From Glamazon to super mom: Beth Phoenix on life after WWE
Embodying power and beauty in equal measure, Beth Phoenix ruled the Divas division for half a decade, forging classic rivalries against the likes of Candice Michelle, Melina and Eve that would earn her three Women’s Championships and an impressive 204-day Divas Title reign. Her muscled frame not only garnered stand-out status in the Divas locker room, but made her an imposing physical threat to many of her male colleagues as well — in 2010 she was the second Diva in history to enter the Royal Rumble Match, and shockingly eliminated the 7-foot Great Khali in that bout.
In late 2012, Phoenix left WWE for other pursuits, spending more time with family and creating one of her own with Adam “Edge” Copeland, the WWE Hall of Famer who was coincidentally the winner of that aforementioned Royal Rumble Match. Although she’s no longer lacing up the boots or Glam Slamming opponents’ faces into the mat, she’s focusing on an entirely different kind of strength.
As Copeland filmed Syfy’s “Haven” in Nova Scotia, Canada, Phoenix sat down with WWE.com to talk about her life outside of WWE, reminisce about her favorite in-ring moments and offer some advice for WWE’s up-and-coming female competitors.
WWE.COM: First off, what have you been up to since we last saw you in a WWE ring?
BETH PHOENIX: Oh, my gosh! Life has been nuts in the last two years. I’ve been doing a lot of shuffling and moving around, and the biggest thing that’s happened is that I became a mother!
I got pregnant five or six months after I retired, and then it was off to the races! It was a complete change of gears, and I was refocusing my life on my family. That was the reason I left WWE — not to have a baby, but to spend time with family. That was just a wonderful side result of spending time at home and being with my family. That was awesome, and it’s been a big change.
WWE.COM: How does being a mom compare with your life in WWE?
BETH: It’s challenging, but in different ways. The challenge with WWE was keeping up with the schedule and trying to stay healthy and uninjured during that time. Now, with motherhood, the biggest responsibility is trying to protect this little baby and care for her and her needs. So the shift has gone from a very egocentric world to making sure that she’s okay. So it’s just a shift in your priorities. I’m learning so much about myself. That’s the biggest difference. I’d say the speed doesn’t change, but it’s just in different areas. It’s still a fast-moving life.
WWE.COM: Your daughter has a very unique name: Lyric. How did that come about?
BETH: We actually had a list of names that we were crossing off during the labor process, and “Lyric” wasn’t on our list. We had narrowed it down to about 10 over the course of the pregnancy, and I was actually going through contractions as we were crossing names off the list, because we wanted to wait until she was born to really decide on a name.
Mid-contraction, Adam said to me, “What do you think of ‘Lyric’?” And I was like “Great, great, great! Write it down!” He had it in the back of his head but it hadn’t come out on our list until that moment. We had the baby, and in recovery we were talking about it and thought, “Gosh, it’s finally time to decide on a name!” We had narrowed it down to three or four, and we looked at her and we said, “You’re Lyric! You’re definitely a Lyric!” It was a last-minute, gameday decision.
WWE.COM: When was she born?
BETH: December 12. I was in labor for a few days before that. We were in the hospital for three days, so it was a process. She was comfy in there! I was actually two weeks late, so she’s a tough one. But it was the most amazing experience of my life thus far.
Next: Phoenix on entering WWE and “Glamarella”
WWE.COM: Let’s take things back to 2006. You’d been training at WWE’s developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling [OVW], but you appeared on Raw that May as Trish Stratus’ ally. What kind of advice did Trish give you?
BETH: Trish was awesome. I had bumped into her a couple of times when I was working my way on the independent circuit, and I was quite intimidated by her, to be honest. She was very forward with her question. She asked me, “What makes you want to do this? What do you think of girls who came from a modeling background?” She was one of those people who saw potential in me from the beginning. Unfortunately, the way it worked out, I was coming in as she was getting ready to retire. So we didn’t really get to cross paths all that much aside from some fun little one-off matches. But she was somebody that imparted a lot of awesome advice.
I distinctly remember one piece of advice she gave me that was helpful throughout my entire career. And that was to say “thank you.” She taught me that it was okay to accept successes, to take compliments, to appreciate them and not be mousy when it comes to that stuff. Her confidence had a big impact on me coming in and learning the ropes, so to speak.
WWE.COM: You went on to have success as both a villain and as a fan favorite. Which was more enjoyable?
BETH: I always enjoyed being a villain more, probably because you get to do and say a lot of things you wouldn’t do in real life. And I felt like given what my physique and personality was, it kind of fit that way. I remember having interesting aspirations coming in. I wanted little girls looking up to me like they looked up to Trish, and my role was quite different. I remember when I was pushing Santino [Marella] around and kids were afraid of me. They didn’t want my autograph or anything. I would walk down the aisle and they would back up and be afraid to stick their hands out. I remember thinking, “Oh, no! That’s the opposite of what I wanted!” But then I would see Mickie [James] or Candice come out and see all of the kids clamoring for them, and I thought, “Okay, I’m doing my side of the job.”
WWE.COM: As scary as you were in those early days, you did get to flex some comedic muscle with Santino.
I’m sure nobody noticed this, but when we would come out and I would do my pose and be very stoic, he would sometimes grab my arm when I didn’t expect it, and just like Gomez and Morticia Addams, he would corn-on-the-cob nibble at my arm. I remember being aghast the first time he did it. He would always do things like that to catch me off-guard. That was a huge part of Santino’s appeal; you just never knew what was coming.
Next: Hitting the road with Natalya
WWE.COM: In 2011, you tore through the Divas division with Natalya. What was your relationship like before that pairing, and how did it change things after that?
