Femme Fatale #1: Mickie James
When an obsessed fan of Trish Stratus appeared on RAW on October 10th, 2005, little did anyone expect that she would one day surpass her idol and earn her 4th WWE Women’s Championship in less than three years.
Yet, on hindsight, who is really surprised? Mickie James is, after all, a femme fatale.
Hi, and welcome to the first edition of Femme Fatale, a column that appreciates the finer side of the wrestling world – the women. From WWE Divas to TNA Knockouts, from Joshi Puroresu to G.L.O.R.Y. Girls, I’ll feature the best from the past, present and I’ll even throw in some future predictions. But not every female wrestler qualifies as a femme fatale. No, for someone to be featured, they need to meet two major criteria.
Firstly, they have to be seductive. A true femme fatale is someone who can use her femininity as a weapon. She needs to be someone who is aware of how potent she can become in order to get what she wants, when she wants it. She is someone who charms those around her and uses them as she pleases.
Secondly, they have to be lethal. The femme fatale knows how to draw her targets into compromising, dangerous, sometimes even deadly situations. Moreover, she does it not in an obvious manner, but uses subterfuge to achieve her hidden agenda.
No one typifies the femme fatale more than Mickie James, the current WWE Women’s Champion. From the first moment we spotted her on WWE television, we knew she had what it took to achieve arguably the biggest prize in the industry. But let’s look at her six-year journey towards that first title reign.
Mickie Laree James was born August 31st, 1979 and began her professional wrestling career at the age of 20 as a valet to the likes of Tommy Dreamer and Julio Dinero. Calling herself Alexis Laree, she wasn’t simply content to be eye candy at ringside, getting physically involved in one match after another. She even helped Tommy Dreamer win the KYDA Pro Heavyweight Championship. Eventually, her love for the industry led her to get in the ring and compete against established opponents like Allison Danger and Lexie Fyfe, until the name Alexis Laree became associated with fast-paced, exciting wrestling in Maryland Championship Wrestling and other federations in the East Coast independent scene.
In the years that followed, having proven herself more than capable of attracting fans to shows that she was booked on, Alexis Laree began to win titles and cement her popularity. In 2001, she won a battle royal for the Southern Championship Wrestling Diva title. Less than two years later, Alexis Laree was hot property, winning numerous titles across several promotions. In fact, 2003 was a watershed year for the young professional wrestler. She not only became the first Cyberspace Wrestling Federation Women’s Champion, beating the likes of Serena and April Hunter, but also beating Billy Reil to win the Impact Championship Wrestling Junior Heavyweight Title! All in all, Alexis Laree held six different titles that year, most of them simultaneously.
But even greater things were to come for the young femme fatale. In April of 2003, Alexis Laree went for a WWE tryout match against her good friend Dawn Marie. The very next day, she was scheduled to appear on an NWA:TNA pay per view with Julio Dinero as part of Raven’s new group The Gathering in a now infamous Clockwork Orange House of Fun match. It was this involvement with Raven on a national level that truly propelled Alexis Laree further into the limelight and into the consciousness of the wrestling fanatics.
Having spent several months with TNA, Alexis Laree finally took the most important step in her career and had a tryout match with Dawn Marie before signing a developmental deal with the WWE in August 2003. She was immediately sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she quickly stood out among the other female hopefuls, including Jillian Hall and Melina.
It was in OVW that Alexis Laree began to evolve the persona of Mickie James that we are all familiar with today. Her high energy, in-your-face attitude was exactly what RAW needed to spice up their roster that was getting a little stale from the boring Diva Search. Of course, it was hard not to notice her ridiculously short skirts that hid very little when she bounced around the ring, pulling her hair. Often, it was difficult to determine where her real personality ended and her kayfabe gimmick began. One thing is for sure: Mickie James is a true wrestling fan, who counts former WWE Diva Lita as one of her all-time favourites.
On RAW, however, it was Trish Stratus who received the honour of being paired with Mickie James. On October 10th, 2005, the future Women’s Champion made her first RAW appearance as the then-Women’s Champion’s biggest fan. In what might have been a subtle hint from the WWE to the many of its fans who can be a little intimidating when face-to-face with their favourite Superstars, the debuting Mickie James turned out to be too overwhelmed when given the opportunity to work with Trish Stratus.
Mickie James took her fandom to heights never seen before. At the start of the following month, during Fulfill Your Fantasy Diva Battle Royal at Taboo Tuesday, she dressed up as Trish Stratus (complete with entrance music and fake title belt) and then went on to eliminate herself and Victoria in order to help Trish retain her title.
