Bonin would enter WWE in 2010 as part of NXT Season Three which she ended up winning by defeating Naomi in the finals. She would leave WWE and subsequently retire from wrestling as a whole in 2014 to focus on other ventures.
A return to the ring would occur in 2018 when she had an indie match with Rachael Ellering. Bonin returned to WWE for the second Mae Young Classic Tournament the same year. She would make it past the first round but lose to Mia Yim in the second.
While speaking to Paquette on The Sessions, she discussed the struggles she faced in WWE and it would ultimately be her battle with her self-image that led to her departure.
“My time in WWE, it would be easy to say it fucked me up and I thought that for a long time and that’s why I didn’t do anything in wrestling for a really long time, until the [2018 Mae Young Classic]. That was such a big deal to me because I literally didn’t know how to process it. Any time that I’d do an appearance or a signing or something or talk about wrestling, I’d have these feelings that I didn’t know how to process and I didn’t know how to not have them, essentially,” she explained. [h/t – Fightful]
“Everything I looked at in wrestling, the painful shit and the things I went through and was struggling with during my time there. Also, the really profoundly beautiful things, all the opportunities, the travel, the connections, the love available to me from fans and my peers, and the deep connections that I made all of it showed me and reflected to me things that already existed in me, pain that already existed in me.”
She continues by adding that she felt she was going to get fired as another reason why she chose to ask for her release feeling that she became less and less relevant.
“I left wrestling because I thought I was just gonna get fired,” she said. “I felt less and less relevant. I had so much shame I had gained all this weight, and like my body was just giving me every signal that I was not okay, emotionally, mentally, I had so much hatred for myself, I had so much resentment for myself and like that projected outwards towards others. I was in self-destruct mode, so I just asked for my release on a day that was a really shitty day.
“I was so disassociated from so much of that day,” she continued. “Because it was so painful because I didn’t understand why I was doing these things. I just was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ For a long time, I hated the way I left because like I ripped myself out of like really the only love and support I had really in my life. But I didn’t know how to receive any of it. Like I was isolating myself. So I’m like, ‘Okay, well, maybe this is time for me to leave.’ I had gotten engaged really fast. I felt like I just needed to go on a hiatus and just figure my shit out. I left and I got a couple of months’ severance and I didn’t really have a plan on what I was going to do. I literally felt like I don’t have anything to give to share. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what my career is — I felt so lost.”
Bonin comments more on struggling with body dysmorphia which was wrestling replaced from her time prior with her fitness competitions. This has helped her connect with fans because she understands the struggles that others may be facing.
“I can see this now to me it [the business] was just replacing wrestling, and wrestling was replacing fitness and competing. So like my only relevance, I felt growing up like in my teen years, especially, I started to find my identity in being really muscular and strong. So I started working out a lot and I competed as soon as I got out of high school and that became my identity. I was like, this is the way that I’m going to get love and respect and be something in the world through this. This is the vessel and so when I started doing that, I had some success. Then immediately after the first couple of shows I did I started having like really fucked up body dysmorphia and didn’t I didn’t understand nutrition, I didn’t understand how to take care of myself.
“I think it’s why I love connecting to fans so much,” she said. “Now when I do like signings and stuff, because I’m like, ‘whatever you’re going through right now,’ because like, a lot of times people come up and they’re so nervous, and they’re just like, like a wreck. I’m like, just so you know, ‘Whatever you’re feeling it’s okay, when I was on TV, I felt like this every day.’ So, we’re all the same. It’s so cool. Because like that really gives people this ability to be like, ‘oh,’ so, wrestling became my new vessel.”
Bonin’s biggest rivalry in WWE is arguably her matches and moments with Aj Lee.
For the full interview, you can listen below –