Torrie Wilson (@torriewilson) is a retired professional wrestler, fitness model and a member of the WWE Hall Of Famer. She sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Orlando, FL to talk about how a chance encounter with Kevin Nash started her wrestling career, getting signed to WCW, being part of the WWE Divas era, her friendship with Stacy Kiebler, posing for Playboy, her father Al Wilson being part of a storyline with Dawn Marie and much more!
Quote I’m thinking about:”You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can’t have it.” – Dr. Robert Anthony
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On learning to wrestle:
“There was a time in WCW where they were like, We want some of you girls to go down to the Power Plant just for like two days and learn how to take bumps. Not to wrestle but just how to take bumps. And I remember it was Stacy, myself, Molly Holly was there to help us, Medusa and Sharmell. And it was the most brutal two days, we were crying. We felt like we were in car wrecks. They filmed something for E! I think. We were literally like, What is going on? Why do we have to do this? And I remember Medusa dropped me on my head on purpose, I understand how frustrating it probably was for them. And we have this opportunity. And we didn’t know, we just needed to learn how to take bumps. So that was like a little smidgen taste.
But it wasn’t until years into WWE when they would basically, it wasn’t that it was never like we want to send you to a wrestling school or anything like that. They didn’t even have NXT or anything like that. It was kind of like, okay, you’re going to be a part of this match tonight. So we want you to learn a couple of things to do in your match tonight. It was always Okay, you’re preparing for what you’re going to do tonight. So you can see how if someone has years of experience, that’s great. But when you’re just learning a couple moves to do in a match that night, and you’re like, I better not f*ck this up, because I don’t know what’s gonna happen. Like, literally, if you forgot one spot, you’re screwed. Like deer in a headlight.
So that was really scary but it was also like it pushed us to try to learn more, to put more into the repertoire. And then we do mixed tag matches. So we’d get a little bit more time in the ring. But you know, I was thinking this morning and I was thinking about coming here and I was like, it’s just interesting, because back then there was no blueprint for women in wrestling. We didn’t really know what exactly we were there for. The entertainment, the T and A aspect, like cute bringing the femininity into it. But you didn’t have these women that you saw wrestling every week. Here and there you saw some that were kind of paving the way Victoria, Trish began that too, Lita.”
On being part of bikini contests in WWE:
“They were all mortifying, people don’t realise. I went out there and owned it the best I could and pushed through the fear, but it was mortifying, There were times when, I remember specifically a house show that I was in this bikini showdown with Dawn Marie and Sable and someone else. I was standing in the corner watching one of the girls dance in the middle, and literally fighting back tears. Like, I cannot believe I’m doing this right now. Because it got to like a raunchy point, and I’m like, I don’t want to be a part of this. But that was also my job.”
With all this stuff you were doing, did you feel like you could say no?
“No. It was twice that I could remember that I [said no]. First of all, I’m a major people pleaser. So to say no to people is really hard, even if it’s someone you know, I’m recovering from that. There was one time when I had a thing with Sable where Vince wanted me to come out with the paint on my boobs like she did. And I was like, hard no, I can’t do that. I mean, it ended up being nearly nothing anyway. And another time was when I did Playboy Vince wanted me to do a pay-per-view also, the video. That one was very hardcore pressed. And it was really hard for me to say no, but I absolutely didn’t want that.”
Was it difficult to agree to pose for Playboy?
“That part was no. Becasue I thought it’s photos, I know it’s gonna look good and it’s Playboy. To be honest, this is gonna sound real dumb. But I hadn’t really even thought about the fact that I was kind of gonna be nude because Playboy was so such a popular magazine. I was like, This is gonna be awesome, right? Playboy parties and all that. Literally, it wasn’t until I was landing on the plane to go to the shoot that I was like, Oh, sh*t, there’s going to actually be other people in the room. Not just me and the photographer. It was kind of a closed set. So there wasn’t more than like maybe six people. And I always had a robe. But in between shots, it was so weird.”
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from that era?
“I keep in touch with Stacey [Keibler]. Every one in a while I’ll get in touch with her if she is thinking about a signing. Michelle McCool, Victoria, Candice Michelle, Trish, there’s a lot of girls who are like sisters.”
Would you pursue wrestling today?
“I think so. Now that it’s easier to see what it could be for me, right? Like, I took the opportunity, then why wouldn’t I now? But, yeah, I don’t know. It’s hard to say because I know how I feel right now, too. So like, I also know what those girls do to go to NXT and spend years and years there before they even get their shot. So the old me, the old lady me is like, I don’t know.”
