We continue our special “Countdown to Wrestlemania” series today with a special interview with WWE Diva Natalya. The 29-year-old blond beauty has wrestling coursing through veins as the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, niece of Bret Hart and granddaughter of Stu Hart.
Natalya is proudly carrying on the family legacy as the first third generation diva who has gained a legion of fans with her technical prowess in the ring. Not to mention her drop dead good looks that might confuse the casual spectator into thinking she can’t whoop some behind!
Scott Fishman from The Miami Herald and I chatted up Natalya last week to learn more about the campaign Pin-Up Strong which she co-created with good friend (and WWE Divas Champion) Beth Phoenix.
“Six to eight months ago we were kind of on a crusade to change the diva’s division,” Natalya said.
“Our diva’s division has so many strong and powerful girls, but we kind of felt like we broke the mold. The term diva has kind of evolved over the years from the Wendi Richter’s’ of the past like the Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young. You had Wendi Richter, ‘Sensational’ Sherri and Miss Elizabeth. Then it sort of evolved more with the likes of Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Lita and all sorts of women. Now you have the modern day diva with me, Beth Phoenix, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox, the Bella Twins and so on.
“We felt we still broke the mold of the modern day diva. We felt we broke the mold of even the modern day diva. The two of us together, throughout our entire careers, have been compared to each other. They say, ‘You guys are so alike.’ We get mistaken for twins. Every time we are in an elevator together people think we are twins. We are so much alike, but different in a lot of ways.”
Natalya says the ‘Pin-Up Strong’ movement wasn’t planned. Fans got behind the two’s message of breaking down barriers and standing confident in your abilities as powerful women.
“We are very different from all of the girls,” Natalya said.
“We respect the other girls, but we pretty much broke the mold and kept tradition alive. Tradition to me is very important because I come from a very long lineage of wrestling excellence, wrestling royalty. So for me, keeping the tradition alive was important. We wanted to be more than just pretty faces. We wanted our WWE Universe to see extremely competitive girls. If I’m a fan watching from the sidelines, what do I want to see? What I want to see is what Beth Phoenix and I are. We are highly competitive divas that push all the limits and are, what Beth said once, willing to suffer for our craft.
“I think the WWE Universe can connect with that. They can connect with divas like myself and Beth who have an extreme passion for our business. You can’t replace hard work for anything. There is just no substitution for it. To me, that is what being ‘Pin-Up Strong’ is all about. It is embracing the bold, bright person that is inside.”
The female powerhouses stand out among the current crop of divas because they are as much beautiful as they are physically intimidating. Natalya is under the mentality that you have to change, adapt and grow as individuals or be left behind.
“There is nothing wrong with being a beautiful Barbie doll like Kelly Kelly, but we are ready to take it o another level,” Natalya said.
“We have to continue to evolve because the WWE Universe is becoming more and more sophisticated. They want to embrace girls who are not just size zero or size two. Sexy is confidence. Being sexy is embracing what you have. There is nothing sexier than a confident woman who is willing to go to the ring and get the job done. The fans expect nothing but the best from us. Beth and I aren’t just going to stay in this same bubble where we are just like Trish Stratus. We respect Trish Stratus and all the women before us, but just like those women helped their generation evolve, we have to help our generation evolve.”
“Of course there is friendly competition, but I really look up to her,” Natalya said.
“She is a couple of years older than me, but so she is a big sister to me. She is unconditionally supportive of me, and I’m unconditionally supportive of her. We don’t always agree on everything. We don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, but that is what I like about our relationship. We can always tell each other how we feel. I always equate Beth to being my sister because I have two sisters, and they both grew up in the wresting world with a big wrestling family like the Harts.
“We would have little arguments and then be friends five minutes later. Beth and I have never had a huge argument, but we have a relationship that she is like a family member to me. My whole family respects her very much. I feel such closeness to Beth that I can tell her how I feel. We can be a little competitive, but we also share a lot with each other too. She has helped me come up with different moves, and I have helped her come up with different submissions. We both take our own areas of expertise as Beth is more power, and I’m more submission technician…I really couldn’t ask for a better friend than Beth.”
Even though Natalya and Beth are the best of friends, you can’t help but want to see them battle it out in the ring!
My dream match would be against Beth, Natalya explained very enthusiastically! It would be like Bret v Owen!!!
But I wanted to start a bit of beef between Natalya and another Diva, so I asked her who she would like to challenge!! Someone other than Beth of course!
“I think that myself and Beth both have our eye on Kharma…I think she would more than have her hands full with myself or Beth. I would love to personally practice my new German suplex on her. I know it would be really hard to get my hands around her waist, but I would love to get in the ring with Kharma. She may be the biggest, most dominating diva in WWE, but I came from the Dungeon. My whole family was raised to be winners. It’s not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog. So maybe Kharma would be up for challenge.”
When she is not making divas cry in the ring or working out, Natalya enjoys winding down with some of her favorite television shows. It’s an interesting mix to say the least.
“I love court TV,” Natalya said.
“Anything that is Nancy Grace or Cold Case Files or Investigation Discovery, I love. I’m so interested in anything that has to do with law and court system. When this whole Casey Anthony trial was going on I was glued to my TV. I knew everything about the case. I felt like I was practically a lawyer there. I love investigative reporting and all those kind of shows. I’m also a huge fan of the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ for some reason or another. So yes, court TV and the Real Housewives interest me.”
- Watch Natalya on WWE programming each week on Raw 9 p.m. [ET] Mondays on USA Network and 8 p.m. [ET] Fridays on SyFy. WrestleMania 28 comes to Sun Life Stadium 8 p.m. [ET] Sunday, April 1 in Miami Gardens. For full details, visit their official website.
- Make sure you follow Scott via his official Twitter here, where he posts links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. He can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.
- For more wrestling news, check out the wrestling section of The Miami Herald here.