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Wrestling / Madusa

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Debrah Miceli (born February 9, 1964) is a retired Italian-American pro wrestler and valet best known for her work in the 1980s and 1990s as Madusa and (less frequently) Alundra Blayze.

WWE brought in Madusa sometime in 1994 to revive the Women's Championship. (Sherri dropped the belt to Rockin' Robin who pretty much disappeared, and the title with her until Miceli showed up as "Alundra"). But she was only around for a year before jumping to WCW, where she dumped the belt in the trash. In doing so, she became the Helen of the Monday Night Wars.

Though Ric Flair had shown up at WWF with the NWA belt, that incident was different. Flair and the WWF treated the belt with the reverence it deserved. This was the opposite. It was a public declaration that the old rules no longer apply. (In fact, it's generally believed to have been one of the deciding factors that led to the Montreal Screwjob.)

After she retired from wrestling in 2001, Micelli became a full-time monster truck driver. The WCW had a fleet of monster trucks competing in the '90s and early '00s, and Micelli was the only wrestler to drive their own truck. Because she owned the Madusa name, she continued to drive the truck so after she left the WCW and the other wrestler trucks were all discontinued, and she has competed at events like Monster Jam. In 2004, she was part of a three-way tie for the Monster Jam World Finals for freestyle competition.

In 2015, WWE inducted Miceli (under her WWE name) into their Hall of Fame. She actually took the belt out of the trash for her speech. Later that year , she became the commissioner of World Wonder Ring ST★RDOM's USA branch, in preparation for its USA tour later that month.

Not to be confused with the mythical Medusa, or with....well, Alundra.

"These tropes are Made in the U.S.A.":

