THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
29th May, 2014 0
My grandson, Griffin age 8, is a huge WWE Wrestling fan. He wears his WWE Championship belt out to dinner. I was told the WWE was coming to Saginaw so I arranged to photograph the event for Review magazine. To make that happen, WWE wanted me to interview a wrestler. With most of the men coming back from a European Tour they asked me if it was OK to interview one of the lady wrestlers. Why not?
So I interviewed “Summer Rae” Danielle Moinet (age 30), actress in the movie “The Marine 4,” former captain/cornerback/All-Star of the Chicago Bliss of the LFL for four years, and superstar of “Divas of WWE.” (Total Diva’s TV show is in its second season). What a nice young lady. She is very focused on her future, well spoken, and one very fit and beautiful young woman. The interview lasted 40 minutes and here it is. Coming to the Saginaw WWE event is: Sheamus vs Kane, Big E vs Bad News Barrett vs Alberto Del Rio, Rob Van Dam vs Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, The USO’s, Ryback, The Rhodes Brothers, The WWE Divas, and many more.
Danielle: Hi Richard, how are you doing?
Review: Good. I don’t know too much about wrestling but after looking at your website I think I may become a fan of yours.
Danielle: Wonderful, that’s the right way to go, and it’s summertime, thank goodness, so it’s good to be a Summer fan!
Review: How do you compare lingerie football of four years with the Chicago Bliss to the physical and violent aspects of wrestling?
Danielle: That’s a good question. Someone just asked me that recently when we returned from England. As far as the physicality, playing any kind of sport from the past somewhat prepares you for what wrestling is going to be. At the end of the day it’s physical when we’re out there and everything is so real, the impact is so real. Playing football was very dangerous. We had minimal pads but we had good helmets. It was a very physical contact sport. What’s good about wrestling is we were able to go to wrestling school in Orlando, FL called NXT. Bill Demott is our head trainer. We go to school for a minimum of 1 ½ to 2 years. Some guys go for 5 years. You get the training you need. You get to know the basics and be able to condition your body so your body gets used to it and doesn’t reject it when you get in the ring. I would say that’s the biggest difference between football and wrestling. A lot of girls don’t know the rules of football. We had to learn very quickly. You had to rely on your athletism, whereas the wrestling if you’re already athletic you can kind of get the right training from the top teaching professionals in the world. Those are down at NXT in Orlando. It’s a great learning environment that Triple H’s created there. It really prepared me for being on the main All-Star and Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown.
Review: When I watched the football I was amazed at the ability of the women. There was a lot of talent on the field.
Danielle: Right and I think a lot of people thought for a couple of years that it was a gimmick – a foo-foo lingerie football league during the halftime Superbowl show. Then we became what was the LFL. Now it’s the Legends Football League. I had a playlist on my wrist of forty different plays that I had to memorize. It’s definitely not something that’s just a gimmick. Mark Henry had come to a game or two in L.A. when I first started wrestling. A couple of the guys were making fun of me, saying it was powder puff, but Mark Henry stood up for me.
Review: I don’t think most men would want to be on the field with you, I’ll tell you that, because it is very physical.
Review: I live in Clearwater, FL seven months of the year. I see Hulk Hogan once in a while. My daughter Nicole and I met him in Sturgis also. His home is across the water from our place. Have you ever met him? What impact do you think he’s had on the wrestling world?
Danielle: He was in London at our Smackdown. I was just with him two days ago. Growing up I was and am still such a fan. My dad and me watched him when I was very young. When I played in the LFL I did a lot of his mannerisms after I had a touchdown, sack, or big play. I believe I first met in him in February, a couple months before WrestleMania. He’s iconic. He’s a legend. Even if you don’t know anything about wrestling, you know who Hulk Hogan is.
Review: He’s got his own bar now in Clearwater, Hogan’s Place, on the water.
Review: What made you want to get started in wrestling?
Danielle: I’d always been a fan. I was a grown woman in my twenties. Instead of going out with my friends on Mondays I would watch Monday Night Raw. I loved it. With a male-dominant crowd that we have, it was a little different for girls, especially grown women. Football, I like it, but it wasn’t my passion. It took up so much of my time and I gave up so much of my body that I thought, if I’m going to give up so much time and wear my body down, I may as well do what I really wanted to do. We have 70+ men on our roster, and right now only 14 or 15 women in the division. I think I was afraid to fail because the percentage of women is small. Being a Diva is a unique small club in the world that people can say I am or I was a WWE Diva. Being able to take the jump and go after my dreams was a little nerve racking. I had to put all my eggs in one basket, which I wasn’t used to doing. But it’s paid off. This year was my first WrestleMania. Stepping out in the Superdome in New Orleans was very humbling and amazing to actively live out my dreams. You don’t work a day in your life when you love what you do. That’s where I am right now.
