2010, what a year. Talk about highs and lows! In April all of us Beth Phoenix fans celebrated her championship victory at Extreme Rules only to have the Glamazon injure her knee several weeks later, in effect ending her title reign. When Beth officially lost the belt to Layla (and Michelle) it felt like a funeral, a cruel twist considering how well Beth’s face turn had been handled and how emotional she seemed when she won. Then it was announced Beth would be out of action for many, many months. Basically the rest of the year; it felt like ‘the longest time’.
Top of the mountain to the bottom of the barrel. Obviously this was terrible for Beth, but it was also terrible for her fans. Truthfully, I didn’t handle it very well. My inspiration, my role model, my main reason for watching WWE was going to be out for a long period of time. How could I even watch “Smackdown” anymore? How could I even watch WRESTLING anymore? I could just see myself bored to tears, basically ‘sleeping with the television on’. I shut down. I was hoping I could pick myself up and find enjoyment in wrestling again, at least until Beth returned, but I was constantly haunted by the same thought, “What if she didn’t recover?” Gulp. It was going to be hard to ‘keep the faith’ and I knew I wasn’t going to get through this alone. I started spending a lot of time with ‘Captain Jack’ (or Johnny, as I call him).
My wife is usually very supportive of my wrestling habit but she got tired of me moping around the house every day moaning about bad luck, knee injuries, and co-Women’s champions. Of course I thought she was completely overreacting. So what if I wouldn’t take off my Glamasuit…that ‘ain’t no crime’ in my book. I started resenting her as a way to channel my frustration. As a result there was a definite ‘storm front’ brewing.
When I started introducing us as “Glamarella” to our friends and family, she finally (and very forcefully) told me I needed to grow up or get some professional help. I could see the anger in her eyes. Until then I thought I was an ‘innocent man’ but then I realized “honey, ‘you may be right’.” When I told her I was thinking about joining Glamaholics Anonymous, the local Beth Phoenix self-help group, she packed my lunch, grabbed the keys, and started the car. On the way there she told me “David, normally I love you ‘just the way you are’…but this (insert word that rhymes with “Brad Pitt”) has to stop! Do you enjoy sleeping on the couch?” Now that is ‘pressure’!
So I started attending weekly GA meetings, and thus began a long and winding journey filled with self-discovery and self-analysis. At first I didn’t think I belonged in the same room with these people. I felt like I was a ‘big shot’ because I had met Beth a few times and, besides, I’m her biggest fan! I’m Mr. “F-ing” Glamazon! These people weren’t hurting like I was hurting!
The mood of the group was pretty low – people were really taking Beth’s knee injury hard. At least I could tell they were here for the right reasons (“Bachelor” fans, please start laughing…). But overall I remained cynical, especially when the instructor tried all sorts of lame exercises and games with the group to help break the ice. I just rolled my eyes and tried not to laugh. The second session wasn’t much better, so finally I stood up and said, “Are we honestly going to try to get better here or are we just going to sit around and play silly games? And you all look like a bunch of fools wearing your homemade tiaras!” I didn’t make any friends that day.
But I stuck with it (thanks in part to my uncomfortable couch) and slowly but surely the group started to bond and pull each other along. A lot of it had to do with the instructor. I didn’t like him at first, but I’ll admit he did a good job bringing us together. He could tell I was guarded, so he would tell me over and over, “It’s OK, David…’you’re only human’…let your emotions out. Remember, ‘we didn’t start the fire’. Beth did.” This kind of became the class motto…something he would tell us on the way out the door after each meeting. “We didn’t start the fire. Beth did.” I guess it made some people feel better.
Eventually I felt comfortable enough to talk about my emotions, about how I was having trouble staying focused, how I couldn’t deal with normal everyday activities. I was just sitting around watching Glamazon videos on YouTube all day. “I know, I know…sometimes I don’t know why ‘I go to extremes’. What can I say, this is ‘my life’.” The people in the class didn’t judge me or ridicule me, and I have to admit it felt good to be sitting with people that shared my disappointment. (As for my family? My wife just couldn’t understand it, my son is a Natalya fan, and Baby Glamazon is only 1 year old, she barely has enough hair to wear a tiara. So yeah, they were no help.)
The instructor told me, “David, you’ve ‘got to begin again!’”
