Report from the Fort: Best Wrestler (Female)

As Rae mentioned in her previous post we have split the “Best Wrestler” award into male and female categories. Not because we feel that female wrestlers are in any way inferior to male wrestlers, but due to the way they are portrayed. For the most part, they are very different entities. It would be lovely to think that this won’t be the case by the time next year’s awards come around, but I’m not that hopeful. In my “Best Match” award I explained how the idea of “gender free” wrestling is becoming more prevalent on the independent scene, but in the world that WWE occupy, it’s not going to change much soon I’m afraid.

With that said, on with the show and our final look back at 2011…

If you’ve read any of the previous awards this year, or for that matter, anything else we write on the blog or Twitter, then this winner should come as no surprise. We are unabashedly in awe of Sara Del Rey. In a year in which we were cautiously optimistic in the WWE Women’s division, only to be let down with Beth’s (hopefully forced) “we’re just giiiiiiiiirls…” whining and Natalya’s inexplicable losing streak, Del Rey has gone from strength to strength.

A wrestler rather than a model (although Rae would like to point out that her thighs are the stuff of legend and her own training aspiration) Sara managed to have a banner year in CHIKARA, beating the likes of Claudio Castagnoli, winning the annual Cibernetico match and wrestling her idol Aja Kong. Add to this her continued appearances for the likes of SHIMMER, her ROH run as part of the Kings of Wrestling, and appearances for a number of other promotions and 2011 certainly stacked up as the year that everyone finally agreed she is one of the best wrestlers in the world.

One thing that Rae and I both find admirable is that Sara has always been very vocal about the end goal of her career. In an age in which many fans, wrestlers and promoters are incredibly dismissive of the WWE’s output (particularly the Diva’s division), Del Rey has continuously stated that she would like to be signed to a WWE contract. As a fan of the intimacy independent wrestling affords, it’s easy to be selfish and hope this doesn’t happen. You can imagine the cries of dismay as her FCW name is revealed to be Stephanie Queen and she jobs to Kelly Kelly after a few weeks. But let’s be honest, financially the WWE is as good as it gets. Not only that, but the worldwide exposure is second to none. Sara knows what she wants, and it’s admirable that she hasn’t succombed to the easy elitist route of “Indie > WWE.”

With the likes of Kings of Wrestling teammates Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero already in FCW, as well as fans and friends such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Beth Phoenix, Awesome Kong and Natalya, it will hopefully only be a matter of time before the call up comes. When it does, I’ll look forward to seeing her on my TV every week.

Report From The Fort: Best Match (Andrew’s picks)

We were struggling to narrow down our award to just one match. One of the many things we enjoy about wrestling is that it’s so varied, and there are many contenders for best match, all for different reasons. As such we have picked two matches each, both of which meant a lot to us for different reasons. Rae will be posting hers shortly, but in the meantime…

Winner: Sara Del Rey vs KANA (CHIKARA’s Klunk In Love: Oct 8, 2011)

We’ve declared our undying affection for Sara Del Rey on the blog before, and those affections are indeed unwaning. Not only one of the best female wrestlers in the world, she is arguably one of the best wrestlers in the world full stop. Other than the all female promotion SHIMMER, possibly no company has done more to reward Del Rey’s skill than CHIKARA. In a company featuring wrestling ice creams, temporally displaced Egyptian snake gods and evil (yet devilishly attractive) insect overlords, something as petty as human gender is unlikely to be an issue to success.

When I first took it upon myself to introduce Rae to CHIKARA, one of the matches I showed her was a 2007 bout between Icarus, Gran Akuma & Brodie Lee and Cheech, Cloudy & Sara Del Rey. I don’t think it would be an overestimation to say that Del Rey played a pivotal role in her indoctrination, inspiring not only a love for indie wrestling, but also a typically insightful post on intergender wrestling

KANA on the otherhand, is maybe less known to a wider audience, although 2011 was undoubtedly her “breakthrough” year in the west, with a successful tour of the US taking in CHIKARA and SHIMMER. Having trained and shared a room together early on on their careers, the idea of the two wrestling each other was thought of by many as a dream match.

Then...

...and now

That they were having a match at all was great news. That CHIKARA had the courage and the belief (not only in the wrestlers but also the fans) to make this match the main event of one of their shows gives an indication of just how highly they are thought of. And that faith was more than rewarded with what was easily my match of the year. Not just for the quality of the match (which was amazing) but also in what it stands for. In a year in which the female division in the WWE has often dropped down to levels that can only be described as “risible,” it’s important to remember that there is excellent female wrestling out there.

From SHIMMER’s continued successes to CHIKARA’s Joshimania weekend, from Anarchy Championship Wrestling’s gender-neutral shows to the growing popularity of Quebec’s NCW Femme Fatales, from the UK’s Pro Wrestling EVE to their Japanese partners in Ice Ribbon, there is more female wrestling of a quality that puts many male wrestlers to shame than ever before. Yes this stuff is harder to access than WWE or TNA, and yes you might have to brace yourself for accusations of slightly ulterior motives (believe me, I know) but you will be rewarded with some of the best wrestling that’s out there at the moment… from wrestlers who are possessed of dedication, talent, determination and, coincidentally, ovaries.

