IWA Mid-South is working on cultivating a new women’s division involving the likes of Angelus Layne, Heidi Lovelace, Jordynne Grace, Mickie Knuckles, Thunderkitty, Randi West and more, though today is the tenth anniversary of what was arguably the peak of the promotion’s original stab at it.
Emanating from Hammond, IN on May 30, 2004, Volcano Girls featured a tournament to crown the first ever NWA Midwest/IWA Mid-South Women’s Champion and was won by Lacey. It was also the blueprint for SHIMMER: Women Athletes which kicked off last year when the booker of the women’s division Dave Prazak and IWA Mid-South promoter Ian Rotten had a falling out. At this point though, their relationship was pretty healthy and culminated in this celebrated show.
Prazak wrote a post about it on the SHIMMER Forum – here are a few excerpts:
Ian gave me the opportunity to handle putting the tournament together, after working closely with the IWA women’s division during the months leading up to the show. At the time, running a women’s show was definitely a risk on IWA’s part, since something like that was an unproven draw in the area. A couple of tag team matches featuring IWA guys like Chris Hero, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Homicide, BJ Whitmer, and Tracy Smothers were added to the show, as a way to help guarantee a decent crowd. Punk and Jimmy Jacobs ended up acting as managers on the show, and Jerry Lynn also served as a locker room agent for the tournament matches.
The show ended up doing better at the gate than expected, and was an immediate strong seller for Smart Mark Video in the weeks that followed. Though plans to do subsequent IWA women’s shows during the winter of 2004 and then the spring of 2005 all ended up falling through (mainly for financial reasons, as IWA was always struggling from show to show), it was the success of Volcano Girls that really gave me the motivation to try something further with a women’s wrestling product in this area. I ended up departing IWA a little over a year later, and Danger and I launched SHIMMER shortly thereafter.
Thanks to all of the women who participated in the show, all of the male wrestlers who helped out, and of course Ian and Ed. Without the existence of Volcano Girls in Hammond ten years ago, there probably wouldn’t have been a SHIMMER for us to be celebrating nine years of when we return to Berwyn this fall.
Prazak also mentions that the IWA Mid-South women’s division wasn’t alone as New England Championship Wrestling/World Women’s Wrestling, ChickFight, Kiryoku Pro and Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling (as it was known at the time) were also highlighting women’s wrestling more than other promotions – so a lot of pieces of the puzzle were falling into the right places. Without groups such as the ones mentioned getting the ball rolling, we may not have such choice in women’s wrestling in North America.
Of the women involved in the show, Allison Danger retired last year after medical issues forced her to step away from the ring; Lexie Fyfe is one of the people in charge of SHINE Wrestling; Traci Brooks went on to TNA between 2003 and 2012 and also posed for Playboy; Mickie Knuckles is experiencing a renaissance, winning the Women Superstars Uncensored Queen and King of the Ring tournament this month, though is currently convalescing after surgery on a broken ankle; MsChif has scaled back her bookings but is still working; Mercedes Martinez is the current NCW Femmes Fatales International Champion as well as the IndyGurlz titleholder, and won the New Horizons Pro Wrestling Global Conflict tournament in Australia last weekend, while Rain retired from the ring earlier this year after dropping the SHINE Championship and is currently recovering from a massive car crash in February.
Daizee Haze retired in late 2011 after dropping the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship and keeps a very low profile; Becky Bayless worked in TNA for a year before leaving in August 2011 and wrestled for Pro Wrestling Syndicate Bombshells last year; Sumie Sakai is still lacing up the boots, and won Valkyrie Pro Wrestling‘s International Joshi Grand Prix tournament last weekend, and Lacey quit the ring in 2008, though managed for a little while before bowing out of the business altogether.
Prazak also pointed out in his post that a special remastered version of Volcano Girls is to be released through Smart Mark Video with alternative commentary from Prazak and referee PJ Drummond, who was a fan who watched the show in person at the time. That may be worth a purchase down the line but if you’re impatient, you can buy the show here – and if you want more of an overall look at IWA Mid-South’s division at the time, you can click here and here for a combined ten DVDs of matches from Lexie Fyfe v Sherri Martel in 2001 to Rebecca Payne v Mickie Knuckles in the final of the 2008 Queen of the Death Matches tournament (both of whom will be involved in this year’s tourney taking place on June 18).
– Lee Burton