Katarina Leigh Waters (November 10, 1980) is a German-born English professional wrestler and valet. She is best known for her time in World Wrestling Entertainment. During her time in WWE, she performed on its Raw brand under the ring name Katie Lea and performed under the ring name Winter, while working in TNA. Prior to signing with WWE, she spent many years on the independent circuit, particularly in the Frontier Wrestling Alliance, where she used the ring name Nikita.
After signing with WWE, she competed in their former developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she became a two time Women's Champion before being called up to the main roster. After being released from WWE in April 2010, Waters joined TNA in August 2010 adopting the new ring name Winter. During her first year in the promotion she managed to win both of the promotion's women's championships, teaming with Angelina Love to win the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship in December 2010 and winning the TNA Women's Knockout Championship in August 2011.
Professional wrestling career
At a young age, Waters read an article about the main event of WrestleMania VI and believed the Ultimate Warrior's mysterious origins to be true. When she came to England at 18, she was under the impression that wrestling companies only existed in America until she saw a local show advertised in London. However, the show's style was catered more towards British wrestling than sports entertainment and Waters once again retired thoughts of becoming involved in wrestling until she saw Alex Shane and Dominator on The Jerry Springer Show with their more outrageous gimmicks and became interested again, seeking out National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) UK Hammerlock and being trained by Jon Ryan. Originally Waters used the name Kat but after Stacy Carter began using this name in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), she changed her name to Nikita after the television program La Femme Nikita. on ITV Meridian's TransAtlantic Wrestling Challenge, a tournament between British and American wrestlers of the NWA where she won the Women's Championship.
Frontier Wrestling Alliance
Feud with The Family (2002–2003)
After starting her wrestling career, Waters sought the Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA) and began training with Alex Shane, who inspired her on The Jerry Springer Show. With Shane she began hosting a talk radio programme on Talksport which helped FWA gain national notoriety among the wrestling community. Because of her association with the show she was placed on the card for their February 2002 event, Revival, where she lost to Lexie Fyfe. However, the match was badly reviewed backstage and Waters began training twice a week to improve herself. To keep exposure while improving her in-ring skills, she began to frequently tag team with fellow newcomer Hade Vansen in mixed tag team matches, including a match against British female veteran Sweet Saraya, until August when she impressed with a singles match against Paul Travell. This led to a feud where Travell dominated until the end of 2002 but in the first FWA event of 2003 Nikita picked up her first singles victory in the company over Travell and went on a singles winning streak for a month until she lost in her third bout against Andy Simmons.
While Nikita had become successful as a solo wrestler, however, her rivalry with Travell had escalated when he became part of The Family, a group of villainous wrestlers who became FWA Tag Team Champions. The feud escalated after Nikita and Shane failed to win the Tag Team Championship a number of times and led to one of Waters' most famous moments in wrestling when, at the Frontiers of Honour co-held with American promotion Ring of Honor (ROH) in May Alex Shane, Ulf Herman, and Nikita took on The Family (Travell, Brandon Thomas, and Scott Parker in a hardcore six-man tag team match. Though The Family won, Nikita gained notoriety when she jumped from the top tier in the arena onto the ground, landing on The Family and their feud ended. It was later announced to be the tenth most memorable moment of the FWA's first decade in their YouTube Top 20 Countdown.
Sporadic appearances (2003–2006)
With her rivalry against The Family over, Nikita began a new storyline where an anonymous bounty had been put on her head. As she took on all comers trying to claim the bounty, Nikita went undefeated in the rest of 2003 and 2004 including her favourite match against Darren Burridge in March 2004. By June 2004 she had faced and defeated most of the company's major wrestlers which led to the return of the World Association of Wrestling's veteran Sweet Saraya who revealed the bounty had been placed on Nikita by the jealous ring announcer, Jane Childs. Saraya claimed the bounty with a non-sanctioned assault on Nikita, delivering a tombstone piledriver at the Carpe Diem event putting Nikita out of action for months and off the FWA roster for over a year. She returned in October 2005 in a losing effort against Simply Luscious. She was victorious on the next show in a six-man tag team match, with her and Luscious on opposing teams. Though Nikita would not wrestle after this point, she realigned herself with former tag team partner Hade Vansen and at New Frontiers 2006 helped him win the FWA British Heavyweight Championship in a five-way event featuring Joe Legend, Alex Shane, Jody Fleisch, and Jonny Storm. She remained at Vansen's side until June's FWA Vs All Star Wrestling event year when she announced her retirement from the company as she had been scouted for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) for training.
