Cheerleader Melissa

Cheerleader Melissa received a Future Legends Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2004 and a Women’s Active Award in 2014. (Photo Provided)

Joe Blumenfeld is constantly thinking about new angles and storylines for his Old School Championship Wrestling promotion. The Hanahan-based outfit has been in operation for 11 years now, which is a testament to the entertaining product that OSCW delivers on a routine basis.

With the resurgence in women’s wrestling, fueled by WWE’s “women’s revolution,” Blumenfeld is looking to add a competitive women’s division in OSCW.

“The caliber of talent among the ladies in wrestling is soaring,” said Blumenfeld. “Women like Cheerleader Melissa, Sexy Star, Tessa Blanchard, Jessicka Havok, plus so many others are making a huge impact on the wrestling scene. I want to bring some of these talented ladies to OSCW. It is time … in fact probably past time. Our fans have been requesting this for a few years now and we want to give it to them.”

Melissa Anderson, who has been on the pro circuit since making her in-ring debut in 1999 at the age of 17, represents the embodiment of that women’s revolution. The second-generation performer has made a mark throughout the profession, most recently in the popular Lucha Underground promotion where she worked under a mask as Mariposa.

Known more commonly as Cheerleader Melissa, Anderson has worked under a number of guises and characters, including TNA Knockouts Alissa Flash and Raisha Saeed, and billed from locations ranging from Los Angeles to Damascus, Syria.

“It’s not uncommon for wrestlers to portray different characters in different companies,” said Anderson. “I can’t say there was too much difficulty, because I played characters that were fit for myself. It’s also not uncommon for wrestling companies to create a character on paper, and then seek out the correct talent to fill the role.”

Anderson will make her local debut as Cheerleader Melissa at the next OSCW event on July 30. Her opponent will be Stormie Lee, who debuted on the last OSCW show with a win over Samantha Starr. The winner will be crowned the first OSCW women’s champion.

Based on the response to the women’s match on the last show, Blumenfeld says he was encouraged to go ahead with his plan to expand the division.

“The match was very well received,” said Blumenfeld. “Samantha Starr and Stormie Lee put it in concrete for me. We had good feedback, and now we are getting a lot of response to the upcoming Cheerleader Melissa debut. I am really excited about this. My plan and goal is to build a strong ladies division at OSCW and make it a consistent part of upcoming events.”

The phenomenal success of that division in WWE also played no small part in Blumenfeld’s decision.

“Not only have I been influenced by the resurgence of women’s wrestling in WWE, but women’s wrestling as a whole. I feel women’s wrestling today has returned to be more about talent, skill and story-telling than skimpy gear and pillow fights. This old school influence among ladies wrestling nowadays gets me fired up to bring it to OSCW.”

As part of that goal, Blumenfeld is planning on bringing in top-flight women performers from around the country, and one of those talents is Cheerleader Melissa.

Anderson says she, too, is has been encouraged by the rising popularity of women’s wrestling and independent promotions putting an emphasis on it.

“I encourage all independent promotions to have a women’s division,” she said. “I think it’s a positive thing. Giving aspiring women wrestlers an opportunity to wrestle on independent shows is an important part to the growth of future talents. Without independent promotions’ women’s divisions, it makes it more challenging for young female athletes to seek growth and opportunity.”

Anderson describes her style as amateur grappling/submission combined with strong style. “My mannerisms will vary depending on the character I portray.”

While Anderson still sees WWE in her future, it would most likely be in the capacity of a training role.

“(I’d like) to be one day working for WWE or Lucha Underground behind the scenes, and not as talent. I enjoy helping women out today, and I hope to do that on a much grander scale for a great company in the future.”

Anderson was trained by, among others, former Ring of Honor world champion Christopher Daniels. She was the first female recipient of the Cauliflower Alley Club’s Future Legends Award in 2004.

“From the first time I saw Melissa in a wrestling ring I knew she was special,” said veteran trainer and former pro star Les Thatcher. “The way she carried herself, and the way she went about her business. You knew she was destined to be a top pro.”

For Blumenfeld, there couldn’t be a better time for women’s wrestling to make an impact locally.

“I have always wanted a ladies division at OSCW. About five years ago we had a ladies match, and it was a good match, but we felt the timing just was not right for it at OSCW then. The feedback was not what I expected, and since there are fewer women on the wrestling scene than men, it made it logistically more challenging and potentially expensive. But I feel OSCW has grown up a bit since then, and now is the time.”

Other featured bouts on the July 30 show at the Hanahan Rec Center include Brandon Paradise defending the OSCW title against Tracer X, plus the return of John Skyler. Also scheduled to appear include Frankie Ciatso, Scotty Mathews, Rob Killjoy, Logan Creed, Joshua Cutsall, Zane Riley, The E.N.D., The Beautiful Bald Besties, The Washington Bullets, Drew Adler and others.

Bell time is 5 p.m.; doors open at 4:30.

Admission is $10 ringside and $5 kids 12 and under (cash at door only).

For more information, call 843-743-4800 or visit www.oscwonline.com.

Wildfire’s school opening

Tommy “Wildfire” Rich’s School of Wrestling will hold its grand opening noon-4 p.m. Aug. 5 and 1-3 p.m. Aug. 6 at X Gym Sports Complex, 568 George Bishop Parkway, Myrtle Beach. A meet and greet will feature Rich, Austin Idol and Tony Atlas.

Admission is free.

Rich, a major star on the Southern circuit during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, became the third-youngest man in history to win the NWA world title when he defeated Harley Race in Augusta, Ga., on April 27, 1981. He dropped the belt back to Race four nights later in Gainesville, Ga.

Rich’s short reign, though, doesn’t diminish his status as a former NWA world champion at a time when that title was the most prestigious in the world.

“Just to be on that list,” Rich recently said. “Some folks say that you had it four days, but it doesn’t matter. My name’s on the board. I was very blessed to have that. Just to be in that group with the Funks, the Briscos, and Lou Thesz, the greatest of them all.”

Reach Mike Mooneyham at bymikemooneyham@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMikeMooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.