From Dana Brooke to Kacy Catanzaro to Charlotte Flair, it’s not uncommon for gymnasts to make the transition to professional wrestling. Given the high level of athleticism and discipline required in gymnastics, one could argue that this is a perfect fit. One of the newest names to come from this world of athleticism, before making an impact in professional wrestling, shows plenty of promise. In this week’s All Elite Wrestling talent preview, we will cover the 26-year-old intergender wrestling enthusiast, Penelope Ford.
Ford learned under various minds in the industry. Arguably the most notable, though, is current 205 Live Superstar Drew Gulak, who trained such talents as Kimber Lee. Ford began her wrestling career in Combat Zone Wrestling, based out of Delaware. Going into CZW, Ford would have to be prepared for brutal competition, which makes sense given the promotion’s focus on “ultraviolence.” She debuted for CZW at the December 17, 2014 episode of Dojo Wars, teaming with George Gatton to defeat the team of Conor Claxton and Frankie Pickard. Follow this tag team victory, she would pick up her first singles victory in the promotion at the following Dojo Wars show, defeating Dave McCall.
In 2015, Ford would become involved in a number of CZW matches with Joey Janela, going so far as to challenge him at a number of Dojo Wars events. These matches, which pitted Ford and Janela as rivals, would ultimately lead to them joining forces. What culminated was the intergender tag team known simply as Team Janelope. In addition to intergender wrestling, which she has routinely expressed admiration for, Ford challenged a number of female wrestlers. Amber Rodriguez and inaugural Women of Honor Champion Sumie Sakai are just a few of the talents Ford competed against.
Perhaps Ford’s most notable singles feud in CZW was with Brittany Blake, who defeated the former gymnast at the June 6th episode of Dojo Wars. From there, Ford teamed with Takumi Iroha to challenge Blake and Sakai at Retribution on August 8, where the former team came up short. Ford and Blake would also meet at the co-branded MBA/CZW event Memory Remains, the following October, where Blake emerged victorious. This feud would come to a head at the December 12th episode of Dojo Wars, where Blake, the Medal of Valor Champion, defended her title against Ford in a two-out-of-three falls match. Though Ford scored one fall in this near 11-minute main event encounter, Blake bested her adversary with two.
In 2016, Ford would continue to wrestle in a number of singles matches, including those with titles on the line. In June, at H20 Wrestling It Was All A Dream, she challenged NWA World Women’s Champion Amber O’Neal, but came up short in the encounter. At the end of 2016, Ford challenged Jordynne Grace, who she worked with months prior, at the December 7th episode of Dojo Wars. Ford became known for competing in various other specialty matches, including three-on-one handicap and ten-man tag team elimination bouts. Along with intergender bouts, these types of matches would become synonymous with her career up until this point, as it displayed a fearlessness that she undoubtedly developed in CZW. The fact that she had direct encounters with a variety of foreign objects, including barbed wire and skewers, certainly helped.
Ford would wrestle on a recurring basis with Beyond Wrestling, based out of Massachusetts, in 2017. It was in Beyong Wrestling that Team Janelope became a popular act, as they wrestled in various intergender tag team matches. Among their opponents were Joey Ryan and current NXT Superstar Candice LeRae, known collectively as The World’s Cutest Tag Team. Team Janelope wouldn’t take away from Ford’s singles endeavors in Beyond Wrestling, though, as she challenged various well-known talents, including LuFisto and current NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler.
All In took place on September 1, 2018, and like many other independent talents, Ford was part of the show. Though she didn’t have a match of her own, she was in Janela’s corner as he challenged Hangman Page in a Chicago Street Fight. During the match in question, Ford interfered on her partner’s behalf, slapping Page across the face. She then executed a stunner, to the delight of Sears Centre audience in Chicago, before following up with a flying cross body to the outside. Ford’s show of athleticism earned her spotlight, in a match she wasn’t directly competing in, no less.
Given her aforementioned performance at All In, it would make sense for Ford to sign with All Elite Wrestling. This signing was officially announced at AEW’s rally in Jacksonville on January 8th. Ford, along with Janela, appeared at the rally in question, declaring that they have arrived. With the ever-growing women’s division that AEW boasts, Ford will undoubtedly be a name to watch out for. Her experience in ultraviolent and intergender wrestling alike will help her stand out in this division. Female and male talent in AEW alike may find themselves standing across the ring from Ford soon enough.
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