BETH: What’s funny is that Nattie and I were friends back when I was [in OVW]. We were so similar! We stayed in touch, but went our separate ways. She was on SmackDown and I was on Raw. We were doing different things, but we were always so close in the back. We went through a lot together, and we’re definitely friends outside of the ring. Nobody could make me laugh like she did.
We had been pitching and pitching to wrestle each other. Nobody can touch Nattie in the ring. She is by far the best female wrestler that, possibly, WWE has ever had. We had been begging and begging and begging, but then it kind of became this organic thing where they just put us together and boom. We got matching outfits and shoulder pads, and decided we were going to be like mini L.O.D. It felt really natural.
Some of my fondest memories were getting to tag with her. Because we traveled together so much before that, and now we got to travel and work together. It was probably the most fun time.
WWE.COM: Do you have a favorite memory from your time with Natalya?
WWE.COM: These days, Natalya gets involved in a lot of “Total Divas” drama. What was it like traveling with her?
BETH: We would go to convenience stores at three o’clock in the morning dressed in stilettos, makeup and with our hair done, and we were sticking out like sore thumbs in Mobile, Ala. We would always go to pay, and then Nattie would begin dropping this crazy story about how I was engaged and tomorrow was my wedding, and we’re trying to get there and it was my third, fourth or fifth marriage, and I was getting married in my father’s basement. She would rattle from the top of her head the most obscene, crazy story. It was hilarious. And of course, I would just let her go and play along, adding a very serious note here or there, but she could just go off.
WWE.COM: That must have turned heads …
BETH: We always had convenience store clerks looking at us with the most befuddled faces – like, “What is going on with you guys?” And a lot of the time, we would come away with some free stuff because she would confuse them so much and they would want us out of there. But the way we would entertain ourselves on long trips was always interesting.
We were trying to get some other things going. These were adventures that we would actually have on our own. That’s why I think Nattie is such a great fit for “Total Divas,” because I always thought our lives behind the scenes should have been on camera.
Next: The coolest Glam Slam of all time
WWE.COM: When you ask a Diva who her favorite opponents are, your name almost always shows up at the top of their lists. Why do you think that is?
BETH: I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that no matter what you thought of me as a person, if we were friends or acquaintances or peers, I loved what I did out there and I loved putting on a show-stealing match. I know that was not always the easiest thing for the girls to do because we weren’t always at the best spot in the card but no matter what we were given, I always wanted to go out there and give everything we could. It didn’t always make me friends. But love me or hate me, you got the best of me and the best I could give. I love my matches and I love my opponents.
WWE.COM: Was your match with Natalya in Buffalo your favorite?
BETH: I have three different favorite matches, in no particular order. One was the very first match I had with Candice Michelle at Unforgiven 2007 — the one where I didn’t win the title. It was my debut even if it wasn’t my [actual] debut. It was where people really began to take notice. Even the company started to look at me a little differently. Then there was my match with Nattie, of course – there wasn’t one second of that match I would change – and then the other one was with Eve at Madison Square Garden [at Survivor Series 2011].
WWE.COM: Where you hit Eve with the Glam Slam off the top rope?
BETH: Yeah, if I was going to get a WrestleMania moment, that was it — it just wasn’t at WrestleMania. It was at MSG with the most spine-tingling crowd I can ever remember, and it was something I knew I would only do once ever and I knew I would only do once ever because everyone was pretty shocked by it. And I got to have that moment with one of my favorite opponents of all time, and somebody that was just fantastic in and out of the ring. And Nattie was there with me too [at ringside] in that moment. So it was very memorable, and all three of those matches were very special to me. Outside of the Royal Rumble, those were my career highlights.
BETH: I think the biggest thing for me was that it was one of those moments where I was like, “Okay, this is why I got into wrestling.” I wanted to be a female like Chyna, who broke boundaries and did things that were really special. And you know, just somebody that stood out. This was my moment. Like that Glam Slam, it was one of those moments in your life that you just treasure, and I knew it was going to be over fast. I needed to take a few breaths while I was out there and just inhale it. Because I knew it was something that would change my life and really satisfy some of those dreams that I had as a little girl.
Next: Advice for upcoming Divas and a potential Glamazon return
WWE.COM: Have you been keeping up with the Divas division?
BETH: I definitely am proud of all the work the girls have been doing. I know there are a whole bunch of new girls in NXT that are waiting to get their opportunity; they have a great trainer down there in Sara Amato, so I mean there’s so much potential for the future. You’ve got Naomi, who’s champing at the bit to get her moment. She’s somebody who could definitely pull it off when she gets that brass ring, so to speak. I send my well wishes to everybody, but my focus right now is this little Diva who’s pulling at my leg. And she’s very demanding.
WWE.COM: Do you have any advice for the current crop of Divas in NXT?
BETH: I guess the only advice I could give is to keep your eyes and ears open, but don’t necessarily keep your mouth shut. Don’t give anybody a reason to second-guess you. Be ready for your opportunity when it comes.
When I was in developmental, the status quo was to be like Trish. But I was like, “You already have a Trish. You don’t need another Trish.” I wanted to be the first me.
WWE.COM: Is there anything you would have done differently?
BETH: I would have done it all exactly the same because, otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m satisfied with the things I’ve accomplished and the things that I’ve seen and all of the wonderful friends and family that wrestling gave me. I have my family because of WWE, so I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve become a much stronger, well-rounded person because of my time as a Diva. I’m very proud of my life and what the future holds.
WWE.COM: Speaking of the future, is there any chance of a Beth Phoenix return at some point?
BETH: Hey, I would say there’s always a chance. Never say never. I can’t tell you what tomorrow brings, let alone next year. But I’m physically capable and it’s always possible.
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