Liv Morgan: From NXT Jobber To WWE's Top Underdog

The "Liv Morgan Revenge Tour" is alive and well in WWE, and fans have been watching the new Women's World Champion, born Gionna Daddio, for years. Morgan has been a crowd favorite since her main roster call-up at the end of 2017, and her diehard fans have stuck with her through her, from her time in "WWE NXT" as "Marley," to her rise on "WWE Raw," to winning the world from "The Man" title in Saudi Arabia.  Now she's even branching out into Hollywood like the star the company is making her out to be in the ring, appearing on horror series for a mainstream audience. The former Women's Tag Team Champion has come a long way from her Garden State roots.


Morgan grew up with four older brothers in New Jersey and always had a passion for wrestling. She would wrestle in her backyard in a makeshift ring with her siblings, pretending to be now-WWE Hall of Famer Lita, because she described herself as more of a "tomboy."

She recently revealed in an interview that she was "discovered" while working as a server at Hooters. She explained that another wrestler, who she didn't name, used to manage the restaurant and would often visit the location. Morgan said being the big WWE fan that she was, she introduced herself and "spit all her wrestling knowledge to them." After speaking with the wrestler, Morgan was put in contact with Joe DeFranco, who is known in part for working closely with Paul "Triple H" Levesque. DeFranco was impressed by Morgan's work ethic, and he eventually reached out to WWE to set Morgan up with a tryout. Though the most recent company tryout had passed, DeFranco was told WWE "were eager" to fly Morgan out for the next one in six months. Morgan explained in the interview she kept training alongside DeFranco every morning before working at Hooters in the evenings. Morgan's hard work paid off and in 2014, she signed a contract with WWE and was assigned to the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.


NXT Origins

Morgan started her professional wrestling journey training at the Performance Center in October 2014, but things didn't start as glamorous as they are for the star and champion now. Her first TV appearance occurred at NXT TakeOver: Rival in February 2015, where she appeared as a planted fan who jumped former "NXT" star Tyler Breeze during his entrance. A few months later, in May, she appeared for the developmental brand on TV once again, this time, as a part of Breeze's entrance.


Her in-ring career got started in October 2015 as "Marley." She debuted on the November 4 episode of "NXT" as a jobber, losing to Eva Marie. Morgan previously said that the pressure before the match was "overwhelming," because as a fan, she thought she would take to in-ring action right away. She described herself as "bad for a very, very, very long time," before she eventually caught on and steadily improved in the ring.

"It was hard; it was much harder than I thought," Morgan admitted.

Not even a month following the loss against Marie, she re-debuted as Liv Morgan on the brand, in a losing effort to Emma. She didn't pick up her first televised win until the end of August 2015, defeating former WWE talent Aliyah. Morgan's first feud in "NXT" saw her take on the IIconics, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, after both confronted her following her win against Aliyah. Morgan went on to wrestle both, but both matches involved interference by the other. One of Morgan's final matches in "NXT" saw her team with Aliyah and Ember Moon against Kay, Royce, and Daria Berenato (now known in the company as Sonya Deville) that November, with Morgan's team getting the win. The one to watch wasn't long for "NXT" following the match. Though she never held gold in WWE's developmental brand, Morgan was destined for big things on the main roster.


Riott Squad Member

Morgan was called up to the main roster alongside Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan at the end of 2017, making their debut as The Riott Squad that November. The stable first appeared on "WWE SmackDown Live" and attacked Becky Lynch and Naomi, as well as Charlotte Flair and Natalya. Morgan made her in-ring debut with Riott and Logan the following week, taking on the women they attacked in a six-woman tag team match.


In an interview in September 2021, after she joined AEW, Riott said she once heard a rumor that then-chairman Vince McMahon had watched the movie "Suicide Squad" wanted a Joker character, a Harley Quinn, and a "beast" in a female faction. Riott said she wasn't sure about that rumor, but thought maybe he was thinking along the lines of the Marvel universe for their faction. Riott revealed that from what they were told, the faction was not supposed to be together for long, but WWE "liked them together" and the women loved being together.

Shortly after The Riott Squad's debut, Morgan was an entrant in the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match. She was also involved in the 20-woman WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34 that year. The stable was also involved in the first-ever all-women's pay-per-view in the company, Evolution, in October 2018, losing to Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Bayley. At the 2019 Royal Rumble match, Morgan was the first to be eliminated, setting a record at the time for the quickest elimination at the time at just eight seconds.


