She could have easily been another wrestling casualty. From devastating injuries to WWE using her as a pawn during scandalous controversies, discover the surprising untold story of Amy Dumas, the woman behind Lita.
Lita: Early Life
Amy Christine Dumas was born on April 14th, 1975. When Amy was a child, the Dumas family moved all around the state of Florida, and although she spent her first years of life in the panhandle, she says Atlanta, Georgia feels the most like home. That is where her family finally settled, and Amy went to high school.
As she grew up, Amy’s mother did much of the nurturing. Her father worked a lot, usually gone before she woke up for school and returned after she returned. When her dad was home, she described to Lillian Garcia on her podcast Chasing Glory that his usual modus operandi was to sit on the couch and drink until he passed out.
Amy’s mother took care of the family and their home and protected Amy and her brother Billy from their father. When their dad blacked out, her mom played pranks by putting hats on his reclined body, hoping to create a funny memory to overshadow the hurtful ones.
Music Opened Up Her World
She struggled to fit in with other kids until the seventh grade when she met a friend who helped her find “her place in the universe.”
The two of them rode the bus home together and would listen to music all the way, her friend banging her head with hair which Amy described as akin to a spiky black and white peacock. She gifted her some tapes of her favorite bands, and through this bounty, a whole new world opened up.
Amy began listening to The Cure, Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag, among dozens of other bands.
It wasn’t before long that her music taste reflected in her clothes, and she started sporting Doc Martens, baggy ripped-up jeans, and flannels. Not only did she find a sense of style, but she also discovered a community within the punk scene.
It didn’t matter if there were people she had nothing in common with because her home life remained tumultuous, and it was her escape.
Did you know? Before becoming a wrestler, Amy Dumas worked as a roadie for the band Fifteen while also playing bass guitar in her own band, 3 Card Trick. It’s worth noting that Fifteen is sometimes mistakenly attributed to being 7 Seconds, which was actually just one of Amy’s favorite bands.
From High School to Becoming an Exotic Dancer to Get By
Amy’s parents divorced when she was seventeen, and she moved into her apartment in Atlanta. Even though she knew the two of them weren’t happy, it still shocked her.
Not long after they separated, Amy graduated from high school in December of 1992, completing her studies ahead of schedule.
After graduating, she was accepted to Georgia State University but decided not to go. Done with school, Amy kept going to more punk shows, hanging out with friends, and finding herself. But it wasn’t long before she realized she felt stagnant and needed a change in scenery.
The next stop for her was moving to Washington, DC.
Amy describes herself as a pirate; she can survive anywhere and thrive. In DC, she lived with nine other people in a four-bedroom house, where her quarters were in the laundry room.
Working at a kennel and grooming shop to pay her rent was a job she would continue to have throughout her life.
After making friends with an unnamed punk girl, Amy discovered she was a strip club dancer. She told Amy that she made good money and that if she wanted the same, she should try it. And she did.
Dumas realized the income was impossible to beat anywhere else, and she continued dancing on and off into her wrestling career, especially when she started on the independent wrestling scene. She emphasized that money was paramount for her supporting herself at the time.
Introduction to Professional Wrestling
The future Lita continued moving around the East Coast for the next few years until she settled in Virginia.
She moved to be closer to her then-boyfriend, who was the person who introduced her to wrestling. When they started watching WCW Nitro, it initially didn’t catch her attention. Slowly, over time, the stories, the fashion, and the toughness drew her in and got her invested.
While becoming a fan, being a wrestler never crossed her mind until she saw Rey Mysterio in the ring. His high-flying, luchador-trained style was an alternative to the ’80s super-heavyweights popularized in the United States.
She became so devoted that her license plate at the time read REYJR1.
After realizing she wanted to be a wrestler, she knew if she wanted to be as good as those she looked up to, she needed to train where they did. So, she traveled to one of the largest wrestling hubs in the world, Mexico, at Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), which was then known as Empressa Mexicana de la Lucha Libre.
See below footage of her sitting in the front row, chewing gum, and watching the show:
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After several trips to the promotion, Amy got in the ring herself and learned the most basic wrestling moves.
