One of the most poignant and moving moments at April’s Cauliflower Alley Club banquet was Adam “Edge” Copeland introducing his wife, and mother of his child, “Glama-mom” Beth Phoenix. Together, their speeches make for a wonderful reminder that pro wrestling is not the end all, be all in life.
The scene was the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where the Cauliflower Alley Club was celebrating its 50th anniversary to a packed house of more than 700 people in the hall.
The real-life tag team of Copeland and Beth Kocianski took to the podium near the end of the night. Later, in a post-CAC email, Copeland revealed that their daughter, Lyric, had a babysitter in their hotel room (far longer than planned given the length of the banquet) while both their families celebrated the big moment.
What follows is a slightly edited version of their speeches:
Adam “Edge” Copeland:
So, I am here to introduce Beth Phoenix, and I have to preface this by saying, if I don’t get this right I’m going to get my ass kicked in the hotel room tonight. So I took some notes, which I don’t usually do. See, I’m really glad to do this, not only because she’s my partner and the mother of my child, but also because Beth Phoenix, she wasn’t a Diva, she wasn’t a model, she was a wrestler. [Big cheers from the audience.]
Here’s what she did to become a wrestler. She saw Owen Hart versus Bret Hart at WrestleMania X. Owen was her guy. She said, “That’s what I’m going to do.” So she joined the Notre Dame High School wrestling team, the boys team, and beat the boys. That’s Beth Phoenix. From there, she decided that she would train for wrestling under the watchful and very talented eye of Ron Hutchison, who also trained me. From there, she decided to not throw out, but lay her Criminal Justice degree and her cushy government job, but she took a chance. She decided she was going to go to Louisville, Kentucky. She took her German shepherd, Sonya, and all of her belongings, in her Geo Prizm, and drive up to Louisville, Kentucky, and try and get a developmental contract — just on the chance of that. After a year, she did it.
Then after another year, she made it to the big show, she made it to Raw. And in her second match, she broke her jaw. She got surgery, got a plate put in her face, and got sent back down to OVW for another year. She scratched, she clawed, she made it back to the big show. The Glamazon was born.
Once the Glamazon was born, she changed history. I’d like to look out into this audience and see who I know she influenced. I know she cut a different path. She wasn’t a model, she wasn’t a Diva, like I said, she was a wrestler, and she made a difference. She was a Diva of Doom. She wrestled matches. She is what I like to call in the wrestling industry, I made this up, but she’s a three-tool player — she looked the part, she acted the part, she wrestled the part. There was a reason she was with Santino Marella and played the straight role — she could do it.
When they needed someone to make sure that Maria Menounos was safe at WrestleMania, she got the call.
She wrestled every woman that came through that industry that probably didn’t deserve to be there; not all of them, but some of them — and she made them look like gold. She was more concerned with headlocks than hair extensions, with burning hammers than burnt sienna lipstick.
I’m very proud to be standing here to introduce the Glamazon Beth Phoenix, the mother of my child, more important than anything. And also a woman who I’d like to mention that for this industry, because she loved it, when she blew out her ACL rather than go get the surgery, she said, “I’d like to drop the title in my hometown of Buffalo.” She wrestled a handicap match, lifted two women on her shoulders and Samoan dropped them in the middle of the ring with a BLOWN OUT ACL!
Now here’s where I go to my list. She’s a one-time Diva’s champion, three-time Women’s champion, Slammy for Diva of the Year, second woman to enter the Royal Rumble, second most pay-per-view matches in history for a woman, 297 appearances on Raw, ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the Glama-mom, Beth Phoenix.
The pair kissed, and Copeland moved to the side, holding his wife’s plaque.
I’ve performed in front of such big crowds, why are you so nervous tonight? When I was performing in front of everybody, I was in my garb, in my costume, and I had that tiara, which gave me the power of no-self-conscious feeling. In front of this room, I see my peers, and everybody I wanted to so badly to be respected, and I wanted you guys to be proud … so that’s where the nerves come from. I care in the sense of community and culture here, and everything that the CAC represents. Sharing stories and feeling wonderful about the business that everybody contributed to and worked so hard to be a part of… [is] an amazing feeling. I just want to thank all of you and the CAC for creating this night and for us being a part of the 50th anniversary. Thank you.
