Chapter 12: Flashback to WCW, Year 2000.

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Touring with WCW (January 2000)

(This is an older blog I’d written about my very first weekend in the wrestling business. I was recruited into WCW through Playboy and not the least bit trained when I was hired. (Thankfully, my parents raised me that me that you introduce yourself to people and shake their hand…which is probably part of the reason why I’m the ONLY girl of the six originally hired still in the business. That, and insanity.) These were my first impressions when I started working in wrestling and my first of many WCW Tour Diaries that are on my site now.)

Why is wrestling so popular? It now gets better ratings than Oprah and Springer together. Maybe it’s the classic good versus evil, larger-than-life super heroes who battle it out in the name of right against wrong. A world where tough, sexy, muscled babes live whose chest proportions defy what nature intended. Where the winner of the fight gets all the girls, glory, belt and lives happily ever after until needed or challenged again. Sex and violence rolled into one big happy two hour time slot of fantasy. This is the stuff every comic book is made from. And when it’s performed live, it’s called wrestling.   

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I’m going to start from the beginning, and you can come along for my ride. All that worrying and stress for nothing. When I got back from England just in time to start with WCW, I ended up having an absolute blast — and can’t wait to do it again this Monday night. I wish I could be as detailed as I’d like to be, but it would go on too long and I’d get into trouble spilling things I shouldn’t. So, I guess you’re just going to have to wait for the biography for the fill-ins. Until then, here ya go…

In my years of flying, I’ve come to two conclusions. First being that the airlines deliberately try to make you so freaking uncomfortable, they’re attempting to force you to spend triple to go to first class. And secondly, that people on these flights are disgusting. They cough without covering their mouths, pick their noses, eat like pigs, drop their seats back without any concern for the person’s kneecaps behind them, and become demanding to top it off. And each year, people seem to be getting fatter and fatter. My seatmate this time was no exception. He graciously allowed me to have half my own seat for the 4 hour trip to Buffalo on this fully packed flight. And he was sweating. Ick. (Sometimes I wonder: are humans like goldfish, able to grow as large as their environment will allow them to? That would explain why the English are so slight and Americans are so bloated. We have to fill out our homes, 3-lane highways and SUV’s. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t care if someone is heavy. Eat all you want. Hell, you ain’t making a living naked, so go for it. But when it cuts into my own personal space, like coughing or smoking, and I didn’t ask for it, then it’s just fucking wrong. And I just might smack you in the face, depending on my mood and how much sleep I’ve had. You understand, right?)

And lastly, how the hell is the seat being in the full upright position (not that I recline it, because I hate having it done to me) going to save my ass any quicker were there to be a crash?

I checked in, and was impressed. Classy hotel! The nice thing about being on a Per-Show pay scale with WCW is that they pick up the travel tab, where if I were under full contract, I’d have to pay hotel and rental car expenses. Those really add up.  In every other pro sport, costs are paid by the team and medical expenses are covered. Except pro wrestling. Then again, in every other pro sport, they get an off season.  

I don’t understand how this business can be drug tested like a real athletic sport, but not given a SAG card like in real entertainment.  You’re self employed, so you have to pick up the tab on everything, but still have to work the schedule you’re told.  People make fun of it as if it’s fake, yet wrestlers limp around with some of the worst injuries and no off season to heal.  With few places to work, you literally have a 20-70% higher chance of becoming a film or TV star than nabbing a coveted spot on the few hours of aired wrestling TV each week.

 It’s the most unfavorable of everything. You just have to love it…or be completely crazy.

 The first thing I did was look out my hotel window-wow. Huge fleets of TNT trucks are right outside. Sid F’N Vicious was on my flight and checking in with me! The reality of what I’m about to do sets in… 

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Getting up early on Monday, I called Kim and Tylene and we decided to meet at the tiny hotel gym. One of the Nitro girls was there doing cardio. She pretended we didn’t exist. I’d heard the Nitro girls were quite standoffish, but was surprised nonetheless.  Meh. Whatever. I was just here to have fun and work. We showered and headed to the arena by 1pm. First things being first, we were dying to check out what the ring was really like. All of us jumped around imitating wrestlers and did cartwheels for a few minutes like three dorks. It was harder, smaller and higher than it looks on TV. (Sounds like a bad porno description, huh?). The ropes (actually cable wrapped in rubber tubing) were very stiff. And the mats on the floor were pretty damn thin. In other words, I wouldn’t want to take a fall on this. My respect grew even  deeper.