In 2005 she flew to France to take part in the Fighting Spirit Federation's subordinate promotion Queens of Chaos. In an exhibition match she aligned herself with German wrestler Sick (Dejan Stegar) in a losing tag team effort to Kid Kash and Trinity. However, in the Queen of the Rumble match with the World Queen of Chaos Championship on the line she entered second and became the winner, besting competition from England, Ireland, America, and Japan. She defended the title all over France and in Switzerland until almost exactly a year later when, after defending the belt against Skye in a two out of three falls match, she announced she had exclusively signed with WWE and had to relinquish the title undefeated. During her time on the Continent she made a guest appearance in German Stampede Wrestling (GSW), losing to Wesna with Nora Greenwald as referee International Impact III. She returned to GSW for Night In Motion VII: A Few Good Men in July 2006 to take on the promotion's other premiere female wrestler and namesake, Blue Nikita. The Greek Nikita won the match and since then Waters has used the name Katie Lea instead.
Just before she lost her Nikita name to Blue Nikita, Waters took part in the video tapings for Shimmer Women Athletes in May 2006. Playing a fan favourite in Volume 5, she defeated Lacey but then for Volume 6 became a villain by using underhanded tactics and was pinned by Daizee Haze.
Ohio Valley Wrestling
After relocating to the United States, Waters began using the ring name Katie Lea, having lost a match to Greek wrestler and namesake Blue Nikita (see above). Nicknamed 'The Kat' to go with her original ring name, she made her debut with a dark match victory over Melody in August 23. A week later she teamed with ODB to make her television debut, losing to Beth Phoenix and Serena. At the time ODB, seeing herself as the best wrestler in OVW, created the OVW Women's Championship for herself and defended it in a battle royal which Lea participated in but ODB retained. On September 13 she had another chance in a four watch match but Serena won the belt, besting Lea, Phoenix, and ODB. Her next title opportunity, on October 11, ended in disqualification when an angry Serena, who had lost the belt to Phoenix, interrupted her three-way match also including ODB.
Feud with Beth Phoenix (2006–2007)
The day after Halloween saw the OVW Women's Championship contested for in a gauntlet match where Phoenix outlasted the first five contenders but Lea proved too much for her, pinning Serena last to win her first Women's Championship. She would hold the belt for 212 days, giving her the longest single and combined reigns until Melody went over that mark in June 2009. Phoenix did not take her loss well as it was not in a straight singles match and tried to earn a rematch but lost to Lea in a mixed tag team match the following week, with El Aero Fuego and Charles Evans as their respective partners. Lea tried to defend her belt against Serena but the match ended in disqualification when a jealous Phoenix attacked Serena for having a chance before her and so on November 22 the three were put in a no-disqualification non-title match which Serena won. Having already defended her belt against Serena, though, Lea continued to defend against newcomers, such as ODB and Jennifer Fit. She also began to host an in-ring talk segment entitled "Kat's Kradle.
After this match, on December 6, Beth Phoenix made her way to the ring and announced herself as still being champion with her own belt. Troubleshooter, or authority figure, Danny Basham announced that as ODB had created the belt for herself neither belt was official but promised to settle the matter. On the next week's TV taping he announced that the dispute would be settled in OVW's first ladies ladder match and the winner would be officially recognised as Women's Champion. In the last television episode of 2006, Lea climbed to the top of the ladder to retrieve both belts and become the undisputed OVW Women's Champion as the year closed. Their feud closed on the first episode of 2007 when Basham went to present the OVW Women's Championship, giving it official recognition in the company, only for Phoenix to snatch it from him. However this proved to be a show of sportsmanship as Phoenix presented the belt to Lea herself in recognition of their competitive ladder match.
