Ladies Night at the IPW Training Academy

Guest contributor Maddy Perkins leaves the safety of the sidelines to see if she has what it takes to be part of Impact Pro Wrestling’s thriving women’s division.

The New Zealand women’s wrestling scene is taking over.

It’s impossible to imply otherwise, I’ve witnessed it bloom in front of my own eyes. From women being underutilised/under-represented in New Zealand wrestling to, as of December 2016, an explosion of fresh talent, a Last Woman Standing main event, and even the first New Zealand female wrestler signed to WWE for the Mae Young Classic.

Through it all there’s been one constant: IPW Women’s Champion Britenay. I was lucky enough to sit front row at Britenay’s recent title defence in a triple threat match against two of New Zealand’s fastest-rising female talents: Candy Lee, as beautiful as she is threatening, and Ashlee Spencer, a Princess with a point to prove. (IPW Winter Warfare, June 10.)

All three of these women command attention. Their blows are hard, audible, terrifying, and make you question everything you thought you knew about women’s wrestling. These women are not here as eye candy, as some would suggest, and they are not afraid of bursting an implant or breaking a fake nail – they simply don’t have them.

But even two competitors were not enough to take Britenay out. Her ring experience gave her the upper-hand as she deftly dispatched Lee—right as it seemed Lee would take the win—and pinned Spencer, seizing victory for herself.

In early June, Impact Pro Wrestling (IPW) announced it would be hosting a tryout on July 15. Usually I would be content with watching the action safely from the sidelines, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I had what it takes to be a professional wrestler – and even if I didn’t, I knew it would make a great story!

After a few exchanged e-mails, I found myself at a warehouse in Henderson on a rainy Monday night. Nestled into a row of mechanics and panel beaters is the IPW training facility. It’s inconspicuous from the outside, but on the inside hosts two wrestling rings, and along one wall displays almost every show poster they’ve ever created, as well as images of wrestlers who found their humble beginnings with IPW and went on to become stars worldwide. There’s a real sense of pride here. There is also a blackboard filled with “inspirational” quotes. Today’s message reads: “Do the mahi, get the treats”.

Britenay introduces me to the other women. There are six of us tonight, and these women are the core of IPW’s women’s division. Despite being the top competitor, I learn that Britenay is also our trainer tonight – her 10 years of experience wrestling throughout Australasia have earned her that spot. And then it begins…

It’s fairly obvious early on that I won’t be able to keep up as we do what Britenay tells me is a standard warm up, consisting of squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, and other body-weight movements. My knees are screaming and I’m puffing like I’ve run a marathon, but I power through and manage to come out in one piece.

We quickly move into rolls and “bumps” – Britenay teaches me how to safely fall backwards onto a large blue mat (kick your feet into the air, tuck your chin, slap down with your arms and breathe out) before she lets me try it in the ring. I stand at the back of the line and watch as the other women throw themselves down onto the canvas with a thud and spring back up again, and then it’s my turn. My body hits the ground and all the air is knocked out of me. It’s a huge shock and I have no idea how everyone else managed to get up so fast.

I try a few more bumps before I decide it’s better if I just go back to observing for the time being.

There is obvious competition here amongst the women. They may all have different goals in wrestling, but the one thing they all want is Britenay’s coveted IPW Women’s Championship.

Aslee Spencer and Candy Lee are not new faces to fans of IPW. Both have been regularly featured on IPW events throughout 2017, and both are eager to knock Britenay from her throne. They’ve crossed paths multiple times this year in battle for the chance to be number one contender. Lee beat Spencer in their last match which allows her an opportunity to face Britenay in her first one-on-one match for the women’s title on Saturday, August 19, at Ultimatum.

Candy Lee has been a fan favourite since arriving on the scene. She’s colourful, bubbly, and brings all she’s got to the ring. She has an impressive big boot which she calls the Gob Stopper, a discus clothesline that takes heads off, and her finishing move, the Candy Crush, has never been kicked out of. Without Spencer getting in her way, Lee has a very good chance at finally getting her win – the win she feels was stolen from her at Winter Warfare.

Amber Saint and Grace Lightning are also exceptional. Both have been trained by Britenay for the last 12 months. Britenay tells me they are nearly ready to “graduate” to live shows and should making an impressive debut by the end of the year.

Women’s wrestling fans can rest assured that with these five around the women’s wrestling scene is in very capable hands. Whatever the outcome at Ultimatum, I know that I’ll be cheering both Britenay and Candy Lee on from my usual spot, the front row.