Natalya shares some words of wisdom while chatting about her experience working with Ronda Rousey.
Former SmackDown Live Women's Champion Natalya had an eventful WrestleMania weekend as she inducted her late father Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart into the WWE Hall Of Fame as a part of The Hart Foundation and two days later at WrestleMania 35, Natalya was able to compete for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships alongside one of her closest friends and WWE Hall Of Famer Beth Phoenix. Natalya was also able to see the woman she helped train in the beginning of her career, Ronda Rousey main event WrestleMania along with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.
Natalya has openly expressed how proud she is of Ronda Rousey in the past and she did so again when she joined Busted Open Radio with Bully Ray and David LaGreca prior to WrestleMania. Natalya stated that she has watched Ronda grow as a performer and as a person and explained why she gives Rousey the credit that she gives her.
“Well, it’s funny because… and I really appreciate you saying all those nice things about me just being here as long as I have, being a foundation. I appreciate that. It means a lot.” Natalya said to Bully Ray. “But, the thing is, that I have been here long enough in WWE and I’ve grown up around the industry my entire life to know who’s good, who’s bad, who’s playing wrestler, who’s full of it and who belongs in the WWE and I feel like I have enough credibility to say that just starting out with Ronda and watching her evolution in the WWE just in the last year." Natalya continued, "She’s really only been in WWE for a year. A little longer. Give or take a month or two. I told Ronda this myself: She’s got a very polarizing personality. Either you really, really like her, or you really, really don’t, but at the end of the day, she’s got people talking and there’s been some things that she’s said [that] I’ve been like, ‘Woah’, especially if you’re scrolling through Twitter and you see your name attached to it. It’s like, ‘Ronda and Nattie eating Philly cheese steaks together’. All of a sudden, Ronda Rousey says wrestling is scripted. Even if I have to stop and go, ‘Let me read that. Let me watch what it was that she said’ and for me, I think one of the great things about Ronda Rousey is that she’s got everybody talking and one [is] you might not like what she’s saying and I might not agree with all of the things she’s saying but she’s thought provoking and you watched her grow, and I’ve talked to Ronda about this a lot and the girls in the locker room: You can’t grow as a person and you certainly can’t grow in WWE unless you fall on your ass, get back up, dust yourself off and you have to keep going, and I’ve watched Ronda do that whether it’s in her promos when she first started when she was a little more vulnerable and she was trying to speak from her heart and I’ve watched her evolve, I’ve watched her put the work in. There’s times when Ronda has confided in me like, ‘Man, this is really hurting’ or ‘I’m taping my wrist up. I’m not really sure what’s wrong with it' or… she’s pushed through. She’s pushed through so many things that people don't even know or see because her body has taken such a beating from doing Judo since she was eight years old. She’s taken bumps and she’s got miles put on her body that most of the women in WWE don’t understand because... I was born and raised in a wrestling family and I wasn’t taking bumps when I was eight. You know, so that’s the thing with Ronda. She’s definitely put in the work, but I like the fact that she’s willing to take risks."
Natalya continued by speaking about why Ronda Rousey belonged in the main event of WrestleMania and one of the reasons Natalya gave was that Rousey was willing to have people hate her in order for the story to progress. Natalya then turned the clock back to when WWE taped RAW for the Christmas episode and stated that Ronda Rousey was nervous about wrestling her because the match was going to be called on the fly with no rehearsing but Ronda proved she could hang.
"She’s part of this WrestleMania main event for several reasons and one of those reasons is, that she’s willing to make people hate her to get people interested in watching the show and that’s the thing. You look at some of our most pivotal, polarizing characters in WWE… if everybody in the locker room was getting along -- if Charlotte liked Becky and Becky liked Charlotte and everybody was just friends and everybody thought each other was great, would you pay to see that in the main event? And so that is why I think Ronda is willing to… she said to me the other day, ‘I don’t care if people hate me. I don't care if people like me. I want to help change this industry. I wanna get everybody wanting to see this WrestleMania main event’ and by the way, WrestleMania is sold out and Ronda has put in the work, and like I said, she’s not perfect. She doesn’t claim to be. But I’ve trained with her first hand." Natalya continued, "The match that I had with Ronda that aired on Christmas day, I had that match after I had three other matches on a taped show, and nobody really even knows this, but that match that Ronda and I had, we called that entire match in the ring." Nattie revealed. "We didn’t have any time to plan, meet, rehearse, prepare, prep or anything. We called the match entirely in the ring, and I needed her to trust me and I needed her to listen and she did, and a lot of people think that she just trains and rehearses for weeks and weeks and weeks. She has before in the past, but she’s grown enough to the point where I can call a match with her in the ring and she listens and she made people believe and she brought those emotions that can’t be taught. That's another beautiful thing about Ronda is that she’s very emotional and when we were in the ring, she was crying her eyes out. She was scared, because she didn’t know exactly what was gonna be next because I was in the ring… I was calling it to her. We had no time to prepare. But that’s what we do. That’s how we work. That’s what being a true professional is -- is feeling the crowd, working off of emotions and telling an amazing story and if you can do that, she can hang and that’s why I give her credit.”
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Busted Open Radio with an H/T to Fightful for the transcriptions.