Lacey Evans was one of the recent NXT call-ups to the WWE main roster and she has made her presence felt by interrupting several promos and matches. Evans may seem like a natural in working the crowd even though she didn't grow up a wrestling fan.
Evans talked about first hearing about pro wrestling from a Staff Sergeant while in the Marines when she joined Lilian Garcia's podcast.
"At the time I thought [the Staff Sergeant] did backyard wrestling and now that I know a little bit more, he did the independent circuit," said Evans. "Me, my husband and daughter went to watch him. I wanted to be in the ring so I trained for about a week with him at the military base and we were the main event in APW in Georgia. I saw the wrestling ring for the first time up close and then the following week we were the main event. He was a 250lb Staff Seargent; it was insane.
"I caught on so quickly in one week because when I want something I go after it. I was first in the State of Florida in amateur wrestling when I was in high school, and I was 9th in the nation in folk style wrestling. Freestyle and folk style wrestling I did in high school for many years. My background is as an athlete, and you know we in the Marines, when we want something we go after it. We train every single day in the little gym in Parris Island (SC), and that Saturday we put on a 10-12 minute match and I was hooked."
Unlike many other Superstars, Evans didn't grow up a wrestling fan as she didn't have what most would consider a normal childhood. She grew up in a house riddled with drug abuse and never even fantacized about being a wrestler.
"To be honest with you, when you hear stories about people who grow up watching pro wrestling, WWE, they talk about remember sitting with their grandparent watching wrestling as a kid. I didn't have a life like that so I can't vision," revealed Evans. "My life is very serious - I didn't have time for fantasy. I never watched movies, TV or anything else from a young age that I can remember. It was always strict and business. I went to school. I was in sports. I went to work. I came home. I joined the military so there wasn't any time."
Evans first came onto WWE's radar thanks to a Hall of Famer who happened to be at one of her matches in Georgia.
"I did the main event match. It was APW in Georgia, and it ended up where the promoter had 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase," said Evans. "I know all about him now, but at the time I was like, 'who?' Anyway, Ted DiBiase was the one who set me up with the tryout. Ted DiBiase was the one who wanted to see pictures and to tell him more about me, so he was impressed. He was the one who set me up with the tryout."
When Evans told her superior in the Marines about her WWE tryout opportunity, he thought it would be funny to see her play a character after being this strait-laced woman in the Marines for so long.
"I had barring and discipline so they thought it was so funny that I was doing this wrestling thing, so as soon as he found out he gave me his blessings and gave me the days off. I got in my car and drove down there. I walked into the PC for my tryout and I saw some of the most beautiful women," stated Evans.
"There was Bianca BelAir, Katie Forbes, Vanessa Borne, I mean, they were just gorgeous. Their hair ties matched their tank tops and their shoes and I didn't look anything like that. I was a Marine, so day one I was going to leave. When I saw these women who looked like models and then there was me, I said hell no, I am leaving and there was a door that I could sneak out of."
Evans thought about just leaving before training even started, but she stuck around even though she thought there was no way she was going to be hired.
"I said, forget it, after three days I will go about my day. I left my construction company for this, so I am doing the tryouts and they are telling me that I need to smile and loosen up. But after five years of being on the SWAT team and being a military police officer, you don't smile, it's strictly work," said Evans.
"I don't smile in my life, so I did the tryout and they pulled me aside. I think my saving grace - because they weren't going to hire this non-character, no charisma, yes sir, no sir, and I went up to do my promo and I said that I am a United States Marine and that I am going to be the first United States Marine female champion. So, afterwards they told me to go back up there and that was when I was prepared."
Evans had her Marine promo all scripted out but now WWE wanted her to cut a promo off the cuff.
"They said talk about your family, and right there I was like, Lord! So, I said that I am from a bunch of siblings that are going through a lot in life and they struggle every day and my dad just passed away two months from my tryout. So, I got to tell why I am here to show the world what you are capable of regardless of where you come from and that was it," said Evans. "They said right there that maybe they can do something with this girl and I was out in the garden a few months later when I got the phone call, which was from [WWE Senior Director] Canyon Ceman, and he said that they wanted to offer me a contract.
"I said to him, 'are you f'ng kidding me'? He said no, we are not kidding you. I went and told my husband and he said, let's do it! So, we bought a camper trailer and hooked it up behind the truck. I have a few properties in South Carolina, and I am still paying, so I am not going to buy a house or pay a crazy amount for an apartment, so that is where I have been living in ever since."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.