(CBS Baltimore/CBS Local) — Velvet Sky, a self-proclaimed mix of the whit and know-how of WWE Hall of Famer Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and the grace of Miss Elizabeth, was attending a Smashing Pumpkins concert at Madison Square Garden one night last August when her phone buzzed. It was a text message from someone within Ring of Honor gauging her interest in coming to work for the company.
The storyline pitched was nearly perfect. It would reunite her with her Angeline Love, her former partner in Impact Wrestling, where she skyrocketed to fame as a member of all-girl faction known as The Beautiful People. The duo would be joined by Women of Honor mainstay Mandy Leon to form the ultimate bad girl group known as The Allure.
The idea was intriguing, but there’s more to the story. ROH executives wanted the group to debut at Madison Square Garden at the company’s massive G1 Supercard show with New Japan Pro Wrestling the following April. She had never worked at MSG before, yet there she was at a concert at the very arena when the idea was pitched.
What’s more? Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan is the owner of the National Wrestling Alliance, another promotion with ties to ROH and whose champion would also appear on the G1 Supercard broadcast as a commentator.
To Sky, the entire series of events and coincidences was surreal. Eight months later everything would come full circle, as The Allure made their shocking debut in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 16,000.
Since then, the group has been one of the most talked-about factions in the promotion, generating headlines both in and out of the ring. Their very creation and who was originally supposed to be in the group have been the subjects of much debate.
More recently they’ve been portrayed as a real-life “mean girls” faction following an incident with a fan earlier this month at a show in Portland, Oregon. According to the fan, he was taken backstage and spoken to sternly and intimidatingly by Bully Ray, Sky’s real-life beau and legendary wrestler, following a heated ringside verbal exchange between himself and the group.
On social media, the group has fired back and stated the fan had been unruly and sexually harassed them on consecutive nights. Sky also refuted his claims that wrestler Delirious was the one who took the fan from his seat and brought him backstage to be confronted by Bully Ray.
“Verbal sexual assault on women is inappropriate and you know it,” Sky Tweeted. “You were the loudest one in the arena both nights when we came out, salivating at the chance to spew your lewd & disgusting comments & cover it up by saying ‘I was booing the heels.’”
Human Resources officials within Sinclair Broadcasting, the parent company of Ring of Honor, are actively conducting an internal investigation into the allegations. Greg Gilleland, General Manager of ROH, tells me that these types of inquiries tend to be “very detailed” and a timeline for its conclusion is not available.
Sky did not respond to a request for further comment about the incident, but was forthcoming about her time in Ring of Honor, rumors about the creation of The Allure and how she feels their presence will benefit the company as it faces increasingly stiff competition from WWE and well-funded upstart All Elite Wrestling.
There was a rumor going around The Allure reportedly had been pitched by Madison Rayne, whom you previously worked with at Impact Wrestling. The word going around was that Ring of Honor passed on the idea, however. But then Mandy Leon denied that was the case. When were you brought into the discussion?
All that information about what you just said, about The Allure and Madison Rayne pitching us to Ring of Honor, and Ring of Honor shooting us down, is definitely inaccurate. I was at a Smashing Pumpkins concert, at Madison Square Garden (last summer) and enjoying myself at the concert. Out of the blue, I get a text message from someone in Ring of Honor, kind of explaining to me in a nutshell, the vision that the company had for the three of us, meaning me, Angelina and Mandy.
It was kind of just a brief text message, about the idea, and how Ring of Honor wanted to introduce the three of us as a strong female heel faction… Madison Rayne was not even in Ring of Honor yet. So nobody knows except myself, Mandy, Angelina, and the management at Ring of Honor, about this talk, about the three of us eventually coming together, and debuting this new faction at Madison Square Garden…
This was not the idea of Madison Rayne. She may have pitched a similar idea for The Beautiful People when she went through Ring of Honor, not knowing that the three of us already had something in the works, because no one knew about it. It was super confidential. It wasn’t out there that the three of us were in talks with the company. So maybe she did pitch, and if they did shoot it down, it’s because there was already something in the works forming. And obviously they couldn’t tell her, “Well, we already have something going on with Angelina and Velvet, so it might not work out this time.”
