Tagged in: shimmer

Sisterhood of the Squared Circle is a Knock Out

A few years ago I started work on what was going to be a history of women’s wrestling. I did some research, bought a few magazines, reached out to a few ladies about interviews, but ended up setting the project aside for another, and then another. I’m glad I did. Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy have delivered one of the most enjoyable and educational wrestling books I’ve read in a while, and it’s 100 times better than the book I envisioned writing.

Sisterhood of the Squared Circle is both a history and a “who’s who.” They tell the story of women’s wrestling by introducing the reader to the ladies who wrote that history. Every era, from the dawn of the 20th century up until 2017, is thoroughly covered. You’ll meet the pioneers of women’s wrestling, Mildred Burke and Billy Wolfe’s troupe, the women who trained under the Fabulous Moolah, the ladies of GLOW, the legends of Japan, the Divas, the Knockouts, the Shimmer Girls, and the current stars of the WWE.

As much as I enjoyed Pat’s previous collaboration with Bertrand Herbert, Mad Dogs, Midgets, and Screwjobs, he and and Dan have outdone themselves. They cut through the kayfabe storylines and give you the real story behind the fight to legalize wrestling, the battle to legalize intergender wrestling, the checkered legacy of the Fabulous Moolah. They capture the struggle women have faced to be treated as equals, to receive equal pay, and to be taken seriously as wrestlers.

If I have one complaint about the book, it’s a minor one. There simply wasn’t the room to cover every influential woman in wrestling history, and my favorite golden age grappler Elvira Snodgrass is sadly missing. Nevertheless, Sisterhood of the Squared Circle is a solid book and a must read for fans who love the history of this business. It’s enough of a page turner that when my long-awaited copy of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn arrived, Thrawn had to wait his turn until the ladies had their due.

Sisterhood of the Squared Circle is available on Amazon.com. Get it, read it, share it. Bravo, Dan and Pat. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

Orlando is Wrestling Central

I have a lot of friends headed to Orlando this week, and not to see Wrestlemania. My friends are heading to Florida to do what they love most. They are going to wrestle.

Wrestlemania is the biggest wrestling event of the year. It’s become a weekend long celebration of all things WWE including Axxess, NXT, the Hall of Fame, and Raw on Monday. But that’s not even half the wrestling that will take place in Orlando this year. Wrestlers from all over the world will be plying their trade around town in multiple wrestling events.

The list below is by no means complete, but it will give you a good start to jamming as much wrestling action into the weekend as possible.

Much thanks to JB Cool and David Puente for helping me compile this list. If I’ve missed anything, please email me and I’ll be glad to add it.

Go to Wrestlemania, and support indy wrestling!

Fighting Evolution Wrestling Events

Few Survive – 3/30/17 (8pm-10pm)
1. Johnny Knockout vs. Sweet Johnny Velvet
2. Johann Ramzes vs. Jaxen Blade vs. J. Spade
2. Ace Mayham vs. Soco Socorro
4. MDK vs. Anthony Jannanzo
5. Outlaw Matt Lancie vs. Deimos
6. The Hardhitta’s vs. The Guadalupe Brothers
7. Caleb Konley vs. Reggie Rhythm

 

FEW Florida Legends – 3/31/17 (12pm-2pm)
1. Shane Mercer vs. Hy Zaya
2. Amazing Maria vs. Alyssa Skyy
3. Judge Jack Kelley vs Dave Johnson
4. B. Psi Phi vs. Tokyo Monster Kahagas
5. Mikey McNeely vs. Zach Sommer vs. Eric Wayne
6. Apolo vs. Deimos

 

FEW Flares – 3/31/17 (3pm-5pm)

1. Santana Garrett vs. Aerial Monroe
2. Faye Jackson vs. Mila Naniki
3. Kaci Lennox vs. Alyssa Sky vs. Raegan Fire vs. Machiko
4. Rainbow Bright (Luscious Latasha & Gabby Gilbert) vs. The Dollhouse (Marti Belle & Rebel)
5. Lindsay Snow vs. MJ Jenkins vs. Holidead
6. Lea Nox (w/ Abudadein) vs. Britt Baker

