“The Librarian” Leva Bates was on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast where she discussed her “Blue Pants” gimmick in WWE NXT. She pointed out that she was never signed during her time in NXT and explained she first started out as part of Adam Rose’s Rosebuds.
“I was actually not signed with them at all,” Bates revealed. “I got actually got a phone call before Blue Pants for Rosebud stuff. So I’d done a few tours like house shows and TV tapings as a Rosebud a couple times, and I got a call on a Tuesday before Wednesday taping. It was like, ‘hey, we’d love to have you back, but this time for NXT.’ I’m like, ‘sweet, am I a Rosebud again?’ They’re like, ‘no, actually, you’re wrestling.’ I’m like, oh, I don’t know what I’m supposed to wear.
“Okay, what do I do? I had a few, what I like to call, TV gear, which is like cosplays but very geary cosplays, and I packed those up and showed up to do my extra work. And it just kind of took a turn that none of us in the world would have expected at all.”
Bates recalled her debut that went alongside with Carmella’s debut where the “Blue Pants” gimmick really took off in NXT. She noted that many in the NXT audience probably knew her from her work on the indies as she is based out of Orlando.
“It was Carmela’s debut,” Bates recalled. “The boys were going to be wrestling and then call her out. ‘Hey, get in the ring. We have a surprise for you. You are going to do your wrestling debut,’ and then they called me out, which is very very rare. And I think it’s probably what also helped make Blue Pants kind of what it was because they ended up saying., ‘hey, yo, girl in the blue pants come on down,’ and they started singing.
“Instead of getting mad, I kind of played it up like, ‘yeah, I do have blue pants. Aren’t they cool? They are cool.’ Instead of taking it like, ‘ah, I’m angry you made fun of me.’ It was more of like, ‘I’m happy that I’m actually here,’ which is pretty much internally how I felt, also, I wanted to kind of incorporate the every fan.
“Like let’s say you pull a fan out of the crowd. ‘Hey, you’re going to be in the ring right now.’ How would they react? ‘Oh my God, me. Me!’ So I kind of took that, and I think it was just a weird combination of the boys’ humor, Carmela being such a great, boo-able heel and me kind of playing up the ‘oh my God, I’m just so happy to be here and dancing with my blue pants.’ It also helped that I’m sure a lot of people knew me from the indie scene because it was in Orlando, Florida where I’m based out of. So we just got a big ‘Blue Pants’ chant.”
Bates also recalled the backstage reaction to the crowd chants. She said that Triple H laughed, and she later got a call to come back as Blue Pants, but she reiterates that she was not signed for the year and a half she was in NXT.
“It was a weirdest thing,” Bates remarked. “I did the blue pants. I was dancing. I ended up getting ‘Blue Pants. Blue Pants.’ We did our match. It was a really quick little moment to get Carmela over for her first win, and we got to the back. And they were like, ‘you four got a blue pants chant.’ What? How does that even happen?’ Triple H come over and just started laughing. ‘We don’t know how you guys did that, but alright,’ and next thing I know, the next taping, I get a call Tuesday before. ‘Hey, we’re gonna see how they react if you come back.’ I’m like, ‘okay, I’ll come back,’ and it was like a science experiment or just maybe how my brain works.
“It’s like, let’s bring her back and see how they react. Oh, it was a good reaction. Alright, what about the next time, and we add music and we add this. And it was just crazy and a science experiment that went for like a year and a half, but yeah, I was never actually officially signed.
Bates did say that she received a merchandise contract for a Blue Pants shirt. However, she notes that she worked NXT Takeover: Brooklyn while unsigned with the company. She also noted that this era of NXT was when WWE was slowly starting to sign more indie talent.
“About a good halfway point into it, they offered me a merchandise contract,” Bates revealed. “‘Here, we want you to have a Blue Pants shirt.’ So I ended up having that contract, but again, I was never officially signed on the roster. It was a PPV appearance with no contract signed at all. It always like, ‘here, we’re gonna bring you in. Here’s your money. Boom. Have a nice life.’ That’s how it worked.
“So it was just the oddest but coolest thing. It was definitely during the beginning of them bringing in indie talent because at the time it was me, they had Rhyno who hasn’t signed at the time, they were bringing in [Samoa] Joe on a regular basis pre being signed and then it was right before they started bringing in [Johnny] Gargano and them. Maybe my second or third, maybe fourth taping, that’s when they started bringing them in, and it was just very interesting. We are all kind of the un-signers that were coming in and being used.”
At the time, there were reports that Bates had heat with the NXT roster, but Bates downplayed those reports. She said on the podcast that she still does not understand why she was never signed as she was never given a complete explanation.
“I still don’t really fully understand it,” Bates admitted. “Living it and moving past it, I never really had a conversation saying this is why we’re going to sign you. This is why we’re not going to sign you. It was just one of those, ‘hey last one was kind of fun. You want to come and try to do it again another time?’ Alright, yeah. ‘Alright, we’ll see you tomorrow. Oh, hey, we’re going to do a little run on house shows, and we want you to wrestle Sasha Banks for a couple shows. Is that cool?’ Yeah, that’d be great.”
Bates did admit that there were times she felt isolated. She recalled working on a house show tour where she offered to help clear out the ring and pack up. However, since she was not signed, WWE would not be liable if she were to get hurt. She admitted that she did not want to give a bad impression as she always wants to be a team player and help out whenever possible.
“But it it did feel a little like at times,” Bates said. “I did feel a little isolated because with the house shows, everyone has to to pack up the ring and do the crew stuff, earn your keep, which on the indies, you do that all the time, and so I understood that. So for the first night, I went to go help tear down the ring, and they’re like, ‘oh, you can’t do that.’ I’m like, ‘why can’t I do that? I want to help.’ They’re like, ‘it’s a legal issue. Since you’re not signed, you haven’t signed the proper forms, and if you get hurt, we can’t be liable for that. So we can’t allow you to tear down the ring,’ and I felt terrible because I don’t want them to think I’m just coming in and getting a free ride.
“So I always kind of felt super self-conscious about that. I remember asking Sara Amato. I’m like, ‘can I at least pick up the trash on the floor,’ and she’s like, ‘yeah, you can do that if you want.’ I’m like, okay, at least I’m helping. I’m not allowed to move the chairs under the ring, but I can at least help in one way.”
Bates went on to say that without Blue Pants, then she would not have become The Librarian. Despite never being signed, Bates said she holds no ill-will towards anyone and is grateful for the experience she had.
“It really expanded my brand, and within the world of indies, my indie bookings started picking up big time, obviously, and I started getting a little bit more higher-profile matches,” Bates stated. “Honestly, I keep saying today, if it wasn’t for Blue Pants, I probably wouldn’t be The Librarian. Everything happens for a reason, and whether I never got signed or not with them, it’s probably because I wasn’t in the path I was supposed to be going, which was heading towards AEW.
“Blue Pants was a stepping stone for that. I learned so much during that time, and I have hard feelings. I have no sadness. I just have wonderful memories, and I’m very thankful and grateful that I’ve had the experience and I’m able to keep moving forward”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.