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Another thing I noticed were that the wrestlers looked a lot healthier and leaner in person. Most were pretty cool and not much like the character they portray. I particularly liked Meng, Booker T, Buff Bagwell, Medusa, Asya and Bret Hart. Admittedly, it was sort of strange to see all these people who I’d been watching on TV for so long in person and being that down to earth. I mean, there I was, in the middle of the N.W.O. and working next to the legendary Terry Funk! After reading so much about him in “Have A Nice Day” (by Mick “Mankind/Cactus Jack” Foley – I highly recommend this book to everyone, even non wrestling fans will enjoy it) and seeing Bret Hart’s tape, it was very surreal. I even got to see Jimmy Snuka fly off the cage my very first night.      

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It came time to get into makeup. We had a pre-taping to do. The story was something along the lines of Steiner having a birthday and we were the ‘hoochies’ brought in as a set up to get him drunk and weaken him with good loving so he’d be too weak to win. All the backstage stuff you see is pretaped around 4 or 5pm before the show starts. We didn’t even have a script until shortly before that. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of show where they post the night’s matches on an erasable board in the back, and they seem to make it work.  (Kind of.) When the guys do get the script, they’re all in the hallway with the writers, working out last minute changes. Many ad lib live. It does take a lot of talent to memorize, spew, and pull off unrehearsed moves with another without much thought or time. And to do it LIVE. The arena was PACKED. I almost froze when I saw the amount of people I was to walk out in front of. All I could think was to not trip over the grate in high heels and I hope a boob didn’t fall out. I also couldn’t get over the amount of kids in the audience. As someone who has catered to a mostly adult 18-35 male audience in my varied careers, I found kids to be a little strange.

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Tylene, Kim and I were seriously given the once over in the back by some of the other girls. And on our first night, we were lucky enough to get quite a lot of airtime, something that increased the tension even more when we got back into the ladies locker room. If ya know what I mean…

When we left that night, we were giddy from having so much fun. Being the only girl from the northeast, I was elected the driver. The west coast girls (where I currently lived as well) weren’t used to the highway on ramps and aggressive drivers. Of course, I proceeded to get us extremely lost in downtown Buffalo. We decided to go the hotel restaurant for a drink and dinner. Apparently, so did everyone else. Fans and wrestlers alike. I was most impressed with Diamond Dallas Page and Buff. Both were hounded relentlessly for autographs all throughout dinner to the point where they couldn’t even eat. And both handled it graciously, signing every scrap and napkin placed before them. Even Tylene and I were stopped in the hotel hallways by a few guys and kids and asked to sign. I couldn’t believe it was starting that fast.

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The next day we got up early to start the drive to Erie, Pa. Hellish. Snow and ice held us back and we arrived an hour late. I asked around for the script, but no one had it yet. And no one could tell me what the plan was. When I explained my dilemma to someone, they just patted me on the shoulder and said, “Welcome to the WCW.” Kim had left her wallet at a rest stop somewhere along the way from New York and was freaking out. Believe it or not, a guy called the arena (she’d told him where she was headed when she asked for phone change) and drove the wallet all the way to her, with all her money in it. My faith in humanity was restored. Since I couldn’t find out what was going on, I sat in the arena, asked the crew questions and watched them set up for the night’s Thunder show. Did you know they have four different stage set ups, with a different ring for each? One for Nitro, Thunder, WCW Saturday Night shows and Pay Per Views. I found the backstage people very interesting, and realized most of the show ran as well as it does because of their time and expertise.

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We soon found out we weren’t in that night’s script. Damn. Hell and high water to get there, but no show time. Sort of like getting the roses, doing the foreplay, rolling on the condom and then being DENIED. Ah, well.

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Packed up again and headed out. Steiner, being a decent guy, helped us carry our bags. He seemed sort of bummed our bouncing breasts wouldn’t be making a second appearance on the show that evening. When we got to the garage, we found kids surrounded the building. I mean, SURROUNDED. Even from that far away, they spotted him and started screaming, “Steiner, Steiner!”

It’s fun playing a bouncing hoochie, but I hope they let me play something a little more badass and bitchy eventually. I know I have to work my way in and get my feet wet first, though.  But for me, I’d need more than just a paycheck to be happy here. I’d need to feel like it was a challenge or fun.  I’ve never been a “just a paycheck” kind of girl, so I hope this isn’t that kind of place.

