By Mike Mooneyham
July 8, 2007
She’s been a four-time world wrestling champion, written her own book, and has enjoyed success and popularity throughout the world.
But Amy Dumas feels her best days are in front of her.
The 32-year-old Dumas, better known to pro wrestling fans as Lita, is now juggling new careers, making rare independent wrestling appearances and serving as singer and songwriter for the Atlanta-based punk rock band The Luchagors.
Local fans will be able to see the red-headed beauty in both capacities when she opens a United Wrestling Federation show July 19 at Rick Hendrick Jeep Chrysler in North Charleston. She and her band will host an after-party later that evening at The Plex.
“It’s cool that the fans will have a chance to come hang,” Dumas said in an interview with The Post and Courier on Thursday night. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Last November she left WWE, where she had been a star for the past seven years, to “get out of the rat race” and put some normalcy back into her life.
“There’s no off time. The show must always go on, and you get used to missing your friends’ birthdays and not being able to spend holidays with your family. But then I realized that I was missing normal family stuff. I wanted a change.”
And, she emphasizes, the new life agrees with her just fine.
“It’s been great. I love it. I love sleeping in my own bed and being at home. Now that I’m here on the other side, I don’t know how I made it as long as I did. But I’m glad I did because I was able to have a lot of great experiences and save a lot of money.”
The first phase of her new career came quite by accident. Her punk rock band formed last October when Dumas was doing an autograph signing for a friend who had lung cancer. Her appearance was part of a rock ‘n wrestling benefit, and she agreed to do a couple of songs when one of the national acts dropped off the bill. Before she knew it, she says, she was leading a new band.
“I was the only inexperienced person in the band. Everyone else had been in like a million bands,” says Dumas. “In some ways it was intimidating, but in other ways it gave me confidence and pushed me to become a better musical performer.”
The band has evolved since then. Dumas takes her new role quite seriously, and has been busy taking vocal lessons and honing her songwriting skills. She says there are some similarities to wrestling. “It’s the same performance aspect, but it’s different as well. You’re firing the same brain cells, but in a different way. It’s also fun starting over doing something and not knowing where it’s going to end up. It’s not having the cushion of WWE promoting your stuff, but it’s seeing where you go on your own.”
Dumas, whose exposure to the high-flying luchadore style sparked her interest in wrestling and did much of her early mat training in Mexico, is looking forward to a gig with her band at a 15th anniversary AAA wrestling show July 15 in Mexico City. “We’re really looking forward to that,” says Dumas, who speaks Spanish fluently.
Dumas also hosts her own one-hour punk radio show on Sunday nights in the Atlanta area. The genesis for the show came about when the disc changer in Dumas’ car broke. Flipping through radio channels, she noticed there were nothing on that she particularly liked. She went straight home and e-mailed a new station that she was listening to. Dumas pitched her idea, and management immediately embraced it.
“I thought it would be awesome if there was a punk show and I did it,” says Dumas, who comes up with a play list every week. “It’s fun because, like the music and wrestling, the radio is live. You mess it up, and everybody knows. It’s more of all of the same of winging it.”
Dumas, whose view of wrestling is now better from her rear-view mirror, says she has moved on and rarely watches wrestling shows anymore.
“I’ve been kind of phasing it out, because it’s not that much of my life anymore. And that’s not in a negative way. That’s just kind of where I’m at. If you were to ask me to comment on anything going on in WWE, I wouldn’t even know. You’d have to fill me in before I could comment.”
Unfortunately, she says, one of the things she’ll be most remembered for came during the latter part of her WWE run.
A poster couple for nearly five years, Dumas and WWE performer Matt Hardy had a split that was painful – and public.
In February 2005, it was revealed that Dumas had been romantically involved with fellow wrestler Edge (Adam Copeland) for several months while still in a relationship with Hardy. Shortly after the incident became public knowledge, WWE released Hardy. After Hardy returned due to an outpouring of support from fans, the real-life situation was translated into a wrestling storyline.
The experience was numbing for Dumas.
“It was terrible. I’m a totally private person. I don’t talk to my girlfriends, I don’t talk to my boyfriends. I’m not a blabber. To have something like that come out and to have everybody judging … and the main person who was talking was Matt. Adam and I tried to take the high road. Not only that, but there’s so many things I could have said. There were a lot of things I could have said to make people understand it better, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not their business anyway. It was ridiculous that people were even talking about it. So I just said let them think whatever.”
Dumas says she wasn’t surprised when WWE turned the nasty break-up and domestic soap opera into an angle.
