From Mending Bones to Breaking Bones
Madusa (Debra Miceli) is the blonde femme-fetale of the squared circle, who as one of the pioneers of womens wrestling was a major part of the womens role in the sport for over 15 years. Originally a nurse and part time model, Debra Miceli was first introduced to the sport through a friend in 1984, Hollywood stunt coordinator Ky Michaelson. Convinced Debra would be a perfect match for the industry, she herself was a little unsure but after a little convincing she met up with Eddie Sharkey, a promoter out of Minneapolis, MN and she began training before having her first match in a bar for no less than $5.00. Debra now needed a name, she wanted something powerful and standalone like “Madonna” or “Cher” – she eventually settled on “Madusa” which is derived from “MADe in the U.S.A” from there she worked the grueling independent scene, however making very little money things got really tough for Madusa and she eventually returned to her nursing job.
In 1987, Madusa returned to the sport when she got her first big break in the AWA (American Wrestling Association) brought in by Verne Gagne, whom Madusa credits as the first promoter to pay her well. On screen she made her debut in June 1987 wrestling in an AWA Women’s Championship match with the legendary Sherri Martel, while Madusa lost the match she went onto several rematches against the Champion which would lead to a long rivalry in the sport. Madusa credits the late Sherri as being her mentor and friend, who really broke her into the business, Sherri was really tough on Madusa as she wanted her to succeed, and that she did.
Madusa became a permanent fixture on AWA TV and became the heel valet to Kevin Kelly and Nick Kinsiki, one of her memorable story-lines with the AWA was her charge Kevin Kelly losing a match to DJ Peterson, where Madusa’s services were on the line for 30 days. As a result of the loss, Peterson had Madusa as his valet for 30 days and made the usually glamorous Madusa wear dowdy dresses and a shower cap and large thick glasses.
After Sherri Martel left the company to go to the WWF in July 1987, the AWA Womens Championship became vacant, On December 27th 1987 in Las Vegas, Madusa defeated former champion Candi Devine to win her first World Championship. As champion she also became the valet for AWA World Champion Curt Hennig, becoming the AWA’s golden couple.
During her championship reign she wrestled and feuded with some notable challengers such as Susan Sexton, Candi Devine, Heidi Lee Morgan, The Magnificent Mimi and her biggest rival in the AWA, former WWF Womens Champion Wendi Richter.
During 1988, Madusa joined Diamond Dallas Page’s “Diamond Exchange” and herself, Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka feuded with Wendi Richter and The Top Gunns, resulting in a match at Superclash III in December of 1988.
Madusa finally went on to lose the AWA Womens Championship to Wendi Richter on November 26th 1988 in Bloomington, MN. In that same match Madusa came off the top rope and blew her knee out, being her first serious wrestling injury.
During her time with the AWA, Madusa had the honor of being the first ever female to be awarded a PWI Award, becoming the PWI Rookie of the Year in 1988, an award also held by the likes of Owen Hart, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Randy Orton. She was also the first female in mainstream wrestling to do a photo shoot for Playboy Magazine, however Madusa decided to not sign the release papers for the photographs to be published in a decision that was made that would help further her wrestling career by working in Japan.
To the Land of the Rising Sun!
In October 1988, Madusa worked a match with All Japan Women superstar and legend, Chigusa Nagayo at the Showboat in Las Vegas, Nevada. Madusa impressed Japanese official in her efforts and as a result was asked to work a brief tour and program with Nagayo in Japan, which Miceli jumped at the chance. On January 4th 1989, Madusa defeated Chigusa Nagayo for the IWA Womens World Championship, only to lose the championship back the next evening in Tokyo in a wild brawl, in which Madusa even brought a snake into the ring to attack her opponent. After impressing officials again, she became the first ever American female (or Gajin, in Japan) to be offered a fixed long term contract with the All Japan Women Promotion and from there she began her training regime in the orient to better her wrestling skills.