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(As history proved, it sort of WAS that kind of place.)

You can read the entire series of WCW diaries here: http://www.AprilHunter.com

 

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Chapter 4: 30 Days of Might. As In…Heaving Bags.

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(Continued From Part 1:  https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/06/chapter-3-the-calm-before-the-wrestling-tour-storm/)

Day 3 – Paris: There I was, trying to negotiate the bazillion floors of Charles De Gaulle. I had to collect all my stuff in International, take it to Domestic, re-check in and fly to Strasbourg. Easy, right? NO. I barely made the flight, got lost, couldn’t find anyone who was willing to speak English (and my French is very limited), got bad directions (and a multitude of shrugs), had a wonky three-wheeled cart that kept tipping over, was sweating profusely and was nearly convinced I was going to miss yet another flight.

So far, this trip had taken me three days to get to France…and I still wasn’t caught up with my tour. A flight attendant got me checked in at Domestic (thankfully) and pointed me down the hall to International. As I redoubled back towards the elevator at the bottom floor of CDL after hitting another dead end, I started to cry from frustration. This was now the current winner for Single Worst Travel Experience in my book. A kind French woman took pity on me and pointed to the right shuttle. The shuttle driver came down and helped me with my 8764 bags. I just made my flight. One nice thing about Europe is that if you’re already checked in, they will usually hold the flight for you figuring you’re either lost or held up in the airport somewhere. They don’t do that in at home…but then again, a bottle of water isn’t $5.50 either.

Another thing I like about the French…they aren’t afraid of emotion or to show it. I saw a fed-up flight attendant go off on an idiot customer…it was refreshing! It’s not uncommon to see exasperation or emotional outbursts from professionals in this country, which is socially acceptable. I like that.

Day 3.5 – Strasbourg: Made it. Barely. Got straight off the plane from an all night and day flight and went right to the venue where I faced Portia Perez…and I got pyro! Bad ass!

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Portia was short and stocky, like a Japanese wrestler, I found out very quickly that she was as safe as one, too. I started feeling much better about putting my back in her hands and we began to have some pretty decent matches on the tour along with the help of her charming manager, Justin Shape.

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She would also be my roommate for much of the tour and had just gotten over a wicked case of swine flu. “When someone tells you it’s the sickest they’ve ever been, it’s no joke. I was getting blown up just eating. A meal. Had to stop because I was out of breath.” We were quite opposite on our schedules. I’d get up early and go find a gym with the Irish or hike the streets and she’d stay out late drinking with the Irish. As the tour bus left a city one day, Paddy said, “Well, will ya look at dat. There’s an entire city there beyond dat Irish pub!” I was wondering if the Irish ever slept…and I was starting to get jealous if they didn’t.

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Day 4 – Caen: A nine-hour bus trip, each day. In the morning we would meet in the lobby bright and early, drop off 689,000 pounds of luggage, have breakfast and board the bus for a long ass ride to the next city. France and its food to me were like a Vegas orgy to a recovering sex addict. After months of strict dieting, this was a terrible temptation to be dropped into. Warm, crusty bread…soft, oozing Camembert…smooth, creamy chocolate…flaky, buttery pastry with sweet, soft fruit inside…arrgghh. The hotel breakfasts were ridiculously, stupidly, balls-out amazing.

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And I did my best to avoid them. I got coffee. And shitty, mushy eggs, ham and any other protein I could find. But the routine of stealing “bus lunch” was that I’d grab as much fruit, yogurt, applesauce and hard cooked eggs as I could fit into my oversized purse for the days’ travel. The reason for this was that we were told once we got to Europe that our meals would only be provided on show days. On travel days, we’d have to fend for ourselves. We had almost as many travel days as show days and Europe ain’t cheap. This was Unexpected Financial Setback #1. I had been told that two meals would be provided each day of the tour. Also, Europe was in a recession, so many weren’t spending much on post-show autograph sessions. Our show pay was directly deposited into the bank at home so we were living on whatever we made in autograph sales. Some days it was nil. I often grabbed food for Portia (who was heel; heels never sell as well as babyfaces) or others and shared protein bars.
Joe E Legend, being the angel that he is, lent me his DVD player until I could get a replacement.

