Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My First Femmes Fatales Show aka Why I Love Wrestling (Part 2)

Femmes Fatales X Roster (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis)

(Part 1 can be read here: )

When the tenth show for Femmes Fatales was announced earlier this year, I knew immediately I wanted to go. I had been an eyelash away from purchasing a plane ticket and attending FF IX in July but good sense prevailed. The temptation of being at SHIMMER Volume 50 one weekend and in Montreal for the tenth FF show the next was huge, so I went ahead and bought a VIP ticket. If worse came to worse, I could attempt to sell it and get my money back, or keep it as a souvenir (it had glossy pictures of LuFisto and Kalamity - how could I resist that?). Months passed, and as SHIMMER approached, I looked at my financial situation. Long story short, NYC had taken more money of mine than I thought, and even though I was restrained at SHIM, funds were low. Combine bills and everything, I didn't think I'd get to go to FF. I was resigned to it until coming home from Berwyn. I was on such a 'high', feeling so positive and happy that I realized I didn't want it to stop. And it didn't have to - if I could get to Montreal.

Cutting out a lot of details, thanks to a helping hand, I was on my way to Canada Friday the second. I'd only get to stay one full day but Chris and I made the most of it by getting an early start to go be tourists. Backing up a bit though, the flight to Montreal was via Air Canada and it was lovely. I'm actually starting to like flying (although take off and landing still make me clutch my companion/arm rest/cross/etc) - who'd have thunk it? Customs and immigration was easy as was converting the money so my next job was getting a taxi to the Best Western. An airport security guard flagged one down and I did my best "Parlez-vous anglais?" which got a response of "A little". I'd had the insight to write down the address of the hotel so I handed it to him. He read it out loud and said, "Downtown?"

My reply? "Si."


My eyes went wide as I realized I'd just spoken Spanish to the French Canadian cabbie. My first trip to Canada was off and running~! Fortunately he asked again and I replied, "Oui." The cab ride was nice and despite it being dark, it was cool to sit back and look around. I had little cash though and it galled me to pay 40 dollars but beggars can't be choosers. It was weird not having anyone there at the airport to greet me, but considering I didn't wind up gutted in an alley somewhere, I'd say things turned out okay. Fanciest hotel I've ever been in, Best Western knows how to do things up north.

Saturday morning Chris and I got up and ventured out for some sight seeing before the show. Fortunately since he'd been there a few days before me, he'd figured out the Metro system so we didn't get as lost as we might have. Except when we tried to find the entrance to the line we were going to take originally. Took us awhile but we finally boarded and I didn't find out until later that the arena that we'd walked through to get to the boarding platform was the old Molson Centre (now called the Bell Centre) - the place where Survivor Series 1997 took place. Considering I'd at least had wanted to see it but forgot to look up details, I was STOKED we'd actually walked through it! Wrestling history took place there!

Anyhoo we made it to the Basilica I'd wanted to visit most, Notre Dame. It was magnificent. There was a sense of peace as I walked through, watching the tourists mingle with those who had come to worship. We took pictures and I noticed there were dozens of stands set up with candles that you could light for people, along with boxes you could donate money to the Church. There was a small altar to the left of the main altar, set back in a small alcove. Behind the candles, there was a statue of a lamb with a cross, and the painting behind it pictured the Virgin Mary. It was here I gave a small donation, lit a candle for someone and knelt down to pray. I felt so peaceful there I could've stayed for hours but time was short. We finished up our tour and walked around. I love old cities and there were places in the streets where the old cobblestones were still around. 

Actual apron for sale in the shop....
Eventually we found a souvenir shop and of course I had to buy some items in there for myself and my parents. But this item pictured here.......Chris said I should buy it but I refrained. Had to snap a picture though as proof. Montreal, you are a kinky city! After that we went into a restaurant and although I had a burger and friends (SO good!), he ordered some poutine. To my credit I tried it. It actually wasn't bad! Wasn't what I expected at all. Once we got done eating we took the tube down to where the venue was and waited in line until the VIP section was called.

