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Interview with Joanie Laurer - By Gery Roif

GR: From Sean kicking Chono`s behind at Spiral 2 I might figure you and Sean will go against Chono and Tenzan for the IWGP tag titles again on 1/4? This hasn`t been announced yet but would you like to work this match? JL: I would like to work the match with Sean vs. Chono and Tenzan. I would love to tag with Sean, although I do feel an enormous amount of pressure in the sense that I have always thought Sean to be one of the most skilled wrestlers I have ever seen. He has been wrestling since he was 15 years old. He started off in Japan as a matter of fact. I think he is the most underrated wrestler out there!!! However, because of his love for wrestling, he expects a lot and he won't sell out so he can be difficult to work with. He expects a lot, as he should and I wouldn't want to put him in a precarious position. I feel the same about all of the guys I truly respect, but it just so happens i am also in love with Sean and he will be my husband.....it's kind of "a catch 22".....or I guess I should say...as a typical woman....it might hurt my feelings if I couldn't wrestle up to par comparatively. I need to work on my confidence a little I guess. It's hard when you simply just don't have the experience that the BEST have. My fear has never really been physical in the ring, but rather, to wrestle at a level which would give my colleagues the respect that we both deserve. This has been extremely difficult as a woman, although much accomplished for the most part. Japan has given me the opportunity to give that deserved respect to myself on my own two feet....and my fans......all then people that supported me at signings and appearances and especially those die hard beautiful hearts on my bodybyjoanie.com website. They stood by me when I didn't even sleep for months and couldn't let them know that they kept me going. I will never ever forget that kind of loyalty. Vince McMahon used to always say "perception is reality". He is right for the most part because people always judge a book by its cover and assume and judge. ...but the truth is..that's a crock of shit (sorry)...and I am trying to work on that myself. I never had a contract to wrestle for Jan 4th, so that was still up in the air when I went to complete my contractual obligation for the Dec Spiral 2 event in Nagoya. I had a match with Chono and Tenzan in November. I worked with the legendary Great Kabuki. I was so excited!!!!!!!! That was a huge highlight for me, although nothing could compare to the breakthrough match on Oct 14th with Chono. That was a pinnacle moment in history as far as I'm concerned, and I do not even think I realized the magnitude of what happened there. I am grateful for Mr. Inoki's, Mr. Chono's and New Japans faith in me. They gave me spirit and some real guts. Mr. Inoki is one of the most influential men as far as "presence" goes that I have ever known. GR: How was it to work infront 50,000 fans in the Tokyo Dome, which held some of the greatest wrestling matches in history? JL: The truth is, when I first went to Japan, I didn't know a damn thing about Japan, or Japanese wrestling. I was just so excited and also frightened to death at the same time. All I knew was that I was by myself, I couldn't speak the language, i had heard horror stories about the fighting style and I said, "No way....I'm not doing that!!!!".........a week later I was on the plane. I couldn't wait to get out there again and I was even more excited it was in a foreign country with a top company. I knew this was special. Simon Inoki, who handles the LA-DoJo and Justin McCully, who is manager of the LA-DoJo were there with me. When I entered the arena, I couldn't believe it. The biggest crowd I had ever performed in front of wa the Houston Astrodome , 72,000 people. It was a Wrestlemania, and I threw Ivory around wearing a hot pink number, complete with sparkling headband!!!(hee-hee). This however was different. The arena was like stepping into the future. Big screens, advertisements the size of billboards, a run way to the ring that I couldn't wait to strut my stuff on! We had to take a van from the dressing room to the entrance. It is the size of an entire block!!!! Being there the first time was incredible, but my first big fight with Chono was one of the most terrifying, nerve racking and rewarding proudest moments of my life and by far the biggest thing professionally that I have ever accomplished. I couldn't possibly compare to the other greats because i don't know much about them, and I truly believe as the times change, so does the history, however I am honored i ever got the opportunity and I think I did a hell of a job.

GR: How did you communicate during the matches(in Japan)? How did you go over spots backstage? Did they have an english translator help go over spots or what? JL: That's a good question. Japan is tough culturally! No, we really didn't have a translator, and it's tough to communicate. I don't know how that is really pulled off to tell you the truth. Thank goodness i spent months training before I went over. That was a definite help. It's not even just a language barrier either.....it's a style, it's foreign, it's culture, tradition. Man......how do you answer that?????????

GR: Shinobu Kandori, whom your met after the Chono match participated in a No Rope Barb Wired match, what are your thoughts on women doing such matches. JL: I don't have any thoughts on it. I love to wrestle, but I don't have anything to prove to myself or anybody else. I am not interested in participating in that kind of activity, nor do I want to watch it. I guess I just don't understand why that's done? Since when does barb wire have anything to do with wrestling or Martial Arts????? (GR: I couldn`ve said it better myself!)

