As an 80s kid, I grew up with two opposing forces – WWF and NWA/WCW. The NWA legacy has always been there and the older I got the more I learnt about the earlier works of guys like Terry Funk, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. NWA has always been about tradition and respect and when you fast forward to 2021, its values remain the same but instead of the men, it’s the women that got to take the spotlight at Empowerrr. Many fans and wrestlers alike have been clamouring for an all-women pay-per-view since WWE Evolution back in 2018. Unfortunately, WWE never followed up on that so it has been left to the rest of the industry to pick up the slack and give some much-needed opportunity to women all over the world.
The driving force was wrestling legend Mickie James, making the most of her exit from WWE to pull up everyone around her and working with NWA to put together a stacked card involving talent from AEW, Impact Wrestling, AAA and of course the National Wrestling Alliance. No forbidden doors or glass ceilings but simply a group of women, from Hall of Famers to current champions, wishing to celebrate the rich history of women’s wrestling and looking to prove everyone wrong by putting on a sell-out show. As the PPV title says, this was a night beyond just having a great event. Instead, it was about empowering every single female in the back and in the crowd and watching around the world. This was everything that Mickie James had promised and more. From the wrestlers to the referees to the interviewers and commentators, this was a pure celebration of what it is to be a woman in an industry where they are often overlooked, underappreciated, and rarely given the opportunities they desperately want. Everyone came to fight for respect, and by the end of the night, they had surely earned it.
An Introduction From Mickie James
When “Hardcore Country” hits, everyone gets on their feet no matter where Mickie James appears so there was no better way to kick off Empowerrr than with the Executive Producer. With everyone chanting Mickie, she quickly reminded everyone that it wasn’t about her but about women’s wrestling. Considering the way her exit from WWE happened, she could’ve sat back and felt sorry for herself, but instead, it lit a fire under her and she’s been incredibly driven in putting together the best women’s lineup she possibly could. The true emotion in her voice, getting choked up at the appreciation from the crowd, it was hard to watch without feeling tears in my own eyes. Even Velvet was feeling the intensity of the moment at the commentary booth and what a way to kick off the event.
Kylie Rae vs Diamante vs Chik Tormenta
Kylie has certainly had her ups and downs over the past few years. She worked with AEW, debuting at Double or Nothing in 2019, but quickly left the company and ended up in Impact Wrestling having a successful run until she looked to retire, only to find a spot with NWA this year. No doubt she’s one of the most popular stars wherever she goes. Diamante came to represent AEW while Chik Tormenta is an AAA star and has held numerous championships in Mexico. A true clash of styles between three women led to a chaotic and fast-paced opening match with everyone exchanging roll-ups to start with and trying to pick up the early win but no one having any luck.
Diamante took her more physical style and tried to ground Kylie but Rae had her number and managed a few impressive moves before taking to the top rope and successfully hitting an arm drag. It didn’t take long for Chik to get involved again and establish dominance with a powerful German suplex on Kyle while Diamante was on Rae’s shoulders. The crowd were solidly behind their smiley hero but still managed to show some respect to the AEW and AAA stars, especially when they were trading stiff blows as Smiley Kylie was on the outside. Body shots from Diamante took down Kylie, wearing her down so that she could set her up for a top rope suplex, but instead, we got a Tower of Doom as Tormenta snuck in and powerbombed everyone down. At that point, everyone looked exhausted and the win was there for anyone to take.
Double knees from Chik on Rae looked like it might be the ending but Diamante wasn’t having it. Everyone was showing their experience with reversals aplenty and hardly a moment to catch breath anywhere. Kylie is well known for her heart and perseverance and no matter what her opponents threw at her, she kept coming back and looked for a way to squeeze out a win somewhere. Despite her joyous nature, Rae wasn’t scared to dig deep with moves like a cross-face but it was Diamante throwing a chain that allowed the AEW star to pick up the 1-2-3 over Chik Tormenta. Tony Khan will be happy with that, for sure, but Kylie has to quickly regroup as she’s facing Mickie James at NWA 73 the very next night.
