In light of Stardom’s recent US shows, the question that obviously arises is whether Southern California is ready for an all-women wrestling promotion.
Sadly, my answer is no.
Not yet, at least.
Stardom President Rossy Ogawa stated that he didn’t expect to make money off of these shows and whether that is true or not remains to be seen. Based on the crowd size and energy, though, I’d definitely say they were a success.
The difference, however, is that Stardom brought all of their A-players. Io Shirai, Mayu Iwatani, Act Yasukawa, Kyoko Kimura, Kris Wolf, and (of course) Kairi Hojo.
That’s where the difference lies.
While womens wrestling has come far over the years and there is a great crop of women coming up in the scene, they still don’t have the name recognition as those that Stardom brought in.
Last year, I watched Nicole Savoy vs. Cheerleader Melissa at an AWS show. I stood the whole time watching Melissa put on a clinic and Nicole hang with her, then shuddered hearing someone in the crowd yelling, “Bella triplet!”
In the indy game, Shimmer is still the US-based promotion to beat.
Second, would be Shine.
Of course, since those two hold such a tight affiliation, whomever comes in third will be a long ways back.
Dividing up the US, Shimmer and Shine equate for about 2/3 of the country, leaving us on the left coast behind.
Of course, the obvious reason would also be money.
Is the SoCal womens wrestling scene strong enough to support running shows consistently on a monthly basis?
Also, take into account that a good majority of indy star power is international, and that’s just additional costs added.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a phenomenal crop of women coming up in the scene today, from all throughout California.
But if a casual wrestling fan is going to heckle Cheerleader Melissa, despite her being one of the most decorated female wrestlers in the world, then they will also toss aside a flyer for female wrestling.
After seeing the Facebook conversation between Ruby Raze and Andrew (TAFKA True Fan), it sparked me to finish THIS blog that I started a few months back (yet still holds relevance).
There’s definitely uncertainty as to the state of female wrestling in SoCal.
Given the success/failure of the “Divas Revolution” in the WWE, the eye of the casual fan is finally exposed to something more than Bra and Panties Matches or James Storm nearly “killing” Mickie James by throwing her on the train tracks (rumor has it, he may be acquitted since it was on TNA and no one was watching, anyways).
It would be a great time for a higher profile for female wrestling in SoCal.
While the timing is perfect, it’s also horribly bad.
The future of AWS in 2016 is uncertain and there’s just a lack of companies for them to showcase their talents.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to be given a platform to perform on with a high enough profile for any legit exposure. And what company has the coin to fly in international talent like Madison Eagles, Nicole Matthews, or even Ayako Hamada or Meiko Satomura? Would they even be willing to fly in to work one night in a gymnasium is another question?
So where does that leave the female wrestlers of SoCal? Left to compete in intergender matches?
While Willie Mack vs Ruby Raze impressed the hell out of me at AWS, there’s always a fine line between competition and novelty. Look at the blowback that Kimber Lee received for the brutal beating she took last year.
Sadly, it seems like the only feasible option is to take their talents elsewhere. With Melissa being the Stardom USA president, that path has never been more open for opportunity.
Success or failure there still means exposure.
Ending up in Wave isn’t bad. Landing in Ice Ribbon or Reina could mean the chance to work with some of the best pure talents in Japan.
Or perhaps, arguably the highest profile in SoCal history, Lucha Underground. With so much local talent already there, connections can’t be that hard to come by. Which could lead to more opportunity in Mexico.
But I’m just an outsider looking in.
Either way, it should be an interesting year for SoCal wrestling in general. Will the diversity that makes the scene entertaining and interesting continue to grow? Or will it lead to more missed opportunities for the talented women of SoCal?