Mercedes Martinez: The Greatest of All Time
Women Superstars Uncensored
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
To those who have not watched Mercedes Martinez in action, the notion that she is “The Greatest of All Time” may be a bit much, but after watching her in action, it’s just a bit of hyperbole.
Which, of course, is what professional wrestling is all about.
Since winning the WSU Title – in a bullrope match, no less – on March 7, 2009 from Angel Orsini, there has been no Champion of any gender with as long, as interesting and as dominant a reign as Mercedes Martinez. She has fought the top names in the indy circuit, a number of former WWE and TNA talents, and has stretched her reign to its fourth year…. and counting.
This DVD can pretty much be called the first half of that reign, and Martinez has upped her game since then. But it is representative of her talent and her ability to work various styles (and yes, there are various styles in women’s professional wrestling) and her natural instincts for the sport.
The early matches have the look of the indy circuit, but as WSU and Martinez have grown, the look of the product, the look of the main venues, and the professionalism has increased as well. Today, the WSU tapings are held in a venue that has a nostalgic feel, but at the same time, moves away from the high school gymnasium look. This becomes apparent in some of the matches on this DVD.
The point is, if you’re looking to watch WSU, the places, the people and the product itself are at the upper tier of indy wrestling.
Looking back at the early portions of her defenses, the mixture of WSU talent and guest stars and use of top names is very apparent. The feud between Orsini and Martinez is still playing out in 2009, and the mixing in of Rain, and then transitioning away from the Angel Orsini feud, and the building up of new challengers is what helps to establish Martinez as the Champion.
Few promotions today seem to hearken back to the formulas that were very successful in wrestling history, but that’s not the case with WSU.
This isn’t a compilation of the same matches, just at different dates.
This is a compilation of matches that are clearly built up and established, with new challengers appearing, with names moving in and out of contention, and with the growth of the relationship between Martinez and Angel Orsini.
With WSU, the storylines aren’t just logical, they progress. They build and they become meaningful. And yet there is no strict formula here – there is a sense of mixing it up and making use of opportunities for guest stars and the ability of the booking to keep things fresh.
Martinez makes a couple of grandstand challenges, and those are answered, but she has the final word. Martinez finds herself in a few three-way dances. Martinez works programs with a few ladies, and she works with the WSU Spirit Champion, and for a lot of these matches, she’s holding both the WSU Women Title and the Tag Team Title (shared with …. Angel Orsini).
The progression of the matches and the challengers tell the best story, as we see a Champion who takes on the best, and the next challenger appears after having won significant battles, or we find that they have had long win streaks, or – in the case of Angelina Love – there’s the sense of Martinez taking on a big name from the big leagues, and summarily making her own statement.
Since then, the booking, the sense of establishing credible challengers, and of course the results, have been consistent.
Mercedes Martinez has established herself as the top name in the sport because of her work, her dedication and because of some of the best booking in the business. But how Martinez handles herself is of the utmost importance, no matter who the challenger is, no matter what the style.
Now, let’s take a look at the matches:
Vs Jana 4/10/9
Jana is a WSU veteran, who works a Submission finisher called the Jana-lock, and at this time, had just turned heel. WSU does a strong face/heel dynamic, with turns, but does them slowly and with logic. Another point of interest is that Jana remains a strong competitor despite losing against Martinez long ago, and her own finisher is still kept strong.
It just presents once more, that a strong, credible Champion can beat opponents and still keep them strong.
Also, have to comment on Missy Hyatt, who is an announcer that commands attention when she’s doing color, sometimes for the wrong reasons, but ultimately entertaining.
Vs Angel Orsini/vs Rain 4/11/9
This was a three-way built up by the angle where Rain turned on Orsini, which kind of explains the reason for a three-way, but lends itself to the overworn everyone hates each other, so let’s pretend that three wrestlers in the same match works even better than two.
Which isn’t always the case, and often creates awkward situations, but this worked itself out. A little too much of two against the Champion, but it does help solidify the toughness of Martinez.
Vs Hailey Hatred vs Jessicka Havok 8/21/9
The other three-way on the DVD is another not-so-satisfying situation, but notice that these are early in the run. WSU booking has definitely improved as Martinez improved. Having a Tag Team versus the Champion just doesn’t make much sense, but they broke it out into the next match shown on the compilation.
While this match puts over Martinez strong, it’s the typical modern sense of wanting to show that one wrestler is better than two, and that’s just not a believable set of odds.
