Natalya deep dives into a multitude of subjects.
Prior to challenging for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank, Natalya sat down with Ariel Helwani for an interview and part two of their conversation is up on the BT Sport YouTube channel.
Early in the conversation, Natalya dove into her family lineage and that led to her sharing her thoughts about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s daughter, Simone, going by the name ‘Ava Raine’ in NXT 2.0. Natalya says Ava will always have the Samoan lineage tied to her presence but also does not see anything wrong with embracing that lineage.
Same with the Samoans [family lineage in wrestling]. You look at The Usos and Roman [Reigns] and Tamina and now with The Rock’s daughter Simone, that’s her real name. They’re always gonna be part of that Samoan dynasty. There will be no way around it. Whether they give Simone an off the beaten path character or they have her as a totally different name, they’re gonna try and experiment with different things but in her heart is always gonna be that Samoan dynasty. Her family lineage will run deep and for me that’s always been… I’m so, so proud of my family but I also — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with embracing it. Why fix something that’s not broken?
The topic of AEW’s Owen Hart Foundation tournament came up and Natalya was excited to talk about it. She spoke highly of Martha Hart and the way Martha carries herself.
She went on to state that no one can understand what Martha went through and always tries to put herself in those shoes. Natalya added that Martha is justified in regards to how she wants to move forward with Owen’s legacy in pro wrestling.
I’m so glad that you asked that [what she thought about the AEW Owen Hart Foundation tournament and seeing Martha Hart back in a pro wrestling setting] because I’ve been — it’s been so hard because I work for WWE, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Martha. I really do. I think that she did such a beautiful job. She carries herself so well. She was so poised. It was the first time that fans really got the chance to see her and I thought she really — she just held herself so well and her kids just seem like such nice kids. I do speak, you know, message, communicate with her son Oje every so often and she just — she held herself so well. I thought they did a really nice job honoring Owen and that’s the way Martha wanted to honor him and I respect that so much because nobody can understand or imagine what she went through. I always try to put myself — no matter what — I always, always try to put myself in her shoes when that incident happened. What would it be like if I got that phone call about T.J. [Wilson]? What would it be like trying to explain to my little children that they’re not gonna have a dad again? You know, so it’s like, I totally, totally understand why any way she feels. I think she’s totally justified. Not everybody has to agree with it but, I do respect her and I think that she did a beautiful job and I think they did a really nice job honoring him the way she wanted him honored and that was her call and it always should be her call.
An extensive conversation was held about Natalya’s upbringing and the struggles she and her family dealt with. She talked about how the late Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart would get let go from WWE on multiple occasions and her family would worry about how they were going to provide.
Natalya feels that-that is why she is a ‘company girl’ and is slotted into the role she’s in because she’s always striving to be on top of her game and please all the parties she can.
It didn’t last long [Anvil Promotions]. I think Bret [Hart] got my dad a job again. I laugh about it now. It’s funny because my dad and I had such a strong connection because we both do this. We both love wrestling, we both have competed in WWE. It’s like that special, special bond that we’ve had. But my dad, you know, growing up, he really, really struggled a lot and it’s not something he ever shared. It’s something he was very private about, his struggles and I think now it’s so like, I never feel bad about talking about my dad’s struggles because I think it’s so important, especially right now to talk about mental health. My dad was this big burly athlete that struggled with anxiety and depression and all sorts of things so he had demons. He lost his job a lot in WWE. Probably five times and I always remember my dad being let go and it was always like this traumatic event when my dad would lose his job, we would get scared, what were we gonna do? What were we gonna do for money? This was a thing as kids. So when my dad would lose his job, it was always really hard on us as kids. It made me have a different drive that I have now in WWE that I just always strive for perfection because I never wanted to be fired, like my dad. So it really drove home this, ‘I gotta be perfect at all times,’ hence being like a company girl and being pigeonholed into that role because I just was always striving to please everyone.
She has hit the 20 year mark as a pro wrestler and said she wants to keep going until she can no longer go. Natalya said she’ll continue wrestling until it’s no longer fun. She shared that she feels good and wakes up pain-free on a daily basis.
I just wanna do it until the wheels fall off.
Here’s my thing, knock on wood, I’m extremely durable and it doesn’t mean injuries won’t happen, they do, it’s life. Whether you wrestle or not, injuries happen. For me, I feel like I just — my body feels so good. I feel like I wake up every day and I know this is crazy for a pro wrestler but I wake up every day virtually pain-free. I don’t know if that’s because of my dad’s genetics. My dad was just like a superhuman as far as being strong, strong bones, strong tendons, super genetics. I wake up and I feel really, really good. I’m like, I don’t have knee pain, I don’t have shoulder pain, I don’t have neck pain. I feel ridiculously good for a girl that’s had the most professional wrestling matches of any woman in the history of the entire industry. Not just in WWE. There’s no woman that has had as many matches as me, no one. So, that’s why I have the most wins, that’s why I have the most losses, that’s why I have the most pay-per-view matches, that’s why I have the most WrestleMania matches, the most Money in the Bank matches because I’ve just been super, super consistent. I take really, really good care of myself but, I will not do it anymore if it’s not fun. So the second that it stops being fun consistently where I’m just not enjoying myself, I feel like, you know, that’s when you’ll know and I feel like you gotta trust the signs of the universe. I don’t wanna be somebody that’s wrestling when their body is broken or not able to move or not able to be the Nattie that people would expect. But I always feel like wrestling’s like hotel California. You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave. It never leaves you.
Natalya spoke about how when she goes to pitch an idea to Vince McMahon, it is normally well received because she’s looking to elevate another talent with that pitch.
She shared that the last several WrestleManias, she advocated for more women to be featured on the show[s]. Natalya expressed that she wants to leave the wrestling business better than she found it by bringing the next crop of talent to where she is.
Whenever I go in to pitch an idea to Vince McMahon, because at the end of the day, he is the guy that we pitch to. I always make sure to pitch stuff that’s gonna elevate other people and that’s why I always think that Vince has always been so receptive to my ideas because even if he doesn’t go with them or he doesn’t agree with them which has happened many times, he knows that I’m not gonna go in it for myself. I wanna go, ‘How can we make the story amazing? How can we elevate everyone?’ And for several WrestleManias in a row, I know it was like online somewhere and I was like, oh my God, I can’t believe that got out. But, I had the last two, three WrestleManias, the matches I was in, I pitched to have those matches. I said, ‘I want there to be more women on the show. There needs to be more women on the show.’ I said, ‘We can’t have a locker room full of girls that aren’t working. It’s gonna be hard on their morale. It’s gonna be hard for all the girls to go to WrestleMania and not be included. I know you’ve got the Bianca-Sasha match, I know you’ve got the Charlotte-Ronda match, but what about the other girls?’ And Vince has been super receptive to making sure that there’s been even more inclusion because he knows that I’m not just about like — you know, I want to leave this business better than I started it. I wanna be able to help women at every single corner, women that are being pushed, women that are about to get a push, women that are about to break through and women that haven’t gotten a chance. I wanna make sure that I help every single woman that I can help and then I leave here better than when I found it.
Scheduled for the 7/15 Friday Night SmackDown is Natalya taking on SmackDown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan in a Championship Contender’s match. Morgan is currently set to defend the belt against Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit ‘Ariel Helwani Meets’ with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.