“Feel like the Ring is Your Living Room”
When returning to the States, her quest to refine her skills brought her all over the country.
At a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) show, Amy was offered training in Chicago with Ace Steel.
After its completion, she trained in North Carolina with a wrestler named Strawberry Fields and her husband, Slim. They threw her in her first official match on January 9th, 1999, at East Rutherford High School, and Amy debuted with the name Angelica.
In one of her first few matches, she even tag-teamed with Leilani Kai, a one-time WWF Women’s Champion.
It was only Amy’s third wrestling match when she began her journey toward the WWE (then WWF).
Lita: Her Journey Toward WWE, Meeting The Hardys
At Union Pines High School in More County, North Carolina, the future Lita had no clue that life was about to change. As described in her biography “Lita: A Less Traveled ROAD–The Reality of Amy Dumas,” she met the Hardys, who were just drafted to the WWF roster.
The Hardy Brothers were a rag-tag duo who seemed predestined to be professional wrestlers.
At a young age, the two started their wrestling promotion called Trampoline Wrestling Federation, where Matt went by the name High Voltage. They were heavily involved in the North Carolina independent wrestling circuit- just in time to cross paths with Amy.
When she met them, they had already been losing on WWF television for four years as enhancement talent but received full-time contracts in 1998.
When Raw was coming to North Carolina, the Hardys told Amy to go to the show and watch them win the tag titles. This was technically when Amy had her first debut with the company.
Denise, the wife of Charles Wright, known as wrestler The Godfather, asked her to be one of his “ho’s” for the night.
An opulent man with furs, hats, and satins, the Godfather was always escorted to the ring by a harem of beautiful women. That night’s litter was not up to Charles or Denise’s standards, so Amy was called upon.
Stint in ECW
In July of 1999, at an Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) show, Amy Dumas was messing around in the ring with some friends before the curtain call. When a representative saw her and another girl in the ring, he asked if the two wanted a short match in the program. Afterward, Paul Heyman approached Amy, saying he wanted to sign her.
Although she did regular work in the company, Amy never signed her contract because the work environment there was raucous, to say the least, and she had her heart set on the WWF.
Training with Dory Funk Jr.
During this time of her burgeoning career, Amy received a call about training at the Funking Conservatory in Ocala, Florida; they were the main trainers for the developmental program in the WWF. Both Hardys trained at the facility and advised Amy to try it out.
At the time, Dory Funk Jr. and his wife Marti Funk ran the training center, and when Amy got there, she was the only woman at the camp training with twenty men. Though the schedule was grueling and intense, Amy quickly progressed and relished the training.
Some advice from Dory Funk Jr. that she took to heart was to try and “feel like the ring is your living room.”
By becoming comfortable in the space, Amy soared, and when her training was completed, the final night’s show was sent to WWF head honchos, where Jim Ross ended up being the one to watch.
Becoming Lita: The WWF Calls
After a successful interview at WWF’s Headquarters in Connecticut, Jim Ross and Bruce Prichard told Amy Dumas she was unofficially hired, they just needed to figure out the logistics, but she would hear from them soon.
After waiting, but not hearing back, Amy decided to take her destiny into her own hands and showed up to a taping of Raw.
While hanging out with the Hardys backstage, Jim Ross approached her and said he put her on the payroll and set up her travel itinerary because he saw her. She said, to this day, she does not know what would have happened had she not just gone.
It was February of 2000 when Amy finally debuted in WWE, although she did not know her name was Lita until walking out on stage for the first time.
She had previously gone by Angelica and Miss Congeniality in the ring, so her new title was a surprise. The name was inspired by her luchador training, a Spanish take on the name Lolita, into the new millennia.
Lita debuted by the side of wrestler Jose Saldana who went by Essa Rios at the time. The two had matching bright red hair, with crimson outfits to boot. They were not destined for long-term storylines, but the crowd loved them.
In an episode of Raw in February of 2000, Lita shows the audience exactly who she is by giving Crash Holly a hurricanrana off the apron and a moonsault from the top rope. She would go on to pind him for a ceremonial three count from Rios.
