Featured Image by Cory Lockwood Photography
Aussie wrestling is the next big thing, and Kellyanne has been leading the movement, simply by doing what she loves.
However, Kellyanne might never have come to be, had it not been for a tech malfunction. ‘I was about eight or nine-years old, and I was obsessed with video games – Not much has changed, really – but I was playing Tekken on my PlayStation and it stopped working. So, I put in a disk, which I thought was a fighting game, that turned out to be a wrestling game,’ Kellyanne laughs.
‘I didn’t quite know what I was looking at. Then, I came across a character called Lita, who’s name I pronounced as Lit-ah,’ Kellyanne reflects. From there, she played the games religiously with her brothers and borrowed VHS tapes. It was seeing Lita on TV that propelled her towards obsession.
Kellyanne wasted no time getting into the ring, even taking some short cuts to get there. ‘I lied about my age [so I could start training early]. My mum lied for me which was nice of her. I was 13,’ she says. ‘I debuted at 14. I wasn’t ready.’
‘You can go out there and do 4,000 kicks, but can you connect deeply with the crowd?’
‘When you’re that young, you don’t really understand what you’re getting into,’ Kellyanne explains the shock that came with training. ‘When I learnt about break falling and psychology, I was like ‘psychology!? in wrestling!? what does that even mean!?’ …I just wanted to get out there and wrestle not realising how bad I was. My third match is hidden on YouTube somewhere. I’m dressed like Lita in a rumble, and I refused to get thrown out! I wouldn’t get out the ring! I wish that I waited a couple of years while training, so I could actually put on a good performance instead.’
Over ten years on, Kellyanne has bloomed all over the world. Highlights include visiting the States, particularly wrestling for Shimmer Women Athletes. ‘I remember getting my first Shimmer DVD with Beth Phoenix and all these other women. I knew that I wanted to be there because Shimmer is seen as the best female company in the world,’ she reflects. Kellyanne thanks Madison Eagles for paving the way for Australians to wrestle abroad: ‘if it wasn’t for her, a lot of us wouldn’t have been able to go over there. She opened up the door to everyone.’
Other highlights in Kellyanne’s career abroad include her time in Canada. She says, ‘My time at Lance Storm’s [wrestling academy in Calgary] was three months of pure training and living with wrestlers who I’m still friends with today. It’s the best school going.’ From pure wrestling to pure anarchy, she remembers working with Teddy Hart and sharing a roof with an escort company: ‘All this weird shit was happening for a whole month. Teddy was keeping people hostage, like Jim Neidhart and Jack Evans… it was just the strangest shit.’
‘Big shows, little shows, wrestling in front of two people or 2,000 – it’s all the same. It was walking the streets of a new city that was scarier than anything.’
And then, there was Mexico. ‘Mexico was one of my favourite experiences in my entire life. It was a big culture shock, being in the deep dark places of the Mexico City… I think I was 19. I was young and a little bit silly. Going there really opened my eyes to the other side of the world,’ Kellyanne relished the new perspective here, as it changed her for the better. She continues, ‘I’m not particularly religious, but before you go out [to wrestle] you have to pray and take a shot of whisky! I guess I learnt a lot about culture and myself over there. I used to be a very scared person – I used to be afraid of everything. Mexico helped me stop being so naive and ignorant. It was a huge learning experience more personally than professionally.’
Women’s wrestling has boomed in the last year, and Kellyanne leads a new frontier in Australian equality. ‘It’s almost become the norm for a man to wrestle a woman, but it’s still challenging here in Australia,’ she explains. ‘We just had a whole pay-per-view of women [in WWE]. But you still run into set-back as a woman. You still won’t be taken seriously until you prove yourself.’
‘I like to get in there and show that I’m equally talented, if not better than the men.’
Kellyanne’s recent match with Dowie James at Adrenaline Pro Wrestling had all the hype she was looking for. ‘Dowie and I have been friends for ten years. We’ve always wanted to have a match together. No one would [host it] purely because it was intergender and they were probably scared of offending the minority of the crowd [who were against it].’ She reflects on the changing attitude towards mixed gender matches in Australia: ‘It wasn’t the pressure of woman versus man [that I felt]. I felt the pressure of being the main event. I felt like the crowd had already accepted what was going on. They just wanted to see two good wrestlers, wrestling, showing who’s best.’
Kellyanne is humble in the face of her followers, from her fellow peers to her “fiend club” of fans. ‘It still makes me feel – I guess I get a little bit like, “aww really? me?” I never got into wrestling for fame or money. I did it because I loved it and it’s still that way today. I just want to show that I’m good at what I do.’ She hopes to be a mentor to young women looking to get their start, as she explains: ‘I know what it was like when I first started. I didn’t have many people to learn from. That’s why I went and trained elsewhere. Now there’s so much to experience within Australian wrestling.’
In the last year, Kellyanne has thrived in the Aussie scene. She’s worked with Alan Payne, who she says has helped her explore her character and create mystery in her wrestling. She has proudly watched Indi Hartwell grow from her debut match with her and had an incredible send-off match with Avary at Melbourne City Wrestling in October. ‘I couldn’t have gone out on a better match than that. It was more of a fight than a wrestling match and that was exactly what I wanted.’
‘I want to get that structured training again because I find that learning new things keeps me motivated and passionate.’
Now, it’s on to the next challenge. Kellyanne is taking Europe by storm, training with WXW (Westside Xtreme Wrestling) in Germany. ‘I’ve always wanted to wrestle in Germany because punk rock originated from there,’ she shares one of her other loves. ‘I’m not going over there expecting all the big shows and everything.’ She’ll also be making time to soak up all that Europe has to offer: ‘I want to experience everything properly, which is why I haven’t put a date on when I’ll be back. I’ll just see what happens.’
As for leaving Australia, the biggest challenge will be leaving her mum. ‘She’s been a single parent for her whole life. We’re very close and I’m the last of the kids to leave. That’s a bit hard, but she’s supported me since day one. I think she’ll be okay.’
What are Kellyanne’s hope for the near future of women’s wrestling, on a global scale? ‘I want to see lots of storylines, not just, “I’m a bitch and you’re a nice girl.” That’s so boring. That’s what I try to bring when I wrestle. Give me something more than, “I’m good, you’re bad” or “I’m old, you’re young,” you know? Fucking hell!’
Kellyanne’s Wrestling Idols
My favourite of all time is Lita. 100%. I’m a big fan of Session Moth Martina. She’s so true to her character everywhere, that’s what I love. I hope I get to meet her when I’m over [in the UK].