Skip to about 4 minutes in the following video for a clip from the match

Winner: Mike Quackenbush vs Eddie Kingston (CHIKARA’s High Noon: Nov 13, 2011)

I’ll be writing more about how much I enjoyed CHIKARA’s first ever iPPV later, but this match is one of the reason’s why the show worked so well. I know I’m coming across as an unabashed fanboy, but one of the thing’s CHIKARA do so well is create emotion through stories and this match, the culmination of their 12 Large Summit tournament, was no excecption.

The tournament was held throughout the 2011 season to finally crown the inaugural CHIKARA Grand Champion, and was dedicated to the memory of CHIKARA alumni Larry Sweeney who took his own life early in the year after a long history of mental illness. In one corner was Mike Quackenbush: founder and head trainer at CHIKARA, and one of the most talented technical wrestlers currently in the US. In the opposite corner was Eddie Kingston: one of my favourite wrestlers and a close personal friend of Larry Sweeney. Kingston is by no means a technical wizard, but he is an amazing brawler, and his promos are second to none – including this gem he released in the run up to the show…

That promo would probably be enough to earn this award by itself to be honest, but the match more than lived up to it. With nearfall after nearfall, a teased Quackenbush heel turn, and the entire roster surrounding the ring by the time the final bell was rung, it was an amazing match, and an honour to get to watch live. I realise this might sound like hyperbole, but it’s true – I genuinely felt like part of something special watching live from my bedroom over in the UK that night, and it’s thanks to moments like this that I love wrestling. Thank you CHIKARA

No Alternative? The CHIKARA interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The first interview in the series is, fittingly, with our favourite wrestling promotion. Both Boss Lady Ray and myself have said that CHIKARA would be our “Desert Island Wrestling” were we to be dumped on a desert island together and forced to choose only one company to be able to watch the rest of our lives. Erstwhile “CHIKARA Director of Fun” Leonard F Chikarason was kind enough to take time out and answer a few questions for us.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to CHIKARA ?
I could go right from the website, www.chikarapro.com, but instead, can sum CHIKARA up as “wrestling for everyone.” WWE purposes themselves as wrestling for the whole family and TNA claims “Wrestling Matters.” If both of these statements were true and awesome, that would be CHIKARA.

What would you say sets CHIKARA apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
As I mentioned before, CHIKARA bring you wrestling for everyone without insulting any group. From what I hear, the live non-TV/PPV WWE and TNA shows are fun, but the wrestling you may see there is just nowhere near as entertaining as CHIKARA provides at each and every show.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
Unfortunately, WWE is what the majority of the mainstream world sees as “Wrestling” even though THEY don’t see themselves that way. I’ve been a fan of wrestling since 1984 and probably will never stop watching WWE out of habit. Not really sure what to think of TNA.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does CHIKARA stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
I think you answered your own question. Nothing makes me go for my channel changer quicker than a Divas match on WWE. The cornerstones of CHIKARA’s women’s division are Daizee Haze & Sara Del Rey, the later of which is the only women in the 12 Large Summit to determine the first ever CHIKARA singles champion.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into CHIKARA ? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
I’m torn on seeing anyone from CHIKARA leave. Many wrestlers in CHIKARA I’ve become friends with over the last six years and would miss them, but would be great full to see them get a shot in the “big leagues.” People like Brodie Lee, Hallowicked or Claudio Castagnoli would be the first three off the top of my head that would be huge no matter where they wrestled.
As for someone from WWE or TNA coming to CHIKARA, I can list your Evan Bourne’s and Sin Cara’s but in all seriousness, I would LOVE to see John Cena in CHIKARA.

Where can people find out more about CHIKARA online
CHIKARA has one of the strongest internet presences in all of wrestling. Your main hub would be, of course, www.chikarapro.com, where you can find any and all information about upcoming events merchandise and more. Our roster section now also links to most of the CHIKARA wrestlers on Twitter. Our own Twitter is @ChikaraPro and you can find our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/chikaraoffice, which is updated with new content every single weekday. Also, you can friend us, poke us or whatever you do on Facebook to us at www.facebook.com/pages/CHIKARA/53425196299.

What do you have coming up?
The weekend of July 30th and 31st is CHIKARAsaurus Rex – King of Sequel in Reading, PA and Philadelphia, PA respectively. In addition to all the CHIKARA regulars and several 12 Large Summit tournament matches, we have visitors from England in Johnny Saint and Johnny Kid, Japan in Ice Ribbon standouts Makoto & Tsukasa Fujimoto and Japanese and Mexico super star, Mima Shimoda. Also, many of our friends such as El Generico and Colt Cabana are making their return as well.
As for DVDs, Smart Mark Video turns our shows around in record time, usually within 2 weeks of the show. They even went as far as having all three nights of King of Trios 2011 available the very next day! Check em out at www.smartmarkvideo.com!

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an CHIKARA show?
As mentioned above, we have TONS of introductory videos on our YouTube page. (Sidekick Andrew edit: this is true, in fact we listed a few of the matches available for free here but I’ll link this one because it’s really worth a watch)

Any last words for the readers?
Thank you giving me to the time to let your readers know what CHIKARA can show wrestling fans. We ask you support not only CHIKARA but all wrestling where ever and whenever you can!

