Corey Graves welcomed WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix to a recent episode of WWE After The Bell. There, Phoenix opened up about her Hall of Fame career, and talked about her time in OVW. She also discussed how she was not under contract during that time but she had people help her get exposure on OVW TV.
“So for me, it was really rocky, because when I came down to OVW, I wasn’t signed,” Phoenix revealed. “I worked for almost two years and Danny Davis, Al Snow, Lance Storm, [and] Paul Heyman, [who] worked with me a lot too, had given me an opportunity to be on OVW television with the contracted talent. And because of that, I was getting seen by WWE all the time.”
Phoenix said the gimmick that caught WWE’s attention was being a manager for Aron Stevens (fka Damien Sandow) and Shelly Martinez. She said that showed WWE that she could be a lot more than just a wrestler, and it let her show versatility as a performer.
“They knew who I was. They saw me improving, but they’re like, ‘we’re not quite ready to sign yet.’ But then I did a gimmick with Aron Stevens and Shelly Martinez,” Phoenix revealed. “We did a very, for me was at least, like a very sexualized gimmick, something I had never done before. We dressed in lingerie and I was the angel and then Shelly was devil. We were basically his managers, but that’s kind of what started to catch the attention of WWE that, OK, I can wear a lot of different hats.
“I’m not just this wrestle type girl, like I can kind of fit the mold in different ways. And once we started getting over, we went and did our own pre-tapes. We went and taped our own vignettes and brought them to the television station, like we bought these costumes. We really put a lot of creativity into trying to get over, and it was after, like I said, I think they saw that I was willing to go into the entertainment side of things and they gave me an opportunity. So that’s how I got hired being in OVW, and then transitioning to WWE.”
Graves asked if there was ever any jealously over new talent that came in that didn’t have a traditional wrestling background. Phoenix said she saw that WWE was bringing people in through the Divas Search, and she said her goal was to stand out and be different.
“I don’t know it was jealousy, but I think I just had enough self-awareness to know. I knew, at the time, they were going outside the box to hire the women. They were hiring models,” Phoenix noted. “They were looking in the fitness world, so I knew, in those worlds, there might be some wrestling fans but they were going to be different than me. And I was real secure with what I had going on, which was that I know who Bruno Sammartino is. I’ve seen wrestling matches since I was a little girl and I felt like I get it.
“I felt like what I had to offer was secure, and so I was confident in that but I also knew this is the brand. This is what WWE wants right now. Later on, after I was with them a little bit, they brought on the Divas brand and just started really sinking their teeth into that. So, I couldn’t balk at that and I couldn’t get upset at that. I was just like, ‘how can I fit with that? Where can I navigate this minefield of that? I’m different.’ And I always knew I was different, but in wrestling sometimes, that can be what is your winning ticket. Your ticket to getting somewhere is being different amongst the group. So I was hoping, at some point, it would pay off for me that I was different and I did stand out.”
Phoenix is best know as “The Glamazon”. She revealed on WWE After The Bell where the idea for the moniker game from.
“So after I broke my jaw, and I was kind of floundering in OVW just trying trying to find what the next thing was,” Phoenix said. “I was like constantly coming in with different costumes and gimmicks and just trying to find something that stuck, and I was struggling. I had heard this word on Sex In The City, ‘The Glamazon’, and I heard that word used, a ‘Glamazon’ in a different context, obviously, but I was like, ‘oh man, I want to have a moniker’.
“I need a moniker like ‘The Rock’ or ‘The Ninth Wonder of the World.’ So I just went and I stitched ‘Glamazon’. Got letters from Michaels and just sewed it on my butt, and I’m like, ‘maybe if I can just create this character from scratch -.’ I wasn’t given an opportunity to really build the character, but I’m going to just try. So I worked at OVW with that on my butt. We referenced it a little bit.”
Candice Michelle has said that her feud against Phoenix was the biggest highlight of her career because of how much she learned during that time. On WWE After The Bell, Phoenix talked about how that program began, and the help that William Regal and Arn Anderson provided.