Review: That’s awesome. You’re going to be wrestling in Saginaw, right?
Danielle: Actually I have no idea. I just got back.
Review: Well I’ll pick ya up so don’t worry about it.
Review: In a match have you ever seriously wanted to kick the hell out of your competitor beyond the entertainment value? Has it ever gotten to that point where you’d say to yourself ‘you know, screw the rules, I want to beat the snot out of this woman’?
Danielle: I have not. If I ever got to that point I’d think something was wrong with me. I don’t wrestle with anger behind it. I wrestle for the entertainment and the passion that goes with it. I love to make the crowd boo me. I love to put a smile on their face. That’s why I do it.
Review: Well you got me smiling. I’ll tell you that.
Danielle: I can’t imagine it ever being like that. I think all the women and superstars are very professional. Of course, people aren’t going to get along all the time. You may have a problem with a co-worker but that would be something you’d talk about outside of the ring.
Review: Have you ever thought about the impact you have on eight or nine year old kids that see you on TV and then they want to go slam-dunk grandma off a wall?
Danielle: Absolutely. That’s the great thing about WWE. We have initiatives like ‘don’t try this at home’ and ‘Be a Star’ which is an anti-bullying rally. I was able to do my first one at the beginning of this year in Orlando. I spoke to about 400 fourth-graders. In fourth grade they’re so impressionable. Sheamus was with me, and he’s such a big WWE superstar. He’s such a great guy. When he spoke they took it all in. Your parents can tell you something and you’re like ‘yea right mom/dad, whatever’ but when Sheamus talked, he told them if someone’s picking on you tell a teacher. Don’t be a bully - be a star. They listened. It was amazing to see the power we have as WWE Superstars and Divas. I’m very mean on WWE programming. It means so much to me to have the opportunity to go out and tell the kids the difference between entertaining TV and the real world. Because I think someone who has a character like mine, I can say I turn the switch on and I’m a different person when I’m here and then it’s able to make the good guys win because I’m such a bad guy. So it’s great that WWE gives us an outlet to show kids there’s a difference between reality and TV.
Review: I think that’s a great answer because my grandson’s been threatened two or three times at school this year. It’s really a big impact hearing from people in something he really enjoys. That’s why I’m sitting here talking to you. Griffin’s eight years old and he really loves wrestling. He went out to eat with us last week with his WWE belt on. It’s really nice you’ve taken the initiative to go out and meet with kids that are bullied.
Danielle: Yeah! It’s great too. For me personally it’s very humbling. I’ve only been doing this for 2-1/2 years and when I first went on, the kids were excited to see me and talk to me. I sat back and said this is so weird. When did I become this person that these kids want to hear from. Why would they want to hear little ol’ me talk? For me it was very cool to see I’m able to use my voice for something so positive. We just started in with the Special Olympics as well. It’s not only just a national campaign but also statewide and the Florida Special Olympics were held just last Friday. We had volunteers and were able to go out. The athletes in the Special Olympics are so amazing. It’s great to use our time and our voice positively.
Review: I think that’s incredibly great. I’ve got an acquaintance in Florida who has a daughter with Downs Syndrome. She’s gotten through a regular high school, drivers training and a movie’s been made about her. She does acrobatic demonstrations at volleyball and basketball games. She went to Tampa University to perform for her sister’s team. Her parents never put her in a closet to hide her away. They always included her in everything.
Danielle: My sister works with special needs kids as well. It takes a different kind of person to be able to teach them and be with them. Teachers are amazing. It’s a job I’m not sure I could ever do.
Review: I coached hockey for 30 years and have seen a lot of injuries, and have watched a lot of football. Steroids and concussions – I did see a wrestling match down in Florida three months ago. The wrestlers came out and signed autographs. They looked pretty beat up. In your opinion, where are steroids and concussions at in the wrestling world?
