Introducing Lacey Evans: Meet the #LadyofNXT
Lacey Evans may be one of the newest additions to NXT’s Women’s division, but her entry into the world of sports-entertainment is both inspiring and heartwarming. Find out how the proud mother and former Marine turned into an NXT Superstar.
WWE.COM: You started at the WWE Performance Center a year ago. What has the experience been like to train and perform under the WWE umbrella?
LACEY EVANS: Amazing! (The trainers) really push you to do your best. They are always there for anything you need, but for the most part, they expect you to take the initiative and I love that about this company. It is different from the life I’ve lived because everything in the Performance Center is top-notch. The medical care, gear, training equipment and facility are the best in the world. I came from a background where I had to share everything with seven other siblings. From hand-me-downs to sleeping in tents, we had to make what we had work. With WWE, they give you everything you need to perform at your best.
WWE.COM: You have a very unique background as a former Marine. Tell us about the time you spent serving our country.
EVANS: I served for five years. My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was Military Police 5811 with a secondary MOS Special Reaction Team 5816. I loved the Marines. I loved being a police officer and I loved the non-stop challenges that I had to face. I graduated as the company’s highest shooter out of boot camp. From there, I had MCT (Marine Combat Training), where I graduated as squad leader, receiving a Meritorious Mast award. I was in charge of an entire squad for 30 days. It was my job to keep accountability, task out jobs to complete missions and make sure we were all on the same page before responding to scenarios that were put in front of us.
From there, I went to my MOS training. By the end of the nearly year-long stay in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., I graduated top of my entire class as the Honor Graduate and was stationed at Parris Island, S.C. My job was to make sure the base entrances were secure, that people entering were scanned and cleared and that people within the bases were safe and abiding by the rules set forth by the Marine Corps. I became part of the Special Reactions Team (Military SWAT), where after my training, I became the assistant breacher. My duties during this time were responding to active shooter and hostage situations, barricaded suspects, terrorist threats, suspicious packages and felony stops, to name a few. I also graduated with a bachelor's degree in health administration management. Before leaving the Marines, I was the Training Non-Commission Officer, where it was my job to set up all training scenarios each week that my unit would partake in. I was in charge of all administrative and logistics of getting the training planned, scheduled and the accountability for the Marines involved.
WWE.COM: What led to your departure from the Marine Corps?
EVANS: When I was a corporal at age 22, I started a construction company. By the time I was a sergeant, three of my siblings moved in with me due to their problems with drug addiction or needing help with starting over in their lives. I put them to work for my company, bought another house to help with their living situation and did everything I could to motivate them to do better. Before I knew it, I was juggling the Marines, being a mother and wife, assisting my siblings in getting better and running a construction company. I did all this because I knew they needed me. I thought I was doing a good job setting the example and being what they needed until I discovered my brother had attempted suicide. Thankfully, he survived. Long story short, we had a rough childhood and it showed on their faces every day. I knew I couldn’t reenlist, get stationed far away and leave them in the mental state they were in.
WWE.COM: You sacrificed a lot for your family. Why did you choose to pursue a career in sports-entertainment?
EVANS: Because I want to be famous. And not for the reasons most would. I want a voice. I want people to know who I am and hear my story. I want people to see me get in the ring and give it everything I have, even though I come from a broken home. I want my siblings to know that I push myself the way I have always tried to push them. I want to show the world that it doesn’t matter where you come from; you can become anything you set your mind to, even when the cards are stacked against you. My dad always wanted to be a wrestler, but he never imagined he could, so he just did what he knew, which was construction and drugs. Because he settled for the life he lived and eventually overdosed two years ago before I could even tell him the news that I signed with WWE. Because it’s my chance to make a difference in the world on a large scale and help motivate the ones who doubt themselves and want to give up.
WWE.COM: How did you go about pursuing sports-entertainment?
EVANS: I knew a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps who was also an independent wrestler, so one Saturday I decided to attend one of the shows. After the show, I expressed an interest to the staff sergeant about stepping inside the ring myself. The next week, he worked with me every day at the military base gym, training me just enough to compete in a match on the next show, which was the following Saturday. It took one match against a 250-pound opponent in front of a crowd of 40 people that made me fall in love with wrestling. I continued to train in the sport, watched videos, practiced promos in front of my daughter and poor husband every chance I got and wrestled every weekend with American Premier Wrestling in Statesboro, Ga., up until the day of my WWE tryout.
WWE.COM: What led to your NXT tryout and subsequent hiring?
EVANS: After my first match, the promotor at APW, Tom Caiazzo, who was also a professor at Georgia State University, made a phone call that changed my life. Caiazzo had written the autobiography for the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase many years before. Since they were still good friends, Caiazzo made the call to Ted, who requested a resume and photos. From there, it was forwarded to the powers-that-be, and the tryout was set for September of 2015.
WWE.COM: You mentioned having a young daughter. How hard has it been to pursue this dream while being a mother at home?
EVANS: Hard on my heart, at times, but I have the biggest supporter I could ask for, and that’s my husband, whom I’ve been with since the age of 15. For 13 years, he has always understood my need for challenging myself in life and does nothing but motivate me to do so. We work together to make sure she gets everything she needs from us as parents; she goes to the shows, travels with me with her activity bag ready and her mini NXT Women’s Championship Title. She’s no stranger to the locker room and knows all the NXT wrestlers. She’s only 4 years old and needs her mama, so I try my best to juggle both. At the end of long days, I’ve got to take care of a little lady who means the world to me. Sometimes I have to work out on the porch while she’s asleep, just so I can stay in shape. It’s hard, but how can I teach her to follow her dreams if I don’t follow mine?
WWE.COM: You often use #LadyofNXT to describe yourself on social media. What’s the meaning behind the hashtag?
EVANS: I love that, as a lady, I’ve accomplished what I have. As a business owner, a veteran, a wife, a mother, a wrestler and a motivator, I love what a lady stands for. Being a woman, raising a little lady and knowing that a lady can be powerful, classy, educated and hard-working. #LadyofNXT stands for showing my daughter and women all over the world that we have no limits, that we are capable of anything. We can take care of business, cook a meal, clean a house, raise babies, handle weapons, protect our family, be a force to be reckoned with and still put on a dress at the end of the day with class, dignity and manners.
WWE.COM: I understand you also support a number of charities?
EVANS: I am a huge supporter of addiction and depression support programs for youths and young adults. I have talked to underprivileged children at local schools in Florida about life challenges and how their decisions affect their future. My goal is to have a larger involvement with charities that help youth and adults who feel they just want to give up.
WWE.COM: You recently had a chance to help out during an NXT tryout. How was that experience?
EVANS: After almost a year in NXT, I’ve watch wrestlers give everything they have. Our Superstars deal with severe injuries, leave their families weekly to train and travel and push themselves to their personal and professional limits. When I found out I had an opportunity to help with a tryout, I took it as a huge responsibility. I may be new to this, but I know how hard our guys and girls work. When I step foot in that room during a tryout, I look for their breaking point. I look for their ability to stay focused under pressure, listen to commands and safely execute orders. I make sure they leave this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity knowing it was one of the hardest things they will do in their life and have somewhat of an understanding of what we do on a daily basis.
WWE.COM: What can fans expect to see from you over the coming months and years?
EVANS: Expect hard work and dedication. I have a passion and reason that is untouchable. I’ve got a lot of new things in the works, from my look to my wrestling moves, that are very unique and represent who I am. I have every intention of showing the world just what a lady with class and confidence is capable of.
Follow Lacey on Twitter @Macey_Estrella.