GR: Have you watched some Joshi Puroresu(japanese women`s wrestling)? Any favorites there? Anybody you`d like to work with? JL: I have not watched hardly any Japanese wrestling at all. It was completely new to me, both the male and the female wrestling. I only trained at the LA-Do-Jo and right before I went to japan, I tried to watch some of Mr. Inoki's matches on tape. I have seen I do however remember Bull Nakano from one of my first independent wrestling appearances ever, and I remember loving their exhibition match. I am a fan of all women who follow their dreams be it in wrestling or at home taking care of babies. I am just not up to par on the wrestling in Japan. I am trying, but I must admit that I have wrestled men for my entire wrestling career, and I think wrestling the women would take me backwards. That is a totally different style in it's own in Japan and I do believe the women's groups need help there. Overall I think the women in Japan are far superior to the American female wrestlers, but I think it's going to take a long time for them to advance as the male groups have. I would possibly be "involved" in some way, but at this time I feel apprehensive about wrestling with them. I don't like to dive into things that I am not informed about......Never say never, right???????

GR: Japan is currently under a MMA(Martial Arts)/Pro-Wrestling cross over, what are your thoughts on it? Also what are your thoughts comparing pro-wrestling style to shoot style? JL: I never knew anything about shoot wrestling. I was aware of UFC, and i always thought it to be barbaric and boring. However, I had never even seen a fight!!!! When I went to the UFO fight in Japan last year, I couldn't take my eyes off off the fights. I went out and sat at ringside and I couldn't stay in my seat. Once you start to learn the "mental chess game", and the skill and technique of these fighters, it thrills you. I think these guys have something untouchable. It is actually far less barbaric than the American style wrestling in my opinion. You absolutely have to be skilled....very skilled, but when you get beat, you get beat, and you either tap out, or you get your arm or leg broken....period. Most of the men chose that rather than get their pride hurt, and that is the most intriguing thing about that for me. I wish i had the experience and the guts to face that!!!!!!!!!!!! I admire that so much! Ding, Ding...the bell rings......shake hands and may the best man win.

GR: You beat Chika Nakamura in april under Inoki`s Legend event, some reports said that your punches looked very weak as if you didn`t want to hurt your opponent. I won`t speculate but could you please clear this up? Would you consider doing this style again? JL: I never saw my exhibition match with Chika. Yes, my punches were weak. I took her down easily, and that being my first style match like that, it is hard to have that animal instinct to really hurt somebody unless you are on the defense. I had two other opponents that backed out ahead of time. I wasn't even sure if I was going to be a part of the card, but I wanted to go with Mr. Inoki regardless. I like to think of myself as a lover not a fighter.........although I must say, I know I could do some damage if somebody really pissed me off!!!!!!!!!!!! Otherwise I would probably be more likely to cry, or hurt somebody by accident. I always try to consider all of the options presented to me and based on my experience, intuition, and advice, I try to make decisions from there.

GR: Masa Chono stated during the "Spiral" Press Conference that he would damage your breasts during the match, were you OK about that comment? Did he ask you if you were OK with it before he made the comment? JL: No, he didn't ask me about my breasts before he made that comment about damaging my breasts. I guess I deserved it though after shoving his birthday cake in his face......(I've always wanted to do that!!!!!!!!) That was perhaps one of my favorite moments of all time!!!!!!!!! The thing is, I never knew what anybody was saying anyhow, so nothing bothered me at that point! I already broke one a few years ago anyway when somebody clotheslined me, so if that happened again I'd just get a new set, but I'd send Chono the bill because breasts are expensive these days!!!!!!!!!! (joke).

