Natalya Says Wrestling Legitimately Saved Her Life

Natalya has been a valued part of the WWE Women's division now for almost 15 years, however, this did not come without real-life struggles along the way.

While on "After the Bell with Corey Graves", daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart and former WWE Smackdown Women's Champion Natalya opened up about how wrestling saved her life and which NXT Women Star's body she loves.

"When I started just being myself and not worrying about, you know, worrying about what everybody else thinks about me, it's when I really started to do my best work," Natalya. "I actually told that to Nikkita [Lyons] when I was in NXT ... I was like, 'I love your body. Like, you have such a people body'. I was like, 'People just love that'. I said, 'You don't realize how many men, especially, love women with curves. Don't feel like you have to change. You look bad*ss'.

"[Lyons] embraces it. She loves being curvy, loves being sexy. It's such a good example to show other women that you don't have to be real thin. If you are really thin, great. But if you're not, like for me, I'm 160 pounds. I used to be so scared of that number. I used to be terrified of ever really talking about that number. You know, most professional athletes, most of us have come close to having eating disorders or struggle with eating disorders, especially women in sports.

"I know Bianca has talked about it, I know Alexa Bliss has talked about it. So many women in our locker room have talked about like, struggling with body image and eating disorders, and when I was 18/19, I had really serious eating disorder, and I look back on that time and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't look good'."

Nikkita Lyons debuted on WWE TV for the "NXT" brand on February 22nd, 2022, defeating Kayla Inlay, who is now under the name Kiana James. Lyons has remained undefeated in singles action in NXT since arriving, recently picking up a DQ win over NXT Women's Champion Mandy Rose on the June 28th edition of "NXT."

Bianca Belair and Alexa Bliss both came over to pro wrestling following completely different paths prior to being signed to WWE. Bliss took part in fitness competitions while Belair set records in college, competing in track and field for the University of Tennessee. Following her time at the University of Tennessee, Belair took part in competitive CrossFit.

Since she first arrived in WWE in 2008, Natalya has won the Divas Championship, the SmackDown Women's Championship, and the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships. Natalya also competed in and won the first-ever WWE Women's match in Saudi Arabia, and has achieved many more accolades.

Natalya opened up further about her eating disorder and what led to it.

"My eating disorder after my uncle passed away — it was a very tragic time for our family after our uncle, Owen [Hart], passed away," Natalya said. "After Owen passed away, like, our family just went through this really traumatic time, and for me, it was about like, gaining control. I was trying in some way in my life to gain control and so like, that summer, I had lost like 40 pounds in two months and it was really extreme. And I went through this struggle for about three years.

"The turning point for me was wrestling. It was when I decided I wanted to start wrestling that I realized that I couldn't be that skinny. Like, I was wearing kids clothes. I couldn't do it. I couldn't bump ... I remember everything really hurt because I had no meat on me. I was just like, emaciated. So, I realized, 'I love this wrestling thing. I want to do this wrestling thing, I feel this, but I can't do it if I'm anorexic. Like, I just can't do it, my body can't sustain it'. So it was like, wrestling was really what I feel like change my life, changed my career, and kind of saved me."

Despite the battles she has faced in her past, Natalya has risen above and continues to be a trailblazer and record-setter in the women's division.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit After the Bell with Corey Graves with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.