WWE Exclusive Interview: Lita Talks Hall Of Fame And Life After Wrestling

She was not your typical Diva. Lita was gorgeous and athletic, for sure, but she was also a tattooed bad girl whose punk-rock aesthetic perfectly captured the Attitude Era's edgy allure. Success did not come overnight for Amy Dumas. Before she became Lita, she travelled solo to Mexico City to learn the craft of wrestling from luchadors. When fame (and infamy) came in WWE -- thanks partly to risque storylines culled from messy real-life romances, and partly due to some outstanding matches -- she was a show-stealer whose eventual Hall of Fame induction seemed assured. With that induction now just around the corner, WhatCulture caught up with Lita for an exclusive chat about wrestling, her post-WWE life and, of all things, vegan cheese. WhatCulture: Do you have a favorite match against Trish Stratus, looking back on your long rivalry?Lita: A lot of fans like to talk about the time we main evented Raw, but for me personally, some of my favorite matches were ones where we were just having a lot of fun and enjoying ourselves. One in particular I remember was not too long before Trish retired. At the time, I knew that I too would be retiring, so we were just having a blast on the road because we knew these were going to be our last matches. We were like, "Okay, we've already done the work, we know how to go out there and do this, so let's just go have fun." And we would just be laughing and telling stories, literally talking to each other throughout the match, and we'd be saying, "Get it together -- we are in an arena right now, we are working." (laughs) So in the middle of the match we'd try to say things to crack each other up and it was a really fun day at work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o57EWyUvDvc WC: So some of your fondest battles with Trish were at house shows?L: There's quite a few of them that stick out in my mind. I can't always remember the towns, but special things can happen at house shows. I think there's fans out there, or people who consider house shows unimportant as opposed to big fanfare events like a live RAW or a pay-per-view, but amazing things happen at house shows when the cameras aren't on, and because the cameras aren't on. For the wrestlers, you don't have as much pressure on you, so you can just go out and really be you and feel it, and that's what Trish and I did and that's something we really enjoyed about those smaller shows, whenever we'd do the media tours. Most of the wrestlers will tell you, there are definitely some special moments out there from house shows in the smaller arenas and towns. So yes, Trish and I would have experienced some really fun and emotional moments in those matches that only a few thousand people would have seen. WC: Fans are anticipating an emotional night at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.L: Oh yeah, especially given the personalities who are either inducting or being inducted. I'm really looking forward to hearing those speeches and there will be some very touching ones, for sure. WC: Let's talk a bit about your fellow 2014 WWE Hall of Fame inductees, starting with The Ultimate Warrior.L: I've never met him but I'm really excited about having my own "Ultimate Warrior experience." I'm very excited about that. WC: Have you met Mr. T?L: Mr. T was at an event at the Staples Centre in LA, and I've shaken his hand. But I have not had that fun moment with Mr. T that I'm anticipating will happen. I'm hoping that inevitably, the topic of Mr. T will come up in some kind of pop culture conversation and I can be like, "You know, I was hanging out with Mr. T one day and he said to me..." (laughs) WC: How about Carlos Colon?L: I've never met Carlos. Before I got my job with WWE, I had been working with ECW and was speaking with Miguel Perez who was in WWE and had worked a lot in Puerto Rico. He was hooking me up to be able to go down to Puerto Rico to work and while he was setting that opportunity up, I got a job with WWE. So that potentially would have been a different path I would have been on, had I not had the chance to wrestle for WWE. WC: Did you get to know Scott Hall in WWE?L: I didn't know him too well. He was great in that era with those guys, but I'm closer with both X-Pac and Kevin Nash. And I get them. I think they're funny and I like hearing about all the stuff they did, maybe because I wasn't in the locker room when a lot of the pranks happened. So there was no danger of something happening to my bag, or finding it stuck up on the ceiling. I'd always say, "Tell me that story when..." I think they're hilarious. I could just sit and listen to those guys and get a real kick out of their stories. WC: Have you crossed paths with Jake "The Snake" Roberts?L: First of all, I want to tell you, when I go and hike Stone Mountain, when I'm in Stone Mountain, Georgia, I always think about how they would announce Jake being from Stone Mountain, Georgia. I have no idea if he has any really ties to Stone Mountain, Georgia, or if it just sounded cool for Jake the Snake to come out of there, but I think about him every time I'm hiking that mountain. But I did not meet him until the last Mania. I had heard the lore and crazy stories about Jake the