  • '80s Hair: Madusa always had loads of hair (unlike Alundra, her sportier alter-ego).
  • Ambiguously Bi: The story was that Madusa caught her then-boyfriend Evan Karagias with Melissa Bellin a.k.a. "Spice" (part of the "Nitro Girls" dance team), resulting in a nasty breakup. Spice came out as Evan's valet at Starrcade, but ended up turning on him and becoming friends with Madusa. There were subtle hints of a lesbian relationship between Spice and Madusa, but it never came to be.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Her appearances in the WWF had already been less and less before they fired her, the reigning champion, and discontinued the women's division with no kind of fanfare.
    • Aside from a few guest appearances, the girls (big or otherwise) Did Not Play™ in WCW, so she sat at home for a month... until they inserted her into a romance angle between two non-wrestling managers. It wouldn't even be fair to call the women's division a failure, since they never really tried to create one. It is notable only for the lawsuits it created. (However, on the Nitro airing after the historic Bash at the Beach, we got Madusa vs. Malia Hosaka, and it's a pretty good match.)
  • All-American Face: Her name is a Portmanteau of "Made in the U.S.A."
  • Alliterative Name: As Madusa Micelli.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Her big appeal was being a tall, attractive blonde in the ring. What people forget is that 80's Madusa was also RIPPED as hell. Add to that her martial arts skills, and you have a UFC-caliber monster.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Luna Vachon. Even when the two did not wrestle each other, Vachon was known for managing other people so she could direct them at Alundra Blayze. Madusa was Vachon's first major enemy when she joined the big leagues. By her later admission, she wasn't ready to work a match with Madusa because she'd mostly worked as a valet and didn't have the cardio fitness needed to keep up with her. It doesn't help that Madusa was just back from a long stretch in Japan, where they take this business very seriously. Madusa took that opportunity to beat the stuffing out of Vachon and put herself over.
    • Ed "Oklahoma" Ferrera, a boss heel who became fixated on proving the inferiority of woman wrestlers in WCW. Unlike Paul Heyman, who got decked by Madusa after making sexist remarks about her, Oklahoma actually scored a few victories. The character was universally reviled and viewed as little more than a mouthpiece for Vince Russo and Ferrara to air their dirty laundry.
  • Badass Driver: Her monster truck career showed that she's quite the force to be reckoned after she became co-champions (alongside Max Dnote 's Tom Meents and El Toro Loco's Lupe Soza) in the freestyle category of Monster Jam World Finals in 2004 (the only time a co-champion has been crowned in Monster Jam's history). Then the next year, she won the racing category outright, becoming the first female driver to win a monster truck world championship on her own.
  • Belly Flop Crushing: She adopted the Stinger Splash.
  • The Bus Came Back: She surprised everyone, again, by returning in 1999 as part of Randy Savage's Team Madness group. She would go on to become the first woman to hold the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, before retiring in 2001.
  • Call-Back: Her appearance in the 2019 Raw Reunion had her win the 24/7 Championship and pull out a trash can to dump the title into it... but Ted DiBiase appeared and bought the title from her (which in turn was a Call-Back to the time he tried to buy the WWE Championship by having André the Giant win the title and then sell it to him) before she could bin it.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Her interviews after becoming a STARDOM commissioner described STARDOM moving in a more serious direction. Mostly this means stopping the sillier angles, toning down the whimsical atmosphere and hiring fewer models as the promotion has the identity of people being beat stupid then cleaning up for photo shoots or costume parties.
  • Crossover: In 1999 SFX Motorsports began building WCW themed monster trucks. Chad Fortune of The Pit Crew Tag Team was the only other wrestler who drove his own truck but WCW buried him (moreso than Madusa), so he was not as famous.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle
    • When Team Madness split, it split hard, and Miss Madness ended up on the receiving end of a harsh beating from Madusa. Madusa did lose the match but Miss Madness left worse for wear. All of Miss Madness's subsequent attempts to fight Madusa saw Madusa give Miss Madness progressively worse beatings while no selling most of Miss Madness's offense.
    • Madusa gave plenty to Oklahoma, particularly after he got involved in the cruiserweight title scene, only to see him usually slip away somehow. And he's one of the bookers, imagine that.
    • She also bum rushed Sherri on two separate occasions: once during her drive-thru wedding to Col. Parker (the brawl spilled over into—what else—the buffet table, turning this into a Garbage Wedding Match), and again that following night during an interview with Gene Okerlund (who rabbited). This was surely the most one-sided brutal beatdown Sherri had ever received. Even the commentators were imploring her to stop. It had to look "real" enough to put Sherri in traction for a year, during which time Martel entered treatment for pill addiction.
  • David Versus Goliath: Madusa was often the Goliath many women and some of the smaller guys were afraid to face and was often cold blooded enough to fit the role but this was reversed when she was pitted against Monster Ripper (or if you watched the WWF, when Alundra Blayze was pitted against Bertha Faye). She was taller than Bull Nakano and Aja Kong but they outweighed her by enough margin to make her play David too.
  • Determinator: Her nose being broken four times in Zenjo lead to her being awarded the most inspirational wrestler award in 1990.
  • The Dog Bites Back: At WCW Halloween Havoc 92, October 25, 1992, Big Van Vader (w/manager Harley Race) defended the U.S. Heavyweight Title against what remained of The Dangerous Alliance. After the match, Paul E. kicked Madusa out of the Alliance, saying that he only hired her "because the other hooker had prior engagements." Madusa, of course, took some exception to that. This is made funnier by Vader and Harley seeing the rage in Madusa's eyes and "noping" out of there. (Vader, who had just retired "Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff, would go on to become the company's resident monster heel, and Race is an eight-time NWA World Champion.)
