With her blazing red hair, daring acrobatic moves and elaborate tattoo, Lita has taken the World Wrestling Federation by storm-and she's only just got here. In her short tenure, Lita has set the World Wrestling Federation afire. The getting here, though wasn't easy.....
It was just four years ago that Lita took an interest in professional wrestling. Her friends would watch it, but she initially dismissed it as "stupid." However, once she noticed the luchadores from Mexico getting airtime on American TV, sports-entertainment hooked her.
"Id stop in front of the TV and say to my friends, 'Wow, that's really cool, just call me in the room and I'll watch when they're on." Lita recalls. "It took about a week to get hooked on the entire storyline. I'd sit on the couch after the Mexicans were on, and I'd watch everything else. But it was the Mexicans who really stood out for me. In about two weeks' time I went from not being a fan to being totally engrossed. I just loved it and decided it was something that I wanted to do. You could be athletic and act... it's just a forum for so many different things all done at the same time.
"As soon as I get an idea in my head, nothing can stop me," Lita continues. "So, from there I started saving money to go down to Mexico. I didn't know anything about independent wrestling organizations or wrestling schools. I flew down to Mexico City by myself without knowing anyone, booked myself in a hotel, got a newspaper and found out where the lucha libre was."
Getting by on limited funds and high school-level Spanish, Lita made her presence and desire known in the Mexican wrestling circuit.
"I just kept showing up." Lita says. "Wrestling was on four nights a week down there, and I;d just keep showing up everynight. I was there for six weeks and finally, toward the end of my stay, they let me do some little vignettes for their TV show and one managerial spot. But I really wanted to get into the ring. My money had run out, so they said since I had stuck it out, they'd train me if I came back, I still don't know anything about independent federations , or I probably could have found one an hour away form my home. Instead, I saved up money again and flew back to Mexico."
Lita spent another three weeks in Mexico, where she got a crash course in taking bumps. Once more, she ran out of money and headed back to the States, but this time with a little more knowledge and a better sense of how to break into the business.
"I had friends offer to train me in Chicago, so I went there and slept in the ring. I was running pretty low on funds at this point, but I was completely hooked. I got another crash course, training twice a day. After that was when I started working my first indy shows."
Always athletic-she was on the high school swim team, worked as a swimming coach and practiced judo competitively- Lita was a quick study. But interestingly, she has never participated in gymnastics or any sport that was acrobatic in nature- not that one would ever guess that watching her perform in the Federation today. It was the Hardy Boyz who truly broke Lita in.
"They were on an indy show that I did very early on-my third show with Mid-Atlantic NWA (National Wrestling Alliance)," Lita explains. "I got to talking with them, and they invited me to come down and train. I worked a lot of indies in North Carolina, so I would work down there and then go over to their ring on Sundays to train.
"When I started training with the Hardy Boyz, I would see them do something and say, 'Wow, that's cool,' and they'd say, 'Well, do it.' And I would say, 'Okay!" Lita continues. "I didn't feel I had the option of saying no. Looking back I guess I could have, but I don't know what would have happened then. It's not really in my personality to say no. I would see them and think to myself, 'Well, if they can do that, I can do it.' I might land on my head or my shoulders the first couple of times. You figure out real quick how not to land on your head once you do it!"
Along with Shawn Michaels and Triple H, the Hardys have been the greatest influences on Lita's development as a performer-both professionally and personally.
"The Hardy Boys were there for me on an individual basis." Lita says. "But also watching their matches influenced me-that ladder match with Edge and Christian definitely had an impact. You could learn a lot from that because it encompasses psychology and great moves."
Lita's journey took her to Mexico and through the States, but all roads eventually brought her to her ultimate goal-the World Wrestling Federation.
It didn't take long for the Federation to recognize her talent. Lita, who was in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) at the time, took the bull by the horns and on her own time and money enlisted in Dory Funk's wrestling dojo for a week. Funk happened to show her tape to Federation VP of Talent Relations Bruce Prichard, who brought it to the Federation office. The rest is history.
What's it like being the new kid on the block? Especially as a female in a male-dominated industry-and a woman who competes in the ring rather than one who manages the boys?
"When I first came in.. I was there about a month before Essa (Rios) and I started doing dark matches together" Lita says. "The guys see so many women come and go, and there are so many people hanging out backstage that they didn't know who I was. They
were polite to me; I tried to introduce myself to everyone. After I had my first dark match- I did a moonsault after Essa-everyone was standing backstage when I came through the curtain. They were like, 'Wow, that was great, really cool...' From then on, it was like the respect level changed. No one was ever disrespectful to me before, but after that, if I would ask one of the guys a question, he would actually sit down with me because he saw that I wanted to learn, that I wanted to do stuff in the ring."
Like Chyna, Lita stands out from the other Federation women. there is no denying Lita's beauty, but it's her athletic ability that sets her apart. Does she feel estranged form the other women in the locker room? And what exactly does Lita think of the role women play in sports-entertainment?
"I think that women's wrestling on its own leaves a lot to be desired." Lita says. "Incorporating the women with the men gives the fans a lot more, and a lot more can be done with it. I have a lot of respect for the ground that women have broken in the past. I have watched a lot of the past performers, and I've gotten the opportunity to talk a lot with Mae Young and Moolah, and I worked with former Federation Women's Champion Leilani Kai and Rusty Fox. I have great respect for them. But I think that it comes across a lot better when you can also mix it up with the guys. It can add a lot more"
Lita continues, "I'm a big fan of Terri Runnels, and she never really mixed it up. But her aura adds a lot to the show. There are people who say, 'Oh those other girls can't do anything.' I don't agree. They do a lot they add a lot to the show. I have just as much respect for them as I do for somebody who bumps."
And speaking of respect, in a very short time Lita has caught the attention and respect of both Federation fans and Superstars alike. With such a bright future ahead of her, where does Lita see herself headed?
"I'm really, really excited about this alliance with the Hardy Boyz, I feel that the three of us could do a lot of stuff that's never been done or seen before in wrestling, in any capacity. They've broken a lot of barriers already. I feel as though I've been given the opportunity to potentially do that myself. I would love t stick with them for a long while.
"I just love the opportunity I've been given here. It's awesome. I just asked Trish Stratus if this was all that she'd thought it would be and she said, 'Yeah, I didn't know what to expect. How about you?" and I said, 'I wake up everyday and I can't believe I'm here.' It hasn't even sunk in that I'm here yet."