[media-credit name=”Impact Wrestling” align=”alignnone” width=”620″][/media-credit]
Former Tough Enough competitor turned Impact Wrestling Knockout Laurel Van Ness recently spoke with VICE to discuss what it’s like being a female wrestler, how she got started in the wrestling business, coming up with her Impact Wrestling character, the rise in women’s wrestling and more. Highlights of the interview below.
On how she got into wrestling: “I was always very interested in fitness, I played a lot of sports growing up. I didn’t grow up with wrestling. I didn’t know anything about wrestling. I lived in Calgary, and a lot of old WWE, WWF and WCW guys went through Calgary—whether to train or to work on the independent scene. When I lived there, I became immersed in all of this wrestling talk and it sparked my curiosity. I was on the computer one night, Raw came on and I saw a women’s match. I thought, huh, I could do that. Next thing you know, I was knee-deep in wrestling. I called [Canadian pro wrestler] Lance Storm and started training the next week. I fell in love with it.”
On how she came up with her Laurel Van Ness character: “I remember being told; if you’re a bad guy, find something that people hate about you. Maybe you have a voice that people get really annoyed with. Whatever it might be. On the other hand, if you’re a good guy, you’re trying to get the crowd behind you. Try to play the underdog. I found that when I went to the ring as a bad guy, people hated that I took care of myself. That I went to the gym, that I had hair extensions, that I put makeup on. They hated that I was a girly-girl. I thought, OK, I’m going to crank that up to 110 percent and make people really annoyed. So I go out there and talk about the way I look, or the way I dress compared to what they’re wearing. That really annoys people. As you progress in your career, your character progresses and evolves. I started with an idea, and it’s evolved into this rich, money-hungry, daddy’s girl character. With Impact now, they wanted my character to get married and be left at the altar, so I’ve changed it to a jilted bride.”
Rise in interest for women’s wrestling: “Three years ago is when I saw the fans really turn and take on a love for women’s wrestling. Women were doing amazing things back then, but they weren’t as recognized as they are now. In the past three years, they’ve had the Divas Revolution—which is a step in the right direction for women. We’re being noticed, we’re main event-ing, we’re doing the ladders and chairs and cage matches—things they really didn’t want us to do before. There are so many eyes on female wrestlers—that’s what we needed. That mainstream focus. Now we have the show Total Divas—even though it’s a reality show, it’s still focused on women in this industry. A lot of girls watch it and think; I’ve never thought of it like that. I never thought female wrestlers could be cool and strong and beautiful. They’ve never seen that side of us.”
Biggest misconception she’s come across: “A lot of people look at me and say ‘How could you be a wrestler? You’re not big and jacked like Chyna was.’ A lot of people say that to me. Or they think you don’t wrestle—that we’re just valets and managers to the men in this industry.”
Best part of wrestling: “Interacting with the fans. Whether it’s positive or negative. They’re so amazing. Every time I go to an expo or signing; I have so many people coming up to me and supporting me. Even if they do ‘hate’ me, it’s because I’ve done a good job. I love that. It’s rewarding to see little boys and girls coming up to me and kind of idolizing me. That’s what I’m doing it for. It’s a lot of fun.”
Laurel also discusses interacting with other wrestlers inside and outside the ring, her family’s reaction to the decision of becoming a wrestler and dealing with wear-and-tear.
What are your thoughts on Laurel’s interview? Have you been enjoying her work on Impact Wrestling so far? What would you like to see her do next? Let us know in the comments below!