Mistreatment in the Locker Room
The women’s locker room tensions were high when she started in WWE. Chyna was the locker room leader with Miss Kitty (Jerry Lawler’s wife) as her sidekick, and the duo’s presence was what Amy described as domineering.
A hazing tradition happened before and after Amy retired from WWE, but it was mainly imparted to women who did not start as wrestlers. Hostility can be bred when opportunities are slim, and friction turns into fire when there are few resources to be shared.
Chyna eventually warmed up to Lita after discovering she came from the independent scene. But the culture of mistreatment was a mainstay for years.
Lita’s career catapulted when, one night, she and the Hardy Boyz were all sitting together, and a writer walked by. When they saw Amy, Matt, and Jeff, three Y2K-infused hellions, seated on a crate, chatting, he commented that he liked the way the three of them looked together. This is how Team Xtreme was born.
Lita was relegated as their sidekick, but it seems pretty straightforward, looking back now, just how much the camera and the fans love her.
Her signature moves were defined and refined through her partnership with The Hardys. The hurricanrana, twist of fate, the powerbomb, and the moonsault off the top rope became inextricably linked with Lita. And although Jeff and Matt were the intended main characters, Lita always seemed to steal the show.
Relationship with Matt Hardy
While their careers grew, Lita and Matt Hardy’s relationship did too.
Something that brought them together from the beginning was that they were both incredibly ambitious and working towards the same dream. But Lita quickly realized that she and Matt’s love for each other was hinged on the door to success. Wrestling was what brought them together, and it’s what kept them together.
Breaking Her Neck While Filming
Lita quickly became well-known and popular amongst fans while garnering more experience in the ring. Unfortunately, early in her career, Amy suffered a lot of injuries.
One injury came in the package of a personal phone call from James Cameron- this is post-Titanic James Cameron, one of the most successful film directors in history.
The Oscar winner asked Amy if she would appear on the now-forgotten television show of the noughties called Dark Angel. The show starred Jessica Alba, but Amy worked with her stunt double.
When practicing a fight scene that featured a hurricanrana, the stunt person dropped Amy directly on her skull.
She knew something was wrong. A doctor informed Amy that her neck was broken in three places, and despite her instincts, she neglected it.
In her WWE Hall of Fame induction speech, she tells the audience how she rejected surgery because she was booked for a signing at a Blockbuster. If that doesn’t sound early 2000s enough, it was for the debut of her bobblehead. She brings out the bobblehead itself in her speech, and there is no likeness.
When she was ready to care for her injury, a doctor told her she needed emergency surgery but would never wrestle again.
Amy was not ready for that prognosis, so she called Steve Austin, who had recently undergone neck surgery. She was then set up with his surgeon, Dr. Youngblood, a name that sounds like he is the perfect candidate for a sacrifice or a new member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Amy wore an Austin 3:16 shirt into her operation as a good luck charm.
Returning After Injury
In 2003, Lita made her long-awaited return to the squared circle.
Her longtime friend and rival Trish Stratus was in a handicap match with Gail Kim and Molly Holly.
Lita flew into the ring out of nowhere with her bright orange hair and mini skirt, bonking Kim and Holly’s heads together like a cartoon. In an iconic move, the heat of the moment prompted Lita to rip off her tank top, revealing her bra.
On the podcast Ring the Belle, Lita explained it was a nod to soccer player Brandi Chastain, who ripped her shirt off in a fury on the field.
Of course, The Hardys were known to do the same, and no one batted an eyelash. In an industry where women’s bodies have a tendency to be sexualized, Amy took control of the narrative. This was not about sexuality; it was her “fire that was primary.”
WWE did, however, put out mixed messages with the women of that era.
“Lita, you’re a very credible, respected champion; I find it hard to believe you would put your belt on the line in a bra and panties match,” said Mick Foley as the Commissioner, referring to the first bra and panties match in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) history.
