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.


A Song For Whoever: Shimmer & WWE Superstars Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: Just a quick one this week, as we’ve got a lot of posts to share with you during this Wrestlemania/blog birthday week. As you know, we’re active champions of our fellow countrymen and women on this blog. Our cooing over Mason Ryan, Wade Barrett and Layla, for example, is unflinching. With this in mind, this week’s song is dedicated to the UK-born ladies who made their Shimmer debuts this past weekend; namely Rhia O’Reilly, Britani Knight and Saraya Knight. We love seeing Brits do well, but we especially love seeing the ladies prosper. Lord knows it’s difficult enough for girls to get ahead in wrestling. Well done, ladies. We’re proud of ya!

SIDEKICK ANDREW: It’s not all good news though. This week also saw the confirmation that WWE Superstars has been cancelled by WGN America, leaving it no TV home. Now I realise that most people don’t watch Superstars, but it has become a very close second behind Smackdown in my WWE TV of choice recently.

People don’t seem to watch Superstars because you don’t get the big names on there each week. But what you do get in place of your John Cenas, HHHs and Undertakers is a group of mid and lower card wrestlers making the most of their limited TV exposure by putting on really fun matches. Over the last few months we’ve had a really fun feud with Curt Hawkins (yes, that Curt Hawkins!) and Trent Baretta, a short series of great William Regal and Darren Young matches (yes, that Darren Young!) and the rennaisance of Chris Masters and Tyler Reks – two guys I couldn’t have cared less for until recently. That’s not to mention current Wrestlegasm favourite Zack Ryder (or, as my favourite commentator Scott Stanford calls his team with Primo, Long Island Iced Z and Primo Colada.)

See? That’s something else you’re missing out on! Rather than having to sit through the interminably dull meanderings of Jerry Lawler and Booker T, or the confusingly genius annoyance that is Micheal Cole, Superstars has commentary from the amazing Scott Stanford and Jack Korpela (the man who “has your back” in the “Please buy our PPV on Sky Box Office” videos) as well as Matt Striker (and you know what we think of Striker here in The Bunker)

If you listen carefully, you can hear Boss Lady Ray swoon at the wink

Anyway, the long and short of it is Superstars was great and you didn’t watch it. Because you didn’t watch it, it’s been cancelled. Cause and effect people… you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

PS. The main event from Superstars last week was a really fun Mixed Tag match that you should probably watch. Click here and see what you were missing out on. You can thank me later.

