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April 18, 2004: Amber Holly returns to the wrestling ring next month with a new name and a new intensity after missing much of the last year with a serious knee injury. G.L.O.R.Y.'s Women's Wrestling News Editor, Joe Rules, interviewed Amber Holly...now Amber O'Neal...recently about her return to the ring wars.
JOE RULES: Amber O'Neal, you've been out of action for the better part of a year now due to knee surgery. How did the injury come about?
AMBER O'NEAL: I was working Brandi Alexander in a title match in Burlington, North Carolina for the CWF, and as I was running, I felt a horrible pain in my knee. I immediately fell to the mat. After about two minutes, I attempted to get up and finish the match, but it kept giving out on me, so I rolled out of the ring for a count-out so I could retain the title.
JOE RULES: Do you still hold the title, or did you have to give it up due to your time off?
AMBER O'NEAL: No. . . . I actually ended up defending the title one last time with a torn ACL and cartilage and lost it to Brandi Alexander. It was very hard and painful.
JOE RULES: I can imagine.
AMBER O'NEAL: After more MRIs and X-rays, I found out my ACL was torn completely, and I had no cartilage in my knee, and I had torn my patella tendon. So the match actually caused more damage. I had an ACL transplant and replacement cartilage put in. My patella tendon was still attached some, so they sewed it back together.
JOE RULES: Tell us about your rehabilitation. Do you feel you'll be back at 100%?
AMBER O'NEAL: Wow! Rehab was something totally different than what I thought it would be. My thoughts were, "I am gonna rehab this, and I will be okay." It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I went through it for seven months. When I started, I had no control over my knee at ALL. It was so depressing. I kept thinking, "If I can't move my leg, how will I ever wrestle again?" Little by little, the movement started coming back, and now I feel I am about 98%. Wrestling is what kept me motivated to keep pushing myself to the next level to get better.
JOE RULES: I understand your return to ring will be May 29, and you'll be taking on the always-tough GeeStar. Are you sure you're ready to take on an opponent of that caliber? I'm sure she won't be holding anything back.
AMBER O'NEAL: Oh, I know she won't! GeeStar will be the test that will prove if I am truly ready for what goes on in the ring.
JOE RULES: That's a test I'm glad I won't have to take! Now, in the past, you defeated such legends as Deseree Peterson and former WWF World Women's Champion LeiLani Kai. In fact, you defeated LeiLani Kai to win the CWF Women's Championship. Tell us about those matches.
AMBER O'NEAL: They are all matches that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I learned so much from all of those ladies, and it is an honor to even work with women of their caliber. LOL--I could go on for hours about all of those ladies and how tough it is being in the square circle with them, but to sum it all up, they are legends so therefore they are by far the toughest opponents I have ever come across. They showed me what I had to look forward to in the biz, and they didn't hold anything back! LOL.
JOE RULES: According to your G.L.O.R.Y. profile, you've also wrestled quite a few men in mixed matches. How does that compare to wrestling the ladies?
AMBER O'NEAL: Yes, I have. That was a few years after LeiLani and Deseree, so I can say they prepared me for it. Men are also great competitors to learn from. Their arsenal of moves is totally different, so therefore mine has to be too. I have to use high-flying maneuvers and be a lot faster when I am in there with the guys. Actually, mixed tags are my favorite matches, cause there is so much more action, and they really test my skills for this business. I always love a good challenge.
JOE RULES: Speaking of challenges, you once had a WWE tryout match. How did that go?
AMBER O'NEAL: I have had a couple of tryouts with them, and each time was a blessing. You definitely HAVE to be prepared. I feel as if the first time I wasn't as well prepared as I like to be, but they told me what my weaknesses were and invited me to come back when I felt like I was more prepared. I am grateful to even be in the same presence of people I can learn so much from. Even though no contract has been offered, each time I go back I feel like I have learned something and have gotten better. I will continue to keep working hard, so my next tryout will hopefully have better results.
JOE RULES: I'm sure I speak for most G.L.O.R.Y. fans when I say I hope to see you in the WWE in the future.
AMBER O'NEAL: Thank you! It's great to have that kind of support.
JOE RULES: You used to be known as Amber Holly. Now you call yourself Amber O'Neal. Why the name change?
AMBER O'NEAL: Well, after I had my tryouts with WWE I got to know Molly Holly pretty well, and I just felt like out of respect for her, I wanted to change my name. Plus a lot of wrestling fans ask me if I am related to her. So after my absence, I figured it would be a great time to come back as Amber O'Neal. O'Neal is a great motocross sponsor, and that's my gimmick, so I decided to go with the name O'Neal.
JOE RULES: Did you have the opportunity to wrestle Molly Holly in one of your tryout matches?
AMBER O'NEAL: Yes, I did. In both of them actually. I have to give her a huge amount of credit. Every time I go to WWE, she more than goes out of her way to help me. I owe her a lot for helping me get my face seen by the agents, as well as helping me with my weaknesses in the ring.
JOE RULES: Tell us a little more about your gimmick. What made you decide to be a "tough motocross chick"?
AMBER O'NEAL: LOL--I have always been a tomboy, and my dad had three dirt bikes when I was growing up, so I am familiar with the whole dirt bike scene. When I met Mikael Yamaha, who is now my fiance, we immediately hit it off. So we formed a group called the Hirydaz, which is a dirt bike racing team, and that is what led me to take on the motocross persona as well, and I have to say I couldn't think of another gimmick that fits my true personality as well as this one.
JOE RULES: It sounds great. Where can wrestling fans find more information about you? Do you have a website or Yahoo! Group?
AMBER O'NEAL: I currently have a website under construction. It should be up in a couple weeks. It is www.amberoneal.com. I am also trying to get profiled on www.diversedivas.com and www.lethalwow.com
JOE RULES: We'll all be looking forward to seeing you on those sites. Once again, your big return match will be May 29 against GeeStar. Where exactly is this match taking place, and for what promotion?
AMBER O'NEAL: It will be in Mt. Airy at the Armory for the Southern Wrestling Alliance . . . and I am ready!
JOE RULES: That's in North Carolina?
AMBER O'NEAL: Yes, sir.
JOE RULES: Amber, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I wish you the best of luck in your return--and with GeeStar in the opposite corner, you're going to need it!
AMBER O'NEAL: Thank you. It has been a pleasure . . . and I am looking forward to letting the world know that I am back! You have been great.
Amber O'Neal returns to the ring to take on GeeStar Saturday, May 29, 2004, at the National Guard Armory in Mt. Airy, North Carolina for the Southern Wrestling Alliance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., belltime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $8 at the door the day of the show. Children 9 and under FREE with paid adult. For more information about this and other Southern Wrestling Alliance events, visit www.swanc.net.