All good things…

Ringbelles front pageIt’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 – admin@ringbelles.com – 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.

The Soap Box: Talking SHIMMER’s latest title change

The views posted in The Soap Box are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or are shared by Ringbelles.

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Madison Eagles Nicole Matthews Ichiban DrunkThere has been a lot of talk throughout the week about the finish of the main event of SHIMMER Volume 68 on Saturday night, in which Nicole Matthews became the sixth wrestler to win the SHIMMER Championship following a fireball thrown at the face of Madison Eagles, concluding a four way elimination match that also featured the former champion Cheerleader Melissa and Athena. In amongst the shock from people who did not attend the show that a fireball was used in a women’s promotion, a theme emerged from the conversation – namely that of overbooking.

This piece is inspired from listening to the Pro Wrestling Ponderings Weekly Newscast, where the assertion was made that Matthews’ title win was marred by the fact that three referees were knocked out of commission, and that she then resorted to using a fireball on Eagles in order to secure the championship. In case you may think I am writing this to say that’s wrong couldn’t be further from the truth. Those are the facts – three referees were indeed incapacitated in the closing stretch of the matchup, and Matthews did indeed light up some flash paper and throw it in Eagles’ face. On the surface, and to any fans who just read the results and weren’t in the Berwyn Eagles Club on Saturday night, that does indeed come across as overdoing it in order to get to an end destination that could have been easier to reach.

What I’m setting out to explain are the reasons why the finish came about the way it did, and the lengthy backstory to support it. And for this, we have to go back nearly a full year to October 19th 2013, and SHIMMER Volume 58.

On that night, following a successful comeback run in SHIMMER after 18 months out of wrestling, Eagles issued an open challenge to see if anyone could defeat her. Up stepped Matthews – even though she claimed she had an unbeaten streak of her own, this was comedy, as it came the volume Nicole Matthews Ichiban Drunkafter she and Portia Perez lost the Tag Team Titles to the Global Green Gangsters. Regardless, the two proceeded to have a fantastic match that ended in a 20 minute time limit draw, which both wrestlers refused to extend.

Following this, Eagles and Matthews exchanged barbs with each other, mainly based on their preferred coffee chains, and then formed an uneasy and slightly comical alliance, dubbed the “Worst Best Friends”, which included an unsuccessful attempt at 3G’s Tag Team Titles at Volume 62 in New Orleans this April. Eagles would suffer a broken wrist on Volume 63 in a match with Heidi Lovelace, which limited the storyline somewhat, although there was some development when Matthews publicly declared her intentions to ask for the rematch knowing full well that Eagles was injured – and according to Eagles, Matthews actually drove her to the hospital. This made it seem that when Eagles was 100%, the relationship with Matthews would kick up another gear.

As it turned out, it went from second to top gear. The main piece to set up the events of Volume 68 came earlier in the day on Volume 67. Upon hearing that Athena and Nikki Storm were to battle for number one contendership for the SHIMMER Championship, Eagles and Matthews agreed that they would have their rematch, but only if the same stipulation was put in place for their match. Feeling that the fans deserved a winner between the two, SHIMMER management agreed to the request.

Bret Hart Steve AustinEagles and Matthews proceeded to have a match just as good as their Volume 58 bout, maybe even better, as there was a goal to work towards on this occasion. The finish was wonderful – in a tribute to Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at Survivor Series 1996, Eagles had Matthews in a sleeperhold, but Matthews was able to kick off the turnbuckle pads and pin Eagles in the middle of the ring. Only problem was, unlike Hart and Austin that night at Madison Square Garden, Matthews also tapped out to Eagles’ sleeper. Referee Bryce Remsburg was only able to detect Matthews’ pin, but fellow referee PJ Drummond came out to explain to Remsburg that Matthews had submitted. It was eventually agreed that both situations cancelled each other out, and another draw was declared, resulting in both Eagles and Matthews qualifying for the Volume 68 main event.

Drummond’s availability to notice that Matthews had tapped out for me was the major Chekov’s Gun that made the Volume 68 finish work and make sense in the context of the storyline. If he had not seen the submission, Matthews would have claimed her win over Eagles, and gone into a three way with Melissa and Athena for the championship, instead of a four way with Eagles also involved. So for Nicole’s plan to work, she needed to make sure that every single referee in SHIMMER was knocked out when the time was right. If just one referee noticed that Matthews was planning to disfigure Eagles to the point of being stunned for a three count, then that would be a disqualification, even in a four way elimination match, and Matthews couldn’t take that chance. It’s similar in ways to movies where the villain needs to commit a crime so disgusting that in addition to killing the main target, they also need to kill every possible eye-witness in order to get away with it.