all-female wrestling: a woman’s view

Over the past 24 hours a discussion has been circulating on Twitter concerning the fact that Pro-Wrestling: Eve has been accused of being sexist and bad for the wrestling business. Pro-Wrestling: Eve is a new, all-female, UK based wrestling promotion. Their first show (the DVD of which Andrew will be reviewing soon) took place in May and the next takes place on the 16th of this month at The Delphi Club, Sudbury, Suffolk. It has been intriguing to watch it start-up and we’re looking forward to seeing how it evolves.
Why Pro-Wrestling: Eve has been singled out, I don’t know. The wrestling industry is often unfathomable.  If Pro-Wrestling: Eve is discriminatory, why isn’t Shimmer, for example? The comments bring up issues that are more wide-reaching than just one single promotion. Is a women-only promotion sexist? Well, it kind of depends on your definition of the term. If you believe that anything excluding the opposite sex as a matter of course is sexist, then yes, I suppose it is. It’s tricky though, isn’t it? Nothing is ever quite that black and white. If someone launched a wrestling franchise that was advertised as exclusively for male competitors, there would be an outrage. It would seem unfair and unjust.
So what’s the difference? The difference is that, to claim that an all-women’s promotion is sexist, it suggests that male and female competitors within the wrestling industry are all working on a level playing field. If you think they are, you’re dreaming. When was the last time you watched a WWE pay-per-view, or even a WWE weekly show, where women were involved in the main event? And when I say ‘involved’ I mean competing. I do not mean draped over the arm of one of the male competitors. As an aside, I’m discussing WWE because it is generally considered the ultimate goal for any wrestler. Love it or hate it, wanting to be gainfully employed by the biggest wrestling company on the planet is a perfectly reasonable aspiration.
To be honest, I’m just pleased when a Divas match gets booked for a WWE PPV. I then spend the actual match gripping the arms of my recliner repeating pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood in my head until it ends. This has nothing to do with the talent of the women on the roster. It’s more about the way they’re presented and the pitiful amount of time they’re given to build feuds and tell stories in the ring. I’ve mentioned my frustration that women within the WWE are treated like second-class citizens and have to fight for airtime on several occasions. Having recently watch Maria Kanellis’ shoot interview on Highspots.TV, my suspicion that the Divas themselves are even more frustrated than the viewers was confirmed.
I almost wish WWE hadn’t made the third and supposedly final series of NXT all-female. Call me a cynic, but they knew all too well that NXT was being cancelled by SyFy. They knew they’d have less time to play with. With Michael Cole trashing it every week they’re all but admitting they know it’s terrible and they don’t care. What it does do is give WWE a tentative excuse if anyone suggests that they don’t give the Divas enough TV time. It’ll be a case of ‘Hey, we gave them a chance to have their own show and it was terrible. Nobody watched it. So we’ll assume nobody wants to watch women’s wrestling.’ But that argument will only be valid if WWE had made the best possible show they could have. Making a deliberately awful programme does not win your argument.
Even on this week’s Smackdown, which was an opportunity for WWE to showcase its talent to a new audience on a new American TV network, the Divas action was short and interfered with by Hornswoggle. Only knowing that Beth Phoenix is almost healthy, the fact Natalya has a much-deserved title shot at Hell in a Cell and the brilliant comedy timing of LayCool excites me at the moment.
A few months ago I wrote a post about the lack of intergender matches in mainstream wrestling and I mentioned the issues surrounding the conflict between kayfabe and reality. I won’t repeat the whole piece, but it’s worth mentioning again the fact that televised wrestling really struggles with placing men and women on the same physical level. If wrestling is an alternate universe where absolutely anything can happen (and it does), there should be no argument that men and women fighting each other is a thumbs up for violence against women, yet it’s used as an excuse keep men and women apart all the time.
Without independent wrestling promotions, and especially those showcasing women as the main product, how on earth will women get an opportunity to truly wrestle? Surely if there are more opportunities for women to perform, everyone wins. The competitors improve their skills and the audience is even better entertained.  Who could possibly complain about seeing a great show? I’ve watched hours upon hours of all-female wrestling over the past few months and I’m regularly blown away by their athleticism and wrestling ability. In fact, the more I see, the more it frustrates me that so few people get to see it and enjoy it as I have.
The truth is, if women in wrestling had exactly the same opportunities as men, nobody would mind if all-female promotions (or all-male ones, for that matter) existed. I’m genuinely pleased and even excited that Pro-Wrestling: Eve is in business, promoting women and giving them a platform they’d struggle to find within mixed promotions. How something that allows women to progress within wrestling can be damaging to the business is beyond me. If you don’t want it to succeed, I would suggest you don’t want women to succeed in wrestling at all.

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.

wrestlegasm’s top 10 female wrestlers – part 1

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, based on my unabashed man-crush on William Regal, I am not only heterosexual but also married. Being married to a woman who doesn’t watch wrestling whilst being a fan of women’s wrestling can lead to a few raised eyebrows at the least, not to mention a number of disparaging comments. While this can be excused (and even expected) during something such as the lingerie matches or gravy bowl matches of old, or during a Kelly Kelly match; sometimes even a depraved character such as myself enjoys watching a women’s wrestling match for the actual wrestling.

