Pictured: Terri Runnels | Send Us Your Photo
Wrestling INC: You got your pro wrestling break while working at CNN, right? How exactly did that happen?
Terri Runnels: I was a makeup artist for CNN and because I was the lowest person on the totem pole at that time, I had to do makeup on the weekends per my schedule. So back in the day when Jim Crockett owned in NWA territory, they would come to Turner's Studio to film and tape their shows every Saturday and Sunday. I was the makeup artist, so I got to know them that way. As we progressed, Ole Anderson asked me if I would become this on-air character. I came up with a name that I thought was snotty in Alexandra York and that was my humble beginning.
Wrestling INC: Had you followed pro wrestling at all before then?
Runnels: Honestly I would sit and watch it if it happened to be what my dad was watching. My father seemed burdened to be a parent and basically ignored the fact that he had two daughters, so anytime I could be near him I watched what he was watching. The only faces I remember from back then were Gerry Brisco, Jack Brisco, and Wahoo McDaniel. I was not a huge fan, but I had seen it before.
Wrestling INC: Were you pretty nervous to make that transition, that's a pretty big change?
Runnels: I was such a workaholic being at CNN Monday through Friday by 4 a.m. and leaving at noon every day. Then at noon, we would drive or fly to wherever the TV tapings were being done. Sometimes, I would shower then go straight back to CNN. I believe it was Montgomery, Alabama when I was getting ready to walk to the ring and I heard somebody say, 'watch her, I don't think she's going to make it.' The only thing I remember is walking to the ring and holding the ring posts, not in character. When I was walking to go backstage, I lost eyesight in one of my eyes and they brought me to the hospital. They did all these tests and concluded I was exhausted. I was literally spent. At that point, I decided to give-up makeup or wrestling. Dusty [Rhodes] did something at the time I didn't think was cool and I said goodbye in one night. I kept doing makeup for a little bit longer. When I got pregnant with Dakota, I stopped everything.
Wrestling INC: Was this incident with Dusty after you and Dustin had gotten together?
Runnels: Yea, I forget what it was but some conflict over the character. I'm sure the emotion that was tied in with the stuff he was doing were the true catalyst for that decision on my part.
Wrestling INC: How did you and Dustin first meet?
Runnels: All of a sudden this tall, blond kid showed up from Texas named Dustin to work one day. There were no sparks initially, then we were out in Phoenix for a pay-per-view and a bunch of us were sitting on the patio of the Phoenix Hyatt. Dustin got out of a cab at the hotel after playing golf and I don't know what it was, but all of a sudden I looked at him differently. We had a group dinner— Tony Schiavone was there—and Dustin was going to have a night with the boys, but I said you're staying with us. On the flight home, he sent me a note if I would go to lunch with him. I gave a stupid response of "you need to call if you want to ask me out" and I don't know why. I don't know what I was thinking. He called and we went to lunch the next day and dinner that night. The rest is history and we were never apart.
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