Recently on The New Day: Feel The Power, WWE Superstars Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods welcomed Zelina Vega to the podcast. Among many other things, Vega discussed her long journey to WWE.
According to Vega, she used to participate in what seemed like an annual WWE tryout starting when she was only 19 years young. Along the way, Vega would keep in touch with and befriend other people she met at tryouts. This is how Vega became friends with a lot of people who work for WWE even before signing with the sports entertainment juggernaut.
“My first tryout ever was in 2010 at FCW with AJ [Lee] and Naomi. Like, Norman Smiley and Steve Kern were the ones running the tryout. And from then on, The USOs, I became friends with everybody.” Vega continued, “and then, fast forward, I’ve had tryouts almost every year. And it was just like, ‘no, you’re too this,’ ‘no, this is too this,’ and then I just tried to change whatever it was ‘too’. So it was like, ‘your endurance isn’t up enough.’ Okay, the next year I came back, I tried to up my endurance some more.
“I remember when the thing was to make me blonde because I reminded them of Trish [Stratus]. They were like, ‘yeah, go blonde.’ And during my Rosebud time, my hair was blonde. But it was interesting because I don’t want to say I was there already, but especially during the Rosebud time, I always felt like it was so easy because everybody made it so comfortable and everyone was so welcoming to me that it just felt like home. And I felt like I’m supposed to be here. Like, I know I’m supposed to be here and I never took ‘no’ for an answer.”
Apparently, ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles was influential in Vega’s professional wrestling training, as Vega was with TNA when Styles was there, only two years into Vega’s own pro wrestling odyssey.
“I think being in TNA, being able to work with Matt and Jeff [Hardy], and [Tommy] Dreamer, and AJ Styles, and I’ve known him forever,” Vega said. “[Styles] was part of my training. Like, when I got to TNA, I was still only two years in [to the business of professional wrestling] and so I was still learning and he was helping me a lot. Every time TV came around, I was always training with him.”
During the podcast, Vega claimed that she had met her business associate, Andrade, the former La Sombre, back in 2011 when she was with TNA.
“Speaking of history though, I really did meet Andrade back in 2011 in Mexico,” Vega revealed. “When I was with TNA, I want to say? where was it? Oh yeah, CMLL! And I met him back then. Never did I think that all these years later that we would be partners. When I think about it, it blows my mind because I was like, ‘wow, you’re really good. You’re cool! Okay, we’re eating! This is great! See you however many years later!’ Wow, okay, we’re partners. That’s insane. And [creative] were trying to come up with a story of like, ‘oh, say you’ve known him since blah, blah, blah.’ I was like, ‘no, I really have. Like, it’s legit. I really have.'”
While Vega has long wanted to be an in-ring performer for WWE, she was quickly partnered with Andrade as his manager by Triple H. With that said, Vega has not closed the door on wrestling one day.
“I never thought I was going to be a manager,” Vega admitted. “It wasn’t something that was on my mind. And then, I remember having a conversation with [Triple H] about where I was going to be with Andrade and what was going to happen there. And he was like, ‘yeah, I know you want to wrestle, but I really think this pairing is amazing and I think we should start here.’ He said, ‘that doesn’t mean you’re never going to wrestle, but I think we should just try to work with this and see what happens.'”
Vega, who recently cosplayed as recording artist Arianna Grande on RAW, indicated that she needs the WWE Universe to buy into her character before she can make the transition to in-ring performance.
“I do want to have my time as a wrestler. It’s not something I’ve given up on or abandoned in any way because I do love when I get to go in there, especially when we do the mixed tags because they are so much fun.” Vega explained, “I don’t want to say I’m giving up on the rest of it. I feel like I need to have my time as a wrestler, but I need to build myself as a manager enough to get people to care enough to want to see that.”
Listen to the show here. If you use any of the quotations that appear in this article, please credit The New Day: Feel The Power with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.