Two things happened when I wrote the first installment of My All-Time Favorite Women of WWE. First, I was surprised by how much I had to say about each woman. As a result, I profiled fewer women than planned. Second, I was not surprised by how many readers were perplexed that Lita did not make the first cut. My list was not ranked, and so Lita’s absence did not mean anything, other than I felt inspired to write about Maryse’s antics first.
I am sad to say that there aren’t many women who I’d call my favorites beyond this list. Considering I’ve been watching wrestling for the better part of 26 years (that’s correct, I watched it in utero), you’d think I could rave about more than 10 women. Does that not seem like a small number? Is it proportional? I DO really like Renee Young, who to me will always be the quirky Renee Paquette from The Score Network’s post-RAW show here in Canada (co-hosted by Arda Ocal and former ref Jimmy Korderas). It makes me very happy to read about other people’s hearts a-fluttering for Renee. She is a real fan of wrestling, and I of her.
Without further ado, I present the women who were my honorable mentions from the first list.
Mickie James is on my list because of WrestleMania 22. I tuned in to the PPV at a time when I wasn’t watching wrestling on the regular. I didn’t know the story about Mickie’s obsession with Trish and out comes this bubbly, pig-tailed package of jumpy claps. I loved her energy, and her ability to play the psychotic ingénue. At the end of the video hyping their match, Mickie gives Trish a mind-boggling tornado DDT. Mickie’s nose is bleeding, and she gingerly leans in to give Trish a long kiss. What had I been missing?!
Their match belonged at WrestleMania. The crowd was so into this story, and Mickie and Trish had an intense battle. Mickie wore a fuzzy girlie skirt, Trish opted for patent leather dominatrix, and they were all business. The action was nonstop and very hard hitting. A strong “Let’s go Mickie!” chant breaks out several times during the match – this was no bathroom break, and the heel had won over the crowd to boot. Trish sold the pain fantastically, and Mickie was relentless. I loved how she’d cackle and scream every time she got the upper hand.
Mickie took a vicious power bomb, kicked out at 2, and turned the tide by grabbing Trish’s crotch. With Trish distracted and appalled, Mickie turns to the camera and makes a lewd gesture with her fingers and tongue. Trish delivers a knock-out punch, and I love the way Mickie sells it. The end of the match comes all of a sudden, which is a bit unfortunate after the rest of it was so brilliantly executed. Mickie wins the title after a chick kick, and the announcers are mystified by the crowd’s enthusiastic support. What a match! At only 27 years old, Mickie James looked about 10 years younger and wrestled like she had 10 years added experience.
I wish she was still around in WWE. Can you imagine how fun it would be to pit her against AJ? Mickie James embodies what a woman wrestler should be: she’s engaging, she’s talented, and she has the look that would represent the company so well. Even though Mickie made my list because of WrestleMania 22, she has wrestled many great matches and deserves a much bigger audience.
On any given day, you are bound to find Vickie in at least one of the following states: a managerial position, wheelchair bound, romantic involvement with a wrestler, screaming, a mixed tag match, wearing short shorts, mispronunciation, covered in cake/mud/cottage cheese, nepotism, cougaring, and above all, excusing herself.
I cannot decide whether she is resilient or desperate. She has lived through a lot of awful stuff – real and fake – and she hasn’t given up yet. Yes, she has been given many pivotal roles for WWE over the last 5 years. But they seem to have treated her in a demeaning fashion throughout – more times and in more ways than one would think tolerable. You can say, “Aw, isn’t it nice how Vince McMahon has given her a job to help her provide for her family?” or “C’mon, Vickie knows more than anyone that it’s all about the entertainment!” But is that just sweeping it all under the table? I feel sad for her being called these terrible names, and then I wonder if I’m the fool. I didn’t think it was going too far when Paul Heyman impersonated Paul Bearer not long after his death, and CM Punk dumped his alleged ashes on the Undertaker. Compared to the persistent shaming that Vickie endures, the Paul Bearer skits look like an homage. I don’t know why she does it, but I suppose it’s none of my business.