In which we (briefly) discuss the generous nature of CHIKARA

As you’ve no doubt noticed, it’s Wrestlemania Week! The Grandest Stage of Them All! The Showcase of The Immortals! The Grandaddy of Them All! We’re as excited as the next couple of wrestling fans, hoarding our goodies for late-night snacking and buying out annual “Wrestlemania pyjamas.” But amongst the glitz and glamour of Art Exhibitions, Press Conferences, Pro-Celebrity Golf Tournaments and lavish Hall of Fame Ceremonies, it’s easy to forget about the little guys…

We feel your pain bro

However, amazing as Zack Ryder and his Beyond The Mat references are, that’s not what today’s post is about. Nope, today I want to show you some great wrestling matches from Wrestlegasm favourites CHIKARA. Ordinarily this would be, at the very least, legally questionable; but being the incredibly generous souls that they are, CHIKARA have amended their weekly podcast format to include a full match each week, for FREE! However, I accept that a lot of you won’t be subscribed to their YouTube channel so you might not realise just what you’re missing out on. Therefore, in our ongoing quest to introduce more and more people to CHIKARA, I’m going to post a few selections here and let you make up your own minds.

If you like any of these matches (and I sincerely hope you do) then I hope you’ll consider buying a couple of DVDs next time you have some spare cash. I promise you won’t regret it. You can either get them directly through CHIKARA or via Smart Mark Video (Smart Mark have regular sales where you can usually save the cost of postage to the UK which is always a bonus)

To start with, my favourite CHIKARA match ever, and possibly one of my favourite wrestling matches ever. I’ve shilled this match like crazy over the last couple of years, but this is the first time the full match has been available for free. Kota Ibushi vs El Generico vs Jigsaw vs Nick Jackson from the King of Trios tournament 2009 (available here) Do me a favour though, for the last few minutes, remember to breathe.

Next up, a singles match between two former Young Lions Cup champions, Chuck Taylor vs Fire Ant from Vanity & Violence in 2008 (available here) CHIKARA specialise in multi-person matches, but they throw out some fun singles matches, and a big fan of Chuck Taylor (and Ray loves the Ants) so I can recommend this one.

Back to Trios action, with The BDK vs Perros del Mal from King of Trios 2010 (available here) The BDK are the main heel faction in CHIKARA at the moment (think The Nexus or NWO for reference points) and Perros del Mal are a team of luchadors from Mexico. Quite frankly, if you don’t find the idea of a 6’7″ Norse God of War squaring up against a 3’7″ butterfly thing then CHIKARA might not be for you…

Actually, the same could be said about two Mexican anthropomorphic ice creams wrestling a team of time-displaced sportsmen (an olde-time baseball player and a funky Seventies basketball star) but that’s what the next match entails: Los Ice Creams vs The Throwbacks from Cibernetico Increible (available here)

Last, but I promise you, definitely not least, CHIKARA is one of the few (non-female only) promotions to treat women wrestlers well. In fact, it was an inter-gender match from CHIKARA that inspired this great post by Boss Lady Ray. Anyway, from the Double Header with the Dragon Gate promotion, Amazing Kong and Raisha Saeed vs Sara Del Rey and Daizee Haze from Chikarasaurus Rex: King of Show (available here)

wrestlegasm best in show awards: part three

Welcome back to the final instalment of the Best in Show Awards for 2011. Try to ignore the smell of the vegetable stalls that are now, let’s be honest, slightly past their best and avoid stepping in that unfortunate patch left behind after the sheepdog display… Settle down with a jam tart and we’ll go through the last awards. These are the big ones: the awards that, were they even slightly aware of their existence, every wrestler would want to win. So, with no further ado, I would like to welcome to the stage a lady I am proud to call not only my boss here in the Bunker but also my best friend and a glorious human being – Miss Ray Davies! (is that OK Boss? I read off the card you provided…)

This was a very difficult one to decide upon. Apart from the fact that we both have memories like sieves (seriously, sometimes it’s a miracle we even remember where we live) there were also a lot of excellent matches to choose from this year. We got there in the end though and we settled on Chris Jericho vs. Evan Bourne at Fatal-4-Way.

Cast your minds back. Chris Jericho had been drafted to Raw earlier in the year. Much like Egde he was a lost soul trying to crawl through all big hitters to get some TV time. Jericho was drifting and started losing. He started losing a lot. He didn’t know how to process this situation. Evan Bourne, on the other hand, was John Cena’s new best mate and riding the crest of a happy wave. After delivering his introspective soliloquy to the crowd, Jericho was joined by smiley-Evan. They went on to have what we believe is the bestest match of the 2010. It felt even more special because it hadn’t been on the card. Everything is a little sweeter when you’re not expecting it and haven’t spent a week or so analysing every possible twist and turn.

If ever there were two wrestlers who fit together perfectly in the ring, it’s Chris Jericho and Evan Bourne. This match was real ‘passing the torch’, ‘legend vs. young pretender’ stuff.  When they’re old and creaky I expect to see them swinging back and forth in their padded armchairs mumbling about that awesome match they had at Fatal 4-Way back in 2010. I’m not sure how I’d actually see this without getting myself a job in the their nursing home, but you know what I’m getting at.

