Success So Sweet for Candy-Coated Champion

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July 24, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If you think Candice Michelle has been living the high life since winning the Women's Championship, think again.

After Raw on Monday night, the beautiful former GoDaddy girl was in front of a mirror, but she wasn't primping. With her Women's Championship draped over her shoulder, she brushed her blonde-streaked brown locks away her face and inspected her slightly bruised arms… and smiled.

"They're battle wounds, and in a weird way, I'm proud of them," Candice said. "They say that I'm defending myself, and I'm going to stay champion."

Wearing her battle wounds like badges of honor is just part of the overall metamorphosis of Candice Michelle. Our fans and WWE Superstars and Divas began to notice her transformation months ago when she started a winning streak that ultimately led to the Women's Championship. Candice's championship victory over Melina and subsequent successful defense against the A-list Diva at The Great American Bash have given observers no choice but to accept her as a bona fide champion. Initially dismissed as more eye candy than serious in-ring competitor, we have seen a new, more dedicated and focused Candice Michelle.

"I really live, eat and breathe wrestling," she said. "Literally from the time I arrive at Raw [on Mondays] to the time I leave the arena, I'm thinking about what I could have done, what I should have done, what new moves I could learn in the ring, how I could change my outfit -- just constantly thinking about it. Some have asked if it's harder pursuing the champion than staying the champion. I'd say it's definitely harder to stay the champ. At the same time, it's been such an exciting time. I'm just loving what I'm doing."

Of course, Candice might not have felt that way going into Monday night's "Champions Only" Match, especially when acting Raw GM Jonathan Coachman maneuvered her and WWE Champion John Cena into facing World Tag Team Champions Cade & Murdoch, plus the savage Intercontinental Champion Umaga.

"Personally, I don't think that was my fight to fight. Coach apparently saw it differently," she said. "If he had a problem with Cena, he should have taken it out on Cena, not me. Besides, I know I've still got a lot to learn, and no one can just teach you how to stop a monster like Umaga when he's charging toward you. I don't know if Jeff [Hardy] saw that I was in trouble or if he just wanted another opportunity at Umaga, but I'm real glad that he came to my rescue."

It would have been easy for Candice to want to bask in the glory of winning the Women's Championship and rest on her laurels. But that hasn't happened. She is constantly training in the gym and working on new maneuvers in the ring. Winning the gold has made her more determined to hold on to her championship and forge her own legacy in sports-entertainment.

"I've felt such happiness in achieving my dream," Candice said. "But at the same time that vision has really been broadened to staying on top and making my mark in the business. I'm working on that now."

However, though Candice the WWE Diva has evolved, she is still the same girl who came from humble beginnings in Milwaukee. Fame didn't keep the Women's Champion from attending her 10-year high school reunion recently.

"In my mind, I don't see myself as a celebrity," Candice said. "People thought, ‘Oh, she's not going to come.' But this is where I come from; these are the people I grew up with. Of course, I'm going to come. … I don't forget where I came from and who I am, because without that, I would have never made it to the top."

Candice says no matter what she achieves in sports-entertainment or how much fame she attains, her roots will always keep her grounded.

"When I moved out to L.A., the first thing I promised myself is that I would never sell myself short and I would never be somebody who I wasn't.," she said. "Where I come from is a big part of who I am."

With each successful championship defense, with each new lesson learned in the ring, Candice Michelle is gaining more confidence. She also hopes she is earning more respect, especially from our fans. She wants everyone to believe she is committed, heart and soul, to becoming one of the greatest Women's Champions ever.

"Slowly but surely I think I'm gaining the respect of our fans," she said, massaging her championship. "At minimum, they can see that I'm dedicated, that I'm training and that I'm learning; that I am here because I want to be here, not because I want to be a movie star. Hopefully, they appreciate all the hard work I am putting in to give my all for them in the ring."

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