With her recent placing at #35 in the PWI Women’s 100, Matthew Roberts takes a look at LuFisto, and asks why one of the best talents of the last 25 years hasn’t been snapped up by one of the “major” companies.
It was in October 2013 when I found myself in Rumes Nightclub in Preston for PCW’s Final Fight. It was my first time at PCW and I was there solely because of the presence of Ultimo Dragon. I can’t recall if I even knew who else was on the card. I certainly didn’t know that a Canadian wrestler called LuFisto was due to appear, and if I had done I wouldn’t have known anything about her at all. But once the night was over there was something about her that made me want to find out more.
Her match with April Davids that night had an intensity you wouldn’t have been used to from Women if all you had seen was the WWE’s pre-Divas Revolution output. The match wasn’t “pretty” but it sure was hard-hitting and was far removed from the “here’s the script girls, follow it even if the lights in the entire stadium go out” that pervaded in the mainstream at the time. Although Davids won it was LuFisto who captured my imagination.
I first wrote about LuFisto for TWM around eighteen months ago when she took to social media to announce her imminent retirement from wrestling. A knee that was literally bone-on-bone, with no cartilage, meant that the time was approaching when even if you love what you are doing, you come to the sad realisation that you simply cannot carry on. At that time the likelihood was that at some point in 2019, LuFisto would hang up the wrestling tights for the last time.
Of course 2020 came around and, pre-Covid, LuFisto was still working selected dates for the likes of Femme Fatales, NBW 2.0 and Great North Wrestling in her native Canada. And that’s not to mention a 2019 that included her taking part in the wXw Femmes Fatales tournament (available on the WWE Network) alongside the likes of Leyal Hirsch and Lana Austin and basically being as busy as she’d ever been.
She began her training in 1997 and was only 17 years old when she made her debut. Almost from the start there was something different about her. Just a few years into her career she became the first woman in Quebec to win a men’s title and she became more and more adept at the “hardcore” style of matches and wrestling. She perhaps came to most prominence at this time when a booking to face a man in Ontario led to the Ontario Athletic Commission threatening to cancel that show if the match wasn’t scratched. A regulation at the time prevented men and women from wrestling each other; LuFisto had to lodge a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to try and get this regulation overturned. Although it would take four years to do so they did get it overturned in 2006.
By then LuFisto had broadened her horizons. She became a regular competitor in Combat Zone Wrestling where she became the only woman in that promotions history to win a title when she won the CZW Iron Man Championship; you might know the man she defeated for that title by the name of Kevin Owens now. Later that year she would become the first and only woman to ever compete in CZW’s infamous Cage of Death match. In between these moments, there was the little matter of winning Canada’s first ever Deathmatch tournament, defeating Necro Butcher in the final.
In 2007 it looked as if a back problem would force her retirement but she was able to return to the ring and in October of that year won the IWA Mid South Queen of the Deathmatch tournament, defeating Mickie Knuckles in the final. In another first she was the first woman to compete in CZW’s Best of the Best tournament in 2008.
My main retrospective exposure to her was through her Shimmer Wrestling. Although she debuted for the promotion in 2006 it was in 2008 that she started to become a regular. In 2009, after victories against the likes of Wesna Busic, Kellie Skater and Amber O’Neil she had earned a title match against MsChif at Shimmer 26 which was ultimately unsuccessful. A match with Awesome Kong at Shimmer 27 went to a double count-out which saw both challenge MsChif at the next show for the title but once again LuFisto walked away without the title. In later years she would team with Kana (now known in WWE as Asuka) to battle for the Shimmer Tag Team Titles and in 2013/14 had a feud, albeit again one that saw her remain title-less, with Cheerleader Melissa over the Shimmer Title including a Two out of Three Falls match at Shimmer 62. LuFisto remained a Shimmer regular all the way up to 2018, with (yet another unsuccessful) title match against champion Nicole Savoy coming at Shimmer 107 in October of that year.
She’s perhaps most well know outside of Shimmer for her work in Shine. She made her debut there in 2013 and battled the likes of Ivelisse, Allysin Kay and Jessicka Havok. In January of 2017 she lifted the Shine title, defeating Kay and Mercedes Martinez in a Three-Way match. She held the title until June 2018 when she had to vacate the title due to injury; along the way she defended the belt at nine Shine events, battling the likes of Leva Bates, Vanessa Kraven and Su Yung to name but a few.
LuFisto was more than “just a wrestler” too. In 2009 she was heavily involved in all-female Canadian promotion NCW Femmes Fatales where over the years she would battle the likes of Cheerleader Melissa, Sara Del Ray, Courtney Rush (now known as Rosemary) and Saraya Knight.
Back in early 2019 I noted that for someone who never signed with a “major promotion” LuFisto would leave one hell of a legacy. Maybe she’s a name that some wrestling fans won’t have heard of but her battles to get women treated as equal in the business paved the way for Women’s Wrestling to be treated more seriously. She’s also been a part of some fantastic matches against a wide range of wrestlers. Indeed, her list of opponents reads like a who’s who throughout her twenty year career. And as was clear at the time, despite the retirement planning, it was clear that it was not quite over yet.
Which begs the question of why, if there are still some matches left in the tank, LuFisto isn’t “ending” her career in one of the more prominent promotions. LuFisto herself has gone on record as saying that whilst the WWE have shown interest in her in the past there is a person who does not want her there so that outlet might be closed. And at the back end of her career with injuries to contend with the heavy WWE schedule (if they can ever get back to it) may not be LuFisto’s idea of fun.
But the WWE isn’t the only option in North America is it? Impact Wrestling has a pretty decent lineup as far as the women’s division goes with the likes of Deonna Purrazzo and Jordynne Grace as well as a number of familiar faces to LuFisto from Shimmer in the forms of Jessicka Havok, Kimber Lee and Rosemary (Courtney Rush) amongst others. The dream matches against the likes of those taking place on a bigger stage just leap off the page.
AEW have even more names on their current roster but for a promotion who made such big waves about treating women equally to the men the division as a whole has to be seen as being a disappointment, of sorts, up to this date. Which isn’t a knock on the talent assembled, more on how they have been presented on their shows. As an experienced veteran who can “still go” the benefits to AEW from having LuFisto on the roster would be self-evident . There’s any number of “dream” matches, or intriguing possibilities with the lesser experienced names on the roster. And as a student of the game and with so much experience, LuFisto would make an ideal trainer of sorts, helping to elevate people on AND off screen.
Although I never saw her “live” again after that fateful night in PCW (and with the current Covid restrictions I probably will never get the chance again) LuFIsto left a lasting impression. She became a name that would have me reaching for my wallet to buy DVD’s or streaming shows that she was wrestling on. Whatever else was on the card, you always knew you were going to get your money’s worth from a LuFisto match.
Maybe she won’t get that run in a “national” promotion; maybe she’s destined to be remembered as one of those names that paved the way for Women’s Wrestling to be taken as seriously as it is today in many different promotions but ones that she was destined never to wrestle for. And whilst it would be shame not to see her grace TV and PPV in any of the promotions we’ve mentioned above, it would by no means define her career. What she’s done over a twenty year career is a lot more impressive than the few things that she “hasn’t”. And here’s hoping there’s a few more years to go yet. If nothing else, keep an eye out for her autobiography LuFisto: The Wounded Owl: Passion, Perseverance and Pain in Professional Wrestling, (to be published by ECW Press) in the spring of 2022.
She’s got one hell of a story to tell.
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON. Thanks for reading!