Danielle: That’s a big concern for the WWE. About seven years ago we implemented the Wellness Policy. It’s a strict policy similar to the Olympics drug testing. We get tested very regularly. Safety is the number one priority when it comes to WWE. We have amazing doctors in Pittsburgh who work with us. They’re the first to put together an impact test, which is now used in the NBA and NFL. Personally I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a few friends who’ve gotten rocked a little bit. We work with doctors locally through the performance center in Orlando and have amazing doctors who travel with us 24/7 on the road and know us personally, and also our doctors in Pittsburgh. I feel very safe and confident WWE puts our health first.
Review: I looked up all the highest paid athletes in sports and at the top is Vince McMann. He’s like a ba-zillionaire! Do they pay you guys well?
Danielle: That’s the great thing about WWE. When you first start off, it’s definitely about the passion. You have to have this passion because no amount of money can keep you on the road for 300+ days. As a woman, I’m choosing to do this instead of have kids and start a family. To be able to do this, I think a lot of businesses are money-driven, and you’re like, this is bad, the schedule’s horrible, but I think no one can pay you any amount of money to be on a plane three or four times a week working 90 hours a week, you have to have that passion and the drive. So of course there’s compensation depending upon your background, where you come from, if you think it’s good or bad, WWE’s great to us. They take care of us.
Review: Does Vince McMann own this too or is he just the one who started this. Does he still have a part of WWE?
Danielle: Oh my gosh, Vince is still extremely hands on. He’s there every week. The thing about him is what he has and what he’s made, rightfully so the man is so appreciative. We just had the WWE Network lunch in February. It’s (the network) 24 hours a day. It’s amazing how many people have signed up for it in the two months before WrestleMania broke records. He’s been doing it for so long, but yet he reinvents the company every year. There’s not a company like ours out there.
Review: Who do you consider, with the time you’ve put into this so far, the most talented female and male wrestler, as far as physical ability, entertainer, and the people fans most want to see?
Danielle: For me it’s Stephanie McMann, Vince’s daughter. Right now she’s a character on WWE and she’s playing the higher CFO role for WWE, but the great thing about Stephanie is she does it all. She’s such a role model for any of the divas and a lot of the people backstage. Not only is she a mother, she’s married to Triple H. She has amazing beautiful children that’s she’s hands on with every week. She flies all over for TV. She’s able to run parts of the business and the company while looking amazing, staying healthy and fit, and doing so many charity events as well. The “Be a Star” campaign – she does a couple a month. It’s great to see a successful woman that can do it all. A lot of times we think, well we can be successful but not have a family, or think we can have a family but that means the man needs to be successful. Stephanie McMann has broken all those stereotypical roles. For me she’s a huge role model and someone we go to for advice when we’re on the road all the time.
Review: And for your male consideration?
Danielle: Someone just as great as her, her other half, Triple H. They’re married off-screen. He’s taken on so many new jobs and has taken control of what he’s done with the performance center down in Orlando. He’s taken a multimillion dollar facility with a small idea to create training for our athletes like the NFL. He questioned why shouldn’t our athletes have something like this? We should have something like them? We’re a billion-dollar company and we have no performance center for the people coming up in our company.
Review: So you have a performance center?
Danielle: Yes, it’s been open for almost one year this July. It was Triple H’s idea and he was able to have it come to life and really investing in the future. Because the new athletes training down there now are the future of the company. In the next 10-20 years they’ll be the John Cena’s, or the new Rock. They’re the ones who’ll hold everything’s that’s been done in the past. It’s really great to see what he’s done and also how great of a father he is to his kids, and how wonderful a husband he is to Stephanie. They’re an amazing power couple and an amazing family.
Review: Well you’re definitely in your genre. Going out and participating in a movie. How do you look forward to that? Where’s it going to be done? Who’s going to be in it?
Danielle: Yeah, that was an amazing opportunity. WWE has their own studio company. There’s never been a WWE Diva that they’ve had in a role. There was “The Marine 4.” I actually just got done filming it. The Marines before have been John Cena. The Miz was in mine. He was also in the Marines 3. Ted Diviosi was in Marine 2. So being the first WWE Diva..I was just so flattered and so humbled that this decision was made by the top of our company to entrust me with this role. It made me excited to want to do well and represent the women. It was such a learning experience. The hours were crazy – about 4am to 9pm every day – long hours but I learned so much. I never stayed in my trailer, I was always on set. I asked so many questions. Everyone was so talented: actors, directors, lighting guys, everyone on the project. I just really respected everyone because it was a whole other world for me. I knew nothing about it. It was humbling for me. I was able to learn a lot.
