Exclusive interview: Catching up with Kaitlyn
It’s rare to see someone as comfortable doling out bruises as she is discussing the leisure habits of unicorns, but Divas like Kaitlyn don’t come around very often. Emerging in WWE as part of the infamous third season of WWE NXT — long before the brand grew into the WWE Network juggernaut it is today — Kaitlyn endeared herself to the WWE Universe with a quirky charm, winning the competition and joining the main roster in 2010.
Battling alongside and against her fellow “Chickbuster,” AJ Lee, Kaitlyn enjoyed an impressive Divas Championship reign before leaving WWE in early 2014. With WWE behind her, Kaitlyn launched her own clothing business, Celestial Bodiez, and began married life with her fellow fitness impresario PJ Braun, president of Prime Nutrition and Blackstone Labs.
One year later, WWE.com caught up with Kaitlyn to talk about life after WWE, her business pursuits, her favorite WWE memories and the power of “Booty Scrunch.”
WWE.COM: For anyone that hasn’t been keeping up with you on social media, what is Celestial Bodiez exactly?
KAITLYN: It’s kind of a cool story. When I was wrestling, the seamstresses on the road with us would always put this ruching — this special seam in the rear — in all of my outfits. It was so flattering, and I was so obsessed that for everything I had made, I would always have that ruching put in. I have coined it “Booty Scrunch,” because that’s basically what it is. In layman’s terms, it scrunches the fabric on your booty in a way that makes it more flattering, and I was just kind of asking myself, “Why isn’t anyone else doing this on workout pants or anything spandexy?” So that’s kind of where it originated.
You see it a lot in swimsuits, but I’ve come to find out that it’s a lot harder to put into activewear because the materials are made to last and move with you, and it’s hard to put that seam in. I went through so many prototypes, and I wanted to punch myself in the face because I didn’t think I was going to get it right. Even when we launched last June, my patterns now are so different from when I started, because whenever I would come up with a new batch, I would tweak the patterns based on the feedback I would get on social media.
WWE.COM: How did the challenges of being a WWE Diva prepare you for becoming an entrepreneur?
KAITLYN: It’s totally different in some aspects and it’s completely the same in others. When you’re part of WWE, you are part of a huge brand and a huge company, but you’re also a brand yourself. So we always made sure that we had it together when we got on an airplane or when we walked into an arena because you have to have a certain image to uphold. You are your own brand. Going off that, it pays because I’m completely in charge of my brand now.
WWE.COM: “Booty Scrunch” is coming along at the right time, since we’re basically in the Year of the Booty. What’s it like to be a part of that phenomenon?
KAITLYN: Butts are totally in! [Laughs] I want to do a cheesy, low-budget commercial where my slogan is just, “Butts are in.” I love it, because originally my vision for it was to hug the curves of an athletic woman with muscles. Everyone loves a big, round, muscular butt these days, and it’s only helping society embrace that. I hope to be a household name in societies that cherish a big butt.
WWE.COM: On that note, let’s switch gears and take things back a few years, when you introduced yourself to the WWE Universe in the third season of WWE NXT. How would you describe that experience?
KAITLYN: So many times, I get asked how I got hired. I always start off by telling people that everyone’s story is different. Another thing I say is that I was given the best opportunity possible, whether I thought it was, at that time, or not. I debuted with no experience. I had never wrestled before, and it was live TV. That show was made to put intense pressure on you, and also kind of make you look like an idiot sometimes, and see how you react to it and whether you could rise to the occasion.
I really had nothing to lose, and having that mentality really helped me be more comfortable because I figured, “Okay, no one thinks I can wrestle and nobody thinks I’m going to be good. I can kind of just build myself as I go.” I didn’t have a ‘character,’ I was straight-up, 100 percent me. And apparently, people sort of liked that, for whatever reason!
WWE.COM: Of course, you won that season, but it couldn’t have been easy as it went on. What was it like having to participate in different challenges each week?
KAITLYN: They kept us in the dark for a lot of it. It was a lot of fun for the people behind the scenes watching, and it was fun for everyone in the crowd watching because a lot of that stuff was so embarrassing. We would cringe after the show was over but, ultimately, it made us better. In the end, it’s so true that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So if you can make it through an impromptu dance contest with Michael Cole, you’re gonna be okay.
WWE.COM: He was always pretty critical on commentary when it came to WWE NXT …
KAITLYN: Years later, I would have such a hard time being nice to him! [Laughs] He’s really the nicest person ever, and he would always help in any way he could behind the scenes. He’s great, but a lot of us were traumatized by him!
WWE.COM: People today are still talking about NXT Redemption. Why do you think that is?
