It’s been difficult since Stew’s passing two months ago. Mostly because I miss our daily interactions but also partly because running this website has essentially become a one-man job. It gets harder because each visit is a reminder of how he is no longer with us, and this was something that we started together.
When we conceptualised Ringbelles in late 2010, we did it with the intention of covering as much women’s wrestling as we could from anywhere in the world in order to shine a brighter spotlight on a section of the industry which was overlooked or sneered at by a great number of fans. Thanks to tens of thousands of words and 179 interviews, I believe that we have accomplished that. With an eye on producing insightful, interesting and honest writing, I feel that this website has helped to put more attention on the females who work just as hard – and in some cases, harder – than the men. I can’t say that this upward swing of females in the business and more places for them to work is solely down to this site but if we can take a thimbleful of credit, then I’m more than happy with that.
The thing is that since Stew’s death, while the message is still as important as ever, the passion to deliver it has waned. I produce these reviews, write ups, reports and Roundups with a heavy heart, knowing that this is meant to have been a team effort and now it feels like it’s just a one-man sounding board. It’s getting to the point where I’m feeling contempt for the website, and that’s not a good thing as I don’t want this site to turn inwards on itself and become a bitter shell of what it was.
Other things have changed in my life since the website started. I recently left my career in broadcasting and journalism to move across England and embark on a new job, with the intention of also resuming my studies to achieve a new qualification in order to chase a new career. The new job is a shift pattern which means I work a lot of strange hours and means that even with the greatest will in the world, I can’t cover shows which I would dearly love to. For example, the most recent XWA Wrestling shows featuring the likes of Nikki Storm, Rhia O’Reilly, Pollyanna, Kay Lee Ray and Addy Starr took place less than 30 minutes drive from my front door and I couldn’t go. In addition, coverage of iPPVs would have to come to an end as my availability will drastically decrease.
However, the most important change in my life since this website kicked off is that I am close to two years into my relationship with my girlfriend. I love her and don’t want to have anything compromise the time we can spend together building towards what I believe will be a long and happy future. She has been very understanding with my work within women’s wrestling and even though she does not share the passion, she understands it. However, I feel that I am letting her down as one half of this relationship, and that simply isn’t on.
For that reason as well as a few others, I announce with a heavy heart that Ringbelles will be coming to an end before 2014 is out.
This has not been an easy decision but it’s something that I have to do. While Ciara is a fabulous contributor with great intelligence and writing skills, she and I don’t have enough time to dedicate to this and I feel disloyal to Stew to leave it in the hands of others who don’t share our vision or don’t come up to the lofty standards which we have set ourselves. In hindsight, it was too much for us to handle with such a small team but we did our best, making huge sacrifices to do so. The number of times I got out of bed to do an interview or stayed up late to complete one only to get a handful of hours sleep before going into work to do a full-time day job is huge. While neither he or I would have wanted it any other way, the strain was becoming very great and it was sapping our enthusiasm for the site.
A quick secret. In August, he and I sat down to discuss changing the format of the site to lighten the load but even that would have meant large contributions on our part. Coupled with my new job meaning that our schedules would hardly ever tally up for us to record Women Of Wrestling Podcasts, we were struggling as to what to do to keep things going. Sadly, we never got to finish that conversation before he passed.
I have already informed some close friends about this decision and there were a range of reactions. Some were understanding, some were sad that this website was going as they see it as a great resource for women’s wrestling and a few asked if I was totally sure. I was also asked if this was the right move because the site is half-Stew’s too. However, I have thought of that and am making steps to preserve his legacy on the site, which was the great audio. He would spend hours editing and tidying up the WOW Podcasts before uploading them because he wanted them to be perfect – I was more slapdash about things and left in the odd flub or stammer, but he wanted to make sure it was as good as it can be, and I respect the hell out of him for that. A one hour podcast would take him around 3 hours to successfully edit for everyone to listen to.
I expect there to be different reactions to what I’m saying here and I appreciate that the closing of Ringbelles could leave a hole – after all, there is nothing like this site out there. Nobody else covers such a range of women’s wrestling in such depth, so I apologise to everyone who visits this site regularly and uses it to know what’s going on out there. I am truly sorry, but this is something I need to do to help me move forward in my life. I hope you can appreciate that.
I’ve been writing about wrestling and podcasting in some form or fashion for the past 12 years, so I’m sure that I will miss doing it. I wanted to feel like I was contributing to the wrestling world and I hope you agree that Ringbelles has done that. With honest and in-depth reviews of both live shows and those released on DVD or online, interviews with names you’ve heard of and names you haven’t, discussion points and articles, we wanted women’s wrestling to be treated as seriously as possible as every female who steps into that ring is doing the same.
Yep, I’ll miss it.
Things aren’t coming to an end straight away though – there will be one more Roundup where I’ll be happy to post any messages you want to send either in the comments below or via our email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and will also announce who probably would have been our award-winners for the year. With Stew’s passing, it’s not been on my mind that much and I didn’t have time to design any physical awards like in years gone by, but I’ll announce the Wrestler and Breakout Star of the Year titles. I’ll also write a final piece where I do a bunch of thank you messages, and there will be a lot of them, trust me.
Thanks for reading this, and thanks for your support over the last four years. Without your backing, we wouldn’t have been such a success, and women’s wrestling would have been a poorer place without every single one of you.