Ashley Massaro

Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro 2011.jpg
Massaro in October 2011
Born (1979-05-26)May 26, 1979
Died May 16, 2019(2019-05-16) (aged 39)
Resting place Saint James Episcopal Church Cemetery
Occupation Professional wrestler, reality television contestant, television host, model, radio personality
Years active 2002–2019
Children 1
Ring name(s) Ashley
Ashley Massaro
Billed height 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)[1]
Billed weight 110 lb (50 kg)[1]
Billed from New York City
Trained by Dave Finlay[2]
Ricky Steamboat[2]
Trish Stratus[2]
Debut 2005[3]
Retired 2008[3]
Signature
Ashley Massaro Signature.png

Ashley M. Massaro[4] (May 26, 1979 – May 16, 2019) was an American professional wrestler, reality television contestant, television host, model, and radio personality. She was best known for her time with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and for her appearance on Survivor: China.

Massaro made her debut in WWE after winning the WWE Diva Search in 2005. She was firstly incorporated into the Raw brand, where she had her first wrestling feud against Vince's Devils (a villainous female stable) while aligning herself with Trish Stratus to defeat the team. With Stratus, she was involved in another feud with the then-debuting Mickie James, who was obsessed with Stratus and jealous of Massaro's friendship with her, attacking and causing her to lose matches. Massaro was later drafted to SmackDown and became the valet for the WWE Tag Team Champions, Paul London and Brian Kendrick. Her most high-profile matches were a WWE Women's Championship match against Melina at WrestleMania 23 and a Playboy Bunnymania Lumberjill match at WrestleMania XXIV.

Massaro left WWE in July 2008. During her tenure in the company, she had appeared on the covers of several magazines, including the April 2007 issue of Playboy, and also made appearances on television and in music videos. In addition, she spent the last two years of her life working as a radio DJ for 94.3 The Shark.

Early life

Ashley M. Massaro[4] was born in New York City[5] on May 26, 1979. She was raised in Babylon, New York,[6] where her brother, father, and uncle competed in amateur wrestling.[7] She graduated in 1997 from John Glenn High School in Elwood, New York,[8] and received a BSc in Communication with a minor in Business from the State University of New York at Albany.[7]

Professional wrestling career

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE

Massaro initially found out about World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) 2005 Raw Diva Search when she met a WWE casting director during a swimsuit pageant.[9] After beating the seven other chosen finalists, Massaro was declared the winner on the episode of Raw which aired on Monday, August 15, 2005.[10] Her winnings included $250,000 and a one-year contract with WWE.[10]

A week later on the August 22, 2005, episode of Raw, Candice Michelle and Torrie Wilson attacked Massaro after pretending to welcome her to the brand.[11] Massaro's storyline feud with Wilson and Michelle continued over the next couple weeks, as the duo, along with their enforcer Victoria (dubbed as the "Skankateers" by commentator Jim Ross), made things difficult for Massaro.[12] Massaro made her in-ring debut on the August 29 episode of Raw, in a losing effort to Victoria.[13] On the September 5 episode of Raw, Massaro was defeated by Wilson due to interference from Victoria and Candice.[1] Massaro evened the score on the September 12 episode of Raw when she brought out the returning Trish Stratus (who then turned face), and the duo proceeded to attack them.[14] On the September 18 episode of Raw, The pair defeated the trio—who became known as the Ladies in Pink (and later Vince's Devils).[1] This led to a tag team match at Unforgiven, where the team of Stratus and Massaro defeated Wilson and Victoria.[15] The following night on Raw, Massaro accompanied Trish where she defeated Wilson. After the match, The duo were attacked by The Vince Devils.[1] The feud continued into WWE Homecoming, where Stratus and Massaro defeated Wilson, Candice, and Victoria in the first ever three on two Bra and Panties match by stripping all three of their opponents.[16] Massaro continued to wrestle matches through the rest of 2005 and was involved in the annual Fulfill Your Fantasy Diva Battle Royal at Taboo Tuesday for her first shot at the WWE Women's Championship.[17] Massaro eliminated Candice Michelle before being eliminated by Victoria.[17]