Her next rivalry in AJW was with Chigusa Nagayo’s long running tag team partner in the Crush Gals, Lioness Asuka. Asuka, at the time was the WWWA World Heavyweight Champion and met Madusa in the main event of the Wrestlemarinpiad ’89 show in May, in a grueling 30 minute battle that was refereed by former World Heavyweight Champion, Nick Bockwinkel. Madusa lost a respectable effort and the two feuded into the Summer.
Madusa competed in All Japan Omen’s Grand Prix Tournament in the summer of 1989 and impressively made it to the finals, unfortunately she came up short to Mitsuko Nishiwaki. But from there Nishiwaki took Madusa under her wing and the team joined forces for the AJW Tag League Tournament in September 1989. After a competitive tournament, Madusa and Mitsuko defeated the team of Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada to become the 1989 Tag League Tournament Winners.
As Madusa’s skills improved greatly, she also regained the IWA World Womens Championship in Kumamoto on September 14, 1989 defeating The Beastie.
In late 1989 Madusa returned to the United States a changed character and was given a chance to show off her new found wrestling skills in the new all female wrestling promotion, the LPWA (Ladies Professional Wrestling Association) based in Las Vagas, Madusa came into the promotion as a babyface wrestler that had seen the era of her ways and was now looking to use her skills to capture the LPWA Championship, that was handed to “Superstar” Susan Sexton on a silver plateu. After battling women such as Sheba The Desert Rose, The Nasty Girls, La Gata, The Goddess and Black Venus (Jeanne Kirkland) she was granted an LPWA Championship shot at Susan Sexton in a 2/3 Falls Match. After winning one fall a piece, Madusa fell at the final hurdle when Sexton got the pin after Madusa claimed was a fast count by referee Eddie Sharkey.
Meanwhile after returning to Japan once again in 1990, Madusa struck up a heated rivalry with a woman who would go on to become one of Japan’s greatest female stars, Aja Kong. Kong and her heel stable had several tag matches with Madusa and friends but in May 1990 Kong and Madusa worked a grueling Shoot Boxing Match, after 5 rounds and 30 + minutes of action, the match was declared a draw. However in July 1990, Kong defeated Madusa in a Street Fight rematch, and from there the pair found a new found respect for one another and Madusa joined Aja’s heel stable and saw out the rest of 1990 wrestling along side Kong and her comrades.
In 1991 after two years in Japan, Madusa returned to the United States having ran into some personal issues with her management team. She returned to action in the LPWA under a new heel gimmick, having spent time mastering the martial arts and working with the masters in Japan, she converted into a more dark chameleon character where she changed her appearance as a part of a psyche out plan on her opponents. She wrestled the likes of Cheryl Rusa, Malia Hosaka, Alma Alvarez and the Nasty Girls under such guises as an Army Commando, a Ninja, a Surfer and a Boxer.
Through the spring and summer of 1991, Madusa wrestled in several independent promotions all over the world including the Catch Wrestling Association in Germany where she wrestled her old rival Wendi Richer and Great Lakes Wrestling, where she battled then WWF Omen’s Champion Rockin Robin, as well as the promotion where she would meet her future husband “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, the TWA (Tri State Wrestling Alliance)
The TWA is known to many as the predesessor to ECW. Run by promoter Joel Goodhart, Madusa began a feud with a woman who would become one of her long time rivals, Luna Vachon. In September 1991 at TWA’s Autumn Armageddon, Madusa teamed with Eddie Gilbert to take on the the team of Luna Vachon and Cactus jack in a Hair vs Hair Mixed tag Team Match. Team Madusa-Gilbert were victorious and they proceeded to shave the head of Luna Vachon.
As well as working in her own country in the summer of 1991, Madusa also returned to Japan to work a few shows for JWP – while there she worked with the likes of Devil Masami, Dynamite Kansai and Eagle Sawaii…
Hitting the Big Leagues!
