A look back through history: The Original & NWA World Women's Championship, Part Four
It's time for another look through the history books in this weeks article.
Hey everybody, welcome to part four of our look back at the history of the Original and NWA World Women’s Championship.
We’re getting close to the end of the series now, as we have now entered the 2000’s, but this was a very active period for the Championship, with eight different champions over a six-year period. Given that at the time the NWA had lost a significant amount of prominence and prestige, you could be forgiven for not knowing the title still existed, but exist it did, and it certainly did the rounds on the independent scene.
Now around this time, the NWA would strike a deal with TNA for them to use their World and Tag Team Titles, but surprisingly, the Women’s Title, for whatever reason, was not a part of that deal. Whether through NWA’s choice or from TNA’s reluctance for a proper Women’s Division is mere speculation, but it’s fair to say that, at least on the underground scene, NWA’s Women’s Title still carried that name value enough that people wanted it on their shows.
Bearing in mind that NWA was not a “promotion” as such like it is now, it was still considered a governing body, and so would promote their matches on different cards for independent companies. In fact, after the NWA 57th Anniversary show, the title was defended in house shows almost exclusively for around fifteen years. NWA had a long list of affiliate companies that had paid to licence their name for the sake of their shows, with promotions such as Innovate, Insanity and Texas Stampede all benefitting from having the NWA initials attached to them, whilst also maintaining a solid presence for NWA to promote their matches.
This of course all changed in 2017, when Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame bought the NWA, and turned it into a promotion rather than a governing body.
But that is in itself another article. For now, let's get back to the matter at hand and dive back into the history books and back into the history of the World Women’s Championship.
When we left off, Kiley McClean was the reigning champion, having won the title after it was vacated by Leilani Kai.
As you may remember, McClean’s reign lasted 308 days, before it was ended on April 23rd, 2005 by a prominent name on the women’s circuit at the time, Lexie Fyfe.
Aside from one appearance for WWE as the fake “Hilary Clinton” in 2008 (where she beat “Barack Obama” before being flattened by a certain Samoan Bulldozer...) Fyfe, real name Mary Beth Bentley, spent almost her whole career on the independent circuit.
Initially beginning her training with Ken Spence in North Carolina (time for everyone’s best Justin Roberts impression...), she would wind up training with the Hardy Boys at the OMEGA Championship Wrestling promotion, and later, famed wrestling trainer Johnny Rodz, who himself trained a veritable who’s who of professional wrestling with names such as Tommy Dreamer, The Dudley Boyz, Tazz, and more recently, Big Cass.
Fyfe had previously considered giving up on wrestling as she felt she was not making enough progress, but after spending time with the Hardy Boyz and attending some of Rodz’ New York classes, things stated to come together and she was able to make her debut in 1995. Fyfe spent the next decade building her name and brand on the indies for companies like IWA Mid-South, Impact Zone Wrestling, Chikara, and the UK’s own Frontier Wrestling Alliance (who trained our most recent podcast guest, Jake McCluskey, which you can find here), and would regularly compete as a heel. In fact, her first documented babyface outing came in 2012, after returning from a two-year absence due to having children.
By 2005, SHIMMER had come onto the scene and Fyfe was a big part of their early shows. Whilst she never won any Championship gold for SHIMMER, winning the NWA World Women’s Title in April of 2005 can be considered her crowning achievement, at least in terms of Championship gold. Fyfe would beat Kiley McClean at an NWA Virginia show, and embark on a 168-day reign as Champion.
Whilst perhaps her title record may not be as grand as some on the list, it is by no means less impressive;
- In Your Face Wrestling Women's Champion
- NWA World Women's Champion
- North Atlantic Championship Wrestling Women's Champion
- Professional Girl Wrestling Association Women's Champion
- Pro Wrestling Entertainment Women's Champion
- Southern Championship Wrestling Women's Champion
- X Jam Wrestling Women's Champion
In terms of accolades, Fyfe was ranked number 31 of the best 50 female singles wrestlers in the PWI Female 50 in 2008.
Fyfe is still active today, though on a lesser scale, but as with the others on this list, becoming NWA World Women’s Champion means that her name will live on in history.
As mentioned earlier, Fyfe held the title for 168 days. She would lose the title to a young up and comer who got into wrestling after meeting Ted DiBiase Jr at Sunday school in Mississippi, Christie Ricci.
Christie had begun bodybuilding at the young age of 17, and had decided to move to Georgia after graduating from college in Nashville so that she could go to wrestling school. As fate would have it, just a few weeks before she was due to move, she met former NWA and WWF Women’s Champion, Leilani Kai, who agreed to train her and so her move to Georgia never happened. Ricci would debut two years after beginning her training. From there, she would work her way up the ranks on the independent circuit, earning the Rookie of the Year distinction in 2002 with the Professional Girl Wrestling Association.
She won two championships in her first years as a pro, Lucha Libre Femenil (LLF) Championship, and the Xcitement Wrestling Federation's Women's Championship. Unfortunately, in February of 2004, Ricci aggravated a previous knee injury and was forced to undergo surgery to correct the issue, which kept her out of action for around four months. When she came back, she went back to Mexico to continue her run with LLF.
When she faced Lexie Fyfe for the NWA World Women’s Title, it was in a three-way match also including later World Women’s Champion, Tasha Simone (who we will come to a little later). This match took place at the NWA 57th Anniversary show on October 8th, 2005, and was the co main event on a card which had an astonishing twenty matches!
