At Ringside: Women Superstars Uncensored in Philadelphia, 7/11/2015

IMG_5271WSU holds a very special place in my heart. It brought some of my favorite wrestlers to a very near, convenient location to me. I have fond memories of excited chats and jokes shared with admirable athletes and being licked by Mickie Knuckles. I may be biased in favor of WSU for all the wonderful memories, but the product itself has given me very little reason to dislike it.

Yet, Sunday, July 11th began with some disappointments. My car proved to be unsafe to use when I had promised two friends I’d be the driver for both this and the CZW show later that night. I had to shell out for a rental, but at least made it early enough to find decent parking at the 2300 Arena (Formerly known as Viking Hall or Alhambra Arena, but most notably to everyone else: ECW Arena). The other disappointment: I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my long time favorite LuFisto, since she was suspended for attacking management in the previous show (after management interfered, costing her the company’s top belt)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayflI5g0IMM

While she’s snuck into other events in the past https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7f_lz5wSrk I knew she was scheduled to appear at Atomic Pro. She’s been a professional wrestler for 18 years and I knew full well she would not disappoint the fans that were expecting her there.

But I did have plenty else to look forward to. I was surrounded by friends. Excellent wrestlers were scheduled to appear and I looked forward to the double header with CZW.

But it’s wrestling. Can’t start it off without … lengthy promos! I gave up cable TV years ago—I hear y’all folks deal with hour long promos now. We didn’t have to suffer that much.. For the uninitiated, WSU, while owned by DJ Hyde/CZW, is directed, at this time by The Office, a cadre of multi lingual members: speaking Spanish, wrestler Amanda Rodriguez; articulating in French, manager Mille Rachelle, and leading the Office and elucidating in English, former spirit and tag champ, Sassy Stephie. It’s hard to find a more unsympathetic trio in the company at this time. It fell on this administrator to deliver the bad news that Shanna, Portugal’s Perfect Athlete, couldn’t  attend this show due a legal mix up with customs and was forced to return home. I understand that wrestlers have a bad rap with customs in Canada and the US. This was enough to prompt Shanna’s would-be opponent for the event, the Boy Diva Rick Cataldo, the company’s outspoken, cross-dressing baddest bitch, to come to the ring.

After a hilarious interchange of insults, it was conceded that Rick had won that match by default. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a live victory for a Cataldo match, so I was happy for him! BUT, if you know him, you know that he’s had dreams for this night. His previous appearance at the ECW arena was as a manager. Why should he be denied his chance at a match there? He was granted one with a challenge to Sassy Stephie herself. Satisfied, the Boy Diva left.

IMG_5712Amanda Rodriguez vs Pink Flash Kira

Amanda Rodriguez, oddly, was not dressed in business casual wear, but in wrestling gear. Stephie had promised her a chance at revenge on LuFisto via her student, Pink Flash Kira (LuFisto had later confirmed that she given Kira “wrestling clinics” but did not fully train her). Kira arrived to the ring, positive, confident and with dazzlingly colorful hair. Any concerns for the Office members outside the ring weren’t apparent on her masked face.

The opening bout moved more quickly than I expected and set a great tone for the quality of fights we’d see later on that day. Amanda seemed to be at a disadvantage in physical strength and Kira hustled, rushing her opponent frequently, denying a chance for a breather early on. Rodriguez retaliated by tugging at Kira’s mask. I thought Kira would have the final fall with a devastating lung blower but Amanda had just enough breath to kick out. She caught Kira with a DDT, and proceeded to test the wrestling knowledge of those in attendance. The CZW crowds that tend to populate WSU shows have a reputation for being bloodthirsty lovers of ultraviolence, merciless to perceived “fuck ups” in the ring. That reputation held true this evening but this crowd knew enough to erupt in boos at the final pinfall when Amanda blatantly pulled the tights, preventing Kira from getting the leverage needed to kick out.

IMG_6164Round 1 of the WSU Spirit Belt semi finals – Brittany Blake vs Hania the Howling Huntress

With the warm up match out of the way, it was time for the Semi finals with Brittany Blake vs Hania. At the preliminaries, Blake scored what was seen as an upset victory over Hania the Howling Huntress and “AK47” Allysin Kay eliminated Solo Darling. Due to scheduling conflicts, AK couldn’t make it and the Office, in a case of blatantly not watching the tape, had reinstated Hania (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nid8QipwmtQ).

