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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Girls Night Out 7 edition of AIW Magazine. I am not Aaron Bauer, so I suppose I have some explaining to do. My name is Paul Arrand Rodgers, and (no matter what The Duke says behind my back) I am the resident women’s wrestling expert of the AIW commentary team. I joined the crew back at Girls Night Out 5, and since then I’ve been honored with the opportunity to provide play-by-play during everything from Absolution 7 to the J.T. Lightning Invitational Tournament.

As for why I’m writing to you in this space: AIW’s acting president Matt Wadsworth has once again thrown his considerable girth around, deciding that, since I’m the women’s wrestling expert, I get to handle the Girls Night Out editions of  this publication. So let me begin my reign of journalistic terror by teasing you with the following bits of information.

1.     There’s a new episode of AIW’s Intense TV—the Girls Night Out edition—available on YouTube (watch it here).

2.     Details on how to watch the entirety of Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay II for FREE are contained in that video.

3.     Within the virtual pages of this magazine, you’ll find an interview with the soon-to-debut Thunderkitty that wasn’t conducted at the local Denny’s, previews for both Yim vs. Kay III and Del Rey vs. Hatred II, a column by new AIW Magazine contributor Des Delgadillo, and more.

4.     An anonymous source has been dropping various SCOOPS on AIW business over on Twitter. Follow him (or her) @One9009099900. Kids, get your parents permission before tweeting.

5.     As a supplement to AIW Magazine, I will be attempting to get interviews with #GNO favorites Kimber Lee and Cherry Bomb, which will be available in this space and on www.fearofaghostplanet.com.

6. There’s a $5 DVD sale going on at shop.aiwrestling.com from now to July 31. Get caught up on Girls Night Out and many other AIW back catalog events on the cheap, and feel good about yourself for supporting great independent wrestling.

7.     And, finally, that the format of this and all future Girls Night Out events is set to change, making a great event that much better. More information on this news will be available on AIW’s usual social media channels—Facebook (facebook.com/aiwrestling) and Twitter (@aiwrestling), as well as in this space, but suffice it to say that this changes everything about women’s wrestling not just in AIW, but in independent wrestling as a whole.

So read on, dear readers, secure in the knowledge that great things are afoot in Absolute Intense Wrestling. Absolution 7 may have been the end of one chapter (one that we will no doubt cover as soon as the fallout from that event is digested), but Girls Night Out 7 looks to be the start of something even better. Want to be there live? Then buy a ticket at shop.aiwrestling.com. The DVD waiting game’s for suckers, anyhow.

Paul Arrand Rodgers (@marchhaire)

Women’s Wrestling Expert (self-proclaimed)

***

The End of An Era

By: Paul Arrand Rodgers (@marchhaire)

While all eyes will be focused on the Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay steel cage bloodletting at Girls Night Out 7 this Saturday, there is perhaps no match this summer with as much buzz as #GNO7’s semi-main event, a rematch between Sara Del Rey and Hailey Hatred from Girls Night Out 2. The AIW fans often give themselves over to chants of “REMATCH” after damn near every match (though, honestly, you won’t find me complaining about AR Fox vs. Uhaa Nation or Tim Donst vs. Johnny Gargano or Rickey Shane Page vs. Eric Ryan or the aforementioned Yim/Kay contests), but its rare that a rematch on any given card deserves something as profound as Roman numerals denoting which match is which. Del Rey/Hatred, were I in the business of handing out Roman numerals, would be one such contest.

Consider, if you will, that Girls Night Out 2 took place in 2009. A little less than three years have passed, but in professional wrestling, a year may as well be a decade. Both Sara Del Rey and Hailey Hatred have evolved since 2009, and their match this Saturday will be a reflection of the changes they’ve undergone.

Del Rey, for example, was once known as “the best women’s wrestler in the world.” Now, having achieved acclaim in CHIKARA during their 12 Large Summit and in feature bouts against the likes of current WWE Superstar and AIW alumnus Claudio Castagnoli (remember him?), El Generico, and new AIW regular Eddie Kingston, Del Rey is a legitimate claimant to the title of “Best in the World,” no gender qualifiers needed. She may not have t-shirts proclaiming it or a Wrestlemania storyline booked around that fact, but it’s a title that many people (including myself) feel that she has earned and defended around the globe. In AIW, Del Rey does not hold a particularly impressive record (she is 2-3, in Girls Night Out competition, with all three losses coming in AIW Women’s Title matches), but her reputation is unimpeachable. It doesn’t matter if Del Rey is stretching Sassy Stephie, nearly separating the shoulder of Mickie Knuckles, or offering a sign of respect to Veda Scott—The Queen of Wrestling has delivered in that ring, time and time again.

