The women’s wrestling scene in Ring of Honor is undergoing a makeover.
Ever since Kelly Klein defeated Mayu Iwatani for the Women of Honor championship during the G1 Supercard show at Madison Square, the entire division has been dominated by The Allure.
Consisting of Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, and Mandy Leon, the group plans to redefine the genre in 2019.
“We bring an attitude and a look that isn’t in any other company, and isn’t even allowed in some companies,” said Love. “There is more than an undertone of sexuality to what we do. We’re not PG and we’re not trying to be PG.”
Welcome to the New World Aura of women’s wrestling.
Women of Honor champion Kelly Klein and Jenny Rose have been two of their most targeted opponents, but the group’s goal will not be solely attained by winning a title. The three women prefer that their philosophy infiltrated the business, running far deeper than wins and losses.
“Angelina, Mandy, and me came together to change women’s wrestling,” said Velvet Sky, who retired from active wrestling in 2016 but has a renewed focus in role as mouthpiece of the group. “What’s wrong with embracing our sexuality while also kicking ass in the ring? The Allure are bad-ass women. We wear lipstick but we’ll kick your ass. And we’ll look good doing it.”
Examining the field from the past two decades, women’s wrestling has changed dramatically. In WWE, "Bra and Panties" matches have been replaced with “Last Woman Standing” matches. WrestleMania 35 famously ended in a women’s main event captured by “The Man.” Becky Lynch.
Working for an equal playing field remains an ongoing issue in a business long dominated by the opposite gender, but the respect with which companies invest in their women is staggeringly better than before. Part of the reason for that shift is the blood, toil, and tears sacrificed by a countless number of women, including Love and Sky’s years of service in TNA.
Love has consistently proven over the course of her 19-year career that she can deliver compelling matches, and she will certainly carry a significant portion of the in-ring work. This run in ROH marks her return to the company, as she worked a couple of shows in the company before she was signed to the WWE developmental system in 2004.
No one knows Love better than Sky, who is relishing the chance to be the group’s hype woman.
“Women of Honor is lacking a sizzle,” said Sky. “Angelina and I brought credibility to women’s wrestling long before Women of Honor and the ‘Women’s Revolution.’ Now, with Mandy, we’re going to shake up Women of Honor and bring some excitement.
“Women’s wrestling has shifted. But I grew up watching the ‘Attitude Era,’ the glitz and glamour girls. They didn’t just look sexy, they could work, too. It’s the same with The Allure, we’re the new hair and makeup girls. Why can’t we embrace our sexuality and still look tough? We’re going to wear lipstick, look good, and kick ass.”
Love and Sky worked together as part of The Beautiful People in TNA, so there is no doubt about their chemistry when sharing the ring. When it comes to The Allure, the wild card is Mandy Leon.
An ROH veteran, Leon has the most to prove following her trip in the summer of 2017 to Stardom. Leon worked with Io Shirai, one of the best wrestlers in the world. Leon gained credibility from her work in Japan, and now plans to utilize that enhanced presence, psychology and physicality in The Allure.
Though she has been with the company since 2014, this represents the best opportunity to date for her to create something lasting within ROH.
“People who think I’ve had everything handed to me know nothing at all,” said Leon. “When Ring of Honor had their school in Philadelphia, I had to scratch and claw my way into their classes. When I finally got through my training on the independent circuit, I accomplished a lot of my own.
“You don’t have to like me, but you’re going to respect me for everything I’ve done–and I’ve accomplished a lot.”
The Allure will finally make their in-ring debut for Ring of Honor at this Friday’s "Best in the World" pay-per-view in Baltimore when Love and Leon will team up against Klein and Rose.
“The Women of Honor division has always focused on wrestling, which we do, but we’re also bringing something that hasn’t been offered before,” said Love. “This isn’t ‘Mean Girls.’ We are grown-up, ass-kicking women. We’re going to breathe new life into the division.”
The Allure will be worth watching. Velvet Sky seeks to add a new chapter to her career as a manager; Angelina Love looks to add even more depth to her vast wrestling portfolio; and Mandy Leon wants to prove she belongs in any discussion of top talent. In addition to all of that, the pervading question remains whether the group can coexist as a trio and turn their dreams into reality.
“There are so many girls trying to prove themselves as wrestlers,” said Leon. “Women have already proven that–women are great wrestlers. But we’ve lost touch with the storylines and the sexuality. That’s all you’d see in the ‘Attitude Era’–hot girls who could throw down in the ring.
“It’s almost like you’re shamed now for looking good. We’re going to change that. This is the next step in the ‘Women’s Revolution.’”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.