Pinfall-after-pinfall, signature after finisher, sharpshooter after shooting star press, the match was brilliant from start to finish. Having watched it a couple of times since we decided it should be our match of the year, we’re wholeheartedly  convinced it was the right decision. Evan won the match and left to rapturous cheers from the crowd. Jericho was broken and on a downward spiral of self-doubt.  Read that as ‘heading towards his rock-star world tour’. Unfortunately for Cutey McSmile-Pants (Evan Bourne if that wasn’t clear enough) he got injured and had to spend the next few months hoping that wasn’t his last big push. Rewatching that match has made me realise how much I miss them both; especially Jericho. Any chance he could come back as a face, WWE? Pleeeeeeeease?

Here’s the highlights in case you’ve forgotten how it went down, after which I’ll pass you back to my denim-clad colleague to give the award for Best Major Show:

There was a strange combination of shows last year. The big WWE PPVs were generally quite disappointing other than the odd highlight such as the Royal Rumble match and the Undertaker/HBK rematch, whereas the lesser PPVs held some very pleasant surprises such as the Jericho/Bourne match mentioned above and the great Divas TLC Tag Match at TLC. But there wasn’t a WWE PPV we felt could honestly fit here, and although the one ROH show I watched in 2011 (Final Battle) was great it wasn’t quite as good as the 2011 King of Trios show by Wrestlegasm favourites CHIKARA.

This was a show so impressive that it made Boss Lady Ray write in her diary about how “AMAZING” it was (capitals all hers) to the point where I had to remind her to breathe towards the end of each match when we watched in The Bunker. Now, I’m obviously I’m supposed to be writing about the show in some kind of humourous yet moderately informative manner, but sometimes pictures (especially moving ones) speak louder than words. But before the pretty videos…

King of Trios is CHIKARA’s biggest show of the year, pitting 16 teams of three wrestlers against each other in a three-day tournament. This year was a big one storyline wise due to the involvement of an invading faction known as the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes going up against the CHIKARA faithful. The show included ROH Tag Team champion Claudio Castagnoli, TNA wrestlers Generation Me and Christopher Daniels and ex-WWE stars Tommy Dreamer, Colin Delaney and Scotty Goldman (as Matt Classic) as well as representatives from a number of US, Mexican and Japanese promotions.

Actually, you know what, scrap all that. I’m not happy with it and quite frankly it’s nowhere near doing the show justice. Here’s a highlight video for each night of the show which should give you an idea of just how exciting the wrestling is in CHIKARA.


Click here to buy the DVD


Click here to buy the DVD


Click here to buy the DVD

Don’t worry, you’re eyes weren’t deceiving you. I appreciate you might feel like you’ve had a tad too much Buttercup Syrup and you’re having one of your “episodes” after seeing some of the competitors in those videos. Ice Creams, Ants, 7′ Vikings and our new favourite; Cuije, the 3’7″ Pink Ladybird Monster Thingy!

Now, you don’t believe that the King of Trios deserved to win this award, then you’re a lost cause and you possibly smell funny. Speaking of smelling funny, time to hand you back to Ray for the next award.

We know what you’re thinking…. this whole awards show is masquerading as a virtual love-in with CM Punk and Beth Phoenix. And why would we give this award to Ms. Phoenix when she was injured for such a long time during 2010? True, we both have crushes on Beth – different kinds of crushes, I might add. And yes, Beth spent a lot of time away from the ring this year. But round here we believe it’s not how much you do, but what you choose to do with the time you have. The Bellas have been on almost every episode of Raw for the past year, but that doesn’t make them the best wrestlers, or the most interesting Divas or anything to be honest.

Beth was the only woman to appear in last year’s Royal Rumble. Her appearance may have been short but she actually wrestled CM Punk before he eliminated her and she eliminated Khali herself. It was such an amazing moment and I was so proud of her.

Beth played her part in the horrendous Mickie/Piggy James storyline. It wasn’t a pleasant thing, but it was still one of the most memorable storylines of 2010.  Beth endured LayCool’s jibes following that Piggy strangeness, ending in that now infamous Extreme Makeover match. *shudder* Injury put her out of action for a few months, but on her return Beth won the very first ever Divas tables match with Natalya. A real tables match with no gimmicks or silliness. This was by far the best Divas match of the year and felt very special.

We don’t just love Beth for being our favourite lady in the ring, we also like that she’s a lovely girl and throughout her injured months she managed to emanate so much positive energy. She must have had a few down days, but she never tweeted anything but good vibes and happy thoughts. In short, we think she’s fantastic.

Very British Nods of Appreciation go to Layla and Sara Del Rey. We’ve covered why we love Layla in the other awards posts, but we haven’t mentioned Sara yet. As I mentioned in our Christmas audio message, this was the year I finally gave myself over to indie wrestling and Sara Del Rey become my absolute hero. I never get bored of watching her wrestle. Maybe I’ve had too much strawberry wine from the local produce tent, but watching Sara Del Rey do what she does best truly inspires me. When I emailed her about a t-shirt I was buying and I thanked her for RTing my Intergender Match post on Twitter, she thanked me for writing it and said she wanted more people to read it. It was so chuffed. I always feel a little more fearless when I’m wearing my Sara Del Rey t-shirt. *hiccup* I think Andrew better take this last award. I’m feeling queasy and need to sit down. No more strawberry wine.

