For nearly two decades, a black velvet case sat on the shelf in a safe in Debrah Miceli’s central Florida home, a loaded keepsake amid her collection of jewelry and guns. Inside the case was a pink-leather championship belt that doubled as trophy and taunt. There were days she eyed it and swelled with pride. On others, she cursed the thing for ruining her life. “I had my moments,” Miceli says. “Different every time.”
Those who know Miceli as Madusa or Alundra Blayze, her noms de ring, likely understand that double-edged sword: In 1995, after the WWE let her go while she was its women’s champion, she signed with the rival World Championship Wrestling and dropped the WWE women’s championship belt in a trash bin on live television. It was the most direct shot yet in a brewing war between the two companies and an incident that would become iconic in retrospect. Yet for Miceli, who says she was only following the orders of her new boss, the gesture—and thus the belt, which she kept—became an albatross. She swore that she would return the championship to WWE honcho Vince McMahon, but their proverbial bridge was burned. And so, for more than 19 years, she felt a nag. “Without closure,” says Miceli, “you cannot go forward.”
Miceli speaks from a red leather couch in a lounge inside the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Canada, still loquacious despite a morning parade of local media interviews. Like the star-emblazoned, pink crew shirt peeking out from under her black down coat, her location and morning duties are evidence that she has gone forward plenty. For the past 15 years, Miceli has been a star driver on the Monster Jam truck circuit, where she won world championships in 2004 and ‘05. With her eponymous truck, Madusa, Miceli is the rare driver as or more famous than her vehicle. During the customary 90-minute meet-and-greet before each Monster Jam event, Miceli typically signs a slew of Madusa merchandise brought by fans: pink and white car flags, “Queen of Carnage” T-shirts, plush toy versions of her truck.