The Femmes Fatales venue is awesome. The ceiling is higher up than in the Eagles Club so it feels more spacious. Very well lit (once I got my camera to work, I got some great shots with it and also my iPhone; both sets came out clearer and brighter than at SHIMMER), plenty of room for the meet and greet during intermission between the two shows, and the setup (stage, etc) was cool. Since Chris and I were among the people who bought the front row VIP tickets, we got to choose where we sat in the front row. We picked a good spot on the side, so that if you were facing the stage, we were to the right near the pillar.

I loved it. Both shows were fantastic, everyone put 110% into their matches and I was completely happy that I had been able to go in the end. The best part was getting to see so many talents I'd never seen before (I'd only watched up to Volume 6 by the time the show came around.) and I left Montreal convinced there is a ton of talent just waiting for opportunities to show what they can do. For the dark match, Jewells Malone wrestled Serphantina, who has a Jake Roberts thing going on that she leaves a small ball python on her victims after she pins them. The match was good, there's a lot of potential in both. Serphantina has a great look to her especially, and Jewells is an explosively spunky lady. Good match to start things off.

Every match was anywhere between good and off the charts amazing, as I said, so I'm not going to comment on each match. With a smaller roster though I can offer some observations and impressions on those that stood out to me. Some I was seeing for the first time ever since I had only watched Femmes Fatales Volumes 1 - 6 so this was a treat.

Missy. To be very honest, Missy caught my eye when she walked out for her tag match on Femmes Fatales X Part 1. Mostly because of her teddy bear. It was beat up, had black and white striped leg warmers on each leg, one eye hanging on by a thread, and she was holding it by a noose that was wrapped around it's neck. Considering I took the barbie doll heads off my dolls when I was younger and collect Living Dead Dolls now...this appealed to me. I also got heavy Raven vibes from her, which, given her attire was like his, seems to be what she was going for. If so, success! Combine a unique look, good in ring skills and charisma and Missy is someone I quickly became a fan of. Makes me interested to see how she comes across on FF VII - IX, if she started out with that look or if she evolved into it. Loved her tagging on Part 2 with Xandra Bale and Leah Von Dutch, she may have looked like the odd duck out but they did great together. Speaking of which...

FF X Part 2:The Team of Leah, Xandra and Missy.
Xandra Bale. This was someone that I had heard a ton about yet hadn't seen except in one match on YouTube. But given she'd taken the last name of the most current (and best in my opinion) Batman actor, and had a penchant for wearing superhero-themed gear from the pictures I'd seen, I was keen to see her. I wasn't disappointed either. I was VERY impressed as she held her own in the three way between her, Leah and Ryo Mizunami. This was Xandra's second highest profile match in FF (the first being part of the Rush Revolution taking on the Midwest Militia in July of this year) and her star looks to be on the rise. Keep an eye out for this lady, it can't be too long before she is seen in more promotions outside of Canada.

Leah Von Dutch. The third person in the aforementioned tag team match, she's had a tremendous rookie year. She won an essay contest former WWE wrestler Edge had set up last year, and the prize was a scholarship for free wrestling lessons. She started training at Squared Circle in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and since then has wrestled several different places such as Battle Arts, CLASH, CCW and even in CHIKARA against Sara Del Rey. This was her second appearance for FF, as she had debuted in July against Angie Skye, and Leah did not look out of place in the three way between her, Xandra and Ryo. Von Dutch has a look about her, is obviously eager and willing to learn and wrestle wherever she can, and is very friendly with fans on social media and in person. She has a ton of potential, there's no telling how far her star will rise.

Pink Flash Kira. Kira has a great look to her as well as a ton of personality, but unfortunately having missed her SPARKLE matches in Berwyn, her singles against Mercedes and Portia weren't really a good chance to see what she has in the ring. Given I'm a Powerpuff Girls fan though, her designs caught my eye. She gave it her best shot against Martinez but the veteran was too much to overcome. I'm looking forward to seeing what Kira can do in the future, she is definitely one to watch.

X-Cute Sweet. This was, I believe, the French wrestler's debut in North America. Coming out to a version of "Y'all Ready for This?", I'm not sure anyone knew what to expect but what we got was tremendous. Sweet is a ball of energy, outgoing, silly and very good in the ring. She fit right in with the others in the four way, and her match against Stephie on Part 2 was fantastic. I would definitely like to see more of her, I'm not sure what the wrestling landscape is like in France but she has talent that should be seen worldwide. Here's hoping she comes back to North America soon, she would be a great addition to any promotion.

