Tuesday, November 22, 2011

State of Women's Wrestling Part III

Athena & Rachel Summerlyn

Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne
Welcome...Welcome...Welcome! Smooth Gentleman here for the third (Last? Maybe Not!) edition of my series on women's wrestling. During this edition I will share my thoughts on the future of women's wrestling. You can view (Part I) & (Part II) by clicking the preceding links.

I have heard quite a few differing opinions from "wrestling" fans about women's wrestling in the United States. I use the term wrestling there loosely; as I feel wrestling is wrestling, no matter the gender of those in the ring.

Yet, I have heard that women's wrestling, "Promotes violence against women," "Women have no place in wrestling," "They're just there for the boys entertainment," and a number of different opinions from other fans.

...Yeah, I know....

I won't spend anytime going over such...ignorant assessments on wrestling. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it doesn't mean those opinions come from a well guided source.

If TNA (Impact Wrestling) has done anything well over the course of the past two years, it's proved that those opinions are not of the majority of wrestling fans. The "Knockouts" have often drawn the best ratings; as I mentioned in the first part of the series, and they are allowed to tell a story in the ring. On the November 17, 2011 edition of Impact! the Knockout Gauntlet was the best match on the entire show and went on for well over ten minutes.

Whether it really was the best match on the show is up for debate, but what is a fact is that the crowd was into the match, the ladies were given time to play their characters, (Madison Rayne sauntering to the ring, taking her sweet time was 100% beauty for her "Queen" gimmick) and a number of the Knockouts were made to look good.

So the debate shouldn't be over women's wrestling being able to sell, it should be over how to brand women's wrestling so it does sell. Bare with me for a moment, over the past week I had an interesting discussion that caused me to think slightly. The WWE brands women's wrestling by bringing in a number of models, devoting three to four minutes a show to women's wrestling, and having very few storylines for the ladies.

TNA (Impact Wrestling) devotes roughly fifteen to twenty minutes a show to women's wrestling, depending on how you want to count Karen Jarrett's involvement. Each have their own unique persona that differentiates them from one another and they are given time to actually put together a psychological match. Watching the reactions to the women's matches in the WWE, it seems that the crowd couldn't possibly care less if they even tried. It seems that they are programmed to know the match will be over extremely fast, almost as if the WWE were using the extra four minutes to display a commercial.

I am aware that technically the entire show is a commercial to get you to buy into the product, but it shouldn't make the live audience feel similar to watching a Payless commercial. While in TNA the crowd seems into the match and often give solid reactions, this also is shown by the viewing audience who always seems to tune in during these matches. Basically, what I'm trying to say is....

GOOD Women's Wrestling Sells...

...There...Finally Got That Out...

To branch away from the televised companies for a moment, the future of women's wrestling in the United States looks bright. There's wrestlers like Mia Yim, Daizee Haze, Madison Eagles, Jessie McKay, Mena Libra, and countless other who I hope decide to devote a number of their bookings in the United States. The first picture of the post is of Athena and Rachel Summerlyn.

If you haven't seen a match from either, you really need to do so quickly. Athena has a great look, incredible athletic ability, and can really put on a good match. I believe her being around all of the talent in SHIMMER will do great things for her, as she has the ability to accomplish a great deal. I personally would love to see her tackle Japan or Europe. A twenty minute match between she and Jenny Sjodin would simply be...


Rachel is also a very solid wrestler, who I would personally enjoy seeing her wrestle a Amber O'Neal or someone like Hamada. The two matches would be very different, but would be very good in their own right. I do enjoy Rachel's style and it seems that she adapts really well to opponents who have a different approach than she.

There's also some really solid female tag teams out there, that could have a number of bookings in the US. My current favorites are the Canadian Ninja's who are composed of two of the best bodies in wrestling, Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews. A promoter could even get Portia to do Color Commentary as well, those who have watched some Shimmer DVDs will have heard her do so. In my opinion, she's pretty good.