Pretty soon the meetings became the highlight of my week. We tried really to focus on the positives, such as Beth’s full recovery and her future return to the ring. Every now and again she would send out a Twitter message letting her fans know she was doing OK, that she was keeping a positive mental attitude! Well, ‘she’s got a way’ of motivating people and I started to have fun, to laugh again. Really it became ‘a matter of trust’ because during these meetings I could be myself. I felt myself healing.
Each meeting was a little different and the instructor would try to keep the mood light. We would have fun discussing different fictitious Glamazon storylines, like “Who would Beth have mentored on NXT Season 3?” and “Can Beth jump rope better than Rosa?” We loved to play our favorite game, “Pin the Tails on Lay-Cool”. The instructor thought he was a real ‘piano man’ so he would play Beth’s theme song and we would make up words, singing at the top of our lungs. (Of course, not every meeting was a success. The “Beth crunking” dance-off injured 3 people…oh well, lesson learned.)
Once in a while we would discuss following other Divas, Knockouts, or Indie stars. But it was the same way a newly single person, still hurting, starts thinking about dating again. Not very seriously.
Ironically working for Diva Dirt forced me to keep watching WWE and TNA. I like being a part of the DD team so I need to stay current; I need to keep up with all the storylines and characters. Otherwise…who knows? I may have checked out for a while. So I kept watching wrestling each week, then going to my GA meetings to continue working through my issues.
I became a minor celebrity within my group because of my own ACL surgery. I enjoyed telling them wild stories of my recovery and showing them my scar. Every now and again I would bring in my knee brace for show-and-tell. I liked the attention but I will admit it wasn’t always a smooth ride for me. I had a sizable meltdown when Melina returned at SummerSlam and captured the Divas title. I had to fight back tears when the WWE announced they were unifying the 2 women’s titles. And I needed extra TLC when the Smackdown tour came through DC without the Fabulous Firebird.
During one of my low points the instructor suggested I ‘tell her about it’; that I start writing a journal about my feelings expressing the void I felt from not seeing her on TV each week. “The key,” he said, “is ‘honesty’…don’t hold back your emotions.”
This was a great idea, and slowly but surely my life started to ‘turn around’. Clouds were lifting. The sun was starting to shine. I was down to just two copies of Extreme Rules 2010 (yes, one was still sealed, but whatever…), and I stopped wearing my Glamasuits to work. Also, I didn’t have to sleep on the couch anymore!
Finally news started to emerge that Beth’s recovery was going well, she was in good spirits, and her in-ring return was closer with each passing day. (In the group we were following her journey like kids track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.) When I heard rumors that Beth would possibly return at Survivor Series, I was worried I would be too excited, that this would be more than I could handle. ‘Don’t ask me why’. Yes, I desperately wanted Beth to come back…but only when her knee was 100%, not a day sooner. Was she really superwoman? How could she return so quickly?
I guess what we learned from her speedy recovery is that it really is ‘all about soul’!
I could barely breathe during Survivor Series. As soon as I heard her theme song I started climbing chairs and back-flipping onto my sofa. Beth’s run-in transported me right back to Mount Glamazon, standing at the palace gates of our Queen. It was resplendent. My wife came down to see what the fuss was all about and when she saw me on top of my chair, she rolled her eyes and called me ‘shameless’. (Why did she have to rain on my parade?! Why couldn’t she just ‘leave a tender moment alone’?)
It really was a triumphant moment. But after Survivor Series was over I was surprised at how I was feeling. Sure I liked seeing Beth return and I couldn’t wait to see her wrestle a real match again, but it really didn’t define my overall enjoyment of the show. I liked the ENTIRE program. I actually enjoyed the other matches, the other Superstars, and (gasp) the other Divas!
Beth’s six month absence had forced me to outgrow my ‘New York state of mind’. I found I still enjoyed watching Raw, I still enjoyed watching Smackdown, and I still enjoyed watching Impact. I even looked forward to reading results from Indie promotions like SHIMMER and Wrestlicious. Plus, working on the “Post Raw Show” and “Diva Dirt Live”, as well as writing “Hitting the Ropes”, opened my eyes to new opinions, new viewpoints, and (especially) new female performers. Before Beth’s injury all I cared about was her career. Now I was enjoying all the female stars. That night I grabbed my GA journal and decided to write down some of the things I found interesting these past six months.
- ‘Movin’ out’ – Mickie James certainly seems to be enjoying life after the WWE. She’s settled quite nicely into TNA and has I think she’s reenergized the Knockouts division (and to a degree, so has Katie Lea).
- ‘Sometimes a fantasy’ – Hardcore works. Mickie and Tara’s cage match was exciting, and the tables match at TLC got rave reviews. Couldn’t we be treated to more of these type matches?