The Riott Squad quietly disbanded when Morgan was moved to "SmackDown" as part of the "Superstar Shake-up" in April 2019, following WrestleMania 35. After switching brands, she quickly turned babyface after confronting Flair and tapping out to her in a match. Shortly after, Morgan would disappear from WWE TV.

Initial Singles Success

Though she wasn't on "SmackDown" for long, Morgan was the final pick overall in the 2019 WWE draft and headed to the red brand. Throughout December, video vignettes aired throughout "Raw" that showed Morgan, who appeared to have transformed while she was away.  These vignettes were often borderline raunchy, with Morgan being pictured in a bubble bath for many of them, teasing a new, tantalizing "diva" character. The videos were compared to WWE's previously failed revamp of Emma's character into "Emmalina," something that lasted for one segment on one night of television, before "Emmalina" announced she was once again returning to Emma. In the segments, Morgan would declare things like how she had to "destroy [herself] so the real [person] could emerge."


On the final episode of "Raw" for the year, Morgan returned during a segment involving Lana, who had previously broken up with Rusev in storyline, marrying her affair partner, Bobby Lashley, in the ring. Morgan headed down the ramp and professed her love for Lana and revealed the two had been having their own affair behind Lashley's back. After Lana attacked her, Morgan aligned herself with Rusev and defeated the former "Ravishing Russian" twice in the ring. The storyline was then abruptly ended following an intergender tag team match, and fans never got a formal conclusion.

Rusev, now known as Miro in AEW, previously noted in an interview that WWE never planned for a long-term romance angle between Morgan and Liv, but rather, wanted the shock value of Morgan's profession of love for a "one-time pop." Both Morgan and Lana, now going by CJ Perry, expressed their interest to re-visit the storyline in the following years, but that would never come to fruition.


Riott Squad 2.0

Following the extremely abrupt ending to her first true singles push within WWE, Morgan was once again reunited with Riott as The Riott Squad, despite the stable's third member, Logan, soon to be released from the company. Riott had previously turned on Morgan following her return, and the two feuded for a few weeks until Riott attempted to console Morgan backstage after a loss in the summer of 2019. Riott asked Morgan to reform the Riott Squad alongside her, but the pair were interrupted by the IIconics, with whom they entered a feud. The Riott Squad caused Royce and Kay to disband, defeating them in a tag team match at WWE's Payback pay-per-view with the split-up stipulation.


Once again part of the WWE Draft, Morgan and Riott went back to "SmackDown," and Morgan went on to lose alongside her Survivor Series team. Riott and Morgan challenged for the Women's Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania and lost. The Riott Squad was then effectively disbanded for the second time on June 2, 2021, when Riott was released by WWE, and Morgan was once again on her own.

Cashing In On Her Success

Despite once again losing her best friend in the business, this time due to company releases, Morgan quickly became a singles star once again, this time, with much greater success. After failing to win the Money in the Bank contract in 2021, Morgan captured the contract in the following year's match. She didn't wait long to cash in, however. Morgan interrupted the SmackDown Women's Championship match between Natalya and champion Ronda Rousey later that night and won the gold from the former MMA star. Morgan became the third woman to successfully cash in the contract the same night after winning it. While excited to hold the briefcase, Morgan knew that night was her opportunity at greatness. She recently said in an interview that she knew "with every fiber in her being" that she had to pull it off, and it had to be then.


"I was in Vegas. I was like 'Woo! I just won Money in the Bank, this is like the biggest victory in my whole entire life. I'm gonna go celebrate, I'm gonna go gamble, I'm gonna go have some drinks, I'm gonna celebrate my victory,'" Morgan said in the interview. "Then I noticed that Ronda [Rousey] gets injured during the match [against Natalya] and I'm like, 'Oh, man, should I go? Should I not go?' I'm kind of having this moment of 'what do I do?' And then I finally was like, I'm gonna go."

She retained her title controversially against Rousey at Summerslam. Morgan technically tapped to Rousey's armbar submission, but the referee counted Morgan's challenger's shoulders down, awarding the victory to the champion. She also retained against Rousey's real-life best friend, Shayna Baszler, at the company's first Clash at the Castle event in the United Kingdom that year.


Morgan's championship reign ended at 98 days after Rousey won the chance at another rematch at Extreme Rules. Morgan challenged her to an extreme rules stipulation match for the title and lost her gold at the event on October 8.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Following her title reign, Morgan was once again placed in a tag team, this time alongside Raquel Rodriguez. The pair took part in the women's WrestleMania showcase fatal four-way tag match, where Rousey and Baszler picked up the victory. On the "Raw" after WrestleMania, the pair teamed up again to defeat Damage CNTRL to become number one contenders for Lita and Lynch's WWE Women's Tag Team Championships. The following week, Morgan and Rodriguez won the gold from the reigning champions, the first time for them both. The pair eventually had to relinquish the belts due to Morgan suffering a shoulder injury. They held tag gold for just 39 days. Morgan would go on to reveal during an "UpUpDownDown" YouTube stream that she had "torn" her shoulder.