— The 🇨🇺💎 (@DiamanteLAX) August 29, 2021
NWA Women’s Tag Title Tournament Semi-Final – The Hex (Allysin Kay & Marti Belle) vs Hell on Heels (Renee Michelle & Sahara Seven)
If you know anything about women’s wrestling, then Allysin Kay has to be up there as one of the most familiar faces worldwide over the past decade or so. A previous Top 10 position in the PWI Female 50, alongside titles in Shine Wrestling, Impact Wrestling and a former NWA World Women’s Champion, you can see why Marti Belle would want Kay alongside her despite their previous battles against each other. Hell on Heels knew they were the underdogs but sometimes it’s the unknown quantity that can be the most surprising. And despite the experience of Kay and Belle, you just never know how well former rivals will be able to keep it together.
Psychology played a strong part in the opening as both teams knew that there was another match waiting for them later in the night for the tag titles. It’s the decision between holding something back for later and giving everything you’ve got to make sure you win the first match. Both teams were on fire from the beginning, showing no signs of holding anything back whatsoever. It broke down into a fight with Hell on Heels not backing down from the brutality of their opponents. Neither team showed any fear whatsoever and Renee and Sahara did a good job of isolating Marti Belle and using their speed and teamwork to keep her away from Kay.
Allysin managed to get the crowd behind The Hex which motivated Marti to finally tag her in. Sky put AK over on commentary knowing how vicious she can be and she certainly showed that with chops that Ric Flair would be proud of. The Hex then showed some top tier double team moves while taking advantage of the referee’s count. Sahara got caught by an Hexclamation Point which took her out and then the Hexecution followed on Renee Michelle to solidify The Hex’s win to advance to the finals for the opportunity at the tag team titles which were previously deactivated in 1984. The Hex were my pick to win it all so everything started off just right.
NWA Women’s Tag Title Tournament Semi-Final – Red Velvet and KiLynn King vs The Freebabes (Hollyhood Haley J, Miranda Gordy, and Jazzy Yang)
History gets thrown around quite a lot but you can’t get a better team than The Freebabes to cement that link between old and new in NWA. You’ve got Haley J who is the daughter of veteran Amazing Maria from OVW and of course, Miranda, who is the daughter of Terry ‘Bam Bam’ Gordy, alongside Jazzy Yang following in the footsteps of her dad Jimmy Wang Yang. You can’t argue with the calibre of those families and this is a whole new generation trying to earn the respect of wrestling fans in 2021. Velvet and King on the other hand have been making waves over in AEW, with Red getting some top opportunities, recently losing against Britt Baker for the AEW Women’s World Championship on AEW Rampage.
What I loved about this match is that it was between two up and coming teams that really wanted to prove themselves and knew that they’d have a lot of eyes on the match. Miranda Gordy was presented as a hugely tough and dominant wrestler who could easily destroy anyone in front of her, but she also had the benefit of being backed up by two mischievous teammates who would do anything to get the win. Red and KiLynn made for a good team with Velvet being the quicker of the two and King bringing the power but the numbers game often got to them.
Gordy dominated Red Velvet for a good portion of the match, not allowing the fresh King, instead giving regular tags to Jazzy Yang who showed a good bit of cocky attitude. That attitude from the Freebabes was enough to lose their focus and Velvet eventually got the tag out to King who smashed her way through her opponents. Some miscommunication between Gordy and Yang left the window open for KiLynn King to drop Miranda out of the ring. With Yang left alone, King took advantage and hit her impactful Kingdom Falls facebuster to claim victory and a spot in the tag title finals. No matter who the winner was in this match, it’s clear that all the competitors have a bright future ahead of them.
An Emotional Goodbye
Despite all the hot in-ring action that happened throughout the night, one of the best and most memorable moments was the legendary Gail Kim surprising everyone by coming out and cutting a promo. As she said, it’s not always been her strong point, but the emotion certainly came through. And much like Mickie, it wasn’t just about her. In fact, it ended up being about someone entirely different – Awesome Kong. But let’s not forget how it started, with Kim being interrupted by her former TNA/Impact Wrestling friend and foe in Taryn Terrell. After leaving Impact in 2017, Terrell finally made her wrestling return for NWA this year and obviously hasn’t forgotten about her fantastic feud with Gail back in 2012-2013. It’s certainly one of my favourite feuds in TNA/Impact Wrestling history and really showed everyone wants Taryn was capable of.
