Remember Who Started The Revolution

11882266_1060478073985571_1326424868613623308_oThe 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.

https://youtu.be/UVl-nqiQTuk

The Legacy of Chyna

“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.

https://youtu.be/buj8adryms4

All CHIKARA, All the Time

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.

Visit CHIKARA Pro Wrestling’s website for more information.

CHIKARA Pro Wrestling Takes on Human Slavery

On February 6, CHIKARA Pro Wrestling is planning a huge card in celebration of National Pro Wrestling Day. Their Facebook page is promising a stacked card, but what’s truly special about this event, however, is that they plan to make this a fundraiser to fight human trafficking. This is a cause that isn’t talked about enough, one that I support through a number of charities personally. As CHIKARA releases more information I’ll post here, but for now, here’s CHIKARA Grand Champion Princess Kimber Lee with the announcement.

Click here to visit the official web page for the February 6 event.

Bravo, CHIKARA. Way to make a difference in our world.

Why are you doing that spot?

lufistoA few days ago a video went viral showing wrestler Chris Dickinson tossing female wrestler Kimber Lee around the ring like a rag doll. I’m not going to post it here; you can Google it if you haven’t seen it. While a close look at the video shows you that the moves were delivered in a safe manner to protect Lee, it is a brutal and violent video.

I was very happy to see LuFisto’s response to this video go viral as well. LuFisto didn’t judge, but as a long time veteran who has taken her share of violent, inter-gender bumps, she asks some very important questions that all indy wrestlers – male and female – need to ask themselves.

You can read LuFisto’s comments here, and if you are an aspiring wrestler, I strongly suggest you not only read them, but really think about what she has to say.

While I’m at it, let me add to the chorus of those responding to LuFisto’s lament about never making it to the WWE. LuFisto is everything that is right about today’s indy wrestling. She is a class act who loves her fans and never disappoints in the ring. She makes those she works with better, and no matter who’s on the card above or below her, she is always one of the most memorable matches of the night.

I’ve seen LuFisto live twice in the last year. She tore the house down against Crazy Mary Dobson and Lylah Lodge. There were at least five or six other matches on the cards both nights, but I’d be doing well to tell you who was in more than one or two of those other matches.

Success can be defined in many ways. Making it to the WWE is one definition, but can you really call it success when you go from stealing the show in the indies to being in an eight-diva tag match that lasts three minutes? The brawls LuFisto, Crazy Mary, and Lylah put on here in Southern Indiana over the last year were far better than any televised “Diva” match in the last five. (NXT excluded.)

When LuFisto hangs her boots up for the last time, no one who truly love pro wrestling will look at her career as a failure. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her in the ring and out, and it was my honor to feature her in Eat Sleep Wrestle. She’s created an incredible legacy for herself and despite all her self-doubts, pains, and frustrations, she’s showing no sign of giving up just yet. That’s a win for her and for everyone who enjoys real wrestling.

Shane Helms put it best when he responded to her earlier this week. “Someone find LuFisto and tell her that’s she’s absolutely wrong about one thing. She’s not a failure. She’s a f’n badass!” High praise, and well deserved.