Originally published at Melina recalls her time in 2022 WWE women's Royal Rumble being cut, talks in-ring future
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** The focus of Asylum Wrestling Store’s latest virtual signing was Melina. She looked back on her appearance in the #2 spot in the 2022 WWE women’s Royal Rumble. Melina was eliminated by Mercedes Moné f.k.a. Sasha Banks. Melina was eliminated in 53 seconds and was told she was in and out to make Moné look strong. She was hoping for a storyline with Mercedes coming out of that. Also, she mentioned that her time was cut.
No matter what I say, I love her (Mercedes Moné) but, I feel like everything I say, people will tear apart. But she knows me. I told her exactly what I’m gonna say right now to you guys. She knows I can say anything to her. I know her, I love her. But I told her an hour before when they changed everything so what happens (referencing 2022 women’s Royal Rumble) — and I’m gonna say it here now because everybody keeps saying, ‘Oh, she f*cked up her spot.’ That’s the way the spot went and if anything — on the Rumble — I did not accidentally fall… But, I did the spot as it was planned. It was supposed to be short and if anything, I went longer than expected. Two, she told me before we went out there, ‘I can’t do the split. I try and try.’ She came to me and said this sh*t (Melina laughed). ‘I don’t know how to do the split Melina. You’re so lucky’ and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was like, ‘Girl, I’ve seen your videos. You can do the split’ and she was like, ‘No. I mean, that’s only if somebody’s trying to stretch me.’ She’s playing this up. Like yeah, whatever Sasha. But I think she said that to be nice, you know? It’s like I’m a veteran or whatever and she’s just being respectful. Yeah, right. She pulled that sh*t. She didn’t tell me she was gonna do that. She said, ‘It was what the moment called for and it was done on the fly.’ Nobody does that on the fly, come on… She looked incredible, it was so adorable.
To be a part of the Royal Rumble, it meant a lot to me, it really did. I was very thankful that they considered me for it and they had me be a part of it and when they told me I was gonna work with Sasha, I was gonna be first and I was gonna do my entrance and they gave me, let’s see, it was like a minute or whatever they had to work with her, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. This is too good to be true.’ They are making all my dreams come true and I could retire. I will quit wrestling type of deal and then they cut my time and then they said all this stuff and I was like, there it is, there it is! Things haven’t changed (she laughed).
They cut the time because they wanted Sasha to look strong and I was like, ‘She’d still look strong even if we worked’ and they’re like, ‘No. We want her to throw you out. Walk in, you get thrown out’ and I was like, ‘Oh, okay, alright. But I get to still do my entrance, right?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Okay, well I’m cool. Throw me out…’ My hope was — throw me out, I don’t care. I don’t get angry, I’m not ashamed or anything. I just hoped that there would be a follow up to it. That we would face off and a story would be told and that’d be amazing but no, it didn’t happen.
Melina has not wrestled since September 2022. She stated that not wrestling recently isn’t due to not being able to adapt but more so because she does not want to adapt. Melina is more interested in the stories and character aspects of wrestling.
It’s in me but it’s not (Melina responded to the idea of not having the in-ring ‘bug’ anymore). I think wrestling has changed now and it’s not that I don’t — I can’t adapt. I guess it’s I don’t want to adapt. I love storylines and characters and details and all this stuff and I was blessed that WWE allowed me to invoke these moments for me. That’s a time, I don’t think, unless you’re in a — I don’t know. You’re connected to somebody and — the politics. I guess I’m not great with the politics where I don’t have an ‘in’ to have somebody write these things and help me create together but every time I do something and the story or character just is so weak, it depresses me. It makes me think, this is not the wrestling I know and love and it makes me hate working, because I want magic, I wanna do this, I wanna do that, all of it and it just makes me sad.
The topic of ring gear came up and Melina shared that while she was in WWE, there were gear makers present who would not work on gear unless it was for someone in the men’s division.
