While AEW’s women’s division has been criticized for being largely an afterthought, this week’s Dynamite looked to address that issue directly with some exciting matches and angles. After a match between Hikaru Shida and the newly signed Kris Statlander, it was time for Brandi and Awesome Kong to finally address the questions we all have been asking about their attacks and growing collections of hair from the women in AEW.
Announcing their duo as The Nightmare Collective, in her words “an extension of The Nightmare Family“, they offered Kris a spot in the “growing family” by offering up her allegiance and pledging to the collective. Not knowing what the entailed and being put on the spot, Statlander seemingly declined. Thus leading to an interesting moment where a “fan” decided to pledge in her place leading to her hair being cut by Awesome Kong and Brandi. But as we saw at Full Gear, not everything is quite always as it seems.
Eagle-eyed fans were quick to scout the fan as long-time independent wrestler Melanie Cruise (Raven’s Ash). The 33-year-old from Elk Grove Village, Illinois grew up only about two and a half hours from the State Farm Center in Champaign where this week’s Dynamite took place making this all the sweeter of a big break for the 11-year veteran. Trained by Scott Spade, Ruff Crossing, and Jimmy Blaze, starting in 2005 she had her first match debuting for POWW back in April of 2008.
Fittingly given her affiliation with the Nightmare Collective, she is no stranger to stables throughout her career. In her early time with Shimmer she was aligned with the likes of Annie Social and Wesna Busnic in the Social Club. More recently in RISE La Escalera under the name Ash (or Raven’s Ash), she has formed another trio with Dust (Zoey Skye) and Rosemary, Paradise Lost. She has also found success in Brew City Wrestling, holding tag team gold as Maidens of Iron with Stacy Shadows for 118 days as tag-team champions there, where she also reigned for 391 days as Women’s Champion previously in 2013. She has also spent time in Japan for Pro Wrestling WAVE where she got to wrestle the likes of Kana (WWE’s Asuka), Hikaru Shida, Tsukasa Fujimoto, and many other notable Joshi talents.
Adding a new layer to her ever-growing resume, this is certain to be a good launching point for both her and Brandi Rhodes’ new stable given the long track record the veteran has had running with them even if in just good luck charm alone. Drawing comparisons to the other stable in AEW, the Dark Order as well as the Straight Edge Society from years gone by in the WWE, it will be interesting to see where AEW will take the newly shaven Cruise and their newly named Nightmare Collective going forward to differentiate it. Carving a fan’s hair off with a knife is a start, for sure.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite every Wednesday night at 8:00 pm Eastern, 6:00 pm Pacific on TNT and internationally on AEW Plus on Fite TV.