Modern-day wrestlers must be proficient in the ring as well as on the mic. Celeste is one such wrestler who’s made it a career talking on-air as a radio DJ and is now parlaying that into the squared circle.
Celeste (real name Chelsea Lyons) has been in the wrestling business a short time. “Not even a full year and a half,” she told SlamWrestling.net. “More like a year and a third.”
You might think it odd for a radio persona to jump from the airwaves to the squared circle until you remember that Jerry “The King” Lawler started out as a radio DJ way back when. As for Celeste, her journey starts with what got her into radio. “A lot of things in my life can be circled back to my adolescence when I was a competitive cheerleader,” she said, “and I’ve always just loved being in front of crowds in front of people and performing.
“As I aged out of it, I wanted to do a job that kept me kind of in front of the crowds, in front of the masses, and keeping on to that entertainment platform, I guess is the best way. I never shut up. I love talking. I love talking to people. So, I thought radio would be perfect. I get to get out in the community at events, meet people, and talk to them on the radio. They call me, I play music for them. It’s a great time.”
Celeste currently can be heard on-air at Cleveland’s Q104, and she has worked in the industry for ten years. In some ways, working in radio is like working the wrestling territories. “Back then I was doing anything and everything that I could get my hands on,” she explained. “I’ve worked Top 40, which is kind of like what someone in my demographic would want to work, current pop music. But at the time I would take country stations, rock stations. I loved the rock stations. Oldies stations, which I quite enjoyed a lot of the music from the ’50s and ’60s when I was working on those.
“I’ve worked talk radio. That one was probably the worst was like an NPR-type of conservative station, and I worked there for three years,” Celeste recalled. “And I ended up doing the morning show on every station I’ve worked for.”
She’s worked with all sorts of rock personalities in the business, including one particular wrestler. “I’ve had to be Hulk Hogan’s assistant before when he came through the radio station,” she said. “It was my job to keep him on schedule and keep him coming through [the studios] when I was interning at Clear Channel and helping him stay on track and everything through all the different stations.”
The 30-year-old Celeste was on the air during the midday, but things have changed. “I’m way more established now and more in control of my schedule, and what it is that I do when it comes to radio,” she said. “About three or four months ago, it was like around May requested that I just kind of pull back at the station a little bit. Because my life in the wrestling world has been picking up so quickly. It was becoming overwhelming trying to do two full-time jobs plus take care of a child.”
“I had to cut back on the radio side. So now I just do weekends at Q104, and I also run my own weekly show that is called Cleveland Connection,” she said. “It’s an hour long and it’s based on interviews from around the community of events, public services, things that are happening and that in itself like takes up so much time to put together it was just hard to keep doing middays on top of a weekend show.”
Wrestling has also been part of Celeste’s life growing up. “I grew up in West Virginia, and that was back in the ’90s in the Attitude Era. And of course, wrestling was huge. You couldn’t walk down the hallway at school without like kids, you know, doing the [Degeneration] X ‘Suck It!’ All the teachers are yelling at us,” she laughed at the memory. “I’d go over to my aunt’s house and watch it with my cousin. So, we would always sneak and watch it which was funny. It’s hard to remember the specific match that we watched. But of course, my cousin loves Stone Cold Steve Austin, and then I would always like to watch the women’s wrestling, naturally, and I was really into that.”
Then what made the 5-foot-5 Celeste pursue wrestling seriously?
“So, circling back to being an entertainer, wanting to be in front of people when I was a competitive cheerleader,” she started to explain. “When I say that it wasn’t just like school ‘rah-rah’ cheering on the sidelines stuff. I mean, we did the full-blown going to competitions, throwing people up in the air. We were tumbling, we were putting together routines, performing them in front of hundreds of people. Sometimes, we performed at nationals; so, like thousands of people, and I missed that feeling.”
“I was able to supplement it with radio for a while,” she continued. “But nothing beats the rush of just being center stage in front of a ton of people doing what you do best. I mean, just nothing beats the rush of that [feeling].”
She tried other athletic pursuits, but then Celeste came upon a brainstorm. “So, I’m like, ‘You know what? I bet I could pull off being a professional wrestler.’ Combining my love for entertainment, the glitz, the glam, that side of it mixed with my love for fighting,” she said. “I signed up, filled out an application to train, and I had to go through this whole process. I had to make like videos and everything and sent it into where I trained.”