Trish Stratus stripped Lita of her shirt and revealed a gold bra, foreshadowing who the victor would be. It was Lita’s second time as the champion, and it wouldn’t be her last.
Amy also wrestled men throughout her career, and because of it, she had the opportunity to participate in a bevy of hardcore moments.
In October of 2000, Amy and Jacqueline Moore had a hardcore match that shocked fans.
Jackie walked into the ring with a cart full of weapons and hit Lita in the face with a blow dryer. The contact between the appliance and her skull made a harrowing sound and showed how severe the women in the company can be.
Lita: Career Highlights
The highlights of Lita’s career provide a chance to look at the careers of some of WWE’s most badass women.
As the cage slowly descended over Lita, the crowd projected a cacophony of chants, “Lita, Lita, Lita!”
Victoria is known for her skills in the ring, so her pairing with Amy consistently made for a good match.
Trish Stratus and Lita’s career started side-by-side and has remained intertwined since. The two have had an iconic feud, friendship, rivalry, and sisterhood for over twenty years. Their relationship was reinvigorated on WWE in the last few months, still pushing the line between friend and foe.
Lita also battled Chyna for the Women’s Championship, which ended up being Chyna’s last match in WWE.
But her relationship with men in the company also led to some supremely high-risk, high-reward moments in the ring.
In every match The Hardy Boyz had, Lita had a chance to come out and reveal her talents, which the crowd always celebrated and relished. Her cheers would rival her counterparts, and her opportunities always worked to grow her reputation as a high-flying fighter.
But being attached to men wasn’t always generative.
Marriage Storylines: Nothing New For Lita
Lita was in numerous marriage storylines. Even at the beginning of her career with ECW, Danny Doring proposed to Amy in the ring by presenting her with a condom.
In a particularly egregious angle, where WWE could have capitalized on Lita’s intense popularity, they threw her in a storyline where she was kidnapped by the big red demon, Kane, and a non-consensual pregnancy followed.
They explained that Kane needed her to carry his seed, so he sexually assaulted her, making her pregnant with his spawn.
When he forced her to marry him, she donned a black wedding dress and a debacle followed, which resulted in a miscarriage. All a part of the storyline from the ironically named “Creative.”
Not long after she wholly healed from her neck surgery, it was 2005; Lita tore her ACL and was forced to take another break. This pause away from the wrestling scene and her partner Matt would unknowingly be the first step of a raucous journey.
It was the mid-naughts when Matt Hardy took some time off from wrestling, and Lita befriended wrestler Adam Copeland, better known to fans as Edge.
Copeland is from rural Ontario and wrestled the independent circuit for years before being signed with WWF in 1997. It was 2005 when the two started traveling together, giving them ample time in the other’s presence.
Lita later described that it was not too long after that they began to develop feelings for one another.
They were both in relationships; Edge was married, so they ignored how they felt. Lita later divulged that after their feelings continued to bubble, and when they kissed for the first time, it scared them into taking a step back.
After Lita tore her ACL, although the injury was depressing, she thought it would be a chance to clear her head and think about all that was happening.
How Matt Hardy Found Out About Edge and Lita
Lita and Matt Hardy were living together then, and when she got back home to recover, she turned off her phone and went to sleep. Lita later revealed that Matt knew something was going on, and when he saw her phone, he powered it up and was confronted by the truth.
Lita hadn’t known, but just after she and Edge told one another they needed a break, he called her immediately and left her a voicemail where he laid everything on the table. Matt listened to the whole thing.
It was six in the morning when Matt woke up Lita and confronted her. He was understandably upset, confused, and angry. All she could say to him was how sorry she was.
How Edge’s Former Wife Reacted
After people found out, all hell broke loose. People filled in the blanks, and although they had only kissed once, their emotional affair made them feel guilty.
Edge’s then-wife called her multiple times, and Lita picked up every call allowing her to say whatever she needed, which was brutal.
How WWE Reacted to the News
The first audience to be aware of the “infidelity” between Lita and Edge were the people backstage in WWE, and it did not take long for everyone in the company to know what happened.
Everyone knew- her peers, the wrestlers, their spouses, management, and her friends.
