Natalya spoke to NBC Sports about why she said she didn't want Sami Zayn as her Mixed Match Challenge partner (and the reaction that followed), what Shinsuke Nakamura is like backstage, and the upcoming Women's Royal Rumble Match. Here are some of the highlights:
Why she didn't want Sami Zayn as her partner in the Mixed Match Challenge and Sami's reaction:
"What's so funny about this is that I actually forgot I said that because I have such spontaneous reactions. The WWE producers were like we need to film a video for you because soon you're going to find out who your partner is, but it's not today. So I was doing this interview and then all of a sudden they were like do you want to take a selfie because you're going to need a selfie for the Mixed Match Challenge and all of a sudden I see these red teeth behind me and it was Nakamura wearing a mouth guard and I was like oh my God, Nakamura is my partner! Like it just clicked to me that this was the reveal.
"I was so excited, but I had this feeling that I was going to get Sami because he and I were both bad guys on TV. I was like I'm going to get Sami and I don't know if I have chemistry with Sami, I don't know if it's there. It wasn't that I don't like Sami, I just couldn't see us gelling together in the ring. In order to have really compelling and great matches, you need to be able to gel with your partner. So my first reaction was to jump up and down and yell 'I didn't get Sami!' And then later on that day Sami walks up to me and goes 'Are you and I OK?' And I go 'Yeah, why?' And he goes, 'Because you jumped up and down and said you were so happy that I wasn't your partner and WWE aired that on Twitter to like 12 million people.' I was like, 'I don't recall doing that.' [Laughs] Of course it was like the first thing I did [Laughs]. It was so funny because Sami thought I was mad at him. He was like I love you and TJ so much that I didn't know if I ticked you off and I was like, 'No!' I just wanted Nakamura."
"It's hard to explain exactly what Nakamura is like. His persona on TV is kind of like how he is backstage. He has this mystique about him. He's very, very charismatic. He leaves people talking and guessing and wondering. He'll walk through an airport and grab attention in a different way than say somebody like Braun Strowman. Obviously their proportions are different [Laughs]. He's really cool. He'll wear like really weird shoes, or a really cool hat, or a really big scarf and you're like he's so cool. Nakamura embraces his own unique eccentricities and that's what we, at WWE, want to express, especially when we're talking to kids about bullying and having goals and being different in this crazy thing called life."
Women's Royal Rumble being as equal as possible to the Men's:
"The WWE is really putting their money where their mouth is. They're really pulling out all of the stops for this. It's not just 20 girls in this Royal Rumble. They're trying to, as much as humanly possible, make it as equal to the guys as they can. We can try to be as equal to the men as we possibly can, but there are some things that … look you're not going to have girl who is the same height as Braun [6'8"]. There are reasons why different is good.
"There are a lot of things that the women bring to the table that the men can't do and there's a lot of things the men bring to the table that the girls can't do. WWE has gone above and beyond in every way, shape, and form to make this first-ever women's Royal Rumble feel equal and that to me is huge. We have 30 women competing and it's over-the-top-rope. It's all about us girls standing out and showing that we're equal and WWE has been awesome about embracing that."
Natalya also discussed more about Nakamura and dressing her cat up like him. You can read the full interview by clicking here.