I don't foresee the WWE changing their take on women's wrestling (or tag team wrestling for that matter) anytime in the near future, so we'll skip over them for the moment. I see companies such as WSU and SHIMMER to continue growing, WSU is reporting very good iPPV buys during Melina's debut with the company on this past Saturday which is great news. From listening to Amber O'Neal and Angel Orsini speak of Arena Chicks I feel that 2012 will be a big growing year for the company.

As women's wrestling becomes more exposed on television and it's proven to resonate with fans, I expect to see more promotions around the United States to dedicate more resources to recruiting women to enter a local wrestling school, to dedicate time on their shows to women's wrestling, and for more female centric women's promotions to sprout.

I think a big catalyst for this will indeed be TNA....

...Don't worry TNA haters in future editorials you will see I'm not simply a TNA "mark" and a WWE "h8er"...

Any who, I'm actually surprised this hasn't happened already based on their numbers, but I feel within the next year or so that TNA and Spike TV will agree to give the Knockouts their own show. During the question portion of, "3 Way With Fire & Ice" with Angel Orsini and Amber O'Neal with their guest Al Snow, I tweeted a question about the very subject.

For those of you who don't know, Al Snow is currently an Agent with TNA and I was lucky enough to have my questioned asked. I don't have the direct quote, but he basically stated he felt a show devoted towards the Knockouts could work and he could see something like that happening in the future. If that were to happen and be successful, that would mean a great deal for women's wrestling, not only in the United States, but around the world.

It could mean more women becoming interested in wrestling (which would lead to more revenue), then it could lead to more women becoming wrestlers around the world, and would result in women's wrestling growing. Which in the end is good for wrestling as a whole, because if you grow the fanbase and more money goes into indy promotions, then the workers all get paid more.

I firmly believe, it would benefit wrestling as a whole to increase the female fan base! My second picture contains Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne. I've had various debates with people about Velvet, some saying she sucks, others saying she's only around for her looks, and other comments about her not being a real wrestler.

To that I say, she has been around for a number of years. I remember first seeing her as Talia Madison a number of years ago, since then she has done nothing but improve as a wrestler, and continued to work hard throughout the years. I personally think, she is someone that TNA could use as the face of their Knockout division. I thought they were going in that direction with her "Anti Bully" gimmick that I thought would have played incredibly well with her going up against Karen Jarrett's group as the champion who refuses to quit and won't let the bullies win.

They decided to not go in that direction (to my dismay), but I still feel there is a lot of untapped marketing potential with Velvet that could do TNA very well if they decide to really put it in motion. I have confidence that she could be extremely marketable in that position. If there's anything with Velvet, she's just going to keep improving in the ring as she has over the years. For those who have said she'll never be Manami Toyota....

Who will?

That's all I have for this edition!

Stay Smo.....

Wait, I'm forgetting something...


That's right! I promised all of you the match that caused me to fall in love with women's wrestling. So, I present to you the Manami Toyota vs Kyoko Inoue match from May 7, 1995 for Toyota's WWWA Championship. This match won the Wrestling Observer Match of the Year for 1995, beating out Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon's famed Ladder Match (Continue Reading After Videos).

If that wasn't all, due to the amazing feedback and reaction to this series, I will be adding another addition. I kicked around this idea for awhile and thought that I should go ahead and run with it...

I will be doing a bit of fantasy booking, I will be booking four Joshi (women) shows in Japan, using my favorite and most legendary women in wrestling history. I'm sure some will be disappointed at some I will leave out, but I'm just going with the one's I think will put out great matches and sell well in Japan.

The scenario is that the shows will lead up to a big Tokyo Dome show where I will attempt to use the shows (and the time between) to build up compelling storylines and put forth some of my "Dream Matches." I hope all of you will enjoy.

Feel free to follow me on twitter @TheRealSmoothG and to leave your comments below!

Stay Smooth


Illegal Foreign Object said...

Nice post. Especially dig you giving props to the Knockouts in TNA, regularly the best part of the program.

Walter Yeates said...


Thank you, those ladies bring it every show. They deserve the props they get, all should receive a pay increase. Ratings = Cash therefore pay those that get you ratings.



Shane184 said...

