Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ronda Rousey Give Divas a chance, WWE NXT,and how it all helped start a WWE Woman’s revolution

Ronda Rousey Give Divas a chance, WWE NXT,and how it all helped start a WWE Woman’s revolution

Everything Written below as always is my opinion as a wrestling fan. I'm not a "wrestling expert" nor proclaim to be one -please read and enjoy :) :) if you enjoyed this blog then ...

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To me the story of the women's revolution In WWE has been one of the big news stories of the year. the re-emergence of Women's Wrestling in 2015 is redefining the business itself and the genre.

Women's Wrestling as I was growing up was very sparse. I was a big WWE fan and started watching in 1990 as a 4 year old. We used to see some females in front of the camera Miss Elizabeth, Sensational Sherri and more but rarely did we see them wrestle. 

As time moved in into the mid nighties the first female wrestler I remember seeing was Aludra Blayze where she had a title match vs Bertha Faye apart from that I cant remember any more women's matches until the attitude era.  

As I got older and WWE transitioned into the attitude era they brought back the WWE Womens Title (It had been previously chucked into the trash on rival WCW Nitro) at this time it was more about a woman features and how she looked rather than the matches they put on in the ring.

 The only 2 exceptions to this in my opinion at the time were Trish Stratus and Lita who could both have amazing matches and could pull off anything asked of them they really did an amazing job they were sexy and could wrestle as well the perfect combination which has been hard to match since.

Trish (left) and Lita (right)
On from this WWE throughout the early 2000s and through into the late 2000s had a mentality and strategy that Jim Ross described on his podcast The Ross Report as "The higher ups in WWE at the time wanted Playboy cover girls and Size 10s and that's where it began and ended" that wasnt Jim fault just to clarify it was a company mentality.

 WWE were hiring models from lingerie catalogs in the John Laurenitus era as VP of Talent Relations. This era was frustrating I would go to WWE live events in UK and people would use the Women's match as a bathroom break - that to me was so disappointing and it was surprising that WWE let this go on so long and let fans view Woman's matches that way. I would stay and watch all the matches on the card (I learnt the art of Bladder control) but all it was out of respect. I wanted to see what the ladies could do here in England we wait over 6 months for one show, I want to see,experience everything on that show. 

So WWE Divas Division carried on as it was....... 

Until 2014 the revolution in my mind began

I think one of the things that inadvertently helped WWE diva's revolution was actually a woman that is not a WWE diva or Wrestler at all but a UFC Fighter Ronda Rousey.

Ronda Rousey

Ronda has really come to the fore throughout 2014 and exploded even bigger in 2015. Ronda Rousey is a female UFC fighter with a  record of 12-0 she is known as the best female fighter in the world and now boasts endorsement deals, Movie roles and has a huge following an popularity.

Rousey caught and made headlines and in turn I believe caused waves in many other sports around female athletes. I don’t think it was any mistake that following the success of Rousey that Women’s Sports and their participation on sports has become more prominent in the media and throughout society in general.

Ronda caught the eye due to her tremendous ability inside an octagon, her ability to take down opponents and finish a fight within a matter of seconds. No one had ever seen that before, she is and was of unique and different and gave a different representation of Woman, not to mention Ronda is beautiful too….. (Yes I have a small crush on her!)

As Ronda Rousey popularity grew she even appeared on WWE television as part of Summerslam 2014 where she “helped” Stephanie Mcmahon do the ice bucket challenge and then at Wrestlemania 31 in a moment most fans thought they would never see Rhonda Rousey came into the ring and her and The Rock went face to face with Triple H and Stephanie Mcmahon in an incredible moment.

The Rock,Ronda Rpusey, Triple H and The Rock
I believe that Due to the success of Rousey  it was a key motivator behind the fans of the WWE finally speaking up and using hashtag #GiveDivasAChance. I believe fans saw Rousey kicking ass in the UFC and wondered why these fantastic WWE female athletes weren't allowed to do the same in WWE

#GiveDivasAChance came about because on an episode of WWE Monday Night Raw (which is 3 hours long) the powers that be in WWE decided that the women on the show that evening should only have a 30 second match.