Vs Hailey Hatred 9/19/9
Mercedes Martinez and WSU play out the program with her against Hailey Hatred, and this is a lot more satisfying of a match. Hatred is powerful wrestler and the match plays off of previous beat-downs and Martinez shows her Championship caliber by keeping the fans behind her, making the comeback and eking out the win in the end.
Vs Portia Perez 10/3/9
Portia Perez is one of the best wrestlers on the indy scene. She plays heel most of the time, but this is more of a friend vs friend deal, and the two show a great deal of respect in the end. Very impressive, technically sound match between two ladies who wrestle a lot better than most on the mainstream level.
Vs Angelina Love 11/14/9
This match was everything it should have been. A big deal about a star coming off a run in TNA, using SoCal Val as an announcer, playing up the mainstream name.
And Martinez worked a more mainstream match, even while playing to her own house. No cheap win, no embarrassing pandering to the name, just a pretty good match.
Vs Rain 3/6/10
The brilliance of this match isn’t just the excellence in the ring, or the brutality out of it, but the reality that WSU spent pretty much a year establishing Martinez as Champion, and establishing Rain as the big heel waiting for her chance.
That’s what enhanced the match, instead of throwing out a name or two a week later, and wondering why no one cares.
Here, the fans care, the announce crew cares, and I’m sure the DVD viewers will be drawn in as well. The match is just that good.
Vs Brittney Savage 3/19/10
Savage has the look, the ability and at this point, her current and awesome ring name. She is a little small, but as the Spirit Champion and just under the upper card babyface, she’s brilliant.
Here, she had just turned heel and presents herself as a blonde bombshell with a great finisher and enough credibility to make the match work with Martinez. There’s something about heels done right that makes them dangerous to any babyface, and WSU works that dynamic well.
Savage would only get better with the full Rick Cataldo association, but this was done well in the ring.
Vs Amber O'Neal 4/2/10
I try very hard to avoid sexism and judging looks and keeping the focus on the talent, but wow, Amber O’Neal is not just an awesome heel, but an awesome looking lady. Brittney Savage is hot, and Portia Perez has a level of cuteness that makes her very attractive, but Amber O’Neal?
And those fishnet stockings?!?
And that ring outfit in this match!?!
Hard to believe that she’s not on bigger stages. And there are very few heels who work the crowd, the match and the opportunities like O’Neal. This is one more match where a heel had to have a winning streak to get a title shot, and once earned …. Well, once earned against Mercedes Martinez, getting that title shot was the easy part.
Vs Melissa Coates 4/3/10
Up to this point, I saw various matches, some great builds, and enough variation in terms of match length and approaches that I knew Mercedes Martinez was the real deal. But I hadn’t seen her against a powerhouse. And even though she’s heard doing promos throughout this DVD, this was the place where she truly exuded the voice of a Champion, was able to establish a match based on her reputation and presence, and from there, her challenge was very much real and her approach was very much at a level that few wrestlers can hope to achieve.
Martinez challenges anyone in the back, and for the WSU crowd, they are awed by the sight.
Enter Melissa Coates, a power lifter and a body builder, known to the crowd and obviously one of the most physically imposing wrestlers seen in the promotion (and, quite frankly, someone who looks more imposing than any women wrestler in a long time.)
The impromptu challenge worked well, and the two worked a great match, a little short (which, to me, was a definite plus) , but logical and playing into Mercedes having a bad back.
In the end, this match cemented Martinez as THE Champion.
Vs Tina San Antonio 7/23/10
Tina San Antonio as the bonus match didn’t wow me, but seeing this match worked with the same intensity, action and storytelling spoke a lot about the Champion.
Champions are not made by handing them something to wear around their waist. They are made by excellence in talent, confidence in their approach, the ability to interact with other types of talents, the interaction with the fans, and also by the investment and creativity of the promotion itself.
Yet at the center is the person, and how they handle the mantle of Champion, and how they learn how to work as Champion, and how they conduct themselves in the ring, through their actions, and through their words.
Sure, there are few Champions over the past few years who have fully received the chance to take their talents to the next level, who have been expected to carry their promotion on their back, and who have been given the latitude by their promotion to fully establish themselves as a credible Champion.
These days, I doubt there are very many wrestlers who could take that ball and run with it.
But Mercedes Martinez hasn’t fumbled in four years, and continues to establish herself as a wrestling talent that has it all. Does she deserve bigger and better things? Definitely.
And yet with her reign in WSU, she’s establishing herself every day as the best Champion in the world, and watching this DVD, I doubt anyone can argue that point.