One of the big attractions about pro wrestling for people is it is escapism. A chance to forget about their problems and immerse themselves into a unique form of athletic entertainment for a few hours. For Ashlee White, re-discovering WWE from a child to an adult helped with her overcome a series of serious health issues and a dark time in her life a little over five years ago.
White, who gained notoriety for the Bravo reality show Princesses Long Island, is a stroke and lupus survivor empowered by the superstars of the ring she marvels at each week. The social media influencer, blogger, motivational speaker, philanthropist and proud Heyman girl took time out to talk about her fandom.
What was your first wrestling memory?
It was actually when I was younger my father used to be a super, super fan. I used to watch with him. The only thing I remember that I love was how the Bushwhackers came in and how they were walking. I loved it. I would mimic it and just laugh. The real time when I got into it was the summer of 2013, I had my third stroke. It was at a time when I was very depressed. I needed to relearn how to walk, so I was bedridden a lot of the time. I lost a lot of friends unfortunately because they weren't able to understand what I was going through. I was in physical therapy so much. My family support was amazing, but I really didn't have anything else. So, my nephew and my father are big fans. It was on TV, and I was watching git with them. I was like, "What are you watching? What is this? This is not good TV." I was totally hating it, and then as I was watching, I couldn't believe how engaged I was.
I was hooked the first time I was watching it. I was just so engaged with the energy of the crowd. I loved the storylines and the characters and the feuds. Everything just totally was so engaging. I wanted more. I couldn't wait to see it again. I wanted to go to a live event. It's so captivating hearing the audience and their energy. Also, they knew every chant and entrance music. They knew the feuds and who they were rooting for, a heel and babyface. I just wanted to be part of it. When I watched it, there was no sickness. I was into it that, it was as if I never had a stroke. It became a passion of mine. When you see these men and women work so hard. They show up every single day and do their job no matter how they're feeling. I internalize that saying, "You know what. I need to show up at physical therapy. I need to do my best. I need to push through." It was such an inspiration. It took my mind off everything.
Everyone who follows you on social media knows what a big Paul Heyman fan you are. What is it about him, and what was your beginnings of your fandom with him? I know you have got to meet him as well. Also, talk about that experience.
I'm just so captivated by him. I'm in awe. When he speaks, he just commands the crowd and respect, and he gets it. He has this way about him that when he walks into a room, all eyes are on him. All conversation stops. There is only what Paul Heyman is saying. I always say he could sell me a pen. It can be a regular pen, but he can sell it to me so hard that I need a thousand of these pens. I'm so invested. What he does, he makes it look easy. He comes out,, and I don't believe he goes by a script. It's just by him. If you think about it, it's crazy how he has this ability to promote Brock Lesnar but also promote his opponent. He shines the light on them, but still back to Brock Lensar and why Brock is going to win.
He gets the crowd so hyped for a match. There have been matches I'm not even so interested in, but the way Paul Heyman talks and puts it, it's a perspective. I'm psyched. I think a lot of people feel the same way. I'm so excited I got to meet him. We've become friends. I tell him all the time how much I admire and respect him. He is someone, which is so awesome, who believes in me. He believes in my ideas. Loves that I am a big fan. Respects me as a fan and a friend. I can tell you he is the same way in person. He is such a gentleman. He gives great advice. He tells it how it is, but in a way, you know his advice is going to better you. I feel really lucky to know him and have him in my life.
You connected with him after you became a fan. How did you guys connect?
Where everybody connects now: social media. He saw me tweeting about him all the time. It started with engaging and following one another. Then it just blossomed into being friends. One of the reasons I also became such a fan of WWE is because it started when I watched it there was no sickness. Also, I would tweet about it. I got this amazing response and was engaging with the wrestlers. The wrestlers started following me. That's a really cool thing. If that doesn't get you more into your passion, I don't know what would.
One of the things I found out about you is that you're an influencer for WWE Shop. What does that entail? How did you become a part of that? Just give us some insight on that.
I became a WWE Shop influencer, which tell you the truth I blush when I say it because that was a goal of mine. Some people are so hard on themselves or afraid to pat themselves on the back. But I'm really proud of myself with it. Just being a fan. The power of social media is crazy. It can be so great and so bad, but I chose to take it in a very positive way where all my tweets and posts are positive. I'm not going on the internet to hate on someone. I'm guessing they saw this and heard a bunch of podcasts I was doing, and they believed in me. What it entails is WWE sends me new merchandise or any merchandise. Not just t-shirts. And I promote them or any sales they are having or any new merchandise they have coming on. I take pictures with it. I get everyone excited for it. That was a goal, and I achieved it.
Do you have an update on when your podcast is launching?
I'm' looking toward March 2019. Just getting all the logistics finalized. What the podcast is going to be about, the title couldn't be more true to myself. It's Wrestling in Heels with Ashlee White. I'm going to dive into everything with the wrestlers. I don't want the surface with the feuds, even we are going to talk about the rumors and about wrestling themselves. But I want the story, the meat and potatoes. I want to know who they are as a person. I want to know what drives them. They show up all the time with other personal problems going on. How do they deal with that? I'm a girl. I want to know their fashion outside the ring.
We only see their gear in the ring. I want to know about them as a person. To be honest, listeners don't have to be a wrestling fan. Which most of them are, but I'm a sucker for a feel-good story. Each episode is going to have a feel-good story to it. I want to know if they are connected to any charities, any charities that they work with. That's very important to me. It's not only gong to be about the wrestlers but myself. Things such as my story and what I'm thinking about. It's going to be a balance, but it's definitely going to be different. It's going to be a female perspective. I think it's going to be a really great experience for people. It's going to be unlike anything out here.
Lastly, WrestleMania is going to be coming to your backyard in New Jersey-New York. What are your plans and thoughts on it coming back there?
I am psyched. I go to SummerSlam when it's here. I go to everything. For WrestleMania, I'm doing everything and more. I'm doing the meet-and-greets, Axxess, the parties. All of the shows. I want to be in everything. I wish I could cut myself in half and be in two places at once. So, I'm really going to have to plan everything out. It is going to be action-packed. Another thing about being a celebrity fan is I find celebrity become fans for WrestleMania. They hear all the hype about WrestleMania. Same for SummerSlam. But that's not about it for me. I'm 365 days a year am I a fan. WrestleMania to me doesn't mean being a celebrity fan and getting perks and seeing something new. It's really home to me. It's my Super Bowl.