Blake has over a year’s worth of wrestling experience, is a graduate of the CZW’s Dojo, and for a time, underwhelmed me, but I saw her style and skill evolve at other events in the Northeast.  She used to have slow strikes that barely registered. Her offense seemed limited except for a top rope dive, that felt out of place. Her style is now harder hitting. One of her best assets was her ability to take punishment. She still takes a licking, and when she reacts, you feel it but now, she gives it back as well. Impressive for someone with such a small frame—and the Tequila Sunrise she added for submissions is a great fit for her!

Hania on the other hand is trained by Sara Del Freakin’ Ray. She has a powerful and disciplined build. She toys with gravity mid-leap. Out of all the accidental hits I’ve taken from pro wrestlers (non work punches, errant dives, etc), she’s caused me the most pain from her HIGH FIVES alone. Despite Brittany’s improvements, the odds were still stacked against her. Hania still had a reach and strength advantage. As aggressive as Brittany became, Hania still had a bigger mean streak. Yet, the crowd that had previously watched near mute or with taunts to her matches suddenly found themselves cheering loudly for this spirited underdog. She struck Hania with force that even surprised the Huntress. But despite great escapes and an array of painful looking attacks, including that fantastic Tequila Sunrise, Hania handily won and proceeded to disrespect Brittany post match.

IMG_5566Round 1 of the WSU Spirit Belt semi finals – The Fallen Goddess, Athena vs Leva “Blue Pants” Bates.

Athena was my pick for the most logical winner from the start. She was a #1 contender for the WSU Championship and, pound for pound, she is an amazing athlete that manages to hold her own in all aspects in wrestling. Her repertoire of attacks leaves me breathless or screaming in fear for her opponents. She entered with three standard bearers to her theme song and emerged with a wolf like mask tucked under hood. I still get chills whenever I see photos from that entrance.

Leva is no slouch, either. Trained by the Dudleys, she is deceptively tough for her wiry frame, but I couldn’t see her besting Athena despite a slight reach advantage. Leva returned in her Netflix ninja Daredevil in training outfit from her previous WSU appearance. She had lost her planned outfit and luggage and apologized to the crowd before the contest began. I sincerely doubt anyone was holding a grudge against her, even without such a disarming and unnecessary apology. Cosplay is her thing; we love her wrestling even more.

The bout went off showing what I expected. Strength and tactical advantages from Athena however, there were many cases where Leva managed to use the Goddess’ momentum against her and a few counters that backfired. Most impressively was Leva’s arm bar being thwarted by a deadlift single arm power bomb. This counter couldn’t come soon enough and Athena had visibly nagging pains in her arm. Bates surprised me with her resiliency. She resisted painful submission holds and held her own in strike exchanges. She was surprised as well by her victory! Hania, a fierce rival to Athena, returned to distract her long enough for a roll up (no tights pulled). It did not seem like a welcomed or coordinated effort. Athena was quick to chase Hania after her loss.

Rick Cataldo vs Sassy Stephie

Cataldo’s presence is maligned by many in the crowd but I was happy to see cheers and bows from many of the faithful. But I’d think the self proclaimed, “Baddest Bitch of Them All” and frequent tag team fighter would have recruited some back up to counter Stephie’s Office mates (Bring in Eddy McQueen?). Full disclosure: as a hardcore fan of Cataldo, I knew that he was excited for this match. His wrestling bucket list included having a catfight in the ECW arena and he got his wish, rolling after a pounce from the Sassy one. They quickly spun on the mat, fighting with more conviction than I ever saw from Francine lunging at Beulah. This cat fight rolled over senior WSU official, Nick Papagiorgio, like a demented spandex-clad Katamari, eventually spitting him out onto his butt. The match had some funny bits to it, but I’ve had a grudge against Stephie for all she’s done to keep LuFisto down. I was hoping Rick would get his first win in the longest. But despite innovative and classic attacks from Rick, the Office worked together. Mlle Rachelle distracted the ref as Amanda Rodriguez tossed a, what seemed like, an over sized knuckle duster to Stephie, easily helping her get a win. The office was 2 for 2 that evening.

IMG_5930Tag Team Championship – TNA’s Doll House: Jade (FKA Mia Yim) and Marti Belle vs Annie Social and Kimber Lee AKA: Chicks Using Nasty Tactics (c)

Oh fuck, this was just all sorts of crazy-awesome in a ring. I lack cable, so I’m not sure what the Doll’s House was all about. It looks like two preeminent bad asses were playing the part of childish adults. Fortunately, seeing their pre-fight stretches in the ring after their toying with lollipops belied this image. They were hilarious, though, hamming up things with immature in-ring banter. Confidently striding to the ring was another pair of badasses: Kimber Lee sporting new violet hair and Annie Social rocking a mini mohawk. I could picture all the complaints people must have been making on the internet to the new look and I couldn’t wait for Annie not giving a single fuck to other people’s opinions.