FEW Super Party – 3/31/17 (7pm-9pm)
1. Scorpio Sky vs. 2 Cold Scorpio
2. Johann Ramzes vs. Chuckles
3. Alex Chamberlain vs. Sinn Bodhi
4.”Pope” Elijah Burke vs. Sweet Johnny Velvet
5. The Headbangers vs. Cryme Tyme
6. Gangrel vs. Moose Ojinnaka
7. JB Cool vs. Mr. 450 vs. Reggie Rhythm

FEW Lucha Show – 4/1/17 (3pm-5pm)
1. Hijo de Octagon vs. El Conejo Urbano
2. Apolo & El Diablo Rojo vs. The Guadalupe Brothers
3. Ludark vs. Lindsay Snow
4. Scorpio Sky vs. Mr. 450
5. Willie Mack vs. Bestia 666 vs. Rey Horus
6. Mariachi Loco vs. Ricardo Rodriguez
7. Ramses Silver King & Hijo de Mascara Sagrada vs. Hijo de Dr. Wagner & Gronda

FEW Mega Show (ft Micro Championship Wrestling) – 4/1/17 (7pm-9pm)
1. Mini Shiek IRAQ vs. Lieutenant Dan USA
2. King Samoa vs. Cowboy Kidd Quick MCW Championship Match
3. Huggy Cub vs. The Tiny Terror Blixx
4. Midget Rumble
5. Aaron Solow vs. Ricky Starks vs. Facade
6. Lea Nox vs. MJ Jenkins
7. Cryme Tyme & Huggy Cub vs. The Headbangers & Hornswoggle

 

WWN More Than Mania Events

 

CHIKARA Events

Atomic Wrestling Entertainment

WrestleCon Shows

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.

Deanna Purrazzo on Kick Out at Two

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

The Roppungi Rockstar

1931260_964646446946155_2946787253540033552_nThe beautiful thing about the wrestling business is no matter where you are from or who you were, you can become just about anything you want to be. Such is the case with Kaitlin Diemond, a girl from Canada who is not only a wrestler, but a rock star in Japan!

Kaitlin grew up watching wrestling during the Attitude Era. She had a special place in her heart for fellow Canadians Chris Jericho and Trish Stratus, but in her words, “Everyone was so good back then!” She was hooked, and when she had the chance, she started training with Irish Mike O’Shea in Ontario. “I never attended a wrestling school like most people,” she says, though she is always looking for opportunities to learn. “I had the chance to train in the AAA gym in Mexico City and the Zero 1 Dojo in Japan.”

Kaitlin never felt the need to put on an alter ego in the ring. “I’ve always just kind of been myself. I never felt the need to conform because I felt my persona is genuine and the people can feel that.” Kaitlin is a huge fan of karaoke, and that is what led to her call herself the Roppungi Rockstar. “I had the amazing opportunity to record a song and even perform some concerts in Japan. I’m still me, but it’s a fresher take on who I’ve become recently.”

Kaitlin has has many memorable matches in her career, including an encounter with two of the Attitude Era’s fiercest ladies when she wrestled Ivory at age seventeen. “Molly Holly was the special guest referee. It always will be a special moment for me, as I look up to both ladies hugely.”

Another unforgettable moment happened during her recent tour with Zero 1. “My first time wrestling at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo earlier this year is probably the most chills I have ever felt.”

Kaitlin credits her time with Zero 1 with helping her take her talents to the next level. “Japan changed my life completely. The training there is INSANE. So regardless if I look the same/better/worse I can promise you I’m in much better shape as far as conditioning goes. I’ve come back with a much more Japanese strong style of offense. I wrestle more like a monster now and less like everyone else. You may also fall victim to my secret weapon: Sake!”

Kaitlin is hoping to make a name for herself in North America, and she has er sights set on Shimmer, TNA, ROH, and WWE, for whom she has already had a few tryouts. “Are those goals realistic? Who knows? If I am not in any of those places in five years time, I really hope that I am continuing to travel to Japan. Stardom was a huge goal achieved for me this year, and I would love to make it my second home.”

