Despite what you may think of how they got there, the fabulous, trash-talking blonde made history.
Ah, yeah. To be clear... talking about Carmella here.
She’s flown under the radar during most of her time in WWE but now she moonwalks into the glaring spotlight as the history-making Miss Money in the Bank who has everybody talking. She’s been on of all one podcast and it was a good one that I’ve already skimmed. Again, highly recommend Lilian Garcia’s “Making their Way to the Ring” interviews.
Let’s learn a few facts about the fabulous one (did you know she’s actually shy?) and how she got here:
1) She’s a second generation wrestler – Her father Paul van Dale wrestled in the late 80s and early 90s. He did primarily enhancement work and wrestled opponents such as Razor Roman, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Big Boss Man and Papa Shango. Her dad being a wrestler made Carmella “the coolest girl in third grade.” He walked away from wrestling to find a more fruitful way to provide for his family – real estate.
2) The struggle was real – A dancer for the first 22+ years of her life, it wasn’t always easy (but is it ever?) She scrubbed toilets and washed the studio floors to help pay for the multiple classes she was constantly juggling. During and after college, she danced for the New England Patriots and then the Los Angeles Lakers. She also auditioned for Tough Enough and got a few callbacks, but didn’t think the Lakers would allow her to do both. Life in the City of Angels wasn’t easy either. “When I was living in L.A., I lived out of my car for a week, then had an apartment with no heat, no electricity, and it had mold. I was doing whatever I could to get by because I just wanted to be in entertainment so bad and I wanted to perform and that’s all I wanted to do. I was living paycheck to paycheck. No, I didn’t struggle in wrestling. No, I didn’t do whatever I could to try to get in a wrestling ring. But I’ve paid my dues in other ways, I really have.”
3) Not a Horsewoman – She says she arrived in NXT at the perfect time but soon found an identity crisis. “I think the biggest struggle for me was that I wasn’t Charlotte, Sasha, Becky or Bayley.” She admits her wrestling ability will never be on the level of a Horsewoman and found herself wondering “How do I fit in here?” She cites her lifelong love of performing in front of live crowds and says “I do think I have something to offer that’s different. So when I got my ring name as Carmella I knew I was going to do whatever I could to create this ridiculous, over the top character that would show ‘ok we need to pay attention to this girl because she has something.’
4) Byron Saxton played an integral role in the creation of Carmella character – “So I knew when I got the name Carmella I wanted to do mafia, mob wife type feel, because I come from an Italian family and I knew I wanted to bring that into it.” Carmella went to Byron who came up with the character hailing from Staten Island. Byron cut a fake Carmella promo on then-NXT champ Paige. “He transformed himself into the character and I was like ‘Wait, THIS! This is how I picture her!’ From that meeting with him I was like ‘ok I know what I’m doing now, I know who Carmella is.’ She also credits Dusty Rhodes (Dream) saying she met with him weekly to discuss character development. Carmella found Byron backstage at WrestleMania and thanked him telling him she couldn’t have gotten there without him.
5) Her reaction when Enzo & Cass got called up – She’d been working with Enzo & Cass for years and people were telling her they were a packaged deal. So when she found out they were going up to the main roster? “Okay if I’m being completely honest, I was devastated. I really was. The night of Takeover last year Hunter had pulled the boys aside to tell them they were going up, and I already had gotten on the bus to leave and someone came on the bus and said ‘oh Hunter wants to talk to you’ and I was thinking ‘oh my God this is it! We’re going up!’ I was so excited and I got pulled into a room and it was just me … and the boys weren’t there.. So I got into the room with Hunter and Matt Bloom and he said ‘Ok so I just wanted to let you know Cass and Enzo are going up on Monday and you will not be going with them’ and I did everything I could not to cry. I’m thinking what am I gonna do? This is all I’ve known while being in wrestling…is being with them. My gimmick was around them. They said bada boom, I said bada bing. That was our thing! But Hunter told me ‘the reason why you’re not going with them is you have the ability to make it on your own. You’re not just a hype girl for Cass and Enzo. I see more in you, you have more potential and you’re gonna be fine on your own.”
6) Adapt or perish – Three and a half months later, Carmella was drafted to Smackdown Live. “Unless you watch NXT you don’t know I was with Cass and Enzo. So it’s great to do my own thing and be my own character. That was another hard thing when I first debuted, I thought I’d be doing my same character. They said you can’t say ‘bada bing, hottest chick in the ring’ and I was still saying ‘how you doin’ and they said you can’t say ‘how you doin’. So I’m thinking ‘oh my gosh, oh no. What do I have then?’ It’s times like that when you think everything’s the worst thing in the world and I told myself ‘you know what its fine, I’ll come up with something else.’ You have to adapt. And that’s what being here is all about. I had the opportunity to be able to be like ‘ok well I can’t say that. Cool, this is what I’m gonna say then.’ I took it and made it into a positive. “
Check out the rest of the podcast for much more from her.
We’ll certainly be getting to know Ms. Money in the Bank a lot more over the coming weeks and months, but now you have a head start - whether you like it or not.