Kimber Lee better be on everyone’s radar on the indie circuits. She’s a bump machine that has made a name for herself for taking savage attacks and getting through just fine, doing intergender fights and nearly decapitating people with her round house kicks. Annie’s a veteran no nonsense brawler that slugs the shit out of her opponents when she isn’t grappling. Seeing the speedy style of my fellow Caribbean, Marti Belle and the complementary power and submissions from Mia Yim/Jade made for a match packed with violent wonders. Displaying her own raw strength, Kimber Lee pulled a delayed vertical suplex to an unsuspecting Yim as well as trading and no selling each others’ over the head german suplexes. My only disappointment was the match ending too quickly when Annie snuck a pinfall victory over Marti. Clearly the champions took the worst of this exchange, but Annie had the wherewithal to shift from “punch people until they stop moving” to win quick and get out.

As they were leaving, the Doll House exacted revenge. They’d been using double team methods throughout the match to stay fresher (who’s using nasty tactics now?) and came from behind to choke out Annie and Package Piledrive Kimber Lee! The champions helped each other to the back, victors; the formerly saccharine smiles of the Dollhouse suddenly looked predatory.

IMG_5481CZW crowds love their badasses, so of course they chanted, “Please come back!” They also chanted “suplex city” for like two suplexes, so whatever.

INTERMISSION was an orgy of sweaty hugs and greetings from fantastic performers and friends travelling long distances to catch this show. Annie shared an anecdote about her hair cut. PWG was trashed in my presence. DJ revealed he would be debuting a new outfit. Dan Barry drew ISW’s Mike Rotch as an anthropomorphic penis. Lines were incredibly long to give financial support to some of my favorites and I wound up missing the entrances for Veda Scott vs Solo Darling!

Veda Scott vs Solo Darling

The date for this event was July 11th or 7/11. Solo Darling, the sugared up squirrel girl came to the ring with her Slurpee and a separate one as a gift for Veda. Scott refused this gift on nutritional grounds. After that previous hard-hitting match and the craziness of the cramped merch table space in ECW’s hallowed halls, a comedy match was overdue. Solo’s affectionate tendencies and fingers sought Veda’s for a handshake. While Veda was grossed out by the sticky, candy-covered grip, Solo soon discovered it was effective for multiple arm drag take downs. Veda sought to regroup outside and Solo adorably chased after her for a hug! Solo Darling is freaking adorable. She’s this tiny lady (that is taller than a stack of pancakes) that always tries to sneak in hugs to her opponent. Veda wasn’t having that. She struck the squirrel and then walked the GUARD RAILS in an old school rope walk variation ending with Solo’s cranium smashed to the guard rail… and then Veda yelled at me to take pictures (I love pro wrestling!). Veda kept the upper hand barely as they grappled back in the ring.

While Solo recovered from submission attacks, the fashionable lawyer-turned-wrestler finally accepted a drink from her gifted Slurpee and made a fatal rookie mistake. She reeled quickly from a brain freeze and spat the contents in the face of concerned referee Dan Yost. Solo rallied the last bits of her strength but her sugar rush was clearly near its fuzzy tail end. Solo refueled with her Slurpee and went a sucrose powered rampage. Solo ended the bout with her — get this — HUG FACTOR attack! A defeated Veda mewled for a Slurpee once she regained her wits. In her weakened state, she dropped her gift and cried all the way to the back.

WSU Championship – Tessa Blanchard vs Cherry Bomb (C)

An odd trend in WSU and CZW: the main championship isn’t always the main event. I find it odd. The part of me that listened to too many old wrestler rantings thinks this waters down the prestige of the title. I’m not a pro or promoter, so I don’t know what makes money. I know that I bought my ticket mostly to see Solo vs Veda and anything with Athena and was more than satisfied.

It was touching to see Tessa enter with the tribute yellow polka dotted knee pad. It had been a month since Rhodes’ passing and I don’t know if her upbringing had her meeting Dusty but he certainly made an impact on her family. My heart goes out to 2nd and 3rd generation wrestlers, especially if their kin were famous in the business. Standing in their shadows and being expected to take up the business like their forebearers must be intimidating. I won’t deny that this young wrestler overflows with charisma and is a —no pun intended— thoroughbred athlete.

