DVD review: Shootin' the Shi Crap with Nora Greenwald (aka Molly Holly)
By Mike Roe, Torch Team Contributor
August 14, 2005
"I really want to be a role model. I want to do that girl next door thing, and I want little kids to look up to me."
–Nora Greenwald, aka Molly Holly
"... it's dishonest to claim that wrestlers were ever good role models."
–Torch columnist Bruce Mitchell
Nora Greenwald is best known for her run in WWE as Molly Holly, although she also had a notable run with WCW as part of "Macho Man" Randy Savage's entourage. This DVD isn't the typical shoot interview DVD with an angry wrestler burning every bridge on the river, but while you don't get the muckraking shoot DVD's have become known for, you do get a real insight into Nora Greenwald, the person.
After she quit WWE, she was asked to do a shoot DVD, and while she turned it down, the idea intrigued her, as she discussed in her current Torch Talk. She felt it was something she could do herself and present it the way she wanted it presented, so with the help of a music video producer, she put together what she has called a "shoot biography." It reminded me more of a television biography program than of most wrestling shoots.
The bigger theme of this DVD is Nora Greenwald's search for purpose and meaning in her life. For a while, she felt she had found her purpose when she got into professional wrestling. She loved being a role model for fans to look up to. She said that many in the public eye don't want the responsibility of being a role model, but she embraced it. The way she looked at her character reminded me of Bret Hart. She seemed to have the same inability to separate herself from the character, but unlike Bret, instead of fighting for what she wanted and refusing to play along, she grew to hate and resent her character and performing once she turned heel. Ultimately, that search for purpose led her to leave WWE.
She begins the DVD by reading a piece of paper with quotes from what she refers to as "an Internet wrestling rumor site," and promptly lights it on fire and throws it in the fireplace. Throughout the DVD, she addresses and shoots down many of these rumors, including allegations that she was upset with her pay, didn't like being used in "risque situations," and didn't like the direction of the women's division with the emphasis on Playboy shoots and Diva Searches. However, it also turns out that some of those rumors weren't so far off, such as that she wasn't happy with how she was being used and wasn't comfortable being a heel, though those didn't directly lead to her asking for her release.
She starts off talking about being in high school and reading the personal ads. They would always have a headline highlighting their best quality to the opposite sex, usually focusing on money or education. She said that, whether she had money or education, she wanted to feel important, and didn't want things like that to be her purpose in life. "I always felt like my life had to mean something more than that." This search for purpose had a lot of resonance, and I think viewers will benefit from the fact that Nora does seem open to self-examination.
During descriptions of her early life, Nora comes across as a rebellious child, but some of that seems soft-pedaled due do her desire to be a role model. For example, a story about her throwing a party with beer and smoking when she was only twelve years old is relegated to the extras. This rebellious streak is one of the most engaging things about the DVD, as you get to see her as a human being instead of the role model image she portrayed as a face or the prudish exaggeration she portrayed as a heel. That rebellion led her to leave home as soon as she graduated with 200 dollars and a '65 Oldsmobile, driving from Minnesota to Florida.
Throughout the interview, it's amazing to hear the way she finds joy in the simple things of life. Even while working as a Subway sandwich artist, she talked about how she loved her job because she got to watch people come in grumpy and hungry, but by the time they'd leave, a simple sandwich could bring smiles to their faces. She found that same joy as a telemarketer at Special Data Processing and felt good about trying to find people the perfect magazine subscription. You start to see this joy crumble away as she talks more and more about her time in WWE, and her decision to leave makes more and more sense.
Her start in pro wrestling: An independent wrestler who was also an assistant manager from another Subway met her while she was still working there and suggested that she try out wrestling, and out of simple curiosity, she agreed to check it out, and so her wrestling career began. While on the independent scene, she became friends with Lanny Poffo, and in the perfect example of the power of networking, Lanny recommended her to his brother "Macho Man" Randy Savage to train Savage's girlfriend, Gorgeous George.
WCW: After training George for a short time, Savage asked her to be part of his television entourage, which led to the Miss Madness character. Once she had her foot in the door, she made a great point that I think a lot of people fail to understand. "You can't sit around and wait for opportunities to come to you, you know? You've got to go out and make stuff happen." She continued to do her best to make things happen in WCW, but when Vince Russo came onboard, he shifted the focus of the women's division to the Nitro Girls. Nora was used to train these women at the Power Plant before being released via a phone call from JJ Dillon. She used her last plane ticket from Florida to Atlanta, paid for by Ted Turner, to fly in and drive to Birmingham, where she signed with WWE.
WWE: She moved to Memphis next, where she was part of the developmental system alongside others like Bryan Danielson. The Memphis territory was closed down, but shortly afterwards, she made her WWE debut as Crash and Hardcore Holly's cousin Molly. That night, she ran in during a match involving Trish Stratus, and Molly Holly was born. She said that working with Crash was the best time in her career, particularly what she described as her "Disney romance" with Spike Dudley. The Mighty Molly gimmick came next, where she teamed up with the Hurricane as what she says was a cheerier, dorkier version of herself.
Heel turn: The shoot takes a turn when she talks about what happened when Jazz was injured. One of the writers came up to Molly and said that they wanted to turn her heel so that she could feud with Trish and Lita, as she was the only one skilled enough to lead a match and put over the new girls. She didn't want to do it, and they even showed interview clips with several members of her family talking about how it went against her personality to be a heel. She asked what the gimmick was supposed to be, and the initial idea was for her to be a female Hardcore Holly, a tough woman who wanted the focus to be on wrestling instead of T & A. She drew inspiration for the character from heels she liked, including Kurt Angle and William Regal. She talked about Angle's heel work and Regal's facial expressions. She wanted to take aspects from those two while still keeping a humorous streak.