Sometimes, I’d have a person (to do my gear) and I can’t even remember (their names), that’s so sad. They were making it and then they left and then they’d disappear and it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness. Now who am I gonna find? I have to find somebody else’ and then there’s a scramble that would go on and I kept doing that over and over and over again. Different people, trying to find different people to do the gear because the people, sometimes backstage in WWE, if you weren’t a guy, they wouldn’t really do your work, your gear so…
While thinking about memories from her time in WWE, the moment with Shawn Michaels at the 2006 Survivor Series was brought up which was when she was ‘unaware’ she was hugging Michaels. Melina said that was all Shawn’s idea.
That was planned (spot with Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2006). Shawn working his magic and creating a wonderful spot, because that’s how amazing he is-is he’s like, ‘You know what? Let’s do this’ and I think, sometimes people work on the fly and they do stuff they like that and then sometimes people think of it and they’re like, yeah, okay. Think of it beforehand and then don’t tell anybody and do it… Of course he planned it before, he thought of this before and when you don’t know, when you haven’t worked with somebody and you’re not sure if they’re good or not — when I got transferred to Raw, I worked on SmackDown so obviously I could do something but if you haven’t worked with somebody, you really don’t know. So, I think he’s like, let’s plan it prior, ahead of time so he had it planned ahead of time and I was like, ‘It’s great.’ It’s great when a wrestler utilizes you because not everybody does. So for him to do that, I was like, ‘That’s funny.’ I was like, ‘Yes. I can do that, I can totally do that.’
As Melina was diving into her managerial role, there were times when she was told not to make certain facial expressions because they weren’t ‘attractive’. She added that when she first came into WWE, she does not think they realized what they had in her.
I think they (WWE) never realized what they had with me (when they initially brought me in) … I was probably any girl. Some chick, she’s a little bit ethnic, let’s just bring her in. They had no idea what I was gonna do. I remember having conversations with people that my facial reactions — because I’d get aggressive… and they’d say, ‘Well, that doesn’t look too attractive. You need to pull it back a little bit.’ I’m like, ‘What? But that’s not the face I make when I get angry.’ So I think it was introducing this ‘ugly look’ but it’s not an ‘ugly look’, it’s just reality. This is a face a person makes when they’re angry and I started incorporating that because to me, I had to be true to the character and I couldn’t help it. If I’m pretending to be angry at somebody, I’m gonna have that look.
Elsewhere during the signing, she thanked current All Elite Wrestling commentator Taz. Melina expressed that Taz was always supportive of her and on her side. Despite there being in-character comments on commentary related to Melina’s looks, she feels he was supportive.
You know what? One of the other fans was telling me who was my biggest supporter. Now that I think about it, okay, not advice-wise but biggest supporter was Taz. Taz had my back all the time. He would talk me up all the time, and maybe it was a little bit… He always loved me (she laughed).
I thank him a lot because you know what? When it comes to announcing… that is everything and if you don’t connect with them, the story doesn’t — what they say does not enhance what we do if they don’t talk about you so that’s one of the great things to have on your side and Taz, you know, I wish I had talked to him more. Everybody’s so busy and I wish I talked to Taz more. Every time I talked to him, (I would) say, ‘It’s okay. I know…’ I want to see him again, I hope I get to see him again soon. I wanna hug him and tell him thank you for always being supportive because his announcing and what he said, even the sexual stuff, the flirty stuff… he’s a character himself so, you know, that’s all telling the story and he told the story and I thank him for that. That meant a lot because at a time when you feel like nobody’s on your side, that somebody does… I wanna thank him for that.
If there was one individual Melina wishes she could’ve learned more from, it’s Trish Stratus. Melina added that she wishes she was not so shy during the early stages of her run with WWE.