On January 8, 2006, at New Year's Revolution, Massaro won the first ever Bra and Panties Gauntlet match by being the final wrestler left still wearing her clothes.[18] Following WWE tradition, to please the fans, she removed them herself before making her exit.[18] Through the early part of this year, Massaro became the victim of a series of attacks from Mickie James.[19] At Royal Rumble on January 29, James defeated Massaro with then Women's Champion, Trish Stratus, as the special guest referee.[20] Massaro got her revenge one week later by pinning James in the rematch on Raw.[21] On the February 20 episode of Raw, however, Massaro suffered a fractured left fibula while being eliminated from the Women's Battle Royal,[22] and her feud with James was cut short.[19] She underwent surgery to insert a five-inch metal plate and eight screws into her leg.[9] During her recovery, Massaro still occasionally appeared on Raw as part of the Stratus/James feud, albeit in a non-active role.[19] Massaro returned on the March 20 episode of Raw, being kidnapped by James to lure Stratus in to saving her but James was successful and attacked Stratus.[1]

Massaro returned to television on June 2, this time on SmackDown!, as a special guest commentator during the Kristal Marshall versus Jillian Hall match.[23] On the edition of June 9 of SmackDown!, Massaro defeated Kristal, Jillian Hall and Michelle McCool in a bikini contest.[1] Massaro later aligned herself with Hall, and they feuded with McCool and Marshall. Massaro won her SmackDown! debut match on July 21, when she teamed up with Hall to defeat McCool and Marshall.[24] At The Great American Bash, Massaro won the Fatal Four-Way bra and panties match by removing all of her opponents' clothing.[25] On the edition of August 4 of SmackDown!, Massaro broke her knuckle in a match against Marshall.[26][27]

Massaro during a house show in November 2007

Massaro, Paul London, and Brian Kendrick defeated Idol Stevens, KC James and Michelle McCool in a Six-Person Mixed Tag Team match.[28] Following the victory, Massaro became the valet for London and Kendrick, accompanying them to the ring for their matches on SmackDown! and pay-per-views.[19] On the October 27 episode of SmackDown!, Massaro participated in a "Trick or Treat Battle Royal" which was won by Kristal.[1] On the edition of December 19 of SmackDown!, Massaro teamed up with Layla in a winning effort defeating Jillian Hall and Kristal in a tag-team match.[1] On the edition of January 2 of SmackDown!, Massaro competed against Hall in a winning effort.[1] On the January 26 episode of SmackDown!, Massaro teamed up with London and Kendrick in a losing effort to the MNM (Mercury & Nitro & Melina) in a six-person mixed-tag-team match.[1] During the edition of February 16, 2007 of SmackDown!, Massaro unveiled her Playboy cover.[29][30] Surrounding the release of the magazine, Massaro engaged in a feud with Jillian Hall, who was envious of the attention Massaro received due to the Playboy cover.[9][31] At No Way Out, Massaro won the first ever Diva Invitational by removing her top to reveal her breasts which were covered with Playboy bunny pasties.[32]

Massaro also began a feud with then WWE Women's Champion, Raw's Melina, who was angry over the publicity Massaro had been receiving because of the cover.[33] On the March 9 episode of SmackDown!, the rivalry was taken to the next level when a catfight broke out on the inaugural edition of Miz TV.[33] On the March 16 episode of SmackDown!, Ashley teamed up with London and Kendrick in a losing effort to the MNM (Mercury & Nitro & Melina) in a six-person mixed-tag-team match.[1] On the March 23 episode of SmackDown!, Massaro would get a catfight after Melina attempted to make an interference during Kendrick and Paul's match with MNM.[1] On the March 26 episode of Raw, Massaro teamed up with Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle in a winning effort defeating Melina, Hall and Victoria.[1] At WrestleMania 23, Massaro unsuccessfully challenged Melina for the WWE Women's Championship in a LumberJill match to retain her title.[19][34]