Kaitlin is constantly on the move, visiting new promotions and old, but fans can follow her on Twitter @kaitlindiemond as well as Facebook for updates on her schedule.

Thanks to Austin Bradley for the hook up on the interview!

Mad Man Pondo goes to the library?

My friends at the Daviess County Library in Owensboro, Kentucky have been looking for a professional wrestler to come in and talk about what it’s like to work in the business. They have not one, but two guests coming on December 7, and they couldn’t have found a better choice.

Mad Man Pondo has been wrestling all over the world for two decades. He’s been cut, broken, split open, and electrocuted all in the name of entertaining the fans. He hosted his own controversial public access talk show and used to work for the king of controversial talk shows, Jerry Springer. He’s been a guide and mentor to many of the young stars now working the indies, though he’s too humble to admit it. He’s also the last guy you want in the car on a road trip, according to those same young men who have ridden with him over the last few years.

1797971_699268903502709_2186941647616043393_nPondo will be sharing his stories along side Crazy Mary Dobson. Dobson has only been in the business for four years but is well on her way to becoming a top star. She too is a world traveler, and in the last year, she’s wrestled for Shimmer, Ring of Honor, and NXT and was a main event attraction for Resistance Pro Wrestling in Chicago. She is currently a Tag Team Champion for Juggalo Championship Wrestling alongside Mad Man Pondo.

Both Pondo and Mary were featured in my independent wrestling book, Eat Sleep Wrestle. You can get the book from Amazon in paperback or on Kindle, but just like wrestling, nothing compares to hearing the stories from the people who lived them.

If you’re in the Owensboro or Evansville area, do not miss Mad Man Pondo and Crazy Mary Dobson at the Daviess County Library, December 7 at 6 pm.

Save the Revolution

I hope this is all a work.

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, WSUEmpress, 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!

About this Diva Revolution

1797971_699268903502709_2186941647616043393_nI 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.

Women even have whole promotions and shows dedicated to them. Shimmer. Shine. WSU. Femme Fatale. Girl Fight. That’s just for starters.

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.

Everybody loves Blue Pants!

The best things in professional wrestling are often the things that happen organically. They are not the result of a promoter’s careful planning and execution, but the sum of a dozen or more happy accidents that all fall together. Such is the story of Blue Pants, a woman brought in as enhancement talent at the last minute, who suddenly became a bona fide NXT Superstar.

Like many pro wrestlers, Leva Bates grew up watching wrestling. The daughter of a single mom, she spent a lot of time with the neighbor next door, whose son was a wrestling fan. “We watched it on TV all the time, and we’d occasionally go out to see the matches.” Bates doesn’t recall anyone specific (though her sisters quick to point out one of the highlights was seeing Bill Dundee vs. Jerry Lawler), but she credits those early years will giving her a passion for the sport.

After graduating college with a degree in radio/tv as well as acting, she enrolled at FXC in Florida, where she trained with D-Von Dudley, A.J. Gallant, and Matt Bentley. When D-Von left to start the Team 3D Academy with his tag partner Bubba Ray, Leva followed him. “They both were very hands on and taught everything, but D-Von did a lot of the mat training while Bubba Ray specialized more in match psychology, characters, and mic work.” Bates is a 3-D graduate but still returns to work on things with a personal trainer Dan Carr, who once worked with the American Gladiators.

After leaving school and beginning her wrestling career, Bates did what many wrestlers do: she filled out the application on the WWE’s recruitment page. She got the chance to work a few Raw and Smackdown shows as an extra. Then one day, she got the call that she was going to be on NXT. “It was the day of the show,” she remembers.

Leva showed up in a McChris T-shirt and a pair of blue pants. Prior to the TV taping, they were working out the flow of the show. Enzo and Cass were to come to the ring with Carmella, one of the newest NXT Divas, and when a match with Enzo’s rival Sylvester Lefort didn’t pan out, Enzo would turn to Carmella and ask her if she wanted to wrestle.

