Wrestling & MMA

PRO WRESTLING: WWE Hall of Famer Lita part of Women in Wrestling Fan Expo, WWE Tough Enough

Trish Stratus (left) and Lita (Amy Dumas) showing off their WWE Hall of Fame rings during a Team Bestie stop. They will be part of the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo & Banquet, a tribute to women’s wrestling, on Saturday, May 23 at the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, N.C.
Trish Stratus (left) and Lita (Amy Dumas) showing off their WWE Hall of Fame rings during a Team Bestie stop. They will be part of the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo & Banquet, a tribute to women’s wrestling, on Saturday, May 23 at the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, N.C.

Lita (Amy Dumas) is gearing up for a busy few weeks as she steps in the role of coach for the new season of WWE “Tough Enough” premiering June 23 on USA Network.

Before getting there, she is joining up with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus for Masters of the Ring Entertainment’s first tribute to women’s wrestling. “Team Bestie” headlines the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo & Banquet on Saturday, May 23 from the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, N.C.

“It has been great for fans to see us together,” Dumas said. “There was always this feeling of having to be a Trish person or a Lita person. With ‘Team Bestie,’ there is something for everybody.”

Starting their WWE tenures around the same time, Dumas and Stratus forged a bond that carried them through their respective successes and only got stronger after they retired from regular competition. So much in fact, Dumas is Stratus’ son Maximus’ godmother.

“Our last year wrestling and just being on the similar path where it was time to move on, we have kind of been on this same life path,” she said.

“Since we retired we really don’t see much of each other more often, but it’s definitely more quality time together…We are very different, but very complimentary of each other. It’s really interesting. She always says I’m so much like her husband.

“Her husband is very much not like her. I’ll say something and she will respond with, ‘Ron always says that.’ I wouldn’t say we have so much in common as much as we are this yin and yang. In general, we have a mutual respect for each other. We are both open-minded and realize our way isn’t the only way to do something. We are respectful of one another’s life because they are so different. So we are always very interested in each other.”

The two built a feud that blazed trails and put women’s wrestling on the map. They headlined television shows during one of WWE’s most successful periods. Even though the two former champions had each other’s backs there was also a strong competitive fire burning in them. Dumas described it as a rival camaraderie.

“It was that if I didn’t take an opportunity, she is going to be right behind me,” she said. “Or she is right in front of me and I have to take an opportunity and seize it. There was this friendly competition and relationship in the locker room.”

Fans always look back at the period of Trish and Lita as the glory days of women’s wrestling. However, thanks to the “Give Divas a Chance” social media campaign, a talented roster in WWE and NXT and the “Total Divas” reality show, another renaissance may be on the horizon.

“I think that life and wrestling for sure goes in phases,” Dumas said. “You just have to have this lull for people to miss it. You get spoiled off of too much of a good thing. There are times when The Rock comes back, but there was a time when he was on TV every week and there were people saying, ‘He is on TV all the time. Please retire.’ I think the fans had a chance to miss women’s wrestling and to miss their time out there. Now they are getting the opportunity to get it back.”

Does this mean we will see a divas match headlining a WWE pay-per-view one day. Dumas would love to say yes.

“I think it has been real interesting to see women in sports with the UFC billing Ronda Rousey above the men. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question. I would love to see that. If there was a pay-per-view billed around women, then that would be cool because it has never happened. Maybe we can get back to women in the main event one day again.”

The WWE Performance Center and the NXT brand are grooming the divas of tomorrow today. Dumas is looking forward to spending some quality time as the state-of-the-art facility over 10 weeks during “Tough Enough.” Dumas will serve as a coach/trainer with Booker T. and Billy Gunn.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I had some great coaching, not just in WWE where you have access to everyone there to ask questions. Coming up, I had such a wide array of trainers. I feel like I have a really good, varied perspective of training.

“…I’m interested and looking forward to helping people make things click. Those moments are so inspirational for the people who want it so bad, but are not where they want to be. To have this opportunity to potentially give them information, the little things that make it all click and get them to the next level. That would be really rewarding to me.”

Dumas says one can be given all the tools, but it’s up the individual to find it within themselves and bring it all together.

“How I work best is to ask questions,” she said. “Why did you do that? How could it be better? If you don’t realize what you are doing wrong, I can talk at you all day, but you’re not absorbing and figuring it out. I feel like I would be an intuitive coach, more like let’s have a conversation about what you just did. Doing that, as opposed to the, ‘Get up and do it again. Wrong. Get up and do it again. Wrong.’ I don’t function that way. I hope that I will have my opportunity to really teach the way I would want to be taught.”

The judging panel is made up of Daniel Bryan, Hulk Hogan and Paige, whose alternative style many have compared to Dumas.

