WWE Network Review: WWE Icons – Beth Phoenix

The documentary begins with Beth Phoenix talking about being from immigrant parents and her Polish grandmother who watched wrestling and loved Ivan Putski. It was not until she saw the match between Bret Hart and Owen Hart at Wrestlemania X in 1994, which inspired her to become a wrestler. Beth spoke about being not able to afford WWF tickets until she won a coloring contest from a radio station. We then see a clip of a Raw taping where a young Beth was in the crowd. In 1996, Beth was a sophomore in high school, beginning to play tennis and other sports. She would develop a muscular body that caused her to be self-conscience about her weight. It became an issue where her parents had to step in and help her seek counsel. Beth would then speak about being inspired by “The Eighth Wonder of the World” Chyna because of her size and power. To start her journey to WWE, she decided to join her high school wrestling team, which was an all-male team. She worked hard at passing the training to compete with the guys, even winning a few matches.

In 1998, she graduated high school and went to college to study to become a doctor. Unfortunately, she was performing poorly in her classes which started to become overwhelming. It was not until a conversation with her roommate Janet that led her to pursue her dream of becoming a wrestler. She would start on the local independent scene under the name “Phoenix ” because she felt it was symbolic of her rising through ashes. Splitting time between a new major and the independent scene, Beth would start training with Ron Hutchison who also trained Edge, Christian, and Trish Stratus. She continued in the independent scene until the Tough Enough show came around. She would apply for the casting and made it through the first round. We would see a clip of her cutting a promo in front of Al Snow and the panels who liked her promo. Moving on to the next round, Beth would fly to Hollywood, until an issue with her EKG test disqualified her from the show.

This left Beth with no job as she left her current position to be a part of Tough Enough. Beth told the story about giving her wrestling tape to Molly Holly. It was around the time of Wrestlemania X8 (in 2002) when her friend Jason Sensation gave her the idea of handing her wrestling tape to Molly Holly. She details her experience of waiting in a long line to meet Molly and believing she would not be able to give her the tape. Luckily for her, The Rock came out on the other side of the room, which shortened the line. This allowed her to give her wrestling tape to Molly and telling her about her aspirations to become a wrestler. Molly then spoke about the moment when she received the tape from Phoenix, watching it with Dr. Tom Prichard and seeing something special in her.

After six months, Beth would be brought in as an extra and having a quick wrestling match with Molly. While the spot would be given to Gail Kim, Beth would be introduced to Nick Dinsmore (aka Eugene), who worked at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). She would be invited by then-owner Danny Davis to be trained but not signed as a contractual worker. Although in debt, following her dream, she moved to Kentucky to begin her training. Luckily for her, Molly would pay for her wrestling tuition since she remembers being in the same situation as Beth. Even though she was getting TV time for a non-contracted talent, Beth wanted a contract to be signed but was told “no” many times. At the time, management wanted to find another Trish which she tried to do but felt it was not who she was. Working two jobs to make ends meet, and eventually hitting a low point, Beth would catch a break when she got a call from Tommy Dreamer notifying her she was hired by WWE.

Phoenix would make her debut in May 2006, by jumping through the crowd and attacking Mickie James. A month later, she would make her singles debut against Victoria. Unfortunately, she shattered her jaw from a slap, which required her to get reconstructive surgery. After completing her recovery, she would be sent back down to OWV due to the creative team having nothing for her. During this time, she would repackage herself as “The Glamazon” after hearing the term from an episode of Sex and the City. She would then be called up back onto the main roster as a heel. Talking about her tiara look, she wanted to create a brand for herself as Bret Hart did with the pink sunglasses. In October 2007, Beth would go on to win the WWE Women’s Championship, which she says was special because it was the same title that her heroes held. After winning the championship, she learned to stop trying to be the next Trish and be the first her.

Ember Moon said she wanted to be like Beth growing up, as did Rhea Ripley. Beth would talk about her appearance in the 2010 Royal Rumble match which was Dean Malenko’s idea. It was a huge honor for Phoenix as she would become the second woman to participate in the historical match, with the first being her hero, Chyna. She would go on to pair with Natalya to form The Divas of Doom. Charlotte would credit The Divas of Doom for breaking the glass for the women to be viewed as superstars and not eye candy.

In 2011, Beth started dating Edge after a lengthy conversation on his appreciation night. After feeling like she was hitting her stride in 2012, Phoenix would step away from the company after her contract expired. She left due to family issues and frustrations with the state of the women’s division. Beth would explain it being a painful decision to walk away from the thing she loved. However, life after wrestling for Phoenix would change as she and Edge would go on to start a family. The two would go on to have two daughters named Lyric and Ruby. In 2017, Phoenix would receive the news that she will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Being the youngest inductee into the Hall of Fame, Phoenix explained it was a thought she never envisioned, but one her husband said she deserved. A year later, Phoenix would then participate in the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble, challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Championships with Natalya at Wrestlemania 35, and then the 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble match. To continue to help further the women’s product, Phoenix would join the NXT broadcast team. The documentary ends with many of the next generations of superstars praising her for being inspirational as well as her peers saying she truly is a WWE icon.

The below video is a bonus addition to the documentary with more comments on Beth’s career.

Aneil’s Take: With Women’s History Month coming to a close, I think Beth Phoenix was a great pick for this WWE Icons series. Growing up watching Beth wrestle in WWE, she stood out from the rest of the women in the division, not only for her unique appearance but her intimidating presence as well. Her Glamazon persona was fitting for her since she had this beauty meets warrior type look, which was badass. Watching this documentary, it was inspiring to see how Beth overcame the obstacles she faced on her way to becoming a WWE superstar. Whether it was overcoming body image issues, losing her opportunity on Tough Enough, or even the struggles in OVW, Beth was still determined to achieve her dream.

Also, kudos to Molly Holly for going above and beyond to help someone like Beth achieve her dream. Sometimes we just need that source of support and guidance like Molly did for Beth to get through it all.

I think Beth having her jaw injury was a blessing in disguise since it helped her discover the Glamazon gimmick and not be stuck in the weird Mickie-Trish storyline. For me, Beth was a superstar who was crucial to helping the women’s division become what it is today. She has influenced a new generation of female superstars by helping them embrace who they are and how they look which can be seen in superstars like Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley.