March 11, 2006
Keibler dances to further fame
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Since The Rock left wrestling behind for the bright lights of Hollywood, WWE bosses have been obsessed with finding the next crossover star.
The goal is to find a wrestler who not only connects with grappling audiences but also hits home with the mainstream and pushes wrestling back to the forefront.
After many failed attempts to create a household name, John Cena has come closest to hitting the mark, with a top-selling rap CD and an action movie which arrives in theatres this summer. Although Cena is top dog in the wrestling world, he's hardly an icon like Hulk Hogan, the Rock or Steve Austin -- WWE's three success stories.
However, a funny thing happened while wrestling bosses were trying to build Cena into grappling's version of Eminem.
Stacy Keibler, a Raw diva who was mostly relegated to bit parts as eye candy, requested time off to shoot a TV show for ABC. Figuring it would get the company some publicity, WWE bosses granted the request and Keibler signed up for Dancing With The Stars -- an American Idol-style game show which pairs C-list celebrities with pro dancers for ballroom challenges.
Keibler, a former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, started out as a virtual unknown, overshadowed by NFL legend Jerry Rice and ex-boybander Drew Lachey. As the weeks progressed, Keibler started gaining recognition with a mainstream audience of which WWE can only dream.
The diva survived the weekly eliminations getting more face time in major publications and TV shows with each passing week.
Her girl-next-door good looks and humble attitude made her a favourite. She doesn't have the pornstar image or freakish body which often turns the mainstream off female wrestlers.
Oddsmakers had Keibler as the favourite to win but she came just short. In the final episode, Keibler was eliminated but, even in defeat, she is poised to make a bigger impact on the general public than any wrester since the People's Champ.
Insiders report Keibler has several TV and movie offers on the table and has already shot a commercial. She met with the president of ABC last week to discuss future projects and was apparently considered as the next Bond girl.
Keibler now has a genuine shot at becoming a bona fide A-list celebrity but, to do so, it will likely mean severing ties with WWE.
Her contract comes up for renewal in July, with many sources saying she won't re-sign. At WWE , the feeling is they have already lost Keibler to the entertainment business and may just buy out her contract without writing her back into the storyline.