June 2, 2012
Gary Mehaffy
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An Interview with ODB

Interview conducted Friday, July 6th, 2012.

What first got you interested in Pro Wrestling?
I’m still trying to figure that one out! I’ve always been a big fan since I was a little girl. My parents would take me to the little armories around the town and I’d watch wrestlers like Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell and all those guys – Demolition, Road Warriors, home town guys – and I’ve always been a fan but when I went to college and all that fun stuff, one day I was like “I wanna do that!” I got trained by a guy named Eddie Sharkey, who trained the Road Warriors and the Demolition guys. He had a cool resume, so I thought he’d be the guy to get me in the business. Bam! I guess the rest in history!

What inspired you to tryout for Tough Enough in 2001?
With the whole Tough Enough thing………I was actually training to become a wrestler back then and I thought “You know what? It’s an easy way to get into the business.” But I’m so glad I didn’t make it that way. It gave me a little insight into the business and got me to meet people. I got to meet Al Snow and Taz, who were some of the judges, and now I work for them! It’s kind of cool how it worked out and I actually kept in touch with Al Snow after that (Tough Enough) and that’s how I got to OVW for a couple of years. Everything happens for a reason. I made it to the top 25 but I’m glad I didn’t make it into the Tough Enough house.

You mention OVW. Obviously at that time it had links to the WWE, and there were a lot of calls from fans for you to be brought up due to the fact that your persona was so different compared to the typical women that they were signing. Were you hopeful of being brought up?
Obviously I’m something different that no one has really ever seen in women’s wrestling, and with women’s wrestling you never really get to see a character that’s larger than life or basically themselves – it’s me with the volume turned up, a lot! When I was in OVW I got advice from guys like Robert Gibson, Al Snow, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham, and they’re like “Be you, be ODB! Who is ODB?” I just let loose and they told me to tone it down a little bit! The tattoos, coming out (to the ring)………at some point they (WWE) were interested and were like “We’re gonna do something with you!” but then TNA wanted to do a Knockouts Division and I just had a gut feeling. I was like “You know what? I wanna be where the Knockouts are.” That’s when I left OVW. The Knockouts Division is awesome; there are so many different characters. We’re all different shapes and sizes, different looks. It’s kind of like going into an ice cream parlour, you know? There are so many different brads of ice cream! (laughs) It’s a good choice for all the guys to look at. Some like the girls a little bigger, some like them bleached blonde, brown hair, blue eyes – whatever!

You were briefly in and out of TNA in 2003/4. You returned to TNA in 2007 at Bound For Glory and quickly became a fan favourite. Are you more comfortable in that role or being a heel?
Actually, I like that I can be me. People are either going to love me or hate me. I like being just me! I think it’s kind of cool that fans do relate to me, because I am just a normal Minnesota hillbilly! (laughs) A lot of people are like that. They like to have some beers and hang out with their friends in their garage. I think when I came it was refreshing to fans. “Holy crap! She doesn’t weigh 120lbs! she’s actually a cool girl that can kick some ass and not bad on the eyes!” I still remember that first time in 2007 at Bound For Glory when we had that first Knockouts Gauntlet match for the title. Just that feeling of coming out there and “Damn, I made it!” I knew it was gonna be a fun ride for a while. I like to be a fan favourite, I think I work better when the fans are behind me. You do it (wrestling) for the fans, so that’s what I like.

On a side note, although you have alluded to it, how much of the ODB character is you amped up to 11 and how much is just the intriguing wrestling persona?
Actually, I’m crazy! (laughs) It’s obviously the volume turned up, which I think are the best characters, and when I’m out there I’m having fun. I do it to make myself laugh sometimes! If they give me 10 minutes on TV I’m taking that damn 10 minutes! I just kind of go out there and do my thing and not many people get to go out there and do that. Some people are like “You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to wear that.” With me they’re like “Just be ODB.” I’m like “Are you sure?” and they’re like “Yep!” I pretty much, as they say, cross the line! I cross the line every time I’m out there! (laughs)

