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.
This is Aaron Williams, “The Baddest Man Alive.” Aaron had a great weekend because he just won the Pro Wrestling Blitz Heavyweight Champion.
These are my pals Eric Emanon and Thomas Brewington. They had a great weekend as well. They are now the New Phoenix Gemini Tag Team Champions.
And this is the King of Dayton and proud member of Ohio Is 4 Killers, Dave Crist. Dave had a great weekend too. He pinned John Wayne Murdoch clean to become the new IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion.
Why am I telling you about these gentlemen? Because I want you to know them. I want you to follow them. I want you to support them.
As a WWE fan, I know you are aware just how many independent wrestlers have become part of the world’s largest wrestling promotion. A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro all had stellar careers in the indies before making it to NXT and WWE. If you’re also following NXT, then you’re already following the rise of Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Cassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero), Ruby Riot (aka Heidi Lovelace) and the other indy “darlings” the WWE has snatched up recently.
I want you to know that the independent wrestling promotions that Gargano, Ciampa, Hero, Lovelace, and the others left behind are not dying off like the old territories the WWF killed in the 1980s. They are thriving. They are growing not only in popularity, but in quality. I want you to know this because I want you to become a fan.
Yes, it is true, the independent scene is full of green wrestlers, spot monkeys, and guys who only care about getting their s*** in, but there are many men and women and tag teams still working the independents who could easily fill any spot on the NXT or WWE roster right now.
Independent wrestling is growing. There are more promotions in more places than there have been in a generation. Your local promotion(s) may run monthly or weekly, which means you can see live wrestling far more often than you are now with the WWE.
True, the crowds and venues are smaller in the indies, but that also means tickets are more affordable, and your access to the wrestlers is greater. You’re closer to the action and at a much better price, and the heels can actually hear you when you call them names.
And here’s the best part: you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to meet your favorite stars. The T-shirts at the gimmick tables are half of what you’ll pay at a WWE show. Everyone is happy to shake your hand and take a selfie – except maybe Mr. Darius Carter.
I’m not telling you to give up the WWE. I enjoy the Network and NXT as much as any fan. But make no mistake: the WWE and NXT would not be what they are without the INDY scene that has come to be. I’m offering you the chance to see more live wrestling. I’m asking you to give guys like Aaron, Dave, Eric, and Thomas a chance. I want you to get out there and discover other guys like Matt Riddle, Ron Mathis, The Hitman for Hire Mr. Grim, Desmond Xavier, Zachary Wentz, Gary Jay, Chip Day, Murder One, Timmy Lou Retton, Matt Cross, Michael Elgin, Menace, Facade, Jake Crist, Sami Callahan, and Jimmy Rave. I want you to discover the other ladies who fueled the “women’s revolution,” like Kelly Klein, LuFisto, Su Yung, Samantha Heights, Leva Bates (remember Blue Pants?), Mickie Knuckles, Rachel Ellering, Taeler Hendrix, Candice LeRae, Veda Scott, Mia Yim, Allisin Kay, Jessicka Havok, and Jordynne Grace. I want you to discover the amazing tag teams packing houses across the country including the Hooligans, Viking War Party, War Machine, OI4K, and the Carnies. You can even find comedy wrestlers, guys like Colt Cabana, Space Monkey, and the notorious party animal, Joey Ryan.
There’s never been a better time to get into independent wrestling than now. Search a few of these names on YouTube. Find and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Then find a promotion running in your area. I’m not asking you to trade one for the other. Just get out and support the superstars of tomorrow, today. They will not let you down.
Not the blog, but the book, chronicling the stories of people like Mad Man Pondo, Aaron Williams, Tyson Dux, Marc Hauss, Eric Emanon, Mickie Knuckles, and Crazy Mary Dobson?
Fill in your email address in the box on the right side of your screen. Go to your email. Click the button confirming you want to sign up for the Eat Sleep Wrestle email list. You will immediately be taken to a page where you can download the book for free.
I promise not to abuse or sell your email address. I’ll only use it to let you know when cool stuff is happening – like a new book release. There’s one coming very soon!
Just a few notes of things that left a lasting impression after seeing my first NXT show Friday night in Louisville:
It’s not often a heel is sung to the ring by an arena full of fans. I think it’s safe to say Bobby Roode’s theme song is an instant classic.
Ten! Ten! Ten!