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The guys kept pissing up the toilet seat on the bus. I understand that even when toilets are NOT attached to lurching vehicles being driven by a crazy ‘chauffaud’ Frenchman their aim ain’t so great…so this was exceptionally awful for the token females on the tour to maneuver around. The “water closet” was full of …erm, “water”. All over. At one point, I thought I had it sorted…go out, close the narrow door to the tiny cabin…pull pants down and crouch/hover above seat while stabilizing by placing hand as far up on walls as possible…then we lurched around a roundabout and I fell backward into the seat…as did the rim of my pants. Disgusting.
By law, every French commercial driver must stop after a 3-4 hours for an hour. Long drives became even longer. I started to hate that stinky, wet, toilet with a passion. And the mood this day was sour because it was Ireland vs. France in soccer finals and the drive was taking so long we were missing the game. We’d left at 10 am and hit the hotel around 10 pm.

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I’m not sure the route of this tour was very well thought out. We started out on Strasbourg, which is on the German border, and proceeded into France from there. We ended our France tour on Nantes, literally the furthest west point FROM Germany…and then headed to Germany. Indyriffic.

What made things a bit better was that the bus was packed with bottles of Kronenbourg beer and water. We also had sandwiches waiting for us in the bus at the end of the night.

When we got in, Portia was feeling ‘swiney’ and went right to bed. Sid Vicious decided he was officially done with the tour, since the (not air conditioned) hotels were too hot for him. (They really were ballsac hot.) And, I adore X Pac, but he smelled kinda interesting. He was bring the party to the bus pretty hard. I solely blame him for all the pee I was subjected to in the tour toilet.

He owned it. Like a manly mantastic man.

To be continued…

Photos – Emon Kazem Photography

Read Part 1: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/06/chapter-3-the-calm-before-the-wrestling-tour-storm/

 

Chapter 3: The Calm Before The Wrestling Tour Storm

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Getting Ready To Compete and Wrestle on a European Tour…

2009. There I was, in Canada on Christmas, so tired I kept falling asleep in front of the fireplace despite chain drinking cups of coffee. France, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, England, America, Canada. I’d done seven countries in one month (coming home to hop right back onto a plane to do TV for  TNA Wrestling’s New Years Eve special, land and hit the road for western Canada an hour later)…and I came to an understanding with myself that I am never, EVER again doing a fitness competition and a world tour back-to-back. Never.

Louisville KY: I suppose this blog would technically start with my Figure competition.  The planning for contest day was intense. Counting down the months, weeks, days, hours of nothing but plain, clean food, no socializing, cardio several times a day. Taking weekly photos and watching your body evolve was rewarding…then suddenly, I couldn’t wait for it to be over.  

On contest day, I’d gotten up at 7 am after not much sleep due to being woken up five or six times the night before by crippling leg, calf and groin cramps due to the necessary diuretic to rid whatever water was left. I hadn’t showered in two damn days because I had five layers of spray tan on me, was so thirsty from dehydration that I’d happily stab someone for a cold, crisp apple. You stop drinking water the afternoon before to assure that every muscle will stand out on your dieted down physique…it’s miserable. And I was so very tired. The kind of tired that is bone tired. All I wanted to do was sleep and be left alone. Yet, I had to get on stage, pumped up, smile and radiate energy. And finish packing to catch a flight in a few hours. Oh, I was also definitely beginning to smell myself. No water means no coffee allowed…just kill me.

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But I placed third in the tall category (accepting a lovely sword as my trophy, how apropos?), which qualifies me for the NPC Junior Nationals if I’d like to go through this again, so we shall see.

Months ago, I didn’t think I’d step on stage for this contest. I’d almost quit several times. Shortly after starting the diet and training, my mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and my longtime relationship decided he needed ‘space’. He also announce that he planned keep our dog, Cosmo, too. I was completely gutted. I was losing all around me that I loved. It took all I had just to do the bare minimum each day. “I could never see myself having children with her because of certain personality issues and her website, the kind of pictures she’s done,” is what he’d written to a female friend about me. That truly hurt to read. I am as flawed as anyone else. I wasn’t even sure I wanted children. But to see words like that, in cold hard print, cut me like a knife. I’ve never lied about what I do. Maybe I should start. I don’t know if I could take any more men who said my site/career was an issue when they were perfectly ok with it when they met me. I felt like a failure, like I was losing everyone I cared about. My entire life was pretty much turned upside down between traveling to Philly and back pretty often. All I could count on was the gym twice a day. It kept me sane at one of the most unstable times of my life. I learned to live for the little things. Every time I took Cosmo to the dog park for some cardio, I realized it could be my last time with him.

