Fighting

Interview with WWE SmackDown Women’s Champ Alexa Bliss

WWE SmackDown women’s champ Alexa Bliss defends her title against the SmackDown Live women’s roster during WrestleMania 33 on Sunday, April 2 on WWE Network from Camping World Stadium (Citrus Bowl) in Orlando.
WWE SmackDown women’s champ Alexa Bliss defends her title against the SmackDown Live women’s roster during WrestleMania 33 on Sunday, April 2 on WWE Network from Camping World Stadium (Citrus Bowl) in Orlando. Photo By Jim Varsallone

Physically, she stands just 5-feet tall, but professionally, she stands atop the mountain as the WWE SmackDown Women’s World Champion.

On Sunday, April 2 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Alexa Bliss makes her WrestleMania debut as a champion, Queen of the Hill. Quite the feat.

“If you would have a told me a year from now that I would be going into this WrestleMania as the SmackDown women’s champion, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you,” she said. “It’s been a journey, and I’m super excited.”

Bliss has another hurdle to conquer, probably her greatest in-ring challenge as she must defend the title at WrestleMania 33 against every women on the SmackDown roster.

“It’s definitely intimidating with myself against every women on the [SmackDown] roster,” she noted. “I personally thought [SmackDown GM] Daniel Bryan was doing that as a personal dig at me because we have our little banters on ‘Talking Smack’ [after SmackDown Live on WWE Network]. I told him on ‘Talking Smack’ that I felt he was taking it out on my personally, but I also told him I’m a fighting champion. I’ll play along. I’ll have this match, and I plan on leaving WrestleMania as SmackDown women’s champ still.”

Hard to argue.

An inspiration, Bliss proved size doesn’t matter. Her determination, drive, hard work and ability to adapt set the foundation for this opportunity in a WWE squared circle -- an opportunity that the two-time SmackDown women’s champion is running with all the way to WrestleMania 33.

“Winning the title the first time, it didn’t sink in til about a week after, but going into WrestleMania, feeling the vibe of WrestleMania, what it is, the spectacle of it, how big it is, it will set in as soon as I walk out on that stage, for sure.

“It’s the biggest moment of my career, and it’s the one moment that everybody who comes to WWE, who’s in NXT, who’s on Raw, SmackDown, this is the moment that we all train for. This is what we prepare for, and this is a moment that everybody wants to reach in their career.

“The fact that it’s in Orlando, and I’m going in as SmackDown women’s champion, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

With beautiful blonde hair, a nice figure and a gorgeous smile, she is very cute, a heartbreaker, but don’t let that pleasant exterior fool ya. This once NXT fan favorite -- who added pretty blue coloring to her hair and eyes, sported a ruffly blue/white skirt, hugged and high-fived fans and happily provided glitter (yes, actual glitter) while skipping about the ring -- is now a a full-fledged heel, adapting to that role exceptionally well.

No more Sparkle Splash. Proper term Twisted Bliss, and even her theme music changed. Apropos, it’s “Spiteful,” literally.

A big moment occurred on Dec. 4 at the TLC pay-per-view in a SmackDown women’s title match against then champion the fiery Becky Lynch. Bliss beat Lynch for the title, but it wasn’t easy.

“It was an amazing, amazing moment,” she said. “It was intimidating at first going into the match, a tables match, because I’d never had a tables match. Whoever wins is the one who puts their opponent through a table first was really intimidating for me. I’m 5-foot. I’m not very tall. I can easily be thrown through a table. So leading up to that match, I was thinking how am I going to put Becky Lynch through a table...if that opportunity presents itself, how am i going to be able to accomplish that.

“The fact that I was able to do that and become SmackDown women’s champion was amazing. The whole day after that hadn’t quite set-in yet. It actually didn’t set in until the week after, when I had my first match as SmackDown women’s champion. That’s really when everything sunk in, and I knew I had a big target on my back.”

In NXT, while Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch were re-defining women’s wrestling, Bliss just went about her business. Not only was she developing, learning and progressing as a singles’ heel wrestler, but she aligned with Blake and Murphy, helping lead them to NXT tag team gold.

WWE execs took notice, and when the WWE Draft occurred on July 19, she got the call. Bliss joined Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan’s SmackDown team.

The 25-year-old has come a long way from from her early days at FCW in Tampa. She signed a developmental deal in May 2013. Before the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center, prospects trained at FCW.

“In Tampa, we had three rings and the girls -- there wasn’t many of us -- it was very intimidating,” she noted. “I had no experience in wrestling prior to that.”

Bliss is from Columbus, Ohio. Athletic and agile, she participated in gymnastics, kickboxing, softball, track, bodybuilding and competitive cheerleading. She even cheered in college at the University of Akron. #GoZips

“To have gone from day one like that -- not knowing what to expect to now being the SmackDown women’s champion -- it’s been a crazy journey. It is, by far, been the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done as well.

“Having that training and having [Assistant Head Coach/Producer] Sara Amato help me along the way and the other women of NXT to help me get to where I am now and SmackDown to get me to where I am now has been an amazing, amazing process.”

Before venturing into pro wrestling/sports entertainment, Bliss attained her college degree in medical dietetics.