After WrestleMania, Massaro continued as a valet for WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London and Brian Kendrick.[1] In storyline, on the April 13 episode of SmackDown!, Massaro was attacked by Jillian Hall.[35] In reality, Massaro had loosened a screw in her ankle, which had been inserted the previous year after she legitimately fractured her tibia and fibula while in a battle royal.[9][36] Massaro returned on the June 1, 2007, episode of SmackDown!, helping McCool defeat Hall after she distracted her.[1] This return was short lived when on the edition of June 8 of SmackDown!, Massaro was suspended indefinitely after accidentally spilling Vince McMahon's coffee on him.[9][37] In reality, Massaro was taking time off to participate on the show Survivor.[19]

Massaro along with her tag team partner Maria and Snoop Dogg at WrestleMania XXIV in March 2008

Massaro returned on January 7, 2008 to the Raw brand, winning a Lingerie Pillow Fight against Maria, Jillian Hall, Melina, and Mickie James.[38] On the January 14 episode of Raw, Massaro teamed up with Mickie James and Maria in a losing effort to the team of Beth Phoenix, Jillian Hall, and Melina in a 6 person-tag-team match.[1] Massaro began a storyline with Maria and Santino Marella on the January 21, 2008 episode of Raw, attempting to convince Maria to pose for Playboy but was interrupted by Marella.[1] At the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Massaro again attempted to convince Maria by telling her that Hugh Hefner wanted her to pose for Playboy before Maria could answer Marella interrupted and objected to the proposal. Massaro would then beat down Marella's surprise Big Dick Johnson when he attempted to perform a striptease.[1] At the No Way Out pay-per-view, Massaro would appear with Maria in a segment at the Playboy Mansion.[1] On the March 24, 2008, episode of Raw, Massaro interfered in the match between Maria and Melina.[1] After the match, Santino Marella came down to the ring, so Jerry "The King" Lawler (who was tired of Marella's actions over previous weeks) knocked Santino out of the ring. Which set up the six-person mixed-tag-team match, in which they lost to Marella, Melina and Phoenix.[1] On March 30, 2008, Massaro replaced Candice Michelle, who was out with an injury, in the Playboy Bunnymania Lumberjack match at WrestleMania XXIV teaming up with Maria, losing to Beth Phoenix and Melina after the interference from Marella.[39]

On the April 14 episode of Raw, Massaro teamed up with Maria in a losing effort to the team of Melina and Hall in a tag-team match.[1] Massaro also participated in a 12 wrestler Tag Team match at Backlash, where Phoenix pinned her to get the win for her team.[19] On the April 28 episode of Raw, Massaro competed in her last match by teaming up with Michelle McCool, Cherry, Kelly Kelly, Maria and James in a winning effort defeating Layla, Melina, Phoenix, Natalya, Hall and Victoria.[1] Massaro was released from her WWE contract on July 9, 2008.[40][41] A week prior to her release, she announced that she had asked to be let go from her contract due to her daughter being sick.[19]

Independent circuit (2017)

In September 2017, Massaro made a brief return to professional wrestling by competing in Zero1 Professional Wrestling USA with former WWE Diva Jillian Hall.[42][43]

Other media

Survivor

Massaro was a contestant on CBS's Survivor: China, which was the fifteenth season of the show, in 2007.[7][44] Massaro approached the WWE with the idea of doing the show, and after going through the casting process, she found out she made the show ten days before she had to leave for China to film.[45] Prior to the experience, Massaro had never been camping before, so to train for the show she had to get used to being out in nature.[45] She was assigned to the Zhan Hu tribe in the first episode and quickly began quarreling with fellow contestant Dave Cruser.[46] In the second episode, Massaro was voted off after six days with a 6–1 vote.[46]

Modeling and acting

Massaro competed in Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageants and was crowned Miss Hawaiian Tropic USA in 2002 and Miss Hawaiian Tropic Canada in August 2004.[7][47][9] Massaro appeared in FHM, Stuff, Maxim, and on the cover of Playboy after joining WWE,[9] though she had previously posed for Playboy in 2003 and 2004.[48] Massaro tried out for Playboy scouts when they were searching for models for the 50th Anniversary Playmate Hunt.[49] She appeared in the accompanying pictorial in the December 2003.[49] In addition, she appeared in both Femme Fatales and Flex magazines.[7][9] Massaro also hosted several E! channel Wild On! episodes and appeared on Breaking Bonaduce as Danny Bonaduce's personal trainer.[7][19] Massaro guest starred on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition alongside WWE wrestlers John Cena and Batista.[7] In addition, she appeared in campaign ads for both Hawaiian Tropic and Yamaha.[9]

