A look back through history: The Original & NWA World Women's Championship - Finale
Today brings to a close this current series of "A Look Back Through History", as we come right up to the present day of the NWA World Women's Championship.
Here we are at the final part of our look back through history at the Original and NWA World Women’s Championship.
We’ve learnt some things during this journey that maybe we didn’t know before, but most importantly it has shone a light on some of the forgotten names of women’s wrestling's past and given them the recognition that they deserve.
As we approach this final chapter in the series, once again thank you to all of you, the readers, who have made this possibly by continuing to support us, it truly means a lot to us all.
Today we will bring this right up to date, and as I write this, we are just hours away from potentially seeing a new champion crowned as NWA When Our Shadows Fall is due to take place.
But for now, let's dive straight into the final part of this series as we go back just a few years to 2015.
When we left off, Barbi Hayden was the Champion, having defeated Kacee Carlisle, ending her impressive 462-day reign. Hayden’s reign was also a lengthy one at 378 days, but this reign was ended by a woman whose talents eventually led to her being signed to NXT, until recently that is; Santana Garrett.
Santana is without doubt one of the most successful wrestlers on the independent scene. Her list of Championships is incredible, and it’s a real shame that she was recently released by the WWE.
Starting her career in 2009 after receiving training from her father, Kenny Garrett, who himself was a wrestler who called himself “TNT” Kenny G, Santana always wanted to be a professional wrestler.
She was once quoted as saying; "My dad taught me a lot about the business growing up. He used to wrestle in St. Louis and other territories, and I knew I wanted to become a wrestler as well."
After her training, Santana debuted in Coastal Championship Wrestling, and instantly made a name for herself by winning the CCW Women’s Championship in her very first match, defeating Kimberly Maddox.
While working with CCW, Santana was also heavily involved in the US Indies, making appearances with World League Wrestling, Premier Wrestling Xperience, Orlando Pro Wrestling, SHIMMER, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Absolute Intense Wrestling and a whole load more. Each place she went, she would increase her name value and pick up titles along the way.
Santana would also make appearance for Total Nonstop Action (TNA), first appearing alongside Orlando Jordan, and later in her own right as Britanny. Portraying a gimmick where she was Madison Rayne’s biggest fan (a gimmick which drew parallels with the Mickie James/Trish Stratus storyline which culminated in James winning the WWE Women’s Title at Wrestlemania 22) she would align herself with the Beautiful People, helping them in their matches and frequently tagging with Rayne. The TNA Knockouts Championship is one that has so far eluded her, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see her add it to her impressive list of titles at some point.
Shine Wrestling eventually came calling in 2012, and Santana would debut on July 20th defeating Tina San Antonio, and after working her way up the card she would eventually dethrone Mia Yim in 2915 to become the Shine Champion.
During this time, she would also occasionally make appearances for WWE as an enhancement talent, mostly working NXT shows. Santana was a competitor in the 2017 Mae Young Classic, losing in the first round to Piper Niven, before she was eventually signed to a developmental contract in 2019, having also taken in spells with Wonder Ring Stardom in Japan, as well as Women of Wrestling.
It was at a Southern Pro Wrestling event on February 7th, 2015, that Santana would dethrone Barbi Hayden and begin her reign as NWA World Women’s Champion, a title that she would successfully defend an incredible 44 times during her almost year long reign. During these defences she would pick up several other titles in Title v Title matches, one of which was against Io Shirai for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Given this, it is no surprise that she was eventually signed by NXT.
Sadly, for Santana, she was released from her NXT contract just last week, but this is unlikely to keep her down for long, and you can be sure that she will be back to winning ways very soon.
Santana’s reign as NWA World Women’s Champion was arguable one of the most impressive reigns in history in terms of sheer number of defences, but all good things must eventually end, so on December 18th, 2015, her reign was indeed ended by a woman who, at the time, was married to a certain “Good Brother”. Her name, was Amber Gallows.
Amber watched wrestling as a kid, and was a fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin (I mean, who wasn’t?!) and began training in the late nineties under former NWA World Women’s Champions Strawberry Fields and Leilani Kai. She would make her debut for Professional Girls Wrestling Association in July 1999, and in 2002 would win the Carolina Wrestling Federation’s Women’s Championship.