“Most of the time, the enhancement workers don’t get an entrance or even their name called. They just appear in the ring after a commercial break, but because of the way this story line was playing out, they had to have a way to bring me out. Triple H was at ringside working with Enzo and Cass. I was backstage with Sara Amato (former indy star Sara Del Ray). Enzo and Cass kept ad libbing different ways of introducing me. I heard Cass say, ‘Hey, you back there with the blue pants! Blue pants, come on down!’ I looked at Sara, and we both laughed. We knew that was it.”

What they did not know was how the fans would respond. “The fans started chanting my name. They started singing the ‘Price is Right’ theme for me. I went along with it and played it up. I was like, ‘Yeah! I wear blue pants! I love my blue pants!’ The fans ate it up, and that was how it took off.”

Blue Pants has become a beloved regular at NXT, facing off with Sasha Banks, Emma, and Dana Brooke. She even got her own theme music – the “Price is Right” theme sung a cappella by Big Cass – and her own Titantron video.

“I was amazed how involved Triple H was, even with that. He was working with the video guy to get just the right image. ‘No, make the pants bigger. No, a little smaller.’ He’s very hands on about everything.”

Being backstage at NXT has been a huge learning and growth experience for Bates. “It’s a completely different level. As a radio/TV grad, it’s really cool seeing the directors and agents and crew who make the show work backstage.”

Bates found the staff at NXT to be especially helpful. She took advantage of every visit to learn from Sara Amato, Albert, Triple H, Michael Hayes, Robby Brookside, and the late Dusty Rhodes.

“The third of fourth time I was there, I was peppering Dusty with questions. I was going on and on, and all of a sudden, Dusty turns and yells, “Shut up, Blue Pants!’ I was like, ‘Dusty??’ He put his arm around me and he said, ‘It’s alright, Blue Pants. It’ll be alright.’”

Bates found a lot in common with Rhodes. “He got yellow polka dots over. I got over with Blue Pants. I don’t know if he ever made the connection, but I did. It was really special.”

Bates is more than just enhancement talent. On the independent scene she is a seasoned veteran and an accomplished main event talent. When I asked her what matches fans should look up to see who Leva Bates is, she pointed to her recent appearance at Resistance Pro Wrestling. “I was against Crazy Mary Dobson, and we were the main event. It was a really great match.”

Bates also talked about her match against Mia Yim during the Shine Women’s Championship. “That was her best,” says her very proud mother.

Bates loves to have fun and has a great sense of humor. That love of fun was especially evident in a match for Shimmer when she faced Marty Bell. Bates is known for cosplay, dressing up as characters from comic books and movies, and on this occasion, she dressed as Pee Wee Herman.

“Before the match, I told the crowd the secret words was Three. Every time the ref would start counting, ‘One, two, three,’ the fans would scream. Marty would twist my arm, the ref would count, and on three, the fans would scream. The coolest thing was the secret word lasted the rest of the night. Any time a ref counted three, the fans screamed!”

Outside the ring, Bates is just as fun-loving and approachable as her in-ring character suggests. After the Girl Fight show in Jeffersonville, Indiana, she was the last of the wrestlers to be at the gimmick tables – no longer selling, but just talking to fans. She only packed up after promoter Madman Pondo fussed at her – three times – to wrap things up. Even then, she delayed Pondo from getting to his post show dinner as she paused to talk and take pictures with fans on her way to the locker room.

As we finished our interview, which took place at a downtown pizza place in Louisville after a show, Crazy Mary Dobson brought a young man over to the table where I was sitting with Bates, her mom, her sister, and nieces. He was an NXT fan, and when he learned who was sitting at the table, he began shouting to the whole restaurant. “It’s Blue Pants! Blue Pants is here! Blue Pants!”

The cheers of Blue Pants led to an “NXT!” chant. Leva blushed at first but began pumping her arms in the air, enjoying the moment just like her alter ego. Yes, she’s an unlikely superstar, but that’s what makes her so darn likable. She’s quirky, she’s fun, and when she hits the ring at NXT, Shimmer, or anywhere else, you’re going to have a good time.

Women of Wrestling: I Want Your Best Story!

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 johncosper@yahoo.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 johncosper@yahoo.com 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 johncosper@yahoo.com for more info.