Sure, Matthews could have just blasted Eagles with a steel chair or something to that extent, but if you’ve watched the Canadian Ninjas for any extended period of time, then you’ll know that they’re based very heavily on Memphis territory heel tag teams, who use stalling tactics, bump all over the place for the babyface team, and then use the most nefarious means ever to steal victories. The most famous heel in the Memphis territory was a certain Jerry “The King” Lawler, and one of his most celebrated traits was the amount of fireballs he threw at opponents. So given the influences of Matthews and Perez, what else would Nicole do to cement herself in SHIMMER folklore and claim the biggest prize in the promotion?

Madison Eagles Ichiban DrunkBeing there in the front row on Saturday night, I cannot forget the disgusting stench that came following the launch of the fireball. I could still smell it the next morning. And leaving the Eagles Club at gone 11pm on Saturday night (thanks to technical difficulties between the two volumes), I was kind of surprised to read that people weren’t happy about the finish due to the overbooking. And they’re entitled to think that way, but when you consider the roots of the storyline, and the roots of how Nicole Matthews has been booked over the past several years, in addition to the events of earlier in the day, then you can truly appreciate why the SHIMMER booking committee went with what they did. And the bottom line is that one of the most entertaining partnerships of the past year in the company is now it’s hottest… no pun intended.

Martin Bentley
– Photos by Ichiban Drunk (1,2,4), WWE (3)

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The Soap Box is a forum for anyone to voice their opinion on any aspect on women’s wrestling. Fancy writing something on your chosen subject? Go for it!

Of course, there are rules for Soap Box submissions. So if you’re itching to make a contribution, bear these things in mind:

• Submissions should be between 300 and 1,000 words. We’re looking for reasoned, thought out opinions.
• Nothing libellous. We’re trained in law here at Ringbelles, and won’t be posting anything which could provoke legal recourse against ourselves or the writer.
• Submitting a contribution to us does not guarantee that we will post it.
• We reserve the right to edit submissions for grammar/repetition and the like – though we promise to not take posts out of context.

Still keen on standing on our Soap Box? Send us an email – or if you want to react to what was written above, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

Bunch of Fives: Standout Performers at Girls Night Out 13 & 14

So, as I type this in my hotel room after a fantastic day of women’s wrestling, I thought I’d chime in with some overall thoughts on the people who I thought really stood out on these shows.

1) Tessa Blanchard.

JuicyPodcast_2014-Oct-05Without a doubt in my mind, the person who left the biggest impression with me was Tessa. This was a women I knew almost nothing about. I’ve seen a little of her work on YouTube, but nothing to really inform an opinion about. From the moment she came through the curtain at GNO 13, she just radiated “STAR”. Not only is she incredibly good looking, but she has a ton of charisma. She plays the part of a Blanchard. She knows who she is and will tell everyone about it. She interacted with the crowd, including me, in a way that I rarely see. She hasn’t been wrestling long, but she’s already got more presence than most of the GNO roster. No one else on this show even came close as to be hated like she was. I would be absolutely shocked if she isn’t in WWE sometime soon. And on top of it all, she’s very competent in the ring. She didn’t look like a rookie at all in her matches. Just a complete package. One last note, her theme song is remix of the 4 Horsemen theme and it’s my new favorite theme in wrestling. It’s perfect.

2) Heidi Lovelace.

Heidi continues to grow to the point where she is no longer the scrappy underdog getting beat down for long portions of her matches. Her match with Mia Yim in my mind, surpassed all others on both GNO 13 and 14. Not only is her in ring work on the level of a Mia Yim, Athena, etc, but her heel work in AIW has really been top notch. She’s wildly entertaining in this role. It’s not going to be much longer until we see her with more championship gold around her waist.

3) Taeler Hendrix.

DaveMuscarella_2014-Oct-04Taeler’s work in previous GNO events has never really wowed me. Her work was always fine, but something was missing. That has changed at these shows. She now has a more dominant heel role and plays to her opponent and crowd much more. It makes her matches very entertaining and fun. She’s also tweeked her look to a more seductive/darker look and I think its a big improvement from the flashy neon outfits she was known for. Solid stuff from her tonight and I’d say she has gone from an afterthought to someone I really look forward to seeing on these shows.

