Today for Indie Talent Showcase we are looking at one of the greats of independent wrestling: Mickie Knuckles!
Mickie has been working since 2003, and continues to be one of the biggest draws on every show she wrestles. Just this past weekend as I'm writing this, Mickie competed in multiple deathmatches. In addition, we are coming up on what is being called the biggest women's deathmatch in American history against Sadika. Mickie Knuckles has made her name in deathmatch, but that's not all she does. She is a fantastic wrestler, plain and simple. We're going to be looking at non hardcore matches of hers in addition to some bloody brawls. Mickie has fought the best for twenty years and shows no sign of slowing down. We're going to start by looking at her career, then onto the top ten matches.
Mickie was trained by Chris Hero and Ian Rotten and debuted in 2003. That same year she became the first woman to ever enter the Ted Petty Invitational. The tournament is famous for incredible matches with names like Nate Webb, Chris Hero, Colt Cabana, and CM Punk. It was far from the only tournament where Mickie Knuckles would break the gender barrier, as she did the same thing in Tournament of Death for CZW and would become the only woman to be booked more than once in King of the Deathmatch for IWA Mid-South. She also won the first ever Queen of the Deathmatch tournament, and made it to the finals the next two years.
We'll talk about this again later, but Mickie was involved in a very controversial match where she beat Mschif and Allison Danger for the NWA Midwest/IWA Mid-South Women's Championship. NWA Midwest said the match was not actually sanctioned for the championship, and they reverted the belt back to Mschif. Ian Rotten, owner of IWA Mid-South kept the IWA Mid-South Women's Championship on Mickie, and thus the belts were split. Mickie would spend a lot of time with that belt, and despite all of that, would win the NWA Midwest Women's title in 2007. Things were going well for Mickie Knuckles. She was having bigger and bigger matches, started doing shows for TNA, and was getting popular all over. Then she dove out of the ring.
During a match with Sara Del Ray, Mickie broke her femur on a dive out of the ring. This would keep her out for months, and although TNA promised to keep her spot open, when the first surgery didn't work her spot was gone. She would become the ace of AIW's women's division when she was back and returned to places like IWA Mid-South and IWA East Coast. Mickie would win plenty of big matches in the years to come such as winning King and Queen of the Deathmatch 2014 with Matt Tremont.
Mickie has now become one of the legends of the scene. Anytime she's announced it's exciting because you know she'll put on just as great a match now as in 2004. Mickie Knuckles will still come to the ring with battleaxes drawn and a big smile on her face. Whether you pick a match now or from early in her career, you'll always have a good time.
Before we move into the list I want to address the elephant in the room. One rule I have for Indie talent showcase is that I don't repeat matches. Since I already covered it in the AKIRA list, their match from AWR will not be on the list. Consider it an honorary number 0, and you absolutely need to see it! This list assumes that you already saw that match, and want more. With that caveat out of the way, let's look at the best matches we've never talked about here on Indie talent Showcase.
#10: Jordynne Grace vs Mickie Knuckles
It's hard to not see this as a passing of the torch, as Jordynne reminds me so much of Mickie. Not when it comes to deathmatches, but in terms of being a strong brawler that'll fight anyone no matter what gender. Jordynne Grace and early IWA Mickie have a lot in common, and seeing this match so early in Jordynne's career is wonderful. So early in fact, that Jordynne is only about 18 in this match. She's already in her third year wrestling and it shows.
Although she's the heel and gets lot of interference on her behalf, Jordynne looks fantastic in this match. you can already tell that she's going to be a star. She's able to hang in there with Mickie and not just wrestle well, but strike well. Of course, we're here to talk about Mickie, and she hits an incredibly nasty dropkick. The entire building loses it as Mickie just about caves her face in. Knuckles working the underdog babyface is a bit of a change from what I'm used to saying, but she plays it well. It's a wonderful changing of the guard, and one that happened a lot earlier than I expected.
#9: Sara Del Rey vs Mickie Knuckles
Only seven months before her final match, we find Sara Del Rey facing Mickie Knuckles for the AIW Women's Championship. These are easily two of the most famous women on the indie circuit, if not just in the world in 2012. Sara would go on to be head trainer at the Performance Center, so some people may not remember how good she was. She plays heel perfectly here when she grabs a mic and calls Mickie a joke.
She says that every since Mickie broke her leg in a match with Sara she's become a joke, and that's when the entire match changes. Mickie shows in this match that she doesn't need weapons to be good. Mickie is a talented professional wrestler, full stop. I love her deathmatch work, don't get me wrong. She's one of the all time greats of deathmatch, but she can kick ass and take names in any environment.
