Steph De Lander (Persia Pirotta) Talks About Being In The Cross Hairs Of NXT and NXT 2.0

The former Persia Pirotta found herself in the midst of major changes when she joined WWE.

After being established as the WWE brand that brings the best in-ring work to the table, NXT underwent significant changes in Summer 2021. The black and gold brand began to focus on more of a character driven product, as well as undergoing significant changes in the presentation and production of the show.

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Many new talent also began to be featured as a part of the change. Persia Pirotta was one of those new talent, as she debuted in-ring on the October 12th, 2021 episode of NXT 2.0 after being signed earlier that year in March.

In a new interview with Fightful, Lander talked about being caught in the cross hairs of the brand's overhaul and how it was a gradual process.

"There was a huge transition. I think I arrived really right as it was changing over. Obviously COVID changed a lot of things within WWE, but I literally arrived as they were wrapping up the Black & Gold era, doing the last couple of TVs as NXT Black & Gold. I think Triple H was there for a few weeks and then, obviously, he had his health problems and he disappeared. So I came in, literally as I’m arriving and settling in, all these huge changes were happening. The first thing I ever did was be a bridesmaid in Indi’s wedding, which was the first ever 2.0 episode. So I was right smack bang in the middle of all these changes."

Lander continued on, noting that she was worried about her position when the changes at the top began to take place.

"It’s one of those things where it was a lot and you see it and you process it as you’re there and if you know enough about wrestling and business and WWE and all of those things, you know that things go in waves and you know that there’s trends that they want at a certain time. You can see if you fit into that or if you don’t. You can also see who is being positioned for certain things and who isn’t. I think the best way to break it down is, all of the people that hired me don’t work for WWE anymore. I was hired by Regal. I was hired by Canyon and Triple H. Obviously, he’s still involved, but he is not in the same role that he was before. So I think that kind of says it all. All of the people that wanted me for this Black & Gold brand, well the brand doesn’t exist any more and also the people that wanted me don’t even work there. So I think all of those things you process while you’re there and you go, ‘Oh. This isn’t good.’ But it is what it is."

Lander also noted that things didn't seem concrete and that the changes to show were basically coming one by one.

"I think because it was such a transitional period, there wasn’t a concrete sit down, ‘Hey guys, this is what we’re doing.’ It was in bits and bobs. It was, ‘Oh, we’ve got this new song by Wale and we’ve got the colorful logos and we’re refitting the arena.’ So these changers were happening each week slowly, but it wasn’t like an instant, ‘Bam, we’re changing everything over.’ But I think that was all down the line. I’m not even sure if the real top people, like the people that run NXT, I’m not even sure if they 100% knew what was going on with the changes. It was just flying by the seat of your pants, just like it always is in wrestling and taking what comes at you and working with it and making the most out of it. It wasn’t a bam, one meeting and we’re flipped. It was more of a gradual process."

Despite the fact that most of Lander's run in the WWE was filled with turmoil, she recalled her favorite moments with the company.

"My favorite thing that I did, I think, which is pretty ridiculous, was when I had a triple threat match that was meant to be me Jacy Jayne and Io Shirai and Jacy Jayne just dies. Then I went on the fly with Io for six minutes. I think that was my second match on TV. To be in that situation and to be able to keep it cool and work through it with Io, that was such an amazing feeling. I’m really grateful to be able to do that. Obviously, the ladder match for the titles was amazing. I had a lot of cool moments for a year, but the thing that sticks out of like, ‘I’m so glad in hindsight that happened,’ I’m really glad for that." Lander said. "Because I feel that was a huge, really in the deep end. Like, I didn’t know how TV wrestling worked at that point. I didn’t know how anything worked. In that moment I literally stood up and looked at the turnbuckles and I saw the WWE on the turnbuckle and I said, ‘I’ve been in a wrestling ring for five years. It’s the same thing. Doesn’t matter if it’s live TV show. It doesn’t matter if Shawn Michaels is on the other end of the headset. I know how to wrestle. Right now, all of the plans are completely out of the window, I just have to wrestle.’ So I think that was a really cool moment, personally, for me."

Elsewhere in the exclusive interview, Lander spoke about Indi Hartwell and how there were plans to turn on her. Click here to see her full comments on the matter.

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