Since making her Ring or Honor debut at Glory by Honor XIV in the Fall of 2015, Kelly Klein has been a force to be reckoned with. Klein went undefeated during her first 531 days with the promotion making it impossible to come up with an argument against her being the face of the Women of Honor division.
Kelly’s foray into the world of professional wrestling began when she witnessed her first live event at the age of 19 during a show put on by the Les Thatcher Cincinnati based promotion known as the Heartland Wrestling Association. “I did have one moment and I remember it really well because I didn’t grow up watching wrestling and I wasn’t allowed to watch it so I didn’t grow up as a fan,” Klein told Fight Booth. “I literally decided at the very first live event I ever attended, before that was over, I decided I wanted to get in the ring and do what those people were doing. I just remember watching with maybe 150 or so people in the crowd and thinking – I need to figure out how to get in there – who do I talk to?”
Klein would do just that. Under the tutelage of Thatcher, Jimmy “Wang” Yang and others, Klein would quickly earn titles in multiple independent promotions before running roughshod over the ROH’s Women of Honor division.
Although a woman has yet to be awarded a world title in a ROH ring, a Women of Honor championship may not be that far off. “I know that people want that and I think that having something visual and tangible is always good, it’s something people can latch onto” Klein said. “I don’t know if it’s necessary because people know who the dominant force is with or without it.”
While we certainly do know who the dominant force is in the Women of Honor division without question, how would one go about introducing a Women’s world title to a brand that has been around for 15 years? “I think a tournament would make the most sense,” Klein expressed. “It’s difficult to look back in retrospect and decide based on different scenarios or different records who deserves that opportunity. It certainly could be something that could be done all at once or it could be something that could be done over time,” Klein added.
You can go ahead and ask anyone who has witnessed it. Better yet, why don’t you ask anyone who has been unlucky enough to have suffered through it. Klein’s aptly named ‘End of the Match’ modified guillotine finisher has already become known in wrestling circles as one of the most brutal submission finishers in the game.
“When I first started using my original variation it was really something that kind of felt natural to me. To do that suplex and roll through and hold on – it was something that was just instinctive when I first started using it. At the time, I had a different grip because I didn’t really change the grip from the suplex so I would just roll through and tighten the hold which could be effective and definitely get someone into an uncomfortable situation,” Klein said. “But I got some feedback and insight based on some jiu-jitsu techniques once I rolled through to make some adjustments and turn it into a really effective air and blood choke so that it’s even more effective, especially when you got girls like Candice LeRae and ODB who won’t tap out so I can still take the decision out of their hands.”
It’s no secret that Klein has been working her boxing with Joe Hornsby out of Fairfield, Ohio. And while it certainly has helped upgrade her in-ring game, it also makes us wonder whether or not she’d be interested in taking her talents over to the world of combat sports. “I would definitely like to compete outside of the world of wrestling at some point,” Klein answered. “That’s purely just because I’m a competitive person so having that as a next step is something that interests me.”
“With boxing, as far as my training, I think one of the biggest things as far as how it impacted me is being able to be more aggressive. It really gave me a confidence boost in the way I move and really how to take control and not rely on anyone else. That is something that has become visible that people can see – my movements are more crisp and aggressive,” Klein continued. “It also helps me brainstorm to expand my mind into thinking about things a different way because in boxing we’re doing all these different combos and moving in different ways that can certainly translate into wrestling, but when you’re only looking at wrestling, then at some point people keep regurgitating the same things rather than bringing in different elements. I always like being able to bring in different elements and kind of marrying them together to come up with your own twist on something.”
Her training regimen obviously doesn’t stop at hitting pads with her boxing coach. Take one look at Klein it becomes pretty apparent that missing arm and shoulder day isn’t really her thing. Somehow, she finds the time in between juggling working toward a degree in music education and a professional wrestling career to stay ridiculously fit. “It’s definitely a combination of training and nutrition. The last several months I’ve been in school so with that and my other responsibilities I haven’t been able to train in the same way I’d normally like. So because of that I’ve had to make other adjustments to balance. I was still working out but not as much; I had to adjust my nutrition and now my schedule is changing so I’m going to be able to start training harder and then I’ll adjust my nutrition again to reflect that,” said Klein. “I think as far as that goes it’s going to be so different and so personal to every single person because everyone’s body is just going to be different; their situation is different, the way they react is different.”
“I have friends who are like ‘I can’t build my shoulders, I have to do shoulders 3 times a week’ and I’m like ‘Oh man, I can build mine pretty easily’. We all have our own struggles and we all have certain things that may be easier. So for me, I really enjoy lifting weights, it’s what I base my training around but I like variety,” Klein explains. She likes to change it up by getting in her boxing, wrestling in the ring, lifting and cardio because she “tends to get bored” if things get overly repetitive.
“I know some people love to just run and run and run and they get into a zen state – generally that’s not my experience. For me, I’ve had to find other ways where I’m always changing up my movement. So I can come up with sequences where every 30 seconds I’m doing a different type of movement so I’m still moving but I’m doing high knees, or butt kicks, or I’m jogging and I stop and I’m mountain climbing but I’m still moving the whole time but I’m not getting bored,” Klein revealed.
While the WOH roster has lost of a couple of key names with the recent departures of Veda Scott and Taeler Hendrix, fans have been introduced to the likes of Karen Q and Tasha Steelz, two competitors who are already making a name for themselves during their short time with Women of Honor. While we don’t know who else will be joining the division in the near future, Klein did reveal the name of a young girl out of Nova Scotia who she thinks will be a good fit for the division sometime down the road.
“I actually just came back from Nova Scotia and there’s a girl that’s really kicking butt up there and I think that maybe she’s not ready yet because she’s only been wrestling for a short time but her name is Maddison Miles and I think you will see big things out of her. I think that one day, not too far off, I think she would be a great fit,” Klein told us.
Kelly will be at the May 14th ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds TV taping in Philadelphia where there will be some Women of Honor matches. Stay tuned to ROHWrestling.com for further updates.
cover photo credit – RING OF HONOR / David Chen