Grit & Glitter is the weekly podcast dedicated to the power of women’s wrestling, hosted by Harley R. Pageot, Emily Fear, and their team of correspondents known as The Glitterati. The Glitter Buzz is a new regular feature here at Bell To Belles where Harley interviews various wrestlers and wrestling media personalities around a different central theme each month. Your theme for June is: Summer Vacation.
Hi friends! Welcome to my little corner of the world here at Bell To Belles. I’m truly thrilled to be part of this fabulous site and to get back to my roots as a writer. Before I ever became a wrestling podcaster, I spent years making paper zines about my life and my favorite bands. Getting to interview musicians about sometimes silly things like their favorite food or what their alarm clock sounds like always brought a levity that I crave in the art that I consume. Why not apply that same thing to professional wrestling, a medium that is often silly in its own right? I’m looking for truth, sure, but if we’re going to get real, I want to do so with a bunch of laughs mixed in and always a heartfelt earnestness at the center.
Summer vacation. For me, that phrase conjures up such magical imagery. Summers as a kid felt like they stretched for years. Some of the happiest moments of my life happened in that ethereal space where time didn’t exist and an entire world fit into one city block. Slushies and Super Soakers, baseball games and carnivals, the sounds of lawn mowers and ice cream trucks. I practically lived at our apartment’s outdoor swimming pool from June to September. These days, with work and bills and responsibilities, it’s far rarer I get to feel that feeling. But it’s still out there, waiting to be found. I just have to remind myself periodically to look for it and not let it slip past if I do catch a glimpse. To paraphrase Camus, there’s an invincible summer inside all of us.
In a yellow top and skirt with red knee-high socks she bounces to the ring. At a quick glance you might clock the ribbon in her hair or her 5’2” stature but look closer. Her gear has been scribbled on more than the margins of your 11th grade math notebook. Meet Abby Jane. She may look sweet but you don’t survive as the oldest of eight kids without a bit of moxie and Abby’s as likely to drop you on your keister as she is to beam a smile your way. So, whether it’s at Camp Leapfrog or a ‘90s party, you better keep your wits about you. But don’t worry – as long as you stay on her good side, you’ll see why they call her the wrestling ray of sunshine.
PAGEOT: I know you’ve been a big wrestling fan since 2014. Before you started wrestling, were you one of those dorks who hosted your own podcast and made fan pages?
ABBY JANE: Definitely. When I was in high school, I had a wrestling Instagram. I would always post so much about wrestling. I would talk about everything that was upcoming, whatever I was watching, even if it was not live or old. Literally anything on my mind. I just needed to talk about wrestling in some way. I was always talking about it in some fashion. Such a big geek, I wanted to know everything and I just wanted to talk about everything. It was to the point where I felt like I talked about it so much that I have to do something with this. Luckily, that turned out to be wrestling itself.
Something I’m always fascinated to hear about is that moment when you decided, “I’m going to try this. I’m going to go to wrestling school. I’m going to give this a shot.” I’ve been a huge wrestling fan my whole life and that thought never crossed my mind. I never thought “I could do this. This is something that I am capable of.”
I don’t even know when I had that thought. It was almost like, from the first moment I saw it, there was something in me. One of the first things I watched was WrestleMania 30 because we got the WWE Network when it came out at that time. I watched some old WrestleManias with my family. WrestleMania 30 was one we watched a lot and I always knew that there was something in me. There’s something about this that intrigues me and I want to know more about it. I felt like I could do it but also, at the time I was watching in 2014, the women weren’t given the same kind of opportunities that they are now. So, as much as I felt like I could do it, it didn’t really hit me until Bayley and Sasha Banks’ Brooklyn match. This is something that’s possible for me. I need to learn more about this and the actual processes. It’s not just you start out and then you make it to WWE. What goes into training? What goes into the independent scene? What’s happening on the independents? It was just that process of How do you work your way up in this business? once I realized that it could be possible for me, as a woman, to get into it.
