Monday, February 11, 2008

Trading Pom-Poms for Body Slams 

Posted by James at 12:40 PM ET

Angela Fong: Felion Can't Wait to Climb into the Ring as the WWE's Newest Diva

By Lowell Ullrich
Naturally, Angela Fong said with a discernible lilt in her voice. Of course she has heard the story of Pamela Anderson. Lions fan to Hollywood superstar. It happened once, friends told her convincingly. Perhaps it can happen again.
Angela Fong
It's a little more reasonable to think a 23-year-old B.C. Lions cheerleader from Port Coquitlam could become the next Trish Stratus. And Fong would only be too happy to follow the path of the Canadian wrestling bombshell, having already taken the first step.

An unfathomable idea a year ago became all too real Saturday. Months after finishing her third season with the Felions, the dance unit which performs during CFL games at B.C. Place Stadium, Fong boarded a flight to Tampa, Fla., to start her new career: World Wrestling Entertainment diva.

"I am so scared," she says quietly. "I don't know what to expect."

That's exactly the type of reaction WWE founder Vince McMahon seeks on a weekly basis. And after going through what amounts to wrestling boot camp at the organization's Florida training facility, Fong could show up on any of WWE's three-ring platforms in the next few months.

There are not exactly a great deal of dance numbers at a football game that can prepare a person in order to climb into a ring and be seen as inflicting harm on a fellow performer.

It would hold doubly true if you have never done it before.

"Being on the Felions helped me boost my confidence and learn how to perform in front of people," Fong says. "They know I don't have any wrestling experience. But the more time passes the more I really want to get in the ring and get started."

The Lions may end up being her launching point, but Fong's big break came in more conventional fashion. Making the rounds in various modeling competitions, the former Miss Molson Indy Vancouver was scouted at a pageant in Las Vegas in May.

That led to a WWE orientation session in Louisville, Ky., in September where recruits watched tapings and began to learn the fine art of applying the handspring and flying clothesline.

WWE held no fascination initially, and it's taken a little coaxing to bring some family members onside as well.

"My parents are pretty much a traditional Chinese family -- a little more conservative," Fong says.

Nobody, however, said she shouldn't give it a try.

Where her career goes from this point is an open question, as those in Fong's new line of work are at the mercy of scriptwriters and online fan voting.

Divas, she explained, can have either a ring or backstage presence. Either way, she has the next three years on a WWE contract to learn, and bounce off, the ropes. It may take a lot longer to convince skeptics she simply hasn't crossed from an upbeat world of smiling sideline faces to a darker side filled with steroid-fueled entertainers.

But she can work up some energy already when asked if cheerleading, an estimated $500 million business in the U.S., is actually a sport.

"Oh yes," says Fong, who got hooked while attending high school at Terry Fox and continued at SFU, where she is four classes from a communications and publishing degree.

"Cheerleaders have had a stereotype for so long -- the whole ditzy, can't do anything else and look pretty thing. There's gymnastics. There's weight training.

"And it's very competitive."

Dare to disagree? Prepare to be body slammed.

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