By 2004, she had formed a tag team with Krissy Vaine called Team Blondage, and the two would tour the indies together, where they would win the Women’s Extreme Wrestling Tag Team Titles. Vaine was eventually replaced in the team, having signed with WWE, by Lollipop, who had previously worked with TNA.
After spells with SHIMMER and TNA, as well as Women’s Superstars Uncensored, Women of Wrestling, and various independent companies, Amber would begin making appearances for the NWA on their affiliated shows. She had initially appeared for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 2008, and would be a mainstay of their roster, as well as appearing for NWA Charlotte, before winning the NWA World Women’s Title at an NWX Texoma event.
At this time, Amber was also making appearances in Japan for NJPW, going by the name Bullet Babe, and later Amber Gallows. At the time, her then-husband, Doc Gallows, was the IWGP Tag Team Champion alongside Karl Anderson, and she would accompany them to their matches while also being a part of the first match to include women on NJPW card since 2002 at Wrestling Dontaku 2015.
Since then, Amber has been a staple of the Women of Wrestling promotion, while also continue to work the indies. Amber’s reign as NWA World Women’s Champion though was ended at 273 days, by a woman who we all know incredibly well from her WWF/E days, Jazz.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all how good Jazz is or was. From her days in the WWE as a former Women’s Champion, to most recently teaming up with Jordynne Grace in pursuit of the Impact Wrestling Knockouts Tag Team Titles, Jazz is easily one of the most consummate performers of the modern era, if not of all time.
Jazz dropped out of college to seek training to become a professional wrestler, and would debut for ECW just eight months after beginning her training under Rod Price. By 2001, WWE had seen enough to bring her in on a development deal, and she was assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling. She would debut later that year at Survivor Series in a six-pack challenge for the WWF Women’s Championship.
By 2002, Jazz had won the Women’s Title and successfully defended it at Wrestlemania X8 in a triple threat match against Lita and Trish Stratus, this in turn led to Jazz being the last woman to hold the WWF Women’s Championship before it was rebranded as WWE. After some notable feuds with Trish Stratus and Victoria, she was released by WWE in 2004.
Jazz had some issues with WWE though, as she made reference to the fact that wrestlers of colour were undervalued by WWE in the past, stating;
“My situation with them is I was upset because the whole time I was there, they never gave me an action figure. The people of colour were treated a little differently. They didn’t market me. I made myself. They gave me the platform to go out there but I got over on my own. There was no action figure, never on a poster, that’s the shit I was upset about. But, it’s all good. I still thank them for the opportunity because without them, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here now. I don’t hate them. I just want to be treated fairly.”
Following this, Jazz would work the indies, as well as opening Dirtysouth Championship Wrestling, later renamed Downsouth Championship Wrestling, with her husband, and former WWE star, Rodney Mack. She would win the Women’s Extreme Wrestling World Title, as well as the NWA Cyberspace Women’s Title during that time too. She later won her own promotions Louisiana State Championship, and made a handful of appearances for WWE’s revived ECW brand, mostly on house shows.
Since then, Jazz worked for WSU, Shine, and Chikara, but it was when she began would with the NWA in 2016 that her legacy was truly cemented.
After winning the NWA World Women’s Title from Amber Gallows on September 16th, 2016, Jazz would hold the title for a modern-day record of 948 days, surpassing the previous record held by MsChif. In that time, Jazz defended the title against people such as Jordynne Grace, Allie and Thunder Rosa (who we will get to shortly).
Jazz’s reign ended when she vacated the title due to medical and personal reasons on April 22nd, 2019 and as we know, she would then make appearances alongside Jordynne Grace in Impact Wrestling, as well as a one-off appearance for AEW in their Women’s Casino Battle Royale, until announcing her in ring retirement earlier this year.
Having vacated the NWA World Women’s Title (marking Vacant’s eighth reign as Champion...) the title was put on the line on April 27th, 2019, between former Champion, Santana Garrett, and the challenger, Allysin Kay. Allysin would be victorious in this match and walk away with the title.