It was great (working with Trish Stratus). I wish, back in the day, I was more social and less shy because I didn’t know how to talk to people so I didn’t really ask questions as much as I wanted to. So I feel like it breaks my heart to not pick her mind, her brain as much as I could have but working with her is great just because the way she walks through things and the things she talks, like the way she goes over matches, I learned so much by that and working with her and seeing how she sells. I saw as a fan watching her do all her moves but it’s another thing to work and have it be in person and to watch in the ring as I do a clothesline, do something and to watch her there in person. It’s amazing for me as a fan for the fact that watching for so many years, then being able to work with her, it was so amazing. There was so many people. I was very fortunate that the year of M.N.M. and then the year when I first started wrestling, I worked with so many people, everybody. Basically, I worked with every single person, like all the guys. How many women get to work with the guys and taking bumps with them? I was very fortunate in M.N.M. to be able to do stuff like that. I was very, very lucky. So working with her was very lovely, very lovely.
** Following Keiji Muto’s retirement bout, Tokyo Sports released a portion of his memoirs and he wrote his thoughts about expanding the Japanese wrestling market and thinks women’s wrestling is the key to that. He would love to work with an all-women’s promotion and said if he had the chance, he might do it now.
I think the key to this (Japanese wrestling scene expanding globally) is women’s professional wrestling. I think there is a great opportunity for a women’s wrestling ‘organization’ in particular. WWE has a women’s division, but there is no all-women’s organization. In that sense, I would have loved to work on a women’s professional wrestling organization. If I had the chance, I might do it now.
** Episode #271 of the Vegas Bad Boyz of Podcasting featured IMPACT Wrestling talent Jai Vidal. He expressed that securing a pro wrestling contract is the bare minimum and it is all about receiving an extension or a new contract.
I do see it. I see that some young guys in this business in F.S.W. (Future Stars of Wrestling) look up to me and I think that it’s humbling but it also puts a responsibility on my shoulders. Now, I gotta lead by example. Now, I gotta be a good person to show them that just because I got a contract doesn’t mean I’m better than anybody. It means I want them to get a contract now, and not only that but, I got to show them, hey, just because you got a contract doesn’t mean that the work stops, now the work starts because a lot of people think, oh, I just can’t wait to get the contract. Getting the contract is the bare minimum, anybody could get a contract. It’s about keeping a contract, it’s about a couple years down the line, getting offered an extension on that contract, getting another contract. That’s what it’s really about, that’s where the hard work really is at the end of the day and it’s about showing these up-and-coming students to never lose the passion. Always want more because the thing about climbing these mountains is that once you climb that mountain, you look up and there’s a bigger mountain to climb and you gotta start climbing, you know?
Continuing on the topic of Vidal signing with IMPACT, he stated that he always knew IMPACT is where he would land because when speaking about other companies and promotions, it did not resonate with him.
I always knew that IMPACT would be the place that I would get signed at as strange as that sounds, right? You look at any other place, it never resonated well with my soul when I would say any other place but as soon as I said IMPACT Wrestling, something about it just seemed right and you skip forward, like you (podcast co-host) said, a couple years down the line and here we are. Things are working out more than great.
** The 1998 WWF/E Royal Rumble featured Mick Foley competing as Cactus Jack, Mankind and Dude Love. On his ‘Foley Is Pod’ show, Mick shared that he once heard that Vince McMahon declared that the ‘Cactus Jack’ character would never appear for WWE.
It’s a character (Cactus Jack) that I hear later that Mr. McMahon said he would never step foot in the WWE ring. Now, not only is he stepping foot, he’s kicking off the (1998 Royal) Rumble, him, I’m talking in third (person) right now but, I’m kicking off the Rumble with a character I created with my idol (Terry Funk), who to me, is the greatest wrestler of all time and then we’re joined by The Rock.
** In November 2022, Mia Yim returned to WWE and aligned with The O.C. (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows). Yim told Ryan Satin on the ‘Out of Character’ podcast that being with The O.C. has helped with her confidence and they constantly remind her to remember who she is in wrestling.
To also know that the boys (The O.C.) approved it as well (me coming into the group) and really wanted me in was very, very cool and it’s one of those things where I haven’t told the boys yet, but, being back with them, coming back into WWE after how I left, they helped me a lot with my confidence to kind of get back into the swing of things and for me to know who I am because they would say all the time, ‘Yeah, you’ve been wrestling for a decade. You’re good, you should know it’ and so when we were doing live events and trying to get the swing of things together to get us to gel, they were just like, ‘Just remember who you are. We know who you are. Show everyone else’ and they really helped with my confidence and I needed it at the time.