You have been in the ring with all of the top Knockouts in the division in TNA. This might be a little unfair to ask, but who stands out to you as the best that you have faced?
The best Knockout I’ve been in the ring with? They’re all so different, so you’re gonna get a different match out of all of them. I enjoyed working with the Beautiful People, when it was me and Roxxi and we did the whole thing with Beautiful People being the beauties and we were the fuglies kind of thing. I ad a good time working with those girls, they’re good characters. I also liked working with Kong, because it kind of reminded me of the old days, like Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant. She was very easy to work (with). Gail Kim is easy (to work with). She’s so different than my character because she can do all the fancy moves – I don’t really do any moves! (laughs) I like mixing it up with her. I really enjoy working with Mickie James. She’s very talented and we have good chemistry. Right now we’ve got Miss Tessmacher, who is improving. The last time, actually, I was in the ring with her I ripped out her weave! (laughs) We’ve not been in the ring since! Tara is a good one – she’s been in the business forever. We had a good little storyline going for a while before I left TNA for a little bit. Miss Jackie was one of my favourite tag team partners. She’s a tough one – I’m glad I was on her side! That’s the thing with TNA – all of the girls are so different. You’re gonna get a different match every time you mix up the Knockouts.

You mentioned that you left TNA for a little period of time in 2010. Can I ask what led to that?
It was a thing where the contract was up and we just weren’t agreeing with certain stuff. I wasn’t happy at the time. I wanted more…….you know, you’re a wrestler, you wanna be used more. I felt I was getting pushed behind, pushed aside, and I wanted to work and I wasn’t happy. But we left on good terms obviously because they called me back. Everything happened for a reason with that one too. It was a time in my life where I thought maybe it’s my time to try to do other stuff. It was a good little break. I was out for almost a good year until they called me up. I got my spot back, I was happy with that. I wasn’t begging for my job back – they called my ass!

When you returned it was along with Jackie, where the storyline was that you had no TNA contracts, etc. Although the matches and the storyline were fun, there were some fans who saw it as a little…non-sensical might be the wrong way to put it, because they felt that obviously you must have had a contract if you were on TV. How did you view that storyline?
Actually it’s kind of funny. That storyline was actually kind of true. They just brought me in to do our thing and I wasn’t signed when I was doing that, I was paid per appearance, so that actually was a true storyline! (laughs) As we were doing it they we like “Well, we need more Knockouts.” The Knockouts Division, I thought, was getting kind of ‘blah’. There were a handful of us that left in that year. I thought that me and Jackie brought the roughness back into the division. There were so many little girls that were just kind of like play fighting , and that’s not what the Knockouts were all about, so me and Jackie brought that back. We were like “Hey, if you wanna play with the big girls, here we are!” That’s how I earned my full time roster spot back again. I actually just signed a new deal with TNA, so I’ll be there for a couple more years. I ain’t going nowhere!

You’ve been involved in what could be described as ‘interesting’ situations with Cody Deaner and Eric Young over the last couple of years. Firstly, the storyline with Cody, which revolved around who was the true Knockouts champion. Do you think that that added to, or detracted from, your title reign or where you just having fun and went with it?
(laughs) Cody, my first boyfriend on the show! That was actually fun. I’d known him before we got stuck together. It was actually a very fun little thing we got to do. I was like (sarcastically) “Aw, great! Now I get to have a boyfriend on the show!” But you never saw me and him kiss or nothing. (laughs) But when we finally got to were he thought he was the Knockouts Champion and we got to fight on the PPV and I beat him for the Knockouts Championship that was pretty cool. It was pretty cool of him to let a girl wrestle him. Some many guys get so anal about all that. “I’m not wrestling a chick! I’m too good for that!” It’s pro wrestling! He (Cody) is a very talented guy and you never know – he may be coming around again, now that he knows I’m married! (laughs) They always seem to come around!