Allysin’s career has taken her to all the top places in professional wrestling. Starting with the Blue Collar Wrestling Alliance in 2008, she worked exclusively for them until the company’s closure in 2011.
Allysin would debut for SHIMMER in 2012, as well as working for Ring of Honor, and worked for Mexico’s AAA promotion under her “Sienna” ring name. Allysin spent four years working with Absolute Intense Wrestling, working against names such as Jessicka Havok (Now a WWE referee), Mickie knuckles, and Mia Yim, winning the AIW Women’s Championship.
During this time, she would also work with WSU, as part of the Midwest Militia stable, teaming with Havok and Sassy Stephie. She would also tour Japan and Europe, but it was in 2016, when signing with Impact Wrestling, that she really came to prominence.
Aligning herself with Maria Kanellis and Allie (pre-Bunny days), Sienna, as she now went by, would end up winning the Knockouts Championship at Slammiversary in 2016, and one year later would win the GFW Women’s Title owing to her Impact’s ill-fated merger with Global Force Wrestling.
Sienna’s Knockouts Title reign only last two months, and by 2018 Sienna had left Impact. She would appear in the 2018 Mae Young Classic, losing to Mia Yim in the first round, before joining up with the newly reformed NWA promotion, where she won the Women’s World Title. Following this, she made one appearance for AEW after her departure from the NWA, and at the moment remains unsigned by any company. Surely though, for a woman of her talents, it will not be long before she finds a new home in a top promotion.
Allysin would lose her NWA Title at the Hard Times PPV in 2020, to a woman who has since and continues to redefine women’s wrestling in the eyes of the fans, and her stock has risen considerably as a result of the working relationship between All Elite Wrestling and the NWA. I am of course talking about the one and only (no, not Ricochet) Thunder Rosa.
Rosa is still relatively new to the professional wrestling game, having only debuted in 2014, but there can be no disputing the fact that she is without a doubt one of the top names in the business today. Having debuted at a Sacramento Pro Wrestling event in late 2014, she was then snapped up by Stardom, where she would work for roughly two years.
From there, Lucha Underground came calling, where she led the Reptile Tribe as Kobra Moon, a persona she would also use for Women of Wrestling. Rosa would spend four years as part of Lucha Underground, before being released, and after making some appearances for Ring of Honor (where she would take on arguably her biggest opponent so far in a certain “Doctor”) and Tokyo Joshi Pro, Rosa would land in the NWA in late 2019.
Given that Rosa has only been part of the NWA for just under two years, it’s crazy to think just how far she has come since then, and how much prestige she has helped restore to the National Wrestling Alliance. After winning the NWA World Women’s Championship at the Hard Times PPV, and becoming the first Mexican born Champion in the title’s history, Rosa would embark on a seemingly one-woman mission to restore prestige and honour to both the title, and the promotion.
Sadly, Rosa’s reign as Champion was blighted by the Covid-19 Pandemic, as promotions all across the world were forced to close their doors This meant that the working agreement between AEW and NWA was more important than ever
With the AEW/NWA working agreement, Rosa would begin to appear on AEW television, defending her title on an internationally aired television show, bringing the NWA into the international spotlight for the first time in years on September 10th, 2020.
Rosa would defend the title successfully three more times before losing the title on 21st October, but that’s not the end of Rosa’s story.
Rosa began to become a prominent figure on AEW Dynamite, as her bitter rivalry with Dr Britt Baker became one of the most intense, talked about feuds in years. The culmination of the feud came in March of this year when Rosa and Baker squared off in an unsanctioned, lights out match at AEW Dynamite’s St Patricks Day special.
The match was brutal. Both women giving it their all and sacrificing their bodies to produce a spectacle the likes of which is rarely seen in women’s wrestling. If you have yet to see this match, then you need to make the effort to see it as soon as possible.
Thunder Rosa proved that she will be one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling, so keep an eye on her. While she is under contract to NWA currently, there’s a good chance one of the bigger companies will snap her up the second her contract ends there. AEW seems like the most likely destination given her already successful tenure there, but pro wrestling is a crazy world, and we have seen much stranger things happen.
