Lita / Amy Dumas
At the #2 spot of Kick Ass Women Who Inspire Me is my favorite professional wrestler – Lita (real name Amy Dumas). While I respect and admire all of the women who climb into the squared circle and compete as professional wrestlers, Lita will always be my favorite.
My dad started subjecting me to professional wrestling not long after I was born. I grew up watching Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Shawn Michaels. I remember watching the Monday Night Wars play out between the WWF (now WWE) and WCW. And, despite the fact that they warped me for life, I have fond memories of D-Generation X.
I didn’t seriously get into watching professional wrestling until Monday April 24, 2000. On that night, my dad was watching the WWF’s Monday Night Raw while I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s These Happy Golden Years for at least the fifteenth time. I was mentally hanging out on the prairie with Laura when a wrestler’s entrance music captured my attention. I looked up, and there were Matt and Jeff Hardy running down the ramp. I was hooked…
Lita made her WWF debut around the same time that I found myself becoming increasingly more obsessed with professional wrestling. The early 2000s wasn’t the best time to be a female professional wrestler. The Divas (as they were called) weren’t always taken seriously. Even Chyna, who was bigger and had more muscles than at least half of the men in the locker room, got stuck playing the role of a male wrestler’s girlfriend. And that’s a role most of the female wrestlers were forced to play – girlfriend, love interest, or manager/valet. The Divas were also forced to compete in ridiculously sexist matches such as Bra and Panties Matches (where the two or more women ran around the ring tearing at each other’s clothes until one of them was stripped down to her underwear), Paddle on a Pole Match (where a paddle is suspended from a pole above the ring and whoever grabs it first has to spank her opponent), and matches that took place in inflatable pools full of mud, gravy, or some other gross substance. Lita, as well as the other Divas, was involved in questionable and demeaning storylines throughout her time in the WWF/WWE. But she made the most of it, and helped pave the way for future generations of women’s wrestlers. Lita not only dominated the Divas’ Division, she also mixed it up in the ring with some of the male wrestlers. And she proved she was a lot better of a wrestler – and had more impressive high flying moves – than a lot of them.
Lita, who had already trained as a professional wrestler and worked on the independent circuit and for ECW, made her WWF debut on the February 13, 2000 episode of Sunday Night Heat. She was initially paired with a male wrestler named Essa Rios, but that didn’t last for long. By the end of May 2000, Lita joined up with Matt and Jeff Hardy to form Team Xtreme. Lita continued to work with the Hardys until she was injured filming a television show in April 2002. Due to the extent of the neck injury, Lita was forced to have surgery. She didn’t return to the ring until September 21, 2003 at the PPV Unforgiven. That year Unforgiven took place at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. And I was there, cheering on my returning hero as she teamed with Trish Stratus to defeat Molly Holly and Gail Kim. Following her return, Lita was involved in storylines with Trish Stratus (as friend, frenemy, and enemy), Matt Hardy, Kane, Edge, and others. After four reigns as the Women’s Champion, Lita retired in November 2006.
What I loved most about Lita – aside from the fact that she was an extremely talented wrestler and played a major role in revolutionizing the women’s division – is that she was so unlike the other Divas. She dyed her hair a dark red, and sometimes she had hot pink highlights. She had a big tattoo on her right shoulder. And instead of the skimpy, girly outfits that most of the other Divas wore, Lita rocked baggy pants that sat low on her hips so that the top of her thong could show. A lot of her tops were fishnet or animal print, or had skulls on them. Lita was unique, and being unique made her stand out from the other Divas. But none of her uniqueness was an act. Yes, ‘Lita’ was a character that she played. But the real Amy Dumas showed through. She was fearless, extreme, tough, edgy, and a rebel and a tomboy. Amy was, and still is, a woman who is not afraid to be herself. And it was Lita’s fearlessness and commitment to being her own unique self that inspired me during my teenage years. Because I had such a strong, kick ass woman to look up to, I was able to rise above the criticism and judgmental comments made by the people I went to school with. I was able to flourish as the person I knew I was instead of falling into the cookie cutter, ‘Everyone else is doing it so I will, too’ trap that so many other teenager girls fall into. Because Amy was Lita, I had a guiding light on the path to discovering myself. Having Lita as a childhood hero helped me become the woman I am today.
Lita / Amy Dumas is a kick ass woman who inspires me not only because of what she did in the ring, but because of who she is as a person outside of it.