5/22 WOMEN’S WRESTLING ARMY REPORT: The first episode from Maria Kanellis-Bennett and Bobby Cruise’s new all-women promotion

By Harley R. Pageot, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WWA EPISODE 1: THE JOURNEY BEGINS
MAY 22, 2022
AIRED AT BRANDARMY.COM/WOMENSWRESTLINGARMY
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentary: Alyssa Marino, Lenny Leonard

We opened in the ring with Marino and Leonard. They welcomed us to the show and brought out “The First Lady Of Professional Wrestling” Maria Kanellis-Bennett. She was dressed in a glittery pink blazer and boots, which matches the WWA branding. (The middle ring rope is pink with the top and bottom ropes black.) So many people have told her no through the years. But she’s here today because of her time as a ditzy interviewer for WWE, because of shuffling from promotion to promotion, because of her husband, because of her kids. Tonight the journey begins.

-Our opening theme song is “Sevin Sins”, the title track from Maria’s own 2010 EP.

-“The Lucha Baddie” Miranda Alize spoke to the camera in a sit-down. She’s been wrestling ten years, she’s 27 years old, and she’s a physical therapist outside of wrestling. She came to this as a result of her tenure in ROH last year.

-Sit-down with Laynie Luck. She admitted to being cautious about getting involved with a new promotion’s first show but knowing it was Maria and Bobby Cruise told her everything she needed to know. She and Alize kind of came up together in Texas and wrestled a lot but it’s been a while. Alize’s never wrestled Lucha Laynie, though. Alize’s knowledge might surpass hers but her heart doesn’t.

(Pageot’s Perspective: I’m thrilled to have promos from both competitors before the match. I believe I’m pretty familiar with everyone on the card here but even with someone like Luck, who I’ve seen wrestle many times in many different promotions, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard her speak before. It’s just rare for so many indie shows to feature any mic work, be it in ring or backstage. These were much more shoot-style bios than traditional promos, though. Alize wasn’t at all heelish and spoke pretty plainly about her past year. Luck put more of a kayfabe spin on it, trying to hint at a bit of kayfabe animosity between them. For a first episode, basic introductions are perfectly fine. I trust that going forward things will get more creative once there are stories to tell.)

-Alize made her entrance first. Bobby Cruise is doing ring announcing and this one had a 15-minute time limit.

(1) “THE PARTY UNICORN” LAYNIE LUCK vs. “THE LUCHA BADDIE” MIRANDA ALIZE

Some quick back and forth ended in a stalemate. Alize caught Luck with a punt kick to the gut. She hyped the crowd into clapping for her as she ran the ropes only to stop and slap Luck across the head instead. The games worked and the crowd immediately started getting behind Luck. Alize played to the fans and ate a boot. Step-up senton from Luck off the apron and into the ring. Alize raked the eyes. Basementrana but a light cover allowed Luck to kick out. Luck countered an arm drag attempt into a side slam. Luck with a second rope dropkick but Alize kicked out. Alize with a headscissor into the Miranda Rights crossface. Luck managed to roll over into a pin and went for a Laynie Lock STF. Alize bit herself free. German suplex from Luck. Draping DDT from Alize. Death Valley Party from Luck for a near-fall. Alize with a cutter and a Drive-By for the pin.

WINNER: Miranda Alize in 9:28.

-Alize blasted Luck with a few more shots and kicked her out of the ring. She heeled it up for the crowd on her way out.

(Pageot’s Perspective: First impressions. Production is solid. They even had a couple replays of significant moves during the course of the match, which you almost never see from promotions of this size. They went a decent length. We got a clear face and a clear heel. And the woman who went to the finals of the ROH Women’s Championship tournament (before losing to Roxanne Perez) went over. All very positive signs for the fledgling promotion. The crowd is quite thin, which I had heard from a friend in attendance at the tapings, but that was likely always going to be a struggle for a first show from a new promotion with no matches announced in advance.)

What’s The Dish? with Lish
Alisha Edwards was backstage with NWA Women’s Tag Team Champions The Hex (Allysin Kay & Marti Belle). Belle taught Edwards how to stand on a chair while posing for photos in order to properly show off your derrière.

-Sit-down with Big Swole. Big personality, swole mentality. She’s a strike-based showman. She’ll hit you and give you a show. She’s all about inclusion and representation. Three years ago she faced Trish Adora for the first time and they’ve had four matches in between. Tonight they’re done.

-Sit-down with Trish Adora. She put over Maria’s genius and how huge it is for her to be here on this first show. It’s refreshing to see a locker room full of people all gung-ho. Representation is so important. Seeing Jacqueline for the first time as a child changed everything for her and her brothers. If she can do that for someone else, that’s everything. Her mom’s thrift store mix-and-match style is what led her to dress the way she does.

(2) BIG SWOLE vs. “THE AFRO-PUNK” TRISH ADORA

In what was likely a purposeful move, the main event of the first Women’s Wrestling Army show featured former army vs. former air force. “Both these women” chant to start. They were evenly-matched in the opening minutes with nearly every other move being countered or blocked. At 7:30 they turned to exchanging strikes but Swole landed a dragonscrew leg whip. She clubbed Adora in the ropes to boos. Swole took control and targeted Adora’s left knee. Adora landed three German suplexes but couldn’t make a cover. Adora started to go after Swole’s left elbow. Adora looked for cattle mutilation but couldn’t hold the move due to her knee. She settled for a crossface instead. Swole rolled into a pin and Adora had to break. Adora jumped a kick and landed on her bad knee, allowing Swole to nail her with a headbutt. Lariat Tubman out of nowhere! Adora couldn’t make the cover, though. Swole managed to crawl to the ropes. Sunset flip but Adora kicked out. Another headbutt from Swole staggered Adora. They both went for discus clotheslines, both connected, and both went down in the center of the ring. “Both these women” chant again from the crowd. The referee started to count them both down. He got to nine but the ring bell cut him off. Cruise announced that the time limit had expired.

DECISION: Time-limit draw in 15:00.

-Handshake between the two.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Very good match, as expected, and I like that we’ve established time-limit draws as a finish right off the bat. Sara Del Rey and Mercedes Martinez went to a time-limit draw on the first Shimmer show in 2005 and this almost feels like a call-back to that.

Marino and Leonard are good on commentary with Marino calling all the signature moves by name and Leonard providing background bios on everyone. The only thing maybe missing would be a wrestler who could put over the moves themselves or speak to their own personal experience in the ring with these women. Three-person booths often feel like overkill but adding someone like Veda Scott could be a boon here.

When my co-host and I spoke with Maria for our podcast, Grit & Glitter, a couple weeks ago, she said that there will be a WWA Championship eventually but they don’t want to rush into anything. Using these first few shows to establish a roster and introduce the wrestlers to people who aren’t overly-familiar with the indies or who have possibly never even watched wrestling before is a solid move. WWA did a lot promising on this show without trying to radically reinvent anything. If it ends up being a Shimmer for the streaming age, it would be hard to be disappointed in that.)

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