Heaven, Daniella Cartier, Diane Hunter, Alex Del Monacco. These ladies have worn the ACW Champion belt over the last four years. Four very different women, different personalities, different skill-sets, but all great champions. What is the legacy of the belt as held by these four victors?
The story starts with Heaven, or 00Heaven as she initially insisted upon being called. Bold, beautiful and bombastic, the world of apartment wrestling had never seen anyone like her. She was blonde bombshell who entered the sketchy world of apartment wrestling and made it a glamorous must-see event. Never afraid of controversy, she pushed the boundaries in order to gain the recognition and and adulation she desired. More so, she used he sport as a pedestal for creating her own brand and she marketed herself around the world, propelling ACW into the limelight as well.
Apartment Wrestling Historian Blake Philips:
“The thing about Heaven was she was absolutely gorgeous, a phenomenal body and had great wrestling talent. She was very intimidating because she was so beautiful, but was very aggressive. She had a mean streak about her and would take it right to her opponent. Sometimes her opponents seemed awestruck when facing her and then she would come at them with such a fury, they just looked like they wanted to die.
I really think ACW was very smart to hitch their wagon to her and she took the ball and ran with it. She made the promotion global because it made her a bigger star.”
Unfortunately, as her star grew brighter, her success caused conflict within the promotion and she found herself stretched to thin, trying to balance her responsibilities within the promotion against her ever-burgeoning modeling career. When it was found that she had violated her ACW contract by appearing on her own adult website, a standoff between the promotion and the star caused the beginnings of a civil war within the promotion. Eventually she was suspended by ACW and filed a lawsuit in return. Soon after her settlement and reinstatement, she lost a rematch against Daniella Cartier and soon disappeared from the promotion.
Daniella Cartier entered ACW as a different kind of wrestler; educated, sophisticated but down to earth. Her victory over heaven was seen by many as an opportunity for the promotion to return to normalcy and to recreate the ACW brand without the tarnish that had covered the belt. Cartier did her part, defending the belt and carrying it with class and dignity. She went on a two year winning streak but suffered with the criticism that she was mowing down opponents left and right and wasn’t really subjected to top flight competition. On top of this, she battled numerous nagging injuries that often made her appear less than dominant, regardless of her winning streak. Desperate she put out an open invitation to take on all comers. This backfired as she had a line of competitors ready to challenge her everyday until finally ACW stepped in a and forced her to step back from her open invitation.
Needing a big-time challenger to step into the void, Cartier’s biggest foe would turn out to be a veteran whom few had had any faith of being a top-caliber apartment wrestler.
Diane Hunter will be remembered by history as a woman who refused to give up on her dream no matter how many doors were slammed in her face. The long-time ACW veteran had toiled for years begging for matches and opportunities but was passed off as not having “it.” After years of being denied, she finally got her opportunity when injuries hit the promotion and she was finally able to challenge for the belt. In one of the greatest series of battles in apartment wrestling history, Diane was defeated by champion Cartier three straight times, but with a groundswell of support and bolstered by astronomical DVD and clips sales, ACW mandated another rematch between the two and in her fourth opportunity, Hunter reached her dream, defeating Daniella and becoming the ACW World title holder.
Despite her success, Hunter still bristled over how she was treated for so many years and became very critical of ACW management. At the same time, she became indispensable to the promotion as she rattled off win after win. Even more noteworthy, with the title belt around her waist she became a much better wrestler, training in ju-jitsu and working with mma trainers to learn a whole new game of submission wrestling. With her new knowledge she began not only beating her opponents but punishing them as well. The one opponent she wouldn’t face, however, was Daniella Cartier. After taking time off to heal various injuries, Cartier challenged Hunter for a rematch but Diane was having none of it. Arguing that she should never have been made to wait as long as she did, she vowed to never reward Cartier with a rematch. Fan outrage, however, prompted ACW to demand that she give Cartier a rematch or faced being stripped of the belt. In another great match between the two, Daniella was victorious in winning the title belt back.
Daniella began another multi-year reign and presided over a changing of the guard, so to speak as many veteran wrestlers were released by the promotion and new combatants entered to fill the void. One of these new wrestlers was Alex Del Monacco.
Alex Del Monacco was beautiful and an immediate asset to the promotion just based on her looks. However, she was also a serious student of wrestling and MMA, training for several years in multiple disciplines of combat. When she started in ACW she began to impressive fans, management and even her opponents with her styles and technique. Quickly the calls came for her to challenge Cartier for the belt. When they finally met in January 2007, Alex took advantage of a mistake by the champion and locked on a submission hold forcing Daniella to submit.
Alex took the reigns of the champion with surprising ease and with great poise. Slim in build, she overwhelmed rather than overpower her opponents, rattling off win after win. With Daniella again nursing injuries, however, Alex began hearing the familiar criticism that she wasn’t beating anyone of note. Bristling at the notion, Alex stayed focused and continued to win her matches. Her winning streak reached over 200 straight and it seemed that no one could best her, but as Diane Hunter once said, rematch is a bitch.
Del Monacco finally gave the oft-injured Cartier a rematch and in June 2010, Cartier pulled off a dominating upset to win the title back. Afterwards, the new champion was unable to fully celebrate as she suffered multiple injuries during the match. This may keep her from the dominance she once enjoyed which leaves the title picture wide open.
With this look at the title history, the age old question emerges: who was the best. Could Heaven match up to Del Monacco in a Battle of the Blonde Bombshells. Who would be superior in a match up of submission hold specialist, Alex or Diane. How would the hard-scrabbled Hunter have fared against the icon Heaven. Finally, if all were active at the same time, which of the four would have been the title holder and where would the other three have ranked.
We leave these questions to you. Go to the ACW Yahoo club and offer your thoughts on the great champions.