LuFisto on her knee injury and Japan
MIKE ALTAMURA -- SLAM! Wrestling
LuFisto: I took two before my match with Leo-Na (on September
23) and that was already too much. I'm against painkillers and I didn't
even take some when I got my surgery [on my right knee] last year. I'd
rather shorten any tours than to be addicted to that crap.
Mike Altamura: While you were in Japan you lived at the
ARSION Dojo. Did the training turn out to be everything you expected?
What were the most challenging aspects of the training? What did you
learn from the trainers, Mariko Yoshida and Akino?
LuFisto: Living at the dojo was okay besides the fact that I
had to chase the cockroaches to kill them! The only thing that bothered
me is that AtoZ told us that they would pay for our food but on many
occasions there was nothing left at the dojo... no milk, no eggs, no
bread -- so most of my money I spent on food which was not supposed to
be the case.
As for the training, it wasn't as hard as I expected. I thought they
would kick the shit out of us but they were really respectful to
everybody's limits. I loved the training actually, especially the
physical training. As for the wrestling training, it was good too but I
didn't like to do all those rolls because of my knees. I was good at
that when I started but now, I have a certain handicap, if we look at it
that way. Sometimes I felt like an old lady (laughs).
Speaking of my knees, the most valuable thing I learned from Akino
and Mariko is how to work without creating major impact on my knee.
Doing some moves a different way for instance.
Mike Altamura: The only fellow North American on tour with
you was Sara Del Ray. Could you outline the bond you formed with her?
What was it like living alongside her in the dojo?
LuFisto: I'm glad she was the one that made the tour with me.
Each of us had a task: She would do the laundry; I would cook and clean
our room. It was really easy to live with her. Also, not only is she a
good wrestler but she also has a very good vision of what this business
is about. Just like me, she hates the T & A stuff that is going on in
the WWE and just like me, she hates the divas and finds them to be
boring and sloppy. She loves wrestling at its purest; nothing to do with
what I call 'Lita flips' and missed spots but pure technical, chain
wrestling just like Chris Benoit and Dynamite Kid. She's been wrestling
for two and a half years now but she's picked up really quickly the
essence of what pro wrestling should be.
Too many girls today only do the minimum in the ring and are too
involved in cheesecake pictures, bikini contests, etcetera. I haven't
met too many that are so committed to this business that they'd put
their life in jeopardy and make a lot of sacrifices. Actually, I see
more bikini than action pictures on most of the women wrestler's sites.
And what about those private and grudge matches that some girls are
doing? We all know that not only the wrestling fans are buying tapes
where two women are beating on each other without a crowd. Come on!
According to me, it has killed a part of female wrestling and some ask
why they are not taken seriously... look at your resume!
Mike Altamura: It's been reported that on the tour Gaijins
(foreigners) had to hide whenever a TV crew entered the dojo, and were
not part of interviews, group photos, etcetera. Were you offered any
explanation for why the promotion acted in such a way? Do you know if
it's been a tradition in the past to exclude Gaijins from Dojo press
LuFisto: The explanation I got was that we were not part of
AtoZ, that we were outsiders and that it was a common thing to do. Maybe
it's because I've been in the business for quite some time and that I
booked some shows myself but when you invest so much on something, you
want to show it to the world and make that investment worth it. That's
what they do in Mexico; they make sure everybody knows that foreigners
are there to perform for the people and that a lot of fans will come to
the show to see what's new. I guess it's different in Japan.
From the people I spoke to, the business hasn't been the same and
everybody has financial difficulties, even in Japan. I guess they bring
in Gaijins to have something different on their cards but there is no
way that they'll be involved in major angles. We can't blame them to put
the spotlight on their local stars after all since Gaijins are only
staying a couple weeks or months.
Mike Altamura: On August 25, you made your AtoZ debut when
you wrestled GAMI at the famed Korakuen Hall. How were you feeling
backstage before the contest? What feelings did you experience when you
started your walk towards the ring? How did the encounter go, and how do
you think you were received by the audience?
LuFisto: I was really nervous and I had to visit the restroom
a couple of times (laughs). However, I had so many things to think about
that I didn't pay much attention to how it would be, how would the fans
react. I just went out there and did my job. Actually, it was when I
heard my music that I started to get really confident. I don't know why
but it's the way my body works I guess. I hear the music, the character
comes to life and I'm a whole new person.
As for the match, I believe it could have been better but I'm really
happy with it. Come to think of it, it was my favourite match [from the
tour]. A lot of big moves with some technical were included in the 12
minutes. I love long, hard fights. Of course, the Japanese style is
different from what I'm used to, and the rules are too, so I think I was
lost just a little bit. People told me it wasn't showing but still, I
know I was and being a perfectionist, it bothered me.
