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A lot has changed since the last time USA Insider interviewed Raquel Rodriguez. For starters, Rodriguez and her tag team partner, Aliyah, were in hot pursuit of Iyo Sky, Dakota Kai, and the Women’s Tag Team Championships. However, last Monday on RAW, Alexa Bliss and Asuka shockingly dethroned Kai and Sky to win the Women’s Tag Team Titles, drastically shifting the landscape of the division as a whole. In addition, Aliyah has almost recovered from her injury, meaning the former champions may be back for revenge sooner rather than later.
We thought it was necessary to reach out to Rodriguez again for another exclusive interview, during which we were able to follow up on whether or not she still has plans to go after those Tag Team titles.
Rodriguez wasted no time telling us that she and Aliyah still plan on fighting their way back into the Tag Team Championship picture and that things are looking good with regard to Aliyah’s injury. “Aliyah and I are still close and we still talk pretty frequently. You can see from her social media that she is already back in the ring just moving around and kinda getting back into the rhythm of things," the former NXT Women’s Champion explained. “It looks like things are moving for her. I can’t speak to exactly when she will be back, I’m not sure, but I will say she is eager as ever to get back in the ring and get back after those Tag Team Titles for sure.”
But first, there's Crown Jewel, which looms just over the horizon on Nov. 5. The show is set to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where women weren't allowed to wrestle until 2019 when WWE held the country's first women's match. Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are a hot-button topic, and the women of WWE have blazed a trail for everyday women in Saudi Arabia and helped inch women’s rights forward in the country, though Rodriguez acknowledges there’s still a long way to go.
“It seems like every time we go over there, something new happens for the women; we get just another inch or a little tiny step forward," she said. "I’m excited to see what happens at this show when it comes to women and women’s rights. I would definitely love to one day be a part of the Saudi Arabia shows if I get the opportunity. I think it’s amazing though. Ever since we had the women’s evolution and the first ever women’s pay-per-view, it’s been an absolute honor just to be part of the company and to be able to see those things happen and eyes open up to women’s wrestling. So it’s really, really cool that we get to see our friends and our women push forward and thrive in those kinds of markets.”
The entire Women’s division is arguably better than it’s ever been. The locker room is overflowing with world-class talent who are finally getting the long overdue opportunities they deserve to showcase their talents in the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank, Elimination Chamber match, and more. Rodriguez elaborated on how WWE must keep pushing forward when it comes to women’s wrestling and how she’s grateful for everything they’ve earned so far.
“When we had the Mae Young Classic Tournament and the women’s Evolution pay-per-view, I thought it was just all really cool. It was so awesome to not only be a part of, but to see," she said. "I think we are all looking forward to having another one of those [shows] to represent the new generation of women’s wrestlers who are kind of just getting their feet wet down at the performance center and even all over the world. You know, wrestling is kind of taking over everywhere."
Case in point: “We were just in Mexico and some of SmackDown was just in Europe so it’s just really cool to see these crowds and these people get more and more behind wrestling but also women’s wrestling in general. You just see those little girls up there looking at you and know that you get to be someone that they look up to and someone they are looking to as an example, so I would definitely love for all of that to happen — another women’s tournament, or for the division to possibly have another title if that is something that could happen in the future, I don’t know. But I think it would be good just to have that next level of competition within the division for sure," she said.
When Rodriguez talked about the live and non-televised WWE house shows that the company puts on all over the world every week, we could hear the emotion in her voice. She loves those events not only because they are fun, but because the laid-back nature of the shows allows for the Superstars to interact with the WWE Universe more than a normal show.
“They are so much fun!” she said excitedly. “There’s just so much crowd and superstar interaction and just things that we get to do that involve the crowd a little bit more. It just feels like a greater connection between us and the fans and I love them because we get to go to places we often don’t get to visit- like Mexico. I think the last time we were there was three years ago and the Mexican people are just so loving and welcoming and they just open their arms and they give you all of their energy and heart. I remember just looking out into the audience and just seeing every single face just looking up excited and smiling. It was just really humbling to be in the ring with Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles, but even more so to just stand in the middle of the arena and look up and see all of these beautiful faces just so excited. It gives you a feeling of like ‘Yes, this is amazing,’ but I can’t even describe what that feeling is- it’s kinda like fuel in a way almost. I wouldn’t trade these live events for anything in the world and hope we never stop doing them.”
The answer caused an emotional Rodriguez to again reflect on how quickly she has risen up the ranks in WWE. She only debuted in April of this year but has already become a mainstay and one of the most dangerous Superstars on the roster. She has matches with Ronda Rousey under her belt and captured tag team gold after winning a tournament featuring the best female tag teams in WWE. Rodriguez says she can’t believe she is already being compared to some of WWE’s most impactful women.
“I take it day by day because I want to succeed in everything I do, but I also want to do my very best. It’s just crazy to think I’m in the same group and category as these strong powerful women like Beth Phoenix and Rhea Ripley who are really just breaking down barriers day by day. It’s really cool," she said.
It wouldn’t be possible for Rodriguez to have such a dominant and successful start on the main roster without training like a mad woman. So, yes, Rodriguez says she is constantly in the gym and learns in the ring with hands-on experience.
“Because I’ve been on a lot of the live events and traveling with SmackDown, my matches have really been a lot of my in-ring training. Literally, just getting in there, hands-on, in the moment — it’s hard because of all the traveling we’ve been doing. Usually, I do get in the ring, though, maybe once or twice a week just to roll around and get the feel for things, maybe think of a new move-set sometimes too if I need to pull something out of my back pocket one day, just always be prepared. I’m also in the gym almost every day as well. Maybe I’ll take one day off a week, but trying to stay healthy, keeping my body healthy, keeping my joints healthy and stretching, taking my vitamins, eating enough food, and staying energized naturally. That’s definitely on my top priority list just because of all the other things we have going on.”
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