In September 1991, Madusa signed with WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and debuted as a babyface wrestler but soon turned heel, she worked matches with Bambi, Leilani Kai and Judy Martin before settling into a heel valet role alongside Paul E. Dangerously in the majorly underrated heel stable The Dangerous Alliance, she was primarily the valet/love slave of Rick Rude, but also had associations with Steve Austin , Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson and Larry Zybsko. During 1992 she was involved in Rudes feud with Ricky Steamboat, the Alliance concocted the lie that Steamboat had been stalking Madusa, during a match Madusa attacked Steamboat which resulted in him slapping her.. in revenge The Dangerous Alliance gave Steamboat a broken nose. In the summer of 1992 Madusa began a rivalry with WCW’s broadcaster Missy Hyatt which resulted in her losing a Bikini Showdown to Missy at Beach Blast 1992.
As the end of 1992 approached, dissension between Madusa and Paul E. was becoming evident, and during a confrontation between the two at Halloween Havoc 1992 Paul E. publicly fired and humiliated Madusa, she attacked him in revenge and he challenged her to a match where he would face her with one hand tied behind his back, the challenge was on at Clash of the Champions in December, after beating him around the ring Madusa won via count out when Dangerously ran away. This would be her final appearance for WCW.
In 1993 Madusa began dating Greg The Hammer Valentine, who she also began managing on the independent circuit. She wrestled old foes such as Candi Devine, Malia Hosaka and Luna Vachon and also became champion again by defeating ICW Womens Champion, Jamie West in Southampton, New York. But it wasn’t too long before Madusa was back in the mainstream limelight. In November 1993, Madusa was all set to face her old AWA foe Sherri Martel (who had just left the WWF after 6 years) at ECW’s November to Remember event, the two had a heated verbal confrontation at John Arrezzi’s Weekend of Champions which aired on ECW TV, but in a bitter sweet turn on fate Madusa signed with the biggest dog in the yard, the World Wrestling Federation and had to pull out at the last minute meaning fans missed the chance to see the two adversaries go at it. Madusa was replaced by Malia Hosaka on the show and she headed up to Titan Towers for the next chapter in her career.
Vince McMahon is well known for wanting to own the trademarks to all his characters and gimmicks and therfore approached Madusa in buying the rights to her name which she had trademarked herself, Madusa refused and the pair came up with an alternative name and character and that was Alundra Blayze.
The WWF Womens Championship was reactivated and Blayze won a 6 woman tournament which included Allison Royal (whom she defeated in the 1st round) Rustee Thomas, Black Venus, Angie Moreno and Heidi Lee Morgan. On the December 13th 1993 edition of Monday Night RAW, Blayze pinned Heidi Lee Morgan to be crowned champion and after brief challenges from Heidi, her old tag team partner Debbie Combs and veteran Leilani Kai (whom she defeated at Wrestlemania 10) Blayze moved onto a feud with the woman she battled two years prior in the TWA, Luna Vachon. The feud began on an edition of the Kings Court and continued through the spring of 1994 but Luna was unsuccessful in her attempts to steal the gold from around the champions waist, so as a second resort Luna decided to bring in a new rival for Blayze, a woman she knew from her days in All Japan Women – the legendary Bull Nakano.
Bull had already faced Alundra in the WWF during a tour of Japan in May 1994 where Blayze defended the gold against Bull, Kyoko Inoue and Sakie Hasegawa in some tremendous bouts but on the 1st August, 1994 edition of Monday Night RAW Bull made her official TV debut with Luna in her corner and in a non title match Alundra and Bull wrestled to a no contest and as a result a rematch was set for Summerslam ’94.
Alundra and Bull wrestled a fantastic match at the PPV which is still praised today as one of the greatest womens matches in WWE history, Bull annihilated Alundra through ought the match but after a missed leg drop the champion German Suplexed her way to victory.
The feud between the two continued towards the end of 1994 in the US, but it was in Japan were Bull would finally take the championship in front of 40,000 people at Tokyo’s Egg Dome on one of the biggest womens wrestling events in history, AJW’s Big Egg Universe. Bull nailed Alundra with a wicked top rope leg drop to win the women’s gold.
