When did you decide you wanted to be a Pro Wrestler?
I was eight years old! That’s when I started watching wrestling, and I fell in love with it immediately! Wrestling was and has been my obsession in life from that point on. It didn’t take long at all for me to make up my mind that professional wrestling is what I wanted to do with my life.
Who were your favorites growing up?
When I was young and in my first several years as a fan, I was a starry-eyed kid who loved all the classic good guys of the eighties—but Brutus Beefcake was my favorite. I can’t really say it was one or two specific things that made him my favorite over the other wrestlers; it was just the overall impression he had on me that stuck. I was into his outfits, his persona, even his ring music! As I got older and into my teens, I found myself starting to appreciate wrestlers more on a technical level, paying closer attention to their techniques and skill in the ring, how they walked, talked, etc. I became a fan of Shawn Michaels, Curt Hening, Ted DiBiase, Bret Hart…it’s hard to pick one. At that point in time I was mesmerized by so many different wrestlers and styles, I really didn’t have ONE favorite. It was all wrestling, and I loved it.
My family has been incredibly supportive of me from day one. To be honest, I don’t think my parents truly believed I was ever going to BE a wrestler. They knew I WANTED to be. I had big dreams, and again I was definitely a starry-eyed kid, but I think that could be said about most children at that age. My parents knew and understood my love for wrestling more than anybody; after all, they were the ones buying the tickets to shows, tapes, posters, books, magazines, action figures and who knows what else. But I don’t think they really believed it would all end up working out, simply because many times life takes you in other directions. When I did break into the business, they were happy and excited for me, especially once I began wrestling. They come to as many shows as possible to see me in the ring. My dad also sends his friends and some family members the pictures, videos and articles about me that he finds or sees online. They’re very proud of me, which is an amazing and great feeling. I know how lucky I am!
Where did you train and what was it like?
My training was non-traditional in so many ways. I didn’t attend one school, I didn’t have a “class” that I was part of. I was trained by Shorty Smalls, who I had met at a show I attended as a fan in 1997. We kept in touch, and he learned of my love for wrestling and desire to be part of it someday. Eventually he began training me the following year, but since he wasn’t affiliated with one specific school or promotion at the time, we would train wherever possible, before shows or at schools that were somewhat local. Training was both difficult and easy for me. Not having one set location made it a bit more of a challenge than it would’ve been otherwise, because I didn’t have a set training schedule. Since we were training as frequently as we could, but also wherever we could, I couldn’t waste time with any mental or physical delays. It didn’t matter how tired I was, how stiff the ring may or may not have been, or how frustrated I may have been at myself when I couldn’t get something right. I had to be able and ready to just get in there and go. However that also helped too, because I knew that I could potentially be comfortable in so many different settings and environments, even if something was short notice. This really came into play the night of my first match, when I became booked about an hour before bell time due to a girl cancelling that afternoon. The training itself was difficult, of course, because you’re beating up your body so badly trying to learn things and doing reps over and over. I tend to pick things up somewhat quickly, but I’m human and ran into problems with some things, so I had to do my best to stay mentally tough as well, and not get too frustrated or impatient with myself. I can honestly say I think being a wrestling fan for so long helped me in training because I was already familiar with the moves, the holds, their names, what their purpose was; I wasn’t coming into training completely clueless. The fact that wrestling was my love didn’t hurt either. Knowing how long and badly I’d wanted to be part of the wrestling business helped keep me going when things did get tough.
What is it like being a female in a largely male driven profession?
It has it’s moments from time to time, when I encounter a fan who isn’t fond of women’s wrestling and hates the fact that we are on the card, or one of those rare instances when I encounter another wrestler who might have a problem with women wrestling. For the most part though, it’s all been a very positive experience for me. I was always a tomboy growing up, and I still am in many ways now. I’ve always felt comfortable around the guys, I very much consider myself to be one of the boys. Contrary to what many people might think, the male wrestlers are typically pretty protective of me and other ladies, and extremely respectful. I’ve never had a problem with anybody getting out of line or disrespecting me because I’m a female.
