Former pro wrestler Madusa sums up her many career incarnations with the simple explanation, "I don't do things easy."
Her martial arts-inspired style during stints in pro wrestling's major organizations in the 1980s and '90s resembled what people see today in the octagon much more than the squared circle. Far from a gimmick, she cut her teeth for the wrestling ring by taking some all-too-real blows studying Muay Thai in Japan and Thailand.
So when she was ready to retire in 1999 after an 18-year wrestling stint, an invitation to test a monster truck at legendary Grave Digger driver Dennis Anderson's shop in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., wasn't intimidating. In fact, taking her first "bump" in a truck rather than on a mat confirmed that she had found herself a new home.
"I went out there and tested, and turned the truck upside down," she said, a feat not recommended at NASCAR races but lauded at Monster Jam events. "Gassed it out, landed on all fours and they told me I was hired."
She now has two world titles in a truck to go along with her three championship wrestling stints, and brings that resume and her self-named truck to the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Friday and Saturday as part of the Monster Jam show. Her titles came in 2004 as freestyle co-champion and in '05 for racing, but Madusa is just as proud of her longevity as her title reigns.
"With my gearhead background of driving dirt bikes and Harleys and four-wheelers, etc., they [Monster Jam] wanted a cross-promotion from pro wrestling over to their women's demographic," she explained. "They didn't have any women drivers and they wanted more girls in the audience, which they had almost zero."
Since then she's developed a unique relationship with her counterparts, who she says initially saw her as a short-term ticket-selling gimmick.
"They thought I was going to be there a year and be like, 'I can't handle this,'" she said. "Well, they met their match."
Fitness enthusiast Madusa openly wonders how some of her competitors can fit in their trucks with their beer bellies. She says they counter with "Oh, no, here comes Miss Organic" when she shows up at the arena. The back-and-forth becomes part of the show when Madusa gets her hands on the microphone.
"I bring a little bit of the wrestling fair to Monster Jam," Madusa says, admitting that both her past and present professions qualify as sports entertainment. "I feel that they need that. They need a little more controversy among the drivers. They know when they give me the mic, they've got management going, 'Oh crap, what the hell is she going to say?'"