Tuesday 22 July 2014

AWBA: FF - Mad Maxine

Disclaimer: I am deeply unsettled by what I witnessed Sunday night. Of the seven matches, only one ended the way I had hoped. Everything else left me in shock and awe. My mind and emotions are in a fragile state right now, read on as I try to pick through the carnage of what I can remember.

(Or if you're wanting a shorter read, check out my other review on PWPonderings)

Fierce Females - Mad Maxine
Sunday 20th July 
Walkabout, 128 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 3AL
FF Online - Facebook // Twitter // FierceFemales.co.uk

Images: (c) @MrDavidJWilson used with permission

I want to start this off by making one thing absolutely clear. I know there has been a lot of hype for this show. I know a lot of people were attending live, seeing their very first all-female show in the process. I know a lot of people were interested from far and wide, who simply couldn't make it, but were eagerly anticipating results and news. This review is for all of you. Because Sunday night was spectacular, it more than lived up to the hype, and one can only hope this will usher in an exciting era for Fierce Females as a promotion. The wrestlers deserve no less.

We start things off with Sweet Saraya v Bete Noire. Well, that's not factually correct. We start things off with a wee bit of banter from Fierce Females owner Michael Gilbert (or Mikey Whiplash... Mikey Gilbert? Michael Whiplash? I digress) who, wading through some aptly timed microphone issues, makes it clear that tonight is not about him, it's about the wrestlers and the fans - and as a treat to those who couldn't make it and to honour those who did, he announced that the footage from tonight would not be getting sold via Video On Demand as previously mooted, but would instead be delivered FREE on YouTube for everyone to enjoy. Result.

So onto the first match. Saraya arrived to the ring sporting every inch of intensity you could ever hope to see a woman muster by simply walking. Bete was not going to let herself be intimidated in her hometown, making her way to the ring sporting a Kendo Stick, staring down Saraya the entire time. The atmosphere was electric already, a rare feat for any wrestling event to achieve before a single blow had struck.

Saraya started things off with a slap and set the disrespectful tone she would carry throughout the contest. A great sidewalk slam was followed up with the first of several delayed dropkicks right to Bete's crotch. A chant of "That's no nice" seemed to rally Bete, who managed to deliver some chops in the corner, before Saraya fought back with an eye poke. Between dirty tactics like that and brutal moves like the spike DDT she soon delivered, Saraya was in control of the match... until Bete's stick came into play.

Drilling Saraya square on the top of her head, Bete had regained control of the match. Several two-counts came from moves such as a fisherman's suplex and a superplex from Bete, but Saraya showed her experience by using anything to avoid being pinned - reaching the ropes, kicking out, even at one point pinching Bete Noire's ass to distract her opponent from completing the pin.

 "Sweet" Saraya drilling Bete Noire with a crotch dropkick

The victory went to the veteran, as she managed to trap Bete in the Bridal Rocking Horse for the submission victory. If you've never seen Saraya's finisher before, it was an especially rough looking hold, as Saraya held Bete prone in a mash-up of a surfboard-meets-leg-based-Camel-Clutch hold, hooking her legs under Bete's arms while wrenching them back, before wrapping her feet around Bete's throat.

The Bridal Rocking Horse

This advances Bete's Fierce Females record to 0-6 across the years. Adding pressure to her already unhinged persona, it can only be a matter of time before Bete snaps and someone at Fierce Females feels the pain of her defeats.

Penelope evading Debbie Sharp's grip

Up next was Debbie Sharp v Penelope. Debbie was on full Diva mode tonight, demanding that the crowd be parted so she could make her entrance and insisting that she would not begin wrestling until there was complete silence from the crowd. The visiting Penelope was having none of it, urging the locals to clap along with her and show Debbie that Fierce Females is not the place for silence.

As the match got underway, an intriguing exchange of wristlocks took place, with Penelope both verbally and physically urging the crowd to get behind her. With inventive maneuvers like reversing a wristlock by performing a handstand, it was easy for the crowd to oblige.

 Penelope's athletic ingenuity is not easily equalled

There will deservedly be a lot of praise later for the two 'Main Event' matches, but for me personally, this was Match Of The Night. A well-paced battle, both women giving it their all and with well-defined roles that they performed expertly.

