The Women of NEW: Further Evolving Pro Wrestling in Newfoundland

Women’s professional wrestling has seen a surge in mainstream attention as of late with shows like GLOW, Total Divas and Total Bellas. Greater importance is being placed on women’s wrestling and women wrestlers are being taken more seriously, WWE presented their first Pay Per View event, WWE Evolution, featuring matches comprised entirely of female superstars at the end of October. Here in Newfoundland, the evolution of women in professional wrestling is being felt in New Evolved Wrestling (NEW) and The Racket chatted via email with Vera Greeley and Alicia Ryan, better known as Vera Vyne and Tank to NEW audiences.

Greeley and Ryan both have a longstanding connection to the wrestling business. Greeley detailed early experiences of watching wrestling with her father whether it be at local shows promoted by Newfoundland wrestling legend Sailor White or watching WWE on TV and being scared of The Undertaker and influenced by popular women’s wrestlers like Lita and Alexa Bliss. Before joining NEW, Greeley was a fan, having missed only one show. “I was so beyond thrilled when I was asked to become involved. [It was a] little girl’s dream come true for sure,” she said.

Vera Vyne & “Maverick” Matt Wheeler

Vera Vyne & “Maverick” Matt Wheeler

Ryan’s story is similar, having been friends with a number of the NEW roster for several years. “[Wrestling] was always something that was the main topic of conversation [within the group],” she said. This eventually leads her to join the team in the behind the scenes prep work. “I started small, helping set up and sell merchandise, cleaning up after shows, [and] then moved on to helping with the transport and setting up of the ring,” Ryan admits to being hooked after just one training session, but noted how grueling and physical demanding that session was.

While Greeley and Ryan share a similar path that leads them to join NEW, their characters are very different. Greeley who hosted an online review show for WWFU describes her character Vera Vyne as boujee. “There’s no telling her she’s wrong, and she KNOWS that she and the “Maverick” Matt Wheeler (Greeley’s in-ring and real-life partner) are the greatest ... period.” According to Greeley, Vera Vyne will “do ANYTHING to help her man Matt Wheeler win and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the process.” Outside of the ring, Greeley volunteers with Junior Auxiliary, a church-based group similar to Girl Guides. Greeley also keeps herself in ring shape by dancing with Army of Sass, which she described as a place of “such a girl power mentality that’s like nothing else, it’s given me great friends, great confidence and body positivity.”

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According to Ryan, her character of Tank is basically just her “but on level 10”. “She’s all my good qualities amplified. She’s bold, brazen, fearless, and she’s determined to help beat down the wall of gender segregation and be more than just eye candy. I think I have those same traits myself but on a much lesser scale,” she said. Given Tank’s personality, it would be no surprise that Ryan considers “Stone Cold Steve Austin” her favourite male wrestler of all time as he too could be considered bold, brazen and fearless and strong female wrestlers like Chyna, Beth Phoenix, and Nia Jaxx influence her.

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While Greeley and Ryan are the only two female wrestlers at NEW, there are a number of women who help with the behind the scenes including Sherry Canning and Sarah Terry. Greeley is hopeful that more women will join the roster and Ryan added, “We need more women who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and want to continue the growth of women’s wrestling in Newfoundland.”

Fans have the opportunity of catching Vera Vyne and Tank on NEW’s new weekly television program, Superstars of Wrestling which airs Saturdays at 1:00 PM on NTV. With this new exposure, Ryan expects that “boundaries are [going to] be pushed, asses are [going to] be kicked, and you will see the day when women are the main event in local Newfoundland wrestling.”

Tank and NEW Interprovincial "Hellraiser" Justin Lock

Tank and NEW Interprovincial "Hellraiser" Justin Lock

Perhaps this main event will feature Tank and Vera Vyne as Greeley is hopeful, they will wrestle each other soon. “I would like to see the local [wrestling] scene continue to grow and thrive not just in regards to us women but also in general,” she said. “NEW has been consistently gaining momentum and is always growing and becoming better. There really is something for everyone.”

You can catch NEW Superstars of Wrestling on NTV, Saturdays at 1:00 PM. NEW Evolved airs on Rogers Saturday's at 9:30PM. NEW’s next show, Year Three will be held at the CLB Armoury over two nights on December 28 and 29. For more information on NEW, check out their Facebook page.