Unlike giving Beth Phoenix the Best Female Wrestler award, we’ve somehow managed to award this one to someone other than CM Punk. If you’ve only seen WWE shows you might not recognise Claudio Castagnoli, but trust us he’s the best wrestler you might not know.

Claudio has been recognised as one the best wrestlers in the world for some time now, but 2010 was definitely his most successful year to date. Within a 12 month period he became the ROH Tag Team Champion, the CHIKARA Campeones des Parejas (tag team) champion and King of Trios winner, the PWG World Champion and the JCW Tag Team champion – not bad for a nice guy from Switzerland.

As well teaming with indie-favourites Chris Hero and Sara Del Rey as the Kings of Wrestling in ROH and in Japan, Claudio also leads the aforementioned Bruderschaft des Kreuzes faction in CHIKARA. The fact that Claudio has managed to have very strong years in a number of promotions should show how well thought of he is by the business as a whole, and the fact that Boss Lady Ray drew lipstick hearts around his picture should be testament to her feelings on his appearance at least.

Again, like Beth, we don’t just like Claudio for being an amazing wrestler. He genuinely comes across as a nice guy outside the ring, whether it’s talking incessantly about the wonders of Starbucks on his blog, having Q & A sessions on Twitter or making videos of his travels at Claudio’s Cafe…

So here’s to Claudio, one of those wrestlers you’ll happily watch a show just to see his match, and one of the nicest (and fine, I’ll admit it, better looking) guys around. A man so stylish, so suave, so “Very European” that CHIKARA broke their 4 year streak of awesome comic book inspired covers just so they could use this picture. Claudio, if you’re reading this, “Mis Luftchüssiboot isch volle Aal!”

Our Very British Nods of Appreciation are slightly more predictable, with the first going to CM Punk. We know, we know… Punk again, but he had a great year while he was around. Obviously he had some time out due to injury, but his sterling work on commentary made up for that. From an amazing run in the Rumble back in January, through great work on the first series of NXT and the eventual dissolution of the SES and creation of the New Nexus; it’s been a great year for Punk. As for the second Nod, that goes to Dolph Ziggler, a man who has consistently had great matches throughout the year and surely a future world champion. I should point however that the fact that Boss Lady Ray finds all three wrestlers in this category to be “easy on the eye” is a complete coincidence. It’s just that the really ugly wrestlers *coughMattHardycough* also happen to be terrible :D

That’s all from me folks, but before the sun sets on the inaugural Wrestlegasm Best In Show awards, I’d like to hand back to the lady that started it all. Boss Lady Ray, the floor is yours (don’t forget that the council said we have to have this wrapped up soon so the caretaker can sweep the Village Hall for the Whist Drive in the morning)…

RAY: Ummm, yeah. What he said. Someone else is going to have to judge the scone baking contest. I need to lie down. Take me back to the Bunker, Andrew. Thanks for coming, folks. *hiccup*

wrestlegasm’s top 10 female wrestlers – part 2

Join me if you will, as I take you back through the mists of time (travelling at approximately 88mph)… back to the end of March. Ah, March… a time of Labour Government; a time of Wrestlemania; and, I’m ashamed to admit, a time of lies ladies and gentlemen.

Yes, I lied to you all (or at least the few of you that read my last piece on Women Wrestlers). Back on the 22nd March I wrote a piece listing the people in places 10-6 in my Top Ten Current Women Wrestlers list. I finished that article with a sentence I now deeply regret, one that included not just one, but two inexcusable untruths.

“I’ll be getting the second part (Ranks 1-5) together very soon…”

Now, the first lie is obvious. Unless you measure time using the shifting of tectonic plates, you will agree that 2 months is not, by any stretch of the imagination, “very soon”. There are a multitude of reasons I could give for this delay, but I fear they would essentially boil down to “sorry everyone, real life keeps getting in the way.”

The second lie may not become obvious until you reach the bottom of the page, so let’s keep it as a little surprise – the textual equivalent of the shoddily manufactured choking hazard enshrined in the so-called chocolate of a Kinder Egg.

By the way, if you didn’t read Part One, and you feel the need to (despite having the last sentence spoilt for you already: “Darth Vader is Luke’s father” “Bruce Willis is dead” “He lies twice in the last sentence”) then you can read it here.

Right, we’ve waited long enough… let’s crack on shall we? Starting with:

While Daffney may not the greatest wrestler in the world (and indeed arguably spent more time as a valet), she deserves a degree of credit for bringing a different character to pro-wrestling, not to mention a longevity not often seen for women in this industry.

After graduating from college and a short stint as an actress, Daffney entered a 1999 contest held by WCW to find new talent. She was hired and debuted on-screen as the mentally deranged girlfriend of Ric Flair’s son David. Her character at this time, a combination of Mallory Knox (Natural Born Killers) and Harley Quinn (Batman) became known for her piercing screams at ringside (something that our next entry, Daffney’s sometime tag partner MsChif, is also known for.) After defeating Chris Candido and Tammy “Sunny” Sytch in a mixed tag match, Daffney became the co-holder of the WCW Cruiserweight Championship with Crowbar, one of the wrestlers she managed alongside Flair. Daffney and Crowbar then faced off in a one-on-one match to determine the outright champion, a match which she won, becoming the second of only three women to ever hold the title.

