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Cheerleader Melissa (english)
CAGEMATCH: Thank you for giving us from www.cagematch.de the chance to ask some questions.
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: No, thank you. I have read your interviews before and I always enjoy them.
CAGEMATCH: What first made you want to get into pro wrestling? Were you a wrestling fan growing up? When did you say, "That is what I want to do"? And what did your family/friends say about that?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: My father was an active pro wrestler in the early 80s, so you can say I was born into the business. Growing up, I remember my mother taking me to see my father wrestle in matches. After the shows, I would point to his bruises and say “Ouch”. My father used to tell me that whenever he had a show to work, he would have me in one arm and his bag of gear in the other arm. Anyways, as time went on, my father and I maintained contacts in the business. We used to always attend the WWF shows at the LA Sports Arena where my Dad’s former tag team partner, Bill Anderson, would do the ring announcing for WWE. Bill Anderson ran a wrestling school in San Bernardino. My Dad and I decided one day to visit him. When I saw the training sessions, I became intrigued by the incredible ability some of the wrestlers had when it came to putting a match together. After trying out a few sessions, I new that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t think my mother was too pleased at the time, but my father supported me in whatever I wanted to do.
CAGEMATCH: You’ve been a valet for the Ballard Brothers. What do you think about your time with them? And, of course, what do you think of Shane and Shannon?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: My time with the Ballard Brothers is very valuable to me. They picked me up as their valet when I was first starting out. They trained me to take moves as well as how to wrestle. Ballard’s and I were very close for a long time. They brought me everywhere they wrestled, which I am grateful for. Shane and Shannon are great guys. They go with the flow and do everything possible to make every match a great match. Shane is the nicer one of the two. He drives carefully and likes chocolate milk. Shannon is the more aggressive one, but just as nice as his brother. Though lately, we have not worked shows together, we are still good friends and keep in touch.
CAGEMATCH: What was it like to be in the ring as a wrestler, for the first time? Was it exciting or was it hard for you to wrestle in front of a live crowd?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: My very first match took place on Aug 17, 1999 in Douglas, Wyoming. I remember that a group of us had to drive from California to Wyoming. In our group, we had Navajo Warrior, Lexie Fyfe, Lee Pasko, and Shannon Ballard. The trip was long and kind of spooky too. I swear, I think one of the dark towns we drove through was haunted. Anyways, the show was at the outdoor fairgrounds where all the seating was all on one side, and our dressing rooms were way on the other side of the field. When my music played, I got a little nervous. To get to the ring, someone drove us to the ring in a golf cart as we stood up on the back part of the cart (which was totally unstable as I hung on to dear life). Once in the ring, I felt real comfortable and nervousness went away. I was so exited during my match to be in front of people. I lost to Lexie Fyfe but I still had fun with it.
CAGEMATCH: Before you came to APW you had shows with many promotions, like UPW, CZW & EWF. Which one was your favourite promotion at that point of time?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: I had so much fun at all those places. It’s tough to decide just one. UPW was fun because I knew most of the Southern California guys there. I only worked for CZW once with the Ballards, but it was a lot of fun and, the crowd was huge. Ballards had a great match against Back Seat Boys. EWF is the school where I originally broke into to the business. Chris Daniels was one of my trainers. I never worked a EWF show except for once when I managed Chris Daniels and I was called Angelica.
CAGEMATCH: A few weeks ago you came back from Japan. What was it like to be back “home” at APW? Correct me if I’m wrong, but your first appearance was 2 or 3 days after your arrival from Japan. Was it hard for you, because of the jet lag?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: Being back home felt great. You have no idea how much I missed the USA and APW. In Japan, I did not have a telephone for people to call me, no car and not much freedom. When I got home, it felt good to talk on my cell phone and drive around in my car listening to my favourite songs. When I got home, I had a serious problem with not only the jet lag, but the time change as well. I was going to bed at 8 in the morning. I did APW Gym Wars show a couple days after I arrived home, and I’m sure that a few of the APW stars can tell you that I looked like a zombie backstage. Though I was exhausted, it was the best feeling in the whole world to be back at the APW garage. I missed everyone and it made me happy to see their faces again.
CAGEMATCH: Now let’s talk about your three months with ARSION. How did ARSION contact you and why do you think did they choose you and Taylor to tour with them? What have been your first thoughts when you knew that you were going to Japan?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: When I heard that Arsion was looking for American women wrestlers, I jumped on the opportunity. APW submitted my tapes, pictures and portfolio. I got word back that Arsion was very pleased with what they saw and they sent Bionic J out to the APW Garage in Hayward to meet with me in person. After weeks of negotiation and figuring out about my living conditions, I was excited to hear that I would be wrestling and training in Japan. I was so excited about the news because I knew that I would be training with some of the top female wrestlers in the world. I think I was more excited about the training than the wrestling shows.
CAGEMATCH: There are some draconic rules at All Japan Women (like no alcohol, no drugs, no men). Is it the same with ARSION or isn’t it as draconic as it is at AJW?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: Arsion was strict. No boyfriends were allowed (our boyfriends were in the USA anyway), and no drugs (we don’t do drugs). Some of the female wrestlers did smoke cigarettes and drank regularly though. I remember that there was this small temple just outside the dojo that we weren’t allowed to go to because it was believed to bring bad luck to those who went to it. I guess for the most part, the rules weren’t difficult for us to follow. Our days were pretty easy going.
