Reigning BEW Women’s Champion KC Spinelli has been pretty busy these last few weeks. From successfully defending her title against former champion Kat Von Kaige at Empire Fights Back 5, to her debut match at Ring of Pakistan, Canadian-born Spinelli has barely stopped to catch her breath. Diva Dirt’s Laura Mauro managed to catch a few minutes with her just after her high-impact title defence at British Empire Wrestling’s highly-anticipated annual event.
Founded in 2014 by Declan Kellett and Tim Birkett, British Empire Wrestling is one of London’s leading independent wrestling promotions. Women’s wrestling is a key part of BEW’s wrestling ethos and has been since the promotion’s inception; BEW boast alumni such as Toni Storm, Kairi Sane and Tegan Nox, and their shows regularly attract international talent from all over the world.
With a background in a range of sports from amateur wrestling to karate to hockey, Spinelli is conscious of the importance of role models. She points out that as young wrestling fan, positive female role models were hard to come by, and women athletes were not afforded the same degree of respect and recognition as their male counterparts – but that’s beginning to change:
“I grew up in a household where I just had my mum and my brother, my cousins were mostly all guys, so that’s who I hung out with, and they watched wrestling. And I don’t remember female wrestlers when I was that young. I know there were some, but that wasn’t what caught my eye about wrestling. I liked the gimmicks, I liked the characters, I liked the awe factor of it. But I wanted to do it I think partly because I didn’t see somebody who I thought ‘I want them to be my role model’. And you need role models. And that’s not to say that I want to be a role model, because I mean, I don’t think I ever could be! The thing is, I just wanted to help make a change, I wanted to be different.
There was a time where there’d just started to be women wrestlers, and looking back it’s like – they were stereotypical, they looked a certain way, they had a certain imag. So they were role models but not role models to the same extent as now, when you see girls like Ruby, and Bayley, who aren’t your regular-looking supermodels.”
Even with an increase in the number and diversity of women wrestlers, and the skyrocketing profile of women’s wrestling worldwide, Spinelli says that there are still challenges that come with being outnumbered by your male colleagues. But this adversity inspires a sense of camaraderie among the women in the locker room:
“I feel like when you get into a business and there’s only a few of you…I don’t think the guys will ever feel this way, because there’s like thirty of them in the locker room, they can all do the same move, there’s no ‘hey guys, can you not do this move because that’s my move’, whereas there are so few girls and it’s so limited, they’re so few and far between in the locker room that you want your gear to be different, you want to make sure that your moves are different, because you have to be different to one another to help make you stand out.
And I think also in doing that you get your creative juices flowing. So if there’s a girl in the locker room you might tell her ‘hey, have you ever tried thinking of this?’ It’s building a friendship between girls which, for a long time it was always like – if you want this part, you have to beat out the other four girls who are trying for it.
You don’t expect that, the camaraderie that you see with males, so when you do see it and when you’re a part of it you realise we really can be different.”
Spinelli made her debut with Pakistan’s first major international wrestling promotion, Ring of Pakistan, on the Dec. 7. To date, she has competed in a multitude of promotions worldwide, including the US, Canada, Britain and Mexico, and she’s got her sights set on expanding her itinerary in the future:
“When I first started out wrestling I checked out the Japan scene, I really enjoyed watching a lot wrestling from Japan. But…they scared me! Obviously I’ve watched more since then and I enjoy it, so I would say Japan would be my number one pick to go right now, or Australia. Italy and Germany too.
I’ve had a few friends go to Stardom – it just looks like they have such a good time, and I would love to be a part of that experience.
I’m really hoping [Pakistan] is a lot of fun. I’m always more excited about doing these things because I’ve been to Mexico, and I’ve been to Paraguay and the experiences are the number one things I look forward to. Meeting new people, and experiencing the culture.”
As well as her international adventures, Spinelli has made several televised appearances for Impact Wrestling, both as herself and – if you believe the rumours – as part of Su Yung’s ‘Undead Bridesmaids’ entourage. The TV experience, Spinelli says, is very different from performing for a live crowd:
“It’s really different because with TV you’re playing for your market which is not the live fans. Here I get to focus on them, you interact with them. That’s why I feel like wrestling is the best thing that you could ever bring a friend or a girlfriend or your kids or grandkids to, because it’s very interactive. You’ll never get better than that for £20, to come to a show for two or three hours, and know that when you take them home that’s all they’re going to talk about for the next two weeks.”
What with travelling the world, holding championship gold and catching the eye of a company the size of Impact Wrestling, KC Spinelli’s star is on the rise, and it’s not difficult to see why. Spinelli has as much heart as she does talent, and she’s come a long way since her 2009 debut. The future is looking bright, and Spinelli is rightfully optimistic – though success does not come without cost:
“I get quite excited when these opportunities come up because I get to turn to my mum and say you know what, I stuck with my dream, my dream’s coming true, this is what I wanted to do, look at me now. And at the same time, I definitely feel the years gaining and I think to myself…y’know, I better never tell her I should’ve gotten the job that gives me a retirement plan.”