Natalya on WrestleMania match, Tamina and new training 'Dungeon'
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
WWE star Natalya joined "Out of Character with Ryan Satin" to chat about her matches at WrestleMania this year, teaming with Tamina and her new "Dungeon."
Despite WWE’s live event business being on pause throughout the pandemic, Natalya remained more active than most Superstars over the past year by renting a makeshift training facility with her husband, TJ Wilson (aka Tyson Kidd), that they call "The Dungeon."
The name is obviously an homage to the legendary Hart Family Dungeon in Canada started by Stu Hart, where members of their family and wrestlers such as Nikolai Volkoff, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and more trained.
The new version, however, is an invite-only warehouse in Florida where wrestlers have the chance to work on their craft in private while getting advice from two people with a vast amount of knowledge to share.
"We all wanted to throw ourselves into our careers, but we didn’t have the place to do that because it wasn’t safe," Nattie explained on this week’s podcast. "The ring allowed us a resource to help other people."
"There were weeks that Sasha Banks would drive two hours to come train with me on Monday night. We would set a timer and literally – when I speak about passion, Sasha needs to be recognized. Because, for no reason, even when she didn’t have the match with Bianca scheduled at WrestleMania, this was way before that, once TJ and I got our ring, she would drive a couple of hours, and we would get in the ring privately," Natalya said.
"Nobody would be around, and we would set a timer. Our goal was to wrestle for one hour straight, and we would turn the timer on. We built up to 45 minutes straight. Just nonstop wrestling. Imagine a 45-minute women’s match. We did that nonstop. Not a water break. Not a bathroom break. Just go."
Another person at the training facility as of late has been new tag team partner, Tamina. Their recent pairing on TV, however, wasn’t something that was just thrown together. It was an idea Nattie had herself.
"What I learned early on, especially from Bret [Hart] being very business-savvy, when one storyline ends or something is over, you gotta keep thinking about what’s next. How can I take the momentum from something else and move forward? How can I keep reinventing? So that’s been one of the greatest parts of my career is that I’ve always been able to be resourceful about reinventing," she explained.
"I chose Tamina Snuka to be with me. I approached her and I said, ‘Listen, I want us to be a team because there’s nobody here in this locker room that understands my journey as much as you do growing up in a crazy wrestling family.’"
This pairing led the two WWE veterans to get a newfound resurgence on TV and ultimately a WrestleMania match for the Women’s tag team titles earlier this month, which received a "this is awesome" chant from the crowd in attendance.
The match also included a moment when Tamina received a thunderous reaction from the audience after perching the top rope.
"During WrestleMania, [Tamina] got some of the loudest reactions between both nights of WrestleMania because people felt her story. They felt her journey. They felt her energy. And that was so organic," Natalya stated with pride.
"I was having an out-of-body experience. Tamina and I were so freaked out. We were in the moment so much in the match," she added. "After the match, we came backstage, and I could not stop crying. Tamina could not stop crying. We were both bawling our eyes out because we just felt the magic."
That same emotion was felt by the nearly 25,000 fans in attendance each night.
From Vince McMahon’s show-opening promo welcoming the fans back to the closing triple threat match on night two for the Universal title, the people in attendance felt grateful to be watching a WWE event in person again. During those two nights, they got to feel normal again.
Tor the performers themselves, it was just as touching.
"We haven’t had the people, our fans, the WWE Universe. They are just ride or die with us! They are ride or die! They didn’t care that there was rain! They didn’t miss a beat. Because that’s how our WWE fan base is with us, and it got to us so much emotionally," Natalya explained.
"Triple H literally looked at me and Tamina and was like, ‘Are you guys OK?’ He thought I was crying because I was hurt, and I was like, ‘No, I’m just so emotional because of the people and the fans and the energy and the match! It's just so symbolic.’"
"Everything happened as it should’ve happened because the rain was symbolic of: It doesn’t matter if there’s rain. It doesn’t matter if there’s a hurricane. Our fans, the WWE Universe, they’re part of our show. And they’re gonna sit in the rain and be sopping wet and freezing cold, to watch us do what we love! And we’re gonna wrestle through the rain, even if we slip, even if we slide, even if we fall down, even if we get our teeth knocked out. We have their backs, and they have ours."
"That’s why this WrestleMania was special for so many reasons. It was just so symbolic of perseverance."
Check out the full episode for more on Natalya’s relationship with Vince McMahon, TJ Wilson producing every women’s match at WrestleMania, Total Divas and growing up in the Hart Family.