As the pace built, the moves began to blur together perfectly. Penelope struck with some awesome enziguris, a springboard arm-drag, and the greatest superkick you will see this side of Shawn Michaels. Debbie's answer was to resort to dirty tactics - standing on Penelope's toes for a starter. Debbie did however Sharpen up (yeah, feel free to groan) and locked Penelope into a Boston Crab. This led to one of my favourite sequences of the night as Penelope managed to roll through the submission attempt and hit an enziguri almost from a seated position. Brilliant.

A cool hurricanrana from Penelope out of the corner only garnered her a two-count. As Debbie tried to fight back, she was almost instantly stopped as Penelope ducked a clothesline attempt and connected with a neckbreaker. With the match almost in the bag, Penelope decided to go high-risk and high-altitude, missing with a Swanton Bomb attempt from the top-rope. This was only good for a two-count from the capitalising Debbie Sharp, however with the briefest hint of momentum on her side, Debbie hit a hangman's neckbreaker for what would surely be a three-count, but she pulled Penelope's tights anyway, just to be sure. Nefarious overkill in my eyes, this was the second match of the night to completely deliver in the ring and leave me feeling serious emotions at the results. It would not be the last.

Bellatrix World Champion Liberty

Third up we had Sammi Jayne v Liberty. Both women came out wearing similar purple attire, which led to a lot of confusion amongst the newer fans who were left thinking they were a tag team. A small but welcome touch for me was the fact that Liberty came to the ring sporting her Bellatrix World Title belt. All too often, champions in one promotion will not have that fact recognised in another. In my opinion, a champion is a champion, and having Liberty keep her belt on her person added more prestige to the match. A champion should have their belt with them in every contest.

The crowd were perhaps understandably split in who to root for, given that up until the bell rung many had considered them tag team partners. The match got underway with a variety of tests of strengths going both ways. These women showed they had more in common that wardrobe, as they exchanged rollups with perfect symmetry. Sammi evolved her persona as the match progressed, developing a twisted hunter look about her, stalking Liberty like wild prey that had stumbled into her wrestling Sahara.

The predator in Sammi struck when she hit a running crossbody on Liberty, who was in the corner, the momentum of which carried Sammi Jayne onto the ring apron. She walked along and grabbed Liberty's face, hitting her with a Stunner which dropped Liberty's throat onto the top rope. Liberty wasn't the only victim of the move however, as the power with which it was delivered sent Jayne herself drilling to the unforgiving dancefloor of Walkabout, right in front of my very eyes. The look and sound of the end result seemed to hurt Sammi as much as it did Liberty, but the match was firmly in Sammi's grasp now.

Further keeping Liberty at bay with a series of awesome dropkicks, the Bellatrix World Champion almost seemed to have an opening by hitting a Stunner of her own then confusing Sammi Jayne by going up and over her in the corner. A second attempt was thwarted, as Jayne quickly learns and grabbed the champion for a German Suplex. It wasn't enough to get the victory.

A fire awoke within Liberty, and the two battled neck and neck. The visiting champion produced a Fallaway Slam that had me wondering if she had been competing in any Burger Eating Contests down south, and followed this up with a sublime aerial clothesline for an intense two-count.

 Sammi Jayne and Liberty battled neck and neck

Repetition would be her downfall however, as a second attempt at the flying clothesline saw Sammi adapt and perform a baseball slide under Liberty and the bottom rope, dragging Liberty's feet with her and tripping the Bellatrix woman. With her opponent stunned on the inside, Sammi Jayne used the top rope for momentum and sprung into the ring, twisting her body 90 degrees in the process and hitting an absolutely perfect jumping cutter for the pinfall victory.

For those wanting to keep score at home, my pre-event predictions had Bete Noire making Saraya tap out (couldn't be further from the truth) and Debbie Sharp getting the pinfall victory over Penelope (which while true, it wasn't exactly the way I had imagined it). I had hoped Sammi Jayne would clutch a clean win over the Bellatrix World Champion to add to her growing list of accolades, and I was not disappointed. It was an amazing match with a perfectly timed ending which can only continue to keep Sammi Jayne around the Fierce Females title contention following her crazy match with Kay Lee Ray back at Return Of The Queen Of Hardcore. I want to savour this moment of joy, being 2-1 up on my predictions and seeing some absolute masterclasses of wrestling, as things on a personal note were about to turn ugly.

