April 28, 2010
Cherry Bomb primed to explode onto sceneThe 23-three-old London resident, a fixture on the minor pro circuit the last five years, just might get a shot with the WWE
By RYAN PYETTE - London Free Press
Twenty years ago, Ross Dennis plopped his daughter in front of the TV.
"I was three and my dad really loved wrestling,'" recalled Londoner Laura Dennis, who grew up in Toronto.
"He pointed at the screen and said, 'Look. Wrestling. Sit down and watch. There's Hulk Hogan.' "It became our thing."
And from that moment, it has turned into something much more.
Ross died when Laura was 12.
On her 18th birthday, she signed on with the Squared Circle Training centre to learn the inside-the-ropes secrets from Canadian wrestling Hall of Famer Rob (El Fuego) Etcheverria.
Right off the bat, he dubbed Dennis "Cherry Bomb." That's the name she still uses in the ring today.
"At first, I didn't know what to do with the character," she said. "I struggled with the identity for a bit. I tried the ditzy blonde routine. But I'm a punk rocker at heart. I've had pink in my hair for so long, I can't remember. I had a mohawk when I was 15.
"I like to say this is me with the volume turned way up."
And she is starting to make more than just sound waves.
Dennis doesn't know what's in store for World Wrestling Entertainment's Monday Night Raw show May 17 at the Air Canada Centre. But she was contacted by WWE's talent relations and instructed to show up.
"All they told me was be there and bring my ring gear," she said. "That's all I know. I don't have any expectations."
It could be a simple meet-and-greet with some big names. It could be match involvement before the TV taping begins.
But it could also eventually lead to Dennis performing under contract on the big stage -- those televised events she and her dad used to watch.
"That's what I've been working toward," she said.
"When I was growing up, I didn't really see women's wrestling," Dennis said. "I didn't see anyone like (WWE diva) Trish Stratus out there. I wanted to be a manager. I remembered Elizabeth (Randy 'Macho Man' Savage's valet) and Sunny. I wrote to the (then-WWF) when I was eight years old asking them if I could be a manager."
There is, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of women's pro wresting out there these days. Cherry Bomb has been a fixture on the minor pro circuit for the last five years.
She's a performer in the G.L.O.R.Y. women's wrestling league. She was listed among the top 50 female performers by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. On YouTube, there's even a video of her working in a leather strap match.
"That strap hurt," she said with a laugh.
She's worked all of the Ontario circuit and dipped into the United States, too. Her first match was May 2005 in Oshawa.
"I started to tear up," she said. "I was just so happy. You put in all the training and hard work. Wrestling has this separate world to it -- it's everywhere. I've worked in front of 1,200 people but I don't care if there's five or 500 people in the building, I'm going all-in.
"I wrestle on the weekends now but I'd love to be able to do it for a living. I'm a makeup artist and what's better than getting to be an athlete and doing your own makeup before a show?"
Of course, she's had her scary moments, too.
In 2007, she injured her neck while on the receiving end of a risky power move known as the "burning hammer."
"I couldn't feel my fingers and toes," said the five-foot-five, 118-pound Dennis. "I was hysterical at first because I didn't know if I would be able to wrestle again. They had to take me out by ambulance.
"It was embarrassing."
She recovered and returned to the ring nine months later.
"There are so many talented girls out there. I'm working hard, trying to build my name."
To the point where one father might some day plop his daughter down in front of the TV screen and say: "Look. Wrestling. There's Cherry Bomb."