CAGEMATCH: You’ve wrestled many ARSION wrestlers. Who would you consider the best “worker” at ARSION and why would you do so?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: I say the best over all is Mariko Yoshida. She is a perfectionist in everything she does. Training with her was awesome. She spends the most time training out of all the other wrestlers. Needless to say, all the Arsion stars have their own special skills and styles. Akino is a great high flyer. Ai Fugita can do a picture perfect moon salt. Rie Tamada has wicked suplexes. Gami is great at the comedy matches, and Bionic J has great power in everything she does.
CAGEMATCH: In your three months with ARSION you had a lot of matches. Which one would you consider the best and if you would answer it, which one would you consider your worst?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: There are two matches I would consider my best matches. One was a 15 minute draw between me and Tamada. The other one was my loss to Mariko Yoshida. More than 100% was put into those matches. My worst, I would have to say was the first singles with Rena Takase.
CAGEMATCH: You wrestled for AJW for one show. How would you describe the relationship between the wrestlers from the different women’s promotions (like AJW, ARSION, LLPW). Do they see each others as fellows or is it more like a rivalry?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: I see them as acquaintances. Some of the Arsion girls originally came from AJW, so everyone pretty much knows each other well. Back stage, we sat at the same table with AJW. Sometimes, some of the girls from those other companies work Arsion shows too. Everyone gets along fine backstage.
CAGEMATCH: Let’s talk about Taylor. What do you think of her, both as a wrestler and as a person?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: Taylor is great!! She has such a good personality and I enjoyed her company in Japan. Life was much easier in Japan having another American around. As a wrestler, Taylor has a lot of aggression, great facial expressions, and character in the ring. After a few weeks of training, there was a dramatic improvement in Taylor’s cardio and wrestling ability. Her moves became strong and solid.
CAGEMATCH: On your website (www.cheerleadermelissa.com) you’ve posted some comments from Japan and it was always fun to read. You posted some great stories you experienced there. Is there any funny/sad story that is still in your mind?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: As a matter of fact…YES. There were a couple of stories that I meant to write about but never got around to it. One was this photo shoot that Taylor had to do for some magazine. I went with her to see what it was about. We got on the train to the location of the bar where the photo shoot was supposed to take place. Rossy Ogawa was supposed to meet us at Mc Donald’s so that he could take us to the bar. We went to the wrong Mc Donald’s and waited forever looking for Rossy. It was hot and Taylor’s make-up was melting off of her face. After figuring out Rossy’s cell phone number, we call him and finally somehow he found us. He took us to the bar which had poor lighting and animal print couches in one corner. The photographers gave Taylor very little time to fix her make-up, now that we were running late, and handed her this outfit she was supposed to wear. The outfit was a bunny costume. It was a one piece halter black swimsuit looking thing with a bowtie around her neck, cuffs, and bunny ears. The suit it self was cut like an old-fashioned 50s swimsuit with breast padding that had to be over two inches thick. At this point, I was happy it wasn’t me that had to do this photo shoot. The photographers took tons of shots her on the animal print couch, by some stairs, and sitting at the bar. Taylor and I were laughing the whole time, because this had to be one of the most ridiculous things she has ever done. What made it worse is that I think the photographers were getting a little too excited a couple of times. After the shoot, I took pictures with Taylor in the bunny outfit and we called it a day. Rossy told us that the magazine would come out in September. Taylor and I were anxious to see the finished product when it hit the stands. Unfortunately, the magazine came out on Sept 26, the day after we went home.
CAGEMATCH: What are the future plans for Melissa? If I’m right you will be back in Japan at the beginning of next year. So what are your goals after that? WWE? Japan?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: I plan to return to Japan in the summer time. I was offered to return in January, but spending three months in Japan so soon after I was just there would conflict with work and my personal life as well. My other plans include wrestling more shows, and returning to school.
CAGEMATCH: What do you think about the fans? Do you feel fans today are too demanding? Is it to much “we want more high spots and bumps”?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: The fans are great. If the fans are demanding, then you have to be able to deliver a great performance every time in the ring. Without the fans, there wouldn’t be a market for pro wrestling and that’s what keeps me going in this business, are the fans.
CAGEMATCH: What was the funniest story you’ve experienced inside a wrestling ring/locker room?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: Well, this story happened between Shannon Ballard and King Faviano while I was back stage too. Faviano ribbed Shannon Ballard big time by taking a Vaseline jar, rolling it up in one of Shannon’s shirts and placing it back next to Shannon’s gear bag with out him knowing it. Shannon then came by, sat down next to his gear bag, and picked up his shirt. The Vaseline jar fell out of his shirt and rolled perfectly to Favianos feet. The best part was that the whole world seemed to slow down at that moment, as the jar rolled perfectly Faviano’s feet and everyone inside the locker room happen to see it. The wrestlers were laughing hysterically as Faviano picked up the jar as if he was upset and began yelling at Shannon, asking him if Shannon was cheating on him. (Shannon and Faviano weren’t dating). Faviano totally embarrassed Shannon in front of all the guys.
CAGEMATCH: Is there anything you want to say to your German fans?
CHEERLEADER MELISSA: Yes. I look forward to one day, taking a trip to Germany to visit and or wrestle. I myself am half German and would love to learn more about Germany as well as learn some of the language. To all my German fans, thank you so much for your support and I look forward to one day wrestle out there.
Sports Entertainment: Pro Wrestling
"Wrestling is fake!": I love it either way
US Independent Wrestling: Great wrestling stories
ARSION: Great memories, great wrestling
Japan: Need clothes dryers (I hated hang-drying everything)
Gym Wars: Good Times
Roland Alexander: APW Boss
Robert Thompson: The BOMB
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