After leaving TNA in 2012, Zelina Vega had several sporadic appearances with WWE including a tryout in 2013, appearing as a Rosebud in 2014 and wrestling on NXT in 2016.

No official contracts ever came out of those but Vega finally signed with NXT in mid-2017. She talked about if she ever thought she would end up in NXT or if TNA was going to be the best opportunity for her.

"I don't think I have ever been completely satisfied, which is probably the right way to say it. I always felt like I wanted more. I felt incomplete. I was always happy but I felt incomplete and that I needed to be pushing through," Vega said on the Cheap Heat podcast. "At one point when we recorded Fighting with My Family at the Staples Center it was an incredible feeling and I loved it but I was playing AJ Lee and I wanted it to be me.

"I was grateful for the opportunity. If that was all I was going to ever do with the WWE I was incredibly happy to do but deep down inside I knew I had to keep fighting to do this. It's pretty wild to say that I wanted this since I was a kid and to be in this spot here. We did WrestleMania, even Madison Square Garden, seeing the exact spot where I sat with my parents and with my brother it's been wild for me."

Portraying AJ Lee in Fighting with My Family also helped WWE notice Vega and she talked about how The Rock helped her become AJ Lee.

"The funny thing is I have known AJ Lee. She started in New Jersey; I worked in New York. We have crossed paths and she was always great with me and always sweet to me but obviously I went one way and she went to WWE," stated Vega. "But when I got the call initially I was on my sixth or seventh tryout with WWE and they kept saying not right now. I also had been trying out for a part in Spider-Man and I was texting Dwayne Johnson saying to him that I didn't know what to do and he asked me to hold on for a moment, he may have something for me. When he told me that I was going to be playing the Divas Champion, of course, I wasn't processing any of this yet, and then he said AJ Lee. I was like, oh my God, I can do this. I know I can do this. But you never really know until you step into that person's shoes. He really showed me how to separate Thea Trinidad and step into AJ Lee.

"I remember at times during training he would say, okay, cut the promo right now. Talk like her, move like her, I want you to be AJ at this moment, go. You have to adapt and really feel how someone would be feeling in the moment and why. That is why I went to talk with a bunch of people she was working with at the time asking what the mindset was. What was she feeling at the time? A lot deeper than just a promo and a match, but that is something The Rock is really good at. Anyone who has seen his matches you see the passion that he does in everything that he does."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Cheap Heat podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

Peter Bahi contributed to this article.