4) Chasity Taylor.

I am gonna be honest here. I’ve seen a few matches from Chasity in person before these GNO shows and they were generally pretty bad. While she looks fantastic and has a ton of energy, her work left a lot to be desired. She’s still new and I imagine most people don’t grasp wrestling that quickly, but I was worried I’d see some of that here. This was thankfully not the case. She has improved leaps and bounds since I saw her a few months ago. She seems more sure of herself and poised in the ring. She surprised me by winning her first match vs Angeldust, and then having a really stellar outing vs Tessa Blanchard. I think somewhere along the line, something inside her has “clicked” and now she improving greatly from her experiences. She is a great babyface with a lot of fire and a million dollar smile. I also enjoyed her choice of theme song, Guns N Roses’s “Sweet Child of Mine”.

5) Veda Scott.

Last, but not least, I just want to touch on Veda Scott here. I think her match vs Athena in the main event of GNO 14 was the finest in-ring work I’ve ever seen out of Veda. While, I have always been a huge supporter of her due to her fantastic promo ability and character work, far too often her in-ring skills have been a little lacking. Both her matches during this taping had purpose and real fire with DaveMuscarella_2014-Oct-05them. She was a perfect first opponent for Tessa Blachard as Tessa reminded me a lot of Veda’s old heel character in AIW. Veda even comments on this fact during the match. Her work in the main event vs Athena for the AIW Women’s championship was so good, it got the crowd almost completely behind her. The crowd wanted Veda to win the title. They were begging for her to win the title. When Athena won the match, there was a noticable letdown by the crowd. Veda busted her ass in the main event. More than even in her matches vs Allysin Kay and Greg Iron. While this match didn’t have the spectacle of her diving off a cage, it told a wonderful story of her fight for respect. No one on the AIW roster IMO deserve to hold the Women’s title more than her. She’s been on more shows than any other female. She has legit connection with the AIW crowd. Her day will come. And I hope its soon.

Overall, these were the best GNO shows I can remember. Everyone performed on this show and performed well. I could go on and on about the other women like Mary Elizabeth Monroe, Jasmin, Alexxia Nicole, etc, but it’s all can be summed up in two words. Hard work. There were no forgettable matches. Nothing I’d want to skip when rewatching them. If this was it for the GNO brand, and Turner’s Hall as a wrestling venue, I think they went out with a bang. I implore you support AIW. Support Girls Night Out. Support Women’s wrestling. Some of these girls actually lost money wrestling on these shows due to travel costs, but wrestled anyway because they love it. I don’t think anyone should want to see passion like that end.

@DaveMuscarella
Photo 1 by JuicyPodcast, Photos 2 & 3 by Dave Muscarella

Bunch of Fives: Gone Too Soon

Goodbye cardIt’s always a shame when you see a wrestler depart the industry before their possible potential is realised. Those who go tend to have their reasons but it still leaves fans wondering what could have been. As a result, we’ve looked at five names who could have gone further in the wrestling business but chose to move on for one reason or another. They range from names you have seen on TV on a regular basis to some who showed promise but didn’t work out. So, let’s start with a recent departee which disappointed us greatly at Ringbelles HQ…

Kaitlyn

kaitlynYes, we’ve spoken about how Kaitlyn was marginalised and pushed into the shadows to make way for AJ Lee and was left on the sidelines after she dropped the WWE Divas Championship, but she’s a real example of someone with great desire and potential to offer something interesting and different to the product and becoming so disillusioned that she elects to move on to pastures new instead. She later discussed about how her decision to go may have been a little hasty but she hasn’t done too badly since leaving, having gotten married and her Celestial Bodiez business seemingly doing well. However, had she stayed in WWE a little longer she may have been a big part of the revival of the Divas division, with her kooky personality and desire to excel driving her forward. She may still return, but I wouldn’t put too much money on it – we’ll just have to wonder what might have been.

Kalamity

KalamityNobody really knows the reasons for Kalamity‘s decision to step away from wrestling 15 months ago, but nothing has been heard from her since. While fans understood that made the choice to back away for personal reasons, there were many who felt disappointed at how she was on the verge of being something really special, having main-evented SHIMMER Volume 56 two months before electing to bow out. Many also had her pegged as being LuFisto‘s successor for Montreal wrestling, but that hasn’t panned out in the way it would have been expected – though because there has been no word of her officially retiring, she may still return in the future to continue her ascent. There would be many fans who would be happy to see her come back, though most would be satisfied to know that she’s comfortable in her life.

