Tenille Dashwood (formerly WWE’s Emma) will look to become the first Women of Honor champion at Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XII pay-per-view Saturday night at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
She faces Sumie Sakai in the Women of Honor tournament semifinals on the pre-show, which streams starting at 7:30 p.m. on Facebook Live. If she wins, she would take on either Kelly Klein or Mayu Iwatani in the final at Supercard of Honor beginning at 7:30 p.m. on the company’s Honor Club streaming service.
Before Dashwood continues her quest to become the face of the division, she answered the bell for a Q&A with The Post.
Q: What drew you to this opportunity to join the Women of Honor tournament and link up with Ring of Honor? Was the timing just right?
A: Exactly, the timing was perfect. It was a huge surprise. No one really expected it. They kept me to be the last entrant into the Women of Honor tournament. So yeah, the excitement was there. The timing was perfect and Ring of Honor explained to me they wanted to really get behind women’s wrestling and showcase the Women of Honor this year. So to me that was really important to be part of the continued revolution of women’s wrestling and Ring of Honor was the place to do it.
Q: How do you hope to see this grow once the champion is crowned as far as opportunities to be seen on some of Ring of Honor’s bigger shows?
A: I would like to see these matches being on the weekly episodes on the TV, being on the pay-per-views, being on the live streams for whoever signed up for the Honor Club [streaming service].
We have some international tours coming up, too, and I am doing a tour with Ring of Honor coming up in the UK area and we are taking the championship over there and for the first time showing fans outside of America even. There are a lot of exciting things to come.
Q: Your semifinal opponent is Sumie Sakai. She has been appearing with Ring of Honor since 2002. How fitting is it with your storyline — as someone who is an outsider coming in — facing someone who has been pretty established with the company?
A: We’re opposites basically in that respect. She’s been there since the beginning and I just walked in, you know. But we both have an extensive background in wrestling and have wrestled all around the world.
Obviously Sumie [and I] have a different style in the ring, so it will be a challenge for both of us to see how it goes wrestling each other. Either way I know it’s going to be an amazing fight and an amazing show for everyone to watch.
Q: You were a part of the first NXT tournament for the women’s championship there. Do you feel any déjà vu as you go through that process again?
A: Yeah, those are some of my best memories in NXT, being a part of what kicked off the women’s revolution — as it states in the NXT history books. But those are some of my favorite moments, building big storylines and being able to put women on that platform to compete.
Obviously since then, some of my closest friends in the WWE and the women wrestlers in independent companies around the word are really taking the opportunities they started to get and deliver and that’s what’s made women’s wrestling so popular right now.
So yeah, it’s kind of fitting that we are going back to taking the women’s wrestling revolution to other companies like Ring of Honor and continue on and use that platform for our opportunities.
Q: Is there anything you can take from that experience of watching how those women, and obviously yourself, went about making your name in WWE and building the division that can apply to Ring of Honor?
A: It’s all about capitalizing on our opportunities once you’re given it. Obviously sometimes, you know, you are not in control of everything like you’d want to be, but Ring of Honor is really the place where I can go out there and be myself and I can wrestle and do what I love. I think that’s the difference, you know, being able to go there and having a platform and really the opportunity comes and having all that and being able to deliver and to be able to show the fans, give them a reason to keep coming back and watch you.
Q: You touched on it a little bit, but what would it mean for you to win this tournament and go forward as the face of Women of Honor?
A: It would mean a lot. I never was a champion throughout my years in NXT and WWE. So for me that’s something I’m still striving for and this tournament is that opportunity to become the women’s champion.
Q: Your time with WWE ended before the women’s Royal Rumble. I’m sure that obviously wasn’t easy, but was their still some good feeling seeing some people you worked with get that opportunity knowing you were a part of building toward that?
A: Oh for sure. We built a very personal bond with some of those women throughout NXT and obviously WWE. I even lived with Bayley for a while while we were in NXT. And Paige and I were very close and Sasha and Charlotte and all of those girls.
And there are so many of them that I developed bonds with, so especially growing up and loving wrestling, I know a few of them in particular that were the same as me that idolized these wrestlers and looked up to people and wanted to be like them.
So for them to be able to share the ring with some of those women, I mean I was … It was emotional for me, so I can’t imagine what it was like for them. But I made sure I watched it because it was a special night for them and I knew what that must have felt like.
Q: Speaking of growing up in wrestling, you started wrestling when you were 13 years old with your brother in Australia. How does someone stumble in and get involved that early? Was there any push back from your family, like, “No she shouldn’t be doing this?”
A: I was very young when I started. I guess I loved wrestling so I wanted to be in the ring before that. I was very persistent. Like there is these days, there were independent wrestling shows and so I actually went to one and so I signed on and they have training, So that’s how it all came to fruition.
Obviously, I was in school then so it was just minimal training and even helping to set up the show, selling merchandise, just finding ways to be a part of the shows and do something and eventually that turned into when I was good enough to be on the shows and then eventually when I finished high school I moved to Canada and trained with Lance Storm in Calgary, knowing that I needed that professional training to get to the next level, to get to WWE, which was the goal.
A few years later I attained that. I started very young, but it worked out for me.
Q: You’ve said that if the opportunity to join Bullet Club comes, you’d welcome it if it made sense. What would that mean for you and even for women’s wrestling to be associated with that group that is know internationally?
A: I’m all about, just putting on a good product and giving back to the fans. When I watch those guys, the fans go crazy for them. I’m all about first times, excitement and giving to the audience, so I feel like whoever it is they induct and if they bring in a women in the Bullet Club, it will be a really exciting moment and again another platform for a female competitor to be acknowledged alongside them.
Q: What’s it been like being back on the independent scene and doing different shows with different promotions every day and doing some cool stuff? You had an intergender match with James Ellsworth. Has it been fun to have that freedom?
A: It’s been so fun. Well, so, that match you mentioned, Mick Foley was the special enforcer. So to be able to stand in a ring with Mick Foley is something I never really would have imagined and hearing his music hit is just the excitement in itself.
And then, the cool thing for me is I’ve been booked solid as far as shows and it’s awesome because independent companies, on top of Ring of Honor, are giving me that platform.
A lot of the places that I’ve worked, they’ve put us in the main event, which is really special for me for them to trust me to be the main feature of a show and have that platform to show how good we can wrestle and how much we love it.
So I think that’s special for women in wrestling. And everywhere I go there is just this amazing talent that I didn’t even know about being in the WWE for all those years. I just feel alive, just this newborn energy. I’m revived. I feel like my passion is back. I’m in control, so I can do things and I can do them my way.
The other thing is, in the past I never really had merchandise. So now I have merchandise and I can actually meet all my fans at meet and greats at every show. So I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but it’s awesome because I work hard. I put on good matches and I’m able to meet my fans and give back to them, so it’s a lot more rewarding.
Q: Are you going to recruit any of those women for Women of Honor?
A: Oh — it depends — because right now it’s all about me. I need to keep the spotlight for myself.