Sweet Cherrie. I was familiar with Cherrie since she had been on all the volumes from three onwards, and she has evolved into one of the strongest people on the Femmes Fatales roster. As a protege of LuFisto's along with Kalamity, she's been taught by the best but she has a natural charisma that draws fans to her. It is impossible to not cheer for her as she engages fans instinctively. She has a great look to her (her wrestling gear is wicked cool!) and a lovely smile. Here's to more future success for her.

FF X Part 1: Angie Skye.
Angie Skye. After seeing her at FF, I kicked myself for not seeing her on SPARKLE. That "it" that people talk about that people in entertainment have to have? Angie Skye has it. In spades. Her look is unique, her gear is awesome, she has a ton of intensity and charisma, and she is eminently enjoyable to watch wrestle. Her partnership with Kath von Goth is still fairly new and makes for an interesting duo as Kath is a...unique character as well. Their shenanigans were highly entertaining, despite Angie not picking up a win on Part 1 or 2. Nonetheless, she made a huge impression on me and I'm eager to see where she goes from here.

Now for some thoughts on others that were on the card that I was familiar with...

Ryo Mizunami. As I said on my blog on SHIMMER, Ryo is amazing. Her three way with Leah and Xandra was one of the best matches of the day as was her re-match from SHIMMER with Courtney Rush. She may look ultra serious and intense, but she's as capable of shenanigans as the other Joshi are - case in point, during intermission her, Hiroyo and Kellie Skater were doing the Gangnam Style dance and after her match with Rush, the latter got her to do the dance in the ring with her! Ryo's style and look set her apart from the other Joshi and it was great that she got to make her Canadian debut.

Hiroyo Matsumoto. The second Joshi debut and Hiroyo continued her string of great matches in North America. Her rematch from SHIMMER Volume 31 against LuFisto was utterly amazing with plenty of hijinks including the Gojira mask. These two gelled so well, it was a pleasure to watch them because you could tell they were having fun wrestling each other. Hiroyo is one of my absolute favorite Joshi wrestlers, it's impossible to dislike her. Seriously! She truly lives happy even when destroying others. She had one of the best matches of the day against another FF regular...

FF X Part 2: Cherry Bomb v Hiroyo Matsumoto.
Cherry Bomb. I was absolutely stoked to see Cherry Bomb two weekends in a row. Despite being somewhat of a tweener at SHIMMER, here she was a heel, having turned on Sweet Cherrie at FF IX after they lost to the Ninjas. She opened FF X Part 1 against her former tag partner then took on Hiroyo Matsumoto for Part 2. This match was fantastic. Bomb was incredibly easy to boo against the ultra happy Hiroyo, especially after she flipped off Lady Destroyer at the start! She looked great in there against Matsumoto, recalling her time in Japan when she teamed with Sexi Star to wrestle Hailey Hatred and Kaori Yoneyama for Joshi4Hope. Cherry is a hell of a wrestler, and a performer, and I'm really happy that she had great bouts in her home country.

Sassy Stephanie and Mademoiselle Rachelle. These two, as I've said before, are a perfect team. It's as if they were made for each other, both being incredibly expressive, aggressive and talented to boot. Rachelle has amazing facial expressions and she was in her element in Canada. I don't know half of what she said (although I did learn the French word for three! "Trois! Trois!" When she argued with a ref, telling him it was three, I shouted "Trois!" She looked around and said, "Oui! Trois!" with the most exasperated look on her face - priceless!), but her back and forth with the crowd and the two wrestlers that Steph faced was amazing. Meanwhile the Sassy one showed off the French she had learned from her manager which got a nice reaction from the crowd. Sass looked incredible, getting the win over Mary Lee Rose (the match being a consequence of Rachelle turning on Mary at FF IX and joining up with the Midwest Militia); and despite a loss to X-Cute Sweet on Part 2, the redhead continues to prove her reliability and skill in the ring. I maintain that she is one of the most under-rated wrestlers in America - hopefully her work in Femmes Fatales, SHINE and AIW will prove that she deserves to be at the top of more cards. And when she gets the chance to pair up with her manager (and if Steph was not the best, why would Rachelle be working with her? Exactly.), it makes a good thing even better.

