The “Queen of Extreme”, Francine, was born and raised in Philadelphia, so ECW was right in her backyard. She got into the wrestling business at a young age after training at the House of Hardcore – a wrestling school run by ECW.
That then led to her being brought up to the main show, which is where she first met Paul Heyman. She recalled the initial conversation with Heyman and what he wanted to do with her during her visit to The Ryback Show.
“I met Paul for the first time and he says to me, ‘You’re going to take a chokeslam.’ And this is how green I was, ‘I don’t even know what that is.’ He goes, ‘Do you not want to do it?’ And I go, ‘No, I’ll do it. I just don’t know what it is,'” said Francine. “He says, ‘Don’t worry, the boys will help you.’ So, they had me be a fake beauty pageant winner, and I wore this gown, and I came out and I was waving at everybody, and I was the guest timekeeper, and I sat there and rang the bell.
“The next thing I knew, there was a guy called ‘911’. He comes over, and I don’t even know if I knew the spot. He just grabs me and pulls me in from where I’m sitting, gives me the chokeslam, and it’s like white noise. You don’t hear anything, and I’m laying there and I’m like, ‘Did I do good?’ I don’t even know what’s going on. They put me on a stretcher, they took me outside, they put me in a car, and they took me home. I didn’t even go to the locker room because it was old school back then. And I go home, and I said, ‘Do I have a job?! What just happened?’ I didn’t know! Either Dreamer or Paul called me and said, ‘We want you to come to the next show,’ and I was like, ‘I guess I did okay!'”
Heyman was one of Francine’s biggest supporters and he encouraged her to be more confident. That led to Francine striving to be different from other ECW women.
“Like Paul used to say, ‘I gave you the ball, but you ran with it and you had it.’ He used to always tell me that. ‘You have it. Don’t underestimate yourself, don’t sell yourself short,’ because I would always second guess myself and I think a lot of people do,” stated Francine. “But right then and there, I fell in love with the business. And as you said earlier, it consumes some people. Well then, a 20-year-old kid with no family, no boyfriend at the time; it’s just me.
“So, wrestling became my life. I still had my family who I loved dearly, but now, I have this other family because I’m on the road four days a week. So, it’s a different dynamic, but I fell in love with the business and the sport itself when I was training, and when I finally got called up and started to work, my mind frame was that I want to do what other girls aren’t doing. I want to take every guy’s finisher. I want to do it, and I never want to practice because I wanted it to be organic, so I never wanted to go out there and say, ‘let’s practice this,’ unless I was doing a move to a guy. Then I’d say, ‘let’s go over it a couple of times,’ or whatever. But if I was taking a move, I never wanted to practice because I said, ‘If it hurts or it’s scary, I’m not going to do it a second time.'”
After ECW folded in 2001, Francine had a short stint in TNA the following year, but she mostly stayed out of the spotlight until WWE called in 2005. She was asked if she enjoyed not being on TV during her break from the business.
“Well, I was devastated when we folded because I kind of went down with the ship. A lot of us did. We were hanging on for dear life because we were just trying to make it work for so long, and it wasn’t the boys’ fault. I’ll tell you that, because we did everything that we could do to keep it going,” said Francine.
“The difference, I feel, between the females and the males is your face is recognizable. This is what [the males] look like all the time. This is not what I look like all the time. I can go to a supermarket and shop, and no one will know who I am.”
Now many years removed from being on TV, Francine discussed if wrestling is ever brought up in her day-to-day life or through her kids’ lives.
“I have volunteered at my kids’ schools and no one has ever recognized me. It’s a secret in my house,” revealed Francine. “We don’t talk about it because I never wanted the parents to look at me funny, or if she’s in a bikini or she did this. I want them to like my kids because they’re good kids. I don’t want them to take anything out on my children. So, we never talked about mommy being in wrestling. It was a secret, but for a good 10 years, no one even knew who I was. I could walk around town and nobody knows.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Ryback Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.