While the name Nora Greenwald suggests a timid and gentle nature, never judge a name and not value what they can achieve. The career of Molly Holly has been one that was unassuming, growth, evolution, and inspiration. Her athletic desires began at a young age.
From her interest in being on American Gladiators to powerlifter training as young as 14 to her training in gymnastics, the future Molly Holly had was taking shape at a young age. But her ambitions were without having to overcome obstacles. Holly would also drive from Minnesota to Florida with as little as $200 on her. She would work odd jobs such as a telemarketer and in a restaurant.
There was a girl named Malia Hosaka, who worked with me on the independent scene, and she knew some of the people behind the scenes in WCW, and she started to say, “Hey, you know we could make a lot; more money than in the minor leagues.” So we started pursuing that together.
It was actually a while after that I got signed but that was the first time, with Malia Hosaka – she put it into my head that we’ve got a good thing going here, and we could probably make a career out of it. – Molly Holly on thinking she could make a living out of professional wrestling.
Upon her arrival in Florida, it was upon her arrival that, on a whim, would express an interest in wrestling. While in Florida, Holly was trained under Dean Malenko there. In the Summer of 1997, Holly would first compete for the World Professional Wrestling Federation under the moniker Starla Saxton. Her time on the independent circuit was brief but meaningful. During that time, she captured various championships. Those opportunities lent her the opportunity to be a part of the WWF and WCW in a non-recurring role.
It was the following year that Greenwald would officially join WCW. This time she had a defined role. The role was as a member of Randy Savage’s Team Savage alongside Savage, Gorgeous George, and Madusa Miceli. She would debut as Miss Madness. Holly would compete with an evening gown and a pageant contestant sash. In no way does it prevents her from demonstrating her tremendous athletic ability.
She could often be seen utilizing her gymnastic skills to help Savage. It was what Miss Madness did outside the ring that could not be said enough about. She, along with Madusa, would train talent at the WCW’s Power Plant.
Her time as Miss Madness would come to an end with Savage’ firing’ her from Team Madness. It was at this point that she remerges as Mona. In attire that wasn’t unlike, she was as Miss Madness; Holly would compete in various matches as part of WCW’s women’s division.
Her matches with the likes of Madusa and Asya suggested she was as much there to wrestle as she had a role. Unfortunately, after a couple of years in World Championship Wrestling, Holly would be released as what was deemed a cost-cutting measure.
However, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. In 2000, Nora Greenwald put behind Miss Madness, Starla Saxton, and Mona. She was signed to a developmental deal and assigned to Memphis Championship Wrestling. Upon her arrival, it was time to would shed any in-ring rust that may have developed between promotions.
But it was also at this time when Greenwald would also have a chance to develop the character side of her skillset. She would become the manager of William Regal. It was there that she debuted under the name of Lady Ophelia. In MCW, she would battle the likes of The Kat and another future WWE Hall of Famer in Victoria.
Molly Holly – The Birth of Cousin Molly
When Greenwald did debut on the main roster, it was as a member of the Holly family. As the third cousin in the clan, Molly Holly would arrive as the cousin of both Bob and Crash Holly. However, unlike her cousins, that were super heavyweights, Molly Holly was there to even the odds in her cousin’s rivalry with T & A as the equalizer against Trish Stratus. While their feud was somewhat brief, it left an impact on the career of the recently arrived Molly Holly.
Holly and Stratus would go back and forth with one another, trading wins. It was, in fact, against Trish Stratus where Molly Holly would debut her ever-popular finisher, the Molly-Go-Round. Holly’s first singles win in on the main roster came against Trish Stratus.
Molly’s next storyline would be one in which she would be romantically involved on-screen with Spike Dudley. If ever there was a scenario that played itself out like Romeo & Juliet meets the Hatfields and the McCoy’s. The interest took place during a feud between the Dudley’s and the Holly’s. But much like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, we are met with the following statement’ parting are such sorrows’ as it described the end of the relationship between Molly & Spike.
It would be in the Fall of 2001 Holly would cast aside Spike Dudley in favor of The Hurricane and would thus become Mighty Molly. But even that alliance would come to an end as Molly would even defeat The Hurricane and become the Hardcore Champion in the process.
Despite losing the title an hour late (one of the risks of holding this title), it opened the door for Molly and her Women’s Championship run. Mighty Molly once again became Molly Holly. And in the process changed her look. Her blonde hair became dark and would emerge as a heel. In a persona that would talk down to how women would present themselves and degrade themselves may have been considered female shaming by modern-day standards. Holly would even state how virtuous and pure to the audience.
Upon her heel turn, she would renew pleasantries with the person she first defeated when she came to the main roster. Trish Stratus and Molly Holly began a program with one another when Holly attacked Stratus after a match. It became less about wins and losses during this heel run by Molly. This was more about developing her character. Swimsuit contests where she wouldn’t reveal a swimsuit out of dignity would certainly counter what the audience would clamor for. Along the way, Holly would defeat Terri.
Molly’s feud with Trish would reach a fevered pitch when the two would face one another at the King of the Ring for the Women’s Championship. After previously defeating Stratus in a non-title match, she would get her title match at this event. Molly Holly would defeat Trish Stratus capturing the championship in the process.
At Unforgiven 2002, Holly would lose the title back to Trish Stratus. Holly’s place in the women’s division was crucial. She could perform at a high degree and, in the process, raise the level of skill in her opposition. Holly would regain the Women’s Championship, defeating Gail Kim the following year in the Summer of 2003. It would eventually lead to Kim and Holly forming an allegiance with one another. Kim and Holly would then feud with Stratus and the returning Lita.
Holly held the title until the following year, when she lost the title to Victoria in a fatal four-way match. Her loss, however, sparked a feud that would culminate in a title vs. hair match between the two at WrestleMania XX. As a result of the loss, Holly would have her hair shaved. It was an idea she herself had going into the match.
“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,” – Molly Holly on the concept of her WrestleMania XX match with Victoria.
Holly would use the hair shaving storyline to help her character move forward despite the loss. At Taboo Tuesday 2004, Molly Holly appeared in her final WWE pay-per-view match as a regular performer. The company appeared to be in the transition leading to Molly’s skill and ability not to be used regularly on-screen. The company’s move to more of a Diva type character didn’t best fit Holly, her beliefs, and who she was as a competitor.
Since her retirement in 2005, Nora Greenwald (Molly Holly) has made several appearances and given back to wrestling as much as she was given. She was presented with opportunities to succeed, and she did. Holly saw value in her as a person and a wrestler, and when the values of what she could do in the ring didn’t match the direction of the women’s division, she decided to step away.
Holly saw value in a young Beth Phoenix so much so that she would demonstrate an overwhelming sense of generosity.
I went to give Danny my first payment, and Danny handed me out a receipt back for a much larger amount. I said, ‘You made a mistake here, Danny.’ He said, ‘No I didn’t. A little birdie believes in you and wants to help pay your way.” Molly had paid for my tuition. “– Beth Phoenix on Molly Holly paying for her training tuition
As Holly’s career was drawing to an end, she saw something in Beth Phoenix. She saw something inside her. It is as much of a testament to the kind of person Molly Holly is outside of the ring that she is inside it. Her superpower went beyond entertaining in the ring; it was helping aspiring talent to achieve their dreams and easing a rather daunting financial burden.
Her passion is wrestling, and I remember what it was like to have a regular job where you don’t make a lot of money, and you’re trying to make your dreams come true. I felt really blessed to be a WWE Superstar and having the kind of money where I’m able to help someone else.” – Molly Holly on Beth Phoenix.
After all, while her given name is Nora Greenwald, she proved to be mighty inside and out of the ring before, during, and after her career. A true role model that women wrestlers of today and tomorrow can look at with pride.