After winning the title, Ricci held it for 476 days, making defences all around the United States for NWA’s affiliate promotions. In the same vein as Lexie Fyfe, whilst her list of championships isn’t as grand as some, she still holds an impressive list of titles;
- Lucha Libre Femenil Champion
- NWA World Women's Champion
- Inaugural Wrestlicious Champion
- Xcitement Wrestling Federation Women's Champion
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated Ranked No. 36 of the top 50 female singles wrestlers in the PWI Female 50 in 2008
Details on Ricci’s career after 2011 appear to be scarce, but she does seem to still be active on the scene today.
With Ricci’s reign being one of the longer ones in the modern era and the longest of the 21st century at the time, beating that of Leilani Kai by eleven days, there were more than a few shocked faces when she was finally beaten on January 27th, 2007 at an NWA affiliate house show. The woman who beat her would end up being the woman behind the longest reign as Champion of the modern era, a reign which, it is safe to say, went down a “scream”.
I am talking of course, about Professional Wrestling’s number one Banshee, MsChif.
Born Rachel Collins around 1976, very little is known about her early life other than being born in Missouri. MsChif preferred to keep a certain level of anonymity toward her early life, and fair play to her for that.
MsChif spent her early years with her trainee promotion, Gateway Championship Wrestling, while also travelling all over the indies with appearances for IWA Mid-South, TNA and SHIMMER.
It was her time in IWA Mid-South that she is perhaps most fondly remembered, as she entered into a lengthy and revered feud with Daizee Haze. People in attendance for their series of matches, be it a singles match or a tag team match involving Mickie Knuckles and Allison Danger, often spoke of the intense and gruelling matches that they were watching. Ultimately, MsChif would lose the decisive match in the feud, but her stock had risen sharply. Following the feud with Haze she would enter into another feud, this time with Haze’s tag team partner Mickie Knuckles. Her reputation rose sharply following this, especially after going toe to toe with the NWA Midwest Women’s Champion, Mercedes Martinez, on a number of occasions.
Fast forward to May 7th, 2005, and MsChif finally got the big win over Haze by beating her for both the IWA Mid-South and NWA Midwest Women’s Championships. Following some Championship shenanigans, MsChif “lost” the IWA Mid-South Title, leaving her with just the NWA Midwest title, but she would eventually lose this as well in a winner takes all tag team steel cage match, where, teaming with Delirious, the NWA Midwest Women’s and X Division Championships were on the line. The match ended with Daizee Haze and Matt Sydal walking away with their respective championships.
Her big moment came on January 27th, 2007 when she beat Christie Ricci for the NWA World Women’s Championship, and shortly after this she won the NWA Midwest Title back from the then-champion Josie (Or Sojourner Bolt, as we would come to know her in TNA) on March 24th, 2007. Not only did this make the first woman in history to hold both the NWA World Women’s and Midwest Women’s titles simultaneously, but she would then hold the Midwest title for an astonishing 1683 days!
To continue through her career, which spans another half decade at least, would take more than just this article could cover, but she would continue to rack up Championships by adding the SHIMMER World Title to her impressive resumé.
She’s not just an in-ring genius, though. Outside of the ring, she is a qualified Genetics scientist, working as a microbiologist. MsChif married former Ring of Honor World Champion, Michael Elgin, in 2013 and the couple have a child together, however, they have since divorced. While it seems that records of her wrestling career stopped around 2014, she has never fully announced her retirement, and so we can only hope that if she hasn’t already, she steps back into the ring soon.
MsChif had two reigns as NWA World Women’s Champion, and while her second reign would be the longest of the modern era at 818 days, her first reign ended after just 98 days. The woman who beat her on that occasion is a woman we all know very well, and has won championships wherever she has gone. Well, aside from WWE, but her time there ended when she got pregnant just after her debut.
If you haven’t guessed from that, I am talking about Amazing Kong.
In the early 2000’s, its arguable that you were living under a rock if you didn’t know who Kong was. An absolutely phenomenal talent, Kia Stevens stood out from the pack when it came to the women's wrestlers of the time. Standing at almost six feet tall, and weighing almost 280lbs, Kong was, and is, an absolute unit.
While she began her career on the U.S. Indies, it wasn’t until she went over to Japan that she made her name. After a successful try-out, she continued her training with All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, eventually wrestling all over Japan for various promotions, winning numerous championships along the way.
Kong was a big name in Japan, but had not been seen on American shores since her early days. When she returned to America for SHIMMER in 2006, winning five consecutive matches, a title match was set, and the buzz surrounding her match with inaugural SHIMMER Champion Sara Del Ray was huge. Del Ray retained her title in this match, albeit by count out, giving Kong her first loss in SHIMMER.
Whilst she also wrestled for Ring of Honor, I can safely say we all know her from her time with TNA. Not only was she the Women’s Knockout Champion twice, she was involved in a near legendary feud and series of matches with Gail Kim.
Once again, to outline Kong’s entire career is an article all by itself, and perhaps one that will come somewhere down the line, but she is still active today with All Elite Wrestling, although since the end of the awful Nightmare Collective storyline, she has not been seen much on AEW television, as far as I am aware.
Kong’s reign as NWA World Women’s Champion would last just shy of one year, at 358 days, before she lost it back to MsChif at an NWA house show in Missouri on April 27th, 2008. This would be MsChif’s last reign to date, but at the aforementioned 818 days, it is an incredibly memorable one. She would lose the title on July 24th, 2010, and that is where we will pick up next time.
Thank you once again for joining me on this trip down memory lane. Next week we will go through the years of 2010 to 2014 as we once again look back at the history of the Original and NWA World Women’s Championship.