It takes an understanding boss at your day job to be able to say, “I can’t come in today. I was in a women’s casket match on Saturday and I can barely move.” Such is life for women’s star Mercedes Martinez, who supervises delivery of inventory at a major national chain when she isn’t putting it all on the line to entertain fans across North America.
The casket match in question was on Saturday, June 16th at the WSU’s “The Uncensored Rumble V” iPPV event in Deer Park, NY, with Jessicka Havok beating Martinez to retain her title. Believed to be a first for women’s wrestling, the bout actually ended with a second casket arriving that contained Quebec star LuFisto, who aided Havok enough to score the win.
“This casket match, just with females being in it, presented a challenge in itself,” Martinez told SLAM! Wrestling just days after the contest. “We tried to go all out and do something that the fans weren’t expecting. We had to make sure we kept the fans entertained as well as protect ourselves in that type of a match, because anything can happen in that match.”
Martinez was feeling the repercussions of the bout.
“Banged up is not the word,” she laughed. “Any type of match that I do that involves either caskets, ladders, tables, chairs, any type of match labeled as hardcore, I’m always banged up because I’m always one to put my body on the line to make sure that match is a good match and make sure the fans are entertained — but not on the line so much that I would be physically incapacitated. I’m banged up, bruised, cut up. I had to take a couple extra days off from my real job just to recuperate from the match itself. Matches like that, you have to have a storyline, you have to have a feud, you have to build up to those type of matches, because I’m not one to do these matches just for the hell of it. There has to be a reason for me to do them, because my body does take a beating.”
Havok is a good fit for such a match. “I think when it comes to me and Havok, she’s such a dark, psychotic character and wrestler, and the casket match was fitting to end our feud.”
The involvement of LuFisto is noteworthy in and of itself as well, as it marks a co-promotional effort between WSU and the Montreal-based NCW Femmes Fatales, which presents its next show on Saturday, July 7th. Naturally, one of the spotlighted matches on that card will be Lufisto against Martinez.
“The two companies are similar in what they do, but different in the kind of storylines that we put out. Having LuFisto in there, and even the two Canadian girls, Sweet Cherrie and [Femmes Fatales champ] Kalamity, it just brought a different dynamic into WSU. Then with WSU’s girls going to Femmes Fatales, I think it’s going to bring another, different atmosphere to Femmes Fatales,” said Martinez. “It will bring a lot of different matchups that people aren’t used to seeing, so I’m actually looking forward to what the two companies can put together storyline-wise. I think with me and LuFisto working together and bringing the storyline to two different companies will be something different and unique.”
This November will mark 12 years in professional wrestling for Martinez, all of it spent on the indy scene, starting out in the Northeast, near her Connecticut home. Now living in Florida, she is a decided veteran in the locker room.
“A lot of the girls look up to me, they look for advice and they need help and stuff, especially with one of the companies, WSU. I run the locker room, so it’s one of those things where I help with the booking and help with the storylines, let the girls know what they have to do. If they need help, they come up to me. A lot of the girls call me on a personal level just to say, ‘Hey, I have this problem with the locker room that I’m in.’ Anything like that, I’m pretty much available for all the girls personally and professionally.”
“It’s a humbling experience to know that I’m one of the few girls that they can come up to and say, ‘Hey, I need help with this.’ To me, it’s one of those things where experience comes into play with that, because I’ve had that, where ladies like Lexie [Fyfe] or Malia [Hosaka], they gave me the opportunity to go up to them and say, ‘Hey, I need help with this.’ Even on a personal level, they were always there for me. I just want to give back what I was given.”
For her, it was Lexie Fyfe and Malia Hosaka who took the time to help a young wrestler.
There have always been women’s promotions in the United States, but for every SHIMMER, that spotlights the athleticism, there were companies like GLOW that spotlighted T&A more than anything.
Today’s indy women wrestlers are a team, said Martinez.
“I think with all the women’s companies out there, I think the girls realize that we all have to help each other. It’s one thing to have catfights and there’s bitterness and jealousy, but a lot of girls that have been around the locker rooms, and travel around a lot, we see each other so often that it’s more like a sisterhood. We want to help each other out,” she said.
While not everyone harbours dreams of making WWE, TNA or perhaps competing overseas in Japan, they all are striving for recognition.
“If I can’t make it to the next level, I want to see the next person, the next star go up there, and I want to be recognized as a part of her career, and say, ‘Hey, I helped you get to that next level,'” said Martinez. “We want to help each other, and want to help each other get to that next level, because we’re all friends in real life, and storyline or not storyline, we want to make sure that everyone succeeds in this business.”
Given her experience, Martinez will admit that there are a couple of young girls on the indy scene today that stand out — Davina Rose from California, Texas’ Athena, and the creative Buggy Nova.
“If you look at the rosters now for a lot of the girls, a lot of the companies that I work for, there’s just so many girls that are so new, and they have veterans that are helping them along the way, that they’re going to get there to that next level — it’s just a matter if they want it. There’s a difference between someone pushing them and if they want it,” Martinez explained. “So many girls in the 11 years that I’ve been in this business have had that talent and had that charisma, but they let their ego get the best of them, and they end up being taken out of the business for jealousy or for whatever reason that they don’t want to stay in the business. Some people are just not ready, but I think Davina and Athena, a Buggy Nova, who is so green in the terms of being very, very new, but she has that charisma and that, how do I say it, audience acceptance. They love her look, they love everything about her. That’s someone who needs to work on her skills and talent but has that ‘It Factor’, that it can overcome her skills and talent — and that’s just by experiences she will get.”
Get out there and be seen, said Martinez. “It takes commitment and it takes sacrifice to get to that next level. A lot of the girls that are on the wrestling scene now, especially new girls, are getting it, that they have to sacrifice a little bit, that they have to travel, and they have to get experience. Whether the pay is there or not, it’s exposure,” she said. “You’ve got to work anywhere and everywhere just to get your name out there.”
For Martinez, her trips over the border into Quebec for Femmes Fatales were her first trips to Canada.
“Just the audience and the fans, the culture, it was so different. They’re so friendly up there,” she said. “They’re into their wrestling, whereas in the States, you have two your two different types of fans — you have your fans that just love wrestling and then you have your fans that are mostly the T&A-type of fans that like the sex appeal and all about the T&A aspect. But in Canada, it’s all about wrestling and that’s something that I love. It’s such a unique type of atmosphere that when I go up there, whether you’re a heel or you’re a babyface, it doesn’t matter, they just love you for the wrestling aspect, and that’s something that I respect from the fans.”
But as great as the travel can be, Martinez will admit she is excited as well about the debuting SHINE promotion on July 20, 2012 in Ybor City, Florida. A tag team effort between SHIMMER co-founder Dave Prazak and Full Impact Pro Wrestling owner Sal Hamaoui, SHINE is debuting in iPPV, and features names such as the event hostess Daffney, and wrestlers Nikki Roxx, Sara Del Rey, Rain, and Jazz.
Martinez can’t wait.
“I think there should be a lot more women’s promotions out there. SHINE, especially the fact that it’s in my backyard in Tampa, Florida, where I live now, it’s something different,” she said, explaining some of the drawbacks of the indy scene in Florida. “A lot of companies out there, they don’t take the women wrestlers seriously, or they just don’t pay them, or they just see them as valets or managers, especially down here in Florida — the little companies anyhow. I think SHINE is a good opportunity for a lot of the female wrestlers locally and around the world just to come in and show their talent — especially when it’s on iPPV.”