As March is Women’s History Month (a fact that, perhaps ironically, was brought to my attention by Ray has been kind enough to allow me to do a brief write-up on my Top 10 favourite women wrestlers. These are all women that I feel have a huge amount of wrestling ability, and get by based on that rather than how good they might look in a bikini. Having said that, I don’t mean to imply that any of these women wouldn’t look good in a bikini – I’m still a bloke after all.

A couple of pointers before we start. First of all, this list is only including current wrestlers. The reason for this is that I hope that at least some of you may have your interest piqued enough to look up a few matches by these women. If they are still wrestling it gives you something to look for in the future. Also, this list only contains ten wrestlers, primarily for two reasons.

1.    It’s a traditional number for lists, and I am nothing if not a traditionalist
2.    I’m quite lazy, so couldn’t be bothered doing write-ups for more than ten

Unfortunately, confining the list to only ten current wrestlers does mean that a lot of great women have to be missed out; women like the hugely influential Trish Stratus, Lita (who was partly responsible for my resurgent interest in wrestling back in my twenties, the criminally misused and underrated Molly Holly, the always enjoyable Vimto-loving national treasure that is Jetta, and my guilty pleasure Mickie Knuckles to name a few. That’s without even going back and looking at managers such as Sunny or Sherri Martel, or older stars such as The Fabulous Moolah or Mildred Burke. That being said, the ten wrestlers listed should be enough to get you interested, and if you do enjoy any of the videos linked then I’ve done my job.

Also, the more well known the wrestler, the less I’ll be writing about them. Let’s be honest; you’ll all be pretty familiar with, for example, Mickie James’ work in WWE – but you might not be as familiar with Cheerleader Melissa’s pre-TNA career. So I’ll be concentrating on the wrestlers and aspects of their careers that you will hopefully be able to learn a couple of bits from.

Historically wrestling promotions haven’t treated women with the greatest of respect, although a lot of indie promotions still pay women more than men as they apparently “perform the double duty of wrestling and being eye candy.” The WWE (and, as much as I hate to admit it, TNA) have both upped their game lately in this regard, but companies such as CHIKARA and Ring of Honor have generally treated female wrestlers just as well as their male counterparts for longer. Unsurprisingly though, it’s still the all-female promotions that are the best places to watch women’s wrestling. Chicago-based Shimmer is probably the most successful and best known but there is also an all-women promotion currently starting up in the UK called Pro-Wrestling Eve which looks promising (and not just because they listed me as a Follow Friday on Twitter once) so they could hopefully be one to watch. The other “current” all-female promotion is Wrestlicious; which, despite featuring a number of very talented female wrestlers (including two from my list and one current WWE star) I find very hard to recommend.

Of all the wrestlers on my list, LuFisto will probably be the most controversial. After all, this is a woman who regularly competes against men in deathmatches (a “privilege” she had to fight for.) For those of you not in the know, deathmatch wrestling is a predominantly male orientated niche, involving a multitude of weapons such as barbed wire, fluorescent light tubes and the like.

Born Genny Goulet in Quebec, Lufisto debuted in 1997 and, after working the usual role of valet, became the first woman to win a male championship title in Quebec, winning the ICW Provincial Championship (just one in a string of firsts) In 2002 she was booked to compete for the Canadian Blood, Sweat & Ears promotion in the main event against a male wrestler called Bloody Bill Skullion. Unfortunately the Ontario Athletics Commission would not allow the match to go ahead, due to a rule banning women from wrestling men in Ontario. This would essentially ban LuFisto from wrestling in Ontario, as there was a dearth of female wrestlers who were working the same style as her. After lodging a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, LuFisto managed to get the regulation dropped, allowing her to forge a successful career in Ontario, before moving back to Quebec to wrestle for the NWA and set up “Onyx and LuFisto’s Torture Chamber” – a wrestling school at which she is co-head trainer.

LuFisto has gone to find success in the United States as well as Canada, becoming the first ever female Combat Zone Wrestling Iron Man Champion, as well as the first woman to compete in both the CZW Cage of Death match and the CZW Best of the Best tournament. She has also had a series of acclaimed matches for the Shimmer promotion, including twice being named #1 contender for the Shimmer Championship.