I've recently started comparing Velvet Sky to Kelly Kelly in that they both have that fanbase and look that can be the face of their respective divisions.

I still believe that for the foreseeable future, anyone who is interested in watching women's wrestling ought to look to places other than TNA or WWE.

Walter Yeates said...


I agree with that, but the majority of wrestling fans won't take Kelly seriously as a wrestler. She hasn't been trained properly and whoever the agent is for the women's matches is, has her doing things to highlight her weaknesses.

Velvet on the other hand...She can work and she'll deliver inside the ring, she is also really solid on the mic. But, I'll be the first to admit that both are physically attractive, which goes to their marketing potential.

Somebody just has to train Kelly up though, doubt she'll get that in the WWE. Velvet has traveled with a number of VERY talented female wrestlers, which is why she's improved to the point she's at today.

Anonymous said...

Kelly Kelly is a better pro wrestler than Velvet Sky. Kelly's 3 PPV matches with Beth alone are better than anything Velvet's ever done and Kelly continues to improve.

For all the years Velvet's been in the business, she still looks as awkward as ever in the ring and her timing if often-times off. I'm glad with Gail coming back to TNA that they immediately tried to shift the focus back to real women's wrestling with Gail vs Mickie, even if Mickie is absolutely botchtastic these days.

WWE's models are pretty good as not just Kelly but Alicia Fox is pretty great. There's a match on Superstars back in July between Alicia and Natalya that got 10 minutes and a true showstealer.

Travis Hayes said...

The Best match on WWE Superstars was a match between Beth Phoenix and Gail Kim. Kelly Kelly is compentant enough to have a good match if in the ring with someone like beth or nattie (such her match vs Beth at Night of champions) but not good enough to carry the match as we saw in those bella matches.

Walter Yeates said...


I appreciate the comment, but I disagree completely, go look at Kelly's matches and compare them to Velvet's. I don't think there's really even a comparison as far as talent goes.

You point out two key components against your own argument in your post. Beth and Natalya are two of the best workers in the WWE, period.

They will cover up a number of deficiencies of their fellow workers. Alicia Fox, Eve, and Kelly have all improved. Probably directly due to their influence.

For those three you can name a number of the models who haven't improved, are no longer in the company, and are no longer even wrestling.

I don't blame them, I've heard they don't get a lot of opportunities on House Shows and definitely not on TV to improve in the ring.

But, those models are nowhere near better than Velvet. You're welcomed to your opinion on her, but she can hold her own. The WWE didn't ripoff her and Angelina's "Beautiful People" gimmick to put on LayCool because of Velvet's "lack of talent."

The "models" aren't going to be as good as the "wrestlers" who spend time on the indies working at their craft and actually becoming better workers.

TNA would be better served by pushing their homegrown talent over former WWE wrestlers. Not saying Gail and Mickie won't have a great match, because they will.

To close, Kelly has a long way to go before she becomes a good wrestler. Her Thez Press and Right Hands aren't quiteeee there yet. Can she improve? Yes. Will it take time? Yes. Is she better than Velvet? By no means.

Thank You

~~ Sabre ~~ said...

"GOOD Women's Wrestling Sells..."
And as Stone Cold used to say..."That's the bottom line!"

And Velvet Sky vs Kelly?
Velvet was actually trained as a wrestler, has been wrestling since 2003, has worked in the indys, Mexico and TNA.
She's held four belts outside of TNA and several tag team titles.

Kelly was given a WWE contract because John Laurinaitis saw her in a swimsuit catalog.
And her only title is the "Butterfly Belt".
Hey...Kelly has gotten better...she's had to.
But I still think as far as models turned wrestlers go, Candice Michelle (at her height) would have stomped a mud hole in Kelly and walked it dry!
Why do I keep quoting SCSA?

Walter Yeates said...


Very true, Velvet has paid her dues and is actually a wrestler. I didn't want to go here, but she's also one of the sexiest women on this planet.

Yet, she can still wrestle. She puts her body through hell and does so because she loves what she does.

Same for all these women who have spent years actually wrestling, a lot of these women are amazingly attractive yet they tear their bodies apart for the love of the sport.

