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THIS BUFFALO GAL IS A REAL DIVA

Monday, 09.05.2011 / 10:18 AM / News
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com (@kwsnow)
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THIS BUFFALO GAL IS A REAL DIVA
© 2011 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
When the lights go down and the pyrotechnics kick off the WWE’s Night of Champions here in Buffalo on September 18, Buffalo’s own Beth Phoenix will likely get the same chills she got as a youngster at her first live wrestling event.

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS FOR WWE'S NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS AT FIRST NIAGARA CENTER ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18.

Phoenix’s long climb to WWE stardom has taken her through many places, including Canisius College. The three-time champion is one of the most feared female competitors in WWE history, with her physical style earning her the moniker of “The Glamazon.” (If you don’t think female wrestlers are tough, don’t tell that to Phoenix. She suffered a fractured jaw in 2006; and a torn ACL last May.) Lately she’s been paired with Natalya in a dynamite duo that’s been dubbed “Divas of Doom,” and they’ve already started to make life very difficult for people like Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins.

But it all started thanks to a contest.

Phoenix was 11 years old at the time, and had her only exposure to wrestling was watching it on television with her grandmother on the weekends. Thanks to a local newspaper’s coloring contest, that would soon change.

“I had to color a picture of Undertaker and Paul Bearer for the contest,” she explains on the phone from Tampa, where she was making a stop at the WWE’s Development School. “My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so I’d never seen wrestling in person before. I ended up winning four tickets to see a live show at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton, and the headline match was Undertaker vs. Jeff Jarrett. I was able to sneak down close to ringside and take pictures of the wrestlers as they came out. I loved everything about it. It was just so awe inspiring.”

Phoenix said she knew from a young age that she wanted to become a wrestler, and attending the live event just reinforced her passion. While attending Notre Dame High School in Elmira, NY, she had the distinction of becoming the first female varsity wrestler in school history. But being the only girl on the team was never an issue for her.

“I’ve always wanted to be one of the guys, and don’t expect to treated any differently. I’m the same way today,” says Phoenix. “Coach Weber taught me so much, and it gave me a great foundation for my future. To this day, freestyle wrestling is one of the toughest sports I’ve ever participated in.”

Unlike some female athletes that have encountered negative reactions while playing with the boys, that wasn’t the case for Phoenix.

“Not at all. In fact, I was voted Prom Queen by my classmates in my senior year. So I went from being a wrestler to the prom queen in a year.”

Phoenix graduated high school more determined than ever to pursue a career in wrestling. But she also realized how important it was for her to go to college.

“This is a very risky business, and it’s a complete gamble to try and get into it. My parents wanted me to protect myself and have something to fall back on. I even remember reading a quote from Razor Ramon in WWF magazine where he talked about the importance of getting an education if you wanted to pursue a career in pro wrestling.”

So Phoenix enrolled at Canisius College in Buffalo, where she majored in Public Relations and Criminal Justice. In addition to juggling a full course load, she never gave up on her wrestling career.

“I used to moonlight on the weekends in spandex,” she says with a laugh. “I’d wrestle anywhere that was within driving distance of the school – Toronto, Cleveland, Boston. Basically I’d go anywhere on the East Coast that allowed me to get back to school on Monday morning and change back into my Clark Kent outfit.”

She even remembers one particular show near Pittsburgh that was, well, sparsely attended.

“It was at a small arena, and there were only six people there. I’m pretty sure they were all immediate relatives of some of the wrestlers. But the show went on.”

After earning her degree, Phoenix remained in Buffalo for a few years working various jobs. Even though her childhood passion was wrestling, it was during this time that she really came to appreciate Buffalo sports fans.

I’m very proud to represent Buffalo in the WWE. There is so much hometown pride in the Sabres and Bills. You just get so consumed in it. - Beth Phoenix
“I’m very proud to represent Buffalo in the WWE. There is so much hometown pride in the Sabres and Bills. You just get so consumed in it. I don’t think you can live in Western New York and not be a fan of either team.”

Phoenix hopes that Western New Yorkers will be out in full force to support her at First Niagara Center when she enters the ring at the Night of Champions, and says that fans should “expect nothing from the best from me as always.”

And if she has a chance to raise the championship belt at home, maybe Phoenix will look down to see a young girl at ringside with the same awestruck look in her eyes that she had 19 years ago at that arena in Binghamton.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82