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Following Mickie James
Following Mickie James
By Zack Zeigler with photos by Eric Johnson and Rich Freeda
April 29, 2007
At Backlash 2006, Mickie James was the reigning Women's Champion. She dominated the division for the remainder of the year, showing her competition why she was worthy to wear the title. In early 2007, Mickie ran into a bump in the road in the form of Melina. Since losing the title, the former Women's Champion has been looking for her opportunity to prove she hasn't lost a step, and is still sports-entertainment's top Diva. WWE.com followed Mickie as she tried to regain the gold at Backlash. Photos...
You win some, you lose some, 8:44 p.m.
Despite her best efforts and all of her preparation, Mickie came up short in her quest to reclaim the Women's Championship. She fell to Melina in a fast-paced, technical match, leaving her obviously upset. "I don't have much to say; I'm pretty upset about the loss. I gave it my best, that's all I can say." (WATCH VIDEO of Mickie's post-match frustration)
Waiting, 8:26 p.m.
The World Tag Team Championship match is about to end. Mickie has found solace in an empty hallway nearby. She offers no more comments regarding her match. She paces quietly, stretching her arms and legs periodically as she struts up and down the hall. The bell rings, the fans cheer for The Hardys, who have just retained their titles. In less than five minutes, her music will hit and she'll head to the ring.
One last checkup, 7:24 p.m.
The time to put up or shut up is quickly creeping closer. Last minute preparations include dousing her hair with hairspray, checking her makeup one last time and a series of stretches.
Watch your back, 5:55 p.m.
Arenas have a finite amount of space. Running into a rival in the hallways or at catering is almost a guarantee unless a Diva makes it a point to remain secluded. Mickie has never allowed other people to dictate what she does. At Backlash, her nonconformity led her straight into her opponent. The staredown was intense. "Most people can be professional enough to save it for the ring." she said. "Of course, animosity does flare, but with such a small area it's impossible to contain two Divas' egos."
Mirror, mirror, 4:13 p.m.
Mickie explained that being one of the "Sexiest Women on Television leaves the pressure of looking good at all times." Although she'll inevitably be on the receiving end of some hard blows to the face, she still knows that it's important to maintain a Diva's appearance. "It's still national television that's watched by millions of people," she said, "so even if I'm going to get my makeup ruined, I still want to go out there and look beautiful. I mean, I wouldn't want to go out to the ring in my muumuu."
Learning from the past, 2:56 p.m.
After eating a late lunch at the arena's catering, Mickie watched last year's Backlash match against Trish Stratus. "Every few months it's easy to forget things you used to do, so watching old matches you can see what worked and mix that stuff into your repertoire." Paying homage to her former adversary, she admitted that some of her in-ring wherewithal came out of her rivalry with Stratus. "Trish is an amazing athlete and a great sports-entertainer. She was probably the best of her era and I learned a lot from being in the ring with her."
Arrival, 1:32 p.m.
Mickie's fans greeted her wildly as she arrived at the Philips Arena. Showing obvious favoritism toward her in her match with Melina, Mickie acknowledged how important her fan base is to her. "I was one of the fans when I was younger. Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair and of course, Sherri Martell were my all-time favorites," she said. "Since I was a fan, I know how important the fans are to the business." (WATCH VIDEO of Mickie's arrival)
Stepping up, 12:33 p.m.
Usually choosing to run the arena stairs before a match, Atlanta's weather again caused Mickie to change her routine. "I stretch and get a nice run in to keep my heart rate up," she said. "After this, I'll head to the arena to get my mind ready for the match. But, I always make sure I find a place to run."
Sense of style, 10:55 a.m.
Window-shopping at a branch of Saks Fifth Avenue, Mickie decided that today, she'd go home empty-handed. An admitted sucker for spontaneous shopping sprees, she was surprised her credit card remained unsheathed. "Every city has their own style and it's fun to find out what that unique style is," she said. "Things you buy in Atlanta you may not be able to find in Los Angeles, so it pays to explore. But nothing sucked me in today."
Putting it into drive, 10:19 a.m.
She had two tasks to complete before heading over to the arena: find a place to run and take some time out for window-shopping. In the car, she recalled an anecdote that someone told her. "I remember someone said that the people you screw over on your way to the top are the same people you'll pass on your way back down,"she said, referring to how Melina cheated to unseat her as champion. "It sucks to lose the title because you work so hard for it and then when someone like Melina cheats; it just makes me want to get it back even more."
A quick bite, 9:07 a.m.
After a quick yoga session, Mickie wandered the streets and found a roadside fruit stand. "I don't like to eat heavy on days where I have a match," she revealed. "Also, the vitamins and nutrients that fresh fruits and vegetables give opposed to processed foods are much better for the body."
Yoga time, 8:30 a.m.
After her morning workout, Mickie set out to find a studio to practice yoga. With Atlanta's temperature hovering near the mid-70s and the sun shining bright, she decided to skip the studio for an outside venue. "Yoga helps my meditation, my flexibility and keeps me in tune with myself and the earth," she said. "Spirituality means a lot to me, and I think you have to thank someone for all the gifts we receive."
Kickin' it, 7:35 a.m.
Before breakfast, Mickie got a semi-intense kickboxing workout at a local gym. The object wasn't to exhaust herself, but to keep the muscles and tendons warm before battle. "Kickboxing is kind of like what I do in the ring," she said, "You have to think on your toes and you're going hard the entire time. I'm not really good at kickboxing, but it's fun and it keeps your heart rate up."
Study break, 10:15 p.m. Saturday
To some, Saturday nights are used for letting loose. For Mickie, she used her Saturday to focus on another battle -- the classroom. Taking a break from thinking about her performance at the sold-out Philips Arena, she broke out the books and completed a few lessons out of her curriculum. "I have my associate's degree in business administration, and I'm going back to get my bachelor of arts in operations management," she said. "It's not a bad thing to have something to fall back on. You never know how long your career is going to be, whether that's due to injury or making the wrong person mad. You just don't know."
Something to prove, 8:10 p.m. Saturday
Gazing at tomorrow's venue through her hotel window, Mickie mentioned the Philips Arena represented a new challenge for her. Silencing her critics has never been a priority, but proving to herself that she's WWE's top Diva always has been. "Of course, other people's opinions have some reflection on where you stand in WWE, but I think if you please yourself, everything else just falls into place."
Landed, 7:45 p.m. Saturday
After two weeks of non-stop shows in Europe, Mickie is about to unload her suitcase yet again in a different hotel room, getting ready to sleep another night in a strange bed. Although her body and mind may be fatigued from 14 straight days of shows, her focus of reclaiming WWE gold hasn't diminished. "I've only been home for three days since Europe," she said. "I flew in Wednesday and back out again on Friday. But, holding the championship is the pinnacle in our division. That's what matters to me. There's no getting higher than that."
View photos of Mickie's entire weekend