Lita riding wave of popularity
By STEPHEN LAROCHE --
Lita at the Molson-WWF press conference. -- Stephen Laroche, CANOE
World Wrestling Federation superstar Lita may be new to the world of sports entertainment, but she has become a popular figure within a short period of time.
The WWF diva made her first of many appearances during a whirlwind Canadian tour at a press conference announcing the promotional partnership between the WWF and Molson Breweries. She will be making a number of television appearances, including Open Mike with Mike Bullard and TSN's Off the Record, and appeared happy to spend more time than usual in Canada.
"This my first time in Canada where I've had more than 24 hours in and out," she told SLAM! Wrestling. "I'm looking forward to it, and this has actually been a lot of fun. I'm talking to a lot of different people and getting different perspectives on things. I'm looking forward to doing the TV shows."
Lita, born Amy Dumas on April 14, 1975 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, did not consider wrestling as a career option until catching Mexican wrestling on television a few years ago. She saved enough money to head to Mexico in 1998 and persuaded the promoters to let her participate in a managerial role. She went back home to raise some more money and returned to Mexico to be trained.
Returning to the U.S. once again, she briefly trained at the Steel Domain in Chicago. From there, Lita decided to try things out on the independent wrestling scene. While with NWA Mid-Atlantic, she met the Hardy Boyz who offered her the chance to train with them.
In early 1999, Lita was approached by Paul Heyman to work with Extreme Championship Wrestling as a valet only. Then known as Angelica, she quickly became dissatisfied with role and Rob Van Dam
introduced her to Dory Funk, Jr. Funk was impressed with her and offered her the chance to train at the Funking Conservatory.
After graduating from Funk's school in August 1999, the wrestling legend and his wife sent a compilation tape of her matches to WWF Talent Relations. She was offered a contract without a tryout match and worked her first dark match with Essa Rios and made her first pay-per-view appearance on April 30, 2000 at Backlash
Later on, Lita would hook up with her friends the Hardy Boyz and rise to new heights in the WWF. Her popularity increased greatly and she engaged in a feud with Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, taking the women's title on August 31, 2000.
"I loved it, it was awesome," she said of the match.
Despite losing the title to Ivory
a couple of months later, Lita moved into a storyline where she became the object of Dean Malenko's affection which is still continuing.
The recent uncertainty as to the status of former employer ECW came as no surprise to Lita. She seemed quite upset with the situation and wishes the best for her former co-workers.
"I'm not surprised," she said. "I feel most for the people in the locker room, the other boys -- girls included -- because they pour 100 per cent heart and soul into that company and really get nothing except for their own self-satisfaction. And for that, I feel for them. Their schedules are really tentative, lots of people have other jobs because they never know where they're going to be working. I don't want to call them because I kind of like, 'I'm doing great, how about you?' I hate it. I wish everyone could be doing this."
Lita is looking forward to working with new WWF signees P.J. Walker (Justin Credible
), Jerry Lynn
. However, there is some other ECW talent she would like to see in the WWF, including an old nemesis.
"I would love them to get Jazz up there," she said. "I think she'd add a lot to the women's stuff that we're doing now. I love working with her, she's really solid. I think she'd add a lot. I'd love Joey Matthews and Christian York to be here as well."
One of Lita's goals in wrestling is to work in Japan. She is quite impressed with the Japanese style and looks forward to working there some day.
"I've been watching some tapes, and I'm going 'daaaamn' when I see that," she laughed. "They get me with those false finishes every time and think certainly that's the end -- boom! -- they kick out and I'm going 'Whoa, that is one tough bitch!'"
Lita believes the difference between women's wrestling in North America and Japan is like "night and day." She had the chance to wrestle there before heading to the WWF but feels she made the right decision.
"Actually, I was going to go over with ECW right as I got signed by the WWF and there was kind of a discrepancy in time and who was my official boss. It was going to be me and Jazz going over there as a tag team against two of the Japanese girls. I was really fired up about that, but even more fired up about starting my new career with the WWF," said Lita.
Wrestling fans are now able to buy merchandise with Lita's picture on it, and she is incredibly proud of the products which bear her name and image. Her first action figure is available through Jakks Pacific, who make WWF action figures, as a mail-in promotion.
"I love it," she said. "I love everything that we have that I'm going to have forever. The T-shirt, I love it. We saw the prototype and in fact, they weren't even sure it was going to come into being. I had it in my hand, and I'll always have this forever. I keep as much as I can, but it's so hard. Stuff is out that I don't even know about and I get everything I can. I've never been a pack rat, but I was so passionate about this I want to keep everything I can get my hands on."
The young superstar believes she has a bright future in wrestling, and feels women's wrestling needs to take some new direction to gain credibility with fans.
"What I really feel would help a lot is if all of the women right now went up to the (Funking) Dojo and they do this a lot in other schools, to go in and they'll have two or three minutes matches of shoot fighting drills," she said. "It helps so much because you have to be physical because we're so used to working with our opponents. You're there to make them tap or get them down. It makes you feel that contact and be able to keep going and keep focussed and give you that contact that you need. I feel that the girls, myself included, get used to each other. Granted, everybody knows we're allowing each other to do this to each other, it's choreographed, but at the same time we all get hit a lot harder than it looks sometimes. I feel the girls need to get hit a lot harder than we are hitting each other. I think mat wrestling would help us tremendously."
Mar. 2001: Hardys pumped for WrestleMania
Nov. 2000: Jeff Hardy: Slowing down at 23