Things are falling into place for the up-and-coming “Wrestling Goddess” Athena. The Texan recently got her first shot at the SHIMMER title, is #28 on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 50 women wrestlers for 2012, and is heading to Montreal for Femmes Fatales this weekend — her first trip to Canada.
Now, if she could just get over her cold and finish off her move to a new home.
Down the line from her place in Arlington, Texas, just a touchdown pass from Cowboys Stadium, Athena (Adrienne Reese) is apologetic about the cold and the lack of Internet, but still pumped to talk about her career.
Athena’s goal at the double-taping in Montreal on Saturday is the same as it is on every card she appears on.
“I’m going to try and steal the show. It doesn’t matter if it’s eight people out in the audience, or 12 people, or even 30,000, I’m going to try to steal the show, and I’m going to try to have a better match than anyone else on the card. That’s just who I am,” she told SLAM! Wrestling.
That attempt to stand out has helped, and made people want to learn more about her.
“I just feel that, in itself, has gotten my name out there. I’ve gotten to work so many fantastic, amazing people,” she said. “At the last SHIMMER taping, I got to work Hamada and Kana. Who gets to do that in one weekend? Even before that, getting to work some of the U.S. girls, like Jessica Havok and Christina von Eerie and Su Yung and even working with Rachel Summerlyn.”
Veteran woman wrestler Mercedes Martinez credits the 24-year-old Athena for her desire to get out there and be seen. “Athena, I’ve seen her just about everywhere, whether it’s east coast, west coast, Midwest, whatever,” said Martinez. “She’s one that gets around because she wants to be recognized for her work.”
Having an established name speak highly of you is a compliment and a challenge. Whether in WSU in New England, Femmes Fatales in Quebec, SHIMMER in Chicago, or elsewhere, the girls are looking out for each other, said Athena.
“The veterans are there for us, and if they weren’t, women’s wrestling definitely would not be as good as it is right now,” she said. Word can spread quickly about a star on the rise, including through YouTube. “That has a lot to do with our tight-knit clique thing we have as women’s wrestlers.”
Dan Murphy is the Pro Wrestling Illustrated writer who put together the Top 50 list, and he shared his thoughts on the pluses and minuses of the 5-foot-2, 120-pound “Hussy Buster.”
“Athena has plenty of charisma,” said Murphy. “She has a lot of potential, but she’s still developing her game, and is prone to some rookie mistakes. She has a great upside and a dedicated fan base, but she’s still a work-in-progress. Now that she’s facing higher-quality opposition, hopefully it can help her take her game to the next level.”
At the SHIMMER taping this past weekend in Berwyn, Ill., Athena was the babyface who lost to the champion. “I got to wrestle Saraya Knight on the first taping for SHIMMER. It stunk that I lost, because I really wanted to come back to Texas with that championship. But stuff happens and I have to move on. I can’t say that I didn’t learn anything and I can say that I’m a better wrestler because of it.”
This Saturday, she is in a four-way bout with X-Cute Sweet, Cheerleader Melissa Anderson and Angie Skye (with Kath Von Goth). Athena only knows of the well-travelled Anderson.
“Melissa was probably one of the most brutal singles matches that I’ve ever had. It was very challenging,” Athena admitted. “I’m eager to see how it’s going to work out with two other girls that I’ve never even seen work, so I can’t even prepare myself mentally and physically for them. It’s going to be very interesting, and I’m going to try to steal the show. The winner gets a title match with Kalamity at the next taping, so hopefully that will all work out.”
Six years ago, Athena was a potential soccer star with a bum knee. A forward who loved to score goals, and hated the running, Reese played at Eastfield Community College in Mesquite, Texas, and had a scholarship to Texas A&M University-Commerce that fell by the wayside when her knee injury happened.
While also teaching gymnastics, Reese decided to give pro wrestling a whirl. The first instructor she found skipped out with her money. The next one was far more honest, even if he’d been a cheating bad guy for much of his career.
Under the tutelage of Skandor Akbar, Reese not only learned about his wrestling successes (of which she had not known) but also how to be a pro wrestler.
Her soccer and gymnastics backgrounds helped.
“Basically anything he threw at me was fine, but it was more tedious than I thought it would be,” Athena conceded. “It wasn’t too difficult for me to adjust. I just hate working out, which is probably the worst thing to hate as a wrestler. … I always hated conditioning and running. It bored me. I didn’t see any reason for me to do it.”
With six years in the business, including many matches against men in her local promotion, Texas’ Anarchy Championship Wrestling, Athena still wants to do more, including travel more, and wrestle in Japan, Europe and Australia.
“There’s so much stuff I want to do, especially before I start trying to condition myself for the good ol’ WWE or TNA,” she said. “There’s so much travelling I want to get done before I actually start to limit myself, if that’s the right term.”
Naturally, Athena is a big proponent of women’s wrestling, especially away from WWE or TNA.
“When people actually get turned on to the independent side of things, I believe they’ll be extremely more interested, because then it doesn’t become about how big your boobs are, how much skin you show, how many hair-pulls you do a match,” she said. “It becomes more, ‘Oh wow, what are they going to do next?’ Then people get turned off by the television stuff, because there’s such a drastic difference. That’s what I meant by limiting myself, because if I actually try to go to TV, WWE or TNA, I’m going to have to limit myself a lot and people aren’t going to get the matches that they would get on the independent circuit.”
And the perception that the women’s promotions are overrun with lecherous men watching the athletic women isn’t true, Athena stressed.
“We cater to certain audiences, and people will [get] tickets to just see 12 girls on a show,” she said, saying she met fans at SHIMMER from Germany, Italy and Japan.
Athena mentions three young girls who frequent the SHIMMER tapings that only learned about the promotion because their father had stumbled upon a SHIMMER DVD and decided to take everyone to see the action.
“These girls love every bit of it. They look up to all of us,” she said. “I actually take time out of my day to talk to these girls because we are role models, I can’t say that about everyone, but we are role models. Yeah, guys like wrestling more than girls for the most part. Let’s face it, if there’s not going to be some unbelievably hot guy at the show, like a John Cena, I’m very sure we’re not going to see a lot of women. But, on the other hand, we do have women that come to the shows; they might not be seen, but they’re there!”
For now, this woman in the business is deeply immersed, and is trying to make a go of it.
“I make DVDs, I make pictures, I design gear for friends,” Athena concluded. “My world revolves around wrestling.”