** As Dominik Mysterio was speaking to Peter Rosenberg on The Ringer Wrestling Show’s Cheap Heat podcast, he recalled going to visit Eddie Guerrero’s gravesite with Rey Mysterio and when they arrived, Cassie Lee f.k.a. Peyton Royce was there by herself and was emotional. Dominik stated that his father comforted her.
There’s one story and I’ve shared it before and I hope she’s okay with me sharing it. We were in, I believe it was El Paso (Texas) where Eddie’s grave is and my dad and I went to go visit it a couple years ago and Peyton Royce, Cassie Lee, she was sitting there crying. I wanna say she was just emotional there, mourning him and I can’t say that she’s ever met him, I don’t know if he — obviously, he had a huge impact on her life but I don’t know if they ever conversated, I don’t think they’ve ever met and just to see that impact, she was there by herself… and I remember my dad pulling her aside and was like, ‘This means the world.’ It’s really cool to see the impact he had on people that he didn’t even meet that are just a part of this business now and it’s really, really cool to see and especially for me, you know, like you said, being able to work with him was such a blessing to be a part of it.
Eddie Guerrero was the topic of conversation for a portion of the chat and Dominik spoke about his involvement in the 2005 SummerSlam ‘custody’ Ladder match. Dominik was not prepared for how intense Eddie was and thought Guerrero would actually strike him.
I’ll tell you one thing (about SummerSlam 2005), I definitely don’t remember Eddie (Guerrero) prepping me for how intense he was gonna be. That kind of just came in organically. But that’s just Eddie being Eddie. I remember being in the corner at SummerSlam and him just yelling at me like, ‘You’re gonna know what it means to be a Guerrero!’ And then his hand comes up and as a kid, I’ve said it before, as a kid, I thought that he was genuinely gonna hit me and like, something was gonna happen because dude, it was so intense. The look in his eyes, his veins popping out and he was just jacked to the gills and yelling at me, me having nowhere to go, just sitting back in this corner.
Mysterio went on to claim that he was paid for the SummerSlam 2005 appearance and that’s what pushed him closer to agreeing to do it.
That’s what got me to do the whole spiel (that I was getting paid for the WWE SummerSlam 2005 appearance) … My dad was like, ‘Hey, we want you to do this thing, if you’re okay with it’ and at the time, I was unsure about it and I was like, I don’t know if I wanna do this. I was in school, I didn’t wanna — not that I enjoyed school but I enjoyed being with my friends at school… So as soon as he was like, ‘They’re gonna pay you for it,’ I was like, ‘Mhm, alright. Now we’re speaking my language…’ I was like seven or eight. But even then, I understood the business.
** Arn Anderson took to his podcast to speak about the career of Keiji Muto (The Great Muta). Anderson congratulated him on what he’s been able to accomplish and added that he’s glad he got to see Muto’s career play out.
(Great) Muta, first time you saw him because number one, he was young, head full of black hair, tanned. You don’t see a lot of the Japanese boys take the time to tan. He had a good, athletic physique. Wasn’t a body guy but he was smooth as silk and a handsome guy. What a babyface he would have made if his first coming on the shores of America, he would have been the right babyface with the right company and pushed the right way, just saying. It’s hard to dislike a guy like that. I mean, you had to put Buzz Sawyer with him and Gary Hart and Dragonmaster to even make him a heel. If he would have been alone, he would have been a babyface and he’s a tremendous talent, nice guy to be around, funny, a professional and he had a hell of a career.
Congratulations to Muta. You’ve had a hell of a career, have a great retirement and you’ve earned it. Glad I was here to see it.
Elsewhere during the conversation, Anderson told the story of his verbal run-in with Giant Gonzalez. It occurred after Gonzalez roughly clotheslined Anderson in a match because he was not pleased with how hard he was chopped by Ric Flair. Arn relayed to Gonzalez that he should’ve taken that out on Ric instead of him and said he thought Gonzalez broke his neck.
