Molly Holly On Charlotte Flair, WWE/UFC Merger & Running For Connor's Cure - Exclusive

WWE Hall of Famer Molly Holly has worked with legends of the past and present. Whether in working as a producer and guiding future generations or her time spent in the ring, her fingerprints can be seen across the entire evolution of women's wrestling. 

All of this comes on top of being incredibly active in multiple charities, including Connor's Cure — named for late wrestling superfan Connor Michalek, who lived with medulloblastoma from age 3 to 8 years — for which she will be running a marathon in New York City. Holly spoke with Wrestling Inc's Jack Farmer to talk about the run, what makes the current women's division so great, what it was like coming back to WWE, and what changes, if any, have occurred for her since the WWE/UFC merger. 

American Gladiators and Social Media

Jack Farmer: Molly, how are you doing this morning?

Molly Holly: I'm doing excellent, thank you.

Thanks so much for joining us. What's the best thing that's happened to you so far today?

Today I ran 15 miles around Anna Maria Island in Florida. I'm on vacation with my family this week, and to be in the tropical paradise to do some of my marathon training has been awesome. So I'd say that's been the highlight so far today.

We're definitely going to talk about the training that you're doing, I understand that you grew up a huge fan of American Gladiators. So I got to ask you, who was your favorite Gladiator?

Any of the women that were blonde and big muscles. That was I would say, my favorites. I just recently watched, they did a documentary on Netflix about them, and I was like, oh, yeah. So I couldn't tell you exactly the name of because it was a little bit of a rotating cast, and I don't remember the exact seasons that I watched, but I grew up in a family that we used to have posters. My parents had a gym and there were posters of female bodybuilders all over the gym. And so when I saw those women on the Gladiators, I was like, oh, that's so cool. That's what I want to look like. Unfortunately, I was never as dedicated enough to get those kinds of muscles, but I still thought they were really cool.

Yeah. I saw the show you were talking about as well, Muscles & Mayhem. I was going to ask you if you had seen it. Quite a story there. I will say, as a fan of Gladiators myself, I thought it was on for longer than they said it was on. I feel like it was on for decades, but nevertheless, I'm curious that you saw it because I see you're not on social media, and I saw an interview you had done previously with Izzy. You had mentioned that you don't have a TV in your house. So I wanted to ask, are those conscious decisions to stay away from social media or is it just not your thing?

I guess, I don't know. Part of it is I feel like I missed the generation where it just became a normal thing, so I feel awkward forcing myself into it and I don't know all the etiquette and I don't want to post something I'm not supposed to. I just hear horror stories of people being canceled because they liked someone else's post and then that person became somebody controversial. All that stuff. I was just like, I don't need that added stress in my life at all, so I just keep it pretty simple. And then with the TV, I have one of those Samsung fold phones, so I just open up the screen and then I'll watch something either at the hotel or at the airport or something. That's the only downtime I really have.

Connor's Cure and the WWE

Well, you had started at the top talking about a 15-mile run and being the best part of your day. I feel like a lot of people might disagree on what they consider the best part of the day, but you are training right now to be a part of this year's 2023 TCS New York City Marathon, and you are representing Connor's Cure. Now, obviously after wanting to be an American Gladiator, you eventually became a WWE Hall of Famer, WWE closely tied with Connor's Cure. Talk to me a bit about this race, what got you involved, and talk to us a bit about Connor's Cure.

So there is a running club near where I live in St. Paul, Minnesota, called Mile in My Shoes, and I had done some volunteering with them, and so that introduced me to running the shorter runs. And then the WWE sent me an email saying that they were doing a fundraiser for Connor's Cure, and if I wanted to be a part of that fundraiser, that would qualify me for the New York City Marathon. I'd never run a marathon. I never really wanted to run a marathon. It sounds terrible, but I also thought, wow, what a great opportunity to do something I've never done before to really push myself, and also bring awareness to Connor's Cure, which is under the V Foundation umbrella for cancer research fundraising.

So this is going to be a very big race. Look, there's going to be 17 Olympians, 11 world championship medalists, six past event champions there. Tough competition. Are you the kind of competitive person where you're like, I'm going to take all these people on? Are you looking to just have fun? How do you approach a race like this?

So in general, I'm not very competitive and the people that run at my pace will be starting much later than the Olympians, so I probably won't even get to meet them. I would say that people who are tall, their walking pace is about my jogging pace. So yeah, I won't be competing with anyone. I'm sure I'll feel a little bit defeated if people that are in their 80s are passing me, but other than that, if I just finish, I'll feel super proud of myself. And yeah, I guess that's my main goal is to finish before they start closing it down.

Hey, if someone who's in their 80s passes you, it just means they've had 80 years of training to get ready for this moment. So that's how you can look at it.

That's a good way to look at it.

Giving Back

Yeah, the race is going to be televised on WABC TV Channel 7 in New York, and it's going to be on ESPN2 and various international broadcasts. This is a huge, huge thing. Now, you are not new to donating your time and helping with different charities. Talk to me a bit about why do you feel, I don't know the right way to phrase it, not why do you feel you need to, but what has drawn you to helping with charities? And if you're someone like me, how can someone who isn't involved with charities help charities, especially something like Connor's Cure?

