NWA Women’s World Champion Serena Deeb was on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast where she opened up about her time in WWE as a coach. She talked about how her involvement in the Mae Young Classic coinciding with WWE signing her to be a coach at the Performance Center.
“Well, I had stopped wrestling in 2015, and I had moved to California. I stepped away,” Deeb stated. “At the time, I was really burnt out on the business, and I thought I might want to move my life in a different direction. And then in 2017, I was contacted by WWE, and they asked me, ‘We’re doing this tournament. It’s the inaugural Mae Young Classic. We’re bringing women from all over the world. You haven’t been in the ring for a couple of years, but would you want to do it?’ Bringing me in to wrestling for the tournament, they made me aware that they were thinking about me as a coach even before the tournament and just wanted to bring me in and check and see if it was a good fit, if I vibed at the PC and that climate.
“And so I came in to wrestle those couple matches knowing that it was realistically a coaching tryout and went really well, and I came back a couple more times just for a week here a week there. And it seemed to be a really good fit.”
Deeb then discussed her love for coaching and how she could take what she was taught and teach that to younger wrestlers. She also discussed the dynamics of being a wrestler compared to being a coach where being a coach means you are responsible for the physical and mental wellbeing of multiple people.
“I absolutely love coaching,” Deeb expressed. “I feel like I was really lucky to have some of the best training at OVW and even FCW a little bit later down the road, and so it was really cool to be a coach and kind of teach the same lessons that were taught to me. I could hear Rip Rogers’ voice in my head all the time. Al Snow, Danny Davis, I could hear them as I’m coaching, and that was really cool and kind of full circle getting to carry on the values and beliefs that were taught to me.
“And I learned a lot. There’s an interesting dynamic going from being a wrestler — as a wrestler, you could be relatively selfish. You have to think about yourself, your own career, all these things related to you. And then when I was coaching, back there, I was responsible for now all these women, and from a physical standpoint, keeping them safe in the ring, from a mental and emotional standpoint, keeping them sane, keeping them positive, keeping them encouraged in a climate where that is hard to do.
“I learned a lot about other people. I love helping people, and I see myself, eventually, coaching down the line or continuing to kind of put tidbits of it here and there because it’s something I really enjoy. And I’d like to, potentially, do more seminars and things like that because coaching really resonates with me.”
Deeb was cut by WWE as part of the cost-cutting measures the company took during the pandemic. She reflected on that time and said that she holds negative feelings of that time calling losing her job “the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Well, it was pandemic related,” Deeb noted. “I remember the day. There were a lot of people from producers to coaches to talent that all got the call, and I mean, it just is what it is. It was a sign of the times of just needing to cut back, and I just said this the other day, amongst the women, that it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me losing my job because this probably would not be happening right now. I don’t even look back on that with any type of negative feelings or anything. It is purely positive for me.”
Later in the podcast, a fan asked if Deeb would have left WWE on her volition if the pandemic had never happened. Deeb admitted that she wouldn’t have because she felt that coaching was the right path for her and where life was taking her at the time.
“I’ve thought a lot about that too. I think the answer is no,” Deeb admitted. “I was embracing that chapter. It seemed like I was following the path of what seemed right in my life. When I was offered the coaching job, it felt really right, and I thought, ‘Well, I got to do a lot in this business, more than a lot of people.’ I felt like it might be more of my time to give back in that way. For me, it was just a matter of following the path. The path seemed like that was right for me at that time.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.