Morgan returned in June of 2023 and revived her tag team with Rodriguez. The pair challenged new champions Rousey and Baszler for the titles at Money in the Bank in London. They regained the titles after Baszler turned on her tag team partner, allowing Morgan to go for the pin and win the match. Morgan's second reign as a tag team champion didn't last long once again, as she and Rodriguez dropped the belts to Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green after Rhea Ripley attacked them backstage. Their second reign lasted only 16 days. Morgan had suffered a second shoulder injury during this time and was written off television once again by an attack from Ripley.

Women's World Champion

Morgan was off TV for around six months rehabbing her shoulder but made her return in one of the most grand ways possible in WWE. She returned at the 2024 Royal Rumble and entered the match last, at number 30. Bayley ended up winning the match to go on to WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but Morgan was runner-up with two eliminations. In another attempt to get her shot at WrestleMania, Morgan was the runner-up in the Elimination Chamber match, eating the pinfall from Lynch. In the next few months, Morgan decided to go on what she began calling the "Liv Morgan Revenge Tour," and former tag team partner Rhea Ripley was the initial target. Morgan began teaming with Rhea Ripley in March 2021 and then challenged for the Women's Tag Team Championships in a fatal four-way tag match on the second night of WrestleMania 38, but lost the match. The team tried once again to capture the titles the following month but lost again. After the bout, Ripley attacked Morgan, ending their partnership and friendship for good.


On the "revenge tour" Morgan attacked Ripley with a steel chair in a backstage segment, and the then-Women's World Champion was legitimately injured and forced to vacate the title. Morgan finished runner-up for the third time in a battle royal to attempt to gain the gold, but Lynch got the best of her once again and became the new champion. Morgan defeated Lynch, with the help of Ripley's storyline boyfriend and Judgment Day stablemate Dominik Mysterio at King & Queen of the Ring to become the new Women's World Champion on May 25. She was able to hold on to her title in the following days, as Mysterio once again, seemingly accidentally, helped Morgan retain over Lynch in a steel cage match


The Revenge Tour Begins

Morgan still holds the Women's World Championship as of this writing, and now that she has Ripley's championship, the "revenge tour" seems to be far from over. Morgan continues to terrorize Ripley's kayfabe boyfriend on "Raw," despite warnings from fellow Judgment Day members Finn Balor and Damian Priest. Following Mysterio's accidental interference in the steel cage match on "Raw," Morgan kissed passionately him as the broadcast went off the air. Despite what looks like Mysterio attempting to help Lynch rather than the woman antagonizing his girlfriend, Morgan seems to truly believe that Mysterio is secretly in love with her, though the fans have yet to find out if the pair are in cahoots or not while Ripley is off TV rehabbing her injury.


In other segments, Morgan has been knocked on top of Mysterio during matches and has given him her hotel room key in a backstage segment, though Balor was seen sliding the key into his own pocket at one point. Most recently, Morgan stole Mysterio's vest from his bag in the Judgment Day "clubhouse" backstage, and was trying to entice him to take it off of her to get it back, before the pair were interrupted by Priest. As of this writing, the storyline between Morgan, Mysterio, and the Judgment Day is ongoing, and Morgan has yet to have another championship match against anyone but Lynch.

Hollywood Calling

The real life-Daddio is spreading her wings like the star WWE is making her out to be and branching into the acting world, like many wrestlers before her. Morgan made her first movie appearance alongside Maya Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson in "The Kill Room," which was released in 2023. She played a character named "Emma" in the comedy thriller. Her better-known acting role came during the second season of the TV series "Chucky" where she was murdered by the killer doll. Morgan previously revealed her love for "Child's Play" and loving Chucky. She said she asked WWE to reach out to the series to see if there was any way she could get involved, even if it was just watching on set. Morgan has said that she's been bitten by the "acting bug" and would love to do more in the future.


"I feel like my work at WWE has really prepped me for that atmosphere, which I've fallen in love with," she said. "I love being a character and I love just testing out what I can do. My real goal is to see what I can accomplish, what I can achieve, and how, hopefully, great that I can be. I'm just exploring and having fun right now, but it's definitely something I'd love to get into more."