But, people want to sell them short because the "models" are wrestling as well?

Are You Serious Bro? Paying Your Dues = Respect

I'd like to throw April Hunter at some of those who make those comments.


Anonymous said...

Please don't disrespect the women of the WWE. They are doing quite well given the fact they hardly get air time. You may be stuck seeing TNA as where the Women that wrestle are, but you would be wrong. KElly Kelly, look at how she came in and where she is now in skill. Eve, she's just tremendous in the ring and hits one of the best moonsaults in the business, guy or girl. AJ, likely the future of the division, is the spunky rey mysterio that the women's division has needed for years.

TNA has the women that can wrestle, thanks mostly to being given the airtime and allowed to do so in the WWE. TNA just scooped them up and promised a few title wins for coming over. Gail Kim for example, but poor one at that.

Fact is that the WWE's women are called Diva's, which really should be changed as they are Women that Wrestle, not Diva Premadonna's. They get the stick that they are models and therefore can not wrestle. Wrongfully thought and seen, but that's the WWE haters for you.

By the way, Dustin Runnels (Golddust for those of you without a clue) is in charge of the Women's division in the WWE. He's the one responsible for them getting more airtime lately, including longer PPV matches and even on the show's. :) He's doing quite well at it as well.

Nice blog though.

Walter Yeates said...

Thank You,

Not sure why those that disagree never show their identity, but there's a few things here. Nobody is disrespecting the women of the WWE.

They don't have a lot of opportunity to improve, as you need to be in the ring to do that. It just doesn't happen. They should go to a real wrestling school and learn all the nuances before being put in front of a live audience.

I may have misunderstood, but did you call Gail a poor wrestler? That's an interesting opinion.

The Diva's are getting more air time? A 3-4 minute match per show is more air time? This past Raw, no women's match. Not so sure about the more air time.

I will admit the PPV matches are showing improvement, but there's still a long way to go. It's a lot to ask a model to come in and learn how to wrestle in a few months, Beth and Nattie spent a large amount of time on the indies truly learning their craft. So that's where the belief a model can't wrestle comes from.

Trish Stratus put the work in to become a very solid wrestler, that didn't happen over night. But, it didn't take ten years either. She became a wrestler.

Kelly Kelly has been in the WWE for quite some time, she should be further along than she is now.I've seen a lot of improvement and I hope she continues to do so.


Anonymous said...

Working the indies does not automatically mean better than models.

Kelly Kelly's been in WWE since 2006 but actively wrestling since maybe 2008. Velvet has been wrestling for 10 years and is still as awkward and clumsy as ever in her movements. Velvet Sky is just not a good pro wrestler and it shows all the time. Brooke Tessmacher isn't really good either but in her short time has become a better wrestler than Velvet.

Even aside from Kelly and Eve, Alicia Fox is a legit good model turned pro wrestler and does lots of little things in her matches that really add to matches, something Velvet has never captured whether its selling, bumping, or any type of emotion to tell a story in the ring.

Also big ups to the poster above that mentioned Candice, legit best in the company at her peak in 07.

Walter Yeates said...


Clearly a lot of people feel that being apart of the WWE makes you a better wrestler..plain and simple Kelly Kelly is not better than Velvet, neither is Alicia Fox.

Alicia has improved a lot more than Kelly, but the people who are harping on Kelly on have three PPV matches to go to. Other than that..honestly she's been pretty bad. I'm not sure where you get that Kelly is a better seller than Velvet.

I would like examples of matches from people that say Alicia and Kelly do the "little" things in matches that Velvet doesn't. Show me some evidence in a match.

Brooke still has a long way to go, but she's bound to improve wrestling with who she is. But, lets be honest while wrestling on the indys may not make you a better worker, it does show a love for the business.

I don't see Kelly or Alicia (maybe her but doubtful) coming anywhere near a ring after they are done in the WWE. Candice hasn't, I'll give her credit she did try, but she shouldn't ever be called the "Best" when it comes to workers.

