In less than one week, AEW’s weekly show Dynamite will premiere on TNT. The buzz and excitement surrounding AEW’s new show from insiders and fans alike have been undeniable.
AEW has created a fan-centric company that has allowed wrestlers to have creative control over their characters while creating compelling storylines to attract and retain fans. AEW has given attention to details and divisions within the promotion that has been ignored or marginalized by other organizations. One needs to look no further than the tag team and women’s division as evidence of this fact. These divisions are often nothing more than a time-filler or an afterthought in other promotions. AEW has dedicated resources and attracted top talent to make these divisions relevant and exciting. Let’s explore a member of AEW’s women’s division in preparation for AEW’s weekly show Dynamite. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Penelope Ford.
Olivia Hassler, aka Penelope Ford hails from Phoenix, Arizona and was born in 1992. The 27-year-old currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and trained at the Combat Zone Wrestling academy in Voorhees, New Jersey. Hassler made her professional wrestling debut in 2014 for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) on the December 17th edition of Dojo Wars. Throughout her five years as a professional wrestler Ford has carved out a name for herself as a singles wrestler as well as a tag team performer. Ford was one half of tag team champions when, as part of The Academy with Maria Manic, they won the Women’s Superstars Uncensored tag team titles. This title was actually won by Manic in a handicap match against the Fella Twins; the victory claimed the titles for the team of The Academy. Manic and Ford also claimed the Queens of Combat tag team titles wrestling under the stable name of Ruthless Ambition.
Despite her diminutive stature, 5’4” and 119 lbs, Ford has been able to deliver her signature finisher, the stunner, with precision and accuracy presumably, at least in part, as a result of her background in gymnastics and cheer.
She has been able to successfully blend her skill set and athleticism with her in ring technique to create a formidable and believable character. Ford has participated in several intergender matches with opponents such as Randy Summers, Joey Ryan, Ethan Page and James Ellsworth during her brief time as a professional wrestler. Ford also wrestled with her then boyfriend Joey Janela against other mixed gender tag teams including Joey Ryan and Laura James.
Janela and Ford were an on again/off again couple for four years before finally splitting for good earlier this year. Janela discussed the dissolution of the relationship by stating:
“We dated on and off for four years. The last time we broke up, we broke up for about eight months and no one knew because we didn’t put it out there.”
Fellow AEW superstar Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford appear to be the newest power couple of AEW.
In January of this year AEW announced the signing of Penelope Ford to the roster. She made her AEW in-ring debut at All Out from the Sears Centre in Chicago, Illinois as part of the Women’s Casino Battle Royale. Nyla Rose was the eventual winner, but that is not what is most significant. The 21 person match was important as it demonstrated AEW’s commitment to their women. The wrestling fans at large as well as the profession itself will benefit from having a respectable division based on compelling story lines and character development rather than a watered down division based solely on the appearance of the contenders. AEW appears hell bent on delivering a quality product across all divisions of its promotion. The message they are sending is loud and clear – this is a fan driven promotion that offers a variety of content. All divisions and wrestling styles are respectfully represented as evidenced by the talent and resources dedicated to making AEW a promotion, first and foremost, for the fans.
So what’s next for Penelope Ford? In less than one week we may begin to have answers. October 2nd on TNT, AEW’s Dynamite will premiere from the nation’s capital and will feature Riho v Nyla Rose for the first-ever AEW women’s title. Ford will have to earn her way to a title shot by competing in a women’s division that is absolutely loaded with talent. She will have to beat out formidable opponents such as Awesome Kong, Britt Baker, and Hikaru Shida if she hopes to etch her name in the history books as an AEW women’s champion. Does she have what it takes to make a title run? Only time will tell but it should be one hell of a ride as we enter into a new era of wrestling wars.
The competition between promotions should benefit the fans as the promotions must step their game up and put out the best product available to keep fans from switching the channel or worse yet, switching their loyalties. I hope that the competition leads to a better product for all fans across all the promotions. I am hopeful that this better brand of wrestling allows fans to enjoy their favourite wrestlers and shows and not feel confined to a single promotion. Let’s be honest, there is fantastic content and awesome performers in every promotion. Fans don’t need to bash one company to support another. Watch what you like and enjoy the ride.
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