“I’ve had very limited experience with her, so I’m excited to get to know her better and be able to work with her on some level,” she said. “There are guys there I have so much respect for like Dusty Rhodes mention to me that she reminds them of me. When I hear that from Dusty, I will look forward to getting to know her better.”

Thinking about Paige and others in WWE making strides in the diva’s division, Dumas feels like there is a lot of potential right now.

“There is this really great stage of development,’ she said. “From here, it’s about who is going to break out and get to that next level. I don’t really want to put any names out there. I want to let the girls do their work and see what happens. As far as ‘Tough Enough’ goes, where are many of those people? We haven’t gotten a large return of people from that show. I would love to make the diva that makes it from ‘Tough Enough.’ I would love to have a hand in that.”

The Bella Twins also making waves in the diva ranks of WWE these days. Will we ever see “Team Bestie” challenge Nikki and Brie down the road?

“When I threw it out there, the fans have been reacting pretty positively to it,” she said. “I wouldn’t rule it out. They have come quite a long way. They are really good in the ring at this point. I think it would be really interesting to see the two girls form this era that are getting a lot of TV time with the girls from the past era. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Regardless, if this dream match takes place, the veteran is happy to be back in the WWE fold. Dumas appreciates the chance to see the experience from a different perspective. With the WWE Network, she is also generating a new legion of fans who meet her during Axxess and at events such as the tribute to women’s wrestling.

“It’s a different chapter, but doing it again and being able to reflect on appearances and soak it in along the way,” she said. “This is something I feel I missed out on when you are going a mile a minute on the road and in the moment. Now it’s like doing things sprinkled throughout, I can really soak it in. Now I’m really being able to enjoy it and interact with fans in a way I wasn’t able to do before. It’s an interesting feeling and opportunity many don’t get to have.”

The former Fort Lauderdale resident was honored to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. For her, it was more than a ring and a speech.

“I was always kind of the black sheep,” Dumas said. “Not necessarily in the office’s favor, I felt a lot of the time. I didn’t know if I would ever get inducted. Now to be able to come around and be with WWE and be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, it’s really nice and cool to be able to pick out all the great things in my career and remember them fondly and now to build on it.”

Dumas is excited about seeing fans and friends at the women’s wrestling tribute. She anticipates a memorable day for everyone involved.

“It’s always like a big family reunion,” Dumas said. “It’s always great to jump in and see what is going on with everybody’s life and then head back off to the real world, which is also a very enjoyable chapter. I can enjoy not being Lita on a day-to-day basis. I can enjoy being Lita for the weekend and then go to Alabama to visit my mom.”

- Masters of Ring Entertainment LLC, a special events pro wrestling organization, announces two exciting special events on Saturday, May 23 at the Coastline Convention Center, 501 Nutt St. in Wilmington, N.C.

The Women in Wrestling Fan Expo 10 a.m.-5 p.m. is a once-in-a-lifetime fan convention featuring some of the greatest legends in the history of the sport. A special “Team Bestie” photo opportunity featuring WWE Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita (Amy Dumas) is available Noon-1 p.m., as well as solo appearances by Trish Stratus from 10 a.m.-Noon. and Lita 1-3 p.m. Also appearing will be Lisa Marie Varon a/k/a WWE’s Victoria and TNA Knockout Tara, Lisa Ivory Moretti, former WWE Diva Terri Runnels a/k/a WWE’s Marlena, GLOW legend Little Egypt, former WCW star Missy Hyatt, and current NWA Women’s Champion Santana Garrett a/k/a Brittany in TNA.

General admission is $20. VIP tickets are $99. With a VIP ticket you get access to a special Women in Wrestling Q&A Panel featuring Trish Stratus, Lisa Marie Varon, Terri Runnels, Lisa Moretti, Missy Hyatt and more, hosted by WGNI 102.7’s on-air radio personality Jackie Jordan. This is a unique event where fans can ask questions to the panel. Also during this event, there will be an all female pro wrestling spectacular tournament brought to you by Just Cause Pro Wrestling. The live in-ring action will be featured from Noon.-2 p.m.

Lasting Legacy – A Tribute to Women in Wrestling from 8-10 p.m. is a banquet / hall of fame style event honoring the women of pro wrestling. This is the first time ever that the women of pro wrestling have ever been honored for their accomplishments and contributions. The event is to be headlined by Trish Stratus, and is also featuring Amy Dumas, Lisa Marie Varon, Lisa Moretti, Terri Runnels, Little Egypt, Missy Hyatt and more. Food options will be available for purchase. General admission to the event is $30. VIP tickets are $99, which includes the VIP ticket to the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo.

Tickets and more information available at:

http://www.MastersofRingEntertainment.com

- Catch Lita (Amy Dumas) on the premiere of “WWE Tough Enough” 8 p.m. EST Tuesday, June 23 on USA Network.

Follow Amy Dumas on Twitter @AmyDumas

- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN

- Pro Wrestling On The Web

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/

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