It was the accessibility of seeing, especially, a character like Bayley in NXT –
– that relatability. The fact that she didn’t look like Maryse or The Bellas or Beth Phoenix.
Yeah, ‘cause as cool as I think all those women you just mentioned are, it was always like They’re divas. I always felt like they were different from me and WWE wouldn’t want someone like me. And I also just didn’t know about the independent scene before then so, me watching in 2014, it felt like it wasn’t possible for me. And then I saw Bayley show up in NXT at some point and she came out and did her entrance and I thought Oh my gosh, that’s me. I fell in love with her and the idea that this is someone who looks like me, who acts like me, and she wasn’t just a diva like everyone else. She was her own person. She was a superstar. That helped me realize that things are changing and maybe this is possible for me too.
How did you arrive at Camp Leapfrog?
I started training at Chikara. After everything that went down last year, we were kind of left without anything and not really sure what was next, especially for some of us that hadn’t debuted yet and weren’t able to get our names out there. We were like where do we go from here? We did obviously know Kris Levin and Sam Leterna from the time that they spent at Chikara so I got invited to hang out at the first Camp Leapfrog. I was still training the entire time. I just felt like I think I want to try to give this a shot. I think I’m ready to maybe try to get out there and make myself known as a wrestler. Then, at Christmas Treeos, there was a spot open because A Very Good Professional Wrestler needed a trios partner and I happened to be there. Things kind of just worked out to where I managed to get myself in on that team. And things have gone pretty well since then, I think.
Did you go to summer camp when you were a kid?
Oh, yeah! I think I spent six summers at this summer camp for girls up in New Hampshire, about a week long. We got to do a lot of cool things. We were on the lake every day. Lots of cool sports, and just getting to be with other girls. I definitely got the camp experience from there and Camp Leapfrog kind of brought me back to what I experienced all those summers when I was a kid/pre-teen/teenager.
When you’re at Leapfrog and you’re not in the ring, where can people find you?
Oh, I’m always outside on the lake. I love just being outside. Usually I can be found drawing or, even if it’s just watching wrestling or whatever, I just like sitting in a chair and being outside with a drink. Sipping on my iced tea and taking some notes on some wrestling.
You mentioned in a previous interview that you used to do musical theater. What was your favorite role?
Ooh, I’ve had some fun roles. I also went to a summer camp where it was all based around musical theater. It was more of a day camp. We’d drive there and back every day. But we did this very short production of Beauty And The Beast. We just chose a couple songs from it but we went all out with the costumes and everything. I got to be The Wardrobe so that was very fun. Definitely going outside of my comfort zone with the makeup she had and the big boxish wardrobe that I had to wear. It was kind of a short role but it was definitely the biggest role I had in musical theater ‘cause I was very new to it.
My camp did The Little Mermaid but it was the entire camp so there was something like a dozen Ariels and 15 Sebastians. Even still, the best role they could find for me was a wave. I crouched at the front of the stage with a piece of cardboard shaped like a wave that we painted blue and I just moved my arms in circles to make it look like there was water.
Perfect. There you go.
Yeah, that was the last year I went to camp. I never went back after that. I was so insulted.
I love the gear that my teammate Val (Valerie Quartz of Daryl Apparyl) made for you. Can you walk me through it a bit? How much came from you and how much was her idea?
I was just trying to figure out what I would look like as a wrestler. I felt like I’m not just going to have typical gear. I’m not just going to get a top and shorts and whatever. There aren’t a lot of skirts seen in wrestling and I love wearing skirts and dresses. Can I wrestle in this? I figured as long as it was short enough and made out of spandex that I probably could so I drew up a sketch with a skirt and a top. I felt like I would definitely wear knee-high socks and I found a way to fit kick pads and knee pads under the socks so that it would look like I’m wearing sneakers with them. I came to Val with this idea because she had worked with a couple friends of mine before. I just reached out to her and said, “Hey, would you be able to make gear for me?” At this point, I hadn’t debuted or anything yet. It was just telling her all about what I wanted to be in wrestling when I was debuting. She took that sketch that I made and she brought Flighty (Flighty Artworks) into it to make the sketches for it. Val is just so good at taking my ideas and making them into something really cool. The colors she chose are perfect. She knew exactly what I wanted.