After her brief run as Cruiserweight champion, Daffney went on to feud with Miss Hancock (later known in the WWE as Stacy Keibler) for the affections of Flair, and later feuding with Torrie Wilson. She was mainly used as a valet character during this time however, and was released in 2001 – only a month before WWE bought out WCW.

After spending a number of months training at Dusty Rhodes’ camp, Daffney made a few appearances for TNA as Shark Girl (Shark Boy’s valet) and Ring of Honor (as the valet for the Second City Saints, featuring CM Punk and Colt Cabana)  In 2003 Daffney was signed to a WWE developmental deal, working with Ohio Valley Wrestling as a valet for a short time but was released after a few months.

After her release from WWE Daffney decided to retire from professional wrestling, and return to her previous acting career – famously giving her wrestling boots to her then room-mate Mickie James. However, after a couple of years working as a personal trainer, Daffney returned to wrestling on the independent scene; first as Lucy Furr, then working for SHIMMER as Daffney (in a managerial role for MsChif) as well as Shark Girl (as a wrestler).

While working for SHIMMER, Daffney also returned to TNA in a one-off appearance as an audience member who took up (and predictably lost) Awesome Kong’s $25,000 Open Challenge. However, this did lead to Daffney returning to TNA after a few months, this time wrestling as The Governor – a spoof of Sarah Palin. As The Governor she teamed with Taylor Wilde and Roxxi to feud against The Beautiful People, culminating in a victorious 3-on-3 PPV match at Destination X.

After getting her hair cut by The Beautiful People, she returned to her Daffney character again, joining forces with Steven Richards (in his Dr Stevie gimmick) and Abyss- working a number of increasingly violent mixed tag matches. After a mixed tag Monster’s Ball match at 2009’s Slammiversary in which she was slammed into thumbtacks by Taylor Wilde, Daffney took part in (and lost) the first ever Knockout’s “Match of 10,000 Tacks”.

Since then Daffney has gone solo, feuding with the likes of ODB and Tara (including having a First Blood match against Tara) – as well as appearing in the, perhaps regrettable, Wrestlicious promotion as a female vampire character called Draculetta.


Not much seems to be known about MsChif outside wrestling, other than the fact that she’s a researcher in a microbiological laboratory. Trained at Gateway Championship Wrestling (the closest training school to her college), MsChif quickly became a regular on their shows, usually against male wrestlers. As an aside, you may notice that the wrestlers that I have listed all seem to take part in intergender matches from time to time. This is no coincidence, and should be taken as further evidence to support Ray’s excellent article on Intergender Matches.

MsChif soon teamed up with future ROH and CHIKARA star Delirious as Diabolik Khaos, feuding against the likes of Daizee Haze and Matt “Evan Bourne” Sydal. MsChif followed Delirious from Gateway to IWA: Mid-South, feuding first against Haze and then against Mickie Knuckles (briefly “Moose Knuckles” with The Beautiful People in TNA), eventually obtaining the NWA Midwest/IWA Mid-South Title, a title she eventually lost in a Mixed Tag Steel Cage Match alongside Delirious against Haze and Sydal.

Following a lot of behind-the-scenes wrangling over the rights to various titles among the NWA, MsChif now started chasing the NWA World Women’s Championship, which she eventually won in January 2007. However, a few months later she lost the title in a champion vs champion match against then AWA Japan Champion Awesome Kong.

As often seems to be the case in this list, MsChif then went to work for SHIMMER, making an enemy of Cheerleader Melissa in her debut match at Volume 1, and wrestling Beth Phoenix at Volume Two. MsChif and Melissa would meet in the first SHIMMER Hardcore match at Volume 4, and the first SHIMMER Last Woman Standing match at Volume 6. However, this is wrestling, and the two soon teamed up (as MelisChif), eventually leading to MsChif challenging and defeating Sara Del Rey for the SHIMMER Championship, a title she went on to defend against, amongst others; Awesome Kong, Lufisto and Serena Deeb (now Serena of the Straight Edge Society.) Unfortunately, however, MsChif lost the SHIMMER Championship after almost two years in an upset defeat against Madison Eagles last month.

MsChif also wrestled extensively for the Chickfight promotion, winning her debut tournament (Chickfight IV), as well as making regular appearances for Ring of Honor and one-off shows for TNA. There has been talk of Daffney wanting to bring MsChif into TNA as the two have worked together (as The Scream Queens, MsChif and DisChif), however MsChif has stated that “The main reason I won’t go to TNA is because where I am right now in wrestling, I am completely stress free. I have complete control of my character, and no one breathing down my neck over what I am or am not doing. I like my freedom. Since I do have my career, wrestling is my fun time. My enjoyment.”


She also has strong views on the way WWE portrays women wrestlers, saying that “It’s sad to me to see talented women wrestlers go to waste because the WWE won’t let them really wrestle. Instead they use them as nothing more than sex objects. I don’t ever want to leave wrestling the way I wrestle now. I don’t want to be told what I can and can’t do.”

