Nia Jax's career as a WWE RAW superstar started off as a spectator at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, FL where she and another family member watched her cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson face John Cena in their "Once in a Lifetime" main event.
Jax talked about her road from fan to WWE superstar on a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho with Chris Jericho. Here's what she said about WrestleMania XXVIII being a defining moment in the early days of her career.
"WrestleMania 28, me and my other cousin Christian. He's like this 6'4 dancer. We decided to go out to Miami, Florida to watch The Rock vs John Cena. I've been to shows before, but we were sitting in the front row during the main event and I was just thinking, holy crap, this is insane," said Jax. "This energy, this feeling. I had mentioned something to my aunt real quick; I asked her if she thinks that I could do something like this, I'm athletic, why not?"
Jax, whose real name is Savelina Fanene, mentioned she had already begun the process of getting trained as a professional wrestler.
"We were in the process of trying to get me into a wrestling school. Afa, the Wild Samoan, has a school in Orlando, so my aunt was trying to get me to go there, and I was doing the stuff that I needed to do," said Jax. "Dwayne [Johnson] had heard about the Performance Center, and he said that I should try out to see if maybe that is something that I would want to do; to get in there and see how it is. I had a three-day tryout at the Performance Center. "
Nia is billed at 6 ft. 1 inch tall 272 lbs. and was a basketball player at Palomar College. She later worked as a model.
"I'm an athlete; my dad had made sure I played all the same sports as boys growing up so I was always super competitive. Basketball is my main sport, which I got a lot of scholarships though, but I chose modeling over basketball though.
"So, I tried out, and it was very intense. Bruises all over my body; taking bumps for the first time. It was amazing though, but I realized that I could do this. Everyone was wondering if I was serious and I told them that I was, and that I needed to do this."
The possible contender for the RAW Women's Championship at SummerSlam revealed that WWE Senior Director of Talent Development Canyon Cemen told her the company would let her know after three days but that Triple H contacted Rock and informed him they were going to give her a deal.
"After the three days Canyon Cemen said that we will get back to you to see if I get signed up or not. I didn't hear anything from anybody, but Hunter had contacted Dwayne and said that we were going to give her a shot in Orlando, so that was when I was signed."
She also gave insight into her training at Performance Center in Orlando, FL and what the schedule is like for a developing superstar.
"At the Performance Center, I moved from San Diego to Orlando, and you train Monday through Friday, and have shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday where you learn the ins and outs of the business," said Nia. "So, not only are you getting in the ring three hours a day, and in the weight room two hours a day, you also have school sessions where you are watching wrestling and breaking down the psychology of it. It's an amazing place and complete 9-5 basically."
"There was a drill where I am afraid of heights sometimes, and I was kind of freaking out, but they told me to just fall. There's a big pillow pad, and they just kept telling me to fall down, but that was kind of what made me afraid."
Nia Jax's complete interview on Talk Is Jericho is available by clicking here.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.