Women’s wrestling matches in the WWE were once called popcorn matches. It’s the match you got up and left to get popcorn and a drink or use the bathroom so you wouldn’t miss the next match. In all fairness, women’s wrestling in the WWE was, for a long time, not that great. It was exhibition, not wrestling, and thankfully, that era is over.
That said, the WWE is far behind the rest of the wrestling world when it comes to women’s wrestling. Women are in the main event more often than men. Women wrestle toe to toe with the men in many places. And some women, like Mickie Knuckles and Randi West, are consistently stealing the whole show wherever they go.
The clips below are from a PWF show two weeks ago. The ladies are currently “suspended” from the promotion due to what happens in the video below. Apparently, they picked the wrong car to mess with. It takes me back to one of the first indie shows I ever attended, when I saw Heidi Lovelace (Ruby Riot) and Jordynne Grace destroy each other in the parking lot during a “Falls Count Anywhere in Clark County” match at IWA Mid-South.
The clip does contain some language. Give it a look, and tell me you’d get up and go to the bathroom when these two ladies take the ring. I dare you.
What’s better than seeing two of your favorite wrestlers matched in the ring? When the promoter of said match posts it for free online!
I first saw Jordynne Grace about three years ago in a “Falls Count Anywhere in Clark County” match at IWA Mid-South. It was a brutal affair between Jordynne and Heidi Lovelace that spilled out into the parking lot (but sadly, not much further). Jordynne won thanks to an assist from the notorious Kongo Kong, but both women left no doubt as to their toughness.
Grace has grown a lot in the last three years. She’s been tagging with another favorite of mine, LuFisto, and she’s getting high profile title shots like this one at Battle Club Pro against the notorious Mr. Darius Carter. Watch the match below, and be on the lookout for both of these young stars in your area.
The WWE deserves credit for changing how they book women’s wrestling. Instead of looking solely at women’s bodies and looks, they are now signing women who have dedicated their lives to becoming wrestlers. Kimber Lee, Heidi Lovelace, and Evie continue a trend that will, in time, produce a women’s division that rivals the men’s in terms of star power and quality matches.
That said, we must be careful not to let the WWE rewrite the narrative of this women’s revolution. As much as I know they hope to take credit for changing the face of women’s wrestling, what’s happened to the WWE is an effect of what already happened at the independent level.
The women’s wrestling revolution belongs to the fans who demanded more. It belongs to every man and woman who ever attended Shimmer, Shine, Girl Fight, WSU, or any number of women’s shows. It belongs to the people who did not go to get popcorn when the women came out at their local indie show. It belongs to the people who chanted “Let’s go Heidi!” “Kim-ber Lee!” and my personal favorite, “Mary’s gonna kill you!” (WWE fans take note – this must follow Crazy Mary Dobson to the WWE!)
The revolution also belongs to the trainers who were committed to creating wrestlers and not divas, legends like Lance Storm, DJ Hyde, Danny Davis, the Dudley Boys, and others too numerous to mention. It belongs to promoters who gave women the chance to shine not only against one another, but against men. It belongs to the men and women who put women in the main event and put their most prestigious titles – including the Grand Championship of CHIKARA – on women who had earned it.
Most of all, it belongs to the women who chose wrestling not because it was a stepping stone to acting or modeling, but because they could not see themselves doing anything else. It belongs to the rising stars of the WWE and NXT. It belongs to women like Veda Scott, LuFisto, Mickie Knuckles, Kelly Klein, Tessa Blanchard, Randi West, Su Yung, Taeler Hendrix, Britt Baker, Rachael Ellering, Amazing Maria, Leva Bates, and Samantha Heights, who are grinding it out night after night in the hopes of filling the spots that have just opened at the top of the independent ranks. It belongs to the young women now taking their first bumps in the hopes of following a trail that now stretches further than it ever has in the business of wrestling.
The WWE deserves credit, not for changing women’s wrestling, but for recognizing that it has already changed. Yes, it is a revolution, but the revolutionaries are not in an office in Stanford. They’re in the ring, every night, putting their bodies on the line for a sport they love.
Heidi Lovelace isn’t interested in being the best women’s wrestler in the world. She wants to be the best, period, and she’s not afraid of any woman OR man. Her resume of accomplishments against the ladies is impressive enough, but her accomplishments against the guys keep racking up. She’s breaking new ground, everywhere she goes, and she’s proven she can hang with anyone.
A1 Wrestling in Ontario put together a terrific video package on her recent run to the Alpha Male Championship. If you’ve never seen Heidi in action, you will become a fan.
“In 1999, I was fighting guys and winning my first male championship. People laughed at me and workers beat me up because I was ‘The girl trying too hard.’ Well. There was someone like me was on TV. I had a model. A strong woman who wasn’t afraid to fight anybody. That was Chyna.” – LuFisto
“Chyna was the reason I started wrestling…. Horrible news to wake up to.” – Kimber Lee
At the height of her wrestling career, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer was hailed as the Ninth Wonder of the World. She was a Women’s World Champion in a time before “Divas.” She was a founding member of Degeneration-X. She was the first women to enter the Royal Rumble and the first woman to lay claim to the prestigious WWF Intercontinental Champion. She wasn’t the first woman to wrestle men, but her feuds with Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and others paved the way for shows like Gender Wars, the men vs. women events now being promoted by Mad Man Pondo. Chyna blazed a trail for many women who now regularly wrestle with and against men including Heidi Lovelace, Candice LeRae, LuFisto, and CHIKARA Grand Champion Kimber Lee.