“They said they weren’t going to,” says Dumas. “We had the air cleared for a long time, but there was so much popularity riding on it, people wanting to know, and he continued to talk. Even when we were together, that’s how things were very different. I’m friendly, but still private.”
Hardy, she says, was much less private, with fans as well as friends. “That was a thing even when we were together. It was a difference of how our brains worked. We patched things up, but that’s what people were wanting to know about him, and he really rode that out and fed and fueled the fire, which made it last a lot longer than it really needed to.”
“Now, at least, I can finally laugh at it,” she adds, “but I went from being a private person to a hermit.”
It also turned her heel.
“The thing is, if I were to speak logically about it, I could very well talk him into being the heel,” says Dumas. “And anybody can, because it’s always a two-sided situation. It’s not my business to air an issue that’s private and happens between two people and is meant to stay between two people, and then go write a story about it.”
There were other low points in WWE.
She suffered three cracked ribs in her vertebrae while filming a fight scene for a role in the season finale of the TV series “Dark Angel” in April 2002, and became the first WWE diva to undergo neck fusion. She spent nearly a year rehabilitating while serving as a color commentator on the company’s Sunday Night Heat program.
At the Survivor Series pay-per-view, on Nov. 26, 2006, Lita dropped her WWE women’s title to Mickie James in her final match with the company. There was little fanfare surrounding her swan song, and Dumas privately was hurt. She doesn’t think she left on bad terms, but she’s really not sure.
“That really kind of confuses me, and I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer for that.. It hurt my feelings more than anything, because I gave so much to this company for seven years. And then to have sort of a mockery angle of it all. All the guys couldn’t believe it.”
Dumas says she would have been happy just shaking the new champ’s hand and taking a bow. “And that silly Cryme Tyme stuff on top of it was just like … whatever.”
“But it’s not going to change anything,” she adds. “My feelings were hurt on a personal level, and not on a business level, so I wasn’t going to exercise that on a business scale. I honestly haven’t talked to Vince (McMahon) since I walked through the gorilla position. I’m sure he’s offended that I didn’t come up to him afterwards and say thank you for all his time, but my feelings were hurt.”
“I’m glad that I got out when I did and didn’t re-sign for another five years, which is what they wanted,” says Dumas. “I can still look back and really enjoy and reflect on all the fun stuff I did there. There were a lot of positive experiences.” The most fun about being in the business, she says, was the spontaneity.
“I really liked not knowing what was next and not having a schedule. But as much as that was my favorite part, the opposite of that is my favorite part now. Being able to actually make a plan is great. As much as I loved flying by the seat of my pants then, I love not having to fly by the seat of my pants now.”
Dumas has no immediate goals, she says, other than to enjoy what she’s presently doing.
“My mom lives here in Atlanta, and we spend a lot of time together. We have a lot of time to catch up on. I’m enjoying not setting my alarm. I really enjoy my life. I love learning new things. I’m really having fun with my band and dedicating as much energy to it as I can. And it has nothing to do with it on a commercial success level. It’s more personal success and learning how to do something new.”
Dumas, who founded an animal charity in 2003, still volunteers an hour a week at a local animal shelter.
“I love doing that. It’s really great.”
Dumas, who still attracts fan wherever she goes, is hard to miss. She proudly sports a variety of colorful tattoos, including her signature ink, a three-eyed monster on her shoulder, the work “punk” tattooed on the inside of her lower lip and the word “iconoclast” written in Russian Cyrillic letters across her neck. She’s kept her hair red, but considered letting it go back to brunette.
“I was thinking it might nice to have some anonymous look and not be recognized everywhere.”
– The original Rock and Roll Express, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, will compete in the inaugural Rock and Roll Express Tag-Team Tournament on the UWF show July 19 at Rick Hendrick Jeep Chrysler in North Charleston. First-round matches include The Naturals vs. The Extreme Horsemen (winners meet Rick and Scott Steiner, with losers going into losers bracket); Diamonds in the Rough vs. The Rock and Roll Express (winners meet Too Cool, losers go into losers bracket); Christian York and Joey Matthews vs. The Old School Empire; and LAX vs. Team Macktion. Also featured will be a three-way match with AJ Styles, Petey Williams and Jay Lethal, and special appearances by Amy Dumas and Daffney. Admission to the after-party at The Plex is free with a ticket to the UWF event. Admission without a ticket is $10. Tickets are on sale at Rick Hendrick Jeep/Chrysler and online at www.uwfusa.com.