The first-half Main Event. The Tag Team Elimination Last Woman(s) Standing Match. The "war masquerading as a wrestling event". The Glamour Gym. The Owens Twins. Carmel & Sara v Leah Owens & Kasey Owens.

I took zero notes for this one. With The Owens amazingly entering to rapturous boos and The Glamour Gym, backed by the #CarmelCorner section of the crowd, entering to elated cheers and chants, this was carnage from the off.

That two women who had attempted to legitimately break the leg of one of their opponents at their last meeting would be so fully endorsed by the crowd speaks to their charisma, talents, attitude and the sheer psychopathy of the Fierce Females crowd at times.

If you think female wrestling is all about polite applause and myriad exchange of armdrags, chinlocks and shit running bulldogs, watch this insanity the second it hits YouTube.

I didn't take any notes for this one. I could barely keep track of what I was trying to see, never mind process it into some kind of written form at the same time. My heart went out to the referee and security personnel, trying their best to physically follow the action.

The Owens Twins giving Carmel a dose of violent medicine

The match, of course, spilled out into the crowd quickly. Sara and I believe Leah (this will quickly become a Jimmy?/Jey? Uso thing btw) split, heading off into parts unknown, while I followed Carmel and Kasey the best I could. I know Carmel got drilled into the bar of Walkabout before finding her way to a pool table. From there she managed utilise a pool cue, a bin and God-knows-what else to swing the momentum back her way.

The action hobbled back to the dancefloor area, where Carmel got Kasey down with a series of scoop slams, leading to some increasingly close counts. Kasey decided she was having none of it, and responded with scoops of her own, showing a spirit to fight that outweighed any form of wrestling.

Meanwhile, Sara and Leah got back into the ring. All four women then produced chairs (Note: I'm only 50% certain this happened here, it may have been later in the fight. If I'm wrong, chalk it up to how enthralled I was by the battle. Anyway -), swinging them wildly at each other. From there, things got more mental than the action could conjure up.

After tasting the double-flying clothesline from the turnbuckles spot that The Owens Twins deliver so beautifully, Carmel lost her patience with the match, essentially screaming that there was no point to any of this and she was through putting herself in danger for no reason. She quit and headed to the back, essentially stranding her partner Sara.

Already with the crowd behind her, Sara now adopted an underdog status which in no way matches her usual demeanour. This was the Twilight Zone of the face/heel divide, as the crowd loudly got behind the vicious vixen and outright booed The Owens Twins, who had been subject to nothing but physical and verbal abuse for months at Fierce Females.

Alas, for the Glamour Gym fans at least, it was not to be Sara's night, as she was finally put out of her misery by one of the Owens knocking her to the ground, then sitting on her throat and chest with a steel chair, pinning her to the ground for the 10 count and good measure.

But The Owens weren't through. Fuelled by the misery of Carmel and the jeers of the crowd, they ran to the back and dragged Carmel into the match literally kicking and screaming. They battered her off walls, supports, pool table, bin, bar, even dousing her with the soda gun. Carmel protested and tried to fight back, but the numbers game and ferocity were not on her side tonight.

She grabbed the mic, the only refuge in which she still had a modicum of power. Still getting her licks in while technically giving up, Carmel said she was going to make things easy and "do something the Owens are used to doing" - lay down, and hand them the match. They were having none of it, and resumed battering Carmel.

Sara, valiantly holding on to some sense of loyalty, raced back into the match and took out the Owens, lifting her friend Carmel from mat and saving her from the 10 count in the process. But it didn't seem appreciated. Carmel pushed Sara away and claimed "I've got this", before being resolutely reminded by The Owens that she did not. Knocking them both out, one of the Twins kept Sara down while the other repeated the position that had eliminated Sara, positioning a chair upon Carmel's throat and chest, sitting on it, and counting with the referee as the "Pipebomb Princess" was eliminated. Both Owens Twins were the Last Women Standing.

