Zelina Vega had early exposure on a national pro wrestling stage when she signed with TNA while she was still a teenager. She would compete for the promotion from 2011-13 before having a WWE tryout and making several appearances as one of Adam Rose's Rosebuds throughout 2014.
Those experiences eventually led to a full-time role in WWE, but Vega reflected on her start in TNA on Table Talk w/DVon.
"I think it was good for what it was. I was young at the time; I was 19 years old when I got signed. When you think about it - so, it's forever ago, but I needed that experience because it introduced me to [Sarah Stock], who is still someone that I can consider my cousin. We were onscreen cousins, but she's considered family, and I went to Mexico and I got to train in CMLL. Which is funny because that's when I met Andrade initially, in 2011," revealed Vega. "So, that whole story of knowing each other for a while, it wasn't a lie, and it was good for what it was. And maybe they just thought, 'Oh, we're not going to take a chance on her,' which is weird because of people like you [DVon]. I remember you were constantly always going to bat for me, Kurt Angle was always going to back for me, Sting was always going to bat for me.
"I remember the day [Sting] had passed by Dixie and said, 'We should put a title on that one.' And not even joking, the next day, Terry Taylor comes up to me and he goes, 'Hey kid, we're giving you the tag titles. You're winning it tonight and you're getting the pin.' So, I mean, again, it was a great experience. It was something I needed to grow as a performer because I got to meet all the people I get to work now – AJ [Styles], Jeff Hardy. I needed it at the time. But now, I feel like I'm the butterfly I'm supposed to be. All of that was my cocoon stage, but now, I'm the butterfly I'm supposed to be."
Sarah Stock would later become a trainer for WWE and she undoubtedly played a role in Vega joining the promotion in 2017. The two of them were Knockouts Tag Team Champions in TNA, and Vega was asked if she would like to go after the WWE Women's Tag Titles and, if so, which Superstar she would want as a partner.
"Without hesitation, Nia Jax. So yes, I would absolutely, and I would want someone of her caliber on my side because, again, if anybody is known to seek out talent and the right kind of talent for the situation, it's me. So, I look at her as someone who is dominant and someone who's so good at her craft that we can really just bring the best out of each other. She can be the Ying to my Yang because we're very similar in ways. We're very different in a lot of ways, too. I mean, height is one of those things, But I can just see that now, and just that image alone, I think that's it. That's money right there."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Table Talk w/DVon with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.