Part II in my ‘Introducing The Irish Women’ series is here. Now we’re all familiar with a crop of interesting backstories for male wrestlers. But it rarely seems to be the case for females. A lot of them seem to consist of “I was a fan when I was younger so I joined a school” or “WWE offered me a contract because they liked my appearance”. Here is a story that I’ve found very interesting for a long time – and hopefully you readers will too. Allow me to introduce a former backyard wrestler, night club promoter and working mother. This is Danger Dawn.
Danger Dawn (29) grew up with the Attitude Era and cites Lita as her role model. “I loved her style, I loved her carefree attitude, she was just fearless; she’d jump off things and not care. She was just badass.” Overall she enjoyed both the physicality and theatrics of pro wrestling – and has loved it for as far back as she can remember. Wrestling was a big hit with several of the local kids in Dawn’s hometown of Kildare – which of course led to a bit of backyard wrestling. They would put on shows once a month and Dawn describes the entire town coming down to watch. “It was great; it was the best time I’ve ever had. There was a great family feeling with everyone that did it.” Dawn’s gimmick was that of a Goth girl called Nikki Sixx that managed a masked wrestler called Slash. She laughs as she talks about the numerous videos from those days, joking that they’d all probably be a bit ashamed of them now – but reaffirming that it’s where she came from and she’s still proud.
Eventually the group heard about the Fight Factory Pro Wrestling training school – back when it was still NWA Ireland. So the crew of backyard wrestlers headed from Kildare to Bray to become legitimate pro wrestlers. A handful of the group are still in the wrestling industry today – Justin Shape and Danny Butler, and more recently “The Artiste” Alexeus Monroe (whose younger brother ended up becoming Dawn’s eventual trainer B-Cool). Dawn went with the group to a few sporadic training sessions. But she describes herself as a shy 18-year-old and was reluctant to take it any further. With the crew attending regular training sessions, the backyard wrestling died out. But a few years later, Dawn had a change of heart. “I didn’t want to be forty and look back and regret on stuff I could have done…I knew I had connections…that’s when I decided ‘that’s it’…because I still had the love and the passion for wrestling that I’d always had…it wasn’t an option to not be part of the Irish wrestling scene in some way, shape or form…I think if it’s meant for you, it won’t pass you by.”
When she started wrestling training full-time, Dawn found it extremely challenging. As she had never been the sporty type, the whole thing was a bit of a shock. She laughs as she talks about trying to remember her left from right, positioning of feet etc. But she thanks her trainers for being so supportive and encouraging her to play to her strengths. On creating a particular in-ring style, Dawn found herself challenged as the shorter opponent. She turned to lucha libre to compensate for any differences in strength – to create a cat-and-mouse style situation. A fan of the style already, Dawn felt it suited her best and helped her play the underdog. Due to her size, Dawn is normally a face in the ring – but she prefers it. As a mother herself, she likes seeing other kids being happy and cheering. But she says that it’s easier to be a heel when she’s not wrestling in her hometown. She jokes that her son saw her work heel recently and she had a lot of explaining to do in the car ride home.
Danger Dawn vs Lucyfer – FFPW In Kildare, March 30th 2013
Her first match was a 6-person tag, debuting on the same show as Katey Harvey. She had just taken part in a weekend camp with Fergal Devitt and was selected after she impressed the trainers. Her heel partners were her backyard wrestling buddies Team MEGA (Danny Butler and Justin Shape) against Philly The Kid, Paul Scarfe and Arianna Snow. The ‘Danger Dawn’ ring name was a complete spur-of-the-moment deal; Dawn had not yet picked a name for herself and – when she was announced as Danger Dawn – saw her two partners giggling. She has since embraced the name of course. She says her nerves were terrible on the day “I think I was quiet for about four hours before…to the point I was nearly physically sick.” But she gets excited as she mentions the adrenaline rush after the match – and loving the feeling of accomplishment. It was roughly a year later that she had her next match – and it was the main event in a show in her hometown. Once again she teamed with Team MEGA (this time as faces) in a victorious effort against Katey Harvey and Rough Stuff. Later on they realised it had been the first time two Irish women had ever main evented a show. She would eventually also get to compete in the first all-female tag team match and the first women’s triple threat match respectively on Irish soil.
Danger Dawn as a manager at Dublin Comic Con, August 11th 2013
When Dawn isn’t training to wrestle, she’s taking care of her son Caine (8). She describes him as her biggest fan. “Even during the week he’ll be begging me to go to training…it’s a great feeling to know your son is proud of you for doing anything, let alone something you love to do.” Caine is constantly coming up with ideas for Dawn’s gear and moves for her to do in the ring. At school he’s the cool one in his group of friends because his mother is a wrestler. He also helps out promoting local shows, handing out flyers in the school and spreading the word. He and Dawn also watch the occasional video from her backyard wrestling days. She laughs as she recalls watching a ‘Guitar Match’ featuring her husband Peter (30) and having Caine turn to her to say “come on, Daddy could have been hit with that guitar a few times already.” She says she fully expects him to follow in her footsteps in the future. “I don’t think I’d be able to stop him. Watch this space – Caine Phoenix is going to be a thing one day.”
Left to right: Katey Harvey, Danger Dawn & Siren
Dawn was able to work and train with Becky Lynch briefly before she was signed to WWE. “She’s a really nice girl and I wish her every success in what she does…she’s really gifted, really athletic and works really hard. It’s great to see an Irish girl advance so far.” She got to face Becky in the latter’s return to wrestling – teaming with Lasso Lucy and Captain Deadbones Dawkins against Becky, B-Cool and Katey Harvey. She actually lists that match as one of her favourites. “That was a super-fun match. It was the first time I ever did a crossbody off the top rope so I’ll always remember that in my head.” Other than that, she lists a triple threat match against Siren and Katey Harvey as another of her favourites. In terms of her favourite wrestlers to watch these days, she names Taryn Terrell – citing her ladder match against Gail Kim as the first female match to wow her in a while. She also says that she loves Natalya’s style. Her thoughts on the current WWE product: “wrestling goes in many different directions…I think there will be pros and cons and different people will enjoy different bits.” She reaffirms her love of the Attitude Era. You can find Danger Dawn on Facebook and Twitter.
Image credit: Josh Whelan Photography