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Lovely Lita: the high-flying hottie is working hard to recover from a devastating neck injury and return to the ring

By Matt Berkowitz - Wrestling Digest, Oct, 2003

      ENTERING WWE IN 2000 AFTER a successful stint in Extreme Championship Wrestling, Amy Dumas, known to WWE fans as Lita, did more than perhaps any Diva to enhance the quality of wrestling in the women's division. As the manager-valet for Esse Rios, she gained instant renown for her daring Moonsaults off the top rope and her harrowing Hurricaranas.

      Moving on to Team Xtreme with the Hardy Boyz, Lita soon solidified her spot as one of the WWE's top Divas. In fact, Chyna's last feud in WWE was with Dumas. Their angle was the first female feud given the same attention as men's programs.

      At that point Lita was riding high. And then in an instant, she hit rock bottom. On the set of the now-cancelled Fox action series "Dark Angel," Lita suffered a devastating neck injury. The injury forced Lita to stay on the sidelines for more than a year.

      In the past, this injury was usually career-ending, but Dumas chose to become the first Diva to have neck-fusion surgery. Despite the pain, she planned on returning to the ring. Steve Austin, Edge, Chris Benoit, Rhyno and others have undergone the procedure, and each will tell you that the lengthy healing period is a very slow, painstaking process.

      "The recovery is going well, but it's going very, very slow," Dumas says. "I'm able to workout, but I am still having some pain in my neck."

      Originally trained for ring work by the legendary Dory Funk Jr., Lita first received some notoriety for managing Danny Doting in his tag team with Roadkill in ECW. That role helped springboard her foray into WWE.

      While Lita acknowledges the improvements in the women's division in WWE since she last stepped in the ring, she feels the women's division could still use more attention.

      "There is a lot more competition now. The girls definitely have stepped it up. I still feel there is a lack of storylines for how hard the girls work to put on good matches," Dumas says. "I still feel that the support of the fans is lacking, and feel that is due to storylines that do n make the fans care how hard the girls are working."

      To try and compensate for the lack quality storylines for women, great effort is being put forward by WWE officials to up the ante in women wrestling. They want to make it a tool integral part of the show. This should provide for compelling matches upon Lita's return.

      "WWE has made it priority to bring women's wrestling [to the forefront]. They are looking at a lot of different girls," Lita says "The ones that I have seen have some sort of background but not an extensive wrestling background. They are hired and then sent to [Ohio Valley Wrestling WWE's feeder group] where they can hone their skills to where they can be incorporated later in the storylines."

      To help occupy Lita's lime in the months off and to keep her character fresh, Dumas has became a temporary announcer for "WWE Sunday Night Heat." While she has enjoyed the role, it also has had its pitfalls.

      "The wait is really getting to me. I think it's mainly because I am announcing. I guess it's because I'm sitting there talking about wrestling, as opposed to being at home training and focusing on getting in the ring," she says. "I think it would take away from the hunger [to be at home training], well not the hunger, but being bummed out about not being in the ring. Announcing is almost like a tease. It's a good new experience for me, but I'd rather be in the ring any day."

      During her lime off, Lita has had lime to indulge in one of her outside passions, working at animal shelters. She loves animals, especially dogs. She finds being able to help her canine pals to be very rewarding and plans on continuing to devote time to these shelters once she's back in the ring.

      "Since I've been off with my neck injury, I've really gotten into animal shelters and volunteering. I don't know exactly what, but every time I get a good idea in my head, I write it down. The animal shelters were one of these ideas," Lita says. "When I'm not [at WWE events], I want to have some sort of animal-related business, be it a shelter, a kennel, a gift shop, or a care or something else animal-related."

      After a one-night return "Raw" in April, where Dumas was hired and fired by Eric Bischoff, Dumas has been working at returning to full strength for her in-ring return. She hopes to be in full swing by her planned late summer return to WWE.

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