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Exclusive: Carmella reflects on her controversial Money in the B...
Published by: |   (0) Comments      Read MORE      Filed Under: Coverage, Smackdown Live

Carmella’s Money in the Bank contract cash-in on Charlotte Flair on the SmackDown LIVE following WrestleMania 34 was the culmination of four challenging years for The Princess of Staten Island. Starting out in NXT as a manager, many doubted she would reach such heights after her associates were called up two years earlier.

As you’ll see in this exclusive Q&A with Princess Mella, the doubters only fueled her desire to accomplish everything she wanted – by any means necessary.

WWE.COM: After WrestleMania 32, you were on your own in NXT for the first time. What was that like?

CARMELLA: To be honest, I was super devastated. I didn’t know what was going to happen with my career now that I was separated from Cass & Enzo. They were on Raw, and all I ever knew in NXT was being with them. Triple H told me it was because he saw me on my own and I could be fine and successful on my own, but honestly, I was a little scared. I wasn’t sure what the next step would be for me, but I knew no matter what, I had to be successful and put in as much work as I possibly could to improve and get better and make it on my own, to prove to everyone that I was more than just a manager, that they made the right decision keeping me on my own.

WWE.COM: Let’s fast-forward a little bit to the 2016 Brand Extension and the WWE Draft. What was it like on that night?

CARMELLA: Watching the Draft, we were all at the Performance Center. I had no idea what was going to happen. You see all of your colleagues getting called up and we’re watching it happen on this big screen. All you can do is hope that you’re going to be one of them. And then it came down to the very last pick, and I thought “Oh God, I can’t believe I’m not going. This is devastating.” And then it was me!

WWE.COM: How did you feel after that?

CARMELLA: Immediately, I thought it was so exciting. I get to go to the WWE roster and be on SmackDown LIVE. And, it was only about three months after the boys had gotten called up on the night after WrestleMania. To me, it was so exciting that after just a short time of being on my own in NXT, I proved that I could do this on my own, and I got drafted to SmackDown LIVE.

WWE.COM: Did being the last pick in the Draft motivate you at all? Did you want to prove that you should have been taken higher?

CARMELLA: Absolutely! I love that I was the very last draft pick. A lot of fans and other people looked at it like “You’re excited? You’re the last draft pick, almost an afterthought.” In my mind, I was like “OK, I’ll show you who the afterthought is.” It lit a flame under me, just like when I didn’t go up with the boys. It was another motivating factor for me to do my very best and prove to everybody that I was going to do big things, become champion and do all the things they said I can’t do.

big things, become champion and do all the things they said I can’t do.

WWE.COM: How did you feel about your early days on Team Blue? What was adjusting to life on the WWE roster like?

CARMELLA: When I was in NXT, I never wrestled on a TakeOver. I didn’t have too many high-profile matches, I probably wrestled about 10 matches in total on NXT TV, including the one championship match against Bayley, which was so much fun and my favorite match in NXT.

But, aside from that, I didn’t have much experience. I spent most of my time being a manager. To get up to SmackDown LIVE and have my first match on live TV, I was so nervous. I think the way my first year on SmackDown went was perfect for me. I eased my way into things slowly. I didn’t get these crazy opportunities right away. I wanted to continue to work and improve on live events and figure myself out. I had to make some changes when I split from the boys, but I didn’t let it get me down. I used it as fuel for the fire to get better and reinvent myself, which is how I got to be the moonwalkin’, trash-talking Carmella you see on SmackDown LIVE every week.

WWE.COM: Your first major rivalry on SmackDown LIVE was with Nikki Bella. Did that give you a taste of what it takes to make it on the main roster?

CARMELLA: I was nervous, but I knew I had to take the opportunity and run with it. The fans loved her, so it was easy for me to get the WWE Universe to hate me. I learned a lot, but I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. We had a great rivalry, and it gave me the opportunity to get on the microphone, which was so much fun. It was awesome to be able to work with her.

WWE.COM: After that, you took one step closer to the SmackDown Women’s Title, albeit in an unusual way. What did you see in James Ellsworth that made him useful to you?

CARMELLA: He was in the main event picture, wrestling AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. I knew no one would ever see that coming, me using him to get where I wanted to be. That made it fun because no one expected it, and because none of the women have a male manager. It presented a lot of cool opportunities, like wrestling John Cena & Nikki Bella, and my victory in the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, which had everyone up in arms.

WWE.COM: Let’s talk more about the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. What did it mean for you to be a part of that match?

