2021 has been a huge year thus-far for IMPACT Wrestling, following up on an incredible 2020. However, it hasn’t always been such smooth sailing for the company which is now going from strength to strength. One woman who has been there through the entire rollercoaster ride is four-time Knockouts Champion ODB!
Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy sat down with the TNA legend to discuss her Meat and Greet project, IMPACT’s thriving Knockouts Division, the Eric Bischoff/Hulk Hogan regime, being rejected from the first season of Tough Enough, the resurgence of AEW star Serena Deeb, and why IMPACT is now taking the world by storm!
We’re going to get to your in-ring career, of course, but I want to start with some great stuff you’ve been doing outside the ring! Way back in November 2019, you sadly made headlines when your food truck caught fire. Of course, from that, we had ODB Appreciation Night where IMPACT Wrestling helped get you back up and running. It all looks like it’s going well from your Twitter account – but how is ODB’s Meat and Greet doing now?
Oh, my God. Even better in person. Thank God for IMPACT Wrestling!
TNA has always been my home and my family, and they were there right there for me to help me rebuild a brand new… My dream food truck, which went awesome. I tripled my sales from the year before and now I’m in Florida with it, and then I’ll be heading back up north with it for a couple of months, AND it actually will be stopping at IMPACT Wrestling to cater all the boys and girls. Oh, yeah!
And I believe, before this month, ODB Appreciation was the last time we’d saw you in IMPACT. You returned to save Jordynne Grace and Jazz recently. How did that return come about? It definitely took me by surprise!
Well, it took me by surprise too, actually!
I’d just been food trucking away, you know, and I never said I was done with wrestling. Never, ever. I’d just been busy with my food truck. Then, of course, Scott D’Amore, I see the phone call come in, I’m like, “Oh boy, here we go.” I hadn’t been to the ring in over a year, he’s like, “We’d love to have you back. Door’s always open for you.” I’m like, “Do you know what? Let’s do it.” And I love all the girls. They’re all they’re going to be huge stars, and then having Jazz there and stuff and no-one’s ever seen me and Jazz go at it. It’s been cool, and I’ve still got it, you know, so it’s good!
And I’ve actually doing the wrong thing here, because I’ve started positive! I always like to start a bit negative then we can only go upwards… You’ve been dipping in and out of IMPACT for a long time as one of the true legends of the company, so I want to go back a little bit to, for me, one of those lower points. A lot of good came from the introduction of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff when Dixie Carter brought those two in back in 2009 – but it seemed to hinder the Knockouts Division. Is that something you felt as part of the company, and what are your memories overall of that period?
Yeah! Like, I love Hulk and Bischoff, and when they were coming in, I was kind of on my way out – but they didn’t realise it at the time. I know they had started introducing more… More girl diva crap that we didn’t represent, and I said some stuff online and I got in trouble, of course, but that just wasn’t the Knockouts Division.
So, the Knockouts Division did change, and then I took a break, I came back like six or seven months later and Bischoff was like, “Where have you been? Why haven’t you been here?” I’m like, “I don’t know. You tell me. What the f***?” He’s like, “I’ll get your job back.” I’m like, “All right, let’s go.” But then they started realising, they’re like, “Wow, that’s what’s been missing in the Knockouts Division.”
Yeah. You can have sexy girls doing car washes in the back or doing whatever, but you still need us Knockouts where it all started. You can’t get rid of me, Gail Kim, Kong, Beautiful People. It needed us. So, they helped me get my job back, so it was cool.
One of my fondest memories now, particularly looking back at the insane talent. Main Event Mafia. You were in a faction that opposed them with AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed AKA Xavier Woods, Petey Williams, Eric Young and MCMG. That is SOME list of names. What a list of names! Did you know, even back then, those guys were destined for greatness?
That was cool! That was perfect to have Main Event Mafia…and then I have a group, it kind of just got built, we didn’t realise it and then we’re looking around like, “Oh, yeah, we’re like some of the original TNA guys.” And it was cool and it got us feuding with those guys, and it helped me earlier in my career, so I loved working with those guys – and then I’d go out and have some beers with them afterwards!
I want to pull it back a little further. You actually tried out for Tough Enough on the very first season with Al Snow, Jaqueline, Tazz and Tori as judges. You came in at I think 25th, but obviously you’ve come a long way since! You’ve also done lot of work with Al Snow and even teamed with Jaqueline in IMPACT. What are your memories of that time? Was there any invaluable advice that helped you kick on?
Yeah. I didn’t have no wrestling experience when I went there, that was in 2000, but I knew I wanted to become a wrestler. I was like, “Oh, the easy way to get in – do Tough Enough.”