Yeah, the yellow is perfect for the wrestling ray of sunshine. It makes perfect sense.
Absolutely. I told her basically what color scheme I wanted and she just took it from there and made it beautiful and glittery and sparkly. Amazing. 10/10 from Val.
I saw a sneak preview that you have some new gear in the works.
Yes, I do. I’m so excited about it. I think I’m going to get it really soon. I’m hoping at the next show that I’m going to be on that I’ll be able to pull it out for the first time. As you can see, it is comic book inspired just ‘cause I thought it would look cool. Once again Val totally took that idea and ran with it. The little previews of the comic speech bubbles you can see in there… the X-Men font on my name is perfect… the colors that she chose are perfect. I just can’t wait until it’s finished and everyone can see what it looks like ‘cause I am so excited about it.
If you could invite any wrestler to Camp Leapfrog who hasn’t been there before, who would you choose?
I definitely want to make sure that some of my friends that haven’t been with us since Chikara went down, for any reason, whether they were just busy, I definitely want to make sure that all of them are able to come back and experience the friendship and community that I’ve found at Leapfrog. Sonny Defarge and Cornelius Crummels can hopefully come back as a team. I’d love to see Hallowicked and Frightmare come back. Just a bunch of cool old friends. That would be great to see again.
You’ve got five months until the big Halloween special…
Oh yeah, they’ve got to be back by then.
You’re the oldest of eight kids. Have any of them expressed any interest in getting into wrestling yet?
So far, it’s mostly my youngest brother. He’s seven years old. He doesn’t really like watching me wrestle because he doesn’t like seeing me get hurt but he loves watching other people wrestle and he loves wrestling in general. I definitely take time to show him how to do headlocks and wristlocks and everything and he has a lot of fun. He’s obviously really young. I don’t know if there’s any interest there but it’s really fun, even with our age gap, that I’m able to share something that I love so much and he enjoys it too, helping him learn everything that I love about it.
What’s your favorite summer camp movie or TV show?
Ooh, I’ve got to think of some now.
For me, it’s Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown.
I haven’t seen that one yet. I feel like I’m definitely blanking on some of my favorites. I am a big fan of the Percy Jackson book series. Obviously it’s a summer camp but it’s really cool ‘cause I’m super into Greek mythology. When I was 14 or 15 reading that, that was right up my alley.
What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Cookies and cream.
If Camp Leapfrog was giving out Girl Guide badges, which one would you get first?
I think I’d probably get some sort of friendship award. Whenever I come to Leapfrog, my first order of duty is going around to say hi to everyone. I always have to ask everyone what they did since the last show. I’m always going from person to person like a butterfly, having to talk to everyone and seeing what they’re up to. It’s been a couple months since I’ve seen them, maybe, for most of them, so I just have to talk to everyone because I love everyone at the camp so much.
Okay, so it’s the social butterfly badge and it has a little butterfly on it.
Perfect. That’s the kind of thing I would love to have on my jacket.
I’ll put a call in to Val and see what I can do.
What do you have planned for this summer?
I’d definitely love to go to the beach this summer. I didn’t get to last year, for obvious reasons. Hopefully I get to go down there a couple times this year. My birthday’s in the summer as well so I always like trying to find fun things to do. And it is my 21st birthday this year so maybe I can do something fun just to celebrate that big milestone. We’ll see. Hopefully I’ll wrestle as much as I can and get to travel to more and more places. I’m just hoping that this will be a really good summer.
Note: Since this interview was conducted Camp Leapfrog has announced “Abby Jane’s 21st Birthday Extravaganza” for the afternoon of Sunday, August 8 in Williamstown, NJ! It promises to be a really good summer, indeed.
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