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"?”

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”?”

Ringbelles Roundup (18 March 2014) – Diva perception, AJ v Natalya & more

John Laurinaitis“Candice Michelle went to PWG in 2008 & raved about me to John Laurinaitis. When I saw him, he said ‘What does a Diva know about wrestling?'”

This is a tweet from Joey Ryan which he posted back in January – one of many which he wrote in reference to his tryout with WWE, where he asserts that was told that he was too old and too experienced to be in developmental.

Despite his wrestling persona being someone who is quite misogynistic and employs moves like the Boobplex, it is clear that he would not be allowed to do moves like this unless the recipients were comfortable with him – in fact, because of the amount of inter gender wrestling that he does, you could argue that he’s a huge advocate for women’s wrestling. With these tweets, one would imagine that Ryan is not thinking about trying out again, but it’s difficult to see if he has an axe to grind. If he does, it calls into question the validity of the claim – but if it is real, what does this say about WWE’s former Senior Vice President of Talent Relations?

Laurinaitis – who resigned from the post in July 2012 but still works within WWE – has form with not taking the Divas division very seriously. In 2006, he suddenly hired two models who he spotted in a catalogue – 20-year old Victoria Crawford and 19-year old Barbie Blank, who became known as Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly respectively. It doesn’t show that much respect for women who toil for years to become good wrestlers to see two women hired just by how they pose in swimwear. While WWE still does hire women with no wrestling background, they do seem to go for people who have athletic ability. Summer Rae for example, used to be part of the Lingerie Football League, while new signing Shara used to be a competitive arm wrestler. Continue reading “Ringbelles Roundup (18 March 2014) – Diva perception, AJ v Natalya & more”

WWE.com profiles Sara Del Rey

Sara Del Rey WWEIt was a big deal for WWE to sign Sara Del Rey to become a trainer for the women in its developmental system. As is the case with the Queen of Wrestling, her departure from the indies was relatively low-key, but her impact on the Divas division has been very apparent – and that’s now been acknowledged in an article featured on WWE.com.

Around the time of her signing, CM Punk sang her praises, and Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and SHIMMER promoter Dave Prazak have also joined in with the support. For example, Del Rey’s former trainer Bryan talked about his protégé’s training – and you can see in her very early days in a Retro we posted last week:

“The person who was giving [backdrops] to her collapsed underneath her, and when she landed, she separated her shoulder,” Bryan said. “She rolled out of the ring, popped her shoulder back in and rolled into the ring.”

Another collapsed backdrop, another separated shoulder. Amato again rolled out of the ring, popped her shoulder back in place, and wanted to continue. Although Bryan admired her tenacity, he couldn’t let her go on. “At that point, we had to say stop,” he said. Continue reading “WWE.com profiles Sara Del Rey”

Ringbelles Retro: Cheerleader Melissa & Sara Del Rey in 2002

Sara Del ReyThe image on the left is how most of us remember Sara Del Rey but it took a while for the Queen of Wrestling to get to this point. To illustrate this, let’s hop back more than a decade where Del Rey wrestled under a different name against another rookie looking to make her mark in the world of wrestling – as well as a couple of names you may recognise…

Following the death of Roland Alexander in November, Joey Ryan posted a match from his early days of wrestling in All Pro Wrestling in California. The match from May 24, 2002 features Del Rey under the name of Nikki teaming with Jardi Frantz & JoJo Fantastico against Ryan, Cheerleader Melissa and a gentleman by the name of Bryan Danielson, better known these days as Daniel Bryan.

Del Rey looks hugely different wrestling baggy denim, while Melissa is sporting a similarly modest set of threads. It is an interesting insight into the beginnings of two hugely successful wrestlers – one who is the reigning two-time SHIMMER Champion, and other who is mentoring the next generation of WWE Divas. Continue reading “Ringbelles Retro: Cheerleader Melissa & Sara Del Rey in 2002”

And the 2013 Breakout Star of the Year Is…

Awards 2013
Breakout 2013After yesterday’s announcement of Nikki Storm as our Discovery of the Year for 2013, it’s time to move on to our announcement of our Breakout Star of the Year. This award, as we’ve mentioned before, is given to the wrestler who, in our opinion, took the biggest strides in 2013. The wrestler who became a player during this calendar year and became an integral part of multiple promotions by getting over with the crowd and making herself indispensable. The wrestler who went from just being a promising name on a card to becoming someone you’d actually pay money to see. Someone who “gets it” and someone who expanded their horizons in a major way. As usual, we had a number of potential winners to sort through, but by the time we got down to our final shortlist, we had three top contenders to win. Before we announce our 2013 Breakout Star of the Year, let’s have a quick look at those who came within a hair of winning the award this year.

Mia Yim came ridiculously close. This was the year where Yim really started to excel and fulfil the potential she has undoubtedly had since she started. This year, I’ve heard first-hand from people who really weren’t on the Mia Yim bandwagon tell me that this was the year that she changed their minds. Yim was undoubtedly one of the biggest breakout stars of Fight Season in October, and the SHIMMER weekend in particular, where her matches demonstrated what appeared to be a new confidence in the ring. Likewise in SHINE she’s found herself in more and more important matches as the year progressed, including discovering what might well be her perfect opponent in Ivelisse Velez. Santana Garrett also was amongst the final three shortlisted – having managed to not only debut for WSU and AIW, continue to impress in SHIMMER & SHINE, she managed to appear on TV for both TNA (as part of the Knockouts Knockdown PPV) and WWE (on their NXT brand) in this calendar year. Yes, depending on where you live in the world, those appearances may be either PPV or VOD, but she’s certainly moving in the right circles and making the right connections to get on the radar for the national promotions. Her matches weren’t as high up the card as Yim’s or our eventual winner, but as far as “breaking out” and reaching for the stars, Garrett is a perfect example of someone who has used 2013 as a springboard to bigger and better things.

Our winner though? For our money, our winner stepped up in multiple promotions, gained confidence by the bucketload, delivered quality throughout and… well, she’s going to have to clear a little bit more space on her mantle for her second Ringbelles Award… Continue reading “And the 2013 Breakout Star of the Year Is…”

APW owner passes away

Roland AlexanderRoland Alexander, the owner of California-based All Pro Wrestling, passed away yesterday at the age of 59.

The Wrestling Observer reports that while the cause of death is not known, he has been in poor health in recent years with heart and diabetes issues.

While Alexander – who promoted shows in the state for 22 years – is probably best known for his appearance in 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat, he also has had a profound effect on the women’s wrestling scene, and is partly responsible for getting it to the size that it is today.

APW was where Sara Del Rey began her training back in 2001, and also was one of the main promotions where Cheerleader Melissa worked during the early years of her career, and also was the venue for all-women shows from October 29, 2004 – when the APW Garage in Hayward hosted the first ChickFight tournament which was won by Princesa Sugheit, defeating Candice LeRae, Nikki Roxx and Melissa to take the title. Continue reading “APW owner passes away”