Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative…but for various reasons….faded away. Those are the focus of this latest in a series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’.
Ah yes, I know some of you read the title and immediately thought I was referring to the current WWE Divas revolution. That isn’t the case at all…while the jury is still out on this latest revolution…my focus is the one that took place in the WWF back in 1993. First, we have to backtrack a little bit…
In 1990, the WWF felt the women’s division just wasn’t cutting it anymore with fans and decided to retire the women’s division and title. At that time, Rockin’ Robin was the reigning champion. She was told her services were no longer needed and to just keep the now defunct women’s title (Which she still has to this day) Fast forward to three years later and Vince McMahon’s company is beginning a creative and financial tailspin.
With business down…McMahon needed new ways for fans to come to their shows. One of the plans was to revive the dormant women’s division and resuscitate the women’s title. By this time, Rockin’ Robin had already retired from pro wrestling. So a new title had to be created and a new champion crowned. The WWF’s first hire for the new division was perhaps the most talented wrestler in the U.S. at that time…a woman named Debra Miceli aka Madusa (Short for Made in the USA)
During her previous 9 years in the business…Miceli wrestled all over the world with success every where she competed including Japan…the AWA and even to a smaller degree in WCW. Miceli was to be the crowning jewel of this newly revived division…but would do so, under a new name. Alundra Blayze was born in part because Vince didn’t want to pay extra to use the name Madusa which was trademarked by Miceli herself. So the name Alundra Blayze was created…with the last name Blayze allegedly to signify Miceli…”blazing” a trail for the new women’s division.
The tournament to crown a new women’s champion didn’t exactly sport a who’s who in female wrestling with names like Angie Moreno, Black Venus, Allison Royal and Rustee Thomas. Blayze won the tournament and the title by defeating a game Heidi Lee Morgan. Her first title reign lasted nearly a year and within that time…Miceli felt the competition wasn’t up to par with her skill level.
She campaigned bringing in women she was very familiar with in Japan to improve the quality of her matches. The women in Japan were not only exceptional wrestlers technically…but extremely stiff aka hit harder than the women here in the states. One of the first females they brought in was the legendary Bull Nakano. Nakano like Miceli had success wherever she competed…winning numerous titles in places like Japan and Mexico.
The chemistry in the ring was instantaneous…Nakano and Blayze wrestled a series of classic Japanese strong style matches that made the division stand out. Nakano wound up defeating blayze for the title and held it for approximately 5 months before dropping back to Alundra. Then, the first strike to the WWF women’s division occurred…
Bull Nakano was caught in possession of the drug cocaine and the WWF…who were struggling to stay afloat after a lengthy legal steriod trial the year prior…fired Nakano immediately. The WWF were still committed to revitalizing the women’s division..so a whole new crop of international female wrestlers were brought on board including the Canadian Rhonda Sing aka Bertha Faye…Japanese talents such as Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa, Chaparita Asari, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka.
Bertha Faye looked like she would initially be used as a monster heel as she attacked Alundra and had her stretchered out with a broken nose. According to Bertha Faye…the reasoning was to sex up Alundra Blayze’s look by getting her a nose job and breast implants. While Alundra was gone…however…Bertha Faye’s gimmick changed into a more comedic role. A role she apparently despised just as much as she hated her manager/”boyfriend” Harvey Wippleman. The two allegedly didn’t get along very well behind the scenes and it caused a lot of tension in the locker room.
Japanese star Aja Kong was used as the monster heel in the WWF. A woman who absolutely dominated the competition in the division. She was being groomed as the number one contender to Alundra Blayze’s title (By this time she was on her 3rd reign as champion)
Following the Survivor Series in 1995…Kong teamed with Tomoko Watanabe and faced the team of Alundra Blayze and Kyoko Inoue. The match went over so well that allegedly some of the male wrestlers in the back felt intimidated by their exceptional work rate. The rumors are that several of the men complained to Vince McMahon to have the women tone down their matches…because it was hard to follow quality like that. If the legend is true…McMahon held a meeting with some of the women and told them to scale back the intensity of their matches.
In December 1995..on Monday Night Raw…Kong faced Chaparita Asari on a one on one match up. This match was to set up a title match between Blayze and Kong for the Royal Rumble in January. As the match went on…both Kong and Asari worked the only style they were accustomed to working and were super stiff. Keep in mind, there were no developmental territories like NXT back then to train them on a “WWF style of wrestling.” Kong used a spinning back fist that was apparently too stiff and legitimately broke the nose of her opponent.
Instead of Vince McMahon selling that as a reason to take Aja Kong a threat to Blayze’s title…Aja Kong was subsequently fired from the company. Alundra/Miceli was soon fired as well and as we all now know…was a mistake that Vince would later regret. The division was once again abandoned and stayed dormant until the summer of 1998…when the division was brought back to life with the likes of Jacqueline Moore and Sable.
So…in 2015…as we await to see how this new Divas revolution plays out with extremely talented stars like Sasha Banks…Charlotte and Becky Lynch… We hope and pray it doesn’t end up like its first “revolution.”
You can read all previous ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’ pieces here.