How long have you been competing?
I’ve been actively wrestling since July 30, 2005. The first year/year and a half I wrestled pretty infrequently, and was still primarily used and known as a manager. Once I got to the middle of 2006 or so, my wrestling bookings began gradually picking up, and by 2007 my managing days were pretty much behind me and it was almost exclusively in-ring competition from then on.
Have you gotten to meet many big names since you started? And if so, what was your impression of them?
I’ve met so many big names in wrestling since I started. My impression of each of them has actually been very positive. Each meeting is a chance to learn and grow as a wrestler. If I’m lucky, I’ll have the chance to sit down and talk to somebody who is a true veteran in this business for a few minutes, and when that happens I can’t help but pick up on SOMETHING. It could be insight as to when to use a particular move, when not to, ideas on what else could be done in certain situations—sometimes it’s not even something in-ring related. Perhaps it’s advice or thoughts on situations that happen outside of the ring, in the locker room, when dealing with bookers, promoters, other wrestlers, media, etc. If I’m really lucky, that person might even watch my match and provide feedback afterwards. That is such an honor and treat, to have a person with a finely trained eye who will dissect your match and your work in an effort to help you learn and grow. Nobody HAS to do that for anybody else, so if they are willing to use their time and share their knowledge with me, knowing that there isn’t really anything in it for them other than helping me, I’m humbled and grateful beyond words. There is ALWAYS something to learn, and who better to learn from than those people who paved the way for me.
What is your favorite match that you have competed in so far, and why?
My favorite match so far is my first one. Not because it was my best; it wasn’t even close, by any means. But simply because that was the night my dream truly became reality. That was the night I became a wrestler, rather than a wrestler in training. Hearing my name announced, seeing and hearing the fans’ reactions as I approached the ring, standing in the ring taking it in and then hearing the bell ring for the start of the match…the feelings and emotions I had that night will be unmatched forever because it was the first time I had experienced them. I was on cloud nine the entire time, and can actually remember making eye contact with specific people, hearing the things being yelled towards me during the match and just soaking in the atmosphere as a whole the entire time I was out there. It was surreal and will forever be special to me.
Who is your dream opponent?
My dream opponent had always been Sherri Martel. She was still active as a wrestler when I started watching wrestling, and though I didn’t get to see very many of her matches, the ones I did see left an impression on me. Her entire persona, her aggressiveness and her style really struck me. I’ve actually been told by fans many times throughout the years that I remind people of her, which I consider a huge compliment, and one that I can only hope has even a fraction of truth to it. Sadly though, she is no longer with us, so I’ll never get the opportunity, but it would’ve been a great highlight for me had it ever happened!
What is the toughest and/or easiest part about being a wrestler?
It’s very tough physically to be a wrestler. Our bodies really do take a heavy amount of abuse, especially when you’re very active and wrestling frequently. Bumps and bruises are commonplace, of course, but the knees and back really take a beating as well. It can also be just as mentally tough in some ways. As a wrestler you are constantly being questioned and presented with criticism—sometimes constructively, sometimes not—from so many different entities, it can be hard to keep your drive and passion in tact. As far as easy goes, I’m sure that differs for everybody. For me I find that being a wrestler, at this point in my career, just comes easily. I am lucky enough to have a life that allows me to dedicate a large amount of time to my career, whether it be promoting the upcoming shows I’m on, doing radio or print interviews, having videos to make, emails to respond to, fans to interact with, long drives and travel to conquer. Things in life don’t always come easy, but if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. That’s where I am right now, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Any funny/strange stories from your time in the business?
Believe it or not I actually don’t have a ton of stories! Don’t get me wrong, there has been plenty of fun and tomfoolery over the years, but I’m not good at being able to recall specific stories or events (or I just can’t share them, haha). There is, however, one that sticks with me for some reason. Several years ago I had a booking in PA, and most of the boys were spending the weekend in town. That night at the hotel one of the wrestlers, who was pretty young in the business at the time, made the awful mistake of falling asleep first and as a result woke up without his eyebrows. I was there to witness it, and of course to see him in the morning. That still makes me giggle to this day.