When he (Giant Gonzalez) got mad, he could certainly clean your clock. We were in Philadelphia, it was a six-man or something and (Ric) Flair came in, he was in the ring (with) the big man and did whatever he could do and Jorge, he finally got behind Jorge and he chopped him right between the shoulder blades. Pretty good one, it sounded off, it cracked. But then Flair and his infinite wisdom came over and tagged me. Now, not knowing that Jorge was steaming, I step in and I’m gonna walk up to him and I was gonna give him a couple big shots in the chest with a forearm. Brother, he’s just accelerating and he clotheslined me. I swear I thought he broke my neck again. I mean he knocked my head off and I don’t even remember what happened the rest of the match but I remember we got back to the locker room and I went over to the babyface locker room and brother, I looked at him and said, ‘What the hell? What is wrong with you? You’re gonna kill somebody out there.’ ‘Ric Flair made me mad.’ ‘Well clothesline him. Don’t clothesline me moron. I’m not the one that did it,’ and I mean, he took my head off so, he would be capable of it if he just dialed it down and aim it properly. I don’t mind getting hit hard. Just, it’s where.
** Joining the Irish Whip Podcast was new MLW signee Delmi Exo. As she was commenting on the physicality of the match herself and her sister Ashley Vox had against Thunder Rosa and Holidead, Delmi recounted there being a time when a woman being stiff with another woman could cause issues backstage or result in a talent being deemed ‘unsafe’.
During me and Ashley’s time growing into the business, if you hit hard and you’re a girl and you hit another girl hard, it was a big issue backstage. It was you’re unsafe, all this drama and so getting in the ring with them (Thunder Rosa & Holidead) and them giving it right back and then asking to receive it with that much intention. We’re hitting safe. Everything is safe but because our frames are so small, we have to put some more intention to it, otherwise, it’s not gonna look as good as the guys throwing TV clotheslines. We have to be bigger unfortunately. But, that match really raised the bar for us and it gave us confidence in our striking and if someone complained, it’s like, grow up. You got in the ring.
** Keiji Muto will be the focus of a talk show on March 5th at Tokushima City Gymnasium.
** March 31st is the date that the all-women’s promotion, ‘Evolution’, will have their inaugural event in Tokyo, Japan. All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa are producers for the promotion.
** NJPW x CMLL Fantasticamania Results (2/23/23) KBS Hall in Kyoto, Japan
– Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI def. Rey Cometa & Yuto Nakashima
– Taiji Ishimori & Gedo def. Capitán Sicida & Ryohei Oiwa
– El Hijo del Villano III, OKUMURA & Bárbaro Cavernario def. Dulce Gardenia, Master Wato & Tiger Mask
– Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Titán & BUSHI) def. Soberano Jr., YOH, Ryusuke Taguchi & Kosei Fujita
– El Desperado, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Último Guerrero def. SHO, Magia Blanca & Hechicero
– Templario & Atlantis Jr. def. Mistico & Volador Jr.
** The newest episode of Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze’s UpUpDownDown series is available to watch here.
** On March 25th, Eddie Kingston will be returning to Warrior Wrestling and he’ll be facing Sam Adonis.
** TMZ Sports conducted an interview with Sean ‘X-Pac’ Waltman.
** A story about the No Mercy Wrestling charity event.
** Dragongate Japan Pro-Wrestling Results (2/23/23) Tokai Municipal Gym in Aichi, Japan
– Kota Minoura, B×B Hulk & Ben-K def. Strong Machine J, Jason Lee & Jacky ‘Funky’ Kamei
– Eita & Ho Ho Lun def. Takashi Yoshida & Punch Tominaga
– H・Y・O def. Minorita
– Rey de Parejas 2023 A Block: Yuki Yoshioka & Madoka Kikuta def. Kaito Nagano & Yoshiki Kato
– Rey de Parejas 2023 B Block: Shun Skywalker & KAI def. Naruki Doi & YAMATO
– Dragon Kid, Ultimo Dragon & Dragon Dia def. Masaaki Mochizuki, Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.