Optimism surrounds the NWA’s EmPowerrr pay-per-view Saturday. An all-women’s show featuring a blend of established and emerging stars from AEW, Impact Wrestling, AAA and the indies, this is a chance to place a spotlight on the future of the industry.
The concept is deeper than holding a women-only show, as the long-term goal is to shake up the power structure of the industry. Throughout its existence, pro wrestling has been dominated by men. This show helps change that conversation, as well as serve as a breeding ground and launchpad for new talent. It will also feature the extremely talented Jenna Van Bemmel, who has been overlooked for the duration of her career. That is set to change Saturday, as she showcases her Jennacide character on center stage at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis.
Wrestling at the Chase was a fixture in the early 1980s for the NWA, laying the groundwork on television for a cavalcade of stars that included Ted DiBiase and Bob Orton, as well as a home for mainstays like Ric Flair, Harley Race and Bruiser Brody. A new chapter in history will now be written, with the likes of Deonna Purrazzo, Chelsea Green, Kamille, Leyla Hirsch, Red Velvet, Chik Tormenta and Jennacide all receiving their shot at taking another step toward wrestling immortality.
“This is my chance to make history,” Van Bemmel says. “Wrestling at the Chase hasn’t happened since in a long time, and this is going to be a full weekend packed of wrestling. It means a lot for me to be part of it.”
The daughter of a collegiate football player and a Broadway dancer, Van Bemmel grew up enamored with pro wrestling. Her father performed stage lighting during her childhood, and would even occasionally bring her to wrestling shows at Madison Square Garden. But dreams of a future in athletics were crushed when she was involved in a gruesome car crash when she was 16.
“It caused a lot of broken bones and a lot of surgeries,” Van Bemmel says. “That car accident changed my trajectory. I have a stimulator inside my back, and that sends signals to my brain that allow my kidneys and bladder to work normally. Because of that, I went through some serious s---, which was really hard.”
Initially, Van Bemmel wanted to hide her wounds. Though it took years for her to come to terms with the accident, out of the wreck emerged a chance to inspire.
“I used to try so hard to hide it,” Van Bemmel says. “It’s taken a long time, but now I’m proud of it. I came out even stronger. It’s also helped me connect with people, and my fans—my Muscle Army—gives me strength. That’s why I make people flex with me.”
Already overcoming real-life strife, Van Bemmel then took on the wrestling industry. In addition to a full-time job in marketing, she still finds time for Muay Thai and wrestling training every night, where she works with her husband, former 20-year wrestler Chris Silvio.
“He’s my rock,” Van Bemmel says. “He gives me that extra push every time I need it.”
Van Bemmel is ready to seize the moment in the Invitational Cup Gauntlet at EmPowerrr. Though she has had brief appearances in NXT and AEW, she was never afforded the opportunity to show the enormity of what she is capable of doing—until now.
“All of those times I’ve heard no, it’s led me to this moment with the NWA,” Van Bemmel says. “Billy [Corgan, the NWA’s owner] and Mickie James have given me this platform, and this is my chance at EmPowerrr. I’m so hungry for this.”
Living and breathing the wrestling business for the past seven years, Van Bemmel created Jennacide during the pandemic. That has brought her on a path leading directly to EmPowerrr, an open field of opportunity.
“When I first started as my Van Muscles character, it was a nickname from when I was a kid,” Van Bemmel says. “I traveled all over the world for wrestling, and I felt like I outgrew that name. Then we were stuck in the house during the pandemic, and that’s when Jennacide was created, which I debuted at a Mission Pro show last November. It’s grown in momentum ever since.”
“When you combine a football player, a wrestler and a Broadway star, you get Jennacide. People are going to see me kick a-- and make history, and I’m going to do it gracefully.”