Not all WWE divas are from the dance floor, runway or stage.
Natalya is from the dungeon, the legendary Stu Hart Dungeon — a rough and tumble place, a basement in the late, great Stu Hart’s mansion in Calgary, Alberto, Canada where aspiring wrestlers went to test their mettle and see if they had what it took to do it.
Natalya had what it took and did it.
Dungeoned by her uncles Bruce and Ross Hart, she is the only female graduate of the Dungeon. The stellar list of graduates also includes Superstar Billy Graham, Greg The Hammer Valentine, Chris Jericho, Jushin Liger, Brian Pillman, Bad News Allen, Lance Storm, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, DH Smith, Jim The Anvil Neidhart, Tyson Kidd and Bret Hart.
Also trained in amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts, Natalya is the first third generation female wrestler and first in the legendary Hart family to win WWE women’s gold when she defeated Lay-Cool (Layla and Michelle McCool) in a handicap match at the prestigious Survivor Series pay-per-view in 2010.
Prior to WWE, Natalya — also known as Nattie Neidhart, the daughter of Jim The Anvil Neidhart of Hart Foundation fame — wrestled in Canada, England and Japan. She inked a developmental deal with WWE in 2007, seven years after her pro wrestling debut. She wrestled for WWE developmental groups Deep South Wrestling in Georgia and then Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa.
In 2008, the solid 5-5, 140-pound wrestler became a WWE diva and eventually morphed into a WWE hybrid diva — someone with experience, intelligence, leadership skills, looks, power and most notably a ring acumen.
Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked her No.4 of the best 50 female singles wrestlers in the PWI Female 50 in 2011.
Natalya puts her best foot forward, whether it’s dancing with Khali, managing the Hart Dynasty or babysitting the newbies during WrestleMania 29. She is a team player, but her main objective remains a WrestleMania moment inside the ring.
Currently, she is having plenty of moments as one of the main figures in the new reality series Total Divas (10 p.m. EST Sundays on E!). The show follows the lives of WWE divas The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki), The Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi) and Natalya along with rookies Eva Marie and JoJo.
“‘Total Divas’ is going to take Natalya to the moon and back,” she said, “because it’s going to actually give people a chance to see who I really am and what it is I stand for. It’s going to give our WWE fans and people all over the world who are watching our show a chance to see what I’m all about, and it’s going to give them a chance to connect with me as a person.”
Natalya, 31, was approached by WWE about appearing on the show, and she never looked back.
“It was really surreal to be asked to be a part of it,” she said, “and I’m really, really grateful to be on the show, but I never really thought I’d be on a reality show, because I thought you had to kind of be a hot mess or a train wreck to be on one.”
“‘Total Divas’ is totally different. Yes, there is a lot of drama, but it’s actually a really cool take on a reality show. I don’t think there’s anything like it right now on TV.”
Natalya has learned to adapt.
“It’s all about rolling with the punches,” she said. “Luckily, I don’t have any skeletons in my closet, and I don’t have anything to hide. So it’s a cool experience to be able to get out there on the show and show people who I really am. Whether you like me or hate me, you’re going to see who I am, and I feel like you’re going to respect me more after seeing it.”