Seven years. That’s the length of Jaime Dauncey’s wrestling career. Despite a stint in TNA as Sirelda, she has never broken through to a full-time roster. Sensing something was missing, she decided to unload the heavy artillery in 2009. Rededicating herself to the squared circle, she changed her look and enlisted Superstar Billy Graham as her mentor.
Dauncey — Jaime D — met Graham at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in April 2009 in Las Vegas and they hit it off.
“I think it was a tag match with Jaime and Awesome Kong versus Cheerleader Melissa and O.D.B.,” Graham recalled. “I saw so much raw talent [in her], because never in my entire career had I paid any attention to the female talent.”
“I appreciated their work, of course, and everything, but I never really paid that much attention. I was sitting there watching this tag team match with these girls, who absolutely stole the show hands down. I saw Jaime as being the odd girl out, yet extremely talented. I saw her intensity and aggressiveness and focus. She had a huge knee brace on that looked like Stone Cold. It was like it was a matter of life and death for her to perform at a top level.
“The next day I was having lunch there and Jaime happened to walk in, I asked her to join me and we started talking. I asked what was wrong with her knee and she told me the story and also about her luggage being lost. She told me about her background we bonded as friends. I’ve been around a lot of people. I met Arnold Schwarzenegger one week after he arrived in this country in 1968. Arnold’s a godfather to my daughter, so I’ve been around a lot of folks. But this girl just drew me in and we actually bonded. There was a spark of some kind that we just bonded. I offered to help her, and she quickly accepted.”
Graham was immediately impressed with her bodybuilding look and size. He then went about setting the wheels in motion to build on what was already a solid foundation.
“We made a pact and it was based on one condition,” he revealed. “That she was deadly serious about her career and the future of her career. Because I was not going to commit to her 100% my time and my thoughts unless she was 100% committed. I didn’t expect her to do 100% of what I said but if I was going to publicly commit my name and link it to her name as a mentor; we would both need to be committed to each other.”
“He’s helping me with my look, and promos, and the psychology of the business, what it’s really about,” added the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Dauncey. “He’s coaching and guiding me, preparing me for what I’m going to deal with, what I’m going to have to go through, things like that, because he knows where I want to go and he knows where I can go.”
The Windsor, Ontario native has worked dutifully and methodically to earn another chance to crack the TNA roster in 2010. She started training at the Can-Am Wrestling School in 2002, with Scott D’Amore and Tyson Dux as her primary trainers. Blessed with a bodybuilding background, natural good-natured charisma, and a striking physique, and modeling herself after her heroes Hulk Hogan and Trish Stratus, she flew relatively quickly out of the gate, winning the TNA-associated Gutcheck Challenge in 2004 and the TNA developmental deal that came with it.
Thrust into the big time as Sirelda, she joined A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels in battle with America’s Most Wanted, taking on their then-manager Gail Kim. She did well considering her relative inexperience, but was hampered by a torn right ACL in 2005. After several more appearances, she was released after Bound for Glory in 2006.
It didn’t take long for Dauncey to realize she needed to step up her game. “I looked in the mirror and realized that I had a lot of learning to do as a performer and a wrestler,” she said looking back. “I don’t think I was feeling it like I am today. I have more of a presence now, more of an understanding of what I should be doing out there. [Performing] is about expression, letting the audience and the people at home feel what you’re feeling.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Dauncey’s intimidating appearance can often ruffle the feathers of grown men. She began to think about developing more ways of both taking full advantage of it and dispersing it with her natural positive vibe.
“She truly does have a unique look and I am sure that like Chyna, she’s been heckled for it,” analyzed colleague John Cena Sr. “Her look is something that reflects her total dedication to the sport she so loves. She trains hard and works hard to achieve a result. Who can criticize dedication?
“Chyna, who Jaime looks up to, was Chyna, and there will only be one Chyna. Be who you are and even though imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, being you is what creates success. The first coupled with remembering the second can only bring her to greater heights and success.”
“A lot of the big girls in the business have got it,” Dauncey acknowledged. “First they hate you, then they love you. That’s just how it is.
“That’s a good thing to bring up because here is a very important thing: I’m not in the ring to arouse the men in the crowd. That’s the least of my worries. What I’m there to do is to make an impact in a very powerful way that women are not just sex objects. We are athletes. We can be role models and we can be just as effective as the men in the ring. That’s my job, not to arouse and make the guys all horny. Some girls are in the ring for that, but that’s not my job. I don’t arouse them, so they want to yell at me.
“But that’s okay, because I always look and see who it is. It’s like I told you. The women are always supporting and saying, ‘Yeah you go girl, you kick butt!’ It’s never a problem with the women, it’s the men. It’s a reaction. In this business, if it’s a good or bad reaction, hey, at least they’re talking about you. It’s what’s they’re feeling about themselves and they want to put it all on me. I’ll play with it and turn it around, ‘Well, just because I have bigger biceps than you…’ Then they get riled up and involved in the match. Even from the haters, there is a connection. So I play with it, work it, and give it all back to them, and the reaction gets bigger. So if it’s negative or positive, I work with it,” she said with her trademark chuckle.