 #GiveDivasAChance trending on twitter and drew the views of many fans and WWE legends such as Mick Foley.


This in turn angered fans who thought that these Female Wrestlers (or Divas as WWE has dubbed them) should start being given the same opportunities as the men on the WWE roster.

While the debate raged on Social Media, there was something going on in the background of WWE, something that was the answer.

WWE COO Triple H Had approached WWE Owner Vince Mcmahon about changing their system for Developing New talent for the WWE. Triple H felt (and he was correct) that the old system they had in place was not working and Triple H wanted to put together something that could be a sustainable System for WWE and a perfect environment for aspiring Wrestlers to Develop Triple H came up with WWE Performance Centre.

When the brand new modern performance centre came into being with 7 rings and promo rooms, Training rooms etc Along with this WWE hired trainers to help train and mould this brand new generation of talent one of the trainers they hired was Sara Del Ray.
Sara Del Rey

Sara is a very accomplished female wrestler this is one of the best female wrestlers in the world and WWE hired her so that she would be able to train the next generation of female superstars in her style in order for them to compete in top quality matches.

Along with Performance Centre came a new brand WWE NXT.

WWE NXT is the proving ground for all the trainees from WWE performance centre before they go to WWE Main shows and roster. WWE NXT started off very small but with the advent of WWE Network grew very quickly. Triple H explained himself that NXT Arrival only came around due to the fact that WWE Network had arrived and he stated that “I wedged myself in there on WWE Network as I felt we could give fans a new different type of show and help iron out an wrinkles with WWE network”

It was on that show that the revolution started. Paige and Emma were in the 1st Ever WWE NXT Woman’s match and they put on and incredible match it so entertaining well paced and so different from what fans were used to seeing on Raw and Smackdown on a limited timeframe. They both put on such a great match that opinion was starting to change and on from this the momentum for a Divas Revolution grew and grew.

Paige (left) Emma (right)

New Female Wrestlers were coming into WWE NXT Charlotte,Bayley,Becki and Sasha Banks. These women got introduced (all of which trained with the aforementioned Sara Del Ray) and suddenly the whole landscape of Women's wrestling had changed. These 4 dubbed themselves the 4 Horsewomen (after Ric Flair’s Group 4 Horsemen) The 4 Horsewomen were having consistent best match of the night with each other in Singles matches, Tag Matches or whatever match they were put in.

Triple H said it himself he didn’t put them in the main event the Women of NXT went and grabbed the Main event and made it their own and have been doing that ever since. Those Women that have made such an impact were brought into WWE main Roster Paige, Emma, Becki Lynch, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley and more are all products of WWE NXT and now all are on the main WWE Roster on Raw and Smackdown each week entertaining fans all over the world. Recently Charlotte become WWE Diva champion defeating longest reigning champion Nikki Bella. 

Which now leads us to the Next WWE NXT takeover Special on WWE Network featuring in the Mian event for the 1st time ever a WWE NXT Women's title match Champion Bayley vs Challenger Sasha Banks in a 30 minute IronWoman match.


This has never been done before and this is going to be another incredible chapter in the revolution of Women's Wrestling on WWE. The momentum isn't going to stop and is another huge moment for WWE and Women's division. The Evolution and Revolution will continue more Women will come through NXT and walk the road laid down by these Tremendous female athletes they have shown WWE and the World a new way I hope this new way is here to stay Women's Wrestling, Women's Revolution.

Sasha and Bayley really did push the boundaries in an incredible Ironman match in which Bayley retained her NXT women’s title. They had so much pressure on their shoulders being the 1st Women’s Main event on a live NXT Takeover special on WWE Network those ladies delivered they didn’t just deliver actually they cemented themselves as trailblazers and as Diva’s that have set the road for others to walk down, because  these two and their incredible match it will open the door for more women to be in the main event of special events, Raw, Smackdown etc. If you have the WWE network check out that match it was nothing like we had seen before and was a true credit to the business and industry as a whole.

