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WWE's Mandy Rose Explains How She 'Manifested' Her NXT Women's Championship Reign

Mere hours after defeating Zoey Stark at Heatwave, Mandy Rose spoke with USA Insider about using her opponent's weaknesses against them and what comes next.

By Chris Phelan
Mandy Rose walking towards the ring

At Heatwave on Tuesday night, Mandy Rose successfully defended the NXT Women’s Championship in conclusive fashion. After targeting Zoey Stark’s surgically-repaired knee throughout the match, Mandy removed Zoey’s brace and put it on her own leg to deliver a vicious version of her bicycle knee finisher to capture the win.

Just like that, another challenger had been vanquished, paving the way for Mandy to reach the 300-day mark as champion in the near future.

At that point, the ending of the match might as well have been a foregone conclusion; Zoey could barely stand on her own by the end of the match, and we’re willing to bet she’ll be limping for the foreseeable future.

But back to Mandy Rose.

When you’re a great champion, there is no time to rest on your laurels. Which is why we were a little shocked when Mandy agreed to an interview with USA Insider barely 12 hours removed from Tuesday night’s title win — barely enough time to catch her breath after such an intense match.

First and foremost, congratulations on the victory. If you don’t mind, talk us through that match. Was your strategy all along to focus on that surgically repaired knee?

Honestly, it was. You know, I knew I was going to focus on that knee. Zoey has been out for 9 months and her knee was her most vulnerable body part. My thinking was to go after that knee and that’s why I’ve been champion for almost 300 days. Because it’s more about strategy at this point, right?

Exactly. You ended up picking up the win after taking off her knee brace and using it against her. We all thought you broke her face. That sound of you hitting your bicycle knee was such a loud *CRACK* – the act of you using her knee brace, was that improvised or was that an ace up your sleeve that you always felt you could play if the time was right?

Yeah, it was definitely an ace up my sleeve. I think, you know, going into this match, I knew I had my hands full. I knew that Zoey Stark is an incredible athlete and probably one of my toughest challenges thus far since I’ve been champion. So I knew I had to … find something else, as well.

Sometimes there’s other ways to get around things, you know? You gotta use your brain sometimes. You have to have a plan.

Was there any point in the match when you thought she caught you? When you thought, “Oh no, I might lose this title”? At one point, she hit you with her finisher. You managed to roll out of the ring to avoid being pinned, but were you skeptical at all during the match that you’d walk out the champion?

I have to say, no, not during the match itself — because I was confident enough to keep going after that knee. And even when she had an opening to hit her finisher on me, I knew it wasn’t going to be her normal finisher on two strong legs. At that point, I knew she was going to be weak.

I knew her execution wasn’t going to be as perfect as it normally is because I was beating down that knee the whole time. So I was pretty confident. Like I said, it’s all about strategy.

Zoey had a moment and an opening but she couldn’t get to her feet quick enough, and that was because I worked on her knee so much.

So give us a peek into the real Mandy Rose. You win another hard-fought match and once again you retain the NXT Women’s Championship. Is it time to relax? To celebrate? What do you do after a hard-fought victory?

You know, it’s a little bit of both. I love to celebrate and give myself a little pat on the back and think about what my next challenge is going to be.

Obviously, relaxing and taking care of your body is really important — and training the way I do, I always need to relax and recover. But at the end of the day, I have a target on my back and I know that there will be another woman waiting to step up.

In one of my recent videos I posted on social media, I listed all the women I’ve plowed through. So many different women, but I know there’s going to be someone else targeting me whether it’s next week or the week after. I just always have to stay ready, and that’s always been my mentality — not waste any time.

So it’s back to the gym, back to the ring. Just really focusing on my grind and staying ready.

Let’s shift focus a bit to the rest of Toxic Attraction. It almost seems like — and I don’t want to say you’ve outgrown them — but it seems like you’ve been more than capable on your own over the last month or so. It seems like you haven’t needed to rely on Gigi and Jacy as much at this point in your title run.

You know, we’re a tight-knit group and we always have been.

I led them to gold and I definitely showed the world who Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne are, especially due to my star power and social media presence and all that. But at the end of the day, I want them to both be able to stand on their own, and I think they’re both very capable of standing on their own.

I also think, yes, we need each other at certain times, but we don’t need each other at other times, like last night for instance. Everyone probably thought I was going to lose my title because my girls got ejected from ringside, but it just goes to show I can win on my own — and I did.

I look at it as strategy, like we were talking about before. And the same goes for them, I know they’re still on the hunt to regain the tag team titles, and they will. Gigi and Jacy are both stars and I’m really proud of all the work they’ve put in since I’ve been here.

That’s something that nobody can argue. So as everybody is well aware, you’re approaching the 300-day mark as NXT Women’s Champion, a reign that has been marked by total domination over the entire women’s division. Is there a goal in mind for you for this title reign? I know Asuka holds the record at 526 days as champion. Is that something that has crossed your mind? What’s next for Mandy Rose as champ?

You know, I obviously think it’s amazing that it’s been going on 300 days as NXT Women’s Champion, and I know I preach about this a lot, but it’s true: It’s not so much about the numbers for me.

I mean, yeah, Asuka was champion for over 500 days, but it’s not about the length, it’s really about what I’ve done in these past 300 days. I’m looking at what I’ve done in the last year since I came back to NXT and what I’ve done with my career and the constant evolution and revamping of who I am.

You know, I remember not knowing why I was sent back to NXT — but it didn’t matter, because, in my eyes, I just looked at it like “This could be a great opportunity for me.” And I saw the vision, and with the help of some others, we manifested that vision and it came to light and it’s just really cool to see that. You know, I just always had this feeling of knowing that it was going to be something really good.

Staying positive — that’s a really big thing for me. Some people can be negative and get down and think the worst, but I’ve always been a positive person and I’ve always known my potential and what I’m capable of. So at the end of the day, I make sure it’s going to be great for me because I make it great for me.

So if my title reign keeps going and I pass Asuka and hold the record for longest NXT Women’s Championship reign? Awesome. I think that would be an incredible achievement.

But also, do I want to get back on RAW and SmackDown and dominate there as well? Of course. One day I think that’ll be amazing, especially alongside Toxic Attraction.

But honestly, I don’t know what’s in the future for me. That’s how I’ve always been — I live in the moment, I take things day by day. But when the time is right, I think it’ll be really amazing.

Be sure to check out USA Insider in the coming days for part two of this exclusive interview, where Mandy Rose will go in-depth discussing her career, her training, and more!

You can check out all of Mandy Rose's time in the WWE Universe on Peacock and catch her on NXT 2.0 on Tuesday nights on USA Network.