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I took a road trip to Michigan and bought another Corgi pup from a breeder, a tri-colored female, because I didn’t want one to look like the one I was losing…Cosmo, whom I loved so very, very much. This hurt more than anything. It was horrible timing for a puppy, but she was a purely emotional purchase. I didn’t want to be Corgi-less in life. (Yep, still have her. She’s a terrorist and the best mistake I ever made in life. So far.)

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Traveling is not advised pre contest because it screws up your diet and workout patterns, yet I’d done it nearly every week. I know for a fact I didn’t put in as much work as most of the others due to this, but traveling was necessary.

Five Weeks Out:


So, after 3 months of grueling diet and contest prep leaving no time for anything thanks to double and triple gym training sessions (and a tiny puppy to take care of), I took the stage on Nov 14.  9:30 a.m. I left my house. 11:30 p.m. I returned with a third place trophy for the Figure-Tall category and qualified to compete in the Nationals. (Pretty cool for my first time out.) I stuck my sword in the corner of the living room, dumped my wash in the washer and started rolling up last-minute items for my suitcase. It was 3 am before I’d finished packing.

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Day 1: The morning of Nov 15th: overtired, still dehydrated, and having had to pack and repack my oversized bags to make weight at the Delta counter, I just barely made my flight to Paris. (Louisville TSA told me one of the girls had to leave her sword trophy behind–suckage!) Or rather, my flight to Atlanta, where my Paris portion would be unceremoniously cancelled after sitting four hours on the runway. Dammit.

I knew it was too good to be true. I had a window seat with no one next to me. Best of all: no screaming babies. I’d just gotten about halfway through “Julie and Julia” – a movie I highly doubted anyone would watch with me – when Air France ended up “deplaning” everyone sending all of us to a hotel with a scheduled flight for 26 hours later. I was almost happy, since it meant I could sleep for 23 of those 26 hours. And that was the last time I did. Sleep, that is. I emailed Anne from American Wrestling Rampage and she purchased me a flight to the town they’d be in by the time I got to France.

Odd fact: I’d had my contest bikini bottoms glued to my butt with Bikini Bite. When I ripped my suit off that night, my tan came with it, in the form of two ultra white striped on my cheeks. It looked ridiculous.

Day 2 – Atlanta Airport: I had to completely checked in all over again, but this time I got hit with a bullshit bag fee, thanks to getting rerouted through Delta instead of Air France…and no TV screens on this flight, either. From over-exhaustion, I realized 4 subway stops later that TSA hadn’t given me back my DVD player…FUCK. I felt so stupid. And mad at myself…finding something that played USA region 1 movies wouldn’t be easy. This SUCKED massive donkey balls.

I had to catch yet a third last-minute flight in Paris to Strasbourg once I’d landed since I’d missed the AWR tour bus. This would prove to be very, very stressful, since I had to find the ‘domestic’ area of the insanely big French airport without the benefit of anyone who seemed to work there or speak English and too many heavy bags to once again collect and recheck in. At one point, I started to cry from frustration and the realization that I was going to miss this flight, no one was helping me, I’d packed too much and was tipping the cart over going around corners and my phone didn’t work, so I couldn’t call Anne to let her know anything. I was stranded.

OK…so let me explain my luggage situation to you. I’d seriously tried to bring just one huge bag. It wasn’t happening. Clothing for a month in 4 countries with various temperatures and no home base, shoes, workout stuff, protein powders and food, books in English, full-sized toiletries, and then wrestling gear…I ended up with two fifty pound bags, a fifty pound carry on, a twenty pound purse and another small wheelie duffle bag with supplements and my coat stuffed in which I bought for the run over at the ATL airport. Honestly, I DID try to keep it down. And clearly I failed. Miserably.

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What was really pushing the weight over the limit were protein supplements (protein is a side dish in Europe) and full-sized bottles of toiletries. My penance would be to a) drag 180 plus lbs of luggage with me everywhere…and b) some places didn’t have carts. This is where I really paid for it. Or relied on chivalrous men who thought I was cute. But I had all I needed with me. Small comfort when you’re tearing your shoulder out, and tipping wonky carts trying to keep up.

Which is exactly what happened in Paris.

Continued – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/15/30-days-of-might-as-in-heaving-bags-2/

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Photos – Dan Ray & Joe Mays