Exclusive: Maxine Reveals Why She Left WWE, Lack of Progression in Company, NXT & More

“If you want it come and get it, because I won’t be around for long…”

Former WWE Diva, Maxine, aka Karlee Perez’s entrance music in WWE was an eerie foreshadowing of her career trajectory in the company. After a brief but strong run in WWE, Perez announced her departure from WWE last month–and now she’s speaking out on why.

Speaking exclusively to Diva Dirt, the former Maxine reveals why she opted to leave WWE, her plans for the future and whether the door has been left open for a possible return. Karlee also speaks on the reaction from her fellow WWE colleagues, the reaction to her departure — fans talking about her “not paying dues” — and more.

The intelligent Perez, who has a degree in Criminology, also offers a unique insight to her time in WWE and the behind-the-scenes issues the Divas face, for example the lack of progression available, with Divas often sitting on the sidelines.

Perez also speaks to us about her time in WWE ranging from how she got signed, to her time on the all-Divas season of NXT, and her star-making turn on NXT Redemption in the fantastic love triangle storyline with Derrick Bateman and Johnny Curtis.

We also grill Karlee on her unique WWE character; from being an aggressive heel, to her incredible microphone work, and her in-ring style.

This is a must listen interview, so check it out below!

Stream the interview below or download the MP3 audio file to your computer by right-clicking here and selecting ‘Save Target As’.

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Follow Karlee on Twitter: @KarleeLeilani.

Tweet about the interview using the hashtag #MaxineDD.

What do you make of Karlee’s thoughts? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Litawasrobbed

    Uh oh! She used the word stepping stone. Lets see If the same people riding her 2-5 months ago are still on board. PS: while I agree with a lot of what she says she sounds a tad self satisfied.

    • FoxyKimLover

      Lick on the right click link It works for me I’m on iPod touch soo it’s the same thing

    • nitesaver

      I tend to avoid the comment section here.

      Anyone Diva especially who isn’t think using WWE as a stepping stone is truly foolish. Work the average length of a Diva’s career in WWE. Now compare that to how many years there after that until someone’s retirement.

      You can only bump, trade on your looks and work the WWE schedule for so long as a woman.

  • TheFallenAngela


  • SherriShepherdWWE

    i really dont believe Maxine was there because she wanted to wrestle and be there, i think she was there because she say it as a way to become famous and be on TV
    and she sold me on that when she said “sitting there getting older…I didn’t want to sit anymore.” some girls sit there for years waiting for the chance to happen and train hard and all that, to me she realized her stardom dreams werent gonna happen as quick as she would have hoped so she left
    however, i did like her as a character, wrestling wise i found her to be one of the weaker wrestling divas, so it wasnt a really big lose to the division :(

    • http://www.diva-dirt.com Melanie

      You didn’t listen to the interview did you? Just the YouTube clip?

      • SherriShepherdWWE

        no i actually did listen to the interview, and i still feel the same way, thats why i posted this again lol

        • charmed_diva

          I actually have to add that Rosa has been with WWE for how long, and it hasn’t happened for her yet! It’s just how bad you want it, and how long you are willing to stick with it. Noami is starting off as a dance for Brodus Clay, and she hasn’t left. If you really want to be in the WWE you have know it’s gonna take time, and I honestly believe that if Maxine would have stuck with it she would have been thrust into the spotlight soon. Maybe WWE felt she needed more training in the ring or something. Kaitlyn the winner of NXT was barely used when she won, and she is still hanging in there. Maxine, obviously, didn’t want it bad enough.

        • SherriShepherdWWE

          i agree Charmed_Diva well said

        • http://twitter.com/lostmikeys Kaledrina

          i think there’s a difference between wanting something bad enough and wanting to do something more emotionally fulfilling. rosa, naomi and kaitlyn may be extremely happy with their positions in the company and that is great for them if they are but everyone’s different.

        • nitesaver

          Why should she take a vow of poverty to impress fickle people here?

