When you think of a woman professional wrestler, you’re probably thinking of either a willowy Stacey Keibler-type or a muscle-bound Chyna-type. Meet Mickie James. At five-foot-two, she’s much smaller than either Keibler or Chyna. But forget about that small frame. James says she’s a fighter. She grew up a wrestling fan and she’s been wrestling since she was just out of high school.
“Out of high school, I didn’t have much direction,” James said. A friend suggested going to a wrestling school, which she did. James signed up right away. “They wanted me to be to be the manager or valet type,” she said. “I said, Absolutely not. Now 31, she is at the top of the game. James still lives in her hometown of Montpelier, outside Richmond, Va. When her wrestling days are over, James wants to sing. She’s recorded one CD and is ready to head into the studio again.
“I’ve always wanted to sing,” she said. “That was my childhood dream to sing. It’s definitely tough. I have to finagle time between my wrestling schedule. I don’t have much free time.” We spoke to James about her hectic life last week.
What challenges does a woman face in the male-dominated world of wrestling?
As a woman I want to prove myself even more. I might not be as tough as the guys but sometimes I have the match of the night. Then the guys have to go out and top me. It’s still such a male-dominated sport that we’re not taken seriously. We still have lingerie matches and pillow fights. It’s a real task. But most of the fans know who I am.
What do you think of Stacey Keibler?
She’s hot stuff. I heard she dated George Clooney for a minute. I’m so jealous. That’s awesome. She’s really branched out and done things as a female that the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin have done. But she’s never really been a wrestler. She’s done lingerie and pillow fight matches.
Does that mean you can beat her?
She definitely has longer limbs that I do, but I’m quick. I’m much more of a fighter.
What training is involved in becoming a wrestler?
I had to learn my way around the ring. I had some training in aikido (a form of martial arts). And I rode a lot of horses. I competed in show rings. It was definitely hard. I had to learn how to fall and learn all the holds. Most of the time, I was training with men. They tried to be gingerly with me, but some of them were twice my size. So I had to have tough skin. I’ve had some tumbling (which helps with falls and rolling back on her feet). I try to do yoga. Yoga is a godsend. I feel so much better.
How long have you practiced yoga?
Probably five years. I don’t even take classes. It takes away a lot of the pain. Wrestling knocks your body out of alignment. Yoga helps.
What injuries have you endured as a wrestler?
I haven’t had a ton of injuries. I had a MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infection in my knee. I had to get it drained and removed. My knee (was swollen) up to the size of my thigh. I was stubborn. I told everyone I’ve wrestled with worse than this. But I flew home and got it checked. The doctor told me if I had waited it could have been a lot worse. I’ve had stitches in my eye, lost a tooth, I’ve separated both shoulders twice and I’ve had a few concussions.
What exercises do you do to stay in shape and what’s your diet like?
I try to stay balanced. I eat clean. I don’t do tons of salt and butter and sugar, except for my coffee. I eat chicken and fish and vegetables and fruit. I eat healthy.
How has wrestling changed since you became involved?
It went from sports entertainment in the Rock/Stone era. They could say and do whatever they wanted. They were rebellious. It’s now more PG-13 in many areas. We tread a little more lightly. It’s a lot more entertainment. Our company, Image Wrestling, really focuses on the wrestling.
What can local fans expect to see at tonight’s event?
Our live events are much more fun that what you see on TV. At the live events, we do meet-and-greets. People get backstage passes and they get an up close and personal experience. People can meet a lot of the personalities, the announcers and the backstage workers. It’s a lot of fun and it’s very interactive with the fans.
Do you have fans of all ages?
Yes. we have kids to grandparents. It’s fun for the whole family. There are wrestlers that kids get behind. And there are others that the parents like. There’s something for everybody.
What would surprise fans about the world of wrestling?
I try to keep the sanctuary of the storylines. That means I travel by myself. I’ve found that the people I have the most connections with are the ones I work best on opposite sides. We have the passion for wrestling and we want the same thing. You say you’re sorry later.
When you were growing up, who were your idols?
I was a big Macho Man (Randy Savagae) fan. And the Sensational Sherri (Martel). I’m a good girl. I played a bad guy once on TV. I didn’t like the good guys growing up. But I’m not really a bad girl.