell PPV where she and Summer Rae outperformed their respective tag team partners The Great Khali and Fandango in their mixed tag team match, though it has been in the last month where the 31-year old really started to get her groove back. On the December 5 episode of NXT, Natalya had a great match against Paige for the latter’s Women’s Championship, falling to the Paige Turner; she then followed it up on the December 11 Main Event with another quality encounter against Alicia Fox, then notched up the best Divas match on PPV this year in a losing effort to AJ at TLC last Sunday.
While you could argue that you would expect her matches against Paige and AJ to be good, a quality effort against Alicia is not something you can always count on. Sure, she has the ability to do good stuff, but it’s not something on which you can rely. To have an entertaining outing with Fox is proof that whatever quagmire Natalya was in is now behind her.
I’m wondering if Total Divas was a distraction. She has been filming for the show on E! for the bulk of the year, and her performances dipped during that time. Since the conclusion of filming and being allowed to concentrate on wrestling again, things have got better. I’m not saying that there’s a direct correlation, but the timings do somewhat fit.
Either way, I’m glad that Natalya is going strong work in the ring again. All we need now is for WWE to get behind her, as the company always seems to treat her like the bridesmaid and never the bride. Ironic, considering the first half of the Total Divas season ended with her getting married, but there you go.
So Rain isn’t retiring… for now. After beating Amazing Kong by count-out in the main event of SHINE 15 on Friday, she took to the microphone to say that she would not retire while she held the SHINE Championship, though was unclear about whether or not she would be quitting once she dropped the title. That could happen at SHINE 16 on January on 24 when she faces fellow Valkyrie member Ivelisse Velez in a match which could splinter the faction.
Last week I wrote a career overview of Rain, believing that she was going through with her intentions to bow out. She has spent a long time saying she would be finishing up her wrestling career at the end of 2013, and now she’s saying it wasn’t true. Rain tweeted the day after SHINE 15 that she was anticipating hate mail, but she won’t be getting any from here.
After all, this is a wrestling business, and her job is to work the fans into acting, reacting and feeling the way she wants them to feel. In the past, this was easier as wrestling was much more of a closed industry so you could easily manipulate an emotion out of someone. These days, since things are far more open, it is harder to generate that same sort of reaction. It took Rain a long time to do it and to keep the facade going for months, but she managed to swerve the fans.
Some may be upset because of her comment about thanking the fans who bought her retirement gifts from her Amazon wishlist and joked that she should ‘retire’ every year to get more free stuff. It may seem a little crass to mock people for spending real money on her fake retirement, but once someone hands over money to you in the form of a present, that person has no more control over the way it’s received. However, it may burn some fans from buying gifts for her again – and in a more general sense, may cause many people to be more reticent to buy something from a wishlist. Having said that, people are free to spend their money however they like.
The other factor is what happens when or if Rain does legitimately retire. Regardless of whenever she decided that she wasn’t going to quit – I’m guessing the decision was made before she ever won the SHINE Championship back in the summer – she yelled ‘wolf’ at the top of her voice for a long time. Should she really bow out again, there may be some who simply won’t believe her. It’s the kind of trick you can only pull once.
To be honest, I don’t know why Rain made such a big point about retiring anyway. She pretty much only wrestles for SHINE these days, which means that – excluding custom matches – she laces up the boots no more than a dozen times a year. It’s hardly like she’s backing away from an overflowing series of bookings, so she can fit it around any other ventures she is involved in.
What we have learned from this whole venture is that Rain may be one of the last old school workers in women’s wrestling, and also that if you buy her a retirement gift, it’s not a contract.
We’re getting ready to announce the winners of our 2013 Year End Awards this weekend, so we have been looking at the fortunes of last year’s winners – Discovery of the Year Kimber Lee, Breakout Star of the Year Allysin Kay and Wrestler of the Year Ayako Hamada.
On top of that, we’ve had a second Layne’s Brain podcast from Angelus Layne talking about her comeback to the ring, as well as some really heart-wrenching and powerful audio from minutes after her return match.
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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When asked on Twitter about he thought of the WWE Divas, Konnan said that “they suck” and that only AJ Lee, Natalya & Tamina Snuka can go… WWE.com named Alicia Fox as the most underrated Diva… WWE is thinking of incorporating more Total Divas content into Raw to cross-promote its show. It’s also talking of having a third series on the WWE Network instead of on E!… Kaitlyn says she would love to have a feud with Stephanie McMahon. I’m sure every Diva would want that, considering how high-profile it would be… Brodus Clay turned heel on Raw last night, leaving the Funkadctyls in dismay. They then aligned themselves with Xavier Woods and R-Truth.
