When the brands split a little less than a year ago, one might have speculated who would be first to win the titles on both brands. Maybe they would have said Charlotte. Some would have speculated Sasha Banks, or Becky Lynch. Few, however, would have answered that question correctly.
Alexa Bliss has taken the WWE Universe by storm since being called up to the main roster from NXT.
It took her less than five months to win the SmackDown women's title from Becky Lynch, and then won it a second time after briefly losing it to Naomi. After she dropped the title at WrestleMania, she was moved over to Raw, where it took her just three weeks to take the Raw women's title from the champion, Bayley. In that time, in addition to her in-ring accomplishments, she has become known as one of the best mic workers, male or female, in the company. Despite the fact that, as she will say herself, she came in under-the-radar at the time, she quickly rose to the top of the women's revolution.
Before she defends her title in Baltimore on Sunday at Extreme Rules, The Baltimore Sun had a chance to speak to Alexa about how much she has accomplished in such a short time, what drives her to achieve those goals, and her thoughts on a kendo stick on a pole match.
These past two months have been amazing. I'm very grateful for the opportunity that I've been given in WWE. I wasn't sure how my transition to Raw would go. The fact that I've been able to become Raw women's champion and be the first to win both titles has been such an honor and it's been such an amazing two months. It's been a lot of work, but it had an amazing payoff.
When did you know that you were moving to Raw?
They didn't tell us anything. They were very hush-hush on who was being traded. It was a very spur-of-the-moment thing, finding out. I think it made it a lot better though. Instead of anticipating and knowing ahead of time, I like finding out how it happened.
What went through your mind as you were told you were moving?
I was excited, but I also was a little disappointed, as I wanted to go after the SmackDown women's championship again. I wanted another rematch with Naomi. The fact that I was switched to another brand though, that just gave me a whole other opportunity and a whole new world. I was really excited about that. I had built relationships with all the girls on SmackDown, I had worked with all the girls already and had matches with all of them. It was really exciting to get a whole new roster to get my hands on. It's been a lot of fun.
Could you have imagined that you'd be Raw women's champion this quickly, or did you think you'd have to work your way back up again?
I thought I'd have to build my way back up, absolutely. I didn't think I was going to be given a title opportunity. There's so many women on the roster who have worked.
When I was on SmackDown, there wasn't really competition against Raw in our locker room. It was more about how we could build the brand as a whole, not so much against Raw. I think that drove us to show what our women could do. Our women were featured every single week, all of us. I think that was because, as a whole, we wanted to make our brand better. It wasn't because we wanted to rival Raw or anything like that. And it's the same way on Raw. I watch SmackDown right now, but I'm not critiquing it to see how we can do better. We're all in the company trying to raise the bar together.
You're feuding with Bayley, and of course you're facing her on Sunday in Baltimore. Does it make it easier when your characters are such natural opposites?
Oh yeah, we are polar opposites. Bayley is huggable and likes to dole out high fives. I could care less if anyone likes me. I don't want to touch people, come on. That just makes our rivalry just that much better because we are such opposites that the feud clicks. In the ring, I just find a lot of joy in taking everything that she has away. If she goes to high five someone, I'm going to hit her after she high fives them. It's just a lot of fun, and makes the feud that much better.
The in-ring dynamic between you and Bayley is really interesting. She's the ultimate underdog, yet despite the fact that she's bigger than you, you've found a way to keep that aspect. Is it something that you have to think about as you're working?
Here's the thing with that, Bayley does a great job of doing what she does. She has her strengths. Obviously she is the ultimate underdog, and I don't think that my size has an impact on that. I feel like I have a big enough attitude to be 6 feet tall. I think that helps a lot. I just have to make sure that my attitude is big enough to keep it so that nobody likes me. And Bayley knows what she's doing; she wouldn't be in the position that she's in if she didn't know what she was doing and wasn't such an amazing underdog.
You two are in a kendo stick on a pole match Sunday. Have you ever been in a match like that before, and how do you prepare for it?
No, I have never. I am quite nervous about it actually. I have hit Bayley with that thing so many times and I have a feeling that she really wants to get me back for that. I'm actually kind of nervous about trying to reach the thing. It's a race to see who can get to it first. I don't know if you know this, but I'm 5 feet tall. I don't know if I can reach all the way up there to grab that stick. Do I let Bayley grab it first and then take it away from her? I don't know. That's what my main concern is, what if I climb up there and then just can't reach it? I'm hoping that doesn't happen, but if it does, I'll have to do whatever it takes to get it down.
