February 9, 2007
Christy Hemme ready to hit the ring
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
To say the last two years have been a roller coaster ride for Christy Hemme would be an understatement. The winner of the inaugural WWE Diva Search, Hemme now is a part of TNA, and will make her in-ring debut with the company this Sunday at Against All Odds.
"I have no idea who my opponent is and nobody has even said it's in the women's division. I can only hope my efforts are moving towards that direction. I am a little concerned about what this match is going to be, but either way I am happy about this opportunity and I am going in with a strong mind, heart and determination," Hemme told reporters in a recent TNA conference call.
No longer a "Diva" Hemme takes her role as a "TNA Knockout" seriously. Her enthusiasm and desire is what motivates her to continue in the business.
"Wrestling has always been something that I have loved since I was a child. For me personally it is something I can excel in because I have a big personality and am dramatically over the top with my energy. I am also an extremely active, outgoing person so I get to be energetic and happy but at the same time I get to be part of the action and that is extremely appealing to me."
Like most TNA employees, Hemme had a great deal of praise for her current home.
"It's been great so far. I came to this company knowing that it was the right place that I wanted to be in and get involved. Dealing with the people involved with it, I am really happy to be in a company that is so positive and moving in such a great direction for me personally," she said. "For us backstage it is a completely different mentality from the WWE because we do have a woman boss in Dixie Carter and a completely different respect level. Some of the things that happen on the road in WWE just wouldn't happen in TNA. It is very appealing for to know that I was always safe in how the women are treated."
While the WWE launched her career, Hemme was honest in her unhappiness with the company prior to and since her release on December 5, 2005. She noted the difference in the locker room as the major positive.
"I don't feel like I am walking on eggshells around people. It's a very relaxed situation and there is a lot of camaraderie between the people that are backstage and everyone fighting for the same goal. We are hungry not just for ourselves but for a company. It is a really great feeling to work for something instead of against something. The WWE is so established it is almost like preached to try and outdo each other. I don't work well with people and situations like that. I felt like I was sinking. In this situation I feel like I am always sitting on top and trying to do more and work harder."
While there are many great female wrestlers around the world, the WWE has received criticism for hiring women through the Diva search process, mostly models with no past knowledge or history in the business.
"I think that I am happy that I am not in a place that will ever allow (untrained women) that to happen. I don't think TNA would ever let a women's division happen if they weren't confident that the girls were actually competing and were trained. Even though I came in through the Diva search and my first match I had almost zero training going into it and was such a novelty act. I can't respect something like that, it's not that I don't respect the people who are in it or trying for it but it should be serious business. It's wrestling. A woman's division needs to be serious and not just a joke."
Hemme did get her opportunity through the contest however, and has worked hard to erase the stigma. She also talked about one of the most famous Diva-search moments, a "Diss The Diva" contest that saw a majority of what the contestants say bleeped out.
"I think I will always have the 'Diva Search Winner' part of that attached to my name. It isn't something that I regret or don't like. I don't wish I came in a different way. I have that hurdle to get over but it makes my skin thicker in trying to get over that. As for the diss contest, I think they wanted us to do it. They pushed having us do as much as we possibly could. When we took it to that level of us saying whatever we wanted, they were like 'woah we can't do that again' but secretly they were like 'yes! We got it' because everyone was talking about it."
While Hemme has been in the ring for several events around the world, in TNA she has spent her time hosting Global Impact and going to commercial breaks for impact. Her role changes significantly with this Sunday's show. Hemme has been working very hard preparing for the match, having spent the last year training constantly, including in the Los Angeles Inoki Dojo and with Scott D'Amore.
"I have trained with a lot of different people and getting an idea of everyone's different idea of what wrestling is. There are so many different ways you can train, and I have trained in lucha and the Japanese and American styles, taken bits and pieces of what I like and works for me best and turned it into what I want to do. I've been pretty patient for almost a year now to get into the ring, because that is the thing I wanted to do most and why I train so much. To be getting the chance to make my debut is really exciting for me. . I am feeling extremely prepared for the match. All I want to do is get out of that tunnel and down to the ring."
The match has stemmed from a war of words with Kip James. What will Hemme do if James ends up being her opponent?
"I would try and beat the hell out of him. I wouldn't back down from trying to win just because my opponent was a guy," she said. She expanded on her thoughts on the feud, which is a very personal one. "It is a difficult storyline because it is really close to home for me. It's not really a storyline, I am reacting naturally to what is in front of my face. Those first couple of weeks were tough because the feelings came back to everything I have been through in the wrestling business, not being able to stand my own ground and being pushed down. I was working through a lot of emotions and it was an old sore opening up about past issues. Everything hit a wall and I knew exactly what I want to do and I don't have anything to lose. All I want to do is get in the ring and fight for what I want to do. I don't care whose going to try and stop me. At this point whatever anybody else has to say about it doesn't matter to me."
"At this point I would love to just see a women's division grow. As a base we've got some really good contenders, Gail Kim and Miss Tennesse and Traci Brooks are all great wrestlers so I would like to wrestle them first. I want to face Gail because she stirred up a lot of commotion in the past year or so. If anybody that wanted to be part of the TNA family and is a good wrestler, I would love them to come in. I don't want women to ever feel like they are being degraded or shown in a negative light. I think that over many years in wrestling that has always been the case. TNA isn't even an alternative product it's a completely different brand. We are building a different class of women and a different light they will be shown in."
The role of women in wrestling is constantly changing. TNA is entering their own era with several talented ladies ready to be showcased. Hemme is excited to be a part of it and is looking forward to a long future in TNA.
"It has evolved greatly, even in the past five years it has gone from a woman here and there as a valet to whole divisions of women that are wrestling. I think it has definitely been a positive thing. In WWE it was an up and downhill battle because once a woman gets too good they get brought back down. In TNA it is going to be a nice, natural progression that will not be knocked down in any way. It's a good direction for me to be in."
Jason Clevett is now a certified veteran of the TNA conference call, and can press buttons with the best of them. In fact, he's getting so good that he is considering going on Jeopardy just because of his button skills. Email him your advice at email@example.com.