Palatka High grad part of WWE show in Jacksonville
So there she was, minding her own business in the middle of the ring, when Michelle McCool Alexander was taken for a spin by Kenzo Suzuki, a Japanese wrestler with an eye on more than just John Cena’s WWE United States championship belt.
McCool-Alexander was startled. Hiroko was jealous.
So the 5-foot-2 Hiroko – in Kabuki makeup and wearing traditional Japanese garb – jumped the 5-10 McCool-Alexander, who played basketball, softball and volleyball at Palatka High School.
McCool-Alexander seemed started, but knew what to do, flipping her attacker and making a hasty retreat from the ring as the wrestlers went at it.
So went her first, nationally-televised in-ring “action” Thursday night on Smackdown – Tuesday night, actually. That’s when the show was taped, after which she was off to Mexico for a photo shoot for a World Wrestling Entertainment “diva” magazine.
McCool-Alexander is due home today – just in time for a Monday night appearance at a WWE “house show” at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The next night, she’ll in Tampa for the weekly Smackdown taping.
Monday’s show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $20-40. Headliners on the card include the current WWE champion, JBL, along with former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle and the 7-foot, 470-pound Big Show.
It has been a fast-paced life in recent weeks for the budding WWE “superstar,” who parlayed a series of appearances during last summer’s Raw Diva Search into a three-year, developmental contract with WWE. She made her first Smackdown appearance last month and was limited to backstage skits until Thursday night.
“To Michelle, (the contract) means they have some interest in working with her and developing her into someone they’d like to have on one of their shows,” said her husband, Jeremy Alexander, a communications specialist at Georgia Pacific – and like McCool-Alexander, a PHS grad and lifelong Palatkan.
Thus the latest Smackdown appearance was significant.
“Obviously, I was excited,” Jeremy Alexander said. “She’s been very anxious to get in the ring. She would like to be involved in an active storyline and ultimately she’d like to wrestle. That was the first step in that direction.”
He believes his wife’s role Monday night will be as part of a Miss Smackdown competition also involving established “divas” such as Torrie Wilson, Dawn Marie and Miss Jackie.
In contrast to some of the women involved in WWE programming, McCool-Alexander’s love of professional wrestling is genuine and not an avenue to other opportunities as an actress or model. She grew up watching wrestling on television with her father, Terry McCool, the associate superintendent of Putnam County schools.
She responded to a Raw Diva casting call last summer and became one of 10 finalists who appeared in a series of sketches on the Monday night program last summer. While McCool-Alexander did not win the grand prize, the experience became the springboard to another WWE opportunity.
In addition to recent Smackdown appearances, McCool-Alexander spent two weeks at a WWE training facility in Louisville, Ky., “trying to learn the basics of wrestling,” according to her husband.
“She’s having a blast. She’s getting to see the country,” Jeremy Alexander said. “The biggest thing for her is she’s getting to interact with some of the superstars she was a fan of growing up.”