Before the stars of wrestling hit it big, they're learning the ropes to varying degrees of success. Some you've seen well before you even realized, as they claw their way to a big break. Whether it be extra work, or getting crushed on cable TV, everyone has a different path. Now, they'll tell you about it.
These are Enhancement Stories
The early days of NWA:TNA had a lot of hidden gems. The wrestling scene was bursting with young talent looking for a way to get on screen with two of three national wrestling promotions closing, and we g got a look at some future stars before they hit it big. Angelina Love was one of those.
The woman who would go on to have almost a half-dozen runs with NWA:TNA, TNA, Impact and Global Force Wrestling, and another half dozen Knockouts Championship reigns didn't start at the top. Love, like many others, tried her hand against a more experienced name... kind of.
Trinity was a homegrown TNA talent who had been around for a couple of years, and would go on to wrestle in WWE. Angel Williams, as Love was known at the time, had actually been wrestling for four years at that point -- longer than Trinity. However, she was still struggling to be seen. She explained to Fightful how a series of 2004 enhancement matches against Trinity came about.
"It was just the Ontario indie scene. A lot of us were driving down from Toronto to Nashville to be at those shows. ECW and WCW had shut down and WWE was running the world. Here comes this TNA, and it was an opening for a lot of us. It was a drive we could do. A lot of us, like Sinn Bohdi, me, Traci Brooks, Eric Young would carpool down there. We'd pay our own way, pay our own gas, pay our own hotel just to be there, just to be seen. That's how a lot of us got into TNA. We were driving 12 hours, staying two or three days as often as we could just to be seen," said Angelina.
To fans, the second match (from June 2004) was more memorable. It was on an NWA:TNA pay-per-view and has surfaced on Youtube. It featured Trinity busting out a 619 before busting Angelina with a steel chair several times. However, Love herself doesn't remember that match at all. Instead, she thought back to February. This would be Angelina's first television exposure, even though it didn't last long.
"I only remember the Xplosion match, and I only remember it because it's 45 seconds long," said Love. "I remember it was my first time in a six-sided ring and my ring geography was all out of wack. I didn't have a focal point to even know where I was. I just got squashed in 45 seconds. It was barely a match. It was an opportunity. I was 22. I got hired by WWE right at the end of 2004, so it was all about the opportunity, but it really wasn't even a match!"
As unmemorable as the match (and apparently both of them) were, Angelina did remember the struggles of competing inside a six-sided ring for the first time. For anyone who has ever competed or trained in one, they're notoriously painful. Angelina would concur, while pointing out the clear positives associated with TNA using that style.
"The ropes, ugh! The ropes, for any woman, was like trying to bounce off a brick wall. For the guys it worked. Lots of springboard, X-division, lucha, AJ Styles, Amazing Red. For them it worked, for us, it hurt. When me and Velvet would make our entrance and sit on the ropes to let the other one in the ring, the ropes didn't move! It didn't sag at all because they were pulled so tight. It was interesting because a six sided ring is different. You do get used to it, but you figure out what are the good corners to be in and the good camera angles. What ropes to hit gives you the good angles, which one gives you the dead spot. That doesn't really happen in a four sided ring. It's painful. There was more steel in the bottom of the ring and everything was pulled tighter because there was two extra sides to the ring. Being women, with our smaller bodies, I found that everything was a lot more painful," Angelina recalled.
Love/Williams would circle back to the lack of time and preparation for the match, but admitted that the jitters were present.
"I probably just found out about that match that day because I was there and they used me. I for sure was super nervous. She was cool and TNA was making a big deal out of her, but it was 45 seconds. It was maybe three minutes, but that included two entrances and her victory stuff afterwards," said Angelina. "If I got any feedback, I truly do not remember!"
While Angelina doesn't seem to recall the matches, it seems she made an impression on Impact officials, as she's spent the last 15 years in and out of the company. It all started with an unmemorable 45 second squash, which is remembered today.
Check out past editions of Enhancement Stories!