        • http://twitter.com/lostmikeys Kaledrina

          ^ because once somebody steps into the spotlight, apparently the public own them haha. as a fan of maxine i totally think it sucks the way she left so soon and sudden.. but i’m a bigger fan of supporting strong, independent women, and karlee’s decision displayed both of those things, so good for her.

        • Shan

          I agree with Kaledrina. Why should she stick with it knowing the WWE’s track record with their women as of late? Shecould’ve waited along forever and not gotten anywhere. Look at Nattie, she’ a great in-ring performer and where has she gotten? A dropped storyline everytime they even bother t ive hr one?

  • charmed_diva

    I listen to ten minutes of this, and cut it off. I’m sorry, but I have to agree with, Sherri. Maxine wasn’t there, because she wanted to wrestle. Maxine was there to use WWE as a stepping stone. I’m pretty sure she expected to be the next, Stephanie McMahon, of the WWE, and get offered projects, etc. No big loss in my opinion.

    • nitesaver

      Why would someone go to WWE of all places if they want just want to wrestle.

      Maxine was the one with her eyes open not you.

    • lelloo7

      i agree with u charmed_diva…i actually did the same

      • Kim099

        i agree with nitesaver on that one

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/200984-chris-b TrishMelinaFan

    Wow. After this interview I have just SO much respect and understanding for this woman. I’ve always found her compelling as a character but as a person even more so. I just love people who take matters into their own hands and don’t let their destiny be determined for them, which is why I think I love Karlee so much more now.

    She wasn’t going to sit there like everyone else acting like everything was fine and dandy, oblivious to the ever-present fact that WWE doesn’t give the women a lot to work with. And that’s fabulous!

    Incredibly talented, very intelligent, and unforgettable. I wish her the best in the future, cause I swear we were best friends in another life <3

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/200984-chris-b TrishMelinaFan

    Oh, and I totally ate my words about the preview clip, which I expected (and hoped) I would. She isn’t self-entitled, she just knows how hard she’s worked and what she’s earned.

  • WWFoverWWE

    Such a beautiful interview, one of the best Diva Dirt has ever done. I got teary eyed a little lol.

    Thank you, Maxine!!!

  • http://twitter.com/lostmikeys Kaledrina

    she seemed to have major input into her character. makes me oddly pleased that she never did make ‘the big time’ if it would’ve meant her compromising the character of maxine.

    also, kudos to her for wanting better for herself, the way she’s taken control of her life is pretty inspiring. i’m.. my age(!) and still don’t know what i want to do when i grow up, lol.. so for somebody still relatively young, she’s got a good head on them shoulders. =)

  • lbthewrestlingnerd

    I hate when WWE hires “divas” and not wrestlers – they don’t care about WWE, they just want the TV time and to use it as a stepping stone – no respect for the business, they don’t pay dues, and they take the spots of women that deserve to be there. I think Maxine could have made a decent valet/manager though, she had mic skills. Maybe a more talented woman can take her spot. I’m glad she’s happy though.

    • nitesaver

      @LBTHEWRESTLINGNERD “I hate when WWE hires “divas” and not wrestlers – they don’t care about WWE, they just want the TV time and to use it as a stepping stone – no respect for the business, they don’t pay dues, and they take the spots of women that deserve to be there. ”

      This is an imaginary standard that seems to only exist in the comments section of this site.

      • lbthewrestlingnerd

        No, it doesn’t

        I care about WRESTLING, and many people do too

        I don’t want horrible wrestlers in the ring. They don’t deserve to be there and shouldn’t be there.

        Real wrestling fans don’t want to watch “divas”

        • lelloo7

          they don’t have to be amazing wrestlers to wan t to be there… you have the divas that waited for so long to get a spotlight… look at kelly.. i am a huge fan of hers, and i admit she’s not the best wrestler.. not even close, but she has passion and she wants to be there, if she didn’t she wouldn’t strip on ecw, get destroyed on smackdown, make her debut on raw in 2008 and be just a jobber.. through 2009, they changed her storyline, from winning the championship to losing to maryse just cz she didnt pose for playboy, the one who got mocked by laycool…but still, she’s here… she didnt lose hope, and that’s one of the “models”

    • nitesaver

      Point me out a “wrestler” who can talk and act better than Maxine?