Well, it can be selfish on my part in that I feel like I get so much more out of it by volunteering or donating than even the organization would because everybody wants their life to have purpose, and I feel like I have been so blessed. My life has been awesome. To be able to be paid to travel the world, and like now, I'm on a Florida vacation with my family. And so if I can somehow share those blessings or donate some of my time and resources to helping others, I feel like it just makes my life more enriched. So anybody who was thinking about starting to volunteer or wanting to know, do your research, see what you're passionate about.

Some people love helping the homeless and some people maybe would want to volunteer at a nursing home. The thing about pediatric cancer and Connor's Cure is that I think everyone can agree that pediatric and cancer should not be in the same sentence. That should not be a thing. No kid should ever have to go through that. The whole family to have to witness a kid's suffering is terrible. And so that's why, because it is something that there's no controversy over. This is a charity that I think anyone can get behind. I feel really proud to be a part of the Connor's Cure fundraising.

Yeah. It's definitely a very cool thing and something I think WWE should get a little bit more credit for sometimes is how much they give back. And I think it's cool that you're doing this. A marathon, quite a distance. I've done some of the 5Ks, and I've inched my way up to a 10K.

Oh, yeah. Those are my favorite.

Playing Comedy Characters Vs Serious Ones

I do want to talk to you a little bit about your time in the WWE, though, if that's okay.


You had said that you love the campy stuff, you love the comedy, you love the fun things, and as a wrestling fan my whole life, I've always thought that wrestling is a bit of a variety show. You should get a lot of stuff, but sometimes on the internet, you may not see this because you've wisely avoided places like Twitter. Sometimes people feel like if you're not in a serious role fighting for the title, that maybe you're not being used in the right way, as they like to say. Talk to me a bit about maybe people's misconceptions about what it's like as a performer doing different types of things like the comedy.

So I guess it just depends on if someone had a dream since they were a little kid to be the world heavyweight champion, typically that is less of a comedy character. Usually, the heavyweight champion is a little more serious. However, Kurt Angle did the perfect job of blending legitimate wrestling where he could defeat anyone and you would believe it, but he also was kind of corny, so that I feel like he did it perfectly, but it depends on what your goal is.

If I were a male wrestler, I would've been super happy being like Scotty 2 Hotty. I thought that he was just the best. It just brought so much joy and laughter to the audience, and so I guess it just depends on what your individual goals are. Some people have that comedic timing and they love that part of it. I really like being corny and ridiculous, but there might be some people who that just isn't their personality and they don't really like it. So as far as the general audience deciding what's appropriate and what's not, really, that's who we're performing for as the audience, so hopefully we can please as many people as possible and wouldn't be too much criticism.

No, it's something I always say. I think the comedy is so important in pro wrestling and it makes the show so much better. If everyone was just the straightforward, I am a serious wrestler, it would get boring very quickly. But I also think as we grow up, it's the comedy wrestlers, it's the campy wrestlers, it's the fun wrestlers like yourself. I always think of obviously, Mighty Molly. You have a ton of great characters, though.

Preparing For Different Characters

When you get these characters or you have these roles, what's your approach to learning these characters or playing these characters? Do you try to really get into it? Do you research it? Do you just go with how it feels? What was that like going through these different characters?

I have seen Hollywood actors talk about the great lengths they've gone through to really get into a character. I'm just not that dedicated. With the Beauty Queen character, all I did was put on a sparkly dress and a sash, and then I was just myself trying not to fall down in high heels. And then when I came to WWE and they told me I was going to be with Crash Holly, I just copied him. I was like, oh, whatever mannerisms he's doing, I'll just do those. And then the self-righteous prude character that I played, I thought that the Right To Censor, and Ivory did such a good job with that kind of character, so I just copied that.

And so I would say that I did my best to perform how I was supposed to, but I didn't spend tons of downtime researching other actors who've done similar things. I guess I just went with it. And then I'd get feedback from my colleagues or they used to call them agents, but the people that would help me backstage, they would say like, "Oh, that was really good," or, "Your facial expressions were great," or, "I like how you said that," and then I would know I was going the right direction.

Yeah, yeah. Going back through some of the characters, I saw some of your entrances with Macho Man in WCW. His entrance music went hard. I forgot about how good his entrance music was. But any of the characters stand out to you as a favorite character? If you had to pick one, which was the one you enjoyed the most?

When I was in the storyline with Spike Dudley, that was my favorite time because it was like a Disney romance. I got to be a little naive and girl next door and sweet and like an underdog character. And I would say that that for me was the most fun.

What Makes Charlotte Flair Great

Now, Izzy did a great interview with you a couple of years ago, and she asked the question that I'm sure you've been asked a lot of times. If you came back, who would you like to have a match with? And you had said Charlotte Flair. Now, as a fan, I can tell you a bunch of things why I think Charlotte Flair is great, but you're a WWE Hall of Famer. You look at things differently. In your opinion, what makes Charlotte Flair great?