So, not only is MsChif an awesome wrestler (and ridiculously flexible, to the point of making Melina look stiff), she’s also an extremely intelligent woman who has a successful external career and the money to be able to what she wants. Sounds pretty ideal to me…


By now you all now who Sara Del Rey is, or have at least heard her name mentioned. If you haven’t, then you obviously didn’t read Ray’s article I linked earlier discussing Sara’s intergender matches in CHIKARA. And quite frankly, if you didn’t read that then I’m not sure we can be friends anymore – I’ll be round to pick up my copy of Wrestlemaniac next week…

Trained by the awe-inspiring combination of Japanese WWE Hall of Fame legend Antonio Inoki and current Wrestlegasm Crush and “Best in the World” Bryan Danielson, Sara Del Rey is simply one of the toughest female wrestlers out there. Actually no, she one of the toughest wrestlers out there, regardless of gender. You may have guessed that I am a big fan, and I’m pleased to say that I’m not the only member of staff that feels this way.

Starting her training at All Pro Wrestling’s Boot Camp, Death Rey went on to work for a number of smaller promotions in the US before embarking on both a Japanese tour and a short stint under a mask in Mexico in 2005. Del Rey has been a regular member of the SHIMMER roster since Volume One, defeating the likes of Daizee Haze, Cheerleader Melissa, Nikki Roxx (TNA’s Roxxi) and Nattie Neidhart (now wrestling as Natalya in WWE). She eventually went on to become the first ever SHIMMER Champion, later defending her title against wrestlers such as Awesome Kong before losing the belt to MsChif.

After losing the title Sara went on to feud with Serena Deeb (as mentioned earlier, now Serena of the SES) and then to team with Awesome Kong as the Death Kongs in an unsuccesful attempt to capture the SHIMMER Tag Titles.

As well as SHIMMER, Del Rey has been one of a small number of female wrestlers to maintain a spot in the Ring of Honor roster, at one point being crowned unofficial “Intergender Heavyweight Tag Team Champion” alongside Chris Hero. She has also appeared on the ROH TV tapings on a number of occasions, facing off against the likes of Nikki Roxx, Daizee Haze and MsChif. Del Rey has also wrestled extensively for Jersey All Pro Wrestling Women’s Division since their first show, becoming their first and, as of this writing having successfully defended the title 12 times, only Women’s Champion in January 2009.

Meanwhile, having first appeared in 2006 as a one-off, Del Rey became a regular in the CHIKARA promotion, regularly having matches against the likes of Daizee Haze and SHIMMER co-promoter Allison Danger, as well joining forces with the tag team of Cheech and Cloudy in a 3 on 3 intergender tag match (which has been covered in Ray’s article). Recently however, with the emergence of a new faction known as the BDK, Del Rey & Haze have joined forces and have been involved in a number of victorious and violent tag matches against male teams, Del Rey actually getting disqualified for excessive violence after giving her male opponent numerous piledrivers.

So, have you figured out the plot twist yet? Yep, I promised you wrestlers 1-5 and you’ve only got 3-5. “Why?” I hear you cry… “Why do you torture us so?” Well, it’s for your own good. Wrestlers 1 & 2 are both pretty damn awesome (hence their positions) so this way I get to write larger pieces about them without making this article stupidly long.

In the meantime, do yourself a favour and have a look at some of these wrestlers on YouTube – I promise if you like the idea of women’s wrestling being more than botched handspring back elbows by identikit blonde swimsuit models you won’t be disappointed.

playing with boys: in search of the elusive intergender match

A few weeks ago, Michelle McCool was billed as being in an intergender match on WWE Superstars. I was excited. This would have been real progress for the WWE. When I asked which male Superstar she’d be opposing, I was unfortunately informed that it was a match against Beth Phoenix. It was billed as an intergender match to fall in with the Glam-a-Man moniker that Team LayCool had attached to Beth Phoenix. I was disappointed. I love Beth Phoenix, but the dashed promise of the elusive boy vs girl match was a slight letdown.

I got to thinking about why the WWE are so afraid of pitting women against men. On the surface, it’s obvious. This is the PG era, where all WWE programming is produced to be child-friendly. The mere mention of violence against women, even a choreographed wrestling match, would be unacceptable. It would be wholly hypocritical of a company so geared towards entertaining younger viewers to be seen to condone men hitting women.

At Christmas I began playing the Smackdown vs Raw 2010 video game. It doesn’t have the facility to allow intergender matches. As in the shows themselves, mixed tag matches are the closest you can get.

When a male competitor is in the ring, you have to make sure your female competitor tags her male partner in. If you’re playing as a male Superstar and strike one of the Divas, even accidentally, you lose immediately by disqualification. Though, curiously, if you’re playing as a woman and hit a man, you aren’t disqualified. On the 19th April episode of Monday Night Raw, while Luke Gallows and CM Punk beat Triple H down to have his head shaved, Serena was encouraged to kick him. But in no way could Triple H have retaliated against Serena.

Even on TNA, which likes to suggest that it is anti-PG by having half its roster spill their own blood on a weekly basis, there is still a certain awkwardness towards men and women fighting each other. During TNA’s tour of the UK this February, guest writer Toni reported on how Hamada had practically begged Amazing Red for a match, which he seemed loathed to give her. Amazing Red eventually fought and beat her, but only after displaying an obvious conflict of conscience at being in a match with a woman.

