ATHLETE APPRECIATION: Andréa

h31vE997Arguably the most satisfying aspect of the independent wrestling community lies in discovering how interesting and exceptional its athletes truly are. MaryKate Duignan Glidewell, better known as Valifornia stable member Andréa in Shine Wrestling, is  a  wonderful example of what happens when enormous talent marries perseverance.

If Glidewell’s name rings a bell, it’s likely a by-product of a short but fairly successful stint at TNA Wrestling as Rosie Lottalove…appropriately named, with a wrestling weight of over 300 pounds. Glidewell’s TNA character was beloved by fans, mainly for her outstanding mic work, bold camera presence, and a surprisingly agile move-set for a woman her size. Lottalove’s seamless transitions from vertical power moves to roll-ups were rare for someone at any weight class. YouTube videos back this up.

Glidewell’s journey first began (2007) as Betsy Ruth in her hometown area of Central Florida, pegged as a descendant of the great baseball slugger and namesake, Babe Ruth. Following TNA, Glidewell brought her talents to Japan for a one year stint.

In 2012 – and at 27 years old, however – Glidewell abruptly retired, stemming from a doctor’s warning of a possible fatal injury from wrestling impact. She was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovary syndrome, and opted for bariatric surgery to both drop weight and protect her health.

What happened next is awe-inspiring.

Glidewell – from a combination of surgery and steadfast fitness dedication – returned to pro wrestling in 2014 almost 150 pounds lighter. She adorned a new character – Andréa – in a completely new body – and with a new lease on wrestling life.

For starters, I couldn’t even fathom the amount of dedication needed to return to a career of financial uncertainty…following a near fatal health challenge…plus the courage to adorn revealing wrestling attire as a completely new physical specimen. Last, maintain a willingness to discuss this openly via interviews and Internet postings.

Perhaps the most astonishing  part of this story is you’d never know any of it.

Stunningly powerful, attractive, and heel extraordinaire, Andreá is wrestling perfection as the powerhouse member of So Cal Val (Paige Mayo)’s Valifornia stable. Her array of slams, clotheslines, front kicks and strong grapples are both diverse and technically sound. So much so, Glidewell is regularly featured at men’s promotions. The strongwoman wrestler is a rarity in today’s pro wrestling world, and Andréa has this genre down to a science. One would just take this all for granted, another rising star in said world.

Huracanrana and I first met MaryKate Glidewell after one of these men’s shows, FIP’s Declaration of Independence. We barely recognized this ultra heel out of wrestling attire (she’s stunning), and were surprised by the genuine kindness and honesty of a person we just saw body slamming individuals minutes earlier. This kindness literally knows no boundaries. At all of her shows, Glidewell is never behind a merchandise table, instead always front and center, engaging with fans. Her back story makes this all the more inspiring.

People like you, MaryKate Glidewell, make independent wrestling truly special. Thank you.

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