The epitome of "What Goes Around, Comes Around"

As the Twins left to celebrate, The Glamour Gym came to their senses. A white chair sat ominously perched in the corner of the ring, seemingly perfectly placed for one of the women to take offense at the other's actions tonight and dissolve their partnership. It was not to be. Both women seemed to understand each other's point of view, embraced, and left as they had arrived - together, and to loud cheers from the crowd. Madness.

From all points of view - athletic ability, storytelling, danger, utter enthrallment - this match hit the ball out of the park, scored a slam dunk, and any other sports-related cliche you wish to throw in there. The crowd and wrestler's interactions were a crazy inversion of what should be, which I think is a nice commentary on Fierce Females - bucking perceptions and forcing you to re-evaluate your opinions.

(Either that or large segments of the crowd are just disruptive assholes who love to cheer the bad girls - whatever your opinion!)

After a short break, a much-needed break I must add, it was back to some amazing wrestling in the form of Viper v Sammi Baynz. As I said in my preview, I knew little about Baynz before this event, other than that she is the reigning RQW European Women's Champion. She came to the ring with her belt, emphasising the fact that Viper has come so close to winning the Fierce Females belt yet has not been the company's champion yet. When Viper extended her hand to welcome the visiting champion to Glasgow, Sammi responded by slapping Viper in the face. I was beginning to understand what Sammi was about.

Viper also seemed to get the message, as she cornered Sammi and struck her down with a succession of elbows, a lockup and clubbing forearms to the back of Baynz. Following this came an exchange of clotheslines and shoulderblocks, each woman squaring up the strength and fortitude of the other. As both stood tall against each other's attacks, mutual respect seemed to be growing.

Absorbing a double-axe handle from Sammi, Viper managed to get the visitor to the ground and went for the Viper Bomb in the corner, but it was too early for that. Sammi reached to Viper's feet and made the local woman eat the top rope instead.

Despite this, Baynz was unable to gain any true momentum. Neither woman was. Viper finally snapped at the stalemate between them and invited Sammi to just "fucking hit me" in an outburst that shocked the crowd as much as her opponent. Sammi dutifully obliged, with a flurry of slaps that served only to enrage Viper. Viper retaliated with a strong clothesline, then ran the ropes and landed seated upon Baynz' chest, following this with another run of the ropes and a low bodyslam, good for a count of two.

Suitably shocked into action, Sammi managed to connect with a somersault neckbreaker from the second rope which seemed to finally put Viper down, but she managed to kick out at two. The crowd were more behind Viper at this point than ever before, fuelled by Sammi Baynz arguing with and intimidating the referee over what was clearly a two count.

Sammi, having clearly lost what little cool she had to begin with, turned to scream at Viper to "stay down you fat bitch", words met with louder action in the form of Viper's version of the Michinokou Driver.

Nobody gets up from Viper's Michinokou Driver

Despite suffering verbal and physical abuse en route to her victory, Viper still extended her hand to Sammi Baynz after the bell and, having fought hard to win the visiting champion's respect, Viper received a handshake back as reward, much to the delight of the crowd who appreciated Baynz' talent and strength, if not her attitude.

There was one person in the building who was not happy at this however, and that was Sweet Saraya. She stormed to the ring, chastising and putting down Sammi for not only losing but shaking the hands of a wrestler 'beneath' her. Saraya outright forced Sammi to attack Viper, however once she did it didn't seem Baynz felt all that bad about the situation. As the two laid waste to the crowd favourite, cheers for Fierce Females rose up as the two invaders claimed Bellatrix were the premiere women's promotion.

As the ladies left the ring, the chants continued. Saraya got in the faces of several of the crowd members, including myself, attempting to stare them out as we refused to bow down. Showing support for Viper, I was left in utter shock as Saraya moved in ever closer - then planted a kiss on my very lips!! Despite her moniker, I can tell you, this was more sour than Sweet! Still, it is fair to say that the visiting Bellatrix women all left a strong impression, both in and outside of the ring.