Terrell still has a bee in her bonnet about all things Gail and so her interrupting at Empowerrr was anything but friendly, especially being backed up by two intimidating presences in Jennacide and Paola Blaze. Seemingly outnumbered and wearing shoes that definitely weren’t made for fighting in, Kim looked in a precarious position until Kong’s music hit and the crowd went wild. Taryn’s sidekicks tried to take out Kong but a chokeslam and an implant buster later and they were gone, leaving Terrell to cower outside. Kong teased an awkward confrontation with Kim but, instead, Awesome took the mic and cut a heartfelt promo, if she was going to go out then she had to go out with Gail Kim. Awesome Kong is done and she loves Gail and yes, I’m in tears just writing this because both women went to Hell and back together for women’s wrestling and it’ll never be forgotten. Thank you, Kong, indeed.
How it started vs. how it's going
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 29, 2021
IMPACT Knockouts Championship – Deonna Purrazzo (c) vs Melina
After the goosebumps of the previous segment, Purrazzo and Melina had a lot to live up to but Deonna is on the run of her career and Melina wanted to prove that she’s still capable of delivering at the top of her game so who better to follow Kim and Kong? If you’ve been following Impact Wrestling, then you’ll know how exceptional Deonna has been since joining, and not only that but she recently defeated Faby Apache at Triplemanía XXIX for the AAA Reina de Reinas title. She’s basically becoming the female Kenny Omega and there’s nothing wrong with that. There was a real theme throughout Empowerrr about women who may have been underrated in one particular place and now thriving in many different companies and proving them wrong.
Deonna wrestled with a confidence like no other but it doesn’t come across as cocky to me. She’s someone that knows how good she is and she’s absolutely backed it up recently, but Melina had absolutely nothing to lose by going all out and giving Purrazzo everything she had. A legend of the ring, Melina hasn’t had the regular experience that Deonna has in recent years but the flexibility and the fire still exists there. With a few unique submission moves and using her legs to full effect, Melina’s offence was something that Deonna struggled with for a lot of the match as she tried to figure out a way to get on top. In the end, it often came down to Melina’s more emotional responses versus the cold and calculated presence of the champion allowing Purrazzo to take control.
Once The Virtuosa was able to wrestle the match at her own pace, then she picked apart Melina’s limbs – first the arms and then a major focus on the legs. A smart approach to take out Melina’s flexible move set and you can’t have speed if you can’t run. Deonna isn’t one to go all out with flashy moves to impress the crowd but instead outsmarting and outwrestling her opponents. Melina’s recent ACL injury was well publicised and would eventually be her undoing, with Deonna brutally applying submission after submission and tough kicks to leave Melina barely able to stand. Despite telling the referee she wanted to continue and bravely fighting on, the pain ended up being too much and Purrazzo folded up Melina in a double armbar and then transitioned to a half crab to force Melina to tap out. An exceptional fight from the injured former champion but 2021 is Deonna’s year and that’s not changing anytime soon. Deonna swept the dirt from under her feet onto Melina and I love a pure heel despite all the loved up goodness all night.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 29, 2021
NWA Women’s Tag Title Tournament Final – The Hex (Allysin Kay and Marti Belle) vs Red Velvet and KiLynn King
For such a big moment you have to have someone big on commentary so yet another legend appeared. Medusa – former champion in AJPW, AWA, WCW and WWF – sat down and put over everyone and was happy to sit next to Velvet. As the legend took her seat, Velvet and King got in the ring and hyped the crowd up for a title match like no other. Kay and Belle arrived next and while both teams had already wrestled once at the PPV, the adrenaline and excitement were clear to see and everyone was ready to fight.
Kay and King kicked it off and both women are powerhouses that would usually tower over their opponents. King had the slight edge but Kay’s experience would pay dividends. Eventually, Belle would take her shot at KiLynn which was a harder fight but her speed meant she could outrun some of King’s shots and hit a nasty kick for a close fall. Marti and Allysin showed some great tag team chemistry in their second match of the night but Red and KiLynn didn’t show any signs of giving up, instead isolating Kay and hitting some innovative double team moves to try and capture the titles. The passion of both teams kept the crowd hot and they would’ve been happy with either team becoming champions.
Between the two matches, I’d say Red Velvet looked the best she has in quite some time, reminding everyone why she’s been featured so heavily on AEW programming lately. But Allysin Kay isn’t so easily impressed and kept the fight up, always being there to help Marti when she needed it. When Red Velvet missed a splash off the top rope it signalled the start of the finish for the AEW team, allowing Kay and Belle to hit an assisted AK-47 to crown new women’s tag team champions in The Hex. A huge show of respect after the match with handshakes between all women and you just know there’s more to come from Velvet and King.
