With the recent sad news of LuFisto’s retirement, Matthew Roberts takes a look back at her varied career and how one night at Preston City Wrestling opened his eyes to a wonderful talent.

    It was in October 2013 I found myself in Rumes Nightclub in Preston for PCW’s Final Fight.  It was my first time at PCW and I was there solely because of the presence of Ultimo Dragon.  I can’t recall if I even knew who else was on the card.  I certainly didn’t know that a Canadian wrestler called LuFisto was due to appear, and if I had done I wouldn’t have known anything about her at all.  But once the night was over there was something about her that made me want to find out more. 

    Her match with April Davids that night had an intensity you wouldn’t have been used to from Women if all you were used to was the WWE’s pre-Divas Revolution output.  The match wasn’t “pretty” but it sure was hard-hitting and although Davids won it was LuFisto who captured my imagination. 

    It was that match that I found my mind drifting back to this week when LuFisto announced her imminent retirement from Wrestling.  With a knee that’s literally bone-on-bone, with no cartilage, there comes a time when even if you love what you are doing, you have to come to the sad realisation that you simply cannot carry on.  At some point in 2019, LuFisto will hang up the wrestling tights for the last time. 

    She began her training in 1997 and was only 17 years old when she made her debut. Almost from the start there was something different about her.  Just a few years into her career she became the first woman in Quebec to win a men’s title and she became more and more adept at the “hardcore” style of matches and wrestling.  She perhaps came to most prominence at this time when a booking to face a man in Ontario led to the Ontario Athletic Commission threatening to cancel that show if the match wasn’t scratched.  A regulation at the time prevented men and women from wrestling each other; LuFisto had to lodge a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to try and get this regulation overturned.  Although it would take four years to do so they did get it overturned in 2006. 

    By then LuFisto had broadened her horizons.  She became a regular competitor in Combat Zone Wrestling where she became the only woman in that promotions history to win a title when she won the CZW Iron Man Championship; you might know the man she defeated for that title by the name of Kevin Owens now.  Later that year she would become the first and only woman to ever compete in CZW’s infamous Cage of Death match.  In between these moments, there was the little matter of winning Canada’s first ever Deathmatch tournament, defeating Necro Butcher in the final.

    In 2007 it looked as if a back problem would force her retirement but she was able to return to the ring and in October of that year won the IWA Mid South Queen of the Deathmatch tournament, defeating Mickie Knuckles in the final.  In another first she was the first woman to compete in CZW’s Best of the Best tournament in 2008. 

    My main retrospective exposure to her was through her Shimmer Wrestling.  Atlhough she debuted for the promotion in 2006 it was in 2008 that she started to become a regular.  In 2009, after victories against the likes of Wesna Busic, Kellie Skater and Amber O’Neil she had earned a title match against MsChif at Shimmer 26 which was ultimately unsuccessful.  A match with Awesome Kong at Shimmer 27 went to a double count-out which saw both challenge MsChif at the next show for the title but once again LuFisto walked away without the title.  In later years she would team with Kana (now known in WWE as Asuka) to battle for the Shimmer Tag Team Titles and in 2013/14 had a feud, albeit again one that saw her remain title-less, with Cheerleader Melissa over the Shimmer Title including a Two out of Three Falls match at Shimmer 62.  LuFisto remained a Shimmer regular all the way up to 2018, with (yet another unsuccessful) title match against champion Nicole Savoy coming at Shimmer 107 in October of that year.

    She’s perhaps most well know outside of Shimmer for her work in Shine.  She made her debut there in 2013 and battled the likes of Ivellise, Allysin Kay and Jessicka Havok. In January of 2017 she lifted the Shine title, defeating Kay and Mercedes Martinez in a Three-Way match.  She held the title until June 2018 when she had to vacate the title due to injury; along the way she defended the belt at nine Shine events, battling the likes of Leva Bates, Vanessa Kraven and Su Yung to name but a few. 

    LuFisto was more than just a wrestler too.  In 2009 she was heavily involved in all-female Canadian promotion NCW Femmes Fatales where over the years she would battle the likes of Cheerleader Melissa, Sara Del Ray, Courtney Rush (now known as Rosemary) and Saraya Knight.

    For someone who never signed with a “major promotion” LuFisto still leaves one hell of a legacy. Maybe she’s a name that some wrestling fans won’t have heard of but her battles to get women treated as equal in the business paved the way for Women’s Wrestling to be treated more seriously.  She’s also been a part of some fantastic matches against a wide range of wrestlers.  Indeed,  her list of opponents reads like a who’s who throughout her twenty year career and despite her recent announcement it’s not quite over yet.  There will still be a few matches left in the tank and if you can catch her on her “retirement tour” then make it your business to do so.

    I never saw her “live” again after that fateful night in PCW (and if anyone in the UK wants to book her this year then please do so!) but she left a lasting impression and was a name that would have me reaching for my wallet to buy DVD’s or streaming shows that she was wrestling on.  You always knew you were going to get your money’s worth from LuFisto.  We here at TWM wish all her all the best whatever her future holds.