Saraya making a statement

It was now time for a change of pace, a Fierce Females rematch between Fiona Fraser v Courtney. These ladies last tussled at Coming Of Age in Courtney's debut, which she won against the odds. Fiona was keen to not see a repeat of that night, and set to work immediately on Courtney's left arm.

Despite some innovative breaks from Courtney, Fiona kept locking in all manner of armbars and wrenches, even using the ropes to her advantage in her mission to break Courtney's left arm.

 Fiona Fraser wearing down Courtney

Courtney to her credit struck back with a running Codebreaker and bodyslam, which nearly missed and would have resulted in Courtney careening to the outside, a rookie mistake from the relative newcomer. Courtney's inexperience would prove decisive, as an attempted spear was easily dodged by Fiona and ended with Courtney on the floor outside the ring, further damaging her arm and shoulder.

Fraser seized the advantage. As she stated before the match, Fiona was hoping to emulate the horrendous disregard Carmel has shown recently towards her opponents and to this end she succeeded, bashing Courtney's arm off the drinks rails and support pillars surrounding the crowd area. These attacks were so damaging, Courtney was unable to answer the referee's 10 count, but Fiona wasn't done. By the count of 9, Fiona had physically dragged her opponent back to the ring to inflict even more damage.

Applying a cross armbar to Courtney's seriously damaged left arm, Fraser alternated between submission and pin attempts, refusing to let Courtney take the 3-count. After toying with Courtney for far too long, Fiona Fraser finally leaned all the way back and made Courtney tap out with the cross armbar.

Despite suffering painfully during the match, Courtney managed to salute her cheering fans as she left the ring, causing Fraser to drop her jaw in wonder at what it will take to keep Courtney down for good. A third match between the two would be welcomed by everyone who isn't Courtney's physiotherapist.

The Main Event.
Nikki Storm v Kay Lee Ray.
Fierce Females Championship Match.
The big one.

I can only be honest - I am still trying to process what happened, never mind try to convey it to you, Dear Reader, who may not have even been there to witness it for your very own eyes.

The match started off with a typically amazing leaping punch from Kay Lee Ray, a punch that has been putting Roman Reigns to shame before Roman Reigns even debuted, and as Nikki rolled to the outside it seemed Kay Lee was going to hit a suicide dive and get things Hardcore early. Storm showcased her wrestling brains by telegraphing the move with a punch then a sunset flip.

The crowd at this point seemed equally behind the two women. There was a fair mixture of respect for the Fierce Females Champion, admiration for both Kay Lee and Nikki's exploits in UK and worldwide wrestling, and the #CarmelCorner sensing a potential changing of the guard and cheering on Nikki to victory.

The backing of Nikki Storm would become more pronounced as the contest went on, from the genuine shouts of NIKKI overshadowing the chants of Let's Go Kay Lee, to the tongue-in-cheek amateur calling of Storm's moves (she did perform a beautiful snapmare however), the focus was clearly shifting towards the challenger.

This was helped by Nikki herself, the woman who has often cheated fan favourites and resorted to dirty tactics seemed to be chastising herself for rubbing KLR's face into the mat, genuinely apologising to the ref before executing a neckbreaker for the first of many close two-counts.

Kay Lee Ray angrily responded with dropkicks and elbows to the corner, trapping Nikki and screaming at the sections of the crowd loudly willing Nikki on to victory. Enraged desperation came to the champion as she began resorting to pulling Nikki's hair to cut off any momentum.

Storm hesitantly mounted a comeback, getting KLR to the outside before considering climbing the ropes. It took the full backing of the crowd to convince Storm it was a good idea, and as she landed a crossbody to the outside, it seemed the challenger was beginning to get back into her rhythm. Kay Lee Ray, the Queen Of Hardcore, culled any such thoughts as no sooner had she absorbed the crossbody than she was in the ring, running the ropes and finally hitting a suicide dive that took out Storm, the security and much of the crowd.

Blows like this took the wind out of both wrestlers

From there, the sequence of events became a blur of incredible moves and close counts. Nikki locked in a Boston Crab before switching to a Half-Crab. Kay Lee Ray locked in a Camel Clutch, using the ropes to her advantage. If the crowd weren't already on Nikki's side, the champion was doing nothing to stop them switching allegiance.