Lita said the explicit and open judgment was immediate and that besides Trish Stratus and Lillian Garcia, she was primarily abandoned by everyone.
In her interview with Garcia, Lita promised that she was judging herself more harshly than anyone else could.
Her guilt and shame manifested physically; as they say, her body kept the score. Amy began losing a frightening amount of weight, and to add insult to injury, people repeatedly told her how amazing she looked.
The societal convention encourages strangers to praise someone when they drop weight. It is the baseline response, which is a lot to unpack. Lita could not sleep or eat and suffered from ulcers because of the stress.
Matt Hardy Gets Fired For His Part
Matt, for his part, was fired from WWE because of inappropriate behavior.
On his podcast, Bruce Prichard disclosed that Matt was let go because “a friend of his” published a blog post about the situation, which lathered fans into a frenzy. When Hardy came out about the details of their separation and his release from the company, fans put together a petition to rehire Matt with 15,000 signatures.
The audience’s contempt was beyond comprehension, creating a visceral buzz around the story. Inspired by all of the mania, writers pitched an idea to Amy that allowed art to reflect life.
They wanted to make a storyline of the scandal and the affair, and if she agreed, it would result in Matt getting his job back. For this explicit purpose, she accepted.
The Rated R Couple: The Edge and Lita Storyline in WWE
After the storyline was decided on, Amy later said she and Adam were approached again about incorporating pieces of their real lives to inspire fiction. The two told unless they wanted two people crying, with their heads down, to come into the ring, they did not think it was a good idea.
So the writers developed the Rated R Couple, an ultra-salacious, scandalous, and devilish duo. Imagine developing feelings for a coworker, handling it imperfectly, albeit humanly, and then those details get released as fodder for an audience of almost fifty million people.
Lita’s was a heel turn like the wrestling world had rarely seen, in or out of the ring, and fans’ hate was complex and layered. They hated the character Lita for leaving Matt in a salacious left turn for Edge, but they also expressed hate toward Lita herself.
Many different wrestlers throughout history have accounted that the audience can be bloodthirsty and cruel. Passionate female fans poked hat pins at heels as they entered the ring. Men attack, throw anything and everything, spit, and scream in wrestlers’ faces. But it is all for the reaction, right?
But don’t the feelings change when the rage is directed towards not the character but the person?
Amy reported seeing signs with blanket epithets with slur words. She was shamed for something that is relatively commonplace. Although generating so much viewership and revenue, she was still punished weekly. Their penance was to be shamed, both Lita and Amy.
Developing her flippant, raunchy, succubus character was the coping mechanism Lita created. This story continued, and work remained a personal hell for her.
Lita imparted that it took everything for her to go to work every day. At first, it was nothing short of brutal. How would you feel if work consisted of weekly crowds of thousands shaming you?
Later, when the shock and awe wore off, she found the fun in her character, and WWE capitalized on the heat Adam and Amy generated from the audience.
The clearest example of their objectification was an infamous episode of Raw where a bed was placed in the middle of the ring.
Edge and Lita were made to have a sexual escapade before the eyes of the audience in the arena and the viewers at home.
Putting Her Pain on Display
In the book, “Sisterhood of the Squared Circle,” authors Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy explained how “they stripped down to their underwear and simulated having sex- until Ric Flair showed up to ruin the fun. The segment earned a 5.2 rating- the most-watched segment in a year.”
WWE capitalized on Amy’s pain by taking hold of her life and displaying it for everyone.
They dangled redemption in her face with the option of rehiring Matt, which put her in an impossible position. But, even though they gave her a choice, it somehow took even more agency away from her.
The viewership, money, and scandal induced by this storyline gave WWE everything while taking too much from Amy and Lita.
Edge, however, faired fine as the new “Rated R Superstar,” a moniker he still uses. Fans continued to love him, executives still gave him meaty storylines, and he profited from the scandal.
In dirt sheets and supposed leaks, it has been reported that WWE’s profits in 2005-2006 were over $35 million.
In more dubious online leaks, talent salaries were released for the same year.