I just didn’t have a lot what I have now and I was just like, “Hey, I’m One Dirty Bitch.” I called myself ODB already. It’s funny because Al Snow, of all the people that interviewed, out of hundreds of people, he remembered me. He kind of led me through my indie career, like he would always, always keep in touch or we’d always be on indie shows together. That’s how I got to OVW.
I look back, I’m like, “Oh, God, thank God I didn’t make it to Tough Enough,” because who knows where I would be right now.
You’re a four-time TNA Women’s Knockouts Champion. Arguably one of THE greatest knockouts of all time. But if not you, who is THE greatest?
Oh, boy, it’s so like… We’re all so different, and that’s what I loved about the Knockouts Division. I would have to say Gail Kim, because she was basically there… And Traci Brooks, because those two were kind of like the start of it when there wasn’t really much wrestling, and Gail was just managing, and she’s like, “I want the women to come in.” And that’s what got it.
Then Traci Brooks is also a big part of that. So the two Canadian girls, two of my best friends, helped pave the way for us Knockouts. And I thank those girls, I talk to them every day, too, so yeah. And it’s good to see Gail helping the younger girls at IMPACT, so it’s awesome to still see her around doing what she loves.
Definitely, and I mentioned “dipping in and out” earlier – you’re back in now. Can I ask what your current status with IMPACT is? How much more of you might we be seeing?
Well, I was just at their TV tapings a week or so ago. So, yes, you’ll be seeing me on Tuesday nights, about probably for the next couple of months. So, yeah!
Your name is synonymous with IMPACT, but you’ve wrestled for AEW and NWA in the past year. One person you’re very familiar with is AEW star and NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb. What are your thoughts on her resurgence?
Yes! She is one of my very good friends in this business and we started out in 2005, was when we actually helped make the OVW Women’s Division and I was the first-ever OVW Women’s Champ and Serena was part of that. I love how she went away for a little bit to refocus and do some stuff and then came back. She’s better than ever. I mean, everything happens for a reason. I believe that. And I would love to get back in the ring with her. She actually asked me, like, “Do you still wrestle?”
Hopefully we see that, and there are a lot of great talents in IMPACT we could see in some of those AEW vs IMPACT dream matches everyone is talking about. Who, in IMPACT, is impressing you right now? Who is leading the charge of the Knockouts Division?
Oh, boy, there’s two of them that really stand out.
The champ right now, Deonna Purrazzo, there’s something about her. She’s good. I actually got a chance to get in the ring with her.
Then Jordynne Grace. There’s a lot of potential there, and she’s just a powerhouse. Every time I see her wrestle, or in a match with her, she gets better and better – so I’m excited for her future, where it goes.
Of course, you are a four-time Knockouts Champion in IMPACT, but you also held the Knockouts Tag Team Titles, which recently returned. Your reign with those belts was…bizarre to say the least with Eric Young, but who would be your ideal partner to have a run at the gold again?
Oh, boy! Oh, lordy! I don’t know, I kind of like me, Jazz and Jordynne. The three of us are like three powerhouses. So I think we’re the team to, you know, not mess with!
Definitely! Freebird Rules! You’ve saw a lot of people coming and going in IMPACT, as well as some changes in management. 2020 saw an incredible resurgence of IMPACT and arguably the past three years have built the company up to its strongest point. As someone who’s been there through it all, you’re the perfect person to ask, what’s different now?
Yeah, I mean, even when I’ve been back, the locker room’s awesome, because they’re bringing back the old school guys, the people that really care about it. You have D’Lo Brown, Scott D’Amore, they’ve been there since the beginning and they have passion and love for everyone there. It’s just… It’s so cool. I just love going back. It was awesome to see some of the guys I’ve even known from my OVW days there and then also the younger guys coming up. And, yeah, they got something there and it’s good to have good people in the office, too, that you’re not afraid to go and talk to you know, you can hang out and have a beer with them and be fine.
And I’m not going to shorten your career by asking this, as I hope we see ODB wrestling for years to come, but when it’s all said and done, what would you like ODB’s legacy to be?
Oh, boy, I just want to be known as like – I was a character and I was smart, I was a worker, I was a true worker. Like, I knew my weaknesses, I knew my strengths, and I did it, and I was always a little diamond in the rough and it worked out. I mean, I expanded my brand and do frickin’ BBQ World. I’ve got a food truck. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on because of my ODB brand and I kept true to myself.
Yeah, I would love people for, to say, “You know what? ODB kept true to herself, she did her own thing,” and TNA let me be me and that was frickin’ badass, and no other company would have let me do that at all.
Thanks so much to ODB for taking the time, and to IMPACT UK & Ireland for facilitating the interview. Fans in the UK & Ireland can catch IMPACT! every Wednesday on IMPACT Plus and on Facebook & YouTube, with the show repeated on 5Star on Friday evenings, and catch all IMPACT PPVs via IMPACT Plus and Fite TV worldwide.