Where Are They Now? Alundra Blayze
It was a cold night in December of 1995 when Alundra Blayze walked out in front of a capacity crowd in Georgia's Richmond County Civic Center with the WWE Women's Championship in her hands. The reaction was tremendous, but that wasn't surprising. After all, the woman born Debrah Miceli was enjoying her third run with the title and had been performing in front of huge audiences with WWE for the past three years.
Only, tonight, something was different. This wasn't a WWE show — it was World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro — and the Minnesota native was about to do something that fans of sports-entertainment would never forget. (PHOTOS)
Live on cable television, Miceli denounced the name Alundra Blayze. And then she picked up a garbage can and dropped the WWE Women's Championship into the trash. Both shocking and groundbreaking, the act was one of the first salvos of the infamous "Monday Night Wars" and a controversial moment which is still debated today.
Fifteen years later, Miceli candidly discussed the infamous scene with WWE.com
"The longest running question to this day is why in the hell did you throw the title in the trash can?" Miceli said. "Well, I was under contract and [former WCW President] Eric Bischoff told me to do it. It was either that or I was out the door.'"
Caught in the middle of the brewing ratings battle between WWE and WCW, Miceli, who had just left WWE on good terms, went through with the stunt and found herself the target of serious backlash. An injustice, Miceli believed, that only fell on her because of her gender.
"If I was a guy I would've been on the cover of every magazine," Miceli said. "Because I was a woman, I was called a disgrace to the business. That's the truth."
That this has become the most famous moment in Miceli's career is unfortunate. In nearly two decades in the ring, the fiercely independent performer carved out distinction in both Japan and the United States as one of the most successful female wrestlers of all time. And it all started, as it often does, from humble beginnings.
Growing up in foster homes in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, Miceli learned to be tough and self-sufficient at a young age. As she grew, the self-proclaimed jock blossomed into a striking beauty with long legs and a fast smile. It was this rare mix of athleticism and grace that caught the attention of a Hollywood stuntman who suggested Miceli try sports-entertainment.
"When he said pro wrestling I said, 'Hell no!'"
Miceli took some convincing, but eventually agreed to meet with noted trainer Ed Sharkey who persuaded her to give grappling a shot. Leaving behind her well-paying job as a nurse, she began the thankless task of breaking into the business.
"My first match was in a bar getting the snot kicked out of me," Miceli said. "I was wrestling for nothing and then, finally, I was wrestling for five bucks a match."
Quickly burning through her savings account, Miceli dedicated herself to the long hours of driving to small towns and the rough nights of sleeping in cramped motels with five or six other competitors. Times were tough, but Miceli refused to quit.
"I don't give up," Miceli said. "I will work down to bloody knuckles. Whatever it takes."
Her dedication paid off in 1986 when WWE Hall of Famer Verne Gagne tapped the young talent to join his popular American Wrestling Association. The opportunity was Miceli's first big break, but not everyone was happy for the competitor then known as Madusa.
"They hated me because I worked out and wore these damn outfits," Miceli remembered.
In an era when female competitors weren't particularly athletic or beautiful, Miceli stood out in the locker room. Tanned and blonde with revealing ring attire, she quickly proved unpopular with grizzled veterans like Fabulous Moolah and Sherri Martel who had entered sports-entertainment in a different era.
Martel expressed her dislike early and gave Miceli a vicious beating in her debut match with AWA.
"She stretched me from one pole to another," Miceli said. "But it ignited something in me and I said, 'I'm going to change this business.'"
More determined than ever, she would go on to win the AWA Women's Championship in 1987 and soon captured the attention of All Japan Pro Wrestling. One of the largest promotions in Asia, AJPW was renowned for their amazing women's division and selected Miceli to be the sole American woman competing in their company. Leaving behind her Midwestern roots, Miceli set off for Tokyo for a three-year stretch that would change her life.
"I lived on a double-decker Mercedes bus, traveled all over Japan," Miceli said. "We're talking tons of matches. It was frickin' awesome."
Battling international standouts like Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka on a nightly basis, Miceli's talents rapidly developed. At the same time, her popularity exploded and she became a minor celebrity in the Far East.
"I can't sing, but I was giving concerts in Japan," Miceli said with a laugh. "I had my own CD!"
When she wasn't in the ring — or on stage — Miceli was training in the brutal dojos of All Japan and began incorporating martials arts like kickboxing into her offense. When she returned to the United States in 1991, she brought these specialized skills with her.
"I didn't want to be another chick that pranced around," Miceli said. "I wanted to deliver."
In the early '90s, Miceli briefly competed in independent promotions and WCW before making the move to WWE in 1993. Taking on the name Alundra Blayze, Miceli immediately set about restoring credibility to WWE's stagnant Women's Division, which had been inactive for some time. After winning the Women's Championship in a tournament that same year, she entered into a brutal rivalry with a bizarre Japanese competitor named Bull Nakano.
"Her and I rocked the house," Miceli said. "Dude, we wrestled like guys! It was awesome."
Other tough opponents would follow, including the intimidating Aja Kong and a near-300-pound powerhouse named Bertha Faye. Fiercely battling these monsters, Miceli would begin to raise the bar for women's wrestling North America. All in all, she won the Women's Championship on three occasions during her two years with WWE and performed at major events like SummerSlam and Survivor Series. But, in spite of her success, Miceli was released from her contract during a dry financial period in 1995.
"There wasn't any animosity," Miceli admitted. "We just went our separate ways, but I was still champion."
Almost immediately, she was scooped up by World Championship Wrestling.
"They really dug my wrestling," Miceli said. "There was a lot of talk and promises."
Throwing the Women's Championship in the trash would be just the beginning of a wild ride in the crumbling empire that was WCW. Few people knew it at the time, but Rome was about to burn and Miceli was going to be right in the middle of the fire.
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