In the months that followed, Mickie James began to use moves like the Trish Kick, which she renamed the Mick Kick, as well as the Lou Thesz press that were signature moves of Trish Stratus. Ironically, though, during a #1 Contender’s Match on RAW in December 2005, Victoria was able to counter the Mick-a-Rana (yet another signature move borrowed from Trish) but was unable to defend against a vicious Standing Tornado DDT that was very much a Mickie James original.
With the win over Victoria, Mickie James was now the #1 Contender to the title held by Trish Stratus. In the weeks leading up to New Year’s Revolution, Mickie James started to play head games with her opponent and idol. Outside the ring, Mickie James followed her idol everywhere, and in a now infamous episode – kissed Trish Stratus beneath the mistletoe during the Christmas RAW episode. The following week, Mickie followed Trish even into the shower room, where she strategically held up a towel in order to catch a glimpse of her favourite Diva’s naked body.
Despite all the psychological confusion between the two Divas, Trish Stratus was ultimately able to defend her title successfully at New Year’s Revolution. Nonetheless, Mickie James continued to subtly push for a lesbian relationship with the Women’s Champion, much to the indignation of Ashley, who considered Trish a mentor figure.
Ashley warned Trish about Mickie, calling her a ‘psycho’, which only led to a jealous Mickie executing a series of vicious attacks on her “rival”. This culminated in a match at the 2006 Royal Rumble, where Mickie confessed her love for Trish, who was the special guest referee. Ultimately, Trish was forced to tell Mickie in March that they needed some time apart. Despite Mickie’s broken heart, she persevered and became Trish’s tag team partner at Saturday Night’s Main Event.
However, that night marked the turning point of Mickie’s infatuation with Trish, when she turned on her idol with a Mick Kick and gave her a taste of her own Stratusfaction. Mickie later said that Trish had broken her heart, and now she was going to break Trish.
So it was that at Wrestlemania 22, on the grandest stage of them all, Mickie James once again challenged Trish Stratus for the second time that year. The Women’s Championship was on the line, and unlike the New Year’s Revolution match, there was no love lost between the two competitors. It was a brutal match that saw both women take out months of frustration and emotional turmoil on each other. Mickie played her psychotic role well, taking sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain on her former idol. Amazingly enough, midway through the match, it was clear that Mickie’s intensity was resonating with the thousands in attendance. They began cheering with each offensive move that connected with the Women’s Champion as Mickie James slowly won their admiration.
Finally, it all came down to a huge powerbomb by Trish Stratus that threatened to end the epic match, but Mickie James kicked out and then delivered her patented Mick Kick to the head, knocking Trish semi-concious and allowing Mickie to pin her and win her first WWE Women’s Championship, much to the delight of her new fans.
Mickie’s career in the WWE following her first title reign has naturally seen its ups and downs. She lost the title later in 2006 to Lita, but her rising popularity resulted in a face turn. Following the retirement of Trish Stratus, she would once again feud with Lita over the title belt, wrestling in a series of matches before winning the title for a second time at Survivor Series. This also gave Mickie James the privilege of wrestling Lita’s final match in the WWE.
In 2007, as Women’s Champion, Mickie James was involved in a feud with her OVW rival, Melina which climaxed in the first ever Women’s Falls Count Anywhere Match in March. The following month, Mickie won her third title at a house show in Paris, only to lose it minutes later to Melina. That would be the closest that Mickie came to the title for most of the year.
On November 26, however, Mickie James defeated Melina in a #1 Contender’s match for the Women's Championship, then held by “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix, setting up a title match between the two at Armageddon, a match in which Beth Phoenix successfully defended her Women's title.
It was around this time that rumours were going around that Ashley was supposed to receive a title push after Wrestlemania 24. However, because she was injury prone (she has had several surgeries on her ankle) it was widely believed that this push would have to be given to someone else.
In a roster that prized both looks as well as athleticism, only one credible face could become a suitable replacement. This was none other than Mickie James, who ironically replaced her one-time rival Ashley as the next Women’s Champion. Hindsight proved that this replacement could not have been timed better. Less than a month later, Ashley received some bad press about her former involvement in an online escort service.
So it was that, on the April 14th 2008 edition of RAW, held in London, Micke James defeated “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix to win her fourth Women's Championship.
This weekend, at Judgment Day, Mickie James faces what might arguably be her toughest challenge yet. A triple threat match with Melina and Beth Phoenix with the Women’s Title on the line. Will the four-time Women’s Champion prevail against such dangerous odds? Only time will tell. Yet we can be sure of one thing, Mickie James will not go down without a fight.
This has been the first edition of: Femme Fatale.