Tenille Dashwood, formerly known as Emma, has had a whirlwind of opportunities so far since being released by WWE. She’s been booked solid since February and even took part in ROH’s Women of Honor Championship tournament – with fans speculating if this could be the first of many titles she’d capture.
Even in defeat, Tenille’s participation in the tournament drew eyes to the Women of Honor promotion. Wrestling fans who’ve never even seen WOH before tuned in to see her and were made aware of other women in the division, giving all the stars an exposure boost.
Gone are the days when leaving WWE meant a wrestler would work for pennies, if she could even find work at all.
Men like the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega have become successful on their own and most recently Cody Rhodes has proven that life goes on after WWE.
This is Tenille’s mission, to show other women that being successful on the indies can be done.
“Cody is very passionate about what he does and he’s very smart,” Dashwood told Cageside Seats in an interview. “I actually talk to him all the time, he’s a good friend of mine. We actually talked recently about me being in Ring of Honor and basically I think he’s done a great job of going out on his own and doing things his way. That’s exactly what I want to do as well. To still keep that name and keep in the spotlight and continue my regular bookings moving forward.”
Other women such as Saraya Knight and Aja Kong have built legacies outside North America’s prime wrestling real estate. Saraya is part of a wrestling dynasty in the UK, with her whole family involved in some aspect of the wrestling business, and at 46 is still wrestling.
Whereas Aja Kong did appear briefly in WWE in the mid 90s. Her rise was cut short as Alundra Blayze was fired before a match could occur between the two. At 47, Aja continues to wrestle, most recently with SHIMMER and then next month with Pro Wrestling Eve. And her reputation most definitely precedes her.
Recently crowned WOH Champion Sumie Sakai has been wrestling in America and with ROH since 2001.
Santana is a model example of someone who’s been able to capture multiple titles and prestigious accolades and still go strong.
Stardom is a promotion featuring Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani who’ve been seen on Lucha Underground as part of the Black Lotus Triad, in turn leading to more exposure to bigger audiences. This also lead to WWE signing Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane.
WWE’s developmental NXT TV Show and the MYC has been a launching pad for several talent – as NXT uses “local” talents as enhancements to help signed talent go over occasionally. Jazzy Gabert, aka Alpha Female, made a career outside WWE and her appearing in the MYC alone helped boost her status and let fans see how wonderful she is.
Even though these women may not be signed, they’ve still be able to gain opportunities to continue their career, ultimately reaping rewards that would have been unfathomable even 20 years ago.
Women like Mickie James, who resigned with WWE in 2016, made a name for herself outside of WWE after she left in 2010, taking part in Impact Wrestling during the rise of the Knockout Division.
And Gail Kim has broken barriers for women to control their careers and become successful household names without ever stepping into a WWE ring again after leaving for good in 2011.
There’s no better time than right now to be on the independent circuit. WWE is not the end all be all and women can strive for anything, becoming successful and in demand just like the men. Opportunities are plentiful and as a fan of women’s wrestling, it’s encouraging to see.
“When I left and saw what was out there, it’s been amazing,” Dashwood said to Cageside Seats. “The companies that I’m working for every weekend, they’re putting women in the main event. That’s really special for me to be put in that position. And to be able to showcase women’s wrestling on the main event of the show. That’s awesome. Women’s wrestling is very popular right now. And everyone is going with that trend and that’s why these companies are picking up their game and taking advantage of that, too.”
What do you think about this topic? Do you think Tenille’s success can be a model for other women who’ve left WWE? Who do you want to see continue their careers in another promotion? Sound off in the comments below.