Many fans today don’t know Chyna’s true legacy. Corporate politics and her own personal demons have excluded her from the WWE Hall of Fame and multiple D-X reunions. Chyna was a pioneer worthy of recognition with legends like Mildred Burke and the Fabulous Moolah.
If you are in the Midwest and you haven’t seen a Girl Fight show, you’re missing out.
Tonight’s show at The Arena in Jeff played to a packed crowd of 165 plus. It was standing room only in the back, and the crowd got their money’s worth and more.
The Jeff show featured 19 wrestlers from across the US and Canada, and the ladies brought it. Crazy Mary Dobson and Cheerleader Melissa put on an intense, stellar match while Taeler Hendrix and Truth Martini earned the ire of the crowd with a delightful heel performance in the main event.
The biggest surprise of the night had to be the weapons match between Heather Owens and Samantha Heights. It felt like a mismatch to me at first; I’ve seen Samantha Heights on a number of occasions, and while she’s always been a big talker, she didn’t strike me as the hardcore type. Heights proved she belongs by taking an end-over-end stunner from Heather Owens. She’s come a long way in the past few years, and from the crowd reaction, tonight felt like a star-making moment for her.
Mad Man Pondo took to the ring at intermission to announce the April 12 show will be a first ever in Louisville inter-gender show, Gender Wars, and the card for that show could not be more stellar:
Randi West vs. John Wayne Murdoch
Samantha Heights vs. Ron Mathis
Thunderkitty vs. Tracy Smothers
Crazy Mary Dobson vs. Aaron Williams
Heidi Lovelace vs. Shane Mercer
And your main event…
Mad Man Pondo vs. Jessica Havok – falls count anywhere.
Inter-gender wrestling isn’t for everyone. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan. But Pondo’s put together a promising, entertaining card featuring a number of my personal favorites. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next show is even more crowded than tonight.
CHIKARA Pro Wrestling is completely unique among contemporary wrestling promotions. They don’t view themselves as rasslin’ or sports entertainment but a completely different entity, a comic book brought to life. CHIKARA has its detractors, but its fans can’t get enough of the colorful characters, crazy masks, high flying antics, and fan interaction.
CHIKARA doesn’t travel extensively. Their dates are limited, and being based out of Philly, they stick mostly to the Eastern United States. Thankfully, fans across the country can binge on CHIKARA thanks to their online channel, CHIKARATOPIA.
CHIKARATOPIA is available on the web and on Roku through the CHIKARA channel. The channel gives you a live stream 24/7 of CHIKARA action plus access to all fifteen “seasons” of CHIKARA – over 600 hours of wrestling in all. The Roku menu is fairly simple, allowing you to browse by season and then by show. The show descriptions do not give you a lot of detail so if you’re looking for a particular performer or match, you may have to look online.
CHIKARATOPIA runs $7.99 a month, and there are discounts if you pay for 6 months or 12 months in advance. They also offer a free 7 day trial with all new subscriptions.
From my own personal experience, CHIKARA is a promotion best experienced live. It’s fun to watch on TV, but TV doesn’t capture the fun-filled atmosphere that is CHIKARA live. CHIKARA is more interactive than any wrestling promotion today, in the ring, out of the ring, and in the so-called real world. They have some truly original performers you won’t see anywhere else like Dasher Hatfield, Ophidian the Cobra, and the various “Ant” men as well as some of the most talented rising stars today including Heidi Lovelace, Chuck Taylor, and current Grand Champion Kimber Lee. I strongly recommend seeing them live if you get the opportunity, but for those who can’t get there (or can’t get enough) CHIKARATOPIA is a nice way to fill the gap.
The first time I saw Kongo Kong was when he shoved me out of his way.
It was January 2014. Heidi Lovelace and Jordynn Grace were embroiled in a “Falls Count Anywhere in Clark County” match in Clarksville, Indiana for IWA Mid-South. Predictably, the match went out into the parking lot, and I followed the crowd to the doors, eager to see what would happen. Next thing I knew, I and dozens of other fans were being pushed out of the way by a monster, a giant of a man known as Kongo Kong. Kong forced his way to the front of the crowd, where he flattened Lovelace on the back of a truck trailer. He then carried her back into the building and slid her into the ring so that Grace could secure the easy pin fall.
Lest you get the wrong idea, Kong is no Andy Kaufman. His actions against Lovelace were merely a favor paid to an ally from the heel locker room and not his typical fare. Over the last couple of years Kong has faced legends, Hall of Famers, and the best the independent scene has to offer including Sabu, Rhino, Shane Douglas, Brian Meyers (the former Curt Hawkins), Moose, Scott Steiner, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Chris Hero, and Gangrel.