If there is even a tiny piece of truth to the exposé, in the year 2005, Edge’s pay was $700,000, and Matt Hardy made $322,000, less than intended because he was fired.
Amy made under $300,000.
Wrestlers’ pay has consistently been a point of contention throughout the years, and women, like in most of the entertainment industry, often get the short end of the (kendo) stick.
The Legacy of Lita
Fans and executives stoked the fire from the love triangle, taking away from Lita’s fantastic moments in the ring.
Pushing the story took fans’ attention away from her talent. They used her painful real-life experience as fodder for a salacious, digestible narrative and were not interested in seeing the person behind the façade.
Amy Dumas’ career is so much larger than this one moment.
Over the years, what she has done has been memorable and iconic, and her highlights verge on innumerable. Lita changed the wrestling landscape.
Sisterhood of the Squared Circle authors quote wrestler Serena Deeb succinctly explaining the phenomenon: “Lita was a rebel in a division of normalcy.”
Her look, energy, and overall style were a breath of fresh air for girls who did not feel seen on the television screen.
Hiatus From the Ring
The controversy led to Lita retiring for the first time in 2006, which was a stark change for her.
She filled her newly acquired time with things she always loved; she started a punk band called the Luchagors and worked in grooming shops. Amy also continued to give back to wrestling trainers that helped her.
It was only a year until she returned to WWE as a writer and producer.
The change from talent to production was challenging, and the politics were hard to manage.
In the interview with Lillian Garcia, Amy divulged how decisions are made from the top down, with limited information, and that instability doesn’t make a sustainable work environment. The girls were the ones who brought her to work every week, and whenever she was not wrestling, to this day, they are who she misses the most.
After a hiatus from the company, in 2014, Amy became a judge and trainer on the WWE network series Tough Enough. The same year, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by her longtime friend, Trish Stratus.
While preparing for her in-ring return at WWE’s first-ever women’s Royal Rumble in 2018, Lita trained with women wrestlers like Bayley. In a quick clip released online of the women training together, Amy started to cry, expressing that she wished women like Luna Vachon, Chyna, and Sherri Martel could have been there to see what they started and what came of their sacrifices.
In the match, Lita’s gear championed not only these women but also causes she feels strongly about, including human rights causes like immigrant protection, trans rights, #TimesUp, and more.
Amy debuted the WWE Women’s Championship belt while simultaneously retiring from the Diva’s Championship.
The Diva’s belt, an emblem of femininity, represented a lack of legitimacy for the women wrestlers in the company. They were making a statement that women are now taken seriously by reintroducing the women’s championship, a belt that Ivory, Chyna, Victoria, Jacqueline, and Lita wore.
Lina was unimpressed because she always knew they were superstars, and “I guess this is just a formality,” she said to Lillian Garcia.
When it comes to wrestling in WWE, hopefully, she is having a better time because she has more power and control as a legend in the company.
Lita on Her Time in Wrestling
Lita, at this time, has a largely positive view of her fans and savors the relationship they have built over time. She told Garcia, “We [the fans and I] have this thing, as opposed to I am doing this for you to connect with; no, we have the connection.”
She has a big heart and hopes fans think she is as cool as Lita. There is no question that that is the case. Women that defined the revolution of women’s wrestling, Becky Lynch, Kia Stevens, Bayley, and AJ Mendez, all cite Lita as inspiration.
In the movie PeeWee’s Big Adventure, the titular Pee Wee and his love interest Dottie are in a drive-in movie theatre. As PeeWee leaves, Dottie asks, “Don’t you want to see the rest of the movie?” And he quips back, “I don’t have to see it, Dottie; I lived it.”
Her time in wrestling does not have to be commemorated, she was the one who was there, and her career in wrestling is one for the books.
An eternal pirate, she doesn’t need the loot to prove her worth; her worth exists inside of her and the fans she has maintained, through everything, for over twenty years.
Listen to author Alexa Pruett dive further into the history of Lita on her podcast, "That Wrestling Wench":
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- Bra and Panties Matches: A Shocking History
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