She eat, sleeps, breathes this business. The wrestling is her life. She is a perfectionist. I have had very few conversations about anything other than how she can be better, even though she's already one of the best. And so I think one of the reasons why I may have mentioned her in the past is just that I know that she could make me look better than I really am, and I need all the help I can get. Now that I'm more connected to the WWE, I do see other people who are also amazing, who are also very dedicated and extraordinary that I'm in awe of. In that particular interview, I probably mentioned Charlotte, but there's a reason why she is at the top.

Absolutely. Do you get bugged a lot about one more match? Does a lot of people come up to you like come on, come on, Molly. Just one more time.

I really don't believe that there's anything I could add to the business. I just feel so complete in my career. I don't feel that it's like, oh, if I just had this moment. I already had all the moments. I really want to save the TV time for the younger people to have their moments.

Coming Back To WWE and Being A Producer

Now, you were in wrestling, obviously, at WWE. You stepped away for a little bit. You've come back for different shows, and I believe you're a producer now, correct?

Yes, I do work behind the scenes. Mm-hmm.

What was it like coming back to WWE? Was it like, oh, this is like a family I haven't visited in a long time, or was it like, this is a whole new group of people I need to reprove myself to? What was it like coming back?

So I was nervous because I wasn't sure. Beth Phoenix had told me, "No, the business has changed a lot. All the things that you didn't like before are now not there. It's really great." So I took her word for it and gave it a try backstage. And it was awesome that I did have a lot of my friends from the past. Charles Robinson, Chad Patton. There's a ring crew guy named Nick Daw. Some of the camera guys are still there. Just a lot of the backstage people that I used to spend time with 20 years ago are still there. So in that part, it definitely felt like a class reunion or like, oh, these are my friends.

And it was good to see them, but there is a lot of people there that I had never met before. And at first, I didn't even know how involved should I be. Should I step back and observe the culture, like how people interact? But honestly, I feel like I fell right into place as far as fitting in. And I really liked a lot of the new performers, they used to watch me on TV when they were kids. So it's fun to hear their perspective of my career just from being fans of mine and then to be a part of what they're doing now and to give them encouragement. So I really, really like working backstage. It's been really fun.

Now, obviously, the big news about WWE over the past little bit has been the merger and now TKO and all this stuff. As someone who works there backstage week in and week out, do you see a difference or is it pretty much the same? How have things been as this merger has gone through for you who's feet on the ground, so to speak?

So nothing has changed in my department since the merger. And as far as how the show is put on is the same. So pretty much everything that I'm involved with is the same. I have no idea what's happening at the headquarters. I'm sure there's a lot of other things with marketing department and all this other stuff that I'm not directly connected with, but as far as my job, it's been a really smooth transition.

Unseen Supporters Women's Wrestling

You had talked previously with X-Pac about Fit Finlay and how he has helped the women's division grow from very early on. Is there anyone that you saw that maybe doesn't get the obvious credit for the growth of the women's division, whether it be a Fit Finlay or someone else backstage that you would like to give their flowers for their help that maybe we as fans don't see week in and week out?

So TJ Wilson, or Tyson Kidd I guess is his wrestling name. He spends his off days at a pro wrestling ring helping any women that want to come work out with him and Natty. And then backstage, I see all the women go to him for advice. He really has studied the women's wrestling so much. He can say, "Oh, remember that match you had at NXT three years ago where you did this and that? I think you could incorporate that today." Just like things where I'm like, how does he remember what somebody wrestled three years ago? So I would say that Tyson Kidd is really dedicated and he doesn't really get as much recognition as he should.

So now you're a part of that. And of course, it's got to be interesting as we're talking about this, you were again in WCW with someone like Alundra Blayze, who is such a part of women's wrestling now, still working with people who, we just talk about the next generation of women's wrestlers in WWE . We're talking about how each brand right now feels like the women's division on its own is one of the greatest women's rosters you could ask for. What's it like having been a part of such early parts of the women's revolution to be now, and what can we look forward to as fans going forward with that division?

I love how the women's wrestling has evolved and how it's changed, and it is the best it has ever been. You could put anybody, whether it's a popular character or even someone who's maybe not used on TV as much, you could put anybody in any combination on TV, and they would give the top-notch, like premium live event quality, everything. I'm just so impressed with the entire roster. And the thing that's a bummer is that not everyone gets the TV time to show what they can do. So sometimes they'll just be like a backstage or someone passing behind the scenes or like a tag match where someone's only in the ring for two minutes and I'm like, oh, I wish they could really show more. But on Raw, it's already a three-hour show. There's a lot of stories to tell, so that's the only thing that I wish. I wish that everyone could have a 20-minute match every week. But really the fact that these women, they are capable of doing it. It makes me feel proud. Like, wow, look how far they've come.

They certainly have, and you are a big part of that. I want you to feel good about what you've contributed to pro wrestling as a whole. It's awesome. Molly, I want to say thank you so much for your time. I know you're very busy, so I appreciate you carving out a little bit of your day to chat with me today. Thank you so much for being on.

Oh, thanks for having me.

Fans wishing to support Molly Holly's efforts to raise money for Connor's Cure can do so at the following link: