Lucha Underground’s Ivelisse recently spoke with Sports Illustrated about various topics. Here are the highlights.
Why has Lucha Underground been a better home for you as opposed to WWE and TNA?
It’s been a long, hard-fought journey with a lot of sacrifices, but I’m so grateful to be in Lucha Underground. I come from absolutely nothing–a little island on top of a mountain [in Ponce, Puerto Rico]. I went for it, and I have not stopped. There is no other option than perseverance for me, and fortunately, I’ve landed at Lucha Underground with a great opportunity to show what I have on the mic and in the ring. The professional atmosphere is so great backstage, and that’s rare in wrestling.
This business hasn’t been easy. I still struggle to hold onto that positive force that keeps me going. I’ve scratched and crawled, and I obviously don’t have the best luck, being injured again, but I find a way to keep going and persevere. I learned that what I wanted to focus on bringing to the table wasn’t what WWE wanted. It sucked, but it was something I was not willing to compromise. There is a certain integrity to my work that I am so obsessed over–I want to be the best at what I do in every sense possible. There is the politics side, but I can’t be something other than who I am. That is something that hurt my soul, and I tried it but it just wouldn’t work. As long as I can work on perfecting my craft, then I’m happy. When I left WWE, I tried to find that in TNA, but it didn’t work, either. Thankfully, Shine gave me the chance to show who I am really and what I can actually contribute to wrestling, and that’s something for which I am eternally grateful. Now I have that chance on a bigger scale with Lucha Underground. My message is to be a strong female competitor. I don’t get attention for what I wear or what I look like–I get respect through my hard work, and that’s all I’ve done my whole life. As long as I get a chance to do that, I’m happy.
What is a major goal you would like to accomplish in 2016?
Definitely Japan. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to go to Japan last year and the year before, but I couldn’t go for different contract reasons. It’s presented itself again with Stardom and I hope to be able to do that this year.
I’m used to being a singles performer and that’s what I’ve focused on for my entire career, so I’m looking forward to a singles run. I’ve enjoyed the dynamic of being in a team, and seeing what my character can do in that type of situation, but I’m still looking forward to presenting my character in the singles form, which I’m trying to perfect. Also, the support that I get from the fans is something I don’t think they’ll ever really fully grasp how much it means to me. I do this because it’s my passion, but it drives me knowing I have people who believe in me and care about me, and that I in some way, somehow inspire. That is very important to me.
Former NXT trainer Bill DeMott resigned from the WWE amidst allegations of misconduct. Was he one of the reasons you left the WWE? And is it accurate that you and Paige became close in FCW?
Obviously, I’m not the only one who ran into numerous big problems with Bill DeMott. In my personal experience, [his presence] was a big obstacle and big problem. I tried and tried my best to deal with it, but there was only so much I could do when he was in such a position of high power. I am not the type of person to blame someone for any type of failure, but it was a very big obstacle during my time there, especially during the last three months when he was placed in power of the developmental territory.
Paige and I clicked right away in FCW, especially because she had an independent scene background and no one else of the females really did but me. She was the youngest, too, and I wanted to be there for her. We aren’t as close now as we were when we first met, but I’m pretty happy that she managed to find a way to overcome all the crap that made it very, very difficult for one to succeed in that developmental territory. It’s very hard, but she is still there and doing great.
You can read the entire interview here.