Exclusive Interview: Brie Bella on WrestleMania 32 and her future in WWE
As one of the most outspoken female Superstars in WWE and a mainstay on E!’s “Total Divas” for five seasons, Brie Bella surprised the WWE Universe in recent days by keeping silent about her plans for the future until after WrestleMania 32 came to a close.
After fighting valiantly for The Total Divas, the former Divas Champion promptly fueled speculation about her WWE career with an unexpected and candid Instagram post one day later. Without giving any previous hints about her post-WrestleMania plans, Brie stated in her post that the experience at AT&T Stadium in Dallas “made [her] last night feel sooo special.”
Her Instagram comments immediately begged the question: Was WrestleMania 32 the last time the WWE Universe will get the chance to experience Brie Mode? WWE.com caught up with Brie Bella to ask about her WrestleMania moment, her future in and out of the ring, and the current state of women’s wrestling in WWE.
WWE.COM: There's been a lot of speculation around the internet regarding your current status with WWE. Is there anything you would like to announce to the WWE Universe?
BRIE BELLA: Yes. WrestleMania 32 was my last match.
I wouldn't say my last match forever, just my last match that you'll see in a while. I am here at home because Daniel Bryan and I want to start a family soon. Or I shouldn't say soon — we want to start it now! We're going to start having babies, so I have to put my career on hold.
It doesn't mean that I'm going to be gone. I'm going to be an ambassador for WWE. But I'm going to try motherhood.
WWE.COM: So, this isn't an official retirement then, but it is more than just a break.
I wouldn't say [WrestleMania 32] was my last match forever, just my last match that you'll see in a while.
BRIE BELLA: Exactly. The hardest part is that it takes a while to have a baby. So, I hate saying retirement because after I have kids, I would love to make a comeback into the ring. I feel like I could bring a whole army with me, like Trish Stratus, who's a mother. Michelle McCool, who's a mother. Beth Phoenix, who's a mom. It’s a good bunch of us who could come back and have one hell of a career.
I just don't know the timing of it. I don't know if it will be a year and a half, two years or three years. So, it feels like a retirement. At the same time, I'm just not going to close that door.
WWE.COM: When did you make the decision to step away from the ring?
BRIE BELLA: Daniel and I have been wanting kids for a while. It's always been on our mind, and we know we wanted it sooner rather than later.
I think, too, something that just made me know everything was happening for a reason and in the right place was when he was forced to retire, having to move on and start a new chapter in his life. It just made me realize like it's time for me to start a new chapter with him. It's time for both of us to start the next stage of our lives, which is parenthood. I felt like that just sent this light bulb going off in my head, saying, “Okay, it's time. We definitely need to start trying.”
WWE.COM: Around the time of Daniel Bryan’s retirement, was that also where you started to look at WrestleMania 32 for a possible swan song?
BRIE BELLA: Definitely. I was thinking, “Okay, let's go till SummerSlam, or maybe even next year.” I didn't know when, exactly.
When he retired, I definitely knew, okay, WrestleMania 32 in Dallas — the largest stadium, probably the largest audience we'll have — what a great place to have my last night! Especially when I found out that I would be in the ring and on my team with Paige, Nattie, Eva and Foxy... These are my good friends, and these are the girls I've had some great memories with. I've had so much fun in my career with them. This is a happy ending, and you can't beat that.
WWE.COM: How was the reception from your fellow Superstars once you broke the news to everybody?
BRIE BELLA: You know, I'll tell you: When I broke the news to everyone, I thought people might be excited. Like, "Yes! The Bella Twins, outta here! Now we gotta work on Nikki!"
I was overwhelmed with the support and the love. I can't even explain to you what it meant to me. I'm very close to every girl in the locker room. And I don't think people know this about me: I did always act kind of a like a mother hen back there. I truly care about all the women, and I care about the division. I always tried to work so hard to get the division to where I see it today.
I always tried to work so hard to get the [women's] division to where I see it today.
To be a part of history that night, to have two Divas matches at WrestleMania 32, to have the Divas Title go away and the Women's Title be introduced, to have the term “Divas” go away and just be considered equal to the men... I mean, I can't even explain to you. I've been waiting for this for the last nine years. I'm just so proud of every single girl. And to, all of a sudden, have them turn around and say, "Brie, you're one of the reasons," or, "Brie, we're sad to see you go, but thank you for what you did," it made me very emotional. This is the feeling women have probably when they have children. It was an amazing connection, but it truly just put a smile on my heart.
WWE.COM: Was there any particular advice or kind words that somebody specifically offered along the way that helped with the process?