  • Downer Ending: In her mid-90s WCW run and feud with Akira Hokuto, a title vs career match was booked. Madusa lost, Hokuto took the WCW Women's Title back to Japan with her, and that was the end of WCW's Women's division. To make it worse, after the match they showed her in the back having her leg looked over by the medics, and commentator Tony Schiavone said roughly "the division's dead, how does [her injury] matter anymore"
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: Shockingly won the IWA Women's title (Canadian/Japanese version) from Chigusa Nagayo only to lose it back in a day.
  • The Face: Before Madusa debuted, there had been exactly one women's match: a fantastic tag team match of four women from All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling. In 1993, she debuted as Blayze, bringing with her AJW vets like Bull Nakano. She would hold the WWF Women's Title three times, but when the company's fortunes started to go south, Miceli was released.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: In the AWA, she would wear a leotard that only had one legging.
  • Femme Fatale: When it comes to her actual career, probably her best remembered role was part of The Dangerous Alliance, where her role as "Director of Covert Operations" involved things like walking out dressed like a harem girl at Clash of the Champions XVII to seduce WCW United States Champion Sting to distract him so that Lex Luger could clip Sting's knee, en route to Dangerous Alliance Rick Rude facing (and beating) Sting for the title.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: When Bull Nakano appeared unannounced before the final match of the 2015 5*Star Grand Prix to have one last stare down with her old rival, Madusa was elated to see her.
  • Five Moves of Doom: She had a lot of moves but when she had taken a beating and was teasing a comeback Alundra Blayze's would usually be kip out, three flashbacks/flying mat slams, missile drop kick, German suplex.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Played that role in Zenjo. Averted in STARDOM, where Oedo~tai does go out of its way to undermine her, but in spite of its name it is a cosmopolitan group and Madusa is the face by default in this scenario just by trying to be an impartial authority.
    • During the dying days of the AWA, she turned heel, and then took on the gimmick of a fashion model, and making sure to emphasize she was born in Milan, Italy.
  • Friend to All Living Things: She has her own grooming/pet spa/doggy bakery in Lecanto, Florida called Koolkats and Hotdogs.
  • Funny Afro: Revealed that she had one prior to her wrestling career.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Near the end of her WCW career, she began putting blue and/or red highlights in her hair, tying them into oversized pigtails like a pair of pom-poms.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Usually after someone attempted a lateral press on her without hooking the leg. She would back bridge out of the pinfall and go back on the offensive.
  • Humiliating Wager
    • Madusa and Eddie Gilbert defeated Luna Vachon and Cactus Jack in a tag team hair versus hair match.
    • At WCW Hog Wild, Bull Nakano put her motorcycle on the line in a match against Madusa. Madusa destroyed it after winning.
  • I Know Karate: Before signing with All Japan Women's Wrestling, she took up training in Muay Thai, boxing and kickboxing. The result? When she got tired or frustrated with wrestling she could really lay down an ass kicking.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Several times the Italian native was called on to represent USA against Japan, Canada or just in general while in Japan.
  • Impersonation Gambit: Not her, but Jobber Mike Thor at WCW Clash of the Champions XXI. She was scheduled to face Paul E. (w/Michael Hayes) in a "Battle of the Sexes" Exhibition Match. Before the match, Thor ran in dressed as her with his face disguised. Paul smashed the phone over "her" head, which was considered pretty shocking right there, until Paul and Hayes discovered it was Thor. Madusa herself then showed up to beat up Paul, including no-selling his one move, a flying axhandle, hitting a missile dropkick and ripping his pants off until the 5-minute time limit expired. Doubles as a downplayed Uriah Gambit, since Thor had to get clobbered in order for the plan to work.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: One way to see her tossing away the WWF women's title belt, which signaled the death of the WWF women's division (and with it the decline of women's wrestling in the United States) in a big way, which gave WWF a pretext for scattering it to the winds. In 2015, she tweeted proof that she didn't actually throw away the belt.
  • Insult Backfire: When called out by "The Fallen Flower" Kikyo, Madusa ended her rebuke with "bitch got balls". Kikyo interpreted that as her being more woman than Madusa.
  • Murderous Thighs: Applying her powerful knee to an opponent's face, threatening to squash it like a grape on the mat. It's not strictly legal, not that the referees cared much. (At best, the ref gently taps the knee with a "naughty, naughty" gesture.)
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Meng defeated her in the tournament for the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Title on the October 25, 1999 Nitro. The "Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!" comes in that Meng had decided to resort to mostly just roar at her until she actually attacked him with a missile dropkick. Then he flipped out and put her in the Tongan Deathgrip.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Madusa's reaction to seeing Sherri turn up in WCW.
  • Omniglot: She speaks Japanese and recorded a music CD in the language.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: The on screen story was that she revived the WWF's women's division only to later destroy it. Off camera, the end of the division was not her fault at all, McMahon wanted to cut costs and decided the women would get the ax, Bischoff wanted to taunt McMahon and Madusa was too good an opportunity to pass up. Nonetheless, Madusa was long associated with title belts and garbage bins.
  • Perky Female Minion
