It might come as something of a surprise to learn that 20-year-old Tenille Dashwood has been in the wrestling business almost half her life.
Known as Tenille Tayla on the Australian wrestling scene and Tenille in North American, she started training at the delicate age of 13, only a few years removed from her first introduction to wrestling when she joined her brother in watching WCW Nitro.
The Melbourne, Australia native fell in love with pro wrestling at 10 and a year later, realized she wanted to join the ranks herself, but had no idea how she would go about following her dreams. A few years later, she came across a poster for a local wrestling show in Melbourne. At the bottom of the bill was a training contact number, which Tenille wrote down and eventually convinced her mother to allow her to call.
“From this age onwards almost every weekend of my life became wrestling orientated,” she told SLAM! Wrestling.
Tenille said she did some training from age 13 to 15, but her shoulder would succumb to the wear and tear of the bumps, and was eventually dislocated. During her high school years — from 16 to about 18 — her wrestling involvement was mostly limited to setting up the ring and anything else that needed doing to get shows underway. In spite of having some training under her belt, she noted she was still quite young and lacked confidence. And even if she had been ready, there would have been few female opponents in Melbourne she could have gone up against.
After graduating, she took a year of university business management courses, but soon realized wrestling was her only true interest.
“I decided it was time for me to get serious about wrestling,” Tenille said. “I always knew I would end up travelling for wrestling, and had saved almost every dollar I earned working up until this stage so I would be able to go whenever I was ready.”
A friend of hers, fellow Australian Carlo Cannon, had been one of Lance Storm’s first students and convinced her she should travel to Calgary, Alberta, and attend his Wrestling Academy.
“My first impression of Tenille when I saw her was that she was an attractive girl,” said Storm. “As bad as that sounds, that really is the biggest deal breaker for girls getting into the business. Being attractive can open a lot of doors, whereas if you don’t have the desired look, all the talent in the world might still not be enough. It’s the same thing with guys being big or muscular, only likely worse.”
Storm had already heard of Tenille because her friend Cannon put her over strong, and she ended up proving him right.
“We do a hard conditioning circuit at the beginning of training, and she was more than hanging in there with all the guys. I think she was even ahead of several of the guys in doing push-ups — and upper body strength is something guys should have over the girls. Tenille gave it her all and showed up a lot of guys,” Storm said.
Tenille remained at the top of pack, and Storm, who worked in the ring with her for 12 weeks, said he could tell she was a hard worker and taking the training very seriously. More than that, though, was she was “tough as nails.” Storm explained Tenille’s shoulder at one point dislocated during training, but she simply popped it right back into its socket without selling it much at all. And the next day, she was right back at it.
“When I went to Lance’s, I started from scratch and learned how to do most things with the opposite arm, which was great for me because now it is not really a worry,” Tenille said. “The training is tough on the mind as well as the body, but it is worth every minute.”
From May to July 2008, Tenille trained at the academy before returning to Australia “with the confidence which I had lacked beforehand, ready to get out there and wrestle.”
She travelled the Australian states and regularly worked for a number of promotions, with the first being PWA Queensland in October 2008. On one of the shows, Tenille had the chance to meet and work against Sara Del Rey. This would mark the beginning of a big break Tenille would receive in North America.
“I went to Australia and wrestled with Tenille, but in a six-way, so our interaction was very limited. But I could tell she had very good timing and liked the way she moved, which is usually a beef I have with girls in the ring,” said Del Rey. “The next day I watched her work with a super green girl, and the way she helped this girl out and never gave up was really impressive to me.”
When Del Rey returned to the States, SHIMMER promoter Dave Prazak asked her if she had seen any girls in Australia that would fit in with the company.
“I immediately thought of Tenille. She had great basics and reminded me a lot of a younger Serena Deeb (currently under developmental contract to WWE). I believe she sent Dave a tape and he obviously thought she was a great talent too,” Del Rey said.
“A few short months later, another worker — Jessie McKay — contacted me saying that Sara had mentioned us to Dave Prazak … and if I was interested in working in Chicago, I should send some of my matches over to him. Of course I jumped at this opportunity, and in May this year I was fortunate enough to make my debut on SHIMMER.” Tenille said.
She called the experience great and one she would never forget: “Being in a locker room full of talented female workers from across the world was an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Following the tapings, Tenille concluded it would be wasteful to go back home, so she decided to contact a few people she had met and booked herself some dates.
“I went to Florida for a couple weeks, then to Vancouver to work for ECCW (Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling) for a few weeks. I contacted Scotty Mac there, who I had met the year before, and let him know I was interested in coming over to wrestle, and he was extremely welcoming. My time there was absolutely fantastic! I was able to work against two very talented female workers – Nicole Matthews and Veronika Vice — as well as meet an amazing group of people who are all just as passionate about wrestling as I am and it was a great feeling.”
“I met Tenille in Alberta last year at a PZW (PowerZone Wrestling) show. She looked great and mentioned that she was training with Storm, so I totally wanted to book her with ECCW,” said Mac, recalling that he was then disappointed to learn she was heading back to Australia. But she e-mailed him back a few months later, and they came to an arrangement for her to work some shows in British Columbia. “She was over with everyone in ECCW right away as she is very easy to get along with and a lot of fun. Her work is great, and she had awesome matches with our two top girls, Nicole Matthews and Veronika Vice.”
Mac was particularly impressed by the chemistry Tenille had with Vice, and thought she fit in wonderfully. Like Storm, he also was struck by her mettle as she was able to continue working in spite of her shoulder dislocating again.
Storm said he was very proud of his charge for coming so far in such a short period of time.
“I certainly thought she was good enough and deserved a shot, but seeing that she is from Australia, I was impressed that she managed to make contacts and get work lined up in the States so quickly. I really like Tenille and think she has all the tools, talent, look, and the right attitude to go a long way in this business.”
Tenille has since returned to Storm’s Calgary school.
“He is a fantastic trainer and I hope to be able to pick up some more training and learn a lot more off him while I’m here,” she said.
She also planned to work a few shows over the next couple months, and indicated she is in no hurry to return to her homeland. Although Tenille has a flight booked back to Australia at the end of July, she pointed out she has a Canadian work visa that allows her to stay and work for up to two years.
“Since I’ve been having the time of my life travelling around and wrestling, it looks like this is a good option for me. I have a long way to go and so much to learn, and travelling around working for different promotions and meeting new people gives me the chance to do this, so I’m loving life right now. I’d be lost without wrestling.”
“I see a very bright future for Tenille, as she is a beautiful girl with a lot of skill and determination,” said Mac. “She is a pleasure in and out of the ring and I am happy to hear that it looks like she’s gonna be in Canada for the rest of 2009!”