When her screech rings out through the arena, “EXCUSE ME!” and the chorus of boos begins, sometimes it takes a beat to realize that Vickie hasn’t even made her entrance yet. That’s how hated she is. She’s had long and steamy courtships with Edge and Ziggler, whose screen time with Vickie furthered their careers as much in real life as it did for the story. She’s never shied away from the risque or the ridiculous, and for that I love her.
My favorite Vickie moment never gets stale. John Cena released scandalous hidden camera footage of Vickie and the Big Show while she was “married” to Edge. I cannot take The Big Show seriously as a romantic figure, especially when he’s wearing his singlet. All credit to them both, he and Vickie manage to pull off a hilarious love scene. But it’s the live reactions of Vickie, Edge, and Show that make this clip worth your time.
I liked Vickie right away simply because she was Eddie’s widow, but it wasn’t long at all before she was defined on her own terms. You’re fantastic Vickie, and that is why we boo.
It’s got to have something to do with being a woman who was named Johnnie at birth. Mae Young is bold. She is zesty. She cares nothing for propriety. And at 90 years old, she is the oldest living member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
I have a soft spot for sassy old people. Be it a geezer cracking wise at the grocery store, or a granny jaywalking out of nowhere because F-you sister, I am a sucker for seniors who are LIVING every last moment of their lives. Mae Young takes it several steps further, by risking her brittle bones for the sake of a laugh and a thrill. And it’s not like they’re having to prop her up in the corner for a photo opp – Mae marches right into the thick of things, birthing out high fives and calling LayCool a couple of sluts.
If her backstage antics weren’t enough, Mae expects her fellow wrestlers (both men and women) to treat her as they would any other opponent in the ring. When I read Bob Holly’s biography, the stiff-working hardcore champion was incredulous at Mae’s insistence that he hit her as hard as he could. Not wanting to disappoint, nor tarnish his reputation, he did as he was told, and she thanked him for it. She had forever won his respect, and my amazement. She doesn’t seem possible, yet here she is.
Mae Young made a name for herself in the ring during World War II, while the men were off fighting. WORLD. WAR. TWO. She trained The Fabulous Moolah, and won a bikini competition at the age of 84. She has Bronco Busted Torrie Wilson (whilst wearing a schoolgirl outfit) and made out with some Tough Enough contestants. We never know what to expect when the old-timey piano tunes up for Mae’s entrance.
Bubba Ray once gave an interview in which he referred to Mae as “the toughest man I ever met in pro wrestling”. The first time he slammed her, he did not take the Bob Holly route and heed her orders. She gave him hell, and the next time he was meant to powerbomb her off the stage, she made a point of absorbing all of the bump, and farted on Bubba Ray as a receipt. And why not?
When I profiled AJ Lee in Part 1 of my Favorite Women, I was in awe of how the most prominent Diva today has so successfully leveraged her natural beauty. Beth Phoenix is beautiful to me because she is so damn ripped – and all natural, baby. I cannot imagine the amount of discipline and effort required to achieve that body, especially considering she did so under the Wellness Policy. And she’s more than just a bodybuilder: Beth is a wrestler at her core.
She always knew it. She wrestled on the boys’ team in high school. She went directly to wrestling school after graduation, and wrestled anyone anywhere. That’s what made every title win so sweet – I love seeing a wrestler truly moved by what they’ve accomplished, in a world that is criticized for being fake. But Beth’s passion and skill didn’t seem to matter much in WWE.
I speak in the past tense because she left the company last October. Whatever her reasons for leaving, I certainly couldn’t blame her. Beth could really wrestle, but she was underused in favor of the Bellas and Kelly Kelly. We’ve all bemoaned and debated the reasons for featuring models instead of wrestlers, so I was very excited when they started The Divas of Doom storyline. Beth and Natalya would taunt and torture the “pretty girls” after their matches, making them scream and cry into the microphone while putting them into submission holds. It’s a sin that they never developed that idea into some actual long-term feuds (although it would be hard not to cheer for the heels).
