As a fan of women’s wrestling, I was thrilled when Kick Out at Two did No Men November. I’m equally thrilled that they haven’t waited another full year to book their next female guest.
Aria Blake is only a few years into her career, but she’s off to a fast start. She’s an ACW Women’s Champion who has worked for SHINE, Girl Fight, and many other promotions. She’s a student of Jay Lethal, and this week, she’s sharing her story on the podcast.
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Get to know today’s indy wrestlers. They are the stars of the future.
I got home from NXT in Louisville last night to see this pleasant surprise on my Facebook feed:
LuFisto has been called a lot of things in her career. When she first started training, she was told she was too small. Later, she was told she was too “big.” When she applied for the last round of WWE Tough Enough, it was implied that she was too “experienced.”
LuFisto is a warrior who has survived injuries, disappointments, and heartaches. She felt like giving up so many times, but so far, she’s refused to quit. Yesterday she traveled to Florida for a show. As she put it, she is “going back home with a heavier bag.”
LuFisto is one of the wrestlers who made me fall in love not with women’s wrestling but independent wrestling. She’s a hard-hitting showstopper, and a must-see any time she’s in town. She is gracious with fans and fellow wrestlers alike. She is a class act who was willing to give a budding wrestling writer one of his first interviews. For that, I will always be grateful and always be a fan.
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.
Monday night the WWE gave us a great video recap of the Sasha Banks-Bayley classic from NXT: Takeover. They put the camera on Sasha so she could get a nice ovation. And then… we got Nikki vs Naomi.
Maybe they’re working us, but it sure felt like a big step back in this so-called “revolution.”
Until the WWE fully commits to this revolution, women’s wrestling fans need to put their money where their mouths are. Support women’s wrestling locally. Support it online. Support Shimmer, SHINE, Girl Fight, Femme Fatale, WSU, Empress, and other women’s only shows.
Imagine if one of those promotions really took off and filled the void the WWE refuses to fill. Now that would be a revolution!
I write about wrestling. I do not aspire to write for a wrestling show or promotion or work for one in any way. I do not pretend to know how to book things better than the people who are booking for any promotion, big or small, national or local.
That said, I think it’s obvious to just about everyone watching that something is not right with this Diva’s Revolution.
The WWE held three shows in a row in the same building. On Saturday night, Sasha Banks and Bayley stole the show. They tore the house down, they held the crowd in the palm of their hands, they put on the match of the night.
Before that even happened, 15,000 plus chanted for a young woman named Blue Pants. When Big Cass’s voice started singing “The Price is Right” theme over the sound system, the fans blew the roof off the building for a woman who isn’t even signed to the company!
And then, Monday night happened. Same building. A lot of the same fans. Completely different reaction.
Something is wrong.
No, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, I do not believe it’s because no one wants to see women wrestle.
I’m not going to offer suggestions and fixes. Again, I write about wrestling, and I’m not going to pretend I know how to fix it. I am going to say that if the WWE blows this, that doesn’t mean women’s wrestling is dead. I’ve seen first hand that it’s alive and well. Women are main eventing with each other, competing one on one with men, and selling out arenas even when no men are on the card.
Let’s hope someone at WWE who knows how to book wrestling gives the women on the main roster the booking they have EARNED and deserve. Meantime, don’t wait for Vince and Co. to get it right. Go see an indy show and see for yourself how things should be.
There are women all over the wrestling world. Some wrestle, some work as valets and managers, and some wear the black and white stripes. While many promotions (especially a certain large promotion) still treat them as eye candy and restroom break matches, others are realizing that women can not only wrestle as good as the boys, they can main event AND steal the show.
I’m working on a new project to pay honor to the women of wrestling. If you’re a current, former, or even aspiring wrestler, I want your best story for this new project.
Here’s how you can be involved.
Option 1. Send me an email at email@example.com with a 2-3 sentence bio and your best story. It can be something that happened in the ring, in training, on the road, or in the locker room. It can be funny, it can be touching, or it can be the best match you ever had. (Would like to keep it PG, but if it’s really, really good, will consider any story.) And please, send a photo that you have the rights to that I can use. (If the photo belongs to a photographer, please get their permission or have them send me an email granting permission to use it.)
Option 2. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact info so that I can get in touch and write down your story. I know not everyone’s as good at writing things down, so if you prefer to share it orally, we will work that out. I’ll still need a photo, too.
The tentative deadline for this project is September 1.
Update: I’ve had a few people ask what kind of stories I am looking for in the book. Right now, I’m looking for anything and everything, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Stories about training
Stories about family – how you told them you were going to be a wrestler; how they have supported (or not supported) you
Stories from the road – funny things, scary things, crazy things (try to keep it PG, or at least PG-13)
Stories about matches – best you ever had, worst you ever had, funniest thing that ever happened
Stories about fans
Stories about discrimination – what’s it like trying to break in and be taken seriously in a male-dominated sport?
Stories about injuries
The end goal is to show people that the women of pro wrestling are dedicated road warriors who can fight, talk, and draw money just as good as the boys. This is about shining a light on women’s wrestling in order to make believers and fans out of people who have never seen real women’s wrestling.
Please pass this on to any women connected to the wrestling business with a good story to tell. Or email me at email@example.com for more info.