Cherry Bomb was a controversial champion going into this match. Despite her prowess and experience in the ring, blatant interference resulted in her being awarded the belt. She is currently in the CZW faction #TVReady and regularly meddles in matches to aid their champion BLK Jeez alongside her husband, Pepper Parks. Furthermore, she sonically assaults the audience with a high pitched squeaking voice and appears to be half unaware as to how annoying it is. So in short, she’s a fantastic person to boo!

It is confusing as to how Tessa received a title shot. She hasn’t won in the appearances I caught her in WSU. She did remark on it in her pre-ring interview that it was a surprise to her as well that the powers that be saw something in her and she vowed to make the most of her chance. Oddly enough, I’m told that this is one of the few venues in which she’s not a heel. If her villainous behavior is like the 4 horsemen of old, however, I bet she’s just as beloved.

Maybe it was the rising temperature and humidity, but this didn’t feel like a main event fight. It wasn’t bad. There was some great wrestling but it felt more like a solid above average midcard fight. Cherry shrieked, eye raked, pulled hair and threw Tessa out of the ring. It’s not that it was bad, far from it, but I saw no way, short of interference, for a relative rookie to defeat Cherry Bomb. A BSE (“Best Superkick EVER!!!” her move title, not mine) caught Tessa and Cherry retained her title. When Blanchard came to, I was impressed by the defiant set of her jaw. Definitely easily getting everyone’s sympathy as a determined challenger but not giving me the feel of someone to be champion (yet).

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WSU Spirit Belt finals – Hania the Howling Huntress vs Leva “Blue Pants” Bates

Leva entered in costume again, but instead of Netflix Daredevil in training, she was a full on comic book Daredevil with a lucha style mask, Daredevil logo shirt and red pants. Bless the crowd for spontaneously cheering, “Red pants! Red pants!” I don’t even watch WWE shows and got the joke.

Hania entered with an air of arrogance that was delightful. Sometimes I forget how grueling it is to come back to fight more than one match after being spoiled by other tournaments. The main event started off slow and I was mentally writing it off until Bates did an impressive turnbuckle assisted knee dive into Hania, only to get her mask ripped off seconds later (PS: Daredevil was Leva all along!!!). Hania displayed that raw strength again, casually lifting and choking Leva.

The match was easily going in Hania’s favor and she was obviously more lively of the two. Hania critically miscalculated an attack and left herself stranded on a corner for Leva’s knees to once again strike her statuesque abs. You’d think with her physique, she’d work a gimmick where people would hurt themselves striking her abs. Leva’s follow up was a horrifying double stomp but this combination was not enough to stop the Huntress. Hania gained the upper hand and was getting ready for what appeared to be a superplex when Athena arrived. Tit for tat, she distracted Hania long enough for Leva to recover to a degree. Rather than come off her seat on the top turnbuckle, she played possum, waiting for Hania to climb up. Bates double under hooked, stood and jumped for the Pepsi Plunge. Head driven to the canvas from such a height, how could Hania get up in less than 3 seconds? Spoiler, she didn’t.

Your new WSU Spirit Champion was crowned and, oddly enough, began bleeding precipitously from the nose. Again, Leva’s expression was of surprise at her victory soon replaced with the sweetest expression of joy.  Announcer Emil Jay thought the afternoon’s show was over and began announcing the closing when Hania rose in anger to confront all involved. Athena answered her with strikes. Leva joined in, clearly not a friend of the Huntress and volleyed her between the Fallen Goddess. Hania thought to escape while she had her wits to the entrance way but was blocked off by Athena’s Standard Bearers.

Trapped with nowhere else to go, the villain ran and jumped the guardrail, hopping seat to seat towards the main exit of the building. Athena followed suit, seeking revenge. Leva stayed in the ring, trying to stop the flow of blood but still smiling at her victory. We’ve been denied happy endings for a while at WSU. The former champion was frequently attacked at the end of shows, or we’ve seen betrayals after other main events. This was a long time coming.

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I got to speak with Leva after the match. She was in high spirits, doing her best to be sanitary and not bleed on fans. She is the real deal with her enthusiasm and kindness. Also, to the chagrin of the ultraviolence lovers, had spilled the most blood of the entire evening out of both CZW and WSU shows. HA!

Those interested in watching this show and more can always order VOD from SMVOD or go now to the new CZWStudios.com which has all WSU and CZW content in one location for the monthly fee of $9.99 and is good for mobile streaming. I don’t use smartphones, so I can’t confirm that. The next WSU event “Excellence” will be September 12th at the Flyer Skate Zone at Voorhees, NJ. Details here. https://www.facebook.com/events/1663682497194281/ See you there!


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