Being so muscular, Beth was more easily identifiable as a heel. She could really arouse sympathy for the nice girl by Glam Slamming her with authority. Her physique also lent well to a cocky attitude and stern expression; she could crush anyone, and she didn’t care to smile and wave about it. This is exactly why her partnership with Santino Marella (their couple name: Glamarella) had any hope of working. Santino is a wind-up toy that just goes and goes, and Beth was the straight-faced foil for his antics. She didn’t take any of his lame schtick, but he would manage to win her over just enough. And when Santino would get beaten in the ring, Beth would be there to literally pick him up and dust him off.
I realize that I love Beth for what she could have been. She didn’t need to be in a romantic storyline or even a bullying storyline to be considered screen-worthy. They should have just let her wrestle.
There has never been anyone like Lita. One could argue that Ashley Massaro and AJ Lee have shared her punk esthetic, but I would argue back that Lita embodied punk with greater authenticity. She did not conform to the glossy, girly look of the other Divas, and went much the other way with baggy pants and tattoos. She was someone who felt different on the inside, and refused to represent herself otherwise. I don’t think she was built for the tidiest wrestling, the most compelling promos, or the evening gown gimmicks. But her style of wrestling, her time on the microphone, and her photo shoots were wildly popular because Lita was simply herself.
I always thought Lita was cool. I loved the idea of a chick in baggy pants doing high-flying wrestling with the boys. This might be why Lita appealed to everyone. She was sexy, she had skills, and she just did her own thing. Not too different from the Hardys, with whom she worked and who obviously influenced her wrestling. She always looked so relaxed in the ring, and never hesitated when she climbed those ropes for a moonsault.
Sometimes Lita could come off looking a bit too relaxed, but that was in keeping with her style (chilled out but purposeful). She was an excellent opponent for the spark plug Trish Stratus, who relied on a ground attack. I will never forget Jim Ross screaming his lungs out when Lita pinned Trish for the title, in the main event of Monday Night RAW. Eight years later at the RAW 1000 festivities, Lita and Trish reflected on what that match meant to them. Lita thought to herself at the time, “We are the boys tonight!”
Something occurred to me as I was thinking about both Trish and Lita having healthy lives post-WWE. Is it a product of having fulfilling careers, and therefore having a positive outlook on life, or did they have successful careers (and continued success thereafter) because of their personalities? Lita looks and performs as beautifully today as she did full time; I’d wager that she looks even fresher because she’s not living on the road, and seems to be more at peace with herself. The fans were highly critical of Lita’s personal life, and it must have been difficult to have her alleged choices laid out for all to judge.
As difficult as it must have been for her, I have to admit that I loved watching her and Edge on screen. Their chemistry during the live sex celebration made me feel a tad naughty for watching, and that Hardcore match against Foley at WrestleMania 22 was sickly entertaining. Raunchy emblems of their era.
Lita is a pioneer, and I don’t think anyone can mimic her. I would like to share the sweetest, most emotional clip that I hope you haven’t seen yet. Thank you, Lita.
Each time I thought about the reasons why I liked a particular woman, I found it interesting that the first thing I often considered was what she looked like. It didn’t happen every time, but tellingly, it happened for the women that I thought were conventionally beautiful. If Lita looked like Vickie Guerrero, would I find her as appealing a wrestler? Would she even be on TV? They each have their “roles” and as fans we unwittingly perpetuate the typecasting. I do not think female wrestlers need to be attractive, because as it is for the men, talent is very appealing. When you really love someone, he or she becomes beautiful to you.
Have I left out any favorites from your list? Please comment below, and follow me on twitter @kickyhick. Happy Summerslam Weekend!