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Being one of the longest tenured women’s Superstars in the WWE hasn’t always been easy and for Natalya, she says she’s finally hitting her stride and feeling at ease in the division. She recently spoke with Channel Guide Magazine about her transition into a heel, how important cancer awareness is to her family, this upcoming season of Total Divas, and much more.
On transitioning into a heel: “It’s challenging. What feels comfortable to me is being good. What feels normal to Nattie is the way I’ve been portrayed. I was vulnerable on TV, sympathetic where I have had moments where I have felt overlooked and sometimes where I naturally slipped in the babyface role because that is who I am. I kind of realize that with the struggling to prove myself and prove what I can do, I feel it made the fans sympathetic, and they could relate to me. Now I’m on this other side of the coin as a bad girl. It’s challenging because I’m still trying to convince the audience I’m bad and not to like me. When I come out, I want them to boo me. There are times when I come out they don’t boo me. I don’t want them to cheer me because then I feel like I’m not doing my job.”
On SmackDown’s new talent: “SmackDown is interesting because now you have all these new girls that are on this even playing field. I’m playing this new role, Nikki Bella is coming back from injury, Becky is still pretty new, Alexa Bliss and Carmella are still new, Eva Marie is just starting to get her feet wet with her role. We are all kind of starting out, even though I’ve been in the company for a while. It has been six years since I’ve been a heel, and I didn’t last really long as a heel because the audience didn’t buy it. So I’m really excited about the challenge. Hopefully I get a storyline I can bite into that is totally awesome and the fans can totally embrace it.”
On the introduction of new cast members and the return of old ones for Total Divas: “I think it’s great to have new cast members, but you need to have familiar faces for the audience. It’s like watching the Kardashians and not having Kim, Khloe or Kourtney. It’s important to have the new integration, but it’s nice we still have the originals like myself, the Bellas, Eva and having Naomi again is amazing because people feel connected to us. They feel we are their friends. Then you integrate someone like Lana. I think she is really going to pop on this season of ‘Total Divas.’ She shows a wide range of emotions and personality traits. She damaged one of my vehicles. I’m not going to say what she did, but it was pretty bad, and my dad was with her when it happened. I wanted to body slam her and put her in the sharpshooter on my front lawn. I didn’t but came very close. Then she sent me about 15 text messages after where I just wanted to get a new phone at that point or throw it in a lake.”
On breast cancer awareness and her family: The topic hits home for her since Nattie’s grandmother passed away from breast cancer at the age of 65 and her uncle Bret Hart was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year. “I wish there was more research, and that we could have done more for her when she was going through it. That was when I was 18. I feel like, all these years later, to be a part of WWE and have them giving back the way they are. We are raising a lot of money and changing people’s lives. By raising awareness and raising money for research and helping support people going through it and their families, this is something I wish we had more of when my grandmother was going through it. There is a part of me that thinks, as sad as it sounds, if we had more research then maybe she would have lived. So moments like that makes me want to spread awareness for this even more. The more we know about breast cancer and show that support to people going through it, the better. Just knowing that we have their back really helps their morale.”
What else do you think Nattie should do to differentiate herself from the other heels? Are you excited for the upcoming season of Total Divas? How would you book Nattie in the SmackDown division? Sound off in the comments below.