What do you think about the PG direction of the current WWE product?
I don’t really have a very strong opinion on it. It made sense for them to go that route when it was done, though I could also see sense is beginning to move towards and edgier product at this point in time as well. I am a fan of keeping things fresh, making continual tweaks with the hope that those tweaks will bring overall improvement in areas such as ratings and viewership, sales and marketability. But at the same time, I often abide by the old adage, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback when you’re not involved in the day-to-day operations of a company. If we should know anything about WWE, it’s that they will make whatever decision they make for their company, and will find a way to make things work.
The business as a whole is down right now. What do you think needs to change to help it grow to where it was in the late 90's?
The wrestling business is forever on a rollercoaster, having boom periods followed by some darker periods. I think there are several factors that affect it and come into play and if I were to mention them all this interview would be double the length it is now. In my opinion wrestling is, in many ways, one huge domino effect. The one factor I WILL mention is this; I believe a good portion of any type of change begins on the independent level. I can’t tell you how many fans I speak to at intermission who inform me that they’re attending their very first wrestling show ever. Not their first indy show—first SHOW. That is huge to me, because whatever they see that night is going to be their first impression of a live wrestling show. A good impression brings a good outcome. The fans will likely be back, they may even travel to other shows that are slightly further away or even find a company that is local to them and begin supporting the company by attending the shows on a regular basis. If they have children, they’ll likely bring their kids to the shows, who may in turn ask if their friend can come with them next time. There is a good chance they’ll go home excited and still thinking about the show and as a result, the following week they might end up sitting down to watch wrestling on TV. Maybe they’ll attend the local WWE and TNA shows when they come through town, to buy merchandise, DVDs, books, etc. However if these first-time fans have a bad first impression, what are the chances of anything positive coming from that? If we don’t leave the fans excited, happy, feeling entertained and as though they were able to put aside anything bad they might be experiencing in life and get lost in our world, something went wrong. Extra money is hard to come by these days and not many people or families have it. They will attend an independent show because the tickets are usually fairly priced, the shows are usually local to them, and maybe there is even somebody they know, or a friend of a friend wrestling on the card. However if we do not deliver the night of action that the fan is hoping to get when their ticket is purchased, that fan has been lost. If they can’t spend a little money on wrestling and enjoy themselves, why should they spend double or triple the amount of money to see another wrestling show just because it might be on TV? Why would they want to buy anything having to do with wrestling at all? It will simply feed the negativity that surrounds wrestling already, and keep the fans away.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Continuing to chase my dream. I grew up wanting to be a wrestler on TV, and that’s my ultimate goal. I want an eight year old girl to turn on her television one day, see me, and be inspired to follow her dreams. That being said, I’m so happy just being able to wrestle, regardless of where it is, how large or small the crowd is, how far of a drive it is or how much my body might hurt. If I never do “make it” I’ve already accomplished so much more than I thought I would, that I have no regrets. I’ve had amazing experiences, met some great people, seen so many sights that I never would have if it wasn’t for wrestling. I’ve dedicated such a huge part of my life to it, and my love for it is so strong that even if I have a bad match or a bad day, I know that I’m doing what I love to do. I am extremely lucky to be a wrestler, to have the capability and opportunity to be in the ring doing what makes me happy. I know there are people out there who either never tried to follow their dream and become a wrestler, or who tried and ended up failing. There are people who were wrestlers, but have gotten injured or sadly passed away young and no longer have the chance to do what I get to do every few days. I keep those things in mind all the time, and do my best to be thankful and remember just how lucky and privileged I am every time I’m stepping into the ring. In five years I see myself continuing my journey, still wrestling, still loving it.
Any upcoming shows you would like to plug?
I have a very steady schedule for the rest of the summer and going into the fall. I invite everybody reading this to visit my website at www.KaceeCarlisle.com to check out my schedule.