Friday, September 24, 2021

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A Pocket Volcano’s Eruption (Issue #1) – An Ode to a Scream Queen

Greetings and salutations everyone! When the offer was made to Diva Dirt’s team members to come up with their own articles, I hopped on this bandwagon. I love to write, and what better way to share my thoughts and opinions on female wrestling? (The title of my articles came from a friend – he thinks of me as a volcano and this sprung to mind. I like it!) I struggled to come up with a subject for my first column, and it struck me whilst watching a match on SHIMMER Volume 14. I’m going to take this opportunity to fully expound on exactly why I idolize one wrestler in particular.

My number one is a peculiar choice, as there are others who are more technically skilled in the ring (as she, herself, would most likely agree), or others whose resume is filled with accolades and belts. However, this woman grabbed my attention the very first time I saw her on my television. I’ve followed her career through its ups and downs, its highs and lows. Her perseverance and good spirit is refreshing in a business that can chew you up and spit you out. Who is this lady? Read on…

It was in the year 2000, and I was scanning the television. Raw hadn’t come on yet, so I tuned into Nitro. I couldn’t tell you the day or the month, I can only tell you it was prior to the so-called “Golden Era” in WWE’s women’s division. That means no Trish, no Molly Holly and certainly no Lita. I had no concept of women doing anything high flying. I was used to the down and dirty style of Ivory, Tori and Luna.

Anyways, I couldn’t tell you what was going on on Nitro. To be honest, I watched a bit of WCW from 1999 to when it was bought by the WWF in 2001, and there are only a few moments that I remember. One of these moments, however, was on a night in 2000. I saw someone that caught my attention. She had on a short, bright blue wig (which I originally thought was her real hair), gothic makeup and a t-shirt that said “FREAK.” And she screamed. A lot. This, in addition to waking me up from the snooze-fest that was Nitro, really made me pay attention to the match. She was managing someone named Crowbar and they certainly looked like the odd couple from hell. Interesting, I thought, two people that certainly didn’t fit the criteria of other wrestlers and women in wrestling you usually saw. This woman was no Debra, no Terri Runnels, and no Miss Kitty. She proved that when she got into the ring behind the referee’s back and hit a perfect Frankensteiner off the top of the turnbuckle on whomever it was Crowbar was facing.

THAT got my attention. Granted, I’d only been watching wrestling for a little over a year, but still! A woman attacking a man in the ring! What’s more, hitting a high risk top rope move on him! That was it; I had to know who she was. I un-muted the television to try and get the name from the commentators. Eventually, they gave it to me.

Her name was Daffney. I was hooked. Until World Championship Wrestling released her in February 2001, I tuned into Nitro to watch for Daffney. It was the only reason I put up with WCW; when I found out they had let her go, I soured permanently on that company. But let’s face it, there was no women’s division, and I felt Daffney had a lot more potential than to remain a manager (as good of a manager as she was).

Then, in 2003, I learned she had been signed to a developmental deal with the WWE. I was ecstatic! Finally, someone had taken notice and decided to bring her into Ohio Valley Wrestling. At the time, however, I was unaware of just how close OVW was to my home, so I missed my opportunity to actually see Daffney in person. I still take ten minutes each day to flog myself thoroughly for this.

My joy was short lived, however. In December of the same year (the same year…ARGH…) they released Daffney from her developmental deal. I was incensed. Even if she wasn’t wrestling, she could’ve made someone a fantastic manager! She had a loyal fan base that would’ve welcomed her back in any capacity, and her character would’ve immediately made an impact on people who didn’t know her. If they had put her in the ring, she could’ve worked with and learned still more from people like Ivory, Molly Holly and Jazz. Daffney would’ve made a fine addition to the already-solid women’s division in the WWE.

Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve. An opportunity pissed away by World Wrestling Entertainment. Not that that is any surprise to anyone, however. C’est le vie.

There’s a saying that you can’t keep a good woman down. This proved to be true for Daffney, and a pleasant surprise for myself. Fast forward to 2008, to an upstart company called Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Their women’s division was in full bloom and I was enjoying every second of it. In many ways, it was better than the WWE’s division – you had a lot more variety in the women and in their wrestling skills and styles. At the time, Awesome Kong’s $25,000 challenge was on-going, and everyone was eager to see who would finally bring down the dominant woman. I happened to be watching on June 5th, 2008, when I saw a VERY familiar face in the crowd, volunteering for the chance to take Kong out.

