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WWE Diva, Melina speaks to phillyBurbs.com
PhillyBurbs.com, March 13, 2008

    WWE Melina Perez Melina Perez isn’t your typical girl next door. Most girls grow up dreaming of becoming a beauty queen, a ballerina, or a cheerleader. Melina Perez grew up with dreams of becoming a WWE wrestler. Long before there were Divas, Melina grew up idolizing revolutionary females like the Fabulous Moolah and Sherri Martel. Wrestling for Melina wasn’t a goal, it was her only goal.

    The WWE Divas are known for being some of the most gorgeous, sexiest, beautiful, and stunning women in sports entertainment. Yet, Divas are not usually recognized for their pro wrestling skills. WWE Diva Melina is the total package. Melina is one of the few Divas that would prefer to be known for her wrestling, just as much as her beauty.

    Melina is the last of dying breed of WWE Divas. Melina didn’t come to the WWE through a talent search or contest. As a matter of a fact, Melina tried and failed to make the cut in the last WWE Tough Enough contest. Melina did it the hard way, the old school way. Melina worked her way up from the independents to WrestleMania.

    Melina entered the WWE managing MNM. Melina wasn’t your typical pretty girl at ringside. Like her idol Sherri Martel, Melina was one of the most active female managers in pro wrestling history. Bobby Heenan in his book recommends that managers, “Manage like a wrestler.” Melina’s style as a wrestling manager was right out of the Bobby Heenan playbook.

    Melina’s dreams didn’t just end with managing MNM to the WWE Tag Team titles. Melina had bigger dreams and aspirations. Melina dreamed of wrestling on pro wrestling’s biggest stage, WrestleMania. Through her hard work and dedication, Melina achieved her dream at WrestleMania 23 by defeating Ashley Massaro in a WWE Women’s title match.

    Melina’s career in the WWE has been a tremendous story for young women all over the world. Melina has broken barriers for Latina women and has given Divas a new identity. Melina isn’t just one of the WWE’s top Divas, Melina is one of the WWE’s top wrestlers. Melina has achieved her childhood dreams and not a day goes by when she doesn’t forget it.

    I had the pleasure of speaking to Melina about a variety of things including her career, WrestleMania, the Ultimate Quinceañera, Batista, dating, and more. Melina came off as one of the most genuine people within the industry that I have ever interviewed. I could practically feel her glow as she talked about her career over the phone. Never in over ten years of interviews can I remember talking to someone that happy to be wrestling.

    Melina will be a part of the ‘Playboy’ BunnyMania Lumberjack Match at WrestleMania XXIV.

    Melina Perez Eric – Can you talk a little about the Ultimate Quinceañera sweepstakes?

    Melina – Well I think that it is really great that the WWE is doing that. We’re celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Raw and it just makes perfect sense. You know, Latinas celebrate their fifteenth year like their Sweet Sixteen. It’s great to be a part of the Latin market like this. To do this, it means a lot. It means a lot to me because I’m Latina. I’m sorry to be so happy about it but being Latina and everything, it’s like they are giving to us and for me to be a part of it, it means that much more too.

    Eric – The winner gets to meet you and Carlito. What has been your most moving experience meeting a fan?

    Melina – I don’t know, to me it’s different for each person because people express them in different ways. Some people get really serious and I keep thinking, “Well you don’t look happy to see me” but they really are inside because they told me, “You’re my favorite, I’m so sorry,” and I’m like, “Well it’s okay to smile, act happy.” I’ve seen different people react in different ways and each one, it means a lot. I’ve had interesting moments where a person would ask me to sign my signature on them and then they would go and have it tattooed. I’ve had two people do that, or they ask me to sign their forehead, and the most interesting one, or one of the most interesting ones which means a lot because I’m like, “Aw that’s so sweet” is when people name their children after you, my name. That means a lot because I never thought that I’d be like, you know? Growing up I never thought I’d be one of somebody that means anything other than being me you know?

    Eric – What was it like to wrestle on a WrestleMania?

    Melina – To me it’s amazing. I prepared myself last year because that was my first moment, my first WrestleMania moment. I knew when I hit the ramp, I knew I was just going to stand there and absorb it, take it all in. It’s incredible to see all of those people. People come from around the world for this one day. That says something right there, and knowing that it’s not just the people that live in that city, it’s people from across the country, around the world, so it’s very surreal. To me, every moment whenever I go out that curtain is surreal. It’s like I always take in each moment but WrestleMania is the moment. I look forward to this year. Especially, it just seems to get bigger and bigger each year. It’s going to be amazing. All the stars are coming out. You’ve got Snoop Dogg M.C.

    Eric – WWE fans may not be aware that you actually started in wrestling before joining the WWE, correct?