She cut her hair and colored it dark, as she said it was fried from years of bleaching and it fit the character better. She said that fans would complain that she didn't look as cute as a brunette, and it hurt her feelings. Her feelings continued to be hurt by the heel character. She tells the story of how she was approached by Stephanie McMahon, who asked if it would be OK for Trish Stratus to come up and tell a series of jokes about Molly's ass, including the memorable line about how it was big enough to show a movie on. She thought the script was funny and didn't care. However, her feelings changed after watching the tape back the next day, when the announcers spent the whole match talking about how fat she was. Her heart sank as knew that she had given her permission for the angle, but she didn't expect that it would be drilled into the minds of fans that this was her new gimmick.
It also tied in with a self-righteous prude gimmick they gave her. She didn't feel comfortable with it because she isn't a prude or judgmental in real life. People would tell her that it didn't matter because she was acting and playing a part, but as she put it, "it was totally eating away at me." She compared it being on the debate team, debating abortion. Even if you were pro-life, as Molly states that she is, you could research the pro-choice side and make a speech about it, but it would bother you personally and you couldn't do it with all of your passion. At this point in the shoot, I started to think that wrestling probably wasn't the profession for her, as that lack of an ability to commit to something that isn't completely you is a restraint holding her back from performing to the best of her ability.
When she started in pro wrestling, she saw herself as a girl next door role model, but now that she was a fat, self righteous prude, she tried to remind herself that it's not Nora, it's Molly. She felt her attitude changing toward what she was doing with her life, and it was hard to be out in the ring and get knocked to the floor and have people telling her that she was fat, that she looked pregnant, that she should go to the gym, and that she was disgusting. The guys would tell her that it was great heat, getting the fans riled up, and while she wanted to be able to put aside what fans said and be thankful for what she had, there was a huge part of her that, like any girl, was devastated by being told she was fat and other bad things about her appearance. She again said that it started to eat away at her.
She rationalized it and made it acceptable by making a comparison. When she worked at Subway, she loved her job and loved all the customers coming in and the people she worked with. What she hated was slicing onions, because it made her cry and it was just awful, but it was part of the job. Walking through the curtain became her slicing onions. She said that other wrestlers talk about sacrificing their families and go through the travel for the moment of going through the curtain and entertain the fans. For her, it was the opposite. She loved the travel and hanging out with the people she worked with, but she hated the performance part. She said "I dreaded walking through the curtain."
Sex: Nora said that the writing team tries to take part of the wrestlers' real lives and make it part of their characters. She used Stone Cold as an example. They do this because they feel it is more likely to come across to the fans as authentic. She thinks that one of the writers or Stephanie heard that she was a virgin, which she still is. She talked about how she isn't a self-righteous prude and isn't judgmental of others for what they do, she had just decided for herself to remain a virgin until marriage. She had heard in school about unwanted pregnancies, STD's, and, as she said, "crimes of passion." She heard sex ed speaker Pam Stenzel, who talks about emotional things involved with sex, as well as God's view on sex and marriage. Nora says that those things had influence on her, but she thinks that the greatest influence was girls from school who shared their stories with her, wishing that they would have waited. She said that she's also met women who are married who wish that their husbands would have been their first. She weighed different options and researched, and it made sense to her to have her husband be the only person you've had sex with.
She said that she is looking forward to sex, and thinks that it will be wonderful. Actually, she said "it will be, um, you know, wild, passionate, swing from the chandeliers, kinky, whatever, great! Looking forward to it!" She loves that she'll be able to tell her husband that he's the best she's ever had and it will be the truth. She thought it was sad to take something that she thinks is positive and turn it into a "weird, hateful thing," saying she was virginal and prudish, disgusted by men. She thought it was sad that they were taking something that's precious and wonderful to her and making it appear to the public as undesirable. This cognitive dissonance between her beliefs and the way she was forced to portray her character on television stayed with her throughout the last few years of her run with WWE.
Bad attitude: Early on in her career when she was with WCW, she was talking with Kevin Nash about life and other things, and Nash said "You know what? This business is never gonna change you." It meant a lot to her, and she hoped he was right. At this point in her career, though, she felt she was changing. Things that wouldn't have bothered her before started to affect her. She didn't like who she was. At this point in the interview, she got choked up and began to cry. She didn't like who she was backstage, as she had developed a bad attitude due to her hatred for walking through the curtain, and she felt that there were a lot of great things that she was blessed with as far as her talents. However, she felt that the things she started out wanting, to be a role model and to hear the kids cheer, had now been twisted around to being completely opposite, and she began to wonder what she was doing the job for. She started to just do it for the money. There was nothing she could think of to do without training that she could do for the same money. Unfortunately, this is a trap that many people fall into in a variety of careers, where the job loses its appeal but the paycheck remains.
The dress code: One of the few things besides her heel character on the DVD to receive her ire was the dress code that came about after Johnny Ace moved up in the management structure. That rebellious streak showed through again, as she said that she didn't like being told what to wear and realized she would have to buy a whole new wardrobe since she had previously dressed casually for the most part. She said that there was a dress code when she was a telemarketer, so it shouldn't have affected her since that was a job where she wasn't even in front of the public, but the dress code still bothered her and affected her already bad attitude.