In June 2009, alongside Stephane Bruyere, LuFisto set up the NCW Femmes Fatales promotion in Montreal, helping to create an extra market for female wrestlers in Canada.

Warning: the following video does involve some deathmatch clips and blood, so if that’s not something you want to see – don’t watch it.

Former valet of Matt “Evan Bourne” Sydal, and current head trainer for all-female promotion Shimmer, Daizee Haze is the next entry on my list. Trained by ex-WWE & ECW star Kid Kash and current Chikara and ROH star Delirious, Daizee Haze’s gimmick is that of a “hippy-stoner” – a tribute to her hippy dad who died when she was 15.

After debuting in 2002 for the Missouri-based Gateway Championship Wrestling promotion, Haze became Matt Sydal’s manager in both IWA Mid-South and Ring of Honor in 2004. Despite women’s wrestling not being common in ROH at the time, Haze entered into a feud with Allison Danger (random fact: Allison Danger is the sister of ex-ECW star Steve Corino and the wife of current Chikara star Ares, as well as being the co-founder of Shimmer.)

Haze went on to have great success in both ROH and it’s sister promotion Shimmer, although she has never held the Shimmer Championship. Haze also appeared in TNA on a few occasions in 2003 alongside Matt Sydal, at one point losing a mixed tag match against Julio Dinero and Alexis Laree (the future Mickie James.) Haze also took part in the Wrestlicious tapings as Marley Sebastian, although as that episode hasn’t been broadcast yet who knows how embarrassing it may be…

The first really well known wrestler on my list, Mickie James will be well known to you all from her huge successes in WWE. However, she had already had a reasonably successful career on the indie wrestling circuit as Alexis Laree. An ex-dancer, James debuted as a valet for KYDA Pro Wrestling at the age of 20, going on to manage Tommy Dreamer to win the KYDA Pro Heavyweight Championship.

After making the move from valet/manager to wrestler, James continued to train, attending camps at Dory Funk Jr’s Funking Conservatory and the original ECW dojo run by Taz. Like many of the women on this list, James worked for ROH for a while, before joining TNA and becoming a member of Raven’s “Gathering,” a stable also featuring Julio Dinero and CM Punk. Whilst there she became the first, and to date only, woman to take part in a Clockwork Orange House of Fun match (and yes, I am well aware how stupid a name that is for a match.)

James eventually (after an apparent 2 years of phone calls and tapes being submitted) signed a WWE developmental contract in 2004, being placed in the then developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling. After a year of mainly tag matches (and a much-coveted Halloween Costume Competition victory) James was entered into a tournament for the OVW Television Title, defeating Mike Mondo (later Mikey of the WWE’s Spirit Squad stable) in the first round, before being beaten by Bobby Lashley (then wrestling as Blaster Lashley) in the second.

After feuds with both Beth Phoenix and Shelly Martinez (ECW’s Ariel), James left OVW and started a very successful stint as Trish Stratus’ obsessive fan, a role which soon moved onto the lesbian stalker angle we all know and love. This angle culminated in a very enjoyable Wone’s Championship match at Wrestlemania 22 in which Mickie won the title.

Following this, James had a numbe rof sucessful feuds against the likes of Lita, Melina and Beth Phoenix, before recently being thrown into the now infamous (at least in Wrestlegasm circles) “Piggie James” angle against Michelle McCool and Layla. Ray has covered this particular angle in much more detail than I will, suffice to say that when James recovers from the staph infection that’s keeping her out at the moment, we’ll be hoping for a slightly happier ending to that feud.

