Much like in pro wrestling, there is a women's revolution taking shape in rock music as well. And among the true shining stars of the scene is Nita Strauss, a standout guitar goddess seen tour with the legendary Alice Cooper and in support of her own album Controlled Chaos. Strauss' love of wrestling led to a friendship with Mick Foley and a few WWE related gigs. This rising star took time from the stage and the road to talk about her fandom. You can catch up on all things Nita on her website: nitastrauss.com.
How did you become a fan? What got you hooked?
I didn't start watching wrestling until 2015. It was when I started dating my boyfriend Josh. One day in April came around he said, "Hey, I'm going to watch WrestleMania today." From the outside looking in, I was thought wrestling was for kids. The last time I remember my friends talking about it was when we were kids. So, he showed me WrestleMania, and since we had the WWE Network, he started showing me The Monday Night War series. WrestleMania is not the best thing to start with if you have no context. Just a random WrestleMania where you have no idea who the wrestlers are or what the feuds. So, going back and watching The Monday Night War really got me hooked. Every bit of the business with WCW and WWF at the time. By the end of that series I was totally hooked.
After you binged that series, who were some of your favorites?
I loved DX. I got super into DX. I dug what DX did, especially from that series with them watching them come down with the tank and all that cool stuff. I was super stoked.
Playing with Alice Cooper, were you familiar with his history when it comes to WrestleMania before you got into it?
Not at all. Not until I started watching wrestling. Josh actually told me. He said, "You know Alice was actually in WrestleMania III?" I was like, "What? Really!" Now it's cool because Alice and our tour manager Toby have some great stories about being there and what it was like that day.
Do you and Alice talk a lot about wrestling?
He doesn't follow it these days. I think the last time he talked about wrestling was the day after WrestleMania III. The most we talked about it was when Mick Foley actually came to a show. He came to see us in New York. After were talking backstage, and I introduced him to Alice. Alice was his normal gracious self. When we went back to the tour bus, I thanked him for taking the time to be so gracious and say hi to my friend. Alice's assistant was like, "Are you kidding? We should be thanking you. I can't believe that was Mankind." Alice's eyes were so wide as he said, "Wait? That was Mankind! I know Mankind." Mick was in his normal tie-dye shirt. His regular street attire, not how you would picture Mankind looking. He is so unassuming and charming and funny that Alice did not put two and two together at all.
It's such an organic friendship that you have with Mick and others in the industry. You mention getting involved watching The Monday Night War, what has it been like delving into today's product? How did you get hooked on today's product? Was it women's wrestling or something else?
When I was first watching and getting into the older stuff, it was more about the storylines and the buildup between the shows. Now there is such incredible technique. Obviously, there is some great storylines still going on. We don't have to look much farther than this week on Raw or SmackDown to get some amazing storylines, especially between Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey. Now technique-wise it's so advanced now. It's amazing to see some of the things the wrestlers are doing. It's fun to be a fan of it. It's a fun time to be a fan of wrestling.
You can definitely see some parallels between wrestling and the music industry when it comes to women. You're seeing women like yourself blazing new trails on the rock scene just as the women are doing in wrestling right now. Do you feel motivated when you see the women kicking butt in the ring?
Definitely. There is a great interview on YouTube. If you haven't seen it yet, you can look up "Nita Strauss and Becky Lynch Stay the Course." It was supposed to be a quick 20-minute spot where we just interview each other. We talked for almost two hours. They put most of it up online. It talks about the parallels between the life of a touring female musician and the life of a touring female wrestler. The stuff we go through and the ups and downs. It's incredible how many similarities there were between our two lives. Now as I watch the "Women's Evolution" as a fan, it's just incredible to see. Getting to play at the Evolution Pay-Per-View with Lzzy Hale. It was a really fun way for us to kind of pay tribute and give a salute to these incredible women who have taken the industry so far.
Do you remember the first time you attended a wrestling show, and what that was like?
It was actually an indie show. The first wrestling event I ever went to was PCW Ultra in L.A., and it was insane. They had RVD wrestling, Shane Strickland, Penta, and all these incredible indie wrestlers. Tessa Blanchard is there current champion there. It's a really good product. Getting to experience first in a smaller place with 800 or a thousand people, and then kind of going up to watch WWE events. It was a really cool way for me to experience live wrestling.