“You know, Awesome Kong was told a long time ago by a company that she would probably never make it because of her look, and look where she is today. She became the number one woman wrestler, and wrestles all over the world. She has earned that respect from the fans and her peers.”
Dauncey returned to working the independents after TNA, and checked in regularly with colleagues like Gail Kim, Stratus, and Nattie Neidhart for advice.
“Gail is a very classy individual, she works very hard and I really like her goals in the wrestling business,” Dauncey gushed. “Not only is she a beautiful woman with a great body and look, but what was inside of her was, ‘I have something to prove. I want to show the world that I can wrestle.’ To me, she was the Trish Stratus of TNA. She’s really cool to work with; I learned a lot from her. She has a lot of great advice and definitely made a name for herself. Now she’s back in the WWE and at the top of her game.
“Both Trish and Nattie have a comeback no matter what anyone says, and that’s why they can go out and deal with people’s comments, like you know when some people say, ‘Hey, I like your ass and your boobs,’ just as easily as the people who become emotional and overcome by the moment of meeting them. They’re fearless; they have the most powerful mindset. It doesn’t matter that they’re petite, because they can kick butt and really take care of business.”
Preparedness met opportunity in early 2007 when Neidhart referred her to an interested Japanese promoter, who brought her over to work some matches for a Japanese tour. It was a chance to gain some high-quality experience. “In Japan, I learned what it truly means to have respect, because down there if you do not have respect, you cannot survive,” Dauncey said. “It’s all about respect, keeping a good attitude. Work hard, because if you are goofing around and not taking things seriously, they will just destroy you. They don’t like that. Over here you can get away with it, a lot of people do, but in Japan, it’s very serious, very tough. You just work so much harder over there. The matches are much more intense, more wrestling than entertainment.”
She proved the trip was more than just a dream come true, winning the AWA Japanese women’s championship from Nanae Takahashi in Tokyo in August of 2007, despite a freshly-torn left ACL.
Before she can really succeed in 2010, Dauncey knows she has to get healthy. She is rehabilitating her left knee after undergoing surgery. Dauncey noted she is following Graham’s strict diet and fitness regimen. Currently limited to weight-training, cardio and yoga, she can return to the ring fully in January and in fact is scheduled for shows with Cena Sr. on the 23th and 24th.
Aside from fitness, the Superstar has also suggested a blonde-haired look for Jaime, adding that he did the same for a young Ric Flair in Minneapolis in 1973 (Graham’s ex-wife did the honors at his house).
In all, Dauncey seems well-positioned for the coming year, but can she make the cut in TNA or elsewhere?
“My first impression was as they say, a lasting and correct impression,” said Cena Sr., who worked a show with her in June, and even allowed her to stay at his West Newbury, Mass., home when it was discovered no one had booked her a hotel room. “She’s dedicated to the sport and relentless in what must be done to further her career to achieve her desired result whether it was WWE or TNA. She only would talk about what it would take to get better, could I offer any suggestions, etc. This young lady eats, sleeps and breathes this business and it shows. It shows in how she trains and her constant quest to obtain more knowledge, to work more and better matches.
“She has Superstar Billy Graham as her mentor and there is an example of an individual who never understood the word, quit. I am convinced that her total dedication and the tutelage of Graham will be what elevates her to the top of her game.”
“The bar has been raised with female wrestlers in the past few years,” noted D’Amore. “There are more quality females in the business then I have ever seen in my 17 plus years. With the Knockouts divisions doing so well, more women then ever are being featured nationally. Jaime brings a unique look and a high energy level. She really loves to perform and interact with fans and can connect with them on a personal level.
“Physically, Jaime has always had the skills to succeed. She’s suffered a couple of physical setbacks so far and has been able to bounce back. With her, it will all boil down to if she can stay focused. Over her career to this point, it’s been peaks and valleys. To break through, she’ll need to keep working on the peaks and eliminate the valleys.
“She has shown she can excel for short periods when she’s focused. She’ll now have to show that she can stay focused and excel for extended periods.
“Jaime has been in the business for years now and it’s ‘Put up or shut up’ time. If she trains hard and stays focused she can ‘Put up,’ which will cause a lot of people to ‘Shut up.’ If she doesn’t, then people will be asking, ‘Whatever happened to AJ Styles’ big female cousin?’
“It’s all up to Jaime now to make her own destiny.”
This seems to be fine with Dauncey. She appeared in the independent film Rex Cairo, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
“It’s not about ego, because ego is ugly and fake,” she said. “It’s about confidence, believing and knowing what’s inside and actually delivering it because you know you have it. Confidence is not fake; it’s real.
“I have the confidence to succeed.”