Over the course of the last ten years, Apartment Championship Wrestling has seen many competitors come and go with varying degrees of talent and skill. The current crop of talent, as a whole, provides the most competitive atmosphere to ever exist within the organization at one time. From top to bottom, the women of ACW possess different strengths and experience, but they all have one thing in common – a will to win the promotion’s greatest prize – the ACW championship belt. Of the current roster, the elite members are all viewed as serious contenders to the throne. They are now being called “the Great 8.”
Daniella Cartier has carried the ACW belt for seven months. In that time, she has breezed through her competition. As ACW journeyed to France for the final leg of the 2006 European tour, it looked as if her second tenure as champion might prove more impressive than the first. As the tour proved, she’ll have no time to rest on her laurels and bask in her glory. ACW arrived with the promotions top ten catfighters. Of the group, only Tiffani Jones suffered a loss, outmatched against former ACW wrestler Paulina Persenko. Cartier easily defeated European champion Felicity Seville in 3:38 with a spinning reverse roll-up. As she flew back to Chicago, however, she couldn’t help but look over her shoulder.
Diane Hunter is still angry about losing the title to Cartier in 2005. She took out her anger on Glaciella Mendez of Spain. Hunter was almost disqualified twice for her rough tactics. More disturbing was her insistence on addressing Glaciella as “Daniella” every time she stomped on the fallen opponent. Hunter vows to pummel opponent after opponent until she gets to Cartier.
Newcomer Alex Del Monacco flew to Italy for her match against Rosellini Miselli straight from a photo-shoot in London. Straight off the cover of Ballers Magazine, she finished off Miselli in 6:45 although it appeared she could have won the match at any point.
“I wanted to make a statement,” she said. “I can beat anyone, whenever I want. This was a message to everyone in the top ten, especially the champ. She can’t duck me forever.”
Brycee Adams broadened her cult following in Barcelona after her match against Sarah Spenser. After their public-match at the Palace Belarino, Adams prowled the front rows of the audience, prompting raucous fans to chant “Champ, Champ, Champ” while hugging and high-fiving her. In the midst of their cheering and adulation, Adams cut one of the greatest promos in recent history calling Cartier a loudmouth braggart “who needs to shut up and put up. No one cares how hard you’ve worked to get to the top. They just want to see you put the belt up so I can take it and boot your sorry ass right back to the bottom. When the annals of apartment wrestling are written, they’ll remember that day as “Enter the Hoosier, Exit the Loser!”
Fan favorite and veteran Daisee Douglas won a very close match against Helga Hessler in 21:34. Douglas, coming off of an injury did not look her sharpest, but surprised many with her endurance. Whether she has regained the physical condition necessary to mount a credible challenge to the title remains to be seen, but she could easily be the spoiler, poised to knock off one of the other challengers.
Newcomer Staci Jones, filling in at the last moment for an injured Rosario Delgado, stunned FAW champion Claudia Benet with a lateral thrust at the 5:01 mark. The slender younger cousin of Tiffani Jones was competing in only her third professional match and wasn’t expected to make much of an impact in her match. She stunned everyone, however, with enormous and surprising strength which she demonstrated by lifting Benet over her shoulder and dumping her on the couch, despite being outweighed by almost 35 pounds. Her victory helped to propel her into the ACW top ten rankings.
The outrageous Mandy Taylor was up to her usual tricks. Bobbing and weaving between serious wrestling activity and her bouts with lunacy, Taylor kept opponent Tamera Tenella complete off-guard, winning her bout at 7:33 with a spinning, rolling pin which she calls “the Merry-Go-Round.” Many observers feel Mandy’s greatest asset is her unpredictability, a fact that she believes makes her Taylor-made as an opponent to Cartier.
While she hasn’t made many friends during her tenure in ACW, Cassidy Collins has garnered a lot of attention. Her shoot from the hip manner of speaking hasn’t endeared her to many competitors, fans or members of management, but she has impressed most with her skills. “Everybody’s looking to add their two cents but they’ve got nothing to say,” Collins told a reporter from Le Monde, France’s largest newspaper. “Screw’em. I don’t need fans, I don’t need friends and I don’t need a pat on the back. I just need a paycheck and the chance to wrestle.. And I don’t need to talk to you!”
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the tour was the performance of young Nyla Jay Romero. After winning a tryout match against Annina, Nyla was allowed to wrestle as part of the tour. She won not one, not two, but three matches against experienced opponents. While she looks like and adorable, lovable, huggable young woman, she is very competent grappler with a desire to learn and to succeed. Her ascension to the top ten was based mostly on her efforts in Europe but many see something special in her. “I love wrestling,” she said. “Especially apartment wrestling. I’m not as good as some of the other girls but I’m pretty good and I’m new. I’m excited to be a part of this and traveling all around. Keep your eye on me.”
The Great 8 took Europe by storm, shocking everyone with their dominance over the best Europe had to offer. While ACW management was euphoric over the impressive victories, word has it that Daniella Cartier was not so pleased that her main adversaries performed so well. “It’s not that Daniella is worried that one girl did well or another.. but these girls were all so impressive,” said one member of management. “I don’t think she expected to see them perform so well on a big stage. I think she knows that facing them all, one after another, is going to be a lot harder than she thought.”