#8: Mickie Knuckles vs Allison Danger
Allison Danger doesn't get enough credit, full stop. The woman who fought Beth Phoenix at Shimmer 1 and continued to be a staple of the company for years doesn't get talked about much as she retired in 2013, but she's amazing. She's also a part of the Corino family, being Steve's sister and Colby's Aunt. Watching this match you become absolutely convinced that hardcore is just in their blood. I've made it clear before that I love IWA East Coast, and this match is no exception. This was at the very first show which was headlined by Necro Butcher vs Abdullah the Butcher. This is the oldest Mickie match on the list, and as such, there's some growing pains, but it's still a great match with a good story. It comes down to what the rules on hair are, as both women begin the match being warned about it.
Soon enough the ref decides there's no stopping them and so they get slammed to the mat repeatedly by their hair. Danger does really well outside the ring, but Mickie was trained in IWA Mid-South, of course she can scrap out there. Mickie ultimately wins with a bridging suplex, and that's not something you expect from a deathmatch fighter. Even this early in her career, she was showing she had just as much wrestling skill as brawling.
#7: Scotty Vortex vs Mickie Knuckles
one of the most famous deathmatch tournaments in the world is CZW's Tournament of Death. While the tournament is renowned and has included some of the all time greats, much like CZW itself, it doesn't have the greatest track record with women. In fact, this match made history as the first, and as of now, only, tournament of Death Match to feature a woman. This match would be worth looking at just for its history, but thankfully it's also fantastic. It begins with the most CZW moment of people being warned their cars will be towed, as Mickie proves she belongs.
Scotty acts like fighting a woman is beneath him, and thankfully the crowd recognizes this is heel behavior. I think my favorite spot isn't even with a weapon, but when Knuckles just digs her nails into Scotty's head. Mickie isn't shy about getting into the light tubes, and breaks quite a few on Vortex. Knuckles doesn't just do weapon spots though, she can hit a nasty dragon suplex. She hits a few more traditional wrestling moves during the Match, and even though she lost she still looks fantastic throughout. Matches like this prove Mickie isn't just "deathmatch but a Woman" but truly a standout talent that has become a legend of the deathmatch scene.
#6: Ian Rotten and Mickie Knuckles vs Six Feet Under
I couldn't do a list about Mickie Knuckles without mentioning Ian Rotten. Ian trained Mickie, and they've been in the ring together so many times. Whether teaming or fighting they shared a ring almost forty times. This was a 200 Light Tube No Rope Barbed Wire main event, and all four wrestlers lived up to the carnage of that stipulation. Freakshow isn't someone we've looked at before, but Insane Lane has come up in the past. Knuckles actually takes the first light tube, and that just reiterates what we already know: no one treats her different because she's a woman. It's always hard to be the scariest person on your team when you're with Ian Rotten, but Mickie Knuckles is able to do just that. All four wrestlers face some crazy spots, and they spend a lot of time just driving in the barbed wire.
Lane and Freakshow are some of the only deathmatch wrestlers I've seen sell every bit of the weapons. Plenty of them will just no sell the umpteenth barbed wire shot, but these guys seem just as hurt by the last one as the first one. The crowd is absolutely behind Mickie in this match, and she lives up to that hype. Mickie starts punching freakshow in the head despite his almost foot height advantage, and isn't at all intimidated. The match even has story as Lane just wants to win the match, not end their careers. Lane turns on Freakshow letting Mickie get the win in this bloody good time!
#5: Mickie Knuckles vs Carver of Cutters Lane
Is it finally time for me to talk about the Carver? This is one of the newest matches on the list, and 2021 Mickie is fantastic. She comes out with battleaxes and small bottles of liquor hiding under her Sesame Street shirt. The Carver is the newest in the monster lineage of deathmatch while Mickie takes after the Rottens and Pondo. In the 90's this match would be Nightmare Freddie vs Ian Rotten, but in 2021 it's the Carver vs Mickie Knuckles. It's usually the monster character who seems impervious to pain, but the opening of this match is Mickie just getting a major beatdown and taking it. She gets opened up early with one of her own battleaxes, and would you expect any different from a Mad Man Pondo birthday show?
Mickie takes a nasty shot with a frying pan followed by a barbed wire crutch, and as the Carver digs deep into his bag of tricks you realize what a battle of generations this is. She may not grab every innovative weapon you can think of, but she'll happily headbutt you a hundred time and send you flying over the back of a chair. That really is the dichotomy in this match: Carver with the weapons, Mickie using her body. Mickie ultimately wins and gives him a beer just like all her opponents. It was a great clash, and one I hope to see again.
