All wrestlers have to start somewhere on the path to making their dreams a reality, whether it be a wrestling school, church basement, bingo hall, etc. From there, those wrestlers work their way up to the pinnacle of their dreams. For many, that’s a career in WWE. But sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. In LWOPW’s newest feature, “Before They Were Famous,” we take a look at the pre-WWE careers of some of the company’s top current stars, following along on their road to superstardom. In this edition, we dive into the early days of WWE’s “Twisted Sister,” Nikki Cross.
If there is any WWE Superstar that takes brutality and asks for seconds, it would be Nikki Cross. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, she became known as one of the most unhinged, dangerous competitors in the company. She stood across the ring from everyone from Asuka to Shayna Bazler to Becky Lynch, spitting in the face of fear in the process. Those that have followed Cross’ career will attest that her path to becoming this powder keg of punishment is an interesting one.
Nikki Cross became a professional wrestling fan during her youth. According to an interview with Inside the Ropes, she watched Fully Loaded 2000 with her sister. She became a fan within minutes, which influenced her to pursue it later in life. Cross began her professional wrestling career under the name of Nikki Storm. She trained at the Scottish Wrestling Alliance, based in Bellshill. Storm wrestled her first match for the promotion in September of 2008, when she teamed with Majik in a losing effort to Ricky Knight and Sweet Saraya.
In 2009, Storm continued to wrestle throughout various promotions in the United Kingdom. Among these were NXT Pro Wrestling – no relation to WWE’s black-and-gold brand – Triple X Wrestling. In September, Storm competed for her first title, the World Wide Wrestling League Women’s Championship. Though she lost to titleholder Sara-Marie Taylor, gold wouldn’t elude Cross for long.
In March of 2010, Storm appeared for Scottish School of Wrestling’s Muscle and Mayhem event. During the event in question, she won a tournament to be crowned the inaugural SSW Diamonds Champion. The following October, Storm debuted for Pro-Wrestling: EVE, where she worked with the likes of Shanna and Britani Knight, the daughter of Saraya; Britani would on to achieve fame in WWE as Paige. It was also in October that Storm finally won the W3L Women’s Championship, which she held the remainder of the year.
Storm returned to EVE in April of 2011 to compete in the EVE Championship tournament. Storm performed valiantly, picking up victories over names including Rhia O’Reilly and The Alpha Female, Jazzy Gabert. However, Storm eventually lost to Britani Knight in the finals. Storm’s work throughout the UK continued, including an additional stint in EVE in October.
Once again, Storm wrestled for EVE, this time in the Queen of the Ring tournament in February of 2012. This would prove more successful than the EVE Championship Tournament the year prior, as Storm ultimately defeated future NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray in the finals. From there, Storm continued to build momentum in the promotion. She ultimately defeated The Alpha Female, at Wrestle-Fever in November, for her first EVE Championship. Storm would immediately lose the title to Emi Sakura the same night.
It didn’t take long for Storm to avenge the aforementioned loss. In February of 2013, at No Man’s Land 2, she defeated Sakura for her second EVE Championship. The following April, Storm toured Japan for the first time with Japanese Women Pro-Wrestling Project. During this tour, Storm tested her mettle against Sakura, Command Bolshoi, and Hanako Nakamori, just to name a few. In the fall, Storm made her way to the United States. In the months that followed, she appeared for independent women’s promotions SHINE, Women Superstars Uncensored, and SHIMMER. This brought more eyes to Storm’s work, which would prove advantageous in the years that followed.
As Storm’s star continued to rise in the United Kingdom and abroad, so did her list of promotions where she appeared. From Absolute Intense Wrestling in March of 2014 to Fierce Females in May that same year, Storm became more and more prominent in the UK scene. She also competed in British Boot Camp 2, a reality TV show by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling that aired in October. She competed against future well-known UK stars, including Grado, Dave Mastiff, and eventual winner, Mark Andrews.
In May of 2015, Storm returned to Japan for a tour with World Wonder Ring Stardom. She worked with such names as Mayu Iwatani and Kairi Hojo, the latter perhaps better known as Kairi Sane in WWE. Additionally, Storm joined the promotion’s nefarious stable, Oedo Tai. She regularly teamed with Star Fire, Hudson Envy and Kris Wolf, and even engaged Io Shirai in title contention. Back in the United Kingdom, Storm competed in an Insane Championship Wrestling Women’s Championship tournament; this was ultimately won by Viper, the future Piper Niven of WWE. 2015 was also notable in that Storm received a tryout with World Wrestling Entertainment. The following year, she put pen to paper.
In April of 2016, the new signee began working NXT live dates under her real name, Nicola Glencross. She made her TV debut in the summer. Glencross teamed with Carmella and Liv Morgan to defeat the trio of future tag team partner Alexa Bliss, Mandy Rose, and Daria Berenato; the latter would be renamed Sonya Deville the following year. By the fall, Glencross developed a mean streak, courtesy of Sanity. Now named Nikki Cross, she aligned herself with Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe, and Eric Young, the group running roughshod on NXT.
While the men of Sanity focused on tag team action, Cross found herself involved in the NXT Women’s Championship scene. Though she would never win the title in question, she held her own against such names as Ruby Riott, Asuka, and Baszler. In fact, it almost seemed like her focus was not on winning gold. Instead, her priority appeared to be administering as much pain as possible. By January of 2019, Cross left NXT behind in favor of the bright lights of the main roster.
Nikki Cross debuted on the main roster in a major way, appearing in the second women’s Royal Rumble match. She floated around until she aligned herself with Bliss in May. Though this initially appeared to be a mismatch, they went on to become a solid team. This led to Cross and Bliss upsetting The IIconics, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship in August. Though they lost the straps to The Kabuki Warriors at Hell in a Cell in October, Bliss and Cross would reclaim them at WrestleMania 36 the following year.
The character progression of Nikki Cross in WWE has been nothing short of fascinating. Though she initially gained fame as the dark-haired loose cannon of the women’s division, her attitude has since subdued and became more fun-loving. This isn’t to say that she isn’t any less of a formidable opponent. Whether in singles competition or the women’s tag team division where she currently specializes, she isn’t to be taken lightly. Though her union with Bliss shows no signs of faltering, it’s safe to say that she’s poised for success no matter where the road takes her.
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.