NWA World Women’s Championship – Kamille (c) vs Leyla Hirsch
If you’re looking for a real David vs Goliath story and one of the best women’s matches all year then go out of your way to watch this one. What Leyla lacks in size she makes up for with technical ability and speed, but Kamille walked in with the champion’s advantage. Plus the confidence of knowing that she beat Serena Deep for that title and that’s an incredible achievement in itself. Right from the bell, Hirsch had a game plan – to outrun the champion and to cut her down like a tree. She kept on top of her opponent and looked to take her by surprise at every opportunity. But Kamille is champion for a reason and caught Leyla outside and smashed her against the ring steps to show her who’s boss.
Both women are nasty and savage which made for a pretty brutal fight. Kamille’s stablemates from Strictly Business were sat at ringside for encouragement but thankfully Leyla wasn’t too distracted by them. Instead, she remained focused on picking herself up, dusting herself off and never quitting against the champion’s harsh clubbing blows and viciousness. There were glimpses of Hirsch’s submissions but Kamille seemed to have an answer for everything, never allowing her opponent to get on a roll enough to pick up the victory. The champion knew she had the size and strength advantage and simply stuck to doing what she does best.
This felt like a real breakout performance from Leyla Hirsch despite Kamille being able to retain her title in the end. A huge lariat had the crowd believing that Leyla might just win the title but a missed moonsault was one mistake too many. She locked in another armbar but Kamille’s strength was too much. She powered out and hit a spear and the crowd broke out into much-deserved applause. If you’re looking to see what women’s wrestling has to offer in 2021 then the present and future were captured right there in one match. If Leyla Hirsch doesn’t get a decent AEW push off the back of this performance then something’s wrong with the world. And all credit to Kamille – she’s doing incredibly well for someone this early in her NWA career. Now on to NWA 73 to defend that title against the winner of the Empowerrr main event.
Empowerrr Main Event – Women’s Invitational Cup
Simple rules: 10 entrants total. Random selection. Every 2 minutes a new entrant enters and elimination occurs via pinfall or submission only.
- Entrants 1 and 2 – Chelsea Green and Kiera Hogan
How happy does Chelsea Green look lately? The Hot Mess herself kicked off the main event against another top star in Kiera Hogan. The commentators reminded us a lot that she’s the hottest free agent in the business apparently. I’m sure Adam Cole might have a few things to say about that but still, Kiera did some excellent work in Impact Wrestling and now she’s looking to make her mark around the industry. Green and Hogan took it to the mat and went for some eliminations really quickly, trading near falls and superkicks until Kiera looked to be taking control but Green hit a knee to her opponent’s face. I don’t know how the referee kept up with both of them but she managed it.
- Entrant 3 – Bianca Carrelli
The daughter of Santino Marella entered the fray. I think we should just be grateful that it wasn’t Santino in drag again. No one needs that. Carrelli went after both women in the ring showing no fear whatsoever. It all got a bit messy if I’m honest but the determination of everyone shone through and made the match seem really important.
- Entrant 4 – Thunder Kitty
Apparently, Thunder Kitty is 100 years old or something. What a legend. I’m not quite sure I believe it but hey who am I to accuse anyone of lying. She moves really fast for someone that old. I can’t even move that quickly now. She tried to get the upper hand on a few of her opponents but then more music hit and everyone stopped for a while.
- Entrant 5 – Jennacide
The mood really changed once Taryn Terrell brought out her cyborg friend. She’s massive and has no fear and just wants to hit people a lot. Which she did and she eliminated Bianca pretty fast.
- Entrant 6 – Lady Frost
She’s the coolest wrestler you’ll ever meet. Only she turned up and then just stood outside for ages because she didn’t want to be beaten up. I mean that’s a fair move and I don’t blame her but it also meant we missed a lot of action in the ring which was a bit strange. Not quite sure what happened there. Eventually, she’d get in the ring but it took longer than your average Roman Reigns entrance. Frost watched on as Jennacide eliminated the old woman which wasn’t really fair. No one really knew what to do against the massive robot but Chelsea and Kiera tried to team up until we were given yet another entrant.
- Entrant 7 – Debbie Malenko
What a legend. She started in 1990 but made a name for herself in Japan and she even did MMA this year. Madness. She hit a flying back elbow on Chelsea Green and a german suplex on Kiera Hogan and looked the business. I don’t know how she does it but at least she went in and took the fight to everyone, unlike Lady Frost.
