By Kevin Eck
When Madison Rayne signed an exclusive contract with Ring of Honor in September, she said she had two immediate goals: to wrestle Dr. Britt Baker and to win the Women of Honor World Championship.
At Survival of the Fittest this past Sunday in Rayne’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, she achieved her first goal, and in doing so, took a big step toward attaining the second.
Rayne defeated Baker to earn a spot in the Four Corner Survival Match for the WOH World Title against champion Sumie Sakai and two other yet-to-be-determined challengers at Final Battle on Dec. 14 at Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
“This year of my career has been remarkable to say the least,” said Rayne, a 13-year veteran who this summer pulled off the amazing feat of competing in ROH, WWE and Impact Wrestling as well as on the ground-breaking All In event. “How incredible for me as a competitor, as a woman in this business and as a mother to a little girl, to set such an example of what hard work and passion can produce. I am so proud of the things I have accomplished, and to be winding down 2018 in such a big way, by competing in the first-ever WOH World Championship match at Final Battle, means so much to me.”
Impressed with Baker after competing against her in a four-way match at All In, Rayne wanted to face her in a one-on-one match since neither of them were involved in the finish.
“I said that I had my sights set on wrestling Britt because I know how incredibly talented she is and I was really excited to test myself against her in a singles match,” Rayne said. “Our four-way match at All In was the first time I shared a ring with her in any capacity, and I couldn’t wait to do it again, just she and I this time. Getting to have that opportunity in a ROH ring was the perfect stage for both of us to show what we could do.”
The match did not disappoint and seemingly could’ve gone either way. Rayne, who has added more striking into her arsenal since coming to ROH, prevailed after nailing Baker with a knee to the head.
“I have been wrestling for quite a while, and one of the disadvantages in that for me is that there are a lot of ways for my opponents to do their homework and study my in-ring work,” Rayne said. “Therefore, it was important for me, in coming to Ring of Honor, that I change a lot of things in my repertoire so that I would not be an easy opponent to plan for. I have always tried to use my speed to my advantage, but I have learned that for being smaller in stature, I have a lot of force behind my strikes and I shouldn’t be afraid to use them. One of the most exciting things about Madison Rayne circa 2018 is that you never know what variation of moves I will bring on any given night.”
As sweet as the victory over Baker was, Rayne had little time to celebrate. Moments after the two competitors embraced and raised each other’s hands in a show of mutual respect, the debuting Twizted Sisterz (Holidead and Thunder Rosa) hit the ring and attacked them from behind. The strange duo laid out both Rayne and Baker.
“I am equal parts irritated and flattered by that,” Rayne said. “I get why Twizted Sisterz did what they did. Britt and I had just gone out there and had a match that those two freak shows could only dream of having. They wanted to make a statement and what better way to do that than ruin a really great moment that exemplified what Women of Honor is all about -- respect and hard work. If they wanted to get our attention, they succeeded, and that might not work out so well for them in the long run.”
Exacting revenge against Twizted Sisterz will have to wait, however, as Rayne is laser-focused on Final Battle and winning the WOH World Championship.
“I am going into Final Battle preparing for just that, the final battle in a monumental year for me, both personally and professionally,” said Rayne, who was unsuccessful in her attempt to dethrone Sakai a few months ago. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sumie. She is the textbook definition of a champion. But so am I, and this is my time, my moment, and I am walking into 2019 as the new Women of Honor World Champion.”