Losing the Women's Championship (2007–2008)
She then began a feud with Cherry Pie after two successful title defences against her resulted in an assault from Pie's stablemates The Untouchables (Deuce and Domino) until Jon Bolen and Ryan Reeves saved her. Days later at a non-televised event, Lea and Bolen defeated Cherry and Domino in a mixed tag match. However, the televised rematch was a three-on-two handicap with all three Untouchables defeating Lea and Bolen. At the end of January all the women in OVW competed in a two out of three tug of war which Lea was on the winning side. This led to the Miss OVW competition which saw the women compete in a variety of competitions and matches with ODB gaining the crown on March 21. After this ODB picked up a non-title victory on April 11 and win by disqualification the following week and with a battle royal victory earned herself contention for the title. On June 1, ODB brought Lea's reign as champion to an end in singles action at OVW Six Flags. The following week ODB and Lea were tied winners in a bikini battle royal leading to a hot fudge tug of war to decide the winner, which ODB won. A musical chairs contest the next day ended abruptly when Lea hit ODB with a chair but in the subsequent eight-woman tag team match saw Phoenix pin Lea when ODB retaliated with a chair shot of her own. She won a subsequent musical chairs contest on June 15 at Six Flags. After a series of mixed tag team contests between the two, ODB retained her title in a three-way match also featuring Victoria Crawford on July 21. She pinned Phoenix in August for another shot at the belt but came up short at the end of the month. Milena Roucka then won the belt from ODB in a six-way dark match that Lea participated in. After defeating Roucka twice in non-title matches in late October, Roucka attacked Lea in a game of duck, duck, goose and then defeated Lea in a Kiss My Foot match in December to retain the title.
In 2008, Lea began receiving presents from a secret admirer including a telegram, flowers, and an outfit. By late February, Paul Burchill revealed himself to be her admirer and helped her win the Women's Championship for the second time. She lost the belt a week later to Josie in a dark match because WWE had severed ties with OVW and called her up to their programming.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2008–2010)
Waters made her television debut on February 11's Raw (airing on tape delay from the previous week as the on-screen sister of fellow FWA alumnus Paul Burchill, becoming Katie Lea Burchill. The two displayed early signs of a gimmick based around incest with Paul using the catchphrase "whatever Katie wants, Katie gets." At WrestleMania XXIV, Lea was one of the lumberjills in the Playboy BunnyMania Match, in which Beth Phoenix and Melina defeated Maria and Ashley.
After appearing alongside Burchill on WWE Heat, Lea made her in-ring television debut on the April 28 edition of Raw defeating Super Crazy in an intergender Handicap Match along with Burchill. On May 19, on Raw, she had a confrontation with the Women's Champion, Mickie James where she insinuated James had used her relationship with John Cena to sleep her way to success. Two weeks later, Lea teamed up with Beth Phoenix to defeat James and Melina, in which she pinned James. On June 16, Lea and Burchill defeated James and Mr. Kennedy in a mixed tag team match, where Lea pinned James a second time. She faced James for the title at Night of Champions, but came up short. After she and her brother beat James and Kofi Kingston she received another chance at James' title in August but failed to win. On the last Raw of the year she made her final appearance in a battle royal to determine the next challenger for the Women's Championship, which was ultimately won by Melina.
Two days later, on December 30, it was revealed that Lea and Burchill were moved to the ECW brand, but failed to make an impression with Burchill losing to continue DJ Gabriel's winning streak. Going into 2009, Katie made a better impact in her ECW on Sci Fi debut with a win against Gabriel's partner Alicia Fox. However, the Burchills lost a tag team match against Gabriel and Fox the following week. On April 5, 2009 she competed in the 25-Diva Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXV, but the match was won by Santina Marella. Lea wrestled again in July 2009 against the newly drafted Bella Twins. First facing Nikki, Katie took the advantage but Nikki swapped places with her twin sister, fooling both Katie and the referee, causing Katie to lose. Two weeks later on WWE Superstars the twins made the same switch in reverse order after the referee could not differentiate between the two and Lea lost again.
From August towards the end of 2009, Paul became embroiled in a rivalry with backstage interviewer Gregory Helms, over whether he was also in-ring performer The Hurricane. They agreed to settle the matter in a match on November 17's ECW, which saw Hurricane's mask put up against Burchill's career on the ECW brand. Despite many attempts, Paul could not secure the pin and subsequently lost the match, resulting in both he and Katie Lea leaving ECW. The following week on ECW, Katie Lea and Paul, now sporting masks and calling themselves The Beautiful Nightmare and The Ripper, respectively, appeared in a backstage segment with General Manager Tiffany and asked for a contract, which Tiffany said they would receive if The Ripper could defeat The Hurricane the next week on ECW. However, The Ripper was unmasked by Hurricane and subsequently defeated in their match, resulting in Katie and Burchill remaining off ECW.