Rayna Von Tosh

Rayna Von ToshThis one is a little different as we’re not generally talking about wrestling quality but has an initial focus on aesthetics. Yes, Rayna Von Tosh had completed the Ring of Honor training academy after a year or so wrestling as Rayna Fyre and was working the lower undercard of SHIMMER, but her real appeal is in her appearance. With flame-red hair, a beaming smile and a burlesque look, Von Tosh was bite-the-back-of-your-hand attractive. Her in-ring work wasn’t brilliant but she was a new face who was very beautiful and could improve, given the right training and guidance. TNA was reportedly interested in taking a look at her before she made the decision to bow out, leaving us with assumptions of what could have been. Rayna is currently a member of the singing troupe American Bombshells, which performs for the armed forces and veterans.

Candice Michelle

Candice Michelle WWEA sad tale, this. Candice Michelle came through the original Diva Search in 2004 and was considered a bit-part player until she was given a push in 2007 – and she really made the most of it, plugging away and working hard to contribute before winning the Divas Championship that summer. She lost the belt to Beth Phoenix as part of a feud which was on fire and was getting over well with fans, which was to culminate with a two out of three falls match on Raw that October. It was during that match that Michelle fell from the top rope, breaking her clavicle and knocking her unconscious. She returned after three months but re-injured herself when the scar tissue over her clavicle tore apart, shattering the bone in four places and putting her out for another six months. Following a brief return in late 2008, she was released from her contract in June 2009. Had she remained in shape, she could have been a much bigger star – she was easy to get behind, had charisma and possessed a real desire to work at her wrestling.

Eve Torres

Eve Torres WWEI’ll be honest – compared to the others I don’t particularly miss Eve Torres, who left WWE after dropping the Divas Championship to Kaitlyn in January last year. However, the 2007 Diva Search winner had found a niche as a heel and was the most dependable female wrestler in the company at that point, though her zenith in the division also coincided with her love life reaching its happy peak, as she was on the verge of getting married to Rener Gracie. Since leaving, she has taken to acting and is also a spokeswoman and head instructor for the Gracie Women Empowered Self-defense programme, which is something that could have worked into a gimmick, as explained by Stew in this article a couple of years ago. Had she been able to work an MMA gimmick, she would have likely separated herself from the big hair and shiny outfits which are synonymous with Divas. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

So what do you think – did you think these five had more to offer the wrestling industry, or are there others who you feel disappeared too soon? Let us know in the comments.

Photos by WWE (2,5,6)

The Soap Box: “Better than Divas”?

Gail Kim Angelina Love TNASince TNA elected to record its Impact Wrestling episodes in New York, the fans have occasionally delivered a chant during the Knockouts matches which has been a cause of discussion.

The “Better than Divas” claim was certainly an easy argument to make between 2007 and maybe even as late as last year, before TNA started cutting back its roster to the handful of names that it has at the moment. Out went veterans like Tara and Mickie James as well as promising talents like Taeler Hendrix. Admittedly, in came Brittany and Madison Rayne and Taryn Terrell both returned soon after having children leaving us with a slim full-time roster of Rayne, Terrell, Brittany, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love and Gail Kim. There are others like Brooke and Rebel, while Jessicka Havok debuts next week – but is this line-up of nine better than what WWE is offering at the moment, like the chant suggests?

Well, Kim was the top woman in the 2012 Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 for good reason. She consistently presents well-received matches and is in a much better position as a babyface than as a heel. Havok will present something needed in the division – a genuine monster who will receive a superstar push The Beautiful People reunion has felt more like reheated leftovers than anything and Brittany’s momentum never really got started as her obsessed fan schtick with Rayne followed by her heel turn was cut off fairly quickly. Rayne is miscast as the face, while there is something genuinely special about Terrell, though her development is perilously slow compared to if she were at WWE’s Performance Center.