In February 2007, Massaro and Glenn "Kane" Jacobs filmed an episode of the CW's Smallville that aired on March 22, 2007.[7] In April 2007, Massaro also appeared as a guest on Fuse TV's show The Sauce.[7][50] On April 20, 2007, Massaro and several other wrestlers filmed Timbaland's video, "Throw It on Me" featuring the Hives.[51] In 2008, she appeared in Rev Theory's video for "Hell Yeah."[52]

Video games

Massaro appeared in two WWE video games. She made her in-game debut in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008[53] and returned in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009.[54]

Radio

On June 30, 2018, Massaro began working as a radio DJ for Long Island station WWSK-FM / 94.3 The Shark where she originally worked the Saturday portion from 10 am to 3 pm.[55][56] Shortly before her death in May 2019, she was promoted to hosting the station's evening program on Wednesday nights.[57]

Personal life

Massaro with her brother in 2012

Massaro had one child, a daughter named Alexa.[5] When Alexa became sick in mid-2008, Massaro asked for early release from WWE to care for her.[19] On May 22, 2019, after Massaro's death, several former WWE female wrestlers who were Massaro's coworkers, grouped as "The Squared Circle Sisters", opened a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe in order to create a college fund for Alexa, setting a goal of $100,000.[58]

On November 21, 2020, Massaro's younger brother, Ronnie Massaro, died after being fatally stabbed in New York City. He was 39.[59]

Massaro had several tattoos, including a black and pink nautical star on the back of both of her elbows,[9] a pink and red dragon surrounding kanji lettering that translates to "Trust No One" going down the right side of her torso,[60] symbols on the small of her lower back, and a butterfly on her right hip. She also had several piercings, including a Monroe[61] and snakebites.[7][62]

In November 2016, Massaro joined a class action lawsuit against WWE, litigated by Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in a number of other lawsuits against them, alleging that the company concealed risks of injury that caused them neurological damage. Massaro also alleged that she was sexually assaulted at a US military base during a WWE tour of Kuwait, and that WWE apologized but persuaded her to not report it to the appropriate authorities.[63] The lawsuit was dismissed in late 2018. After her death, WWE said they had received an email from Massaro in October 2018 in which she expressed regret for having taken part in the lawsuit.[64] An affidavit by Massaro describing the sexual abuse allegations in detail was released by the law firm that represented her after her death.[65][66] WWE later said executives there were not informed of the allegations described in the affidavit.[67]

Death

On May 15, 2019, Massaro finished replying to fan mail[68] but did not show up for work at WWSK-FM later that night, prompting another DJ to fill in for her.[57] At 5:23 a.m. the next morning, paramedics responded to a rescue call and discovered Massaro unresponsive at her home in Smithtown, New York.[8] When they arrived at the hospital, she was pronounced dead, 10 days before her 40th birthday.[69]

On May 19 at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view event, WWE paid tribute to Massaro's life and career by projecting a graphic of her at the start of the show.[70][71] Visitation for Massaro was held that day and the next at the Branch Funeral Home in Smithtown.[72] On May 21, she was buried at the Saint James Episcopal Church Cemetery in St. James, New York.[4]

Some news outlets, all citing the website TMZ, stated Massaro's death was a suicide.[67][73][74] Others, including CNN and The Nation, did not.[75][76] The Suffolk County medical examiner's office did not release an official cause of death, citing a New York state privacy law that allows withholding information that "would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy".[75]

Massaro was set to take part in a suicide prevention music video by her WWSK co-worker Brian Orlando, who had recorded a song with Brandon B. Brown, Vinnie Dombroski, and Kevin Martin. Following her death, Orlando scrapped plans to release the video.[77] With her family's blessing, it was released in July 2020.[78][79]

Filmography

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2007 Smallville Athena Episode: "Combat"[80]
2007 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Herself [81]
2007 Survivor: China Herself 15th place[82]

Music videos

Year Title Role Notes
2007 "Throw It on Me" Herself [80]
2008 "Hell Yeah" Herself [83]

Championships and accomplishments

See also

References

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