On January 11, 2010, Lea moved back to the Raw brand without her brother Paul Burchill by competing in a first round tournament match for the vacant Divas Championship but lost to Eve Torres. On February 26, Paul was formally released by WWE leaving Katie to appear on her own. She was released from her WWE contract, on April 22, 2010 along with six other wrestlers.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2010-2012)
After her release from WWE, Waters briefly returned to the independent circuit, wrestling under the ring name Kat La Noir. On August 23, 2010 Waters wrestled in a tryout dark match for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at the tapings of their Impact television show, losing to Madison Rayne; it was reported on October 15 that TNA had signed her to a contract. Waters debuted on the October 21 episode of Impact!, using the name Winter, admiring Angelina Love during a backstage segment in a somewhat supernatural appearance. After weeks of appearing only in front of Love, Winter was seen for the first time by other Knockouts on the November 25 episode of Impact! when she saved Love during a large backstage brawl. On December 9 at the tapings of the December 23 episode of Impact!, Winter replaced an injured Velvet Sky and teamed with Love in a tournament final, where they defeated Madison Rayne and Tara to win the Knockouts Tag Team Championship. On the January 27 edition of Impact!, Winter brawled with Velvet Sky, who claimed she was trying to break up The Beautiful People. Winter and Love lost the Knockouts Tag Team Championship to Sarita and Rosita on March 13 at Victory Road, after an interference by Velvet Sky backfired. On the March 24 edition of Impact!, Winter, seemingly having control over Love's actions, prevented her from saving Sky from a beatdown at the hands of Sarita and Rosita, turning her heel in the process. On the April 7 edition of Impact!, Love, still under Winter's spell, turned heel on Sky during a Knockouts Tag Team Championship match against Sarita and Rosita and left her to be pinned by the champions. On the June 23 edition of Impact Wrestling, Winter defeated TNA Knockouts Champion Mickie James in a non-title Street Fight, following outside interference from the villainous Love. On August 7 at Hardcore Justice, Winter defeated James, with help from Love, to win the TNA Knockouts Championship for the first time. On the September 1 episode of TNA Impact, James defeated Winter to win the Knockouts Championship back. Later that month, Winter defeated James at No Surrender to win the title back.
On October 16 at Bound for Glory, Winter lost the title to Velvet Sky in a four-way match, which also included Madison Rayne and Mickie James and was refereed by Karen Jarrett. On the January 12, 2012 episode of Impact Wrestling, Winter lost to ODB. After saving ODB from Love and Winter, Eric Young was challenged by Love to a match. Young won the match via disqualification, after Love kicked him in the groin. This led to a tag team match on the January 26 episode of Impact Wrestling, with Love and Winter losing to ODB and Eric Young. Winter and Love appeared together for the first time in five months, on June 14, at a TNA house show in Belton, Texas, when they teamed up with Rosita and Sarita in a losing effort against Mickie James, Tara, and Velvet Sky in the main event four-on-three handicap match after Sky pinned Rosita for the win.
Two days later, at a house show in Houston, Texas, Winter and Love lost a match against Tara and Velvet Sky which would mark their last match together as a team. On July 1, Love announced on that she had been granted her release from TNA, thus ending their partnership. On September 6, Waters announced on her official website, K-Waters.net, that her contract with TNA had expired, thus leaving her free for other projects.
Return to Independent Circuit (2011-2018)
On February 25, 2011 Waters made her debut at World Independent Ladies Division in a in ring segment with Tab Jackson and Aiden Riley. On August 4, 2011, Waters defeated Tab Jackson in a no holds barred match to win the vacant WILD World Championship. On December 10, 2011 Winter defeated Terra, this match was later named 2011 match of the year. On February 2, 2012 she became the longest reigning champion with her reign surpassing the previous record of Lucky O'Shea's 182 days.