Back in the United States the war between Alundra and Bull was sidelined when Nakano was suspended from the WWF. The night after Wrestlemania 11 on Monday Night RAW, Blayze got her big rematch for the championship and in yet what can only be described as another outstanding match Blayze pinned Nakano after four German Suplexes, but the victory was short lived when Alundra Blayze was attacked by a mystery female who proceeded to pummel and break the nose of the new champion.
As Blayze was convalescing at home it was revealed that the woman who had attacked her was called Bertha Faye and she was the storyline girlfriend of longtime WWF manager Harvey Wippleman, Faye was played by veteran womens wrestler Rhonda Singh who at 240lbs was a big star in Japan, Mexico and Canada in the 70’s and 80’s. The feud between the two led to a match at Summerslam 1995 were Bertha pinned Alundra with a sitout powerbomb to capture the gold, however she dropped it back to Alundra two months later on an episode of RAW. It was clear that the womens division in the WWF was not getting featured very much on WWF TV.
Things began looking up however in the run up to the 1995 Survivor Series when the WWF decided to bring in some of the workers from All Japan Women to work a 4-on-4 Womens Survivor Series Elimination Match, Alundra teamed with Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparita ASARI to combat the team of Bertha Faye, Tomoko Watanabe and two of Alundra’s old foes from her time in Japan, Lioness Asuka and the fearsome Aja Kong. Kong became the sole survivor of the match after she struck Blayze with a wicked Uraken. Subsequent appearances by the Japanese ladies on RAW was leading towards a feud between Blayze and Kong that was to come to a head at the 1996 Royal Rumble, the match was even featured in the preview for the show in WWF Magazine, however things took a dramatic change.
Trash Can Controversy!
In December 1995 when Alundra Blayze’s contract was coming up for renewal, Vince McMahon made the decision to no longer promote womens matches and told Blayze that her contract would not be renewed. This came at a time when the WWF was in a bitter war with WCW over the Monday Night ratings. WCW Vice President Eric Bischoff talked to Alundra bout bringing her back into the company, gone was Alundra Blayze and Madusa returned. Her re entrance into the company however was one of the most memorable and controversial shots in the “Monday Night War’s” as Madusa showed up on a live broadcast of WCW Nitro and tossed the WWF Womens Championship belt into a trash can, of course it was all a storyline orchestrated by Eric Bischoff. Both Eric and Madusa have since confirmed that Madusa was hesitatnt on pulling the stunt, but being under contarct it was part of her job.
Now Madusa was back in WCW it was time yet again to renew her rivalry with old time nemesis Sherri Martel, who under the name Sister Sherri was about to marry Col. Robert Parker in a storyline wedding live at Clash of the Champions, much to Sherri’s shock Madusa showed up and attacked her, as the two brawled it became apparent that Sherri was not the only woman in the Colonel’s life. Sherri and Madusa battled it out on Monday Nitro and the feud was set to continue until Sherri was fired from WCW. The angle took a turn and instead Madusa began to battle Parker himself in an inter gender feud which lead to a singles match at Uncensored 1996 which Parker won.
During the summer months of 1996 it became quite clear WCW didn’t really know what to do with Madusa, they brought in her longtime rival Bull Nakano for a series of matches including a “Bash the Bike” match at Hog Wild 1996, the loser was to get their motorcycle smashed up by the winner via a sledgehammer, the decision was suspect but Madusa came out on top and went wild on Nakano’s Honda with the weapon. By the end of 1996 WCW finally worked out a deal with the GAEA promotion in Japan to bring in some talent for Madusa to work with and a tournament was set up for the new WCW Omen’s Championship. In the finals, Madusa battled the legendary Akira Hokuto on the Starrcade 1996 PPV. Madusa came out on the losing end when Hokuto’s manager Sonny Onoo nailed Madusa with the stars and stripes flag. Vowing revenge Madusa chased the champion through early 1997, suffering defeat at Spring Stampede PPV in April due to the interference of long time enemy Luna Vachon. After taking care of Vachon at Slamboree 1997 the stage was set for one Madusa’s biggest ever matches. Prior to the Great American Bash, Sonny Onoo has persuaded Madusa into putting her career on the line for another title shot, Madusa accepted and the battle lines were drawn. In June 1997 Akira pinned Madusa after a grueling match were Madusa came off the top and blew her knee out just like she did in the match 9 years previous against Wendi Richter. A tearful Madusa said goodbye to WCW and her fans the following night on Nitro.
