Natalya discusses her WWE Crown Jewel bout against Lacey Evans.
History was made at WWE Crown Jewel when Natalya and Lacey Evans competed in the first-ever women's match in Saudi Arabia. Appearing on Busted Open Radio, Natalya detailed the emotion she felt leading up to the match and performing in front of the Saudi Arabia audience.
"I was crying before I left Gorilla (position). I was overwhelmed with emotional because I knew this match was bigger than me, Lacey, and WWE. There is nothing like this that the women in WWE have ever done before. The magnitude of being the first, the experience was transcending. It was for little girls and women everywhere, who had a dream, and we got to open doors that have never been open before. That was overflowing in my heart."
She continued, "This is more than just wrestling. It's about creating moments. The moments are what last forever, not the championships. It's about the way people make you feel. I was so inspired walking down the ramp and so overwhelmed with emotion that I almost felt like I couldn't feel my legs walking down to the ring. It was a surreal, almost out of body experience. Like I was talking to my Dad. I felt like in that moment, he was there with me too. I feel like he had a hand in every star perfectly aligning for us."
Natalya and Evans have worked many matches together in recent months in a feud that culminated with a Last Woman Standing match on Oct. 7. The following week on Raw, the two women were aligned based on a mutual respect following the feud. At Crown Jewel, the two worked a friendly bout without the typical heel/face dynamic.
"I have a different respect for Lacey Evans after this week," she said. "Even when I first started working with her, there were moments where she would get under my skin or get on my nerves and it's because she was new. Of course, I'm always gonna help everybody out. But she grew on me so much over the last couple of months and then this last week, she showed me a different side of her that I never knew existed. I feel like Lacey was brought into my life for a reason. Before we went out, I said to Lacey, 'Remember, tonight is not about good vs. bad. It's about respect, athleticism, and introducing the Saudi Arabia audience to what we do. We want to make such a good impression that we can have a women's battle royal here or the first-ever women's championship match. But we have to tread carefully and slowly. Let's worry about our characters on another night and let's wrestle tonight and make it about respect. Let's give them something they'll remember and be entertained by.'"
After the match, Natalya and Evans embraced in the middle of the ring. On the outside, they hugged women at ringside before leaving together. Though some thought one woman at ringside was an associate of WWE or the two women, that was not the case.
"Before we went out, I said, 'Let's walk up the ramp together.' I don't care that I won, I want to celebrate this together. We both won. We got out of the ring and the people were trying to hug us. People keep asking me, 'who was the woman that hugged you?' It was just a woman in the front row who wanted to be hugged. We just hugged everybody," said Natalya.
The match elicited "this is awesome" chants from the crowd and WWE has continued to tout the success of the match. Natalya was back on Raw on Monday, teaming with Charlotte Flair to defeat The Kabuki Warriors.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit Busted Open Radio with a h/t to Fightful for the transcription.