FF X Part 2: Mademoiselle Rachelle and Sassy Stephanie. That face..!

Courtney Rush. 2012 has been "the year" for several women and Rush is one of them. Her partnership with Sara Del Rey as "Death Rush/Queens of Winning" was one of the best things going earlier this year, and although it was unfortunate it got cut short due to Del Rey's signing, maybe it was for the best. After all, had she been with Del Rey, we may not have gotten to see her outstanding singles outings against Ryo, Mercedes and Hiroyo at SHIMMER (the upset win against Martinez had the crowd on it's feet); and depending on what had happened in Berwyn, we may not have seen the sequel at FF against Ryo. The mini-story line at SHIMMER where she modeled herself after Del Rey, then went back to her old self after a pep talk from ReGeneration X brought things to a nice close there. Here at Femmes Fatales she got her revenge against Portia Perez, bringing her down with a hard spear in Part 1; then in Part 2, with her rematch against Mizunami, she showed she belongs in there with the best at the top of the card. Rush has really come into her own this year and she rebounded nicely from her losses at FF IX with two solid wins at FF X. It may be only a matter of time until she challenges for the Femmes Fatales International Championship..were she to win it, maybe she will dance Gangnam Style in celebration. Time will tell!

Intermission: Cat Power and I!
Cat Power. Cat made her return to wrestling in July as part of Rush's team against the Midwest Militia, and most of us thought it was a one-off thing. Color me shocked to see her as booked to face Saraya Knight on Part 1. She took quite a beating but recovered enough to have an utterly hilarious match against Kellie Skater on Part 2. Cat Power was one of the people that first caught my attention when I attended my first SHIMMER show in September 2010 and it was a blast to see her in person again two years later. She's lost none of her appeal or her prowess in the ring. If we never see her wrestle again, at the very least I got the chance to thank her for coming back this year. Her matches were a highlight of the day.

Kellie Skater. The Rate Tank continued her three weekend run of great matches by going balls out against Kalamity in a best of 3 falls match for the FF International title on Part 1. It was somewhat jarring to go from cheering her one weekend to booing her the next, and some of us that had been at both shows cheered her anyways in Montreal despite her heel tactics on full display. However, she did win the crowd's respect by the end, and deservedly so - for the final fall it was Falls Count Anywhere, and the two beat each other up and down all over the venue. It took a Kalamity Driver through two chairs to keep Skater down for the 3. A magnificent match, and it was a relief to see her have a semi-humorous bout against Cat Power for Part 2 as she was in major pain by then. Two title shots for two major titles in two weekends - a surefire sign that Kellie Skater is a main eventer now. Most deservedly.

FF X Part 2: Athena
Athena. Wherever The Wrestling Goddess goes, whatever promotion she wrestles for, she makes an instant and unforgettable impact. The same happened in her Canadian debut during the four way on Part 1 for the Number One Contendership; then the title match between her and Kalamity on Part 2. When she hit the O-Face on Sweet for the win, the gasps in the crowd were audible. During intermission, she was a hit with fans as her natural sweetness and humor won over just about everyone. Athena went toe to toe with one of the hardest hitting women in Kalamity and despite not winning, cemented herself as a main eventer as well. It was tremendous being in the crowd and feeling/hearing the buzz she generated. Personally I couldn't wait for her matches as I knew she would create new fans in one day. Sure enough, she did. Queen of Queens winner, AIW debut, SHINE debut, SHIMMER title shot, Femmes Fatales debut and title shot - makes you wonder what's on the horizon for Athena in 2013 doesn't it?

