After spending many years as playing the role of the veteran talent who makes others look good, Natalya experienced a career resurgence on the SmackDown Live brand in 2017. After winning the Diva’s Championship at the 2010 Survivor Series, Natalya went on a seven-year championship drought before defeating Naomi at SummerSlam.
Also on SmackDown Live, Natalya played the role of a heel for the first time in many years. However, during the Superstar Shake-up, she was drafted to Raw, and is now competing as a babyface again after discussing her comradery and wrestling mentorship to Ronda Rousey. Rousey has also saved Natalya from gang attacks on Raw, further solidifying their on-screen allegiance.
During WWE’s recent European tour, Natalya was interviewed by JOE.ie and discussed various topics, including her experience in Dublin, Ireland, her WWE tenure, and more. Natalya also praised Rousey’s transition to the WWE.
“I really like Ronda,” said Natalya. “She makes it really hard not to like her. She’s a good friend of mine. I’m impressed by her on so many levels. Her work ethic, her attitude, her drive, her determination to be innovative and different but to still stick to her roots. But she’s still really humble. I like being around her.
“When I train with her and work with her, she makes me wanna be better. Even though she doesn’t have a whole lot of experience in WWE, she performed at WrestleMania a little over a month ago, or less than a month ago? I’m not even sure what day it is… She just did so well. It was a testament to her commitment and to her hard work. She’s stepping into a whole new world, this is not her world. But she’s an example that change is good, and that there’s always something new that we can be challenged by. I love Ronda.”
Natalya also stated that she is interested in working an angle with Rousey, which draws further speculation that a feud between the two may be on the horizon. In addition to praising Rousey, Natalya also discussed missing out on the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia due to cultural restrictions toward women.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, but I think definitely we’ll get there, I’m excited about it,” said Natalya. “I was talking with several of the male talents that were over in Saudi Arabia, and Roman Reigns said it was just so incredible, and that he can’t wait to go back. So it’s exciting for us to think about going there. I think one day I’ll be there for sure.”
As a whole, Natalya is very happy with the women’s evolution, as the division has received the opportunity over the past couple of years to main-event pay-per-views, as well as participate in gimmick matches for the first time ever such as the Royal Rumble, Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, and Elimination Chamber.