      • T@KESH1

        taking into account disparity of opportunity, heel/face status, potential (mostly looks) etc. I’d say she was better than most.

        Eve = Maxine
        Natalya = or Maxine
        Kaitlyn > Maxine

        Here’s a pretty inarguable comparison point – none of the others ATE IT on commentary (refer Maxine’s last NXT appearance I believe)

        • T@KESH1


          Aj > Maxine
          Maxine > Beth
          Maxine > Tamina
          Maxine > Layla
          Maxine > Alicia Fox

      • lbthewrestlingnerd

        Act and talk? None. That’s what I liked about her, her acting and mic skills. But to have her in the ring, noooooooooooo

        • elsimate

          She got really good towards the end

    • http://divaderby.net/ DivaDerby

      Well, you need both. If you’re just good at wrestling you won’t last in the WWE. The top superstars/divas talk a lot. Look at RAW, the start of RAW is usually 20min of talking. A wrestling show that has THAT much talking. To succeed in the WWE nowadays you need to be able to wrestle, talk and act well. You really need all 3.

      • lbthewrestlingnerd

        Just keep the “talkers” out of the ring. She couldn’t ever wrestle

        • Shan

          She could wrestle. She just did more mat-based and submission moves which not many people are interested in. Which is pretty funny since that’s what wrestling originally was.

  • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

    I agree with her how long do you wait when you want a family,get married & so on…
    i respect the fact she had the balls to leave when she could have waited but even i know it would have been a long time there was nothing on the main roster for her to do…
    I wish her luck in whatever she does..

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/dsanchez96?feature=mhum sanchezdiego96

    Regardless of her saying WWE was a stepping stone, you cant deny that she did love doing what she did. And she was different and really did her best to not be the happy go lucky girl. I still think she could have been a good championship contender. I love how blunt she is. She strikes me as the type of person who doesnt care if you agree or disagree with her opinion because she’s gonna say it.

  • http://divaderby.net/ DivaDerby

    I get her, I bet someone that feels similarly is Kaitlyn. We here at DD often feel frustrated that they are rarely on TV, now imagine how they must feel. Well, all we can do is hope for the best for Maxine and the other WWE Divas. Some divas get a lot, some get very little. But, if I was a diva, I’d be optimistic since the WWE will be having a lot more TV time in the future. Raw is 3 hours, Smackdown is 2 hours, the new show is 1 hour and on top of that you have Superstars & NXT. That’s A LOT of TV time. The divas usually have one segment on all those shows. Then there’s the WWE Network that might be happening in the near future. But, I can also see how waiting can be frustrating.

    • Raekon

      Kaitlyn actually loves sports (ex soccer player and bodybuilder), is very athletic and very passionate on the wrestling side of her job so even she isn’t featured as much because she belongs to the newest girls in the company, she seems to be patient and doing the best out of her situation.

  • Matthew

    Great interview!
    Great to hear her honest opinion on things – and I wish her the BEST of luck in the future.
    I love how the door has been left open for Maxine, for a possible return, with the selfish side wanting her back in WWE, I hope everything works out for her. She is a great all-rounder and I would love to see her in some big projects in the future.

  • jayjayholler

    I love Karlee she’s brutally honest and very straight up, loads of respect for her. She’s not fake and they really could of used that more to her AND the company’s advantage.

  • TheLadySamantha

    I think Diva Dirt is the only place on the internet that has people jumping on the “I love Maxine” bandwagon.

    • elsimate

      You think wrong.

      • TheLadySamantha

        I never think wrong.

    • http://twitter.com/lostmikeys Kaledrina

      commenters here were loving maxine since before the all-diva nxt. i don’t think such a bandwagon exists, just consistency for a change.

  • Raekon

    Good interview DD, thanks a lot!

    I liked her character on NXT and FCW and was actually baffled when I saw that she wasn’t as PG as the wwe usually is so I guessed she got more freedom when it comes to this storylinewise which she, kaitlyn, derrick and johnny worked greatly all together.