Speaking of your ‘marriage’ to Eric, how did that association come about?
I’ve been wrestling for 12; I’ve known him for 10 years. We met in Nashville, Tennessee. We actually met in Green Bay. We did a little show in Green Bay and I was moving to Nashville. He was like “Are you going to Nashville?” “Yea.” “Alright, follow me!” It was like 10 hours from Green Bay and we followed each other to Nashville. We stayed in Traci Brooks’ apartment and we’ve always been friends here and there. He’s such a talented guy. It was cool how all of a sudden they threw us together and we were like “Oh crap!” We kind of made it happen, because they put us in that wildcard tournament and I think our chemistry, with him being so funny and I can work with him, he helped me out a lot. We just started to wing stuff out there, it’s the best way to do it. It’s kinda hard to keep a straight face with him in the ring. I’m so glad they let us do our thing. You haven’t seen what we can do, there’s a lot more coming! Hopefully not a baby though! (laughs)

How much fun was the marriage angle to do back in April?
That was a LOT of fun. How many people get to get married on a wrestling show? I thought it was pretty cool how they gave us that time. At first, I thought we were rushing it a little bit. We had just gotten engaged and then all of a sudden 3 weeks later we were getting married! (laughs) But I thought it was cool that we got to do it our style. I got my camouflage wedding dress and I thought it played out really good. I think it’ll make the history books, hopefully. A wedding marriage that actually worked out for once! Someone tried to ruin it, but it didn’t work! We actually said “I do.” (laughs)

You’ve been with the company for a long time and have seen many changes, including when Hulk and Eric came in. How do you think the company itself has progressed and improved over the years that you’ve been there?
I officially signed a contract with them in 2007 and I think now, I’m actually liking it now. Wrestling has been around for so many years, and now with the internet and all that crap there are so many people out there that think they know more than the wrestlers know, and the writers, but I think now what we do is more reality. It is what it is. They’re taping us and we’re not knowing we’re getting taped. Me, as a wrestler watching it, I enjoy it better, and I think we’re gonna get a lot more viewers by that. I think it’s a good time to be a wrestler on TNA Impact right now. Not even the last couple of years, but in 2012 I think we’ve really stepped it up. I’m looking forward to many years being with the company.

You’ve done a little acting in the last year or two. Is that something that you hope to progress into in the future?
Yea, I kind of wanted to get into the acting thing, but what really got me was doing voiceover work. I’ve been doing voiceover work classes and I’m loving it! Eventually I do want to be a character of a cartoon and it’s stuff that I’ve been working on. It’s such a different world though! I’m just starting to do some other stuff outside of the wrestling world. I run a bar back home in Minnesota and I’m eventually going to open up my own bar called ODB’s – One Dirty Bar. When I’m not wrestling, I’m basically working at the bar, bartending and stuff. I’ve done a couple of independent films and I’ve made appearances on a couple of reality shows. I’ve just done The Catalina on the CW. I made a little appearance on that – in a bikini, by the way! Hopefully the ratings don’t fall too much! (laughs)

What hopes do you have as an in ring performer in the next few years?
I wanna be a top player in TNA and I hope that one day I get to……….I’m one half of the Knockouts Tag Team Champs right now, and I haven’t really had a (Knockouts) title shot in the last year. That’s my goal right now, is going after the title. I wanna be on top of the Knockouts Division; I don’t wanna be pushed around by the little Barbie dolls! I’ve been off and on right now on TNA, on TV, but the ‘husband’ has his own fishing show right now, which is debuting at the end of July on Animal Planet, so make sure to check that one out! I’m very proud of him on that. He’s on to big things now. He’s a pro wrestler plus a fisherman. (laughs)

One final question. What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of getting into the business?
Don’t do it! (laughs) It’s hard, especially nowadays. It’s really hard to get into the business these days. Back then you used to just call up the office and ask for a tryout, and maybe they’ll give you one, maybe they don’t, if they’re in your town. Back then you’d send a VHS to the office and they’d look at it. Nowadays, it’s hard. You’ve really got to work hard. I see so any people that have heart and they wanna do it, but they obviously don’t watch the product on what the guys look like, or the girls. You’ve gotta look like a superstar, you just can’t look like the guy from 7-Eleven. People look at it like it’s glitz and glamour, which it’s not. I love what I do, and I would change it for the world, but it’s a lot harder once you make it. Once you sign that contract you’ve got to keep your spot. A lot of people think “Oh, I’m gonna be a TV star, I’m gonna do this….” No. And there’s really not a lot of girls out there. After TNA grabbed a lot us, I really haven’t seen a lot of girls on the indy scene that really can step it up. I don’t do a lot in indys anymore, because I work at the bar a lot when I’m not wrestling, but if people really want it you’ve got to look the part. Hard work pays off, I’ll tell you that!

garymehaffy@hotmail.co.uk

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