Exclusive interview: Eva Marie and Brian Kendrick on the “Total Divas” star’s reinvention
Between the red carpet appearances, magazine covers and starring turn on E!’s “Total Divas,” it’s easy to forget that Eva Marie was hired by WWE to compete inside the ring. The redheaded bombshell had a whirlwind beginning to her career, being thrust into the spotlight almost right from the beginning with a marquee matchup at SummerSlam Axxess 2013, teaming with Brie Bella against Natalya and TV host Maria Menounos.
Learning a craft in front of millions of people on worldwide television isn’t an easy thing to do, which Eva struggled with as she underwent a crash course in the ring game with help from veterans like Fit Finlay and Joey Mercury. In recent weeks, Instagram videos of the beauty honing her skills in the ring with former WWE Tag Team Champion Brian Kendrick have left the WWE Universe buzzing about her impending return. To get the low down on Eva Marie’s journey back to the squared circle, we called up Kendrick and the “Total Divas” star for a candid interview.
WWE.COM: How did you end up getting in touch with Brian Kendrick?
EVA MARIE: I’ve been out for six months because I had to get surgery. That bummed me out, because I really wanted to perfect my craft. When I come back, I really want to show the WWE Universe how much Eva Marie wants to be here. So, I reached out to Triple H and Mr. McMahon and said I would love the opportunity to just train, so that I could learn the craft. Hunter put me in contact with Brian Kendrick, which is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
WWE.COM: Brian, how did you find out that Eva Marie wanted to train?
BRIAN KENDRICK: It was presented to me through William Regal. He was a trainer of mine and is a friend of mine. From my understanding, Eva approached Triple H about getting better and seeing if there was a place she could train in LA.
WWE.COM: What was your approach in teaching her?
KENDRICK: The thing was, I didn’t know what to expect. When I talked to Mr. Regal, he said, “Best of luck.” I didn’t know if he was being sarcastic. I said, “Is she bad?” He told me, “Honestly, we don’t know. She just hasn’t done enough in wrestling to tell if she’s good, bad or anything. She’s inexperienced.”
I knew I was going to have to take her from the ground up. I didn’t know how much effort she’d put into it. I thought she’d put in one or two days a week, based on other people that I’ve trained, but she’s insisting on going at least five days a week. We’re going for our sixth day tomorrow. She’s the most driven person I’ve ever dealt with.
WWE.COM: Eva, what’s it been like training with Brian?
EVA: Oh my gosh, it’s phenomenal. It’s made me fall in love with wrestling all over again. When I first tried out to be a WWE Diva, during the tryout, I was like, “I love this, this is what I’m meant to do.” That’s what Brian has revamped. I’m learning so much, so quickly. The stuff he has me doing is really awesome. I’m excited to showcase it for the WWE Universe.
WWE.COM: Brian, when you first got in the ring with Eva, what stood out to you?
KENDRICK: She was willing to get right into stuff. One of the first things you learn is to attack the mat. It’s something a lot of people are afraid to do. The best way to do it is to throw yourself down as hard as possible. It takes courage to do that. She was willing to do that right away. I was impressed. That’s the way she’s attacked everything, head first.
WWE.COM: What’s a typical training session like?
EVA: It depends on what we’re learning that day. My first day was a lot of rolls, the basics, to get me back in the swing of things, since I hadn’t stepped in the ring for six months. From there, Brian has everything set up strategically. We’ll go over holds, or now, I’ll learn strikes. Each day is different. Now that I’m further along, I’m starting to learn how to put a little bit of spice on things, figuring out what I want as a signature and a finisher. He’s taught me a lot of the basics, so now it’s time to figure out the special moves I want to bring to the WWE Universe. It’s like learning dance moves, but now I need to learn how to dance. The next phase of training is going to be putting everything together.
WWE.COM: How has Eva improved since you started training her?
KENDRICK: Athletically, a lot of these moves she’s never attempted before. She’s getting better at those. It’s her understanding for wrestling, by watching matches and picking them apart, she’s getting an understanding of it real fast.
WWE.COM: What kind of matches are you watching?
EVA: Every night, Brian gives me homework, which I go home and study. I’m watching so much! Right now, I’m watching a lot of Super Crazy, Tajiri and a lot of ECW and Japanese women’s wrestling. WWE Network has been phenomenal for me. It’s an amazing directory for not only myself, but for anyone who’s into wrestling. You can type in anybody that you want and see their matches.
WWE.COM: Why did you choose Super Crazy & Tajiri?
KENDRICK: I’m a huge fan of their matches. I’m a wrestler because I’m a wrestling fan. The way Tajiri throws his kicks and used that as his primary offensive weapon, instead of punches or forearms. Eva can throw kicks. She can throw a standing kick right to my head. To me, it’s far more impressive than a clothesline. I want her to watch Tajiri and see how he can run an offense based around him throwing a kick.
I think Super Crazy’s a genius. He’s wrestled at a high level in Mexico, Japan and the United States. That’s about as much as you can do in wrestling. We’re fortunate enough to be in Los Angeles, where there’s some really good luchadors, with Mexican-style training that are going to come in and teach us some of that style.
WWE.COM: So are you going to be bringing a lucha libre-style offense to the ring when you return?
EVA: A little bit. The guys that do lucha are so phenomenal. I want to add a little bit of that, but with my own spice. That’s why I’m doing a lot of homework. I’m picking pieces from different matches that I’ve watched and trying to fuse that into what I do.
WWE.COM: What are you enjoying most about training with Brian?
EVA: Brian is so positive. He had me do a standing moonsault. I couldn’t believe that I did it. It was only because he’s so positive and was like “Yeah, you can do it.” That’s what’s so awesome. There isn’t anything I can’t do, when it comes to Brian. He believes in me so, so much.
WWE.COM: How much time do you have left together?
EVA: I’m not quite sure. Hopefully, I can return soon, but I also want to get more intense training in before I come back. It’s up in the air.
KENDRICK: It could be as soon as next week. We could have another four weeks. I’d love to have more time to get her better prepared. She’s still going to be less experienced. She’ll have some nice training, but being in the ring with another Diva is a different animal. I’ve already told her she’s not going to be as good as these other women, because they have more experience, but she’ll go in there with more confidence and be better prepared.
WWE.COM: Eva, do you feel like you have something to prove when you come back?
EVA: I really don’t think it’s something to prove, but I think the WWE Universe might not know that I tried out to be a Diva first. That’s what I wanted to do — wrestle. Everything else that happened – “Total Divas” and the main roster — came along so quickly. When I come back, I want to showcase what I’ve learned. It’s for the people that have believed in me. I do it for them, to make them proud and happy and have their support. Plus, I love wrestling. This is why I joined WWE. I’m so excited to come back.
WWE.COM: What are your goals?
EVA: I’m going after the Divas Title for sure. There needs to be a little change in the Divas Division.I’ll add some red spice to it for sure.
WWE.COM: Do you think that’s a possibility, Brian?
KENDRICK: I don’t see why not. It’s going to take time, but she’s put in a lot of hard work. I think she’s going to do great. A championship is definitely in her future.