Former WWE Diva’s Champion and current Mae Young Classic competitor Kaitlyn recently spoke with ESPN about how NXT/WWE has changed since she was last there, the importance of the MYC and where she sees herself succeeding in the near future.
On her early days in WWE and how they have changed since returning for the Mae Young Classic:
“I do have an interesting story. I debuted on NXT season 3. NXT was still a reality-based elimination show, and I debuted on live TV. I basically wrestled my first matches ever on TV. I was pulled up as a last-minute replacement on that season, and I had about three days to prep for my debut. I didn’t even own wrestling boots. They gave me some money. I had just gotten signed by WWE, and they said, ‘Go buy diva stuff,’ and I, of course, didn’t know what that meant, and they didn’t let me wear any of the stuff that I bought! [Laughs]
“So I debuted, and I kind of had this attitude of ‘This is what I signed up for and I have this amazing opportunity — what have I got to lose?’ I was put in so many situations that were so terrifying that I felt that they were very defining. I won that season of NXT, and I earned a spot on the main roster. I fought really hard for a few years to earn the respect of my peers and [show] everyone in the WWE Universe that I was capable and that I belonged on the main roster.
“When I left, I didn’t have anything to do with wrestling for four years. Within the past year, I found that passion again, and I’ve gotten back in the ring, and it’s definitely something that I was missing — a void in my life for the past few years. It’s incredible to come back and see where the women’s division is now. When I left in January of 2014, I had a great run, and the women’s evolution was kind of kicking off, but there’s been so much amazing stuff, so many amazing moments that have happened and have been very defining for the women’s division.
“I think even not calling us Divas anymore is huge. It’s so nice to come back and see all these different types of women, different shapes, sizes, different cultures, with different arsenals of moves, and being celebrated. I’m so, so proud and very honored to be a part of the Mae Young Classic.”
You were a champion the first time around…
“I did. That taught me that I have the heart of a champion, and I have what it takes to win, basically. I did it once before with no experience, and I did a lot of cool stuff, and I was champion. I had a lot of amazing matches, and I wrestled all over the world. All of that certainly prepared me for this, and I have also gone through a personal evolution over the past few years — a personal renaissance is what I call it. I learned a lot about myself and who I am and what I want and what I’m capable of, and it kind of coincides with this whole women’s revolution, so everything is just kind of falling into place. Perfect timing.”
You talked about the current makeup of the WWE women’s roster. Have you seen a significant difference in the level of physicality this time around?
“Absolutely. Ever since I’ve been at the Performance Center getting ready for the Mae Young Classic, I’ve had an opportunity to get in the ring with some of the women and just watch some of them, and it’s unreal the level of athleticism that these women have. It’s very, very impressive. I always describe my in-ring style as strong but very explosive because I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I’m fairly strong. I’m certain there are women stronger than me here, but it’s one of my strengths.”
On whether or not she thinks the MYC is a springboard for her future:
“In the nicest way possible, I’m the original queen of NXT! I was the first winner of the all-women’s season. Just like then, I had to prove myself. I made a joke today that I’m like Billy Madison, and I’m going through all of these school grades again [laughs]. Now that I’ve been there and done it, the stakes are higher, the level of competition is higher, so I see myself just going through it, going through the Mae Young Classic, going through NXT, going through the SmackDown roster, going through the Raw roster. I know I’m capable of it, and I think the Mae Young Classic is just the beginning.”
Tags: 2018 Mae Young Classic Tournament, Kaitlyn, Mae Young Classic, MYC, NXT, smackdown live, WWE, WWE SmackDown Live