Snake, but fortunately I only got to see the good version -- or should I say, present version -- of Jake. We have some mutual friends who have talked about how well he's doing. I like watching the Hall of Fame and hearing the older guys really reflect and have that moment. It must be so rewarding to also see the current fans still appreciate something that happened so long ago. And I know what that moment means for him. It probably means the most to him, to see his career come full circle. I'm going to really, really enjoy hearing his stories and watching him go in to the Hall of Fame. WC: And lastly, Paul Bearer.L: I had a really fun weekend with him not too long before he passed away. It was with him, Jimmy Hart and Diamond Dallas Page, we did an appearance together. It was a weekend appearance and it was just a really fun motley crew group that we had, where the four of us probably could not be more different. But we were all very respectful and complimentary of each other. We were making jokes that we were going to take this outfit out on the road, the four of us. And Paul Bearer, he's one of these people who -- it's cliche and it sounds like I'm copping out -- I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. When he walked into a room he brought so much positivity in and just made the place more fun and better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGvLEPksxU0 WC: Tell us about the lifestyle changes you've made since retiring from WWE.L: Since retiring, I've made Nicaragua my second home and I absolutely love it there. I wanted to have a place where I could relax and surf, so I live on the Southern Pacific Coast not far from the border of Costa Rica. Another big lifestyle change is transitioning back to vegetarianism and now vegan. I was vegetarian since I was 14, and then I wasn't when I was on the road wrestling. It was just hard for me to find healthy choices, especially at that time when I couldn't punch whatever I wanted into my phone, and my phone would just take me there. So when I retired, I transitioned back. WC: How difficult is it to find vegetarian soy and tofu products in Nicaragua?L: Funny you should ask, I just found my first soy sandwich down there and I Instagrammed it because I was in awe of the fact that it existed! WC: Have you found a good vegan cheese?L: Daiya is the best commercial vegan cheese, and then I'll make my own. I'll do a simple one just with nuts, apple cider, nutritional yeast and garlic. And you can get really fancy with them and put probiotics in there. But personally, my whole thing with veganism is I'll do that type of stuff, like vegan cheese or veggie hotdogs for a novelty. If I'm going to a barbeque I'll have a vegetarian hotdog or if I'm having pizza one night, I'll get fake cheese on there. But as a general rule and lifestyle, I just eat fruits and vegetables and nuts and beans. I don't get too hung up on the alternatives that simulate meat. I think they're great for novelty items and I think they're great for people who are transitioning. And while they may be cruelty-free, it doesn't necessarily mean they're healthy products. Because you can live a vegan lifestyle and still eat unhealthy if you're just eating stuff out of boxes. WC: What were some of the foods you found difficult to give up?L: When I was transitioning, I wouldn't be too harsh on myself so I would do pizza occasionally. I'd have a group of friends over once a month and we'd do pizza. Or if I went to a birthday party, I'd have a cupcake that was definitely made with eggs and milk, and those were the types of things that were last to be phased out. And ice cream, for a long time I thought that was hard to give up, but then I started incorporating something like coconut ice cream. Then it's all just your realm, your world now and it's not like I even give it a second thought. It's so easy now with all the products available and when you're feeling like a treat, you can have it, but you don't have to have it every day. WC: You should write a vegan cookbook.L: I know, I'm super into vegan cooking and I have at all times, probably a dozen friends, asking me how to make this, that and the other. I also do kettlebell instruction, and I'm super into that. I just know that now, today, I feel so much better and I'm stronger. My muscles are more dense so I don't do bodybuilding training, which is what I did when I was on the road with WWE. So I'm feeling better now than I did when I was a professional athlete. So I feel great about that and I love helping make other people feel better. I'm just feeling really grateful and fortunate and I'm so much looking forward to the Hall of Fame ceremony and seeing everyone. I'm thankful that, after all those years on the road getting beaten up for so long, I wake up feeling great every day.
Contributor

Marshall Ward is an arts, music, entertainment and professional wrestling writer based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. A weekly columnist with the Waterloo Chronicle newspaper, Ward is also a contributing writer for Rock Cellar Magazine and has interviewed everyone from William Shatner to Olivia Newton-John to Ringo Starr. Email is welcome at marshall_ward@hotmail.com.

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