2001 – the Year in Review

Dominique LeMonde - apartmentwrestlers.com

The year 2001 was a remarkable one for the Apartment Championship Wrestling promotion. After years of consolidation within the industry, ACW has stepped to the forefront to become the preeminent apartment wrestling promotion, becoming the de facto standard for female fighting entertainment. Over the course of the year, however, the promotion has followed a topsy turvy path that caused many to question its future and that of some of its most important personalities.

Dominique LeMonde - www.apartmentwrestlers.com In March 2001, ACW gained a major coup by signing International star Dominique LeMonde. LeMonde, daughter of famed Olympic wrestler Marque LeMonde, had made a name for herself in the amateur world, and after a number of exhibitions against top flight talent in Europe, had many people declaring her a viable challenger for the ACW. LeMonde, however, rushed into a title match with ACW champion Heaven, ignoring the advice to take time to prepare for such a challenge by taking preliminary matches against mid-card competition. LeMonde, listening to her supporters pushed for the title match that took place against Heaven in March. Heaven easily defeated the overmatched challenger, thoroughly humiliating her by tearing off her bikini and taunting Dominique with it. A despondent LeMonde withdrew from active competition for five months, remaining in seclusion in Paris before returning to action in the fall.

ACW President Tanako X decided to advance the promotion’s role as an entertainment industry powerhouse after watching Dixie Monroe’s success in her efforts to establish a movie career. Monroe made headlines in April when she explained that she hoped to use ACW as a steppingstone towards a television and movie career. X saw value in her vision and has taken steps to push the promotion’s mainstream appeal, developing marketing and merchandising opportunities for the promotion and its performers. In addition to gaining prominent magazine features on the ACW performers, the groundwork was laid for developing promotional endorsements as well as branching out into ACW merchandise later in the year.

In May, ACW embarked upon an International promotional tour. Seeking to expand its entertainment and fan base beyond the North American borders, X finalized several agreements with European and Asian based apartment wrestling promotion by which the promotions worked together to develop mutually beneficial competition as well as training programs, providing a wider scope of fighting disciplines, improving the quality of competitors skills.

Paulina Persenko - www.apartmentwrestlers.com “The International expansion has afforded us an opportunity that most companies fail to consider. Through what I call “cooperative competition,” we are able to send some of our girls overseas where they can refine their skills, facing stiff competition. We also bring many of the European and Asian girls over here to compete, giving them greater exposure than they would previously have attained. Paulina Persenko, for instance, has developed a large cult following in the United States and in Canada and is slated to make her motion picture debut in March 2002. Needless to say, she is ecstatic.” Currently, ACW has developmental deals in place with Poland-based PLAW, Japan-based JFWI and French-based (Femme Fight Club). In the works are similar arrangements in Panama, Hungary, Thailand, Russia and Brazil.

In June, ACW became embroiled in a legal dispute with an upstart Chicago-based promotion called Night Fights. Two Night Fighters, Miranda Alexander and Niki Foxe, signed contracts with ACW, after declaring themselves free agents. Night Fights filed suit against ACW, seeking an injunction to prevent the girls from wrestling and monetary damages. The dispute was resolved as the two parties entered into a working arrangement and ACW eventually acquired most of the assets of Night Fights. Alexander is currently competing in Japan and Foxe been released.

July provided the match of the year in the promotion. Champion Heaven battled Daniella Cartier in the most anticipated match in history. Cartier had emerged as a serious title contender, mowing down top notch performers Paulina Persenko and Barbie Mayfield and was expected to present a strategic problem for Heaven. The match was an incredible exhibition of skill and tenacity, ebbing and flowing with both women escaping from the others hold. With Cartier gaining the advantage after a long period of grueling action, a desperate Heaven stomped on Daniella’s foot and rolled her up for the pin.

Controversy erupted after the match with fans of Cartier voicing their outrage over Heaven’s dubious tactics and screamed for a rematch. Heaven scoffed at their comments but said she was willing to put her title again against Daniella. A rematch is scheduled for Spring 2002.

August saw the beginning of one of the most turbulent periods for the promotion. ACW Champion Heaven, the most well-known performer in the business and the face of the promotion was suspended when it was revealed that she had appeared on an adult oriented website. Heaven immediately filed a lawsuit against ACW, alleging sexual harassment and demanding reinstatement as well as monetary damages. As the case dragged on for months, things became very contentious and very hostile with ACW planning to move on without Heaven and Heaven making salacious allegations against Tanako X.

While it looked hopeless an adequate resolution, the parties would eventually reach a settlement agreement and would walk away with an innovative contractual arrangement through which the promotion and the star would both participate in a profit sharing arrangement on certain merchandising ventures as well as Heaven’s appearances on entertainment ventures. Viewed as a win-win opportunity both parties were pleased with the outcome and relieved.

Daniella Cartier - www.apartmentwrestlers.com Despite the good news of the settlement, the year ended on somewhat of a down note as the promotion saw a number of its stars suffer major injuries that will keep them out of action. Most serious was the injury to Daniella Cartier who was injured in a major automobile accident in October. Cartier suffered knee and back injuries as well as broken ribs. It is hoped that she will be able to begin training in early February. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Cartier who, despite the loss to Heaven was viewed by many as the top performer in the promotion. While most feel she will make a complete recovery from her injuries, many are concerned with whether the break in action will cause her to lose momentum. In addition, former Inter-Condominium champion Diane Hunter suffered a leg fracture which forced her to forfeit her title and Paulina Persenko dislocated a shoulder which ended her 2001 North American tour.

2002 promises to be highly entertaining as the promotion will continue to seek new talent from various areas of the world and will continue its efforts to expand marketing and merchandising efforts internationally. The promotion recently released a line of merchandise (T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, etc.) and is now customizing some of the merchandise to feature it performers. The Heaven ladies T-shirt has already sold 80% higher than its projections and ACW believes that it is only the start.

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