Kong does not taste defeat often. He’s collected an impressive number of world titles from IWA Mid-South (twice), Northeastern Ontario Wrestling, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and the Funkdafied Wrestling Federation. He first won the IWA Mid-South title in a championship tournament, and he also collected wins in the Ted Petty Invitational, the X-8 Tournament, and the Glory Cup Tournament.
Ian Rotten calls Kongo Kong the best big man he’s ever seen. Considering the ridiculous amount of talent that has come out of IWA Mid-South, that is a huge statement. Kongo Kong is young and hungry, and he is only getting better. He can overpower you with his size and strength, and he’s not afraid to get airborne. He’s a face to watch in 2016, and he is a name you will never forget.
Let’s get one thing straight, WWE marks: Solomon Crowe did not leave NXT. Sami Callihan went home.
I don’t know Sami personally, nor do I know the details of his leaving NXT. I can however assure you that NXT’s loss is the independent scene’s gain.
Sami brings name value to the indy shows he will wrestle in the near future thanks to his recent run with NXT, and that’s great. But for every guy like Sami who gets a shot at the WWE Performance Center, there are dozens putting their bodies on the line in warehouses and gymnasiums and arenas who keep being overlooked.
I don’t say that to demean Sami or anything he has accomplished. That’s a testament to the strength of the current indy wrestling scene.
Not every promotion is equal, but there are more than enough good promotions and good wrestlers out there that you can find one near you that will give you far more bang for your buck than a WWE live event.
If you enjoyed Sami in NXT, go support him when he comes to your town. Be on the look out for other hard working guys like Tim Donst (who beat cancer this year) and Chris Hero (who wrestled over 3 house straight for charity). Check out the Indy Card Mafia, Aaron Williams, Tyson Dux, Mitchell Huff, Marc Hauss, Dash Sullivan, and Daniel Eads.
If you’re a fan of the NXT ladies, annoyed that Sasha Banks has hardly set foot in a ring since her call up, you’re really in luck. The indy women’s scene is booming. Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants, is out there, but she’s only the tip of the iceberg. Mary Elizabeth Monroe, Tessa Blanchard, Havok, LuFisto, Crazy Mary Dobson, and Heidi Lovelace are just a handful of the women who are a threat to steal the show any time they are booked.
It’s almost December. It’s dark outside before 6 pm, and it’s too cold to be outside. This is a great month to go out and see some live wrestling. Support the indy stars by buying a ticket. Get a DVD or a T-shirt for someone on you Christmas list, and buy direct from one of the wrestlers. That way you’re putting some Christmas money in their pocket as well.
Sami Callihan’s best days are not behind him. The indy scene is the future, and the men and women of the indies need our support.
I read a lot about CHIKARA while I was writing Eat Sleep Wrestle. I watched a number of matches from past shows online. I even interviewed their fearless leader, Mike Quackenbush. Tonight I learned that you don’t really know CHIKARA until you see them live, and when you do, you will become a true believer.
Unlike most major independent promotions, CHIKARA is not a star-driven show. Fans who are tuned in to the indie scene will recognize some names and faces, but it’s the promotion itself that is the draw. CHIKARA bills itself as the super lucha fun party, and they deliver on fun from beginning to end.
That’s not to say this is not a serious wrestling promotion. CHIKARA’s roster is filled with talented high fliers and even a few brawlers. Blaster McMassive and Kentucky proud wrestler Chuck Taylor delivered a show stealing brawl right before the main event. But that’s not the reason Chikara continues to add to its fan base in its 15th season.
CHIKARA gives you colorful characters in masks like Dasher Hatfield, Ophidian the Cobra, and the Proletariat Boar of Moldova. CHIKARA gives you heels who toss foreign objects (in this case, a cucumber) to kids in the crowd and later try to get it back from that kid so they can cheat to win. CHIKARA gives you characters like Freshly Squeezed Orange Cassidy, who laid down to take a nap during the opening bout. CHIKARA gives you a tag match, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin vs. Lucas Calhoun and Missile Assault Man, that ends with almost five minutes of slow motion wrestling. This particular match was so much fun, the fans responded with a drawn out, slow motion “This… Is… Awesome…” chant.
CHIKARA is very fan interactive. No insult from the crowd goes unanswered by the heels. Just remember to keep it clean. CHIKARA is PG and kid friendly, and rule number one is no bad language from the wrestlers or fans.
CHIKARA does occasionally feature inter-gender wrestling, which may not sit well with some fans. That said, they currently have Heidi Lovelace on the roster. Heidi is an OVW graduate with a stellar resume who not only excels at inter-gender matches but truly seems to enjoy mixing it up with the boys.
CHIKARA doesn’t travel extensively, and if you’re lucky enough that they pay a visit, the ticket prices may seem a bit high. My ticket tonight was double what I normally pay for local shows, but it was worth it.
This was the first time CHIKARA has ever visited the Louisville area. Given the reactions from the sell out crowd, I doubt it will be their last visit. Check out their website at www.chikarapro,com to see their schedule of upcoming events and watch video online. Thanks to 2 Tuff Tony and the gang at the Arena in Jeffersonville for bringing the best in independent wrestling to town.