    • She replaced rival Sherri Martel as "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly's manager in the AWA. At that time Madusa also managed the AWA World Heavyweight Champion Curt Hennig. Randy Savage brought her out of "retirement" to be part of Team Madness with Gorgeous George and Miss Madness/Mona.
    • Madusa would eventually get her own perky female minion in Nitro Girl Spice.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Madusa the wrestler wears Red, White and Blue. Madusa the monster truck driven by Madusa the wrestler was painted pastel pink in 2011, though it was repainted red, white and blue after Brianna Mahon served as a substitute driver.
  • Power Stable:
  • Pretender Diss: She's said in the past that likes getting into character and cutting social media "promos". She has feuded with Paige on Twitter once (Paige has stated that her moveset is very much inspired by Bull Nakano), and Madusa got a lot of flak from fans of A.J. Lee for proclaiming the belt was hers because she never lost it (erm...), and challenging AJ come and face her for the right to wear it. All because WWE did a photoshoot of AJ with the classic belt design. In normal situations, the IWC would recognize when they're getting worked, but with Madusa the backlash should have been expected.
  • Precision F-Strike: At WCW Halloween Havoc 99, the beginning of the first Vince Russo regime, she walked out in a bikini to shill the new WCW cologne. She said "This is BULLSHIT!", poured it on Bobby Heenan and left.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl:
    • In the AWA she had a runway model gimmick, but her job was to model clothes, not her body. She did pose for Playboy, but that was just for money, and even if it it wasn't, it would still be about what's comfortable in what time and place.
    • In WCW, Madusa would prefer to be in matches rather than bikini contests, and became visibly annoyed if she had to compete in the latter. Didn't stop commentators of being happy to see her in such contests if the occasion arose. One example is Beach Blast 1992 when she faced Missy Hyatt in a bikini contest. Despite Hyatt being the opposite to Madusa and being a Shameless Fanservice Girl, while Madusa did everything she can to cover herself during the contest (from wearing chaps in one instance and a bulgy leather jacket in another), Missy only won narrowly, as host Jesse Ventura clearly enjoyed the sight of both women the same. The contest even ended with Ventura going after Madusa after Madusa left, much to Missy's chagrin.
    • Averted during her run in The Dangerous Alliance, where, as the "Director of Covert Operations", she walked out dressed like a harem girl at Clash of the Champions XVII to seduce United States Champion Sting, distracting him so that WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger (with whom Sting was feuding at the time) could clip Sting's knee before his match with Dangerous Alliance member Rick Rude, who would go on to defeat Sting for the title. Also averted during her later WCW run, where she was more than willing to seduce Evan Karagias for her own convenience.
  • Retired Badass: After Bull Nakano directed Kikyo Nakamura, Kris Wolf and Dynamite Didi's unprovoked attack on Cheerleader Melissa at RISE, Madusa grabbed a chair to stop them from doing the same to Shotzi Blackheart. She and Melissa then took Blackheart under their wings.
  • Ring Oldies: Born in Milan, she began wrestling for the AWA in the mid-eighties under an runway model gimmick. She worked in every major US promotion in her time and held women's belts in all of them. She was the first woman to achieve cross over success in Japan (facing off with Asian legends like Chigusa Nagayo and Aja Kong) and introduced American audiences to several Japanese female stars. She had ongoing feuds with women who have already been inducted like Sherri Martel and Wendi Richter. She was part of the Dangerous Alliance with a young Steve Austin and Paul Heyman, and had her own small but significant moment in the Monday Night Wars when she unveiled the WWF belt on WCW Nitro. She even managed Curt Hennig and Diamond Dallas Page. In 1988, Pro Wrestling Illustrated named her "Rookie of the Year," ahead of Chris Benoit, Maxx Payne and Scott Steiner. So yeah, she had clout.
  • The Rival
    • Sherri Martel was Madusa's first big one, and they faced each other in a few promotions.
    • Madusa also faced Bull Nakano under a few different banners. In the RISE promotion Nakano put together a new version of Gokumon-to and Madusa in turn started Deuce's Alliance to oppose them.
    • Missy Hyatt after Paul E. Dangerously fired her from the Dangerous Alliance.
  • Signature Move:
    • When whipped into the ropes, she would often do a handspring over the top rope to the apron, similar to Ric Flair.
    • She would slide out of a lateral press pinfall attempt by doing a back bridge.
    • Madusa would attempt moonsaults while driving Madusa. Moreso than she would in matches, where handstands and rolls were usually the flippiest things she did.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's 5'10", which is tall enough to do the top rope headscissor pull off Trish Stratus became known for without putting her hands on the bottom ropes for aid.
  • Suplex Finisher: She used the German Suplex despite being an Italian native and an all-American face.
  • Tournament Arc
    • Madusa won a tournament for the vacant AWA Women's Championship, defeating Candi Devine
    • Alundra Blayze won a tournament for the vacant WWF Women's Championship, pinning Heidi Lee Morgan.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Especially in her last Survivor Series match.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A lot of people suspect that Madusa taking the WWF Women's Championship belt to WCW and throwing it in the bin made Vince McMahon so paranoid about the possibility of Bret Hart doing the same thing with the WWF Championship that he resorted to the Montreal Screwjob to prevent even the possibility of it happening again.
  • Ur-Example
    • First American wrestler to sign with All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling (but far from the first American to wrestle there, as they had been relying on foreign wrestling heels for the first ten years of their existence, back in the 1960s)
    • Madusa was the first monster truck driven by a woman to win a world championship.
  • The Vamp: Distracted Sting to set up Lex Luger attacking him.
  • Wham Line: "Now, this is where big GIRLS play!" *mic drop*

Alternative Title(s): Alundra Blayze