Our resident philosopher looks at the multiple personas of the TNA superstar. Much like fellow TNA superstar, Mick Foley, Raisha marches to the tune of numerous drummers. In the world of professional wrestling, name changes are commonplace. What is rare, however, is to have the same person perform under numerous characters in the same organization. This week's Wrestler of the Week does just that. Raisha Saeed has been at the side of Awesome Kong for quite some time. She's also battled Kong as her former persona Cheerleader Melissa and struck out on her own as the odd Alissa Flash.This week, the various personas of Melissa Anderson combine to become the Wrestler(s) of the Week.
The Early Years
Melissa Marie Anderson was born into a wrestling family. Her father, Doug Anderson, worked the California circuit in the late 70s and early 80s. She is not related to any member of the Anderson wrestling clan (Ole, Arn, Lars, etc...). Most of them only adopted the Anderson surname. Melissa would often accompany her father to events, after he went into semi-retirement and worked behind the scenes. She was also introduced to her "uncle", Billy Anderson, who worked with Doug in the Southern California area. By the age of 15, Melissa worked with the "family" to make the small promotion successful. She made her debut in the ring at age 15, but her first pro match would come about 2 years later. Melissa was introduced to the Ballard Brothers, who were, at the time, pushing an angle where they played to former hockey players who needed something more brutal than a hockey game to satisfy their bloodlust. Melissa was asked to serve as their valet. Melissa decided to have a little fun and play on the whole sports theme. She came to the ring in an outfit similar to those worn at her old high school, Palmdale High School. She began to work under the name Cheerleader Melissa, a name she revives from time to time. During her early days, Melissa received additional training from Bryan Danielson, as well as Christopher Daniels. Melissa had her pro wrestling match on her 17th birthday against Lexie Fyfe. The two would feud for the better part of a year, until Melissa received a special invitation to attend a three-month training camp in Japan. She would accept the offer and head over-seas for the first of many jaunts to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Picking up pieces of her future selves
After her extended stay in Japan, Melissa returned, ready to fight. She headed for the APW promotion in southern California. She would defeat Robert Thompson for the then-Above the Law title. That title would be renamed the Future Legends championship. She would later tack that title name onto on one of her other alter-egos, "Future Legend", Alissa Flash. Melissa would eventually retire the title, after first losing and then winning it back from Daizee Haze. Over time, APW began working with the all-girl organization, ChickFight. It was based on a concept created in Japan, and later butchered in the 1980s by the comic-based Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling organization. ChickFight was nothing like G.L.O.W. The female grapplers took the work seriously and got as brutal as any men in the business. That brutality would lead to the first major injury in Melissa's career, though she was only side-lined a few weeks. When she returned, she had abandoned the cheerleader gimmick, in favor of the middle-eastern female that came to be known as Raisha Saeed Melissa would often perform as both character as Saeed was being "tweaked".
After numerous feuds in the US, European and Japanese markets, Melissa accepted a position with the new Shimmer organization. She jumped right into the group, feuding with MsChif in some of the most brutal women's matches, ever. She would also battle Allison Danger, Wesna and Lacey & Rain (known as the Minnesota HOME Wrecking Crew). Eventually, MsChif and Melissa would begin to team together and attempt to take the Shimmer Tag Team titles. She would work 26 major shows for Shimmer before her next move.
On January 10, 2008, Melissa arrived in TNA. On her first appearance, she was not named. She was simply a shadowy figured that arrived with Awesome Kong. Over the next few weeks, the character became known as Raisha Saeed, a Syrian-born woman who served as the spokesperson for Kong. The burqa-clad woman quickly led Kong to a win over Gail Kim to earn the TNA Knockouts title. Over the next six months, Saeed would often get physically involved in Kong's match, as well as speaking for the seemingly-muted behemoth. As TNA lost several of its female stars, Saeed was called upon to become more active. She began by battling as her Saeed character. To try and flesh out the roster, Saeed would often appear at tapings as both Saeed and her old character of Cheerleader Melissa. Don West and Mike Tenay played innocent to the double identity of Melissa/Saeed. As more talent arrived in TNA, the need for Cheerleader Melissa wained and she went back to working, exclusively, as Raisha Saeed. As TNA moved into the Fall of 2008, Saeed and Kong were partnered with Sojournor Bolt and Raisha Saeed to form the Kongtourage. The group fell apart when Bolt won a title shot against Kong. Saeed demanded that Bolt give up the shot. When Bolt refused, the other three attacked her. Eventually, Khan was taken off television after an incident with Roxxi. With Roxxi and Khan off the show due to the fight and Christy Hemme out with an injury, TNA needed to expand their roster, yet again.
In early May of 2009, Melissa brought back Cheerleader Melissa. The character got a flat reaction from the crowd, so TNA decided to experiment. They repackaged her as "Future Legend" Melissa Anderson. Her second generation status was pushed, slightly. TNA wanted to ride the wave created by WWE. The character didn't work, either. Melissa returned to the Saeed character until July 16, 2009, when she was re-born as "Future Legend" Alissa Flash. She began a feud with the new Knockout star, Sarita. Flash would lose her first match to Sarita. The two have had a minor feud in recent months. When TNA decided to create a Knockouts Tag Team championship, they were short of talent. Plans to import Japanese and/or Mexican female talent didn't pan out. To help with the short-fall of people, Melissa was asked to partner with Kong (as Saeed) and Daffney (as Flash). There are even rumors that Cheerleader Melissa may reappear to replace Angelina Love in the Beautiful People.
Melissa Anderson has had more personalities than just about anyone in wrestling history. While she works primarily in TNA, she still takes indy dates between tapings. She also is very close to the New Japan organization, where she has worked, several times. There are tons of clips of the various identities that she's worked under over at ClickWrestle.com. Be sure to check them out by searching for the names: Cheerleader Melissa or Raisha Saeed. Be sure to also check out her profile at OnlineWorldofWrestling.com. Melissa Anderson is poised to be one-half of the first TNA Knockout Tag Team Champions.This week, she's the Wrestler of the Week.