I'm just waiting to hear someone say that Kelly is better than Toyota, but I doubt most of the WWE fans that think Kelly is amazing even know who Manami Toyota is.

To a lesser extent probably don't know who Hailey Hatred, Madison Eagles, Athena, Nicole Matthews, Portia Perez, or a number other females workers are either.

Put Kelly in the ring with them..Kelly gets demolished quickly.


Anonymous said...

Those 3 PPV bouts to point to for Kelly are more than I can see for Velvet. Plus there's the Smackdown tag earlier this year where Kelly teamed with Edge vs Dolph & Laycool, Kelly was taking some crazy bumps and she ruled it there.

For match proof of Alicia Fox's greatness, check out Alicia vs Natalya from 7/7/11 WWE Superstars. Great wrestling match. Alicia's pretty great at bumping and selling and the little things here she's trash talking, adding things like working a grounded headscissors with body shots and selling the reaction of Nattie pulling her hair out.. really good match. They told a story in the ring and progressed their mini-feud series nicely. Their rematch 2 weeks later on the 7/21 show is only 2 minutes long and is still damn good. There's also an Alicia/Gail match from 4/11/10 Superstars that just shows Alicia can go in the ring.

Now where are the good to great Velvet Sky matches?? I truly can't think of any one, the recent PPV match with Gail wasn't even very good and only went 5 minutes.

And no, no one is saying Kelly Kelly is better than Manami Toyota. And she isn't better than the upper-tier of Shimmer stars, Madison Eagles very well could be thee best in the world. Athena quickly became one of the best and Nicole Matthews is great at absolutely everything. But for WWE divas and TNA knockouts, Kelly Kelly is good, Alicia Fox is better, Velvet Sky is neither.

Walter Yeates said...

Thank You,

To compare Kelly Kelly to anyone in Shimmer is a joke, I find it funny that it's "ok" for Kelly to have short matches but not for Velvet.

Many of her fans discount how good of the wrestlers she works with are and are forgetting that her character couldn't be more bland or basic, her move set is a joke, and that she has very little understanding of the basics.

I've spoken to workers and heard their opinions, they agree. She looks silly throwing punches and what not. Get off the Kelly train, Alicia is better than Kelly.

If Velvet were in a WWE ring, all of her fans would be saying how great she is. Kelly isn't in the least bit fluid, people point to a few matches of hers, what happened to all the bad ones?

She seems to get a free pass on a lot of things, which doesn't make sense. I would like to see her improve and what not, but I can't see that happening.


Anonymous said...

All three Kelly/Beth PPV matches were longer than Velvet's singles matches on PPV.

Still no evidence of Velvet being a good wrestler anywhere.

Walter Yeates said...

And your evidence that Kelly Kelly is are three matches? Nobody defending Kelly has probably seen a Velvet match outside of TNA. Kelly at this point is not a good worker, she can have a good match with Beth Phoenix? Seriously?

If you can't have a watchable match with Beth, you don't belong in wrestling. So, that's not much "evidence." The link of a match isn't a determination of a good match also. I've seen plenty of long matches that weren't that good.

You can't do much in 3 minute tag matches working with the Bellas. So, you're going to have to give me more than three matches. Was Kelly a great worker before then?

She has a lot of work to do.

Anonymous said...

Kelly's not great but she is good. She's had good matches with not just Beth but Natalya, Michelle and really she hasn't been against that many others. So again she's not great, and some can say she isn't any good but she is better than Velvet Sky.

Seen plenty of Velvet... TNA, WSU, WEW, never been good. Most recently seen Velvet botching a bulldog on Impact.

And no the length of matches doesn't make it good but the best of the best, say Ayako Hamada, has perfected having a great match every time out whether its 2 minutes 10 minutes or 20 minutes.

Walter Yeates said...

Kelly is decent right now. You said the point right there she's wrestling Beth and Nattie...I hope anyone can have a good match with those two, they're covering her up.

Every worker botches a move here or there. If that's the case lets mention Kelly's pathetic punches and other moves that have nothing behind them. Have to be fair on both sides.

Back to the point, you shouldn't be in wrestling if you can't have a good match with Beth or Nattie.