Bayley Charlotte WWEThat brings us to the opposition, who have state-of-the-art equipment, some of the best minds in the business to guide them and the ability to wrestle much more often then the Knockouts. It means that talents like Charlotte have come along so quickly, and you can see her development from show to show – so much so that there’s talk of fast-tracking her to the main roster. It has also produced entertaining acts like Bayley and Sasha Banks, as well as graduates like Paige who are involved in episodic storytelling and good matches on pay-per-view. Sure, there are iffy workers in WWE like the Bellas as well as thumbs-down names like Rosa Mendes, Cameron and Eva Marie, but they’re balanced out by talents like Natalya, Naomi and AJ Lee.

The problem is that the best Diva matches tend to be on PPV these days, while TNA only has four of them every year… which leads me to the problem with the Knockouts.

Madison Rayne Taryn Terrell TNAPart of the issue is that frequency of matches which wrestlers get in TNA. A lack of house shows and filming episodes of Impact in huge chunks mean that women who would benefit from more ring time mean that it will take a longer time for everything to fall into place than the NXT Divas who have a huge facility to use every day. Sure, the setup probably works for new mums like Rayne and Terrell as they only have to be away from home for a handful of days a month, but it potentially limits their horizons as wrestlers, especially in the case of Terrell.

Admittedly, Taryn’s best matches by far have been with Kim – and while the former Tiffany deservedly picked up a lot of credit for their matches last year, the real star was Gail, who led Terrell by the hand through them.

Storylines – TNA seems to have the same wrestlers rotating through the same matches because of their tiny roster, though Havok’s debut does freshen things up a bit. Despite my reservations over the potential matches and the promos which will precede it, the Bella feud is brand new – while AJ and Paige’s storyline is developing in an interesting, unpredictable way, though WWE’s focus on the Divas has dropped from the early summer when there were four overlapping stories.

Paige AJ Lee WWE 11.18.05So are the TNA Knockouts “Better than Divas”? Well Gail Kim is, and Havok is certainly a valuable acquisition, but the rest are either comparable or inferior to the Divas, while their matches are becoming a bit repetitive. On the whole, I would have to say no – the Divas division is better. The problem TNA has is a lack of development opportunities – exemplified by Brittany’s disappointing run – too few opportunities to wrestle and a tiny roster leading to matches which you feel like you’ve seen before.

We asked this question on Twitter and received a range of responses: leave yours in the comment section below.

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The Soap Box is a forum for anyone to voice their opinion on any aspect on women’s wrestling. Fancy writing something on your chosen subject? Go for it!

Of course, there are rules for Soap Box submissions. So if you’re itching to make a contribution, bear these things in mind:

• Submissions should be between 300 and 1,000 words. We’re looking for reasoned, thought out opinions.
• Nothing libellous. We’re trained in law here at Ringbelles, and won’t be posting anything which could provoke legal recourse against ourselves or the writer.
• Submitting a contribution to us does not guarantee that we will post it.
• We reserve the right to edit submissions for grammar/repetition and the like – though we promise to not take posts out of context.

Still keen on standing on our Soap Box? Send us an email – or if you want to react to what was written above, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

The Soap Box: Advice from a wrestler to fans

Soap Box creepersWe’ve received another submission from Becky for our public forum which we call The Soap Box, and former wrestler Becky James is back with some advice for fans so they don’t get too over-familiar with wrestlers.

The views posted in The Soap Box do not necessarily represent or are shared by Ringbelles…

I have heard many times that performers, including wrestlers, are damaged souls. Something happened in our childhoods that made us crave the attention, the spotlight and the praise from fans. Fans are what keep us going. If they love us they are our Cocaine that we just Scarface ourselves with over social networks. If they think we are terrible, we curl up into a tiny ball in the corner of our rooms, crying uncontrollably as to why this practically unknown person to us did not like that drop kick we did on our last show.

There are fans however, that cross that invisible line. The line that invades all those personal or emotional space rules that we build as human beings. Of course we expect this to an extent, but there seems to really need to be some clarifying rules for some (not the majority) of people who have taken an interest in us as entertainers. I personally cringe and call them, ‘fanboys/girls’. To help you in particular who say… try to smell a wrestlers hair as they go past you on their entrance, please try to from this day forth, follow the guidelines below:

1. Trying to add yourself to any personal account on the internet.

When a wrestler has a wrestler page, a website and a twitter for you to follow… why on Earth do you think we are going to add you to our personal account? Can we not have ANY realm to be ourselves with people we actually known on a personal level? Apparently not. Apparently then the next best thing to do is to subscribe to us on facebook so you can try to see what we write and respond to us on said personal account even though we haven’t added you, haven’t wanted to know you and really very, very much do NOT want your opinion on what we had for breakfast that day. You are a fan, not a friend. Respect that.