- ‘Uptown girl’ – I used to love Maryse, but her storyline with Ted DiBiase hasn’t won me over at all. I hope this is dropped very, very soon. It illustrates how you sometimes need to separate the performer from the material she is given. The same goes for Eve and her pairing with R-Truth. I think she deserves better.
- ‘Only the good die young’ – How great would it be to play the “mean girls”?! Lay-Cool and the Beautiful People are devilishly good fun.
- ‘Say good-bye to Hollywood’ – The career of a pro wrestler is so fragile. Being released from a company seems so cruel for both the performer and her fans. I feel badly for Hamada, Tiffany, Jillian, etc. Some will land on their feet, some will not.
- ‘This is the time’ – As we saw with Beth Phoenix and Melina, severe injuries can happen at any time. Enjoy every moment watching your favorite stars perform.
- ‘The entertainer’ – Many wrestlers use Facebook and Twitter so it is easy and fun to stay connected to your favorite stars. Today’s social networking brings the fan experience to a whole other level.
- ‘Scenes from an Italian restaurant’ – Relationships are complicated, everyday life is hard…and that’s just for normal people. I can’t imagine the stress and strain of being married in the public eye, having people question your marriage (Michelle McCool) or knowing your troubles (Tiffany). (By the way, how great is “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”? Who doesn’t love Brenda and Eddie?)
- ‘Travelin’ prayer’ – The influence of the Internet on women’s wrestling is incredible. The women can wrestle for any promotion and because of YouTube, fan sites, and iPPV broadcasts, their matches are available to fans around the world.
- ‘Modern woman’ – I like so many of the current stars: the Beautiful People, Natalya Neidhart, and Lay-Cool are among my current favorites. I also like watching Indie matches because the crowds are so enthusiastic and they help raise the excitement of the match.
- ‘River of dreams’ – The future of the industry is very bright because Independent promotions are finding strong passionate followings that provide more and more girls the opportunity to pursue their dreams and wrestle for a living.
- ‘It’s still rock and roll to me’ – I still have much to learn, and there are many more matches for me to watch, but I’ve enjoyed going back through history and filling in some of the time gaps, those periods of my life when I wasn’t such an avid fan. And because of the influence of pro wrestling on my childhood, I will always hold a spot in my heart for the stars I grew up watching.
- ‘You’re my home’ – I can honestly say I care about all the women in professional wrestling. I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for them because of the passion of their fans and their obvious commitment to their careers.
After Beth returned at Survivor Series we decided we didn’t need Glamaholics Anonymous anymore. It was time to dust off the real tiaras and iron the Glamasuits…our hero was back! In the end, was GA a success? Did it work? Sure. I made some friends and learned a great deal along the way. Admittedly the first few sessions were uncomfortable. I just didn’t want to open up to ‘the stranger’ sitting next to me in the Santino t-shirt, but once I gave it a chance it became clear that at GA, ‘everybody loves you now’.
Truthfully I’m going to miss my little group but we all agreed to stay in touch. And if Beth wrestles Natalya at Wrestlemania 27 we made a pact that we would hold a mini-reunion down in Atlanta.
We decided to throw ourselves a little party to celebrate Beth’s return. It was a nice way to wrap up our time together. As I was leaving the celebration, the instructor said, “Why are you leaving now ‘when the night is still young’?”
“It is just time. But thanks for everything.”
“Well, it was nice meeting you David. And remember, we didn’t start the fire. Beth did.”
I shook his hand and looked around at all the tiaras, smiling people, and champagne. Like the rest, I WAS happy, but I knew I had also changed. Even if (God forbid) something would happen to Beth again I now know I would still remain a big fan of female wrestling. Beth will always be #1, ‘she’s always a woman’ to me, but she is not alone on the mountain anymore…
Now I know all the Divas started the fire. ‘And so it goes’…
Download: Right click & ‘Save Target As’
2011 is going to be a great year!
— Mr. Glamazon
PS – I worked 45 Billy Joel songs into this column; I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. The one I couldn’t squeeze in…’Allentown’.
PPS – I’ve mentioned this before, but just to be clear I am not belittling or making fun of actual self-help groups. This column is meant to be light-hearted. Addiction has directly affected my family and sometimes it just helps to laugh a little.
PPPS – Follow me on Twitter @dlb19338 and send your mailbag questions to [email protected]. January’s mailbag is going to be epic! Look for it soon!