Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be… pro-wrestlers
December 12, 2007

By: Debra Neutkens Staff Writer
Source: PressPubs.com

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be… pro-wrestlers
Time in the ring a ‘beautiful thing’ for Forest Lake grad

Nora Greenwald strikes a pose in the basement weight room at her parent’s home. Although “on sabbatical” from her career in professional wrestling, she finds time for regular workouts when she isn’t ministering at Minnesota Teen Challenge. — Photo by Paul Dols

WHITE BEAR LAKE — When you meet the petite, soft-spoken Nora Greenwald, it’s hard to believe she performed as a diva in the pro-wrestling ring.

Fans of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) knew her as Molly Holly. Her Forest Lake High School classmates know her as a member of the class of ‘96.

Greenwald’s unique journey into the pseudo-reality world of pro-wrestling started soon after high school graduation. She packed her ‘65 Buick, bid her family good-bye and drove to Tampa, Fla., to, as she tells it, “spend her graduation money.”

The warm, sunny climate suited Greenwald so she got a job at a fast-food restaurant and decided to stay awhile. It was there the happy-go-lucky teenager got an invitation to attend “wrestling school.”

Located in the backyard of a trailer park, the low-budget school drew a diverse group of people in surroundings that Greenwald describes as “like a circus. So, out of curiosity, I stayed.”

Molly Holly was born in the fall of 2000 when Greenwald was hired by the World Wrestling Federation — now WWE — after spending two years in the “minor leagues” and a year with World Championship Wrestling as part of the television entourage of one of its stars, Macho Man Randy Savage.

“That was my big break. I went on to WWF after a tryout and joined my ‘cousins’ Crash Holly and Hardcore Holly,” she said.

Her parents, Rick and Bonnie Greenwald of Linwood Township, weren’t sure they liked the idea of Nora traveling the pro-wrestling circuit.

“But after they realized how much I loved performing and my dad learned I wasn’t mud wrestling, they were okay with my career choice,” she said.

Greenwald describes pro-wrestling as a soap opera with violence. A team of Hollywood writers provide a script and the ‘actors’ learn their lines before every match. There are heroes and heels and they take turns winning. The storylines always change, so every day is different.

And the lifestyle is hectic — four different cities every week, 270 days a year, little sleep and intense physical demands that lead many to an obsession with fitness.

Her years as a gymnast, first at Flyaways Gymnastics Center and later on the high school team, helped prepare Greenwald for a job in the ring. “Gymnastics is probably why I learned the tricks so quickly,” she said. “And gymnasts are used to competing with pain.”

A light concussion, torn knee cartilage, a broken finger and strained muscles are all injuries she’s suffered while wrestling.

“Wrestlers are always hurting, but they love what they do so they keep performing,” said Greenwald.

What was her most memorable moment as Molly Holly? Having her head shaved at Wrestlemania XX after losing to a diva named Victoria at Madison Square Garden in 2004. Wrestlemania, for those not in the know, is the Super Bowl of pro-wrestling.

“Shaving my head was my idea and my last Wrestlemania. I was getting burned out and feeling ready to move on, so I was looking for something shocking,” Greenwald recalled. She still has the hair locked away in a safe.

Before leaving the wrestling ring in April 2005, Molly Holly won the women’s WWE championship twice. As Mighty Molly, a persona she adopted later in her career, she won the ‘hardcore’ title and, to top it off, agreed to have her character in a video game.

Today, Greenwald is again doing something she feels passionate about — ministering to drug addicts at Minnesota Teen Challenge, a nonprofit treatment center in downtown Minneapolis.

Her job, she said, is to provide positive encouragement to women 18 and older who are ready to take steps to heal and overcome their addictions.

At least 10 friends and co-workers have succumbed to drug overdoses, Greenwald said, and helping others fight their addictions is giving her a strong purpose in life. Her former partner in the ring, Crash Holly, was one of them.

The faith-based treatment program incorporates the saving power of Jesus Christ, explained the ex-wrestler, who became a born-again Christian 15 years ago.

How did her spirituality tie in with the wrestling world? “I just tried to live my life as an example. Sometimes other wrestlers would ask me about my faith or come with me to church wherever I was that Sunday. Many were hungry for more than material things to fill a void.”

The paychecks at the center are small, but smart investments as a pro-wrestler and a thrifty lifestyle allow Greenwald some financial independence, even at the young age of 30. She lives in her own duplex in White Bear Lake — renting half of it to a good friend, who was also her prom date senior year. She owns real estate in downtown Wyoming and has rental properties in other areas of the metro.

She hesitated to say Molly Holly was retired, but preferred the words “on sabbatical.” To stay in shape, Greenwald still works out at Gold’s Gym in Vadnais Heights, still hangs out with high school friends and still answers her fan mail.

Her dad and her brother, Chancey, a dental hygienist, lift weights at Gold’s as well, so it’s kind of a family affair. Another brother, Luke, is a “snowboard bum” in Utah.

Both of her parents — her mother is a breast cancer survivor — make an effort to stay physically fit.

“They’re like my heroes. They helped me realize I could do anything well and gave me high self-esteem,” said the former wrestler who toured in 13 countries and 49 states during her tenure. “But most of all, they’re happy I’m doing something I love.”

Pro-wrestling taught Greenwald many life lessons. Besides the physical part, she said the job equipped her with skills in networking, media relations, conflict resolution, being a travel agent, performing on television and being a fitness guru.

“It’s the toughest job I could imagine,” she said. “When other wrestlers ask, ‘What will we do after we retire?’ I wonder, are you kidding? This job equips us to do anything.”

Mostly though, Greenwald said she feels blessed to have been in a unique aspect of show business that blurs the lines of fact and fiction, sometimes well and sometimes not so well.

“The purpose of wrestling is to entertain — to put smiles on people’s faces and let them escape their problems for a couple hours. Fans watch wrestling to cheer, boo and bond with their favorites and suspend their disbelief. They know it’s not real, but they want to believe it is for that short time. It’s a beautiful thing.”

For more information on Molly Holly, fans can visit her official Web site at Nora-world.org.

For more information on Minnesota Teen Challenge, which offers a 60-day drug treatment program, as well as a year-long program, visit www.mntc.org/. The program serves teens and adults from all ethnic, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds.

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