While arguably better known to a wider audience for her recent stint in TNA as both Raisha Saeed and Alissa Flash, Melissa Anderson (a second generation wrestler) has had a successful career for promotions like Chickfight and Shimmer. After training under Christopher Daniels and Bryan Danielson, Melissa’s cheerleader gimmick came about after she was a valet for an Ice Hockey themed tag team known as the Ballard Brothers (and yes Ray, I’m aware that there are no cheerleaders in Ice Hockey)

After having her debut match on her 17th birthday, Melissa was chosen to train in Japan alongside Taylor Methany from WWE’s Tough Enough program. This led to a certain amount of internet exposure for her, thus ending her valet career and transforming her into a full time wrestler. Melissa went on to perform at the first 10 Chickfight tournaments, defeating ex-WWE star Jazz to win Chickfight 5, and British wrestler Eden Black to win Chickfight 7. Melissa also had a couple of suns with Canadian promotion Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, feuding against Natalya Neidhart (then Nattie Neidhart) as well as having a try-out match on WWE Heat against Victoria in 2006.

Melissa has also appeared for Shimmer at all of their events to date, even competing in their first ever Hardcore Rules and Last Woman Standing matches against MsChif. This feud spread across Shimmer and the UK-based Real Quality Wrestling, although the Melissa and MsChif eventually formed a tag team, taking on the likes of sara Del Rey and Awesome Kong.  It was in 2008 however, that Melissa gained her first international TV exposure, accompanying Awesome Kong in TNA as Raisha Saeed. Although her first few appearances were in managerial role, at 2008’s Lockdown Saeed and Kong had a steel cage tag match against Gail Kim and ODB. This led to a number of tag matches, eventually culminating in the tournament to determine the first TNA Knockouts Tag Champions. During this tournament the team fell apart, leading to a match against each other with Kong won; essentially ending the team for good.

Melissa returned to TNA in May 2009, having a “try-out” match as Cheerleader Melissa defeating Daizee Haze. A number of sporadic losing appearances, now under the name of Alissa Flash, eventually led to a win over Cody Deaner due to the interference of a number of other Knockouts. Alissa Flash didn’t score her first unassisted victory until November, although as TNA neglected to use her again after that match, she requested and was granted her release in January 2010.

Now known as Tara in TNA, I’ll stick with Victoria through personal preference. Originally a body-builder and fitness model, Victoria (born Lisa Marie Varon) met Chyna who encouraged her to get in touch with WWE to train as a wrestler. After training with then developmental territories Memphis Championship Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling, she debuted on Raw as one of the Godfather’s “Hos”    before entering a feud as Trish Stratus, somebody she had met earlier while working as a fitness model. This earlier meeting was to be used in the WWE to build the storyline, with Victoria being a demented character out for revenge after Trish had apparently betrayed her during this previous career.

Victoria went on to defeat Stratus for the Women’s Championship at Survivor Series 2002 in a hardcore match, although the feud continues through to Wrestlemania XIX when she dropped the title back to Trish in a triple threat match.  Later that year Victoria took part in the first ever Women’s Steel Cage Match in WWE where she defeated Lita. After this, and entering into a feud with then Women’s Champion Molly Holly, Victoria turned face. After regaining the championship by beating Molly, their rematch at Wrestlemania XX was a Hair vs Title match which Victoria won, leading to Molly Holly being shaved bald.

Victoria soon turned heel again though, leading Vince’s Devils (Victoria, Candice Michelle and Torrie Wilson) against the likes of Ashley Massaro and Trish Stratus. Victoria’s character was boosted soon after by her more vicious nature coming through, legitimately breaking the noses of Candice Michelle and Michelle McCool, as well as the jaw of Beth Phoenix (in her debut WWE match). After retiring from the WWE in January 2009, Victoria has continued training in Mixed martial Arts and has returned to pro-wrestling as part of TNA, winning the Knockouts Title 3 times to date.

So that’s it for this part. A couple of very well known wrestlers, and 3 who might not so familiar to you. Hopefully you’ve learnt a little and enjoyed the videos. I’ll be getting the second part (Ranks 1-5) together very soon, but if you have any questions about women’s wrestling I’ll be happy to access the secret geek part of my brain and see if I can help.