Hailey Hatred—who came up with the original Girls Night Out concept—was once an AIW homer. Though she has wrestled (and won) the most matches in Girls Night Out history (Hatred holds an astonishing 7-0 record thanks to a three-match performance at #GNO1 and a doubleheader at #GNO6), much of her acclaim comes from her recent trip to Japan, where she won four major championships, the Christmas Cup, and the J-1 Grand Prix with the JWP Project. The world now knows what AIW fans have always known about Hailey Hatred: That she is a fierce, uncompromising competitor of skill and determination. At Girls Night Out 6, AIW’s fans got a taste of what Hatred picked up in Japan. Against Jenny Rose (another woman who underwent significant change in Japan), Hailey’s forearm shots were a little harder. Her suplexes were executed more crisply. She was a good wrestler before—you could see that in her match against John Thorne at Straight Outta Compton and in her other #GNO6 match against Leva Bates—but, after Japan, one is compelled to argue that Hatred is one of the greats.

Under normal circumstances, a Del Rey vs. Hatred match with the two women at the top of their respective games would be enough of a hook. But circumstances are anything but normal. Hailey Hatred is a busy woman whose obligations in Japan make her stays in the United States more brief than most would like, and any wrestling fan with internet access has likely surmised that Del Rey will soon be making the trip to Stamford, CT, the land of sports-entertainment. Girls Night Out 7, in fact, is one of Del Rey’s last stops on what has become an unofficial farewell tour. In an effort to ensure that the match is a special one, AIW officials have decided that there will be no time limit.

This is tremendously important, for a few reasons. Though Del Rey will be in a mixed tag team match at Ring of Honor’s upcoming iPPV and has faced CHIKARA stalwarts Eddie Kingston and Icarus, Girls Night Out 7 represents the last time Del Rey will find herself in a singles match against a top woman athlete. It’s a meeting between a woman who helped build independent women’s wrestling, and a woman who best represents its future. This isn’t happening in SHIMMER, Shine, or WSU, but Absolute Intense Wrestling, which, in seven events, has become a top destination for talented women’s wrestlers. Announcers often like the quip that certain matches have “sold out monitors,” meaning that the wrestlers in the back are watching the contest in the ring and are just as wrapped up in it as the fans. Del Rey and Hatred are professionals and will treat this like another day at the office. I suspect, however, that everybody in the back, from Trash Cassidy and Thunderkitty to Veda Scott and Courtney Rush, will be watching this one.

Why? Because women’s wrestling, despite how great it is, still finds itself looking for the acceptance and recognition it deserves stateside, and because Hatred and Del Rey are just the sort of women to open the eyes of the unconverted. Hailey Hatred and Sara Del Rey are not Divas, and they’re not knockouts; they’re professional wrestlers, and they’re two of the best in this industry. While there may not be a prize like the AIW Women’s Title on the line, pride means everything to both women. Knowing that neither will be in a position to take back a win later, I fully expect these two to go well beyond your typical non-title 20-minute time limit, making good use of their match’s stipulation. I know that hyperbole is unbecoming of a wrestling announcer, but as a wrestling fan and as a fan of both wrestlers involved, there’s something special about Hatred vs. Del Rey II. I wouldn’t miss it for anything, and neither should you.

(For a taste of Del Rey vs. Hatred I, check out Episode 26 of Intense TV)

***

Seven Questions for Girls Night Out 7 with ThunderKitty
By: Aaron Bauer (@fairtoaar)


Every now and again, Aaron Bauer gets the itch to try out the “journalism” part of “broadcast journalism.” Recently, he caught up with ThunderKitty (facebook.com/thunderkitty) to talk about her beginnings in wrestling, her impending AIW debut against Trash Cassidy, and that oft-debated topic, the right for women to vote.

Aaron Bauer: How did you get the name ‘ThunderKitty’?

ThunderKitty: Saw it painted on the side of a war plane. Thought it had a nice ring to it.

AB: Where are you from originally?

TK: Gulfport, Mississippi—home of the 3rd largest catfish ever captured, the first state to build a juke joint and host to the south’s annual 4th of July “Migration Parade.”

AB: How did you find out about GNO7?

TK: Awhile back, one of my friends introduced me to something called ‘the internet.’ I like to use it to look for cat pictures and wrestling matches. I saw your show and decided I should be a part of it.

AB: What made you want to become a professional wrestler?

TK: I have fifteen older brothers and been in over 150 bar fights. I might as well get paid for fighting. We’re smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression and times are hard for a single woman.

AB: What does your workout routine consist of?

TK: I roll out of bed sometime around noon and eat a delicious breakfast consisting of bacon and eggs. Then I yell at the neighbors kids and tell them to get the hell out of my yard and stop throwing stuff at my dog. Then I do some calisthenics—Pushups, Hindu squats, weight lifting, etc.—before jogging down to the liquor store and back.

AB: Who have been your toughest opponents?

TK: Bruno the Bear was a tough one, so was my third match against Spider Woman. I say those are the toughest, because me and Spider Woman’s match was only the fifth time I’d ever wrestled to a 90 minute draw. She’s a tough gal. And Bruno was a bear.

AB: What long term goals do you have as a female professional wrestler?

TK: I don’t even know what color socks I’m going to wear tomorrow, much less what I’ll be doing ten years from now. My goal is to win as many wrestling matches as possible. Someone said I should use my notoriety to show that women deserve to vote. Someone else asked me to push for women to get driving privileges. A young lady with lots of potential named Lillian Ellison asked me to train her. But before any of that can happen, I have to beat Trash Cassidy. Is woman enough to go 90 minutes with ThunderKitty?