2. Sending pictures of parts of your body/Trying to impose your fetishes on us.

STOP THAT. JUST STOP. Granted, I am sure some of the boys are loving a good ol’ fashioned boob picture, but generally female wrestlers can collectively tell you we are NOT INTERESTED IN A PICTURE OF YOUR JUNK. Is that what you do in normal life? Wake up, have breakfast, brush teeth, knock on your attractive neighbours’ door and flash your bits? There are laws about public displays of such nature, and guess what? It applies to private messages as well. The amount of new females who are innocent to the ways of the fanboys have come to me in a panic because some weirdo has asked her how much it would be to be pinned down by her is staggering. It is not endearing, or arousing.

We also laugh at you. Just so you’re aware. Nothing more. Though I do have a pair of boots for sale, if you’re into that. No? That’s cool. Ahem.

3. Creating some random website dedicated to female wrestling, just to get in with female wrestlers.

This is practically the most common thing I have dealt with, and this is why generally I have only ever dealt specifically with Ringbelles unless REALLY asked a lot by a promoter that I have trusted and known for a long time. I’ll be asked for an interview, or pictures to go along with an article, or some nonsense, which is effectively just a cover for some ‘fan boy’ to try and get close and personal with as many females as he can. You see, in his head he can claim it’s still ‘innocent’. It’s not, because we both know if one of the girls happened to throw you a bone, you’d snap that bitch up in your jaws of dirtiness and go to town. The article/interview you took will end up as something you sleep with next to your pillow. You live a lie. Stick to being purely a fan, and leave it to people who actually care to conduct this kind of work.

Bad text4. Attempting to pretend our other half does not exist.

When I asked my partner as to what personally irritates him the most about fanboys having been a part of my life, he instantly said, ‘Just the total disregard for the fact I exist.’ He deals with this even now weekly. Some random fanboy will contact me flirtatiously, fully aware I am not only taken, but the mother of my partners’ child and fully committed. Or even worse, DOESN’T ignore his existence purely to make a demeaning remark about him specifically as if it will just make me instantly drop my family life and run away with said fanboy upon a white steed into the hillsides. Yes, we are to appear alluring and of course giving us a compliment doesn’t hurt. There is however a limit… and telling me you would like to hang out with me sometime without my partner knowing, is that you guessed it, crossing of the invisible line.

So there you have it. Four simple guidelines to keeping a lovely respectful distance. I’m not asking for you to not make us signs, fan art, say hello and have a photo that you proudly show us another time for us to smile. When you tell us we are even better than the last time you saw us perform, our little lives are made. All I ask is that you find that place between staring at us from afar, too scared to come over in case we hurt you, and asking for a pair of our dirty underwear. Thanks so much.

The Soap Box is a forum for anyone to voice their opinion on any aspect on women’s wrestling. Fancy writing something on your chosen subject? Go for it!

Of course, there are rules for Soap Box submissions. So if you’re itching to make a contribution, bear these things in mind:

• Submissions should be between 500 and 1,000 words. We’re looking for reasoned, thought out opinions.
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• We reserve the right to edit submissions for grammar/repetition and the like – though we promise to not take posts out of context.

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The Soap Box: The Presentation of Women in Wrestling – was NXT Takeover an "eye opener"?

Natalya vs Charlotte 4Something strange happened on Thursday night.

A lot of people watching the WWE Network’s live presentation of NXT Takeover invested themselves in, and were truly entertained by, a women’s pro-wrestling bout. Pinch yourselves, people.

The match between Natalya and Charlotte for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship received such plaudits that many people were calling it the best match on the show – outstripping even the pretty fantastic Sami Zayn vs Tyler Breeze match which preceded it. I call this “something strange” because, in my years of watching and covering women’s wrestling, I’m used to hearing the prevailing opinion that the women’s match on any given show is the “piss break”, or that I’m crazy for writing about or podcasting about women’s wrestling because “who could possibly care about women’s wrestling?” Yet here we were – social media and wrestling forums ablaze, praising the efforts of the two competitors and the match they produced. Continue reading “The Soap Box: The Presentation of Women in Wrestling – was NXT Takeover an "eye opener"?”