Where Are They Now?: Francine
It’s hard to imagine Francine as anything other than the sultry head cheerleader of ECW’s Triple Threat. But the woman once dubbed The Queen of Extreme always dreamed of a life much different than the one she led as ECW’s greatest female villain.
“My goal in life was always to become a mother,” she told WWE.com.
Though her journey to motherhood took a slight detour through the land of barbed wire, steel chairs and flaming tables, the bombshell is now mother to two beautiful children.
Growing up in Philadelphia, she rarely watched wrestling, only catching it if her nephews had it on. However, Francine admitted she caught the wrestling bug in her late teens, becoming a huge fan of WWE, attending many live events at the legendary Spectrum.
“My ultimate favorite was Shawn Michaels,” she said. “I thought he was the total package. I loved when he was with Sherri Martel. I thought they were the greatest pair ever.”
Francine eventually found herself working at a life insurance company and in dire need of a change.
“I absolutely hated it,” she said. “I was confined to a cubicle and didn’t have a window to look out of. It was a horrible experience.”
The inspiration to do something different came from the most unlikely of sources.
“I remember one night, I was watching a program called ECW on SportsChannel Philadelphia,” she recalled. “I didn’t know any of the wrestlers or anything about the sport. All I knew was that I hated my job. A commercial came on that said, ‘Would you like to be a professional wrestler, a valet or a referee? Call this number.’ I wrote it down and said, ‘I think I can do that!’”
She called the number and made an appointment to meet with Tod Gordon at the infamous bingo hall-turned-wrestling mecca, the ECW Arena. After training with JT Smith, Francine got her first taste of ECW action in 1994, when she portrayed Miss Montgomeryville, a local beauty pageant winner serving as guest timekeeper until she ran into the monstrous 911, who took her out with a giant chokeslam. It was a whirlwind experience for a newcomer to the industry.
“I remember being scared, but Paul [Heyman] was very happy with me afterward,” she said. “At that point, I was like, ‘This is really cool.’ I had this rush of adrenaline and said, ‘I think I want to do this.’”
Francine kept training for another year, until she was made a full-time member of the ECW roster. She debuted on television as the obsessed fan/girlfriend of Stevie Richards, dressing like the lackey to Raven and holding up signs for him in the crowd.
“It was a lot of fun,” she explained. “It was funny to see myself in that light, but it was also great to be playing a different character.”
Francine soon ditched Richards to become the leather-clad valet for the monstrous duo known as The Pitbulls. However, she shined brightest in ECW after turning on the rabid duo to join forces with “The Franchise” Shane Douglas. It was the perfect pairing, as Douglas was the overconfident jock type that needed an extreme beauty, a “head cheerleader,” by his side.
“It was really believable,” Francine said of her pairing with Douglas. “Fans always thought we were together when we never were. We had a really good chemistry and worked well together. Shane was like a big brother to me. He taught me a lot about the business.”
During her time in ECW, Francine took part in many of the company’s biggest moments, including their first foray into pay-per-view, Barely Legal. Though she had been in wrestling for a few years by April 1997, she still had a few pre-show jitters before the landmark event. The “Queen of Extreme” still vividly remembers how the man who put it all together helped her relax.
“Paul Heyman was so busy that day; there was so much going on,” Francine explained. “He saw that I was nervous and he took the time to sit with me and try to calm me down. He didn’t have to do that for me. I’ll never forget that about him. He was a boss, but he was a friend.”
Though it seems unusual for a promotion that was home to a litany of surly characters like The Sandman, The Dudley Boyz, New Jack and others, that feeling of friendship is the biggest memory Francine has of her time in ECW.
“We were a family,” she told WWE.com. “I worked for a lot of organizations and never had the feeling that I had with ECW. Everybody genuinely cared for each other. It was extremely special.”
Francine remained with ECW until the company closed in 2001. She traveled the independents for several years and even made a surprise appearance at One Night Stand 2005 to interfere in the main event. She also signed on with WWE when the company relaunched ECW in 2006.
After leaving WWE, Francine continued to work on the independents. She got married in 2008 and continued keeping a busy wrestling schedule until 2009, when she became pregnant with her first child. Her life was never the same after that.
“There’s no better thing than hearing your children say the word ‘mommy,’” she said. “This is what I’m meant to be. It took a little while, but I got my dream.”
Francine is the proud stay-at-home mom of a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, who keep her very busy. A self-professed homebody, she’s quick to point out that The Queen of Extreme who fans remember is nothing like therealFrancine.
“I’m the complete opposite of what you saw on TV,” she said. “That was totally not me.”
Aside from several recent wrestling conventions where she caught up with some ECW alumni, Francine is out of the wrestling business. Though she and her husband squeeze in a few date nights here and there, The Queen of Extreme is 100 percent dedicated to her kids. She once dealt with nervousness over performing on live pay-per-view, but today, Francine is getting ready to deal with sending her youngest child off to pre-school.
“I have a little bit of anxiety about him leaving me,” she joked. “But I think I’ll be okay.”
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a very charmed, blessed life,” Francine said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”