This match happened because you pulled out a kendo stick and started waling on Bayley a few weeks back. Everyone seemed to almost be taken aback at how vicious those shots were. How did you develop your swing? Did you play softball at all?
I played softball for three years. You know, when you get it in your hands, you just have to go big or go home. If I'm swinging, I'm swinging for home runs.
While you're going to be in a first-time match for women at Extreme Rules, SmackDown has announced a first-time match of its own with the Money in the Bank ladder match. Is there at all a twinge of regret that you don't get to be part of that?
You know, at first when I saw Shane come out and make that match, I did wish that I could be part of it. But, I have a lot of things to focus on right now on Raw. I'm excited for the women of SmackDown to make history and have the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match, because that's a huge moment in the women's revolution. I think it's amazing for them and do I wish that I was in that match? Absolutely. But do I have any regrets? No, because I have my own things to focus on, like retaining my Raw women's championship, and hitting people with kendo sticks and trying to avoid being hit with kendo sticks.
We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of you being called up to the main roster from NXT. Looking back on that, could you have imagined that you would have done this much in this short of a time?
Absolutely not. When I was moved to SmackDown, I actually thought that I had a lot more to accomplish in NXT before being moved up. I never held the title in NXT, I never even had a Takeover match. I would have never, ever imagined that I'd be in the position that I'm in now. I think a lot of my success is realizing all of that, and realizing how lucky I am to be in the position that I am in, and then making the most of that opportunity.
When you were called up, did you almost feel overlooked at the time, particularly with all of the focus at the time on the Four Horsewomen? And did that put a chip on your shoulder at all?
Yeah, I think it put a chip on my shoulder, and it really drove me. I decided that with this opportunity, I was going to come in under the radar and so I'd have to kick down the door. I wasn't featured as one of the Four Horsewomen, I wasn't chosen for that opportunity. I wasn't highlighted like the other women, but I was still there with all of them. I was there just as long, if not longer, as some of them because I was there before Becky. I came in when Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha were there. I had trained with each and every one of them. I had some of my best matches with Sasha and Bayley. Charlotte took me under her wing when I first got there. I was there for all of it. I just wasn't featured at that time. So I thought that if I was going to be called to SmackDown, then let them underestimate me and let me come in under the radar so I can kick down the door.
So with all that in mind, with all of your accomplishments since being called up, especially coming in behind some of the others, what does that say about what you've done?
It shows how competitive and how stubborn I am. If you don't pay attention to me, I'm going to make you pay attention to me. I've always been that way. I've always had that competitive drive and that's what. In a healthy way, I'm super competitive. I want to do everything to the best of my ability. If I'm not giving 110 percent, then it's not worth doing. That's really been the whole thing of my career so far, even down in NXT. I want to be the best I can physically be. Is that necessarily going to be the best on the roster? No, but I wanted to be the best that I could possibly be. If that takes me to becoming one of the best, then so be it. I'm still working toward that, and I want to be seen as the Charlotte or Sasha or Bayley or Becky. I want to be seen in that light, because of how hard I worked.
Your character is such the "mean girl" character, and yet you still have huge fans, particularly younger girls. What does that mean to you?
It's amazing. Do I condone my attitude toward those little girls? Of course not. But if I can inspire those young girls to follow her dream and do what she wants, then that's genuine. If I can inspire someone to start something and follow through it, and become better than what they were going in, then that's awesome. I've done my job. What we do is entertain people. If I can entertain people, then I've done my job. And if I can inspire young girls then that's amazing to me. When I was growing up, I didn't really look up to many people with what I had gone through. I went through some self-image issues when I was younger. If I can help anybody who goes through that as well and show them that they can go through that and become a better person, then that's what I want to do.
You've done so much already, in such a short time. What's left on your checklist?
I want to be the longest-reigning Raw women's champion. That's my ultimate goal. One day, not just for me, but for our women, I hope we main event WrestleMania. That's definitely one of my goals.
Extreme Rules comes to Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday at 8 PM. Tickets are still available at the box office and ticketmaster.com
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout