Griffs Under 40: Elizabeth (Kocianski) Copeland '02

July 18, 2017

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Buffalo, NY - While most 30-something college graduates are just hitting stride in their careers, Elizabeth (Kocianski) Copeland is already retired.  Better known by her stage name, “Beth Phoenix,” the four-time champion of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) officially retired from the ring in 2012 at age 31.

Copeland spent her young adult life chasing her dream to compete in the world-wrestling arena.

Growing up, she recalls watching the WWE on Saturday mornings with her grandmother. In high school, Copeland joined the boys varsity wrestling team at Notre Dame High School in Elmira, NY. 

After college, Copeland fought her way up through independent wrestling promotions.

Eventually, she landed at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) where the WWE signed Copeland to a developmental contract. But Copeland’s dominating physical style of wrestling didn’t fit with what Copeland called the “Cinderella” image the WWE wanted in its women’s division.

She caught a break in 2007, when the WWE needed an opponent to go up against then-women’s champion Candice Michelle. It was in that live, untelevised “make or break” event that Copeland showed off her muscle and power, which came to define her WWE career. 

“The Glamazon,” as Copeland later dubbed herself, went on to dominate the women’s division and rid it of all Cinderellas. She earned three WWE Women’s Championship titles, and a Divas Championship.

Earlier this year, Copeland made world-wrestling history. The WWE inducted her into its Hall of Fame, making Copeland the youngest inductee and the quickest to be inducted since retirement. Copeland and her husband, Adam “The Edge” Copeland, are also the first married couple to be inducted.