    Melina – Yeah I totally did. That’s the whole reason I got into it was so I could wrestle. So I learned how to wrestle and I wanted to be a part of the WWE, and I can wrestle. When I managed that was a totally different world too. People think that managing is just standing out there. No, I learned a lot. There’s a lot to learn from managing, and yeah a person can go out there and just stand out there. But, I didn’t want to be that girl. I wanted to learn, I wanted to be a part of everything, I wanted to do whatever I can for the people I was managing, and it was a great experience. I think I learned a lot about wrestling as well from watching my boys wrestle. Whatever they were doing, I learned from that and took it for myself. I put in part of my wrestling ability as well.

    Eric – Did you grow up as a wrestling fan?

    Melina – Yes. I used to watch it when I was little with my brothers because it was part of a way to be with my brother you know? We could hang out by watching wrestling. The only time he didn’t beat me up was when we watched wrestling.

    Eric – Who were your favorites?

    Melina – It seems to be the same with everybody. I liked Rick Rude, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, but the female wrestler that I loved was Sherri Martel. She was my all-time favorite. I always tell everybody, “She’s my all-time favorite.” I kind of model myself after her because she was everything in entertainment all wrapped up into one.

    Eric – How discouraging was it not to make the final cast in Tough Enough?

    Melina – Oh you don’t even know, I cried, well you probably do. They have footage of me crying. I cried because it was like maybe I wasn’t meant to do this. I really honestly thought that maybe they thought that I couldn’t do it, but Al Snow pulled me aside and said, “You know what? Don’t let this set you back. You can make it. I believe in you.” When he said that, it took all of that doubt that I had, “Maybe I can’t do this, maybe I wasn’t meant to do it” and made me think, “You know what? He said I can do it, I can do it.” So I just kept on trying.

    Eric – I read somewhere that you are one of the few Divas that don’t have any aspirations of posing for Playboy. Is that true?

    Melina – That is true. I always tell people that I’ll never say never because I don’t want to be one of those girls that one day does it and everyone says, “She said she’d never do it.” I’ll never say never but at this point in time I wouldn’t do it because I’d find it weird to have my family open up the magazine, or have somebody go up to my family, “Here’s your daughter.” That’d just be weird. Right now I want people to see me as Melina. I don’t want to be known as that girl who stripped in Playboy. I have a lot to show the world other than that.

    Eric – Is it frustrating when the new girls come into the WWE and see the WWE as just a stepping stone?

    Melina – I don’t blame them for getting this opportunity. Anybody would do it, like, I did it. When they signed me I don’t think they saw a wrestler, because at that point in time wrestlers were hardcore. I took that as, “You know what. They’re giving me this opportunity and I’m going to run with it. I’ll show them.” I’ll never know if some of these other girls will have the same mentality as me. I don’t blame them for taking the opportunity, but I do admit that there is frustration. Not frustration, I think it’s sad that they’ll never see the wrestling world the way I do. I’ll do my best to show them, because I want to give that to them, maybe they’ll understand where I’m coming from, and maybe I can help them get better. Sometimes when they don’t get it and they don’t want too, it’s saddening to see that. It’s sad because this is my art you know? But you know what? In time, it all comes out the way it should.

    Eric – Were you surprised at how much Batista wrote about your relationship with him in his book?

    Melina – Kind of yes and kind of no. Like, I was surprised to see it but knowing him, he wears his heart, he’ll tell people how he feels. He doesn’t hide anything, and he didn’t say as much as he would have said, and for reasons I guess? But in his way, he put the most important people in his life in that book, and that’s his way of saying that I’m an important person in his life.

    Eric – Is it hard to date with the demands of the road schedule?

    Melina – Oh, it’s very difficult. Like, right now I’m not dating at the moment because it’s hard. I think it is hard because you’re always on the road, and I think it’s hard to explain to somebody not to take it personally, “that it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, I just have to do this for my job,” and there are moments when you have free time and you are in the middle of something. It’s kind of like you’re on-call. They’ll call you up and say, “Can you do this, can you go here. We’re going to need you to do this.” You have to go, you have no other choice. I can’t plan things because in our business, you just can’t plan things. It just happens at the moment. It’s difficult but I believe that they’ll be the right person that’ll understand.

    See Melina take on Ashley Massaro in her WrestleMania debut on the WrestleMania 23 DVD.

    Check out the Melina (World Wrestling Entertainment) Life-Size Standup Poster.

    See Melina take on Jillian at WWE - Judgment Day 2006.
      Eric Gargiulo writes about pro wrestling, MMA and more in his blog, The Camel Clutch. He can be reached by e-mail at egargiulo@phillyburbs.com. Eric's "Pro Wrestling Radio" airs on WBCB 1490 AM every Saturday from 12:05-1PM/EST and can be heard live online at http://www.wbcb1490.com/

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