“Then I came up to WWE on the live events. Candice Michelle had just won the Women’s Championship,” Phoenix recalled. “She was working on the live events to get experience, and they brought in myself and a couple other girls in rotation on the weekends to try to help Candice progress. I think they were also looking for opponents who could be the next opponent for Candice. So, I wasn’t brought up with any specific plan to be ‘The Glamazon’ or whatever.
“I pitched vignettes. I’d done all this but there was no plan. So, I came in [for] like a tag match and I wore the tights that said ‘Glamazon.’ They said, ‘we’re not going in that direction, take all that off your gear. You’re not The Glamazon.’ Like, OK. So then I have a live event match with Candace on the road, and William Regal and Arn Anderson got in the ring with us. And they saw us try a couple different things and they saw the dynamic there.
“They saw that I could do some power moves and stuff like that. So they’re like, ‘what if you built the match like this?’ And Regal really helped me a lot and Arn helped me a lot, and Candice was so game to do anything. Like, I beat the holy hell out of that girl and she was like, ‘come on, bring it.’ She just felt that real special connection and chemistry there.”
Phoenix revealed that as soon as her feud against Michelle was greenlit for TV, The Glamazon moniker was presented to her. She also recalls Anderson saying that the plan was for her to become the female Umaga.
“So, we had some live event matches. We really surprised everybody because, I think, the bar for the women’s matches had been struggling there for a little while,” Phoenix pointed out. “So they were like, ‘wow, this could be it,’ and then it changed for me being in rotation on the weekends to every weekend. It was Beth Phoenix, Beth Phoenix, Beth Phoenix you’re on the road. Then I came back to TV, and they’re like, ‘you’re going to work Candace and we have this idea for you. You’re going to be The Glamazon.’ I love it.
“So, I sewed it all back on, and there you go. So that’s how I became a Glamazon. We really presented the character like this strong [character], which I hadn’t done in the past. I was bumping all over the place if you watch my old matches. I remember Arn Anderson saying, ‘you’re like the female Umaga. That’s what we want you to be.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to take that as a compliment.’ We ran with it.”
Phoenix left WWE in 2012, and she has cited in the past that it was her dissatisfaction with the women’s division. She cited similar reasons on WWE After The Bell while also naming personal reasons in her life that made her decide to leave.
“So a couple things – both of my grandparents and my one and only uncle, whom I was very close to, passed from Cancer very suddenly,” Phoenix said. “So I had three family members pass away within about a year, and I missed funerals. Like, I missed being there. So like I was starting to kind of get exhausted with the road schedule. It’d been 12 years that I had been traveling as an indie wrestler and a pro wrestler, and I missed a lot of stuff. And at that stage too, I had been banging my head against the wall with WWE for so many years just wanting to change things, and I had hit some roadblocks. I hit walls, not gonna lie.
“I shed tears over, like, I hope that I did not waste all this time, waste my life. I really wanted to make a change. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to inspire other little girls like Chyna inspired me, and Bret and Owen inspired me. And I was afraid that I had wasted all that, like, it didn’t matter. None of this mattered.”
Also around this time, Phoenix’s husband, Edge, was forced to retire. She said that with all that weighing on her mind, she felt it was time to start a family and leave WWE. She also said that telling Vince McMahon she was leaving was one of the hardest things in her life.
“At that point in my life, I had also met a very nice man and he was in a state of mind. He had been told he had to retire from wrestling and never do it again,” Phoenix stated. “So he was wrapping his head around that, and I was wrapping my head around a lot of change in my life. And I was like, ‘well, we might be ready for a family.’ So that was kind of dancing around in our minds at that time, and that’s mainly why I stepped away. When I had the conversation with Vince, it was hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“Being a wrestler was all I ever wanted to be. I didn’t want to be an actor, I didn’t want to be a musician. Nothing else was as big to me as being a wrestler. So going to Vince McMahon and saying, ‘I have to go home’ was really really hard for me. It was a big moment, a heavy, heavy day in my life. It was just time. I was really feeling it in my heart, and I’ve never been one to be checked out. I didn’t want to be at work sad. I didn’t want to be at work not giving 100% because there was plenty of hungry people that deserve to be in that spot instead of me walking around gloomy.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.