Saraya Knight. As I wrote before, the SHIMMER Champion is a force of nature. She made sure that her Canadian debut would be unlike anything the fans of Montreal had ever seen. Absolutely no one was safe - other wrestlers, crew members, fans and poor Pat LaPrade was left with a boot print on his face thanks to her. I'm quite confident no one there will forget when 'Sweet' Saraya Knight came to play in Montreal. She warned LuFisto in Part 1 that she was coming for her and in Part 2 she took out two of Lufi's students, Mary Lee Rose and Sweet Cherrie as an example. By the end of Part 2 she and Mercedes had left Lufi and Kalamity battered after the cage match between LuFisto and Martinez. There is a score to settle here and we are left wondering when student and teacher will get their revenge. Meanwhile, remember what I said in my SHIMMER blog about the consequences of provoking Saraya? Well, case in point - she saw me twirling my finger around my head, indicating she was crazy, and it took three people to pry her away from the railing and from me. I made the mistake of thinking that since she was toned down the previous weekend she was no less dangerous. Lesson learned. However, I did NOT provoke her during the second part when, after decimating Rose and Cherrie, she walked around ringside and locked eyes with me. She asked if I wanted to play, which I shook my head no. She advanced, asking again and I kid you not I went from shaking my head to saying no to screaming and almost toppling backwards in my seat to get away from her. The fear of Saraya Knight remains. Provoke her at your own risk.

FF X Part 2: The FF International Champ, Kalamity
Kalamity. On October 8th, 2011, Kalamity won the Femmes Fatales International Championship from her mentor, her foe, her friend LuFisto. Over a year later she defended it against two top tier talents from different countries. The Oncoming Storm has now been champion for over a year. She has faced every challenge that has come her way, and in the process, has become one of Canada's finest. I've been a fan of hers from the moment I saw her, and it was a bit different watching her in Berwyn and then getting to see her defend her title in Montreal. Different but no less amazing. They were phenomenal matches as well, two great opponents for her. The only thing I would wish for Kalamity now is the same I'd wish for Athena - the chance to travel to Japan to train and compete. Both would thrive there, I feel, and further expand their skills. However, even if she never gets to the Land of the Rising Sun, Kalamity has made her mark on Canadian wrestling. She has come a long way, thanks to Lufi's training, but also thanks to her own determination to grow and evolve into something unique. Something better. Something special.

LuFisto. This lady continues to amaze me. She has been through so much physically, mentally and emotionally; she has been let down and disappointed by her passion, wrestling, yet she keeps coming back stronger and better than before - she keeps going. This is a woman who has given her heart and her soul and her body to a profession that can be ruthless, merciless, and downright hateful. Yet she keeps going. Not only does she keep going, but she gives back to the business that has caused her permanent damage physically. She has trained new students, instilling in them the skills and the love of wrestling she shares. She has helped create an all female promotion that has become to Canada what SHIMMER is to the United States. She has given her tears, her sweat and at Femmes Fatales X Part 2 she gave her blood once more. Whereas her match against Hiroyo on Part 1 was light hearted competition, her cage match on Part 2 against Mercedes Martinez was deadly serious. I had never been to a wrestling show where one of the competitors was busted open until that match. The sight of her bleeding left me speechless. I was honestly afraid for her and it wasn't until I spoke with her later that my worry started to lessen. The intensity between the two was off the charts and despite worrying about her, I was captivated by the match. They gave everything in the cage for us. It was an honor, and a privilege to witness this fight in person.

FF X Part 1: The Super Hardcore Anime, LuFisto!

LuFisto is the heart of Femmes Fatales - of Canadian wrestling itself. That may be a strong and controversial statement to make, but I will stand by and defend it. Together with Stephane Bruyere, they have made the landscape of Canadian wrestling better for women overall. November 3rd marked their tenth show and it was spectacular. I got to see how much talent and how much potential the Great North has with my own eyes. The future there looks as it does in America, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and elsewhere - incredibly bright.

I left Montreal the next day with memories I will treasure for a lifetime. My heartfelt thank you to Stephane, LuFisto, Pat LaPrade, the photographers, everyone behind the scenes and most of all to the women who stepped into the ring that day. Here's to another ten shows and more for Femmes Fatales!

Here is a link to all my pictures from Montreal:

Here is a link to the outstanding photography done by Minas Panagiotakis as well as results:

Here are the hype videos that were shown before Part 1 and before Part 2 at the show:

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