On a recent edition of the Talk Is Jericho podcast, Chris Jericho talked with AEW commentator and ring announcer Dasha Gonzalez about her ring announcing and interviewing career in WWE.
Dasha admitted that she was intimidated by the task, having not had any experience with it before. She talked about how she was told to bring her personality down, causing her to have a robotic tone in her interviews.
“I had never been a backstage interviewer before in my life,” Gonzalez admitted. “I was terrified of the red light. The first time that I ever did a backstage interview, I was so scared. I said ‘James Ellis’ instead of James Ellsworth. I clearly knew his name, but I was terrified. This is live. It’s happening live. I was always told I had too much personality, and I had to dial it down. I was told it’s not about the interviewer. It’s about the person being interviewed. I had a lot of conflict.
“I have so much personality, and I feel like my personality could help put over what the talent is saying, but it wasn’t about you. It was about the talent. The light shined on the talent, so you have to ask your question and, kind of, don’t show facial expressions. Let their answers make the viewer have a certain sentiment or feeling. I wasn’t allowed to, like, nod or do certain things like that. I felt also too like I had to get the question exactly verbatim how it was written or the world was gonna end. Interviewing wasn’t my thing, I guess. I don’t know.”
Jericho noted how replaceable backstage interviewers are given the lack of personality that they have to present. He used “Mean” Gene Okerlund as an example of a backstage interviewer that had personality and brought out the best out of a wrestler. Gonzalez talked about the fun she is having now that she can show off her personality.
“How could it be your thing when all your being told to do, in essence, is just stand there and hold the microphone?” Jericho pointed out. “They could get a mic stand, put a pretty face on it, and there’s your interview, because that’s basically the same. There – you guys are all interchangeable, but if you look at old-school backstage announcers like ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, he was the best because he had a personality which enabled the guys to have something to feed off of.
“I completely agree with that, and that was something that I struggled a lot with, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t the one making the decisions,” Gonzalez noted. “I was only doing as I was told,. But it’s kind of fun now being able to be myself. People are like, ‘Whoa. She is not a robot.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not a robot’.
“If you take a second to get to know me, I do have a personality. If you are a true fan and had been to a live event, you knew that wasn’t me. So, it’s different how things translate, but I’m the type of person, like, if you don’t know me before you ever speak to me, you will remember me after you leave.”
Gonzalez remembers an interview she did with Mojo Rawley where she gave a deadpan response to the enthusiasm he was showing. Jericho asked why she was told to do that, and Gonzalez says she still does not know why that was the direction she was given or what her response was supposed to mean.
“There’s was this one interview I did with Mojo Rawley when he had won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and I had to say like, ‘No, not really’,” Gonzalez recalled. “He was like, ‘Can you feel it Dasha? Can you feel it?’ Because you know Mojo’s very expressive, and I literally had to look at him straight in the face and be like, ‘No, not really.’ It was one of the hardest, most silly things. So many memes were made after it.
“To this day, I don’t event know. I asked, ‘Am I supposed to be cheeky?’ They’re like, ‘No, you just look at him straight dead in the face and say no, not really.'”
Gonzalez credits Renee Young as one person that helped her as a backstage interviewer. She recalled the advice Young gave her to navigate the WWE world.
“She always told me, obviously, follow the directions that they’re giving you,” Gonzalez said. “Once you, kind of, build their trust, then you’ll get a little bit more leeway because Renee is one of those that, like when she was doing backstage interviews, she was allowed to have emotions. She was allowed to nod. They trusted her, and she earned that trust.
“I was so new. I didn’t have that trust. I had to earn that trust, for me, I always struggled with I wouldn’t say this this way or I wouldn’t write this this way. She’s like, well, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and just do it, and prove to them that they can trust you and that aspect of it. It is what it is.”
Gonzalez was released by WWE last year during WrestleMania 35 weekend. She says she still does not know why she was released by WWE, but she says she holds no grudges towards WWE because she of the work she put in during her five years with the company.
“I got a phone call like, ‘Hey, we’re letting you go.’ I didn’t really get any answers or anything like that,” Gonzalez admitted. “It’s always after WrestleMania. They usually let some people go, but I was out of work for six months.
“I know things usually happen. Things come and go; there’s always ups and downs in the company. I never take anything like that personally. Some doors close for greater ones to open. So, I mean, you stop to think, like, man, what did I do? But at the end of the day, your like I gave it 110% every day that I had. I worked five years, worked my tail off for them and it’s nothing personal. Just is what it is.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.