Rob_999_Kovach_ said...

i personally believe that Velvet Sky, is a much better Wrestler than Kelly Kelly, She has more charisma in and out of the ring, she is more skilled and definitly champion material. When i see Kelly Kelly Wrestle, she looks like a Flamingo on Ridaline, she has no charisma, she looks like she forcing her character out, She has no skills worthy of being taken seriously, she can't throw a punch to save her life, and i never fail to see a botched move in her in ring abilities. she's only good for dancing, and being on a magazine cover, she makes for a very hot model, but not a wrestler, But not to just slam Kelly Kelly, i personally think she wasn't trained properly either, she and the other Divas don't get much time in the ring to show their skills. WWE has no respect for the women in their company. if i was wrestling and Michale Cole interupted my matches, i would of gotten out of the ring, took the mic from cole. Yell "VINCE I QUIT" and walked out! because there is no excuse to do that! As for TNA, they have respect for womans Wrestling, (Except for always having to deal with hearing Karen Jarrett flap her gums each week.) With the Knockouts you get a little trash talk and then in your face Action, those girls can get nasty when they have too. they were trained very well and have my full support. if a Female were to come up to me and tell me what company treats their Women Wrestlers better. i'd tell them Impact Wrestling. because in WWE you'll barely have time to show your actual talents! thats my opinion and i'm sticking to it!

That Pocket Volcano said...

Good discussion here.

Personally, I think Kelly has always gotten flak for how she came in and how she started on tv (as a exhibitionist), but for what it's worth, she has improved in the ring. Fans connect with her more than any current woman on the roster. Her matches with Beth have been the best she's had in a long time, due to working with a veteran instead of someone on her level, like the Bellas. She still can't run the ropes though. There are so many variables behind the scenes that we don't know about that it's hard to say definitively what's wrong. It's easy to say that she needs more training - she does, but how do any of us know that she hasn't asked for more training time and has simply been told she doesn't need it? Christy Hemme wanted to improve, she didn't complain when they sent her to OVW yet she still got fired. Politics plays a big part of WWE and if they are complacent with their women reaching a certain point of in-ring skill and no further then it wouldn't shock me.

Velvet, on the other hand, has been wrestling for 8 years. America and Mexico, different places and promotions. She has a great character, tons of charisma, yet she's reached a level of in-ring skill and hasn't progressed beyond it. By rights, she should be better than she is, especially since she has had a lot more time and exposure to more experienced women.

It isn't really fair to compare the two. Nor is it fair to call any of the Divas "wrestlers" not even Beth or Natalya. Putting on 2-3 minute matches isn't wrestling. WWE just wants women to be good enough to not hurt themselves or their opponents in the ring. Thats it.

TNA, on the other hand, has a big pay discrepancy between it's men and women (I doubt anything has changed between the time Kong left and now), plus they don't take care of their talent. You only have to look at Daffney to see this is true. Vince Russo's writing of their storylines and their scripts is horrid - every other word is skank or whore or bitch. It's degrading and a sign of how little they think of the women who work for them. Despite the fact the KOs have garnered some of their highest ratings, higher than Hogan, Sting, and company even. There's also the fact they allow their talent (male and female) to accept indy bookings but reserve the right to pull them out if something isn't to their liking, thus depriving the talent of extra pay and leaving the indy promotion out of the money it costs to bring them in.

In the end, if you want serious wrestling, you go outside the mainstream of WWE or TNA and support companies that respect their talent. Quite honestly, in either company, it comes down to who they can market as the face of their divisions. Velvet and Kelly fit - spunky babyfaces who are cute and appeal to men and women. It is what it is. It isn't about who is necessarily better in the ring to these companies, it's about who will sell tickets and merch.

Walter Yeates said...

All I have to say to that is...

Stay Smooth

Except on one point..

Beth and Nattie have proved they can actually work, it's the WWE that pushes them into pathetic 1 minute "Plant on a Pole" matches. (Russ)

That felt like a retaliation after the KO's took a shot at the Diva's by dissing wrestling in underwear and still went out and had a good match