    Totally hated it when they just cut off all storylines just like that only because it was a web show.

    Anyway, to me she was more a character than a wrestler because she couldn’t be as athletic as the other girls on the roster and unfortunately, that showed even after 3 years within the division.

    Wish her all the best for her future and I hope she will get a chance to showcase/play her character or any character were else.

  • lelloo7

    LOL people… don’t say kaitlyn wanted to be a wrestler.. she has it in her.. and whatever.. her first match was on screen.. if she cared enough she would’ve trained !!1

    • redsandman99

      In fairness to Kaitlyn, she had about a month of training before being thrust into a match on TV before she was ready, similar to the way Ashley and Kelly were thrust into matches before they were anywhere near ready.

    • Acrant

      She was training. They just put on her on right away to replace giant girl.

      • redsandman99

        Exactly. If Aloisa hadn’t been a bust she would have just been in FCW rather than being thrust on to NXT. They put her with Vickie then to get her sympathy points and to try to help make the fans forget how bad she was in the ring.

    • malejiva

      But Kaitlyn has improved a lot, if she doesn’t care she’d suck. I mean, she sucked on NXT, but she’s a great wrestler now.

  • redsandman99

    If she didn’t want to wait then it was good she left. She had potential as a character but overall I don’t think her leaving is as big of a loss as some people on the site think. That’s just my opinion of course.

    • redsandman99

      She’ll be more of a lost potential rather than a blow to the division itself is what i’m saying.

  • Quisee

    I can’t speak on Maxine’s true intentions of being in WWE because I don’t know. But I feel like she was wasted talent who could have went far in WWE if given the chance. I understand where she is coming from and believe and agree with her.

  • lbthewrestlingnerd

    They should have to be talented wrestlers to be there. If you can’t wrestle well, get the hell out of the ring

    If they cared about the business, they would have trained properly or even gone to the indys. The women I’m talking about are the ones that get signed by WWE with no experience and train, but are still horrible, like her

    • Jake

      Tell us how you really feel. I don’t think we have ever heard your point of view on this situation.

      • lbthewrestlingnerd

        Well, you people seem to keep commenting on my comments saying

        They do care!
        They want to be wrestlers!

        No. Not even close

        Stop saying those things and I won’t repeat myself on that subject so much

        • lbthewrestlingnerd

          Oh and don’t forget “They don’t need to be wrestlers to wrestle”

          LOL pathetic

        • TheLadySamantha

          “They don’t need to be wrestlers to wrestle” That’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever read here. I really hope someone didn’t say that.

        • lbthewrestlingnerd

          I’ve heard it before, I’m not sure if this post though. By that they mean the women don’t need proper training and experience to wrestle a match. Which is sadly the way WWE is. I and anybody with a brain says that if you want to step in the ring, you need to be a talented wrestler. I have to keep repeating myself because these blind marks just don’t get it.

        • Jake

          “I and anybody with a brain says that if you want to step in the ring, you need to be a talented wrestler.”

          How can you become a talented wrestler when you can never step in the ring?

    • http://twitter.com/lostmikeys Kaledrina

      at the end of the day, wwe is a tv show and tv shows need performers, people who can act, talk to crowds and tell a story, more than they need incredibly talented athletes.. maxine was a performer.

      luckily we live in this digital age where if we want a five star match between women to watch, we can have one on our computer screens in an instant.. wwe has always been more about the dumb, exciting, sometimes creative, sometimes bland storylines than they are about the actual wrestling. and they always will be.

      • http://twitter.com/lostmikeys Kaledrina

        a great example is michelle mccool. great, talented wrestler but never connected with the mainstream because she simply couldn’t act for toffee. on the flipside, there’s the likes of stephanie mcmahon, even sable or vickie.. could barely take a bump but could out-act, garner stage presence and out-talk the best of ‘em. would trish stratus have been trish stratus if she cut promos like michelle did? we’ll never know, but i kinda doubt it.

        i just think that the acting side of things is just as, if not way more important, than the wrestling side when it comes to wwe. and maxine was incredible at what she did on that side of things.