“It was definitely one of the accomplishments I wanted to get done, before figuring out where exactly I was going to work and what I was going to do,” she said. “Going to Akron, I was a Division I college cheerleader. It was the goal I wanted to reach. I did it for a little bit, but I was like, ‘You know what? This isn’t really for me.’ When I saw the opportunity to try out for WWE, I knew I had to jump on that opportunity for sure.”

Prior to WWE, Bliss succeeded in bodybuilding/fitness competitions at a high level. She trained under the direction of Mike Davies, a very respected man in the fitness field. She regularly competed at the Arnold Classic in her backyard, Columbus, and earned her pro card, which is a big deal in that world.

#ForeverSwag

In their initial meeting, Bliss made Davies blush.

“Here’s this little 19-year-old girl who had the sex appeal and swagger of a 30-year-old pin-up girl from the 50s,” he said. “What you find out about Lexie is that she’s scrappy, tough-minded and the type of girl who’s driven beyond a normal person her age. I knew as soon as we sent her video into WWE should would make it to the next step, and then when she did, I knew that they would love her. They did. She’s been a star in every walk of life she’s chosen to go, and if she stays healthy, she will be an all-time great [sports entertainer]. Her time in the fitness world was brief and amazingly successful. She’s a hunter. She conquered that and moved on.”

http://www.mikedaviesfitness.com/

A fan of Rey Mysterio Jr., Bliss decided what she wanted to do with her life. So she went to WWE.com and found the application link for “Do You Want To Be A WWE Superstar,’ and the rest is history...Well, sort of.

“My mom’s actual response was, ‘The he** you are...You’re not doing that.’ She’s like, ‘Lexi, there’s women like Chyna [6-0, 180]...Lexi...Chyna. You are five feet, and you’re 100 pounds. You’re going to get killed in the ring.’ I was like, ‘No. it’s fine. I’m athletic. I can handle it.’ I definitely went against my parents’ words and tried out, and I’m so glad I did.”

Bliss is actually very close to her mom [Angela] and dad [Bob].

“I wouldn’t recommend going against your parents’ words any other time, but [chuckles] it paid off.”

Her mom just didn’t want to see her get hurt.

“My parents have been super supportive, but that first conversation...that was...I honestly wish there was a camera there to actually capture that moment, because it was definitely one for the books [chuckles].”

Her parents attended the TLC pay-per-view at AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas when Bliss won the SmackDown women’s title.

“They were the first people I saw after I won it,” she said. “Then I text my best friend Kailyn. She was super excited. She’s into the whole WWE thing, too. She loves it. So she was definitely the first person I contacted.”

Her parents proudly greeted her backstage. Bliss almost did not make it to that point. As a teenager, she nearly lost her life because of an eating disorder.

WatchMomDadTalkAlexaBliss

“It was so great to have my parents there [AmericanAirlines Center], because my mom, she’s been my support system throughout this whole thing from day one...moving down to Orlando and helping me with everything,” Bliss said. “To have her there was amazing. If she wasn’t there, she would have definitely been the first person I would have text. Her and my dad.”

Her mom, dad, grandparents will be attending WrestleMania 33 Orlando.

“I’m super excited,” she said. “They’ve never been to WrestleMania, and it’s going to be very interesting [laughs], but it will be a lot of fun.”

Extra Bliss

Bliss attended the University of Akron, which is where Miami Dolphins great and soon-to-be NFL Hall of Famer Jason Taylor starred.

Being from Columbus, Ohio, she is a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

AlexaBlissTwitter

http://www.wwe.com/superstars/alexa-bliss

  • WrestleMania 33 is live on WWE Network on Sunday, April 2 from Camping World Stadium (the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando.
  • WrestleMania 33 will be #BlissVsEverybody. Alexa Bliss defends the SmackDown Women’s Championship against all of the Women of SmackDown Live.
  • WWE SmackDown Live is Tuesday, April 4 at the Amway Center to conclude WrestleMania 33 Week in Orlando

http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/33#full-detail-40020442

WrestleMania is more than just a one day event; it is a week-long celebration.

In addition to WrestleMania 33 on Sunday, April 2 at Camping World Stadium (formerly the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando, other events include:

Thursday, March 30-Sunday, April 2: WrestleMania Axxess – WWE’s four-day, interactive fan festival at the Orange County Convention Center.

Friday, March 31: The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Amway Center.

Saturday, April 1: NXT TakeOver at the Amway Center.

Monday, April 3: Raw at the Amway Center.

Tuesday, April 4: SmackDown Live at the Amway Center.

Plus, WWE will host activities designed to give back to the local community during WrestleMania Week including “Be a STAR” anti-bullying rallies, hospital visits and Make-A-Wish events. There will be more than 25 events hosted by WWE during WrestleMania Week.

Be a STAR

“Everybody has their own things that they think about when dealing with bullying or things that are going on in their life,” Bliss said. “I just always try to say, ‘Don’t let other people determine your self worth.’ As long as you feel good about yourself, that’s all that matters, because no one can take away who you are, and you have to know that you’re worth more than what anybody else says about you.”

www.wrestlemania.com.

Orlando (and Orange County) is very excited to be hosting WrestleMania for a second time. In the past nine years, WrestleMania has generated more than $700 million in cumulative economic impact for the cities that have hosted the event, and that includes WrestleMania 24 in Orlando.

@WrestleMania

TwitterWWENetwork

@WWE

SmackDown Live is 8 p.m. ET Tuesday on the USA Network.

- Pro Wrestling On The Web

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/

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