#4: Mickie Knuckles vs Daffney Unger
This match was what inspired this list. It's not their only match, but it is the most recent. I wanted to include this match because I wanted to honor a side of Daffney many people may not have seen. She was known for her work in TNA, Shimmer, and WCW specifically, but she did work a lot of the crazier indies as well. Specifically IWA Mid-South and Deep South. This is a bit of a sillier match, and that's a big part of why it's here. We already talked about how funny Mickie can be, but Daffney was quite humorous as well, and I think it's important we remember that as well.
Mickie and Daffney to me both define 2000's women's wrestling, and the fact they only fought twice is a shame. They're also two women who were screwed over by broken medical promises from TNA, but that's a story for another time. These two could have had a hundred matches together and I wouldn't complain. Instead we only got two, and now we only ever will have two. This was a great match from two incredibly talented wrestlers. Rest in Peace Daffney.
#3: Mschif vs Mickie Knuckles
It almost seems like a joke: a first blood match in IWA Mid-South, on April Fool's Day of all days. Yet this fight manages to go fifteen minutes before they start to bleed. Mschif is a fantastic wrestler who doesn't always get the credit she deserves, but her feud with Mickie Knuckles was something special. Apart from the controversy involved in an unsanctioned title match(the IWA Mid-South screwjob?) the feud is just two of the best women beating the living hell out of each other in any venue that would have them. That also includes being outside the venue, as similarly to what we'll see in our number one match, Mickie loves to travel the arena. The way Mickie sees it, why stay in the ring, or the room, or the lobby, or even the parking lot.
If you watch Mickie Knuckles in person be prepared to move and do some walking. The crowd out in the lobby absolutely loves it, as Mschif gets hit with a kendo stick, chairs, and takes some wicked palm strikes from Mickie. When the match finally comes back to the ring, it centers around a single steel chair in a great sequence. Mickie ties up Mschif's legs in a chair she's sitting on as she punches away. We also get my favorite first blood match spot ever, as Mschif sprays red mist on her while the ref is down trying to trick the ref. Mschif eventually gets the win pressing her spiked jacket into Knuckles's head, and it's just one of many great fights between the pair.
#2: Mickie Knuckles vs Mia Yim
I feel like I could just say "Mickie Knuckles vs Mia Yim with special guest referee Gail Kim" and that's enough. Like if that alone doesn't make you want to see this match, I don't know what will, but I'll do my best. The first couple minutes of this match are surprisingly mat based. It's quite a bit of submission holds and limb work. I also want to point out how impressive it is to keep the crowd engaged with this kind of wrestling as this match is three hours into this show. Mickie still interjects her humor into the match, and that's one of the things I love about her matches.
Whether she's fighting on the technical side, the brawling side, or deathmatch, she always brings some levity. But when it's time to stop dancing, she gets serious. This match is a perfect example of that, and my favorite technical match of Mickie's. Similar to the Grace match, Mickie has to deal with a lot of outside interference, but unlike that match, she's able to overcome it. Mia Yim puts on a great match as well, and I was shocked this was there first and only match together. I could have easily watched an entire feud of these two. The finish is fantastic as Mickie wins off an impressive pump handle slam to retain her title.
#1: Mickie Knuckles vs Randi West
A newer one on this list, this is just Randi West and Mickie Knuckles murdering each other in a local park, and is the definition of a walk and brawl match. They both leave and the ring and less than a minute into that both women get thrown into a literal tank. You have Randi swinging from the tank before being slammed to the ground while someone worries about poison ivy. You also get a lot of people worrying about their cars which is great. The actual typhoon of tubes in the ring becomes second fiddle to a classic Mickie Knuckles journey. if you're willing to follow her wherever she goes, you won't be dissapointed.
Before the match begins they acknowledge the point that Mickie is the first Death Becomes Her winner, and Randi is the second. Both women have been wrestling for about twenty years, and this is somehow only their fifth singles match. This had to be number one just for the history going into this fight, but also because it is the perfect display of Mickie Knuckles wrestling. She's going to grab you by the hair, and she's going to drag you all over not just the building, but anywhere within walking distance.
There's a spot where Mickie is stumbling away from Randi and you have a good hundred people at least following along. The way that these two can enrapture the crowd that they will follow anywhere just shows how beloved they are in the deathmatch scene. When they finally work their way back into the building it's insane to think that they're safer with the tubes. After seeing someone thrown into walls and solid earth, a light tube light cabin seems gentle by comparison. Well, a back body drop might seem safer on the tubes, but Mickie goes face first. This is a brawl, and a special one at that.
If these two didn't know each other so well, and have that personal history, this match wouldn't be so good. This match has twenty years behind every punch, and is the best way I can describe Mickie Knuckles to anyone. For 25 minutes these two prove that women's deathmatch is just as good, if not better, than anything the men are going to do, and I wouldn't have it any other way.