On May 14, 2011 at the FWE Meltdown pay-per-view, Waters made her debut for Family Wrestling Entertainment (FWE), defeating Rosita. At the FWE Empire City Showdown pay-per-view, on September 20, 2011, Winter defeated Rosita with Christy Hemme as the special guest referee. At the FWE Fallout pay-per-view, on November 15, 2011, Winter defeated Rosita with Christy Hemme as the special guest referee. At the FWE Haastility pay-per-view, on December 15, 2011, Winter defeated Jackie Haas. Then, at FWE No Limits, Winter defeated Brooke Tessmacher in the first round, before losing to Maria Kanellis, after the interference from TnT (Tara and Brooke Tessmacher), in a tournament to determinate the first ever FWE Women's Champion. A month later, on March 24, Waters defeated Maria and fellow TNA Knockout Rosita in a three-way match to win the FWE Women's Championship for the first time. On April 28, Waters defeated Melina with Lita as the special guest referee to retain the title. Later, Maria challenged Winter to a rematch and Winter accepted. On July 28, 2012 episode of FWE Wrestling, Winter dropped the FWE Women's Championship back to Maria Kanellis, making Maria a two-time champion. On October 4, 2012 at the Back 2 Brooklyn pay-per-view, Waters, under the name Katarina Leigh, teamed up with Maria in losing effort to The Beautiful People (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky) in a tag team match. After the match ended, Waters was attacked by Ivelisse Velez, who was making her FWE debut.
Winter made her debut for House of Hardcore, on October 6, 2012 at the promotion's first show, where she lost to Jazz in a singles match. Under the name Katarina Leigh, she participated in Pro Wrestling Syndicate's Bombshells Championship tournament making the final where she was eliminated last by Missy Sampson in a four-way elimination match.
Return to Impact Wrestling (2018)
Leigh made her return to Impact Wrestling under a new name, Katarina, on the May 10 episode as Grado's new girlfriend. Katarina turned heel on the September 6, 2018 episode of Impact!, when she dumped and insulted Grado and announced that she was in love with Grado's best friend, Joe Hendry, only for Hendry to turn Katarina down after she kissed him.
Waters was born and raised in Germany before relocating to England to attend university. She is fluent in both languages. When she joined the FWA, she entered into a relationship with Alex Shane, though they later broke up. They have since remained friends and continued to share a flat in London. As well as wrestling, Waters had a small career in film, directing the British independent film Welcome To Hell and acting in Utopian Pictures' Tough Justice.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Tag Teams
- "The Scarlet Witch"
- "The Kat"
- "The Queen of Chaos"
Championships and accomplishments
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
|2009 PWI Top 50 Females|
|Mickie James • Angelina Love • Melina • MsChif • Tara • Awesome Kong • Beth Phoenix • Michelle McCool • Maryse • Taylor Wilde • Sara Del Rey • Cheerleader Melissa • Gail Kim • Mercedes Martinez • ODB • Daizee Haze • Sarita • Daffney • Madison Rayne • Katie Lea Burchill • Nikki Roxx • Angel Orsini • Velvet Sky • Sojo Bolt • Natalya • Rain • Amber O'Neal • Jillian Hall • Jetta • Lufisto • Madison Eagles • Nevaeh • Wesna Busic • Kelly Kelly • Portia Perez • Danyah • Ariel • Jennifer Blake • Nicole Matthews • Serena Deeb • Allison Danger • Malia Hosaka • Lexie Fyfe • Jamie D • Amy Lee • Annie Social • April Hunter • Cherry Bomb • Jessie McKay • Rosa Mendes|
|2011 PWI Top 50 Females|
|Madison Eagles • Mercedes Martinez • Mickie James • Natalya • Madison Rayne • Cheerleader Melissa • Beth Phoenix • Tara • MsChif • Sara Del Rey • Eve Torres • Angelina Love • Layla • Sarita • Kelly Kelly • Serena Deeb • Velvet Sky • Ayako Hamada • LuFisto • Winter • Brie Bella • Angel Orsini • Melina • Daizee Haze • Nikki Roxx • Gail Kim • Jazz • Maryse • Christina Von Eerie • Portia Perez • Rosita • ODB • Nicole Matthews • Rachel Summerlyn • Jessicka Havok • Brittany Force • Kellie Skater • Tina San Antonio • Melanie Cruise • Cherry Bomb • Sassy Stephie • Tasha Simone • Alicia Fox • Amber O'Neal • Allison Danger • Kacee Carlisle • Brittney Savage • AJ Lee • Melissa Coates • Jessica James|