 I don’t think it will be long until we see a main event women’s match headlining a PPV and Wrestlemania, excellent quality, athletic women’s matches that tell a story are here to stay and we have a special golden generation of women who have the ability, strength and passion to take this to even greater heights.

Thanks For Reading

Jonathan Orchard

Saturday, 19 September 2015

How Edge vs Mick Foley WM22 Brought me back to WWE

How Edge vs Mick Foley WM22 Brought me back to WWE

I have been thinking recently about what drew me back into wrestling from 2002-2005 I went on a hiatus from wrestling, as a huge fan all my life I’m not sure why maybe the product didn’t capture me, I was off doing other things (chasing girls and clubbing!) and I really fell out of love with the genre.

Maybe it was because at that time I was trying to be something that I wasn’t and trying to be socially acceptable to people that actually I shouldn’t have been trying to pander too, either way I didn’t have my eyes on product, important point to remember is  you live and you learn J

So it comes to May 2006 My friend Matt brought me for my birthday Wrestlemania 22 DVD and I hadn’t seen wrestling or any Wrestlemania’s in some time and wasn’t sure what it would be like watching wrestling again. It had been so long who was in wrestling now, had it all passed me by?

Had what I had known for so many years changed? Would I even like it anymore it was time to find out…..

I put the DVD in Sat back and relaxed and really enjoyed the Wrestlemania as a whole looking back now I think it was one of the most complete wrestlemaina's in history.
However I saw a match that grabbed and attention that brought me back into the genre and made me feel excited and have that feeling of disbelief from when I was a child, I could feel that emotion and that love for wrestling back in my veins the bug had bitten once again, the and the match I was watching

Edge vs Mick Foley

This was such a unique and special match to me and made me fall in love with wrestling , it wasn't a 40 min wrestling classic it was hardcore extreme wrestling match. Wrestling purists believe that this form of a match cannot be entertaining or tell a story I totally disagree.

Mick and Edge were and are so good that through this extreme hardcore match they were able to captivate me amaze me and make me believe in Wrestling again

Edge and Mick had all the elements in that match that we all love about wrestling suspense, drama, shock, despair, amazement,not knowing what they were going to do next and that feeling after a match of really seeing something special.

Mick and Edge really told a great story alongside the Match promo (before the match began) which WWE always does well. Edge and Mick Foley took me away and told a story that I didn’t know where it was going to end, I wasn’t in my mind sat there saying “I know what will happen next” I was transfixed by what I was seeing.

It was the little things that Mick did that made that match feel different me came out in black check top not his usual wanted dead shirt and red flannel, later on in the match Mick takes the top off and revels Barbed Wire underneath his shirt! The barbed wire baseball bad with Edge screaming as its raked across his face, then there was the flaming table.

Edge and Mick going through that table is a moment to me that was bigger than hell in a cell everyone believes that Hell in a cell defines Mick Foley, and to a certain degree it does it shows Mick guts and insane commitment to wrestling and what he loves but this moment fro Mick must of been great on a personal level to have the Wrestlemania highlight moment that is going to live forever, it was something that I never saw coming nor something I thought WWE would do, it was very unique in that era and I believe this match help propel Edge to being a top level talent.

. Edge is one the premier competitors in WWE he is a WWE Hall Of Famer and a character I truly miss in WWE and unfortunately had to retire.

 Edge who had developed and changed so much since I had last seen him into this egotistical, Rated R superstar with Lita I really dug the character and gravitated towards it, so much so that my first WWE T shirt  purchase after in 2006 return  
was an Edge Wrestlemania 22 Rated R Superstar T shirt and I wore it to a WWE live Event in Cardiff!

 Edge as much as Mick has to be given so much credit, how many people do you know would dive face first into a flaming table To entertain millions of fans across the world?

Edge and Mick at the end of their match hooked me back in to this great sport we call wrestling and iv been in ever since got involved even more created this blog even to share my thoughts with the world on the wrestling world.