Normally, if any one else had given me an introduction like that, I would say, “I have no idea how to thank you.” But in this case, Adam, I do know how to thank you and that is fresh-baked cookies for the rest of your life.
For now, he’s the Rated C is for Cookie superstar.
I have a few notes here, so bear with my notes. I am so honoured to be getting here in front of you guys. All I ever wanted to be was a pro wrestler. My grandmother and grandfather came to this country, they’re Polish immigrants, with their two children, and they didn’t speak a word of English. But what they did understand was the art and the entertainment that was professional wrestling. It was good versus evil and it didn’t require any particular language. It was superseded by language barriers, you could get with it, you could understand it, so that became entertainment in our household. And that’s how my love for wrestling was born, being on the floor at six years old with my 60-year-old grandmother pounding the floor and cheering for Ivan Putski. That’s the history for my beginning of my love for the business.
My past was filled with lessons. They say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it literally takes an army to groom a wrestler — and some of them do wear camoflauge — Hi Sarge! [Indicating Sgt. Slaughter in the audience.]
So if you guys don’t mind, I’d like to share a couple of stories about some of the life lessons, some of the thank yous that I owe to all of the people that I came across in my past to led me here today in my journey.
Very early on in my career I had the opportunity to manage Aldo Montoya against another talent, Reckless Youth. I became party to what I later understood to be called a rib. I was brand new in it and I had no idea what I was doing, and I was the manager in the match. They decided they would speak carny… So they told us, “We’ll just gimmick around a little bit, a reversal spot, a technique-of-toe, then you grab, shave it, and we’ll both work it, work it, work it, right? … You got that, right, Beth?” To which I responded, “What?” It’s trial by fire in the wrestling business. They patted me on the back and said, “See you in the ring, kid!” To which, the match proceeded. I later found out that they were just trying to provoke nerves to initiate me into the business and they helped me all the way through. That was one of the very first instances of folks helping me all the way through.
I have to give a huge thanks to Mr. Ron Hutchison, who’s here tonight and spoke earlier for [honouree] Gail [Kim]. Thanks Ron. The first time I met Ron Hutchison, I came into Sully’s Gym, which was a boxing ring, very unforgiving, very Rocky-style. I was very intimidated to meet Ron. On the wall were pictures of Edge and Christian, Trish [Stratus], superstars in the WWE that I wanted to emulate, I wanted to be doing that. I met Ron, shook his hand, and he said, “Alright, get in the ring.” There was Traci Brooks, who had quite a bit of experience. I’m standing there waiting for instructions, and he goes, “Just wrestle.” I said, “Um, what does that mean? What does it mean to just wrestle? Do you want me to grab a hammerlock, a headlock, what do you want me to do?” He goes, “That’s how we make money in this business, we just wrestle.”
From that very important lesson on, I worked hard to learn the technique of the business, but then it would take many years to understand what that truly, truly means.
I have to thank Jason Sensation and Molly Holly. Gail told a story earlier on about how crucial Molly was to her career and I can expound on that by telling a quick story about how I came to get an opportunity in Louisville, Kentucky. That trip to Louisville with my Geo Prizm and my German Sheppard, brought me to Louisville. Danny Davis had me there for a tryout, gave me an opportunity to come there and train. He then said, “You have to pay the tuition,” which was several thousands of dollars, which I didn’t have. But they were kind and saw an opportunity with me, and Molly had vouched for me, so they let me make payments. So I arrived in Louisville and very proudly went upstairs to give him my first payment of one hundred dollars, to which he returned a receipt for the cheque, and it was $1,100. I went to turn around and I said, “Oh, Danny, this is wrong. It was a hundred, not $1,100.” Danny said, “No, somebody made your first payment for you.” I said, “Who?” He said, “You have a little angel on your shoulder.” I later found out that angel was Molly/Nora, and she had paid my first chunk of tuition because she believed in me that much. She wanted to pay back the kindness that was given to her by Randy Savage. That’s a part of our business, giving back.