There were more “Ten!” chants Friday night than there were chants for anything or anyone else. Tye Dillinger wasn’t in the building, yet he was probably the most over man in the room.
Ciampa and Gargano
The team known as #DIY spent a good 10-15 minutes taking pictures and signing autographs before they got on the bus. Considering it was around 33 degrees and drizzling rain, it was way above and beyond. Those two are a class act.
“Don’t Make Me Come Out There!”
Nothing makes me smile more at a wrestling show than seeing a heel get into it with a kid. Eric Young and a boy seated in the third row had several heated exchanges. Young never made good on his promise to “come out there,” but he made that kid’s night.
You have to see Nakamura in person to fully appreciate how great he is. He has charisma in the ring on a level with the Rock, even without the Rock’s gift for words. Time will tell if his act translates to the main stage.
The former hardcore legend remembered around these parts as Drake Younger was back in the arena before the fans left, taking down the ring. You are never too old or too big to lend a hand and do the work, no matter what your walk of life or what your career choice may be.
I’m starting a series to finish out the year that will look back at some of the best matches in 2016. Today we start with wrestling announcer and super fan Nick Maniwa, whose favorite match came from NXT.
“My favorite match of 2016 was DIY vs the Revival in 2 out of 3 falls for the NXT Tag Team titles from NXT’s Takeover Toronto. Just a damn near perfect tag team contest. All the story telling of years past with the moves of today. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole match. Perfect ending to their feud.”
See an excerpt of the match here, then go to the Network to watch in its entirety!
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.
No Men November concludes this week on the Kick Out at Two Podcast. This week it’s Deonna Purrazzo sharing her stories about life in the ring and on the road. Deanna is a regular with Women of Honor, Shimmer, and Queens of Combat among others and has also been seen on NXT.
Deonna will be on the card this weekend at WrestleCade, doing battle with fellow No Men November guests Veda Scott, Kelly Klein, Rachael Ellering, and one of my regional favorites: Samantha Heights. Fans who stick around the area through Sunday night can also catch her and more at one of the best all female promotions going: Queens of Combat.
Kick Out at Two can be found on iTunes and Soundcloud. Follow them on Twitter @KOATPodcast
There’s a reason I plug the Kick Out at Two Podcast every Thursday. Simply put, it’s the best pro wrestling podcast you’re not listening to, and by far, the best podcast that covers independent wrestling.
Righteous Jesse, the Wilkman, and Bonnaroo Brittany are die-hard fans who have traveled all night from show to show to cover the indies like no one else. Over the last four months they’ve covered Indiana, Georgia, New York, Missouri, Ohio, and Nebraska, just to name a few. They’ve interviewed a number of main event stars, but they also talk to the curtain jerkers and mid-carders, men and women who are struggling to make a name for themselves in today’s vibrant independent scene.
The more home-grown podcasts I listen to, the more I appreciate Kick Out at Two. The professionalism they bring to their commentary, interviews, and production values makes their show as listenable as any high profile podcast on the Internet. If you’ve never been to an independent show, the Kick Out at Two Podcast will give you the bug to try it out for yourself.
This week’s show features not one but three guests: Space Monkey, Curt Stallion, and soon to be NXT star Tommy End. Subscribe now on iTunes or Soundcloud, and discover all that you’ve been missing beyond TV wrestling.
While you were complaining about about the promotion that you routinely pay $9.99 a month to watch, CZW, High Spots, CHIKARA, Rockstar Pro, and others have tried to offer you alternatives – some for less, some for free!
While you were complaining about an ugly title belt, Matt Hardy was busy blowing up the Internet by deleting his own brother.
And lest we forget, you could have been enjoying an independent show where a ticket and a T-shirt costs less than an upper level ticket you complained about buying for the so-called “only” promotion left.
It almost makes you wonder: do the people who complain incessantly about title belts and ticket prices more in love with wrestling or whining?
If you answered wrestling, prove it. Stop complaining and take action. Put your money where your mouth is.
I’m not telling you to cancel your $9.99 subscription. As good as NXT and the CWC have been, you’d be a fool to back out now. But I am telling you to go see a local show, or subscribe to a second network, or look around Youtube and discover what’s out there to watch for free. If even a fraction of the whiners would invest just a few dollars a month in independent wrestling, we might really change the landscape of pro wrestling today.
Support what you love. Stop complaining about what you hate. Prove that you’re a fan and not just a whiner. Let’s pour some fuel on the fire if this indy revolution.