KAITLYN: That was probably one of the best time periods that I ever had with WWE. We were a show that wasn’t aired on TV here in the States; it was only on WWE.com here, so we kind of had free reign. We had so many opportunities to blossom, and it was legit like an awesome soap opera. Matt Striker got kidnapped, Johnny Curtis was a gross scuzzball and Maxine was amazing. I was actually sad to see her go because she was awesome. And, of course, we had Derrick Bateman. We were all so supportive of each other.
There was competition, but we all really enjoyed being on that show so much because we were all so passionate about it. The people that watched it loved it, and I will say that it was one of the most underrated shows ever in WWE. It was priceless, and I would not trade that for anything. A lot of people kind of made fun of us for being on that show because it obviously wasn’t the most popular show, but it was awesome for us. We all loved it.
WWE.COM: Looking back, do you have any favorite matches or opponents?
KAITLYN: Actually, my favorite match was ironically when I lost my title to AJ at WWE Payback. The best matches are good because there’s emotion in them. We captured people’s attention for so long and there was so much build-up. AJ was my first match, she was my last match, and she taught me the ins and outs. Losing the title to her was this amazing, amazing moment with someone I care about and respect.
But then again, for the same reason, most of my favorite matches were on NXT Redemption. I wrestled Maxine so much then, because for a while we were the only women on NXT Redemption. We got creative, we learned each others’ arsenals, and it was just fun to do stuff you normally wouldn’t get to do. I even got to wrestle Natalya a few times on that show. We got to enjoy what we were doing and really care about it.
WWE.COM: Let’s talk about those Instagram videos you used to do with Big E. Do you miss those?
KAITLYN: Everyone would always say that I was the white girl version of E, which is hilarious. So we just have a really funny friendship and so much fun doing that.
Every once in a while I’ll check his Instagram and there’s nothing on there, which makes me a little disappointed. I’d probably be a little upset with him if someone were to take my place. If there was a guest star in these videos it had to be approved by both of us, and there were probably a few videos that I wasn’t in and of course I was a little sad about it. But they’re so funny, and I was a fan of him and the people we surrounded ourselves with, so it’s definitely something that I do miss.
WWE.COM: Everyone knows about your obsession with “The Simpsons,” especially with Bart’s friend Milhouse. Why the fascination?
KAITLYN: I mean, really, who likes Milhouse?! [Laughs] Nobody likes Milhouse! To me, there are so many classic Milhouse moments that are burned into my mind, that whenever I make a Milhouse reference, if someone knows what I’m talking about, or can join in, it’s the best ever for me. Much like NXT Redemption, Milhouse is super-underrated.
WWE.COM: Nice job steering this back to WWE! Who was your mentor during your time here, during NXT or otherwise?
KAITLYN: In the very beginning, obviously, Vickie Guerrero was my Pro during NXT, and she helped me a lot. But I will say that in the very beginning, when I was on the road after NXT, Beth Phoenix took me under her wing. She was amazing. She never had any ulterior motives, and she loved the business so much. She truly cared about what people were doing and wanted everyone to learn and get better. When I was by myself after that, it was AJ. She went from zero to 100 so fast and had learned so much. Wrestling was her passion since she was a little kid. It was great, because we were already great friends and traveling partners. So I had different mentors at different stages.
WWE.COM: Like yourself, AJ left WWE on her own terms. What are your thoughts on her departure?
KAITLYN: AJ has this weird ability to accomplish anything that she visualizes. So when she worked her way up to the top, she stayed up there. No one has been like her, and no one will ever be like her. She really just felt like she had given everything that she needed to give to this sport in general, and taught people — especially the Divas — as much as she could. She had four amazing WrestleManias, and she made such an impact that she felt like she could walk away and be content with that. I 100 percent support that. She knew the time was right, and knew that she could walk away. She left big shoes to fill, but she helped everyone around her get better. I’m proud of everything that she did.
WWE.COM: In the past year, you’ve gotten married and you started a business. What’s next?
KAITLYN: PJ and I just did a photo shoot for Iron Man Magazine, and we’re actually going to be on the cover of the May issue, with a huge spread on the inside about how we’ve gotten to where we are and how everything was built, and also our relationship. It’s awesome, because I’ve been in WWE Magazine, which was a huge honor, but I’ve never been on the cover of anything. And my husband has been in countless fitness magazines, but he’s never been on a cover either. So for us to be on a cover together, about our life, our style and our companies together, I’m so thrilled.
For me right now, because Celestial Bodiez is still in its infancy, I’m completely focused on it. I just want to expand as much as possible and have new concepts still based all around the Booty Scrunch, but just to build that brand. I want everyone to know that brand, know the logo and know what Booty Scrunch is; that is my goal.
WWE.COM: What celebrity do you most want to see wearing your Booty Scrunch pants?
KAITLYN: I hope to see some WWE icons repping Booty Scrunch …
WWE.COM: Other former Divas, maybe?
KAITLYN: Actually, I’m thinking Hulk Hogan.