Nearly 10 years on and I’m still as absorbed as ever. Without seeing Mick and Edge maybe I wouldn't of come back, things would of been very different. So to Edge and Mick Foley I have to thank you both because without you I may never have come back.

Thanks for Reading
Jonathan Orchard

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Pro Wrestling Pride - what goes into running a show?

Pro Wrestling Pride - what goes into running a show?

Have you ever gone to a Wrestling show as a fan and wondered what It takes and what has to happen to put the show on that you are going to see?

I was curious, so I was given a very privileged opportunity recently to see exactly what it takes to put a show together at Pro Wrestling Pride.

This is a very different blog for me, usually I'm doing show review or talking about an aspect or storyline of wrestling but this time it is a little different. This time I'm talking about what it takes to put on a show. Now despite what I have written there will be even more too it and aspects here I don't touch on, but hope this is able to give you idea of how a UK Wrestling show comes together and give you an insight.

Pro Wrestling Pride is a company founded in 2013 and they run shows all over Devon, Cornwall and Somerset with great UK based talent mixed in with stars from USA from WWE TNA and more also combined with international stars from Europe, Japan, Mexico.
Now you may think that the show starts at the venue but you'd be very wrong.....

Before the show

First you need to book a venue and agree a price with that Venue, once that Venue is booked you need to then make sure you have all the audio equipment booked and it will be in place for the show. The Photographer Nige Barrett needs to be contacted so that he is able to attend and take pictures of the show.

Pro Wrestling Pride Photographer Nige Barrett

After this the Wrestlers need to be booked for the show and if you have wrestlers you need the referees so Senior Referee The Only referee with a degree to count to Three, Ed Dyer and Referee Martin Longley need to be contacted as does the announcer Aaron Noble “Duncan J” Mackie to make sure they are in attendance.

Ed Dyer (top Right) Aaron Noble Mackie (bottom Left) Martin Longley (Bottom Right)

In Order to have a show you must have fans to see the wrestlers perform and buy tickets, so before you even get into to the venue you have to advertise.

Pro Wrestling Pride use all different types of advertising posters, leaflets and Facebook and On line. All of these elements come together to promote the show, of course there is word of mouth from the tremendous Pro Wrestling Pride fans too. Promotion in my eyes is key to a successful show – which is why over the summer every single Pro Wrestling Pride show was sold out. 

The management at Pro Wrestling Pride gave me the opportunity to work on a show with them at Newton Abbott in order to gain an insight into the other side of the curtain and what it takes to be able to put on a Pro Wrestling show.

I have always only seen it from one perspective and brought my ticket and got into my seat and got to see the talent wrestle. Very rarely as fans do we think about what has to go into it to make it work, to make it entertaining and fun and make the event mean something.

The creative twists and turns in the story that sometimes i don’t even see coming, but I like that as a fan. Creatively you should be taken on a journey through a wrestling show and have the unpredictability to surprise people. They do this while at the same time telling a logical story that is no easy feat.

Preparation is Key

Anyway I digress back to the show and me helping on it!

Let me take you through the experience, I arrived at Newton Abbot on a drizzly Friday afternoon and staff were there already. The venue had already been set up with seats as the staff and team got there early to the building its an early start.

What I realised through the day is that PWP staff/management don't stop and the day is a very long and tiresome too.

Now Before i got to the building the configuration of the building had already been set out and chairs for the fans already put out too, this is one of the most vital jobs of the day because if the configuration is wrong and fans cannot get in/out of the building, get to their seats comfortably and be able to get to toilets and the merchandise desk without being caught in a people jam, its important for health and safety too.

 I was immediately taken round to the building and the ring is being brought In, I put my bags down and go to help as best I can I don't have much arm strength so this is a bit of a challenge but I do my best!!

Bringing in pieces of steel up some steps then into the building laying them on the floor in order for them to be put together.

People don't realise but there is a lot to putting a ring together there are many steel girders, a structure of steel that needs to come together and be put together in a logical order. Then there are ring ropes, turnbuckles, canvas and so much more that needs to come together to make the structure complete. Its not a 5 minute job and you need to know what you are doing. I helped with some elements as best i could but again seeing the pro’s work put me to shame!