On being criticized for lack of bumps:
“Well, it’s just dumb, because it’s like, I wasn’t writing the show. I wasn’t putting the matches together. I definitely know that when I was [wrestling], Fin Finlay was amazing putting matches together and just trying to make us look the best he could. And I often would ask him if I could please get thrown into the stairs or like crazy, not crazy things. But like, you know, I just really wanted to get hurt. I wanted to do more of that. But it was kind of laughed at. Yeah, I’m never going to win over the naysayers and I don’t need to my ego doesn’t need to be stroked to be told that I was like the greatest wrestler of all time. I know I wasn’t, I did my best.”
On never winning a championship in WWE and WCW:
“It’s never bothered me no. The only thing that bothers me is that it’s bothered other people. They’re like you should have and I’m like, but that title that someone determines outside of the match doesn’t define who I am. And the fact of the matter is, like, there are people that won titles that people don’t remember.”
On the storyline with her father:
“I was actually home visiting my family over the holidays and I got this weird call from Paul Heyman. And he had this storyline idea. I was just happy to have a storyline because I hadn’t really up into this point. And he told me the storyline. And he’s like, at the end, he said, we can use your dad or we can use an actor. And I was like, Oh, we have to use my dad. When he was younger, he dabbled in like stage acting in San Diego and like, you know. So I knew he would be down. I knew it would be like an opportunity of a lifetime for him to just kind of like, see my world and travel. And then once he got in, I was like, Oh my God what did I do? People were like, you know, it was tough for him. But I’m just so grateful because he passed away a few years ago. And now I’m really grateful to have that opportunity with him. But he did a lot of crazy things. One time he actually was at the TV hotel and Vince went out to his limo. And he asked Vince for a ride in his limo to the arena. Vince did it.”
Was that the storyline that was pitched:
“I mean, it was in a nutshell, that we didn’t go into like nitty-gritty details. So it turned into something that was a little more raunchy than I anticipated. Like the hotel room thing that I did with her. [Did you know it was going to be a wedding?] No, I feel like a lot of times storylines aren’t always complete when they started too.”
What are you most proud of in wrestling?
“I’m really proud of the fact that like, I stayed true to my values. Even though on screen it got a little raunchy, I was never that girl that politicked my way. I never slept my way to the top trying to get a little extra attention. And to me, that goes a long way. I was never a backstabber, I was, you know, on the up and up. And to me that’s something that I’m most proud of.”
On the women’s locker room:
“[It was] Mostly good. But there’s always I think, in a situation like that, like there’s always going to be jealousy, people that think they should have a push over you, or they don’t understand why you are getting a push, because you’re not the best wrestler. I had a few instances where like, I had an issue with Dawn Marie, where, you know, she would like, really kick me hard in the matches. And I didn’t realise you’re not supposed to say anything, you’re just supposed to do something. So I would say something, and then it would continue. And then my ex-husband was like, You got to kick her really hard back. And then it stopped after I did that.”
On life after wrestling:
“I didn’t watch wrestling. I didn’t want anything to do with wrestling for many years after I left. Mostly because I just had a certain amount of PTSD from being so vulnerable out there. And feeling like I was put in this kind of, like, raunchy role that wasn’t me. And I felt judgement from people, I felt like people look down on me for like, just stuff that I did the, bra and panty matches and all that. So like, I just wanted to shut that door. And for many years, I didn’t watch and it wasn’t until they called me to do like the Royal Rumble that I started to kind of catch up. And then I got like, really into it, like more into it than I ever was when I was wrestling.”
On needing back surgery:
“It was like 2008, I had a few matches where in between moments, my back would really lock up. And then I started having ongoing issues. I’d pick up my little dog and I would literally freeze and have to lay down on the floor for like 45 minutes in pain, I just couldn’t move. And then I went to see a chiropractor and they did this pulling thing every single day. And I had to take Vicodin and I would cry. And the whole entire time. And then it’s almost like that made it worse. And then finally I had a match that I was supposed to do on I think Raw or SmackDown. And I finally had to tell them like, look, my back, I’m nervous it’s gonna lock up out there. And I’m just gonna be laying there and I won’t be able to move in front of the crowd. So I ended up getting surgery.”
On realising it was time to wind down:
“I was kind of at this chapter in my life. I was just kind of ready to be not travelling all the time. And the person that I was dating had been fired. So it was nice to be home, I’d open up a clothing store in Texas. I was like, okay, I can do this. I don’t need to travel anymore. So I just basically asked if I could have my release because I wanted to be home. And then also the thought of going back and trying to wrestle at that point in my career. I was wrestling more and I felt like I was getting better. But I didn’t want to go back to not doing that.”
What is Torrie Wilson grateful for?
“The morning walk I had with my dogs, my 14-year-old dog is still alive and the amazing husband I have.”