As for the audience, I couldn't have asked for a better reaction.
They were screaming at me every time I would hit GAMI but also, they
would applaud when I performed some nice manoeuvres or kicked out from a
big one. The thing that amazed me the most is when they started
screaming and even crying when I gave GAMI a michinoku driver onto the
Mike Altamura: Did you continue to work the gimmick of a
crazy, hardcore wrestler the entire tour, or did your character slightly
transform as your time in A to Z progressed?
LuFisto: Well, I can't really say I was all that crazy since
I couldn't do most of my moves anymore: no frankensteiner, no
headbutts... actually, I never did so many clotheslines. They were
choosing the moves I would do looking at a sheet I had given them [that
listed various moves]. They would go: 'This one, yes... No, not this
one.' It didn't really help with the character development. The only
thing that was left from the first match was me entering the ring area
with my light tubes and tacks. Sometimes, I would try to use them but
the referee constantly kept stopping me.
Mike Altamura: Could you explain how the storyline between
you and GAMI evolved in such a way that you guys actually tagged
together just weeks after the initial one-on-one contest?
LuFisto: The only explanation that would be logical is mutual
respect. I believe that our characters fought so hard in that first
match that they learned how to respect each other. They wanted us to
create a new stable, "Extreme Bloody" with Sara Del Ray. The only thing
though is that I'm the only one who had ever been part of death matches
and Sara had never bled and she didn't want to either (laughs). Damn, I
can't blame her!
Mike Altamura: On August 31st you were part of a bikini
contest. Did you have any hesitations about participating in it? Could
you explain how (if in any ways) Japanese conduct these types of
contests differently to the mainstream North American organisations?
LuFisto: Oh yes. There was no way I wanted to be part of any
bikini contest ever. But since I wasn't booked for the dojo show like
many others, they asked me if I could participate in the bikini contest
wearing Baby A's mask so there would be three Baby A's on the show.
There would be a Baby A vs. A-Baby match and me in the contest. When I
learned that the contest was a joke and that it was to laugh at WWE
Divas, I couldn't resist. One girl would dress as Trish Stratus and GAMI
would put on a lot of make up. Anyway, as I was told, GAMI always wins
So I borrowed a bikini from Tamada, a nice black plastic one. I went
to see Baby A to get her mask but she was in the same room as Hotta,
Mariko and Tamada. When they saw me, they said, 'No mask, too pweeetty.
Go and show muscles,' So well, that's what I did. Although I wasn't
really comfortable, the reaction I had was great and seeing GAMI and
Bull Fight Sora portraying the divas was so funny it was worth it.
Mike Altamura: On September 3rd, while training you injured
your knee. How did it occur?
LuFisto: We were running and climbing the ropes fast, kind of
going through a lucha libre routine with Ai Fujita. Hotta was also there
watching. Some of the stuff I knew I couldn't do because of my other bad
knee so I just didn't do them. However, I really wanted to try some
stuff anyway... even if I knew it could be dangerous since I don't have
any ACL and meniscuses left in my right knee. So I ran, jumped on the
second rope, then third where it all happened. My left knee bent the
opposite way it is supposed to and I heard a big crack and felt
something tear apart. The pain was so intense that I screamed at the top
of my lungs and passed out -- and all that happened in front of the
boss. I was so ashamed.
I went to see the physiotherapist a couple of times and it felt good
but not completely healed. He told me he couldn't feel any ACL at the
back of me knee, meaning it had been destroyed too with time. No wonder
the knee bent on the wrong side. However, I told AtoZ I would be
wrestling at the next show anyway. They then put me in a six-woman tag
to reduce my in-ring time.
Mike Altamura: Four days later you wrestled in a six-woman
tag match. How did you knee hold up during that contest? At that stage
did you believe you would be able to wrestle for the entire duration you
were scheduled to?
LuFisto: It was okay, although it felt so loose. It snapped a
few times but nothing major. Anyway, there was so much tape on that knee
that I couldn't bend it. Actually, I did wrestle a lot more than I
expected to. I started the match, fought outside and more. At that
point, I was thinking that my knee could maybe hold on... but I didn't
know for how long.
Mike Altamura: Who did you wrestle on the Mima Shimoda
retirement show on September 13? What do you remember from that night,
and was there any sense of honour in wrestling on the same night that a
Japanese wrestling legend called it a day?