My heart literally leaped. It was Daffney!! There was no mistaking her, and when she was selected, the crowd gave her a good response. She had not been forgotten. Although she was quickly defeated by Kong, that one appearance gave me hope. TNA had her on their radar – but would something permanent come out of this?

Indeed, my wish came true. Daffney was brought in as the faux Sarah Palin for Taylor and Roxxi’s campaign against The Beautiful People, and the rest, as they say, is history. Eventually her character returned to its roots, this time as a more psychotic “zombie hot” Daffney. That was fine by me! I had my beloved Daffers on television most every week. Happy as a clam, I was. It was around this time that I discovered the existence of SHIMMER Women Athletes, and the fact that Daffney competed there as well. I had missed her teaming with MsChif as the Scream Queens, but nonetheless, the more Daffney, the better.

I had the good fortune to actually meet my idol when I attended the SHIMMER tapings in September of this year. Melanie had forewarned notified Daffney that one of her biggest fans would be in attendance, so when Steven introduced me to her, she knew who I was at once (despite the fact I’d left one of the two tiny top hats I’d had specifically made for that weekend at the hotel… d’oh!). The Goth Goddess pulled me in for a hug and took the time to chat with me for a few minutes. It made my day! I bought one of her new t-shirts, got another hug and went back to my seat, floating on air. She was everything I’d hoped she would be, and then some. At the after party (either Saturday night or Sunday night, I cannot remember which one), Daffney asked me, “Why do you like me so much?”

I told her what I’m telling you here. I like her because, in a business that’s dominated by pretty faces, plastic bodies, and mostly blonde hair, Daffney Unger is different. She doesn’t mind standing out – in fact, she actively seeks to make herself as different from the rest as possible. Her look, her character, her personality, all of it combines to make a person who you cannot help but pay attention to. Once your attention is hooked, she follows up by showing she has substance to her style. Daffney was one of the first women I saw get into the ring and help out her charge by attacking his opponent. That was revolutionary to me. Over time, she has become a solid ring worker, able to pull off high risk moves as well as the basics on the mat. Plus, she is one of the very few women who have been in “hardcore” matches, such as TNA’s “Monsters’ Ball” match. I know very few women who would be willing to be body slammed into thumb tacks – Daffney is one of them. Although I know it wasn’t pleasant for her, the sight of her writhing in the tacks gave me goose bumps. True, this isn’t necessary for women to go through, and many fans are uncomfortable with it. As for myself, I think it shows a passion and a willingness to go through unconventional means to get herself or her opponent over. That moment made me love Daffney all the more.

Daffney gives everything she has every time she steps through the curtain, be it as a manager or a wrestler. Her passion and dedication are undeniable. She has stayed true to the Daffney character, when at times altering it or herself might have made a difference in her career. In a sense, I see a lot of myself in her. In my teenage years, I went to a private Baptist high school. We had to wear uniforms, so there was little chance of standing out in that sense. In my eleventh year, I felt myself changing and wanted to reflect that. So in a school full of girls with long blonde or brunette hair, contacts and conventional jewelry, I showed up one day sporting a short, spiky haircut that had been dyed a deep red and a gothic dog collar with silver spikes on it. Together with my wire-framed glasses and short stature, I stood out. People gossiped. They called me a lesbian, a feminazi. I didn’t care. I gloried in my new look. With the increased confidence, I started to speak out more, which seemed to confirm the idea I was a feminazi, but it didn’t matter one bit.

Since then, I have stayed true to who and what I am; despite the struggles and the short term benefits it cost me. This is what draws me to Daffney. We have both walked that lonely path, and still do to this day. Has it been worth it? For me, absolutely. And in my heart, I believe it has for Daffney as well. Despite not having a long resume of titles held or not working for the WWE, she has a hardcore fan base and is one of the most beloved wrestlers in North America. Her Daffanatics are based worldwide. She gives us the best of herself – and I love her for it.

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