BRIE BELLA: Oh, definitely. I've actually been really lucky to have some big influences in my career. From starting at developmental, Nattie was one of the ones to help me start wrestling, to getting on the road. Victoria, being my debut match and saying, "Hey, kid. I'll get you through these first matches you have on TV.". And, my sister, Nikki, just being the best darnn tag partner you could ever have to work with. And Trish Stratus, to Lita, to what the division is now with Sasha and Becky and Charlotte and Paige.
So it's incredible. I probably had 20 different, incredible women wrestlers tweet and Instagram me with just wisdom and the kindest words. One I really wept to was Trish Stratus just saying, “If you need any advice for a wrestler to become a momma, I'm available.” I thought that was really neat. And one I almost forgot was Stephanie McMahon. When I was working with her, I can't even explain how much I learned.
WWE.COM: Transitioning to WrestleMania itself: how did it compare to your past experiences given that this year was also your last night?
BRIE BELLA: I think it's actually funny because when I found out about the Women's Championship coming, I thought, "Of course. Out of all the nights to retire, I'm retiring this night. Can I take it back?"
What's really special is that not only will it be a night that, as women, we'll never forget … the fact that that it was a night for women's history, the fact that we're equal to Superstars and men … it's also the night I retire. So, two very special moments for myself — one being historic and the other one just being special to me. I'll never forget that.
WWE.COM: As someone who has fought to bring the women's division to prominence, what was your impression on how the Women's Championship proceedings and match played out?
BRIE BELLA: Oh, my gosh. It was crazy. It's so hard to explain because it was such an overwhelming feeling. I couldn't stop smiling. I was just so proud of the three girls in the match. I felt like this is probably what women felt like the day it was announced that women can vote, or the day that women started in business and started feeling equal to men, owning and running companies. For me, I just felt like “Whoa, this is it! This is no longer about men and women. This is about all of us being Superstars.” It's a very surreal feeling, and I just can't believe that I was actually there to witness it and be a part of it.
WWE.COM: Will you miss the term “Diva”?
I still have a long road for ["Total Divas"] to follow, and I'm willing to show all of that.
BRIE BELLA: No! Absolutely not. Granted, of course, I have so many memories being a Diva. I guess it will always hold a special part of me. We always called ourselves Divas. I came in through Diva Search. I was a Divas Champion.
I always felt like it had this negative feeling to it because a Diva is so much more high maintenance, and that's the last thing we women wrestlers are. I'm really happy to see it go, just as I was really sad when I saw the original Women's Championship go away. It's amazing to just finally have it. So, yeah, I definitely won't miss it.
WWE.COM: This is the second time that you've stepped away from the squared circle. How different is this experience compared to the last time?
BRIE BELLA: Last time, I wasn't ready to leave. I just felt like I had to leave because I wasn't happy with where my career was going.
This time, I felt ready. I think, too, because my husband, Daniel Bryan, has not only been my number one cheerleader, he's been my coach. He's the one who's made me excel in wrestling. And he's been everything. I think not having him on the road or him not being a part of it, to him being forced to move on, it makes me feel like it's time for me to move on. It couldn’t feel more right that this timing has worked out for both of us. This time, the fact that I came home to him and to Josie, and that we're going to start this exciting new life together, it kind of made me not shed any tears.
WWE.COM: Will you continue to appear on Total Divas in some capacity?
BRIE BELLA: I will. The audience has supported us for, gosh, five seasons. They've followed [Bryan] and our lives, seen us dating to getting engaged to getting married. I felt it's only fair for all of the audience that has followed our craziness for so long to see us becoming parents. I really do want to see them that you can make one hell of a comeback after being a mom. Look at Stephanie McMahon and I at SummerSlam.
I still have a long road for them to follow, and I'm willing to show all of that.
WWE.COM: At this point in time, do you feel like you've left women's wrestling in a better place than you've found it?
[The Bella Twins] were never models; we were athletes. We were athletes who fell in love with wrestling.
BRIE BELLA: One hundred percent. I definitely feel that. I feel like people always thought my sister and I were models. I think it was just because if you went through Diva Search, that's just what you were. We were never models; we were athletes. We were athletes who fell in love with wrestling. When I took my first back bump in a ring down in Georgia, I was like, "Yep, this is my calling. This is everything I've been searching for in life."
I always worked so hard to get the image of [being a] model away from me and become known as a wrestler. I knew I'd have to work extra hard and gain way more respect than anyone has to in the business. I worked really hard for that and I have to say, that, you know, nine years later, I feel like this is everything I dreamed of. This is everything I dreamed the division could be.