During the Attitude era when WWF/WWE was the unquestionably the trendsetter of professional wrestling many foundations were laid which are still seen today. Characters, match types and controversial storylines from this period are still talked about now and still rehashed and repackaged the world over. One trend that was created was for women’s wrestling to focus on the women rather than the wrestling. Many performers were hired for their looks opposed to their ability – that’s not to say that there weren’t good female wrestlers during this time but more often than not they were put in gimmick matches and the focus was on Tits and Ass, hell Trish Stratus even managed a team called T&A! The likes of Lita and Chyna did get the chance to prove that female wrestlers could mix it up with the men although Chyna was bigger than some of the men anyway.
When I first started watching wrestling women’s matches were infrequent but technically strong, the Attitude era made them far more frequent but it is very rare that they were particularly technical. Now don’t get me wrong, in my teen years I most certainly was not complaining about any of this! Bra and Panty matches, Pudding matches, evening gown matches … what could be better? I think most teenage male fans shared Jerry Lawlers excitement each and every time!
This has more recently started to change and quality women wrestlers are beginning to break through but there is still a high percentage of below average wrestlers amongst the Diva ranks – the blueprint seems to be set around fitting into Total Divas than having a great match!
It is fortunate that Indy wrestling seems to have moved way beyond this and female wrestling is getting stronger all the time, all female promotions are becoming more commonplace and female wrestlers are being given bigger and better opportunities. It is testament to this that Kay Lee Ray reached the finals of TNA’s British Bootcamp 2 and Candice LeRae is one half of the PWG Tag Team Champions – and as entertaining as “The Worlds Cutest Tag Team” is, she is most certainly not just there for eye candy (Anybody that thinks so should just go watch the main event of PWG 11).
In the UK women’s wrestling seems to be going from strength to strength. Even in the tie period since I have started watching I have seen improvement in not only the “division” but also the fan appreciation of those involved.
The first couple of matches I saw were “OK” nothing special but not terrible – I have since seen a couple of these wrestlers again and they have developed really well in the last couple of years. The first match that really made me pay attention though was at AWW in Wolverhampton when Emi Sakura (Pictured on the right) stepped in at the last minute to face Shanna and the two put on a legitimate 5 star match up that totally stole the show.
As I have been to more and more shows I have seen a lot more of what the UK scene has to offer and it is in a really healthy place. That’s not to say there aren’t some bad female wrestlers, some are terrible but at the same time the same can be said about the men – there are so many terrible, TERRIBLE wrestlers around (or people playing wrestlers at least) In women’s wrestling there is a mix of some who look like wrestlers, some who have the technical ability, some have both and some have none of the above – but again it’s just the same for the guys too!
About a year or so ago I reviewed a Tidal Wrestling DVD and on this show was a match between Violet O’Hara, Lana Austin and Leah Von Dutch which was every bit as good as any of the other matches on the show and it really showed me the progress in women’s wrestling with all 3 competitors pulling out all the stops and putting on a hard hitting, high flying match up – not simply hair pulling, slaps and chick kicks! In my review I commented that the standout performer in my opinion was Lana Austin, it was the first time I had seen her or Violet O’Hara and both impressed. Lana had the looks and gear that was revealing enough to draw attention but once the match started she was a real fighter and put on a great show both in offense and on the receiving end. After reading my review Lana contacted me to thank me and since then she has become a favourite wrestler of mine and I have seen her develop massively over the last 12 months, as a valet and as a wrestler in her own right, she has earned opportunities on large stages including Preston City Wrestling’s massive outdoor “Tribute To The Troops” show and in a mixed Tag match at Southside’s “Risky Business 3” teaming with Joseph Connors to take on the tandem of El Ligero and Kay Lee Ray and culminating in a one on one match against Bubblegum at Pro Wrestling Kingdoms “To Infinity and Beyond” show which again was a highlight of an all-round great show.
I have seen quite a lot of Lana Austin over the last year and she has clearly been learning rapidly throughout that time. Little did I know when I first saw her she was pretty new to wrestling – it definitely wasn’t apparent in that first match!
One of the shows I really regret missing in 2014 was Pro Wrestling Kingdoms “Elevate To The Summit” which included a huge Money In The Bank ladder match which included both Lana Austin and Nixon Newell and by all accounts really demonstrated that the ladies can hang with the men!
Nixon Newell is another talent who has sky rocketed in the last year, after forming “The Vulture Squad” with Chris Brookes she has had a plethora of opportunities as part of the tag team and in her own right and seems to be both getting better each time I see her as well as gaining more and more confident in herself. The pairing with Brookes works really well and has given her the opportunity to wrestle some of the best male competitors in the country – highlighted by the series of matches at SWA against The Second City Collective (Ryan Smile and Pete Dunne) Nixon has also got involved with the guys at Attack! Pro Wrestling and that is a great environment to grow in confidence. She also made Fight Club Pro history in December when she became their first active female wrestler, taking part in their Infinity Weekend and was back there this past Friday.
There are plenty of other great female wrestlers currently in the UK but Nixon and Lana are the ones I have seen most in the last 12 months and have consistently produced high quality matches regardless of who they are up against or teaming with. They have been involved in some great matches and especially inter gender matches where they have more than held their own and contributed fully to the matches. Of course they look amazing in the ring, there is no doubting that, but they are anything but simply eye candy! It is more and more the case that womens matches or matches involving women are adding value and quality to shows across the country.