Nikki hit one of her fisherman's neckbreaker variation finishers to seemingly win the title, but Kay Lee Ray got her shoulder off the mat, sending the crowd into a frenzy. From there, KLR went high-risk but missed her Swanton Bomb attempt, allowing Nikki to again hit the fisherman's neckbreaker, this time with Ray grabbing the rope. The intensity was palpable at this point.

Ray managed to hit her succession of finishers - the Gory Bomb followed by a successful Swanton Bomb, a sequence which had put away so many before Nikki, but the challenger kicked out at two. There have been a few times wrestling surprised me, few less it has drawn me in to the point I forget myself, and only one time before have I truly been convinced that an almost unbelievable situation was about to take place. The first was Grado v Whiplash II where I truly believed Grado would win the ICW Heavyweight title. I was wrong. The second was tonight where I truly believed Nikki Storm would win the Fierce Females title.

I was wrong.

Kay Lee Ray, fully abandoning wrestling and all sense of fair play, brought a chair into the ring to a chorus of Bullshit chants. As she set Nikki up for another Gory Bomb, the referee rightfully moved the chair out of the way, and received an enziguri for his troubles. The match was technically over at this point, as Nikki Storm would officially be awarded a Disqualification victory, but none of this mattered at the time. Kay Lee Ray had abandoned the match and the rules, taking to a microphone instead.

What followed was a sequence of words and emotions that had me wrapped around KLR's little finger. As she spoke of her frustrations at the crowd, the crowd that had gotten behind Nikki Storm and Carmel Jacob so intensely, I began to feel bad. As she spoke of her pain, of being so young and struggling to get out of bed in the morning, I thought back to the two Swanton Bombs I had witnessed and how horribly KLR had landed on the back of her head. I believed her. I wanted to crawl into the ring and beg forgiveness for every rooting against her. But then the unthinkable happened.

Kay Lee Ray told us that "they" were right, that is wasn't worth it, that the disrespectful crowd were not worth it. "They" were Carmel and Sara, who returned to the ring and embraced the woman that for so long had been their enemy. The Carmel v Kay Lee Ray saga is one that will be written about for years to come. Their Last Woman Standing match away back in 2012 launched the Fierce Females promotion. They were not meant to be together, yet here they were, standing united with Sara and kicking the life out of Nikki Storm and the hopes and dreams of any fan in the crowd who wanted to see a new champion crowned.

Confusion and elation mixed with equal measure. Some were ecstatic to see this new grouping. Some were distraught to see Nikki Storm come so close but be beaten so far down. To give Storm all credit, she continually got up to face her attackers, but each time was stopped short. In a 3 on 1 situation, there was nothing much she could do but defend herself and await the security and even Fierce Females owner Michael Gilbert to run into the ring and try to stop the violence. This was no easy task, but eventually the four were seperated, with Carmel handing Kay Lee Ray her belt and seemingly, finally, endorsing the Queen Of Hardcore as the face of Fierce Females.

The Pipebomb Princess - Carmel Jacob
The Queen Of Hardcore & still Fierce Females Champion - Kay Lee Ray
The Duchess Of Destruction - Sara
An unstoppable force?

Alliances were built. Feuds were put to rest, while invading wrestlers from Bellatrix have seemingly ignited new ones. Fiona Fraser and Courtney moved to 1-1 while Bete Noire continued her descent to 0-6. Whatever you took out of this show, one thing is for certain. People are talking. So much so, that when an event was announced for November (Come & Say G'day, 23rd November, Walkabout) the fans baulked - there is no way we could be expected to wait so long. So at this minute I am pleased to announce that Fierce Females will be returning to the Source Academy on 31st August for "The Pollokshaws Redemption". More to come on these advances soon, but for now I will leave you with parting words from the women theirselves. 

Note: My writing is used with permission on a variety of websites including Ringbelles, WrestleRopes, Breaking Baws and PWPonderings. Full links to these sites will come in tomorrow's revision, but if you see my articles anywhere else without credit, please inform me.

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