Diva Dirt’s own Gerry Strauss sat down recently for an exclusive interview with La Sicaria herself, Ivelisse Velez for the first Curtain Call.
Ivelisse is widely known for wrestling on the independent scene most notably from SHINE Wrestling. She has also spent years in the Lucha Underground promotion.
Fans of WWE may recall her time on the show Tough Enough where she may not have won but was signed to a developmental deal with the company. Although this is where a lot of fans first recognized her, this is far from the start of her journey.
Strauss first dives into her past from growing up in Puerto Rico, to her love of wrestling, and the moment she almost quit and went a different way. Tough Enough came at the right time for Ivelisse as she was about to turn to MMA instead. Ivelisse was unable to complete her time on the reality show due to injury.
Strauss mentions how certain talent have been handled after coming off of the competition show. Some are either in developmental for a long period of time or some are pushed to the main roster, perhaps a little too early.
She started in Florida Championship Wrestling which was developmental to WWE at the time. It since evolved into NXT. Ivelisse explains her thoughts on how she wanted things to go once she was signed.
“Of course I would have rather just gone straight to the main roster. But, I mean again, yes I was going into that (Tough Enough) with no connections, no networking whatsoever.”
She mentions that the only people she knew in the company were from Puerto Rico and that was the Colons. From there she further explains in detail the concept of politicking.
“They were technically the only ones I knew and politics-wise that I knew, everything else was me going from scratch trying to prove myself to them and build who I am within whether outside or inside of the company. I felt like I had to prove myself to them in a different way aside from just skills.”
She continues, “When I went there, I quickly showed who I am and what I bring to the table skills-wise, but obviously, as always the politics side is where I lack. I don’t have a lot of networking, people that I know, the politic pool is usually where I end up lacking. It is very important, no matter what. Especially as a female as a well. At that time going in we were still in that transition in getting changes for the way they viewed the Divas. Hence that’s how the whole Anti-Diva thing came up.”
The Anti-Diva persona was one that both Ivelisse and Paige shared. Right about the time that this ideology started to take off is when she was, unfortunately, let go from the company. She gives a lot of credit to a WWE Hall of Famer for his backing of the idea.
“The Anti-Diva thing went well. I really feel like at that time the only reason why the whole Anti-Diva thing that me and Paige did was because of the support that we were having from Dusty (Rhodes). He was all for it. He loved it. He was the one who was pushing with us for that Anti-Diva thing and that was pretty awesome. So I thank him for that.”
After she was let go from WWE, she explains the obvious feelings of her dreams being crushed. Once she went through that state of mind she was running full force to the indies. She was determined to get all of her hard work showcased.
She took the Anti-Diva character to Family Wrestling Entertainment (FWE) and then subsequently to SHINE Wrestling.
“I just went forward from that. Being completely myself, Feeling free to be completely myself and doing everything that I couldn’t do. No holds barred, or anything like that. Eventually after a little time in the indies and moving forward with that type of momentum, I landed in SHINE and forever grateful to them always because they gave me that chance. Somewhere steady, that I could steadily show that.”
Ivelisse took part recently in a WWE tryout trying to make her way back to a place where she credited a lot of her learning happened.
At the time that she was with WWE the clear shift of change from the Diva’s era to the current era was imminent. She was able to do just that through her time with SHINE and other indie promotions.
She had the following to say about her hope of one day being in WWE again:
“So now I’m hoping that I can come back to WWE and get that chance to be part of it, and do the same thing. Do what I love, and have passion, and hopefully on a grander scale and that all of that was for a reason and there’s a payoff.”
Treat yourself to the full interview with Ivelisse above where you can hear how much wrestling means to her. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Check back in with Diva Dirt for future interviews on the Curtain Call.