IMG: Property Wrestlegasm.Com

I fully understand why the WWE would be nervous of pushing the matter in the current litigation climate. Wrestling struggles to maintain a respectable reputation at the best of times. It doesn’t need an over-zealous parent filing a lawsuit against the company because their son broke their daughter’s sternum copying a move he saw Chris Jericho put on Gail Kim, for example. Bad publicity indeed. But the real contradiction is not Violence Against Women vs PG Programming; it’s Reality vs Unreality.

Professional Wrestling is something of an alternate universe. Wait. That’s putting is mildly. Wrestling is a complete alternate universe where the rules of real life do not apply. This is a world where Rey Mysterio can take on the Big Show and win. A place where seemingly random people run up to CM Punk in the middle of a show and demand that their head be shaved to rid them of their toxic sins. A universe where people are carried out of arenas on spinal boards and carted off in ambulances, only to reappear an hour later with a sledgehammer in their hand to finish the job they started earlier in the show. It’s a world where you can physically and verbally abuse your boss and still have a job in the morning.

If we all have enough sense to understand kayfabe, why should the rules be different for intergender matches? Can’t John Cena’s ‘Don’t Try this at Home’ video cover all aspects of the content?

Ok, so my brother never listened to such advice when we were kids. I was regularly the victim of a Stone-Cold Stunner. But if it’s an adequate disclaimer for anything that happens during the show, why not let it be a disclaimer for intergender matches too? If reality played any part in wrestling, Rey Mysterio would win less matches, the police might like to speak with Mr. Punk to ensure that he’s not taking advantage of vulnerable members of society, Triple H would still be in traction permanently and The Hart Dynasty would have been fired the day after Wrestlemania 26.

Women and men fighting each other should be no more of a concern than placing a 5’6″ man in the ring against a 7’0″ man. It’s not like when Annika Sörenstam asked to play in a Bank of America Colonial golfing tournament on the Men’s PGA Tour, and there were genuine concerns as to whether she would be at a physical disadvantage playing against men. Wrestling is a scripted form of entertainment without the need for real world logic.

Just yesterday I was watching a 2007 CHIKARA match where Icarus, Gran Akuma and Brodie Lee took on Cheech, Cloudy and Sara Del Rey. Sara Del Rey did not seem out-of-place in any way. She was just another performer who played an incredible part in the match. She was not treated any differently because she was a woman. In fact, Brodie Lee won the match by lifting Sara up to his 6’7″ shoulders and slamming her into the canvas for the pin. Nobody thought of it as a guy beating up a girl. Nobody feared that Sara had been abused in any way when he rolled her over and shouted in her face. She just happened to be the competitor who lost the match.

This is the fundamental difference between mainstream, primetime wrestling and independent wrestling. Assumed social responsibility and feared lawsuits aside, women in the WWE and TNA aren’t valued in the same way that women are in independent wrestling. The Divas match at this year’s Extreme Rules Pay Per View was so incredibly insulting that I only continued to watch it because I knew I would have to recap the PPV for this blog. The prospect of a Women’s Title match on a Pay Per View should have been thrilling. Instead, I just peeked from behind a cushion while Beth Phoenix and Michelle McCool fought it out in an ‘Extreme Makeover’ match. This was basically a standard extreme rules match but in place of trash cans, chairs and tables, the ladies had to hit each other with ironing boards, mops, brooms and buckets. They also sprayed each other with hairspray and were allowed used of a large table of make-up akin to that laid out for a grooming challenge on America’s Next Top Model.

I’m amazed they didn’t send Beth Phoenix out dressed as Rosie the Riveter and Michelle McCool dressed as an aproned 1950s housewife. If Creative were concerned about placing the Divas in a match requiring an extreme stipulation, couldn’t they just have gone with a LumberJills match or, even better, a ladder match? They certainly could have ditched the idea of a dumbed-down extremes rules match. The only good thing to come out of this was that Beth Phoenix went away the new and very deserving Women’s Champion.

I’m all for irony. It can be fun. But for this match to have been ironic, it would have needed something opposing to be compared to, and there is very little in the WWE which doesn’t pander to outdated stereotypes. The Raw brand is particularly guilty of this – sending the ladies out to compete in ballgown matches etc. I’m not even saying that women shouldn’t have feminine gimmicks. Strong characterisation is key in all professional wrestling. But when one of the few women in the WWE who looks slightly different to the rest has her face plastered in lipstick because she doesn’t fit the standard physical mold, there isn’t much hope of any genuine intergender matches any time soon.

At least Beth Phoenix was allowed to enter the Royal Rumble this year. I’ve mentioned before that while her dalliance in the ring with CM Punk during the Rumble match was short, it was truly exciting and especially memorable.

It seems to me that intergender matches, when done well, are the sign of a confident and respectful franchise. Until WWE begin respecting and trusting the women on their roster to pull off quality wrestling matches and allow them to be more than just supplementary to the male stars, I can’t see women being pitted against men. I was informed last week that Creative are discussing ways of strengthening the division. Whether this is true or not is anyone’s guess; especially a week after they released both their poster-girl in Mickie James and one of their edgier female wrestlers in Katie Lea. It’s difficult not to be cynical, especially when people like Jim Ross have their reservations about a positive future for the women of the WWE, but I’ll hope for the best. Once you start expecting less than the best, there’s no impetus for those in charge to change anything.