Review: When does it come out?
Danielle: I think it’ll be 2015. But it could be before Christmas 2014. It was really cool. I got to shoot tons of machine guns and semi-automatic guns. I never shot a gun before the film. I was a little anxious and excited all at once. It was so safe on the set. I had a professional on set with me all the time making sure I was comfortable with the guns, and holding them right. It was great to work with such professionals on the job.
Review: You look like you’re having a lot of fun in your life, Danielle.
Danielle: It’s been an amazing year. I’ve been very fortunate.
Review: The fellow who promotes your group told me to ask you about your relationship with Fandango (on screen Raw romance). You used to dance for him and now Layla’s doing it. Does your character feel like punching her upside the head?
Danielle: Yes, I just came back Monday to Raw and they were kissing in the ring and I stormed out and I said I’m back. I took my man back. Layla and I brawled a little but they separated us.
Review: Is this for real? Are you going with this guy?
Danielle: You have to watch Monday Night Raw, my friend. It’ll be fun. Really, I’m very lucky to come back from filming a movie with a great storyline. Yea, Fandango dumped me on Twitter.
Review: Would you like to be on “Dancing with the Stars?” You’ve got four years in lingerie football, you’re in wrestling, you’re doing movies, you’re one busy lady, would you want to be one of the competitors?
Danielle: Yes, I am such a big fan of the show. Me, my mom and my grandma watch it all the time. Wrestlers have been on the show and they’ve done extremely well. It’s been known that the athletes on the show do very well because we’re so competitive.
Review: Well, you’re physically fit and it takes a lot of strength to carry through the ten weeks it’s on. Would you want to dance with Max or Derek Hough?
Danielle: Wow, you have the burning question. To just be even asked to be on it, whether it would be me or Fandango, we would just be so flattered. It’s a huge show, yeah, it would be an honor. Whoever my partner would be, we would tear it up. Maybe Max would be the guy to make Fandango jealous.
Review: I’m going to leave the rest of this interview with my daughter Nicole, whose son is an avid fan and has gone to WWE events. I want to tell you seriously, I am a fan of yours already. You are so, so sweet and I mean that from my heart.
Nicole: You’re very down to earth.
Danielle: That’s the way it should be. You should always be true to your heart. WWE has made us the characters we are, but we should always remember where we came from and who we are.
Nicole: Other than Stephanie McMann, who else do you admire?
Danielle: All of the WWE Divas who have come before me. I think it’s a great honor to be a WWE Diva. The role of a WWE Diva over the years has evolved. We don’t always have to be in the ring kicking butt. We can be a manager, we can be backstage and have a voice, and we can be at “Be a Star” rallies and look good doing it in five-inch heels! I’m very proud to have the opportunity to be a Diva and I look forward to what’s to come in the future. I’m excited every day I go to work.
Nicole: My kids absolutely love you guys. Whatever day WWE is on, they ask to watch it. My son has all the action figures. I’m finding it hard to find the female action figures.
Danielle: Most of the Total Divas have them. I don’t have a doll yet. I know Eva just got hers, and the Ballards have them. Maybe they’re just running out wherever they are. It’s great – when AJ got her shirt. It’s the first Diva in a very long time to get a shirt and get merchandise. It’s very cool to see how women are getting merchandise and getting dolls. It’s a great time to be a Diva.
Nicole: Is it hard to balance being on the Total Divas and have a personal life?
Danielle: Well sure it’s all very demanding, but anything with great demands comes great rewards. It’s just great to see every week it come to life in an episode; because you film so many things; they just follow you around and you think ‘what’s that gonna look like?’, they put it together and it makes a story! It’s so impressive. I may only have a day and a half off a week. I’m usually on the road. I usually fly out on Fridays and come back on Wednesdays. It’s very demanding but it’s a great opportunity. I was fortunate to be chosen for season two. We just got confirmed for season three which is amazing.
Nicole: Do you like how you’re being portrayed on the show?
Danielle: The good thing about being on a reality show is that it’s like looking at a mirror. You can see what you’ve done wrong. You can see how to fix it. I think women always talk. There’s always drama. I have no regrets. Next year we’re getting a new cast member. I think it’s gonna be good.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)