The team that were there knew a lot more than me and were able put it together and have it all sorted in no time. Credit to them because that in itself is not an easy job at all and without them doing this there is no ring for the nights action and without a ring there isn't any show.

There are Video Cameras to be set up for the show, now usually Adam C the camera man would do this however he is not there this evening, the Sound system, Speakers and testing to make sure that all equipment is working as it should, there are entrance banners to put up and any extra lighting also. Pro Wrestling Pride management have so much to think about as someone then needs to film the event all evening for the upcoming DVD there are also people on the doors, matches to be finalised not to mention the ring announcer the referees and making sure everyone is where they need to be before the show begins.

Also posters for upcoming shows are placed along the walls of the venue this is to let fans know what shows are coming up and information on how to get tickets.

I am asked to go backstage  and saw an interview with TNA Superstar Robbie E and His tag Partner for the Night Danny Walsh. Watching Robbie E cut a promo was a real privilege and it was fascinating to watch how he and Danny worked together. Robbie has a great style and comes across so naturally through the camera along with Danny this is another aspect of Wrestling in which the talent have to be so good at - not only be able to tell a story in the ring as they do but be able to verbalise themselves behind the camera as well, watching Robbie E and Danny Walsh was a great education and it shows the breadth you have to have as a talent in Pro Wrestling it not just about what you can do in the ring but what you do outside of the ring too.

Robbie E and Danny interacted so well together and it was a fun interview too.

Robbie E and Myself at the Newton Abbott Show

Now remember I mentioned about the merchandise table earlier? Well we come back from the interview and I am told that my job for the evening is that I am going to be Selling Merchandise for Robbie E and helping out with selling the other merchandise too. 
I truly got to see how busy it can be! Merchandise area was so busy!

As fans came in and got to their seats they then came up to the table to buy drinks, crisps and sweets and it was manic it was quite and experience and a complete different change of pace for me as I'm usually behind a desk talking to someone on the phone, so you have to use many skills at one time and as I said before gives you a bigger appreciation for all the different elements that goes into this. Not only that you have to replenish stock on those tables so getting out more merchandise and filing the tables back up is super important too.

Before the show starts also the hard camera (still Camera) gets switched on by Owen who is filming this evening, Owen also has a roaming cam too to catch all the action.

It was a tremendous show a Pro Wrestling Pride with Robbie E at Newton Abbott Here is a quick run down of the results but you can read the full blog by clicking the link below

After the show

You might be forgiven to thinking that there isn't more to go but you'd be wrong! After the show Pro Wrestling Pride always have a meet and greet with all the wrestlers - so before this begins I am asked to clear a table along with another member of staff and I carry this table over to Robbie E so he can sign his merchandise for the fans.

While the fans start going to the meet and greet I am asked to start picking up chairs and stacking them so that then we can get them put away and start getting the venue back to normal.
Once the chairs are stacked they are put away and then there is the clear up of all the rubbish that needs to go into the bin many others are also doing this as well many hands make the job a lot easier. After this I then go over to the ring which has partially now been taken down and again I do my best to carry things outside to go back into the van. Again as all this is going on the merchandise ladies are packing away all the remaining merchandise and taking this out to the vehicles also, all poster around the room are being taken down and any last bits and pieces cleared away.

There is one last check to make sure everything has been done and everything cleared away then the building is locked up and we are done! it is now nearly 11pm. The day has flown by and I feel totally exhausted but it feels very rewarding at the same time.

It was great to see the dedication of everyone involved the importance of making sure that all the details are addressed and not ignored and how those details can impact a show so much, this is all what I didn't see when I would come in and sit in my seat for a show. Having that experience gives me a great appreciation for the people involved in Pro Wrestling and an even greater respect for the show and what goes into it.
 It’s so much more complex than I ever imagined but that's the magic of pro Wrestling, through this experience I think my love and passion for this has grown even more.

Thanks For Reading


Jonathan Orchard