Obviously, the trip from Cleveland to Knoxville is far. “It takes me about seven hours and 15 minutes to make that trip and I make it almost monthly,” she said proudly. “Anytime I’m in the Knoxville area, I do try to stop by JPWA and get some training as well because they offer advanced classes for any alumni. So, I always try to pop in when I can I love working with Dr. Tom. He’s one of my absolute favorites.”
Celeste had worked several matches, but just a handful of shows for the National Wrestling Alliance. Yet she was doing other things behind the scenes. “I have taken on multiple roles because one of the first things that I learned very early on in the radio business is learn to do everything,” she said. “If you know how to do all the jobs, you will always be used, you will always be handy in one way or another.”
There were times Celeste was put to use at the merchandise table, specifically when SlamWrestling.net first talked to her in St. Louis, at the NWA 75 weekend. “But there’s been times that I have been pulled in and used for commercials at NWA. I do ring crew. Sometimes I get matches, and there have been some times that I have been setting up the ring while wearing my wrestling gear, finished the ring, run downstairs and get ready for a match,” she laughed. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Recently there have been more changes for Celeste, as she recalled a moment when she was working the Exodus Pro show in Cleveland, OH, where NWA owner Billy Corgan was stopping by to make an announcement that the promotion was going to be under the NWA banner. But that wasn’t all.
“The surreal part was that you know, Billy came up to me and I’ll never forget this. I will never forget this moment in my life. I’m sitting there, putting on my makeup and someone taps my shoulder. And this was show day, and everything was crazy. I mean, there were like a million people coming up to me all throughout the day, you know?” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what is this? Like, who needs something now?’ Right? I turned around and it’s Billy Corgan, and he looks at me and he goes, ‘Hey, let’s talk wrestling for a second,’ and my jaw just dropped on the ground. I’m like, ‘Ah, okay. Yeah, let’s do that.’
“And then he tells me that he wants to make the announcement that there was a spot open in the upcoming [Samhain] pay-per-view for the NWA and essentially, he was watching my match that night,” she continued. “[Corgan said] ‘It’s going to be between you are Tiffany [Nieves] based off of whoever ends up winning this match is going to be the person that I’m thinking is going to fill this spot.’ And I’m over here just beside myself. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do, and I’m just like, ‘Oh my gosh. First of all, Billy Corgan knows who I am. Second of all, he is watching this match to, you know, determine who’s going to be in his pay-per-view.’ Like it’s a huge deal.”
Nieves ended up defeating Celeste underhandedly by using the ropes to keep her pinned to the mat. Afterward, as Celeste came out of the ring, Corgan went up to her and raised her hand in front of the appreciative Cleveland crowd. “He did it right in front of my mom and I don’t think he realized my mom was right there,” she said. “But as he’s doing that, and I can hear my mom like, screaming almost it felt like next to me that we have big mouths, but she was like what? And I’m just like, I was trying to not cry in front of everyone because it really was. so surreal. That was just one of those moments where you people have been in this business for years and years and years and have not experienced something like that. So, I’m very blessed and lucky to have experienced a moment like that.”
But that is not the end of the story. “A week later, I was doing another wrestling show. I finished my match, and as soon as I finished my match, I sit down and I’m unwinding and I open up Instagram and I see NWA announced the match and I’m on the card.”
Celeste is included on the Samhain card in a four-way with her, Tiffany Nieves, Samantha Starr, and Missa Kate of the tag team M95. Whoever wins the match will be considered the new number-one contender for the NWA World Women’s Championship — and hat’s one of the things that excites the Cleveland native. “I would like to become a regular on the NWA roster by the end of the year. That’s my biggest goal is to just want to be there,” she said. “To just be considered as a regular part of the roster. Now my big goal for next year is to get signed and get a belt. I don’t care what belt it is, where it is. I don’t care. I just want a belt. Preferably an NWA belt, and an Exodus Pro belt. Hint Hint, if my coach happens to hear that, I’m just letting him know. I’m coming for that women’s title.”
TOP PHOTO: Celeste in the NWA. Photo courtesy NWA