Madison Rayne returned to TNA on last week’s Impact Wrestling, spearing Gail Kim while ODB went after Lei’D Tapa. The four will compete in a tag match on this week’s episode. I’m hoping there will be some explanation as to why Rayne is now a babyface and going after Kim. I have a theory, but I want to see how it plays out.
Daffney revealed that she has bipolar disorder. She made the admission in her Diva Diaries interview with Highspots… Jillian Hall was hospitalised last week with head trauma after falling down the stairs at her boyfriend’s house… Former WWE Women’s Champion Candice Michelle was scheduled to have surgery on her nose last week. It was broken by a Beth Phoenix headbutt during a match seven years ago. However, it couldn’t be done because she had a pimple on her nose, so it’s been rescheduled for this week… Congratulations to MsChif, who is pregnant with her first child. Husband Michael Elgin announced the news on Friday… In an interview with Wrestling101, Maria Kanellis says that TNA has contacted her twice in the last year but she’s happy in Ring Of Honor… Christina Von Eerie attacked Kimber Lee with BBQ skewers after losing to her at Combat Zone Wrestling’s Cage of Death show on Saturday. Also on the show, Nevaeh got some revenge on DJ Hyde by pinning him in a 6-person tag after hitting him with a number of chair shots… Kasey Ray won the vacant Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Championship in a 4-way on Saturday… Athena was the guest referee in a 3-way involving Jessica James, Claudia & Angel Blue at a Professional Championship Wrestling show on Saturday. She’s been out since the summer with a shoulder injury… The daughter of former WWF Tag Team Champion Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake is reportedly in training to become a wrestler. Jersey Championship Wrestling claims to have signed Alana “Baby Beefcake” Leslie to its training programme. She’s also Hulk Hogan’s goddaughter… As part of answering questions on Ask.fm, Shelly Martinez said she hates the fact that there are nude photos of her online, that she regrets ever posing for them, ans says she was in a dark place in her life at that time… Missy Sampson defeated La Rosa Negra to regain the Pro Wrestling Syndicate Bombshells Championship on Saturday. Negra then entered the Majestic Twelve tournament and won it to capture the Majestic Title. Afterwards, Sampson said she, La Rosa Negra, Angelina Love and Mickie James would be in a 4-way on February 22 with both belts on the line. Why have a match which could unify the titles so soon after one of the belts was created?… Su Yung hit Rhia O’Reilly in the head with her Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi title belt and then locked in the Yellow Fever to retain the championship on Sunday.
Kellie Skater is back in Japan. She will wrestle Mayu Iwatani at Stardom’s show next Monday, and will challenge Act Yasukawa for the Wonder Of Stardom Championship on December 29. The Rate Tank will be in the country until March, where she will defend the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship at Joshi4Hope V… Speaking of Stardom, Alpha Female says she will defend the Artist Of Stardom Championship on December 29, despite the fact that she still doesn’t have a diagnosis for her continuing health issues, while Io Shirai will defend the World Of Stardom Championship against new JWP Openweight Champion Arisa Nakajima in a title for title match. Nakajima regained the belt on Saturday by beating Kana in front of 1,225 fans. Also on that JWP card, DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko won the vacant Tag Team Championship by beating Leon & Ray… Maki Narumiya will challenge Tsukasa Fujimoto for the ICEx∞ Championship at Ice Ribbon’s Ribbonmania show later this month. Narumiya won the old ICWx60 title from Mio Shirai at last year’s Ribbonmania but had to vacate it less than a fortnight later after suffering a spinal cord injury which kept her on the sidelines for six months… Kyoko Inoue & Tomoko Watanabe won the Diana Tag Team Championship on Sunday, beating Yumiko Hotta & Keiko Aono… Ayako Hamada and Yuu Yamagata will end 2013 with the Pro Wrestling WAVE Tag Team Championship. They beat GAMI & Tomoka Nakagawa on Sunday. Yumi Ohka successfully defended the Regina di WAVE title against Shuu Shibutani – Misaki Ohata will be her next challenger.
