Natalya is an absolute stalwart of WWE’s women’s division. She has two main title reigns under her belt, with her SmackDown Women’s Championship reign coming as recently as 2016.
She has been in WWE for nearly 15 years, which is reflected by her holding the record for the women with the most wins in the history of WWE. So, she’s been ever present throughout many different eras of women’s wrestling in WWE. In an interview with Darren Stone, she has discussed what it has been like to see the role of women evolve over the years.
“I’m very lucky that I’ve had the experience and the career that I’ve had, having grown up in the industry and having done so much in the industry. I started WWE right when the Attitude Era was just going away. All of the sudden it was like this Ugly Duckling phase, I don’t wanna say the Divas Division was an Ugly Duckling phase, but we were just transitioning from this really bad-ass Attitude Era to all of the sudden being told that we weren’t allowed to be called women wrestlers or superstars or anything, we had to be called divas. It wasn’t necessarily a bad term, you know Beyoncé and Diana Ross and J-Lo, those are women that are loved to be called divas. It was a very unique time where women’s wrestling wasn’t celebrated. We weren’t there yet. The company wasn’t there yet, they didn’t really want women’s wrestling yet. For me, that was tough because my strengths were really in the ring. So, I kind of came into the company at an awkward phase.”-Natalya.
Due to her vast experience in WWE, many women look to Natalya for advice in the company. She went on to talk about what the change in perception of women was like and how she can act as a ‘sounding board’ for young female wrestlers.
“Then saw the Women’s Evolution in WWE many years later. About seven years after I got hired, we all of the sudden saw that [women were beginning to be celebrated]. They want women who know what they’re doing, they want women that can wrestle. We saw a lot of that at NXT where we saw the rise of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Bayley just to name a few. Women’s wrestling was really being celebrated. So for me, I think a lot of the women look to me as a sounding board or somebody that they can turn to because I’ve just been through so much in the company [including] the good, the bad, and everything in between. I feel like they know that I’m reliable, solid, and dependable and that they can get good advice from me. I’m always very honored and flattered by that.”-Natalya.
There is no doubt that Natalya is a legend in WWE. Her body of work speaks for itself and makes her a guarantee to one day be in the Hall Of Fame.
H/T Fightful for the full transcription.