CARMELLA: It means everything, we made history. To be able to be a part of it was an honor. I’m not going to lie: I was really scared and a little nervous when they told us it was going to happen. They pulled us into a room and told us, but said, “We need to make sure you’re all on board and willing to do it because it’s going to be dangerous and tough.” Everyone was nodding their head yes, including me, but inside, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m the smallest girl in the match, I’ve never done anything like this, I don’t do any high-flying moves or jump off the top rope,” so I was so nervous. We all knew we had to make something epic so there was another one next year. Not only was there one the next year; there was one the next week.

WWE.COM: You may not be a high-flyer, but you had James Ellsworth in your back pocket. Were you thinking about his involvement as you planned a strategy for the match?

CARMELLA: Absolutely, I had an insurance policy in James Ellsworth. Everyone else was out there by themselves. They could jump off the ladders all they want, do all the flips and dives, but while they were doing that, I had James. Obviously, he worked in my favor.

WWE.COM: After your victory, you faced quite a bit of backlash. How did you deal with all of that coming your way, whether it was on social media or from your fellow Superstars?

CARMELLA: I pay it no mind. Everything I do is over the top. When I do something, I want everyone to be talking about it. And that’s what happened – I was trending on Twitter for like three days. I think my strategy worked just fine.

I pay no mind to the haters and everyone that doubts me, everyone that was upset about it. I thrive off it. They’re still talking about me, whether they love me, hate me or love to hate me. I don’t care. I’m Carmella — the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner.

WWE.COM: …and also the second…

CARMELLA: Oh, that’s right! I did win the second! [laughs]

WWE.COM: Did you revel in sticking it to your haters even more?

CARMELLA: That’s exactly what I did. Everyone said I couldn’t do it, that I had to have a man win the first match for me. It doesn’t matter because I won the second one. They said it was because of James Ellsworth, but I didn’t see him on top of the ladder grabbing the briefcase. I grabbed it and I won. I proved everyone wrong, and I shut them all up. I was the first Ms. Money in the Bank, and the second.

WWE.COM: Once you had the Money in the Bank contract, why did you wait so long to cash it in? Did you enjoy lording it over the division?

CARMELLA: It was great! People said Charlotte or Tamina or Natalya, whoever, was the most dangerous woman in the division, but having that briefcase and contract made me the most dangerous. I didn’t even have to be on TV; I could just sit in the locker room and wait for the perfect opportunity to cash it in. I loved it. I got in Naomi’s head, I got in Natalya’s head, but Charlotte was the perfect choice [to cash in on]. She broke Asuka’s streak; she did the impossible. That means she’s better than Asuka. I cashed in on Charlotte, so that means I’m better than her and I’m better than Asuka.

WWE.COM: What about the detractors who think you held onto the briefcase for too long?

CARMELLA: I do things on my time. A lot of people were giving me backlash for bragging about being the longest Money in the Bank holder, but my name goes down in the history books. Not only am I the first and second Ms. Money in the Bank, but I’m the longest Money in the Bank holder in history; I beat Edge’s record. The more history we can make — not only me, but the women in general — to hold records is super important. I’m proud of it.

WWE.COM: The SmackDown LIVE after WrestleMania, you cashed in on Charlotte Flair. What made that the right moment?

CARMELLA: At WrestleMania, there’s so many big moments, and I didn’t want it to get lost. I wanted everyone to be talking about it. The SmackDown after was the perfect opportunity. Charlotte did the impossible and broke Asuka’s streak. The WrestleMania Week crowd is such a special vibe. Plus, my parents and family were there. I wanted them to see it. It was perfect.

WWE.COM: Once the referee counts three and you have the SmackDown Women’s Championship in your hands, what’s going through your mind?

CARMELLA: All of the hard work that I’ve put in over the last few years. Everything came full circle. I thought about being the last draft pick, not debuting with Cass & Enzo on the Raw after WrestleMania. I thought about everyone doubting me, telling me I’ll never be champion, that I’m just a hype girl. I thought about all of that and … the feeling I had was indescribable.

I love proving people wrong. I love doing things that people say I can’t do. I started my journey in NXT four years ago, and now I’m champion. People can complain and say whatever they want, but I’m still the champion. I did it. I’ll never forget that feeling.

WWE.COM: You’ve still been dealing with your fair share of detractors on social media lately, including those who think your title win is tainted because of The IIconics’ attack on Charlotte. Ultimately, what do you have to say to those who think you don’t deserve to be where you are today?

CARMELLA: At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks I deserve. I don’t deserve anything; I earn it. I worked hard and put in the effort. People say that I went off what The IIconics did, but that’s what every single Money in the Bank holder did — wait for the perfect opportunity. You don’t just wait for the champion to be up and then have a normal title opportunity. You have to be sneaky. You have to do it in the way that guarantees a title win. I didn’t want to cash in and lose it.

At the end of the day, I don’t care what anyone says because I did everything the way I wanted to do it, and I won.


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