- Entrant 8 – Jamie Senegal
As a transgender female, and the first in NWA history, Jamie’s appearance was much more than just trying to win a match but instead opening eyes and pushing representation. With Pollo Del Mar by her side, Jamie entered the ring and took it to Malenko but Lady Frost took the opportunity to actually get in the ring and hit some incredible athletic moves including a corkscrew moonsault for a near fall. But Debbie took advantage, locked in an STF and tapped out Frost quickly. A shame as I’m a big Frost fan but there’s more to come from her. Then in one of the best moves of the night, Malenko had Chelsea Green in a surfboard and Kiera Hogan snuck in and laid on top of Debbie to eliminate her. I love clever moves like that.
Skytwister press (originated by Chaparita Asari) from a different angle. 🧊 https://t.co/7L3wNEowoI
— Lady Frost (@RealLadyFrost) August 29, 2021
- Entrant 9 – Masha Slamovich
If you’ve not seen Masha before – well, she seems to be crazy. I like that about her. She came out, got on the top rope and dived on everyone because why not? Seeing as she was trained by Amazing Red, that’s no surprise really is it? Focus quickly shifted to taking out Jennacide who was hit by numerous moves from all her opponents and they all piled up on top of her to eliminate the cyborg. A great showing from Jennacide but it wasn’t to be.
- Final Entrant – Tootie Lynn
With her family front row, the hometown girl Tootie Lynn came in and set the ring on fire with kicks and punches and takedowns to huge roars from the crowd. She’s a little ball of dynamite and clearly wanted to send the fans home happy but Masha wasn’t having any of it, getting rid of Tootie out of the ring and then eliminating Jamie in quick succession. Left with Chelsea, Kiera, Masha and Tootie it was clear the crowd were behind the youngster but she found it tough in there against some exceptional women.
In another Tower of Doom spot, Kiera was suplexed by Masha, who was powerbombed by Chelsea and Tootie, but Slamovich floated over and pinned Hogan to strong booes from the NWA fans in attendance. Masha then looked to eliminate Tootie but just when the powerbomb looked to be coming, Lynn rolled up her much bigger opponent and caught her for a shock pin. Left with two fan favourites in Chelsea and Tootie, the crowd were torn and both women desperately went for pinfalls, each looking like they might win the cup. But experience won out as Chelsea Green managed to hit her modified Unprettier finisher and pin a valiant Tootie Lynn to win the invitational and book her slot at NWA 73 against Kamille.
- NWA Women’s Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final – The Hex (Allysin Kay and Marti Belle) defeated Hell On Heels (Renee Michelle and Sahara Seven)
- NWA Women’s Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final – Red Velvet and KiLynn King defeated The Freebabes (Miranda Gordy and Jazzy Yang)
- IMPACT Women’s World Championship – Deonna Purrazzo defeated Melina to retain
- NWA World Women’s Tag Team Championship Final – The Hex (Allysin Kay and Marti Belle) defeated KiLynn King and Red Velvet to become new champions
- NWA World Women’s Championship – Kamille defeated Leyla Hirsch to retain
- Chelsea Green won the NWA Women’s Invitational Cup Gauntlet Match and a NWA Women’s Championship match against Kamille at NWA 73
What a show. Watch it if you’re an NWA fan. Watch it if you’re a wrestling fan. It doesn’t matter. All you need is the passion and the determination of everyone on board and you’ll love it from start to finish. Credit to Mickie James and everyone that worked with her on the show because it was the showcase that they all deserved. Some real emotional and heartfelt moments from feuds gone by and some huge performances from women that have their best years ahead of them. As they all came out at the end to celebrate, it was clear that there’s still a long way to go in bringing women’s wrestling up where it deserves, but there’s a huge depth of talent out there busting their asses every week to try and make people notice. Trust me ladies – you’ve got my attention and you’ve got plenty of others too. A special night and a memorable one for so many reasons. Good luck to everyone at NWA 73 – you’ve got a lot to live up to – and to all at Empowerrr, I salute you and give you all the respect in the world.
Thank you to everyone who watched #Empowerrr tonight! You fueled our drive and passion for wrestling tonight. Everyone brought it!!!
I’m so proud of all the ladies here.
THIS is why I became a wrestler. I love you all. pic.twitter.com/riyIZYiE4b
— 🄼🄴🄻🄸🄽🄰 (@RealMelina) August 29, 2021
NWA 73 is airing live this Sunday night at 8 PM EST (1 AM BST) on Fite TV.
Pics courtesy of Fite TV