Inside Wrestling's Hotseat: Debra
"I've Got Nothing To Hide!"
It's been a two-year struggle for acceptance. In the fall of 1997, Debra McMichael was struggling to save her managerial career in WCW. She and Jeff Jarrett had split with the Four Horsemen and she was desperate to earn a reputation as a manager of champions.
It didn't happen. Jeff Jarrett went to the WWF following a contractual dispute. Her estranged husband, Steve, didn't want her in his corner. Alex Wright, fed up by her mismanagement, was next to fire the ex-beauty queen.
With no careers to guide and no future prospects, Debra went home.
Until Jeff Jarrett called her in the fall of '98, that is. Although Jarrett had described Debra as "a dumb blonde" in the interim, Debra was willing to give him a second chance—and seize a second chance for herself as well.
Despite a lukewarm reception in the WWF initially, she guided Jarrett and Owen Hart to the World tag team title. Debra soon became the star of the team, rather than a supporting member, when she defeated Sable in an evening gown match for the WWF's women's belt on May 10 in Orlando, Florida. WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels, in a controversial decision, claimed Debra won the title because her gown came off first, courtesy of Nicole Bass.
Owen Hart's death on May 23 was a tremendous blow to Debra, but she gathered enough strength to guide Jarrett to an intercontinental title victory over The Godfather only two days later.
Debra's popularity continues to grow despite the fact that she lost the women's strap to Ivory. Senior Writer Harry Burkett spoke to her shortly after her title loss.
"Why should I cover my best assets?
Men are never criticized for posing and flexing in the ring."
Q: If the last two years of your life were a book, I suppose it would be titled Reinventing Debra. Two years ago, your managerial career was in a shambles and your closest associate, Jeff Jarrett, called you "a dumb blonde". Today, you've assumed Sable's position as the most popular woman in the WWF. How do you account for such a change?
A: It took a while for fans and promoters to realize what a tremendous talent I am. I'm glad the WWF has given me the opportunity to realize my potential.
Q: Of course, you guided Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett to the World tag team title and Jarrett to the Intercontinental belt. But your WWF women's title victory was dubious, and I don't recall any clean victories during your reign. Even you must admit that you're not the WWF's best female wrestler. I don't want to sound insulting, but could you tell me what your talent is?
A: That's the great thing about being me. I don't have to win matches. I don't even have to help Jeff win titles. All I have to do is show up. The crowds will come.
Q: In other words, your presence sells tickets.
A: That's the name of the game. The McMahons hear the audience go crazy when I enter an arena. Jeff knows I make him interesting to folks.
Q: Are you suggesting Jarrett lacks charisma? He seemed to have too much charisma as "Double-J" during his first stint in the WWF. Don't you think he's jealous because you're stealing his spotlight?
"I don't force Jeff's opponents to come over for a closer look.
I don't force them to stand there while I whisper sweet nothings in their ears."
A: What's his alternative? Should he call Jim Cornette to be his manager again? Or should he ask Tennessee Lee to come out of retirement? Jeff knows I've been a gold mine to his career, and he wouldn't do anything to alter our relationship.
Q: Aren't you detrimental to his career in some ways, though? When the two of you make an entrance, the announcers talk about you. When Jeff wrestles, a lot of the fans watch you. Now it seems that he's jealous whenever a wrestler looks at you. He's becoming increasingly paranoid. How long can he remain Intercontinental champion by being that emotional?
A: I'll admit that Jeff occasionally has mental blocks in the ring, but that's when I pour on the sugar, hon. A little bit of Debra goes a long way.
Q: You mean distracting Jeff's opponents by batting your eyes and flirting? So you admit that you help Jarrett cheat.
A: How is that cheating? I don't force Jeff's opponents to come over for a closer look. I don't force them to stand there while I whisper sweet nothings in their ears. They enjoy talking to me, even if they pay a heavy price.
Q: I've always wondered what you say to Jarrett's opponents in order for them to stop in the middle of ring action.
A: Wouldn't you like to know!
Q: Tell me.
A: Will I be on the cover of your magazine?
Q: I don't really have any control over that. I'll see what I can do. I suppose that … wait. Now I'm falling for it!
A: See? If you were wrestling Jeff, you'd be wearing a guitar collar by now.
Q: Smooth. You've done a great job helping Jarrett retain his Intercontinental title. But I noticed that Jarrett's distraction of the referee allowed Nicole Bass to chokeslam you and helped Ivory win the WWF women's title. Did that make you angry?
A: I was more disappointed than anything else. But that just proves that it took two women to beat me, not just Ivory.
Q: Do you really believe you could defeat Ivory in a fair wrestling match?
A: That depends on your definition of fair. In my mind, anything is fair in love and war.
Q: And the WWF is war?
A: It's both.
Q: Are you committed to regaining the women's title?
A: It never was a big goal of mine. The opportunity to wrestle for it came my way and I took advantage of it. Whenever I'm offered a title match, I'll accept it.
Q: Did you whisper sweet nothings into Shawn Michaels' ear before your title match? The object of an evening gown match is to tear off your opponent's gown. The object is not to lose your own.
A: Again, Shawn is real impressed by my sparkling personality. I just smile and people bend over backwards to do favors for me. Besides, Nicole Bass interfered in my match—just like she did during my match against Ivory. She'll get her payback.
Q: Are you capable of doing that yourself?
A: You'd be surprised at what I'm capable of doing, hon. Nicole is long overdue for someone to play a tune on her head.
Q: You and Jeff have been dubbed "The Golden Couple". Is he satisfied with being identified as only one-half of a team? And are you satisfied with that?
A: Jeff and I make a fantastic team. That's why we were successful in the past, and that's why we're successful now. We compliment each other perfectly.
Q: Some critics claim your success is strictly proportional to the lack of clothing on your body. Come on, Debra, you didn't become so popular until you started wearing less to the ring. Those people aren't chanting "puppies" because they belong to the ASPCA.
A: The more people see of me, the more they want to see. I'm flattered by the reception I get, but then again, it's deserved.
Q: Does it mean so much to you to flaunt your scantily clad body in front of strangers?
A: Why should I cover my best assets? Men are never criticized for posing and flexing in the ring. Why should people be on my case for showcasing my body? I've got nothing to hide!
Q: Obviously Jeff doesn't feel that way. He's constantly trying to cover your ample, um, cleavage or trying to throw a coat around you. If it's so innocent, why is he upset by it? Aren't you afraid he might hire another manager?
A: Listen, I manage Jeff; he doesn't manage me. I know Jeff acts a little crazy sometimes, but he means well.
Q: What are your future plans? Obviously, keeping the I-C belt around Jeff Jarrett's waist is a top priority. What should we expect out of you in the coming months?
A: I'm still training, trying to hone my wrestling skills. With a few weeks of training, I was able to win the women's title. These little girls in the WWF won't be able to survive once I become a lethal fighting machine.
Q: Pardon me for laughing, but I can't imagine you being very dangerous, not in the physical sense at least.
"These little girls in the WWF won't be able to survive
once I become a lethal fighting machine."
A: You just wait, hon. You've seen me scratch and claw in a few catfights already. With a little more practice, they'll be calling me "La Femme Debra". (Jeff Jarrett barges into backstage area and exclaims, "What the heck are you doin' talkin' to Debra behind my back?")