In reality Madusa got married to NFL Player Ken Blackman and began concentrating on a boxing career with the hopes of training to fight then World Champion Christy Martin. In the summer of 1998 it was rumored that Madusa was headed back to the WWF as a challenger to Sable, who’s popularity had grown so big they had brought the Omen’s Championship back just for her. But after two years out of the wrestling spotlight, Madusa returned to WCW in April 1999.
Macho Man Randy Savage had brought his then girlfriend Gorgeous George into the company and needed someone to train her to wrestle in preparation for a PPV match with referee Charles Robinson, Madusa was brought in as her trainer along with Miss Madness/Mona (aka WWE’s Molly Holly) from there all three ladies began accompanying Savage to the ring as the entourage of “Team Madness”
The group spent the summer months of 1999 feuding with Ric Flair (in which resulted in a mixed tag team match on Nitro were Madusa and Randy Savage defeated Ric Flair and Charles Robinson) Sting and Kevin Nash, but by August the group disbanded and the a feud between Madusa and the talented Mona looked to be on the horizon with a match set for Road Wild. Sadly the match was pulled from the PPV as Madusa was reportedly injured and she began conducting interviews on WCW Worldwide.
By October 1999, former WWF writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara arrived in WCW and Madusa was in for a turbulent time as she was placed in several strange storylines. She was the first woman to compete for the WCW World Championship when she competed in the World Title Tournament wrestling matches against Meng, Chris Benoit and Evan Karigais, the later of whom she was to form an on screen relationship with. Evan won the WCW Cruiserweight Championship and Madusa bagged herself a title shot against him at Starrcade 1999. Prior to the PPV Evan was caught canoodling with Nitro Girl Spice causing the pair to break up, Madusa got the last laugh by pinning Karagias for the title when Spice nailed him with a low blow, Madusa became the first woman of three to become the Cruiserweight Champion.
Her next feud with with the chauvinistic Oklahoma (a distasteful Jim Ross parody) who believed women were better in the kitchen than in the ring, Oklahoma was played by writer Ed Ferrara and at Souled Out 2000 Madusa dropped the championship to him, but again got the last laugh when she doused him with a bottle of BBQ sauce.
Again it seemed WCW didn’t know quite what to do with Madusa, she battled Sherri Martel and Mona before briefly aligning herself with Vince Russo’s New Breed and had a confrontation with Miss Elizabeth in a “House of Pain” Cage Match before heading to the WCW training facility known as the Power Plant to help train some of the new fitness models WCW had hired such as Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, Sharmell, Daffney and Major Gunns.
Her trainer role was later incorporated into a TV storyline with Torrie Wilson and Shane Douglas who were feuding with Torrie’s ex boyfriend Billy Kidman. Madusa even the sides up by joining Billy in facing her protege in a Scaffold Match at Fall Brawl in September 2000. Wilson and Douglas won the match after Madusa fell off the ladder into the staging area and Billy was chucked off onto the ramp, this would be the last time we would see Madusa on WCW television despite being still under contract into 2001, the same year WCW closed its doors when Vince McMahon bought the company. Madusa had gotten out of her contract before the sale had taken place and she wrestled her final wrestling match in May 2001 in Phoenix, Arizona against would be WWE developmental employee and fellow female monster truck driver, Nikita Fink.
While off WCW TV Madusa had struck up a relationship with Monster Jam due to their work with WCW, which would eventually lead to her next venture as a Monster Truck driver. Yet again a pioneer, the multiple sports superstar had now added Motor sports under her belt along with wrestling and kickboxing and became the first ever female to win the Monster Jam World Finals in 2005. Her career continues to thrive on the Monster Jam circuit 10 years later, but we do hope for one day we will see Madusa one last time inside the squared circle.