You mention you got to play at Evolution. You got to play at WrestleMania for Nakamura's entrance. If you could have your choice, who would you want to create entrance music for? Do you ever have ideas as you're watching?
Becky Lynch a thousand percent. Becky forever. I've been saying Becky needs a new theme song to go with "The Man" persona. So, if they ever need one, I do have some ideas.
How many shows do you attend a year? I know you were at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix and Royal Rumble. Talk about how you plan your year when it comes to wrestling.
I go to as many as I can. I'm actually not in L.A. that much. Even when they are in L.A., I don't get to go often. Any time they're nearby Los Angeles and I'm home I try to go. Or if our paths cross while I'm on the road, I'll always go. For Rumble weekend, Phoenix is not that far from L.A. My boyfriend and I haven't taken a vacation in years. Usually, when we travel, I have to play. It's not really a vacation even if we do fun stuff to do because I'm always running around sound-checking and taking care of business stuff. And he is my manager, so he is taking care of more business stuff than I am. We both looked each other and said, "Hey, this would be a great weekend of wrestling. Let's go." And we went to TakeOver and Rumble and Raw the next day. It was such a blast.
I think it's great how you two have bonded over this common interest and that it may have brought you closer together.
It's awesome. I think in a new relationship it's really important to at least respect each other's interests, even if you don't get super into everything. I remember when we started dating years ago. I thought, "Well, I'm not really interested in this. But he likes it, so I'll watch it with him because I like him. It's cool that it did turn into a common interest instead of, "Oh, I'll just tolerate it." I feel a lot of people talk about sports that way. "My husband likes sports, but I hate sports." I love sports. I love football and wrestling and stuff. We have a ton of interests in common.
Have you been approached by WWE or any other wrestling companies about producing entrance music or collaborating more?
I've been approached. I can't talk too much about anything coming up, but there has been some stuff in the works. Not necessary entrance music. But there has been some stuff in the works. And there has been some stuff I've had to turn down from companies.
What it has been like within the music industry? You've had your own established fans who might be giving pro wrestling a chance because they see you like it. Have you heard those stories on social media or elsewhere?
Definitely. It's interesting because I was that person just five years ago who didn't know anything about wrestling. Now to give that experience to more people where I can say, "Hey, I'm going to play at this event." It exposes more people to this industry that I love so much and am a big fan of. If I can be of service to the wrestling world in any small way, I think that is really cool.
Earlier you mention the friendship with Mick Foley. Do you remember your first interaction with a wrestler?
My first interaction with a wrestler must have been at PCW Ultra because it was the first time I went to a wrestling show. Josh works with so many wrestlers, and we were backstage there. There wasn't one in particular I recall meeting and interacting with, but just being in the locker room and feeling the intensity and getting ready for the match. It reminded me of being backstage at a show. It's so cool to see the wrestling world and the rock world are very different but very much the same. The energy, the passion, the fans are die-hard. The fans will fight for you and stand up for you until the end of time. That's what really any successful scene is all about. Strong fans.
What's the next show you are going to go to?
No concrete plans now. Always hoping to go to Mania. It's pretty far from us this year. Last year it was in New Orleans. My boyfriend was from there, so we got to see his family. This year New York, hopefully we get to make it out there. But no definite plans yet.
I know you're on the road tour with your own music. What has that been like?
It's incredible. WWE used one of the songs for NXT TakeOver when the album came out, which was incredible. The response has been amazing. We hit number seven on the iTunes rock charts. Number two independent label. We were in the Top 10 of the new rock releases. For an instrumental record to come out of the gate and do that well, we were on the same charts as Chris Cornell and Queen. It's not like I was in some Top 10 chart for guitar. We were on the real charts, the big kid charts. That was an amazing feeling. I honestly think that it was in no small part due to the WWE Universe and the wrestling universe because being a part of that scene, the fans take care of their own. We're all one in the same. We're all here talking about the same thing. They've been incredibly supportive, and I'm incredibly grateful.
Have you yourself thought about getting in the ring?
I thought about it, of course, but I make my living with my hands. So, it's probably not the smartest thing to get into a contact sport. You never know though. I am pretty athletic.