Sherri Schrull and Candace Rummel had many things in common. They both once lived in the south, were extremely sensuous, created characters so vibrant we will remember them for a lifetime, awake or in dreams, and in the 1980’s pro exhibition world, were AWA Women Wrestling Champions known as Sherri Martel and Candi Devine. They also had something else in common. They competed in real competition against female submission wrestlers.
In modern times the lady pros continue to transition over and compete in fully competitive submission wrestling matches. Lucky O’Shea, Christie Ricci and Amber O’neal have tried, to name a few, but save Christie Ricci, their matches are far apart and not heavily promoted. Anyone who watched Christie Ricci defeat rising submission stars Neko and Frankie Zappitelli of Canada at Jackpin’s 2008 Women’s Wrestling Convention in San Diego knows when it comes to submission wrestling, Ms. Ricci is internally tough, determined and well trained. We’re confident women’s wrestling fans would agree, the female submission world would be greatly enhanced if more lady pros packaged their fame and made the transition and competed in both worlds.
When FCI first published the article, “Women’s Wrestling Partnership”, January 20, 2013, we weren’t sure how the concept of the lady pros, submission and freestyle wrestlers competing against each other would be received since in times past, the competitors seemed to rarely participate in agreed upon events. Now, almost six months down the road, cross pollination is becoming more common.
In February, 2013, it was reported that The WWE, a leader in ladies pro exhibition wrestling, signed multi-talented Kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA grappling superstar Kendra Smith to a contract and she’s been training at the organization’s developmental facility in Florida. This information has also been confirmed on Ms. Smith’s website where she has been showcasing videos of her training. It was also reported by MMA News that The WWE is said to be in talks with top female MMA fighter, Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos.
If someone were wondering why more lady pros don’t cross over into the submission world, the answer is simple. The lack of Money. FCI staff members have been a part of the submission world for years and we’ve seen a disturbing trend. The number of private wrestling companies that shoot non-nude competition is declining. The reasons explained are many. With the growth of the online world, the ability for consumers to download and share a company’s product for free is almost unstoppable. Some have built private inventories of over 1,000 matches, admittedly not the same quality as a paid download, but enjoyable enough at no cost.
In the 1990’s, video tapes were the product of choice and purchase costs easily came in at $50-$60 each tape in the power of that time period’s dollar value. Now the price of a downloaded match typically ranges from $12 to $20 but the production costs are higher. Even a novice female submission wrestler can command $100 per 10 to 15 minute match and understandably want multiple match guarantees ahead of time to even set foot in the car to make the drive. The more experienced stars easily command $200 or more per match. One of our staff had an experience where he guaranteed competitors at least $300 to show for a shoot that would probably take two hours and two of the four cancelled on him.
It gets worse. It was reported at one male watering hole that market research indicates the males who enjoy fully competitive non nude matches are over age 50 and their numbers are dwindling. It continued by adding the younger males prefer more violent nude matches where the competitors end the match with the loser being sexually dominated. Obviously the lady pros for a host of reasons including having the disapproval of their following and reputations at stake cannot walk down that pathway.
Candi Devine was badly injured in Memphis in 1985, when she and Amy Monroe collided head to head in a monkey-flip, fracturing her jaw and cheek. A lengthy recovery time and plastic surgery became needed to repair the damage and briefly she considered quitting wrestling. Fortunately for all of us, she didn’t. Ms. Martel suffered injuries as well. The possibility of severe injury is probably greater in the high risk, stunt oriented squared circle so fear of being injured in the ground level submission world would not deter them but the risk of embarrassment might. In the confines of their scripted pro world, some are champions. Crossover into the fully competitive, camp unprotected submission world where many are trained in some form of martial arts and have years of experience and the match can quickly become one sided to someone you may have never heard of.
If the solution is more money, is it possible the private wrestling companies can combine their budgets, share camera work and co-release matches to lower their production costs? Our experience is this is far more challenging than it sounds. The focus seems to be to make a profit for the moment with no real long term plan.
Jackpin’s great convention is often longingly spoken about in our circles but that was five long years ago and there seems to be nothing significant on the horizon in the near future that we know of. Is it fair for one person to shoulder that kind of major personal time and financial responsibility as Jackpin seemed to? Does it always have to be a great convention every ten years or nothing? Couldn’t we cooperate with each other and organize smaller more frequent events?
Wouldn’t you like to see Christie Ricci verses Julie Ginther in competition? How about Liz Lightspeed challenging a MMA trained WWE Diva? FCI feels one possible solution is build a structure that the corporations can sponsor and the financial possibilities soar to lure the ladies pros onto the submission mats.
The memories of Candi Devine and Sherri Martel exhibition title fights will always be in our hearts. The charisma, star power and excitement that the lady pros can bring to the submission world is worth financially planning and fighting for. More corporate money will make their transition easier.
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Sources: Wikipedia, Wrestlingnewsworld.com, Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons, Kendra Smith website, the mat.com, MMA News, Koco Sports, PWMANIA, Outdoor Vital Wrestling.