***


To close part one of the #GNO edition of AIW Magazine, we’re proud to present a new column by Des
Delgadillo, lifelong wrestling fan and host of The People’s Podcast. Des will be joining us in future issues of this publication, so it’s only fitting that he introduce himself.



The Blind Side

By: Des Delgadillo (@DesDelgadillo)


The grandeur of professional wrestling has always and will always be very real to me. As wrestling fans, every one of us learns to embrace this quirky, combative take on reality. Whether we’re packed together like sardines in an armory, or immersed in a sea of fanaticism in a 50,000-seat arena, we are always captivated by the unceasingly hard-hitting spectacle that is professional wrestling. But even as I sit here in the nose bleed section at the Staples Center for a show I’ve been anticipating for months, I know that despite sharing a common bond with the other 20,000 wrestling fans in attendance tonight, I’m different from the rowdy group of fans beside me; I’m different from the lucky devil who scored ringside seats; I’m different from the super fan who seems to be at every show. I’m different, because even though I’ve been enamored with, writing about, and watching wrestling ever since I can remember, I’ve never actually seen it.

I was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at a very early age, which rendered me irreversibly blind by the time I was three years old. How then, can I enjoy wrestling so vehemently if I can’t even see what’s happening? After all, my views on wrestling might be a tad bit contradictory to who I am as a person. I see the world of wrestling as a world of color, and our favorite performers are products of our favorite hues. And when our favorite performers have absorbed the right amount of color, or “Charisma,” they step out on a canvas and proceed to render physicality and psychology into one indelible masterpiece. In a 1957 essay entitled “The World of Wrestling,” French philosopher and literary theorist Roland Barthes described wrestling as “The grandiloquent truth of gestures.” Yes, wrestling is competition; wrestling is my favorite sport; but most importantly, wrestling is art.

But aside from a world of color, wrestling is also an emotionally charged rollercoaster. Any wrestling event, if orchestrated properly, ripples with emotion, and the ups and downs a rollercoaster would suggest dominate the atmosphere. The closing moments of Absolution 7 exemplify that. Think of the assortment of feelings at that moment: a bit of uncertainty? Intrigue? Fear, perhaps? And think of the emotions that will undoubtedly bubble to the surface at Girls Night Out 7 when AIW says farewell to Sara del Rey, truly one of the greats in womens’ wrestling, or when Allysin Kay looks to defend her title against Mia Yim. I’m on an even playing field as it pertains to emotion, because nobody can see that, but everybody can feel it.


But, to satisfy those curious parties, I depend on good to great wrestling commentators or friends on occasion for a brief rundown of what’s happening, and I infer from there. Like so many art forms, I feel like wrestling is up for interpretation to a degree; as such, I interpret freely, and I reflect said loose interpretation in my writing. Whether it’s Joey Styles providing a move-by-move style of commentary, or Aaron Bauer and a partner working in tandem to convey the bigger picture significance of a match, I rely on commentators’ ability to add to, not detract from, wrestling’s allure.

I find that as a visually impaired wrestling fan I have a lot more to prove, and perhaps rightfully so. Like so many other wrestling fans, my daydreams consist of contributing in some way, shape, or form to the wrestling business. That dream intensified for me when I spoke with Gregory Iron, an Ohio standout who has had to overcome Cerebral Palsy to achieve his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Never did he dream he would actually be wrestling, only that he would contribute to the business he loved. I look at wrestling and my future in it in a very similar way: I don’t plan on making history as a blind pro wrestler (who would want to train one anyway?), but I do plan on making my contribution. For me, that outlet is writing in the hope that I can be of some small service to the greatest sport in the world. I’m always studying, always learning about the history of what I love.


Wrestling is my ultimate goal, and every path I take in life will lead me there. Pro wrestling even got me admitted into my dream college thanks to a ridiculously lengthy essay I wrote on the topic. It’s not a silly dream.


I hope that I can continue providing an alternative perspective on Absolute Intense Wrestling action for as long as this publication remains available. With Mr. Aaron Bauer’s journalism being questionable at best, it is my hope that I can counterbalance this and bring a little more legitimacy to the AIW Magazine.


Until next time,
Des Delgadillo

***

That marks the end of Part 1 of this special #GNO 7 edition of AIW Magazine. Part 2 will be up in this space tomorrow. While you’re waiting, head over to shop.aiwrestling.com and buy your tickets to #GNO7, or take advantage of our DVD sale.

Once you’ve done that, satisfy your craving for all things AIW by heading over to Dirty Dirty Sheets and listen to their new podcast, which features long-time rivals Hailey Hatred and “The Passion” John Thorne.

And, as if that’s not enough, there’ll be some exciting news coming down the pike about #GNO7 and more AIW events. To keep up with this and news from around the world of indie wrestling, point your browser to Pro Wrestling Ponderings and Ringbelles, then mash F5 like you’re carrying a shark on your shoulders.

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