Mick Foley is right in saying WWE needs to have an all-women’s brand, but there’s already a blueprint for how to do things right in Mission Pro Wrestling, Thunder Rosa’s all-women promotion out of San Antonio.
Mission Pro held their “Locked & Loaded” event on May 1, literally weathering a storm to put on an industry-defining show—and that’s not an understatement either. The event accentuated how a focus on select stars can enhance any wrestling product and mainstream wrestling needs to take note. WWE has co-opted “women’s revolution” (and its “Evolution” cousin) but that’s all window dressing for a corporate pat on the head. Locked & Loaded is the true blue iteration of how women’s wrestling can be just as good (and even better) than what the XY chromosome does.
From the opener to the final bell, every single match was different in theme, from a storytelling perspective, and in the finish. Each talent received the opportunity to make the most of their moment in the ring and it wasn’t from “getting their shit in.” Presence and persona were primarily in the foreground while skill-set, stage, officiating and commentary all had the intent to shine the spotlight as to why the consumer separates themselves from their cash. It’s all about establishing stars and all women involved got the shot to do it. Nothing was oversaturated and every contest had an identity.
“We try to find match-ups that one, never happened before. Two, every match, no matter if it’s a five, six-minute match, it will be a banger and three, the girls are ready to bring another style of wrestling that not necessarily they do all the time.” Thunder Rosa stated in a recent interview with Dominic & Marcus DeAngelo of WrestleZone’s 2 Dynamite Dudes With Attitude. Locked & Locked absolutely did that and it provided a refreshing experience.
I could go down the entire list of wrestlers featured on the card and easily describe who these women are and what made them engaging to that live crowd in Buda, TX amidst the flash flood warnings and downpouring rain. Talent like The WOAD, Raychell Rose, Masha Slamovich (undoubtedly one of the greatest names in wrestling, I must say), La Rosa Negra, Tesha Price, Madi Wrenkowski and Holidead all know who they are, and the fans were sure to know it too. Others like Rachel Chanel, Leila Grey, Dulce Tormenta, Jazmin Allure, Jennacide and the unbridled prodigy in Rok-C all have extremely high ceilings.
Little details were abundant during Locked & Loaded as officiating made note of when shoulders were and weren’t on the canvas. This first (and only) dive during the event came in the fourth contest between Holidead and Jennacide in and it felt like a big deal. The backstories were built beautifully by the commentary duo in Alyssa Marino and Brittani Nikole who balanced getting the action over with a sharp sense of humor and ever-appropriate one-liners. This was apparently their first time together behind the booth, but the synergy was well there.
And when I say AEW should use MPW as their blueprint, I’m saying use the actual promotion as an additional brand. Put your label under it and promote it to the moon because even simply sampling this event, you have the formula in making this and your Dynamite product tighter. Make the most of the different venues in the Texas area with a major focus on making the aesthetic unique (which this one was). You already have a polished commentary duo in Nikole and Marino and their presence will create a complementary contrast to the established broadcasters on Dark and Elevation. While she is contracted to NWA, Rosa is also a vital part of the AEW Women’s division. Having her be able to use talent that has appeared for Tony’s Khan’s shows on Mission events sets a precedent that could be a surefire lay-up for All Elite Wrestling to further define itself.
“One of the things that I would say about working with such an awesome company [such as] AEW is having to been able to use some of the talent that doesn’t necessarily come and do indy shows and now they feel comfortable to come into a place which is Mission Pro Wrestling and performing in front of our fans because they feel protected, they feel that we take care of them and that’s one of the most important things that we wanted to set for any woman that steps in the ring in Mission Pro Wrestling.”
I was disheartened to hear the cancellation of Netflix’s GLOW as the series presented its stars as such, but Mission Pro perfectly steps in as its modern and real-life counterpart. I would love to see AEW make even more of their relationship with MPW because not only would it enhance their product, but it would enhance the industry with a rightful “evolution” and provide the business with a refresher of the right way to handle the one true sport.