  • http://twitter.com/RyanRoman0 Ryan

    WWE really needed a woman like Maxine..the next Stephanie McMahon so to say. I really would of loved that. I mean she ran FCW and did a GREAT job! One episode where she is getting security to stop some guy from bashing his way in…she was a total boss. I do believe in paying dues…but that is a none existant thing in WWE…working hard can lead nowhere and wwe just wants women as maniquins man looks that way they dont utilize them in any way…really pisses me off.. Im happy for AJ but AJ cant be the entire WWE Divas. You need that diversity. One thing I liked about Maxine is that she wasnt scared to go after a diva and take her down. She wasnt scared to get destroyed either. With that being said she was decent in the ring yet nothing special. But her persona…theres no one like Maxine nor will there ever be. Huge potential loss for wwe but they dont care and dont seem to realize it.

    I saw Triple H n steph yesterday and said wow…ppl KNOW who these are, they know their history they know their relationship. With WWE now those are none existent for their current . The whole thing is flawed n is upsetting to start picking it apart. Thats why with WWE u have to treat it like a biz n nothing more…enjoy the ride n thats it.

    Miss you Maxine you were a hell of a woman…too much woman for ww-WEAK to handle

  • DitzyDivas

    Those of you upset with the term “stepping stone” are either ONE dimensional or you’ve forgotten you yourself have been through different stages in growth, career, relationships! Kudo’s to Maxine for taking a leap into advancing her ( at her age) career, FUTURE, cause not too many Divas leave with a CLUE of what their going to do after WWE! Will they have babies, husbands, can they act? Wrestle somewhere else? Or is their goal to stick around as long as Vicki?
    Also, is it weird AJ is GM, had love triangle, married in a ring…after Maxine’s NXT character did that already? And Aksana, why is she in Maxine’s original FCW gear, hairstyle with bangs, black hair? Seems Maxine was a leader, just copied to use her ideas other divas! AJ was most noticed on NXT when Maxine came back and NXT sucked until Derrick, Maxine and AJ ( who they demoted to NXT) made it “watchable”! I think she made a great character that carried a lot of others into the spotlight for the time she was there.

  • Katie

    Girl was never patient, says a lot about her character. How can you leave after being on the NXT roster for maybe 2 years because nothing was happening? Please. She was slowly grooming into a heel which is something WWE needs right now. When she left, it was a clear indicator to me wrestling was never in her heart. Say what you will about Bellas, Kelly, etc, at least they stick it out.

  • Al

    I don’t understand the hate being thrown at Maxine; she basically has the opinion that we have. We complain about how Divas aren’t used or given any time, and she, as a Diva, didn’t like that. When she saw that it wasn’t going to change, she left. Props to her; why should she stay in place where she’s not being used and not being given the chance to grow? Like she said, if she had gotten a storyline with Layla, she would’ve wanted for it to be developed properly, but we know that wouldn’t have happened. I would have left if I had been in her position as well. She’s an ambitious woman who wants to keep moving forward and not be stagnant, and if she’s not in an environment that will allow her to keep going, she’ll leave it as she should.

    But I suppose everyone needs to be like Nattie; be happy with just sitting there for years without being used, and when she is used, she’s not given any real opportunity because the company doesn’t care about the women. I guess to prove you have passion you should smile while the company treats you like crap.

    Also, Maxine didn’t throw any shade AJ’s way. What she said was right. AJ can’t be the only woman used, they need to build up the other women as well.

  • cofcman

    I get what she’s saying and, had she been with WWE for 6 or 7 years, I’d agree. HOWEVER, she’s acting as though they never let her do ANYTHING. Wasn’t NXT (as awful as I thought it was) centered around her for a whole season (if not more)?

    She was even starting to get a little time on Raw. The problem I see here is that she had an expectation of things to go a certain way in a certain amount of time and they didn’t. I’m glad she left if she was unhappy, but she makes it seem like this big injustice was done towards her.