So that’s really it in a nutshell. I know there was so much buzz about it when the three of us first debuted about how Madison was left out of the whole equation. But that’s not true at all, because she was never part of the equation, and Mandy Leon is not replacing Madison, and we are not The Beautiful People 2.0. We are The Allure 1.0, and we are here to stay in Ring of Honor.
The Allure is something completely different from anything that we’ve really ever seen from women in Ring of Honor. How much of a challenge has it been to break that proverbial mold?
Women of Honor has always kind of been about the physicality, the wrestling, the in-ring action, which is great, because after all, it’s a wrestling company. And women are being looked at completely different now as they did back in the day. They’re being taken more serious, and I’m very proud of how far women have come in a mostly male-dominated business.
However, just because there’s wrestling doesn’t mean there can’t be entertainment as well. I feel like a lot of the storylines and the entertainment with women’s wrestling have kind of just gone out the door and we’ve kind of traded it for serious, in-ring competition only. Why can’t we have both? And what makes The Allure so different from what’s going on right now in women’s mainstream wrestling is we’re kind of doing our own thing. We’re kind of going against the wind.
It seems like women’s wrestling is being taken almost too seriously, where it’s like I don’t know that they’re having as much fun as they could be. We’re here to just kind of add some sizzle to Women of Honor, to add some storyline, to kind of just mix it up a little bit. So what if we wear short skirts and lipstick, you know what I mean? Like Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue says, “Just because we wear lipstick doesn’t mean we can’t kick your ass.”
Say you are Professor Velvet and teaching Wrestling 101 and somebody asks you, “What is the perfect ratio for storyline to physicality?” What would you say it is?
I can’t say every wrestling fan or wrestler or company will feel the same or agree with me, but when Angelina and myself were in TNA and we were doing the whole Beautiful People gimmick and we were at our peak, we were the highest-rated segment on the show every single week. There was so much buzz about The Beautiful People and the ratings. I feel like a good ratio is almost like half and half. I feel like Angelina and myself, we would go out there and it was like 50% physicality, 50% character work, but then it just depends on the night and the match and what the storyline was and what it called for and who we were in the ring with.
It honestly changed every time we were out there depending on those factors. What did the match call for? How long was the match? Was it a championship match? Who were we in the ring with? The ratio kind of shifts based on those factors. Obviously a championship match would be taken a little bit more serious. We would still interject our Beautiful People heel antics into a championship match, but it would be a little bit more serious, and it would be a little bit more about the wrestling, whereas just a regular match on Impact or on a house show you can kind of let loose more and let your character shine more. I feel like character development is just a lost art in professional wrestling.
It is an interesting time to be in the wrestling business, and there’s so much competition out there. If you’re running the company, what would you do to make sure that Ring of Honor stays competitive as these other groups like WWE and AEW get these massive TV deals?
It’s just a matter of constantly promoting your product, and Ring of Honor does a good job of promoting their product. We always have a packed house at our shows and at our debuts and at our TV tapings. I feel like the promotion, that’s number one. Whether you fly to whatever town you’re going to be performing at ahead of time and you kind of flyer the towns, you paper the towns and you promote that we’re going to be here.
A lot of times in the past, at Impact, we would be doing a complete TV or house show loop in a city other than Orlando and we’d pull into a gas station maybe four or five miles from the venue, and if there were wrestling fans there that worked there and recognized us, they’d be like, “oh my god, you guys are in town? I didn’t know you guys were in town.” And we’d be like, “yeah man, we’re performing at so-and-so arena five miles down the street.” And it would make us as the wrestlers just shake our heads every time, because it would happen so much and I feel like you can’t just rely on social media to get the word out there.
Yes, social media is such a powerful tool, but you also have to take other avenues to get the word out there. Whether that’s kicking ads out, whether that’s going and flyering the town that you’re going to be performing in, it’s just very important. I feel like that’s why WWE, granted they have all the money in the world, but they do that too. But on a smaller scale there’s lots of things that can be done as well to help get the word out there. And Ring of Honor, they do a really, really good job of promoting.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.