So, this brings us to the final Champion on the list, the person who, at time of writing, is walking into NWA When Our Shadows Fall as the Champion (although she could very well lose it to Kamille).
This lady has the distinction of working with and for some of the biggest promotions in wrestling. WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor, and now AEW have all been graced by her in ring skills, even if they didn’t entirely know what they had with her.
The current Champion is Serena Deeb.
Starting out in the OVW Wrestling School, Serena made her debut at an OVW house show where she teamed with Fuji Cakes, losing to Shelly Martinez and Beth Phoenix. Given that at the time, OVW was part of WWE’s development system, she was able to mix it up with the best in terms of up-and-coming talent. She fought with people such as ODB, Katie Lea Burchill and Beth Phoenix during her time there, and was able to become OVW Women’s Champion, a title she would end up winning six times.
Serena was not signed to WWE however, and so was able to compete in SHIMMER at the same time. Unfortunately, she was unable to win the SHIMMER Championship, but again she mixed it up with some of the best at the time.
Given all her fantastic work, it was only a matter of time until WWE came calling, and call they did. Serena signed with WWE in 2009 and was assigned to FCW, where she would become the Queen of FCW, which was essentially their women’s Championship at the time. Again, Serena would work with some top-quality opponents such as AJ Lee, Natalya, and Gail Kim.
By January 2010, she was main roster bound. She would join CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society stable, shaving her head bald as a way of proving her dedication to the straight edge lifestyle. On the subject of having her head shaved, Serena has previously stated;
"It was a really unique opportunity. Seeing a woman getting her head shaved was so rare, you don't see it all that often in the history of wrestling. Getting to do it as my debut was really, really cool, and really powerful. I was also very scared about what I was going to look like. There were a lot of uncertainties, but it ended up being really, really great for my career."
Sadly though, her main roster journey ended on August 27th, as she was released from her contract. From here, Serena returned to the Indies, working with SHIMMER, as well as Tajiri’s Smash promotion over in Japan, but an injury forced her to take eighteen months off to recover, returning as part of the WrestleCon event in April 2013.
Serena would go into “semi-retirement” in 2015, before returning as a competitor in the 2017 Mae Young Classic, where she reached the second round. A short while after this, Serena was announced as a new coach at the WWE Performance Centre, a position she held until the Covid-19 Pandemic forced company-wide budget cuts (if you believe that given their record profits that year) which meant she was released from WWE once again.
It was from here though that she signed with AEW, and made her debut on the September 2nd episode of Dynamite, losing to then-NWA World Women’s Champion, Thunder Rosa. Just over a month later, Serena would defeat Rosa to become the new NWA World Women’s Champion on October 27th, 2020. She would then defeat Rosa again just four weeks later as she retained her newly won title.
Since then, Serena has defended the title against Leyla Hirsch, Allysin Kay, Tay Conti, Red Velvet, and Riho, but her biggest test is against Kamille at the NWA PPV, When Our Shadows Fall. Again, at time of writing, that show is just hours away, and a new chapter could be about to begin in the history of this prestigious Championship.
Overall, there have been thirty one different Champions with a total of forty official reigns. Fabulous Moolah has far and away the longest reign as champion 3,841 days, while Malia Hosaka holds the record for the shortest reign at just one day. La Reina de Corazones is the youngest Champion in history so far, at just 21 years old, while Moolah is again the record holder for oldest Champion at 55.
But as much as we celebrate the NWA Title in this series, it is also important that we do not forget the contributions of Cora Livingstone, Clara Mortensen, Mildred Burke, and June Byers, all of whom held the original World Women’s Championship. Without them, we may never have had a prominent and finally thriving women’s wrestling scene.
And that brings us to the end of another trip back through the history books here at Real Rasslin. Thank you for reading this series, and I hope it’s been as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to research and write about it.
I will be back soon with another look back through history at another of wrestling's Championships from years gone by.
Thanks for reading, and as ever, I will see you at the matches!