This month has been quite a disheartening rollercoaster in pro wrestling, especially for the women's division. From Becky Lynch announcing her temporary departure from the squared circle to CZW's remarks on exploiting their female wrestlers' matches to softcore porn websites, and the tragic passing of 22-year-old rising STARDOM star, Hana Kimura, there has been a dark cloud looming over all of us.
As I see it, for every yin there is a yang. We as fans have only focused on the yin because let's be honest, tragedy makes bigger headlines.
In honor of stars like Kimura, who have devoted their lives to making this industry better and credible, we should focus on the yang.
This last decade, we have witnessed exponential growth in women's wrestling all over the world. With the worldwide exposure we have now, we are seeing so many women go up and over.
Of course, most of you might think that this column is going to focus on WWE Superstars like Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair, and their contributions towards this successful era. Yes, I could, but, it's run its course in the media. Instead, I want to talk about other women who haven't gotten their moment in the media sun yet.
Last Saturday, AEW put our minds at ease with their second Double or Nothing pay-per-view. "The Native Beast," Nyla Rose, took us all by surprise when she won the AEW Women's Championship off of the inaugural champion, Riho, back in February.
After busting her chops and winning every match she's had these last 13 weeks, Hikaru Shida knee struck her way to a victory at DoN, and was crowned the new AEW Women's Champion! Through women like Shida and Riho, we're being introduced to female Japanese Strong Style wrestling.
We've also seen powerlifters like Big Swole, and what a self-starter she is. I mean, did you see how she called out everyone at DoN? She wasn't even afraid to get in Lance Archer's face!
Continuing with the AEW women's division, Penelope Ford is starting to find her footing. Even when she's out there with Kip Sabian, her heel tactics have been on point. In the ring, her gymnastic style is quite fun to watch, and maybe, we could see her in more top competitors matches for the Women's Championship.
The same goes for Kris Statlander. At just 24 years of age, the stunt-double alien has booped her way to the top. It looks like we could see her in more main event matches soon.
Looking at what's going on behind the scenes, Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes is launching a new campaign called AEW Heels, an open platform where female wrestling fans can speak freely on their love for wrestling without being criticized.
Though AEW is still developing its promotion, they have been doing an extraordinary job showcasing their talent. So many great things are about to happen in AEW, and I believe their women's division will take fans by storm as the month's progress.
Now, let's talk about the Impact Wrestling's Knockouts division; they are on FIRE! Recently, we have seen some new faces including Tasha Steelz, Kimber Lee, Deonna Purrazzo, and a distant but lingering Nevaeh. But, let's not forget some of the other top-tier talents there.
I'll be honest, when I heard that Su Yung re-signed with Impact, I was filled with joy! Yung and Rosemary are two brazen women who have introduced us to a darker essence in pro wrestling. They've unraveled a new and charismatic approach to how female storylines can go. A prime example: the Undead Realm.
When Havok and Yung were betrayed by their master, Father James Mitchell, Havok had no other choice but to kill him. You want to talk about girl power - content like that is badass!
During this pandemic, Madison Rayne has joined her husband Josh Mathews on commentary. Her snide remarks and take on the action have been a breath of fresh air. I hope that Impact's announce team will become a three-person announce team after this pandemic is over, and they keep Rayne on full-time.
Though she lost her Championship, Taya Valkyrie can go around and brag (and deservingly so) that she's the longest-reigning Knockout's Champion in Impact history. She has surpassed former champions Taryn Terrell (238), Rosemary (213), and the inaugural Champion, Gail Kim (210), by 377 days. For a long time, she has been in the shadows, and I never understood why. Her in-ring ability is something you can compare to top WWE female wrestlers, but, no one has, yet. I hope and pray that Valkyrie will be among the top-five in this year's PWI's "Women's 100" rankings. She's an inspiration!
I will say this, Jordynne Grace as the new Knockouts Champion is quite remarkable. She is a powerhouse! It's hard to believe that she is only 23-years-old. She has only scratched the surface when it comes to accolades she's going to achieve in her career, and I'm all for seeing how her career pans out in the future! I look forward to seeing her defend her championship against the likes of Tenille Dashwood, Kiera Hogan, Steelz, Lee, Havok, Yung, Rosemary, Purrazzo, and Valkyrie again. See how many great matches could happen here?
Whether you like or dislike Tessa Blanchard, you have to admit, it was gratifying to see her become the first female to win the Impact World Championship. You gotta give her credit, she has grit. Though the negative criticism she had against her was focused on heavily before and after her historic win, her title gain will go down in history as one of the greatest things that have happened in women's wrestling. Blanchard has a bright future ahead of her. She better start wearing shades again!
It's apparent that no one will ever hold a candle to valets like Miss Elizabeth and Woman (Nancy Benoit). But, there are two that are following in their path and shedding light on the importance of valets once again: Salina de la Renta and Zelina Vega. Both de la Renta and Vega's transition from wrestlers to dominant Latina valets is something to admire.
When comparing the two, de la Renta made herself a force to be reckoned with, after becoming the Empresaria of Promociones Dorado in MLW - leading such men as Low Ki, LA Park, Hijo de LA Park, and many others towards monumental victories. Her spicy and confident demeanor makes her a bonafide star in and out of the ring - not to mention her backstage work as the first Latina executive producer in pro wrestling.
Vega, on the other hand, is a stepping stone that could help expand Angel Garza and Andrade's career on the main roster in WWE. Her over the top New York Queens-Esque attitude has made fans think twice on what a fierce, yet powerful, valet looks like in the modern era, especially since there aren't many valets in WWE right now.
Lastly, I want to take a moment to list other important female wrestlers who I hope will have more matches once this pandemic is over. From Ring of Honor, Session Moth Martina and Maria Manic.
Though most of us have focused on her complicated relationship with Teddy Hart, Maria Manic is another top competitor to watch as well. After making her in-ring debut against Angelina Love, and being the only female in the Battle Royal at Free Enterprise, she has proved that she's a beast in the ring. Maybe, we could see her become a contender in the men's league for higher up championships, starting with the ROH World Television Championship, perhaps?
Lastly, Priscilla Kelly. I've enjoyed watching her sinister and driven approach in MLW, AEW, and the indies. She's a woman who is willing to push boundaries, and she always succeeds when doing so.
Looking at the big picture, women all around the world are shattering the glass ceilings that caved them in and discriminated against them for so long. Though some don't want to give credit where credit is due, I hope fans will rethink what good wrestling is and answer it with women's wrestling. What these ladies are doing is inspiring. It gives those hope that if they can bulldoze their way through a male-dominated industry, anything is possible, and that's the yang we should focus on.