Former WWE NXT star Mercedes Martinez recently took the time to speak with Bell To Belles about contract negotiations she made back in 2019. She revealed that AEW never formally offered her a contract, and right around the time she debuted with the company, WWE showed interest in signing her.
“There was no contract offer. Yes, I mean, if you want to straight shoot, we can straight shoot. People think there was [a contract offer], but there wasn’t,” Mercedes revealed. “We were in talks, you know? I just think that WWE, when they gave me the contract, they let me still do AEW. They offered the contract after I was revealed as the joker. Yeah, as soon as I did [All Out], it was maybe two weeks afterwards that WWE contacted me. I was in a position where I was like, ‘I’m just not sure yet. I have AEW Dark to do,’ and they said, ‘That’s fine. You can go ahead and do it and then let us know. The offer is there but it won’t last very long, so I’m like, ‘Okay, just let me figure out some things.’ I had my son, and at that time, there were just a lot of thing going on personally. I just wanted to make sure everything was intact.
“But, you know, I talked to Cody, and talked to Brandi, and it was more or less, ‘When you guys are ready for me, I’m here but I won’t be there for long.’ I believe Awesome Kong was, at that time, helping with talent,” she continued. “We talked and I told her, ‘WWE is knocking at my door, so if there is an offer to be made, it has to be done now because if this is the only offer on the table, with me being close to 40, I need to take something because my legacy has to end at some point. And after that, there was nothing, so I took the contract with WWE, negotiated with what we needed to do, and I was very happy with what they offered.
“We were both happy on each side, and I signed. They let me fulfill all my obligations until the end of the year when I signed. And that way I can report in January, so yeah, I think if AEW offered something, who knows? I really don’t know. The ball is in their court because I did let them know that whenever they’re ready for me, just contact me. They have my contact info because we’ve talked, so, I’m not sure. I’m not sure what would have came for me– I felt like I was a good fit but, you know, life has a way of bringing you where you need to be at that moment.”
Before all of this, the 20+ year veteran spent many years working on the pro wrestling independent circuit. She went into detail about how during the early 2000s, sexual appeal from the women was focused on much more than the in-ring skill of the women.
“Of course it was rough in the beginning just trying to get work. And you had to pay your dues, and it was rougher for the females because everyone saw us as divas. Or, if you want to straight shoot, everyone saw us as sex object, as a sex attraction. It’s the boobs and all of that, and that’s basically what female wrestling was when I first started. I wanted to be different, I wanted to break that mold and be the different wrestler that no one saw. And for me to do that, I had to work ten times harder than everybody. And the opportunities did not come easy to me compared to other females. And I don’t knock anybody who does what they have to do. I really don’t; you do what you have to do to do your career. If you can wake up in the morning, look up in the mirror and you’re fine with it, great for you. That’s not going to change my– there’s no judgement on me, at all, whatsoever. If you’re a great person and you got through your career whatever way, you want to do sex sells. That’s fine, I really don’t care what you do. Make your money, honey. Like, I really don’t. Make your money, honey, do what you have to do, and when we wrestle, I’m going to do my best to make our matches good and that’s my job.
“But it was really, really hard for me and wrestlers like me to get a fair share in wrestling. It really was. The niche for women’s wrestling was that fans didn’t want to see women’s wrestlers wrestling. When you are on the independent level and you go to fans that watch the wrestling on TV, that’s what they wanted to see, what was given on TV. So, you know, you have to find the balance sometimes. I had to find the balance of, okay, sex appeal does sell. It does get you booked way more, and it’s going to get your name out there a lot faster than just being a straight up wrestler. There’s few and far between that can get away with, you know, Chyna is a perfect example of how she had that muscular, different appeal. But that was few and far between, that was so rare at my level to get that. So, me personally, it was finding the balance, learning the ropes, and figuring out where I can do things and where I can’t. It was staying true to myself.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Bell to Belles with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.