GR: You must`ve heard about Tyleen Buck`s(Major Gunns) implant accident. Don`t you have any fear for such accident, especially with the face first dangerous bumps you take so often? JL: No, I didn't hear about her dangerous guns accident......Is that why they're so dangerous????????????? Maybe we should have an "Exploding Boob" match, or..."an Implant on a Pole" match????????? ( I sure hope you get my dry sense of humor????????) Hey, what can I say.........shit happens, you know? You try to be careful and have a little cleavage at the same time. I have not seen any of Tylene Bucks matches. Did her accident happen during a match? (GR: Yep, during a match via a back elbow and she went straight to the hospital to get a new set, although I could hardly call her match a "match", it was a rather a T&A exhibition). GR: You`ll be doing The International Male Calendar shoot november 8th on E! in the states. Could you ask E! producers to pitch this program to the Israeli E! network? I urge all fans to call the E! Network about airing Joanie`s special and hopefully they will soon. Watching, the fans will be grateful to you for helping get the show in Israel! JL: I have been working my ass off doing all kinds of shows. After my release from the former WWF I moved to Los Angeles immediately to try to get work. It was very, very, very difficult. Many people never knew the reasons for leaving and I didn't have a whole lot of support then. As a matter of fact, that was the hardest transitional period of my life!!!!!! I had broken up with "HHH", he was "dating" Stephanie McMahon (the bosses daughter), The Former WWF owned the name Chyna so I couldn't use it or I would have been sued more than likely, nobody knew Joanie Laurer. The Hollywood world wasn't interested without "acting experience", and Vince had a lot of stroke within the networks and Television, and I believe people didn't want to deal with any problems that "one" person may have caused. I understand that too. That's just business. However, I had two choices. I could keep moving forward, or I could crawl in a corner and wait until the right time came to beg to go back to the WWF. It took me a year and a half of going everyday....shows, radio, cheesy parts, newspaper interviews, writing letters, calling people from all the business cards I had collected. Talk about rejection!!!!!!!!!!!! Everybody wanted my "Chyna" autograph though....I just wasn't allowed to sign it. Anyway, I would say the break came with Playboy. I used Joanie Laurer wrestling superstar. The issue did well without that billion dollar marketing arm, and i worked morning to night to promote that thing. Then I did Fear Factor on NBC with the hopes that the favor would be returned to me on e day from NBC. I knew all the wrestling fans would watch. That's when the whole "formerly known as" thing started. WHEW!!!!! Then came celebrity boxing!!!!!!! UGH! Did I want to do it?????????? No way in hell! Does anybody else who weighs 165 pounds (yes that's my real weight, and i only changed my hair color) want to fight a 254 pound ex-convict who tried to murder his wife?????? I didn't, but again.....I knew the loyal fans would be watching along with almost 20 million people and i was desperate to get Joanie Laurer out there!!!!!!! Chyna is strong and skilled at wrestling, but I...Joanie Laurer, was about to get my ass kicked!!!!!!!!! Everybody who did the show had two months of training with professional boxing trainers. I agreed to do the match the night before, and I had an awesome trainer from Las Vegas, Teddy Concepcion, train me for about an hour the day of the match. He basically told me how to try to protect myself and get through it. Everybody thought Chyna would kick his ass. Just in case anybody hasn't done that..........go ahead and try it with the head gear on and somebody twice your size who has everything to prove!!!!!!!!!!! I think Formerly known as...... did a pretty good job........and there will be no rematch, just for the record. The deal was that Fox would do me a favor in return. I wondered if that would ever happen?????????????? I hope everyone saw the American Billboard Awards. I Joanie Laurer was a presenter along with Bhusta Rhymes and Barry Williams. I was so proud when I saw my name flash across the screen and I was announced as Joanie Laurer of New Japan Professional Wrestling. Now I think I'll just use Joanie!!!!!!!! By the way, Bhusta was so cool, and I went out and got his CD last week just to represent!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So after the boxing match, came the opening of the Do-Jo in Santa Monica, and my meeting with Mr. Inoki. I never even would have imagined what was to come after that. So, my point being, I have done so much.......many people think it's been for money, ego, opportunity dropping on the doorstep...etc. It hasn't been, but I expect it to now. R E S P E C T.....find out what it means to me.................. I would love to help programming in on the E! israeli network and would be happy to help. Sometimes since I am by myself with all this "stuff", I just don't know what to do??????? I think I will give them a call between 10am -12pm and find out some info.........I just have to figure out how to dial out, and what time that is here in CA!!!!!! (hee-hee).

GR: You were the first woman to ever win the Intercontinental title and also the first woman to contender for the prestigious IWGP tag team championship, how proud are you for those accomplishments? JL: Proud would not even be the proper word to describe my accomplishments. I think about the women in History who never made an impact until many years later, or sometimes never made an impact at all!!!!!!!!! I am lucky however, because I know I have made an impact on some of the fans who have reached out to me in a way that I desparately needed. This year I received a WWF World Champion Title belt. Some very special fans sent it to me along with letters, poems, pictures, treasures of sentiment that were passed along to me. That was by far the best "belt" I ever won!!!!!! That was "real". My engagement ring, my true friends (Janet&Johnny, Frostee, Beezy, my sister), my "Queen of Sports" T-shirt that was snuck into my suitcase.......those are my truest values, a reflection of me. Wow!!!!!!!

GR: Any final words to your Israeli fans? JL: I would just like to say thank you to all of the special people out there who love unconditionally. Happy 2003!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GR: I can`t thank Joanie enough for taking time doing the interview and being such a great sport, I would also like to congratulate her on receiving the Japanese Top women's wrestler award for Nikkan Sports 2002, she deserves it!


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