Looks like Sammi Baynz WILL defend the RQW European Championship at Bellatrix 8 on March 2. Her challenger will be Blue Nikita… Another match for the LCW Roses show next month – Nadia Sapphire & Violet Vendetta meet Viper & Jenna in tag team action. You can hear Nadia’s thoughts on that match – as well as plenty more in our latest My Name Is interview… Danni Hunter won the vacant FutureShock Women’s Championship on Saturday, defeating Viper.
Australia & New Zealand
Saraya Knight will return to Australia in May. She will wrestle on New Horizons Pro Wrestling’s show on the 17th, and also at the Global Conflict shows in Perth the following weekend. The IndyGurlz Australia Champion was meant to be at the tournament weekend earlier this year, but circumstances meant that she didn’t make it… Steve Wrigley announced his departure from Impact Pro Wrestling in a waffle-filled interview with NZPWI. He was the one who ran down the women’s division before giving the vacant belt to Emmy Driver. He mentions a power play by IPW Director Daniel Burnell, so there’s always the chance that it’s a work.
December 10: CMLL (Guadalajara, Mexico) – Goya Kong, Marcela & Silueta b Amapola, La Comandante & Tiffany
December 11: UNION (Tokyo, Japan) – Sareee b Cherry & Kaori Yoneyama in a 3-way
December 11: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Hikaru Shida & Kurumi b Meari Naito & Kaho Kobayashi; Neko Nitta b Miyako Matsumoto & Tsukasa Fujimoto in a 3-way; GAMI & Hamuko Hoshi b Risa Sera & Rutsuko Yamaguchi
December 11: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Lei’D Tapa b Jessie Belle
December 11: WWE Main Event (Portland, OR) – Natalya b Alicia Fox
December 11: WWE NXT (Winter Park, FL) – Sasha Banks & Summer Rae b Bayley & Natalya
December 12: WWE Superstars (Portland, OR) – Kaitlyn b Aksana
December 13: Melbourne City Wrestling (Collingwood, Australia) – Krackerjak b Vixsin
December 13: WWE SmackDown (Portland, OR) – AJ Lee & Tamina Snuka b Nikki & Brie Bella
December 13: Chaotic Wrestling (Lowell, MA) – Kasey Ray b Alexxis Nevaeh, Davienne & Mistress Belmont to win the Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Championship
December 13: SHINE 15 (Ybor City, FL) – Su Yung b Solo Darling; Sojo Bolt b La Rosa Negra; Mercedes Martinez b Heidi Lovelace; Angelina Love b Taylor Made; Leva Bates b Nevaeh; Sassy Stephie & Jessie Belle Smothers b Santana Garrett & Amber O’Neal; Ivelisse Velez b Mia Yim; Jessicka Havok v Allysin Kay went to a double DQ; Rain b Amazing Kong via count out
December 14: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukushi & Kyuri b Kurumi & Kaho Kobayashi; Hikaru Shida b 235; Hamuko Hoshi v Mio Shirai went to a time limit draw; Maki Narumiya & Risa Sera b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Rutsuko Yamaguchi
December 14: FutureShock Wrestling (Manchester, England) – Danni Hunter b Viper to win the FutureShock Women’s Championship
December 14: DOA Wrestling (March, England) – Addy Starr b Chanel
December 14: Combat Zone Wrestling (Voorhees, NJ) – Kimber Lee b Christina Von Eerie; Dave Crist, Jake Crist & Nevaeh b DJ Hyde. Biff Busick & Niles Sozio
December 14: Professional Championship Wrestling (Arlington, TX) – Jessica James b Claudia & Angel Blue in a 3-way
December 14: Pro Championship Wrestling (Summit, IL) – December b Crazy Mary Dobson
December 14: AAA (Jalisco, Mexico) – El Elegido, Faby Apache & Mascarita Sagrada b Dark Cuervo, Mini Abismo Negro & Taya Valkyrie
December 14: Pro Wrestling Syndicate Bombshells (Avenel, NJ) – Missy Sampson b La Rosa Negra to win the PWS Bombshells Championship; Amber Rodriguez b Jennifer Cruz; Jessie Kaye & Sienna Duvall b Angel Dust & Vanity; Mia Yim & Alexxis Nevaeh b Niya & Hania; Grandma Butcher & La Rosa Negra b Annie Social & Sumie Sakai; Jessie Kaye b Sienna Duvall; Mia Yim b Alexxis Nevaeh; La Rosa Negra b Grandma Butcher; La Rosa Negra b Jessie Kaye & Mia Yim in a 3-way to win the Majestic Championship
