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Exclusive: Mandy Rose Peels Back Her 'Toxic' Exterior To Discuss Her WWE Career
Ahead of her Triple Threat match at Worlds Collide on Sept. 4, USA Insider spoke to Mandy Rose about her WWE career thus far.
Over the past 300 days, Mandy Rose has been busy — whether it’s being the most dominant NXT Women’s Champion in recent memory or lighting up social media outside the ring, there’s been barely enough time for the 32-year-old Superstar to enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation.
With the announcement of a Triple Threat match at Worlds Collide on Sept. 4 that will serve to unify both the NXT and NXT UK women’s titles, that crucial downtime obviously isn’t part of her itinerary just yet.
Thankfully, she was able to set aside some time for us at USA Insider for an interview.
In the first half of our interview, she spoke about her epic title reign and the events that happened at NXT Heatwave. This week, she candidly opens up and pulls back the curtain on her life and career so far.
I thought it was interesting when you mentioned previously that you weren’t really sure why you were sent to NXT after years on RAW and SmackDown. What was your headspace like at that moment, and how do you think it’s worked out so far?
Oh, I definitely think it’s been a positive experience. And you know, it’s not just about me — it’s for everyone who’s made that move.
I think in our business you always need change, and change is good. I think there’s a lot of amazing athletes and talented men and women who go through this, and it’s so important for their careers because you know, sometimes you need to evolve.
I have to say I’ve been really enjoying my time in NXT. Not just obviously based on what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved but also because of the opportunity to help the other women. Because it’s not always about wrestling — that’s just one part of the total package. It’s not like I have all this experience in the ring — I don’t. My days participating in Tough Enough were my first days actually wrestling and getting in a ring.
So it’s more about helping the next generation of women with intangibles, whether it’s social media, whether it’s helping the girls on how to present themselves as a Superstar, or advice on what to do when they reach RAW or SmackDown.
You learn a lot of things here in NXT — and there’s a lot of things you don’t necessarily learn — but I’ve been through it all. I’ve been up on RAW and SmackDown so I know what works and what might not work. But everybody’s different.
I really didn’t know why I was going back to NXT — but like I said before, I had a vision and I knew that this could be something really good.
I didn’t get down on myself, I never got negative because there’s always room for improvement. I always saw coming back to NXT as a new opportunity, not as a demotion or anything like that — and I’m just really thankful that I had that mindset because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in the position I find myself in today a year later.
You touched on social media a little bit just now. You yourself could teach a master class at the WWE Performance Center on how to utilize social media to your advantage. There seems to be a pretty big chasm between Superstars like you who use social media as an extension of who they are on television and the Superstars who don’t take advantage of it at all. How vital do you see social media existing within the current landscape of WWE?
Social media is extremely important! When I first got to WWE — starting out with Tough Enough 7, 8 years ago, however long it’s been — I had a little bit of a following because I came from fitness and I was competing. And I did a lot of that on my own.
That’s when I first realized — and this was when social media was getting big of course, not where it is today — that this is a great platform for anyone to basically do anything, right? It’s like an open canvas.
So I came with a little bit of a following from fitness and I haven’t been afraid to go back to my roots and I know that’s my niche. I just always love engaging with my followers.
But I think the involvement and the engagement is extremely important and obviously WWE has the very best social media platforms and I think it’s amazing to use it to your advantage. And that’s what I always preach to a lot of these women — and men — when they ask for advice or whatever it may be. I’m always like, “Guys, use this to your advantage.”
I always go back to this story when I was in fitness and just starting to build my social media following.
So I have three older brothers. And my brothers would kinda make fun of me here and there — like, you know, as a joke — because I would do little marketing stuff. For instance, I would do this seasoning thing and they used to make fun of me because I would be doing little videos with it. And you know, between the selfies and the bikini videos or whatever — they would laugh but I would always tell them, “Hey guys, you’re laughing but I’m doing this for business. I’m going to make a lot of money one day, just wait!” [Laughs.]
And you know, nobody really believes you in that moment but now obviously, my brothers are super proud of me and now we always joke around about it.
But every Superstar should be using it to their advantage. And to your point, that’s how we can engage with the fans. And that’s how DaMandyz Donutz started as well with [WWE RAW Superstar] Sonya DeVille and myself — we wanted to show fans how we interact outside of a WWE ring.
They see us as these larger-than-life characters on TV, but you know … we’re people, right? So we want to show them who we are.
Based on your fitness background and being a “homegrown” WWE Superstar, your career arc has always been compared favorably to the career of Hall of Famer Trish Stratus. I think it first started off obviously based on the similarities in your appearances when you both debuted, but the trajectories of both of you have been similar. Do you credit anybody in particular with your in-ring training? Anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to that helped with the development, especially somebody who maybe the fans don’t know about?
There have been so many people — so many coaches, producers, and writers that really have had my back and always believed in me. Even developing stronger relationships with them in the sense of, they know that I’m such a real and genuine person at the end of the day.
The comparisons to Trish Stratus have always been really awesome and flattering to me, to be honest. I mean, Trish Stratus is one of the best and she’s amazing so I love that comparison. I’ve always looked up to Trish in that sense because I’ve always wanted to be that from the day I got here — especially without knowing much about the business.
I’ve always known that I’ve had the looks, and the body, and the presence but I wanted to bring it and back it up in the ring. That’s always been my biggest thing.
And like you just said, now I feel like I’m finally there and I’m at this point and I can finally bring it. That’s why I always say “put some respect on my name” — because that’s what it’s all about.
Fans and critics out there … you know, they’re always going to think how they’re going to think. That’s fine, but at the end of the day you can’t deny the work I’ve put in and ignore my credibility at this point. Anyone can say whatever they want to say but at the end of the day, I can back it up in the ring. That’s been the biggest thing thus far in this NXT run for me, personally.
I would definitely say [WWE Performance Center Assistant Head Coach] Sara Amato [was a huge influence]. She’s always been amazing and she really “gets” me when it comes to the ring work. In fact, Sara’s the one who taught me that bicycle knee — my finisher. She just had this vision. She came up to me and she said, “You know, I feel like you could throw a really good bicycle knee.” And this was like years ago during my first run in NXT.
And I remember saying, “Oh, you think so?” So I practiced it and I just started nailing it. Sara was like, “Yup, I knew it.”
She just knows my natural style and skill set and what I’d be good at and what I wouldn’t be good at, you know what I mean?
And I also would say, especially in this current run in NXT, Coach Bloom has always been there for me and always showed his support and helped me in so many ways — especially for my match at Heatwave against Zoey Stark.
[NXT Head Writer] Johnny Russo also is somebody who I have to mention as well. And Shawn Michaels has been nothing but amazing to me since I’ve been here.
With Triple H recently promoted to Head of Creative in WWE, I was wondering if you could speak to the morale and the overall feeling of the locker room. I don’t know if you can tell while you’re out there performing, but the shows have had a real special energy over the last month or so.
The morale has been great from what I’ve seen and been around.
I think it’s awesome having Triple H “back in charge” in the sense of heading up creative and other aspects of WWE and NXT. I’ve always gotten along well with Triple H. I think he’s extremely logical and obviously his expertise — that’s a given, he’s unmatched.
I just think it’s going to be really good and I’m excited to see what’s in the works for the future. I know it’s just the beginning for all three brands so I feel like it’s really going to be awesome. And so far I think that morale has definitely been lifted a bit, for sure.
One last question and then you’re off the hot seat — and I apologize if you’ve been asked this before but it would be great to officially have it on the record. Do you prefer being a blond or a brunette?
[Laughs] Ah, I would have to go with being a brunette, actually. I’m digging the brunette, I don’t think I’ll be going back to blonde anytime soon!
Brunette definitely gives you that extra edge — and hey, it worked for Trish Stratus!
You can catch Mandy Rose take on Blair Davenport and Meiko Satomura at Worlds Collide on Sunday, Sept. 4, when she’ll attempt to unify the NXT and NXT UK women’s championships in a Triple Threat match. You can catch it live on Peacock!