LuFisto: I was in a six-woman tag again against Baby A,
Command Bolshoi, and Ofune. What I remember from that night is that I
did pretty well with my bad knee and that the reaction from the crowd
was great. Some people were even screaming my name. The large crowd was
also something amazing. It was really tough also to see Shimoda cry and
how she went back to the locker room with her former partner as all the
people were screaming her name and throwing pink streamers and as the
'Ava Maria' could be heard. I said to myself that night that if I had to
retire, which I will do eventually, I would like things to be the same
way. I was really honoured to see that with my own eyes and to perform
on the same show.
Mike Altamura: On September 22nd you re-injured your knee
while teaming with GAMI in a tag contest against Mirei and Yukari Kitao.
Do you think working outdoors, in what was described as 'freezing cold'
conditions may have made your joints more prone to aggravation? Describe
the pain you felt during and after the contest?
LuFisto: The cold weather didn't help for sure. I had
problems keeping my knee warm. Anyway, we did the match and it was going
so well, actually, it was great. But when I did my spinning heel kick to
Kitao and fell back on the mat, it snapped again, almost like the first
time. I couldn't get up. I was holding on the referee for help. I
finally got up, gave Kitao a fisherman brainbuster and a top rope leg
drop, all the while screaming like hell for the three count. Then again,
I could barely get up. I had to be escorted to the locker room by GAMI
and Sara [Del Ray]. I guess it was only a matter of time before it
snapped again. What can you do with a torn knee after all?
Mike Altamura: The following day you wrestled Leo-Na. How did
you knee feel during that match? Did you immediately know you would
inevitably have to return home?
LuFisto: I didn't run at all actually, and I really think
Leo-Na and I could have five-star matches because of our similar styles.
I'm satisfied with the match. It was short and sweet.
As for going back home, I couldn't feel my toes and the knee was
starting to turn black so I called my mom, who's a nurse, and explained
my problem. She strongly advised that if I wanted to do any sport in the
future I should go back home and see my orthopaedist as soon as possible
before it would get worse. So I told Mariko Yoshida about what my mom
had said and she admitted that, from her personal experience and because
her mom is a nurse too and that she learned a lot from her, it was safer
for me to go back home. So I did the match, and took my shower -- where
I removed the tape. The back of my knee was definitely black and we
could see some veins or whatever it was -- it was not pretty. I then
confirmed to the AtoZ people that I would prefer to go back home if it
was possible. They told me everything was fine and that they would take
care of everything. That was before they announced to me that I had to
pay to change my plane ticket back home -- the day before I was leaving.
Mike Altamura: Where do you stand with AtoZ? Would they be
interested in having you return?
LuFisto: Before I left, Mariko [Yoshida] told me that I could
come back whenever I wanted because Japanese style wrestling was really
in me and I could make great things happen in Japan. Some other girls
also asked me to come back like Leo-Na, who wants a rematch, and also
Mika Nishio who cried when I left.
However, I have to be honest with myself. With both knees in bad
shape, I don't think I can be part of big tours again. Maybe I could go
for a couple of weeks but not months. Also, I heard the company is in
major financial problems already so...
Mike Altamura: Looking back on your Japanese experience, was
there anything that surprised you?
LuFisto: The thing that really surprised me is the fact that
they had to prepare every match from... A to Z. I always thought that
you are a good wrestler when you can get in the ring and work. Japanese
prepare everything which was a bit disappointing to me. The fact that
after my first match they were choosing my every move was something I
wasn't too comfortable with either. There was such a great reaction
after the first match, why change everything? People always say that
Gaijins can't wrestle when you compare them to the Japanese -- but what
do you do when you are not allowed to work? Anyway, you do as they say
and you shut your mouth. I didn't expect to become a big star in Japan
but [I did expect] at least use my abilities to their fullest.
Mike Altamura: What were your experiences like with the fans
over in Japan? How did they differ from the North American audience?
LuFisto: The fans were great. Actually, I already got some
e-mails from them asking me to go back which is really flattering. They
are really respectful and when they like you they bring you gifts. A bit
like in Mexico. They applaud when you do nice manoeuvres, regardless if
you're babyface or heel, which is really different from North America.
Many of them would print pictures from my website so I could sign them
Mike Altamura: What's the next step from here? How often will
you be wrestling?
LuFisto: I really want to get my diploma in Multimedia
design, which I will in April. Also, I think that I won't wrestle more
than twice or three times a month. Of course, there might be some
exceptions if the bookings are really interesting.
As for wrestling itself, I don't have any special plans besides a
match I want to have with the 'King of Hardcore' Steve Charette. Before
I retire, I got to have that match -- I have many ideas for that one.
For more information on LuFisto visit her official website at www.preciouslucy.com.
Mike 'Kryptonite' Altamura is currently the only writer at SLAM!
Wrestling from the land down under - Australia. He can be contacted via
email at email@example.com