I have to say a huge thank you to Danny Davis himself for giving me an opportunity, Jim Cornette, everybody in OVW that helped me cut my teeth, taught me so many lessons, and truly stood by my side through injuries, through setting up rings, tearing down rings, and really believing in me when I didn’t fit the Diva mold. They still believed in me enough to encourage me to carve a path …
As far as WWE is concerned, I have to thank everybody behind the scenes, everybody who contributed to my career. Arn Anderson, William Regal — Arn is the reason the Glamazon exists. After my jaw injury, there wasn’t supposed to be a big title championship run for Beth Phoenix. I was just brought to come back into the mix after almost kind of fading away into obscurity. I had the opportunity to wrestle Candice Michelle on a live event. Arn had evidently decided that rather of just going through the motions and putting a normal match on, to go out of the box. We did things that had been done and we did things that hadn’t been seen with the girls. We wrestled a long wrestling match. A Playboy Playmate and a wrestler kept the attention of the crowd. Arn Anderson saw that and vouched for me and went to the office and said, “You need to give this girl something.” The very next week, the Glamazon was born. So thank you Arn Anderson.
Which brings me to all of the Divas that I had the opportunity and Knockouts, because now we have such a large brand female wrestlers across the board. Candice Michelle, Mickie James, Gail Kim, Traci Brooks, ODB, all the girls who worked so hard and made it to so many levels. All of them are the reason that I had anything. Even the Kelly Kellys, Maria, the girls that really didn’t have the wrestling experience and background, I only looked good because of their skill, they were making me look good and giving me the opportunity and giving their bodies to me. So thank you to all the women across my career that sacrificed their bodies to make me look like a killer — and that includes Santino!
Finally, I have to give a huge thank you to my family. My mom and dad, and my adopted family, the Copelands, are all here. All the miles, all the tears, all the complaining, I know that becoming a professional wrestler maybe wasn’t your dream for your baby girl; a ballerina or a piano player would have been possibly what you thought I would become. I hope that you’re proud of me for being a part of an amazing family and fraternity. I just want to say thank you and I love you, and to give you the recognition that you never get because you’ve always been behind the scenes doing all the hard work — so thank you!
I was in the grocery store the other day, and I was walking through the magazine aisle, and I saw a magazine that had pictures of very fit, strong woman on it. The title of the magazine was just Strong. I truly was just taken aback that we now live in a world where that is becoming desirable for women, to strong, to be powerful, to be capable, to be given those opportunities. So I want to thank all the women, Victoria, that contributed to my career as well, and every woman that came before me and paved the path in what was once considered a man’s world. Thank you to all of you as well.
And finally, I apologize, there’s a lot of dust in the air [as she is wiping away tears], this career, had I not taken a chance many years ago, and, it’s difficult to say where my life would have gone if I didn’t become a pro wrestler. But I wouldn’t have Adam, and I wouldn’t have my baby girl. If nothing else, if there’s any meaning to my life outside of wrestling, it’s them. So I want to say thank you to wrestling for giving me my family, and congratulations to all honourees this year.
After the speech, husband and wife posed for photos.
It’s all a good practice for this coming July, when they get to do it all over again, as Beth Kocianski will head to Waterloo, Iowa, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. There, as a part of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame induction weekend, she will be presented with the prestigious Frank Gotch Award for her for “positive recognition to professional wrestling through work outside the ring.”
- Cauliflower Alley Club website
- Beth Phoenix story archive
- Twitter: @TheBethPhoenix
- Edge Story Archive
- Twitter: @EdgeRatedR
Greg Oliver was disappointed he didn’t get to say hi to Edge and Beth Phoenix in Las Vegas — both of whom he saw wrestle years and years ago in small venues around Toronto.