December 15: Pro Wrestling Wave (Tokyo, Japan) – Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata b Aya Mizunami & Misaki Ohata
December 15: Pro Wrestling Wave (Tokyo, Japan) – Natsuki Urabe & Ryo Mizunami b Rina Yamashita & Sawako Shimono; AKINO b Mika Iida; Kyusei & Sakura Hirota b Kana, Misaki Ohata, Cherry, Mio Shirai, Tsukasa Fujimoto, Hikaru Shida & Fairy Nipponbashi in an 8-way; Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata b GAMI & Tomoka Nakagawa; Yumi Ohka b Shu Shibutani
December 15: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Rabbit Miu & Tsukushi b Sachie Abe & KAZUKI; Manami Katsu b Rydeen Hagane; Hanako Nakamori b Takako Inoue; Command Bolshoi, Kayako Haruyama & Yako Fujigasaki b GAMI, Yumi Ohka & Natsuki Urabe; DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko b Leon & Ray to win the JWP Tag Team Championship; Arisa Nakajima b Kana to win the JWP Openweight Championship
December 15: Diana (Tokyo, Japan) – Seleziya Sparx b Kaho Kobayashi; Megumi Yabushita b Jenny Rose; Kaoru Ito & Syuri b Yuiga & Hamuko Hoshi; Meiko Satomura b Sareee; Jaguar Yokota & Manami Toyota b Mima Shimoda & Mask de Sun; Kyoko Inoue & Tomoko Watanabe b Yumiko Hotta & Keiko Aono to win the Diana Tag Team Championship
December 15: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – KC Warfield b Paige Turner; Jack Jameson, JC Bravo & Stan Summers b Angel Blue, Ricky Romida & Chris Trew; Su Yung b Rhia O’Reilly
December 15: WWE TLC (Houston, TX) – AJ Lee b Natalya
December 15: Smash Wrestling (Mississauga, ON, Canada) – Vanessa Kraven b She Nay Nay
December 16: WWE Raw (Dallas, TX) – AJ Lee, Alicia Fox & Tamina Snuka b Natalya and Brie & Nikki Bella
December 19: TNA Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Madison Rayne & ODB v Gail Kim & Lei’D Tapa
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
December 29: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Takumi Iroha v Yuhi; Natsuki*Taiyo v Kaori Yoneyama; Act Yasukawa v Kellie Skater; Kyoko Kimura, Alpha Female & The Female Predator “Amazon” v Hiroyo Matsumoto, Miho Wakizawa & Mayu Iwatani; Nanae Takahashi & Meiko Satomura v Yoshiko & Kagetu; Io Shirai v Arisa Nakajima
December 31: Ice Ribbon “Ribbonmania” (Tokyo, Japan) – Hikaru Shida v Kagetsu; Jun Kasai & Miyako Matsumoto v Hamuko Hoshi & Kouzy; Misaki Ohata & Mio Shirai v Risa Sera & Rutsuko Yamaguchi; Tsukushi & Manami Toyota v Kurumi & Kyoko Inoue; Tsukasa Fujimoto v Maki Narumiya
January 4: NWA Smoky Mountain (Kingsport, TN) – Kacee Carlisle v Jessie Belle
January 4: Ring Wars Carolina (Lumberton, NC) – D’Arcy Dixon v Mia Svensson
January 11: Conflict Wrestling (Kitchener, ON, Canada) – Jennifer Blake v Leah Von Dutch
January 11: World Xtreme Wrestling C4 (Orwigsburg, PA) – Hania v Niya
January 24: SHINE 16 (Ybor City, FL) – Rain v Ivelisse Velez
January 25: RAD:PRO Wrestling (South Shields, England) – Rubix Roach & Kirsty Love v Felis Atrox & Freya Frenzy
January 25: LCW Roses (Leicester, England) – Rhia O’Reilly v Addy Starr; Viper & Jenna v Nadia Sapphire & Violet Vendetta
February 8: Women Superstars Uncensored (Voorhees, NJ)
February 22: Pro Wrestling Syndicate (Rahway, NJ) – Angelina Love v Missy Sampson v La Rosa Negra v Mickie James
February 25: Kana-Pro (Tokyo, Japan) – Kana v Meiko Satomura
March 2: Bellatrix 8 (Norwich, England) – Sammi Baynz v Blue Nikita
April 5: SHIMMER Women Athletes (New Orleans, LA)
– Lee Burton
– Photos by WWE, Slammin Ladies, Lyle C Williams, Nikkansports, Youji Kawauchi
– 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