This weekend’s WrestleMania 35 promises to be unprecedented and unforgettable, because for the first time in the show’s storied history, the main event will feature a women’s match, as Raw Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey, takes on both the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch in a historic triple threat match for both titles. But that’s not the only way that the burgeoning women’s division will break new ground at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The card also features the first-ever Women’s Tag Team Championship match at a WrestleMania—as champions Sasha Banks and Bayley defend the belts against Beth Phoenix & Natalya Neidhart, The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce), and Nia Jax & Tamina in a fatal four-way match.
No one will feel the weight of history in this match more than Natalya, whose pedigree is unassailable: She’s a member of the legendary Hart family, and her father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, was one half of the legendary Hart Foundation tag team with her uncle Bret “The Hitman” Hart. She’s also the first woman to hold both the Divas Championship and SmackDown Women’s Championship, and at ‘Mania, she’s reuniting with the recently unretired Beth Phoenix—a three-time Women’s Champion—in the hopes of adding another bullet point to an already enviable resume. And she’s doing this on the same weekend that “The Anvil” is taking his rightful place among wrestling immortality as one of the new inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame, which will air in a ceremony on Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. EST on the WWE Network.
So as the “Divas of Doom” prepare to smash and grapple on the biggest stage of them all, we caught up with Nattie to discuss the rise of the women’s division, her dad’s upcoming Hall of Fame induction, WrestleMania memories, and, well, some very sparkly-sounding costumes.
You and Beth Phoenix face Sasha Banks and Bayley, Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka, and The IIconics in a fatal four-way this Sunday. How ya feeling about it?
I feel excited, and I also feel prepared. Beth and I have been training together, and it’s awesome because she’s just a beast. The first time she got back in the ring, she was tossing bodies around and walking with three girls on her shoulders! And this match is like old school meets the women’s division: We’re The Hart Foundation, Sasha and Bayley are The Rockers, Nia and Tamina are The Wild Samoans, and The IIconics are The Killer Bees. No offense to the women main event-ing WrestleMania, but this match is gonna steal the show. I don’t wanna give any spoilers, but you never know when a legend is gonna pop up…
You and Beth have wrestled together on and off for nearly a decade. What’s it like to have her come out of retirement and reunite with you?
It’s crazy because I believe destiny is always chasing, and a few weeks after my dad passed away last year, Beth lost her dad. It was awful, but it was good that we could lean on each other. She’s more than a friend; she’s like a sister. She’s in the Hall of Fame, but she’s still so young, and now she’s not even rolling it out as one last match. Our costumes at WrestleMania are gonna be very Hart Foundation-inspired. We’ll be rocking the pink and black. Beth’s costume has 15,000 Swarovski crystals, and mine has 14,000. We’re gonna have to win just to pay for them!
The night before this year’s WrestleMania, The Hart Foundation will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. What does that mean to you?
It’s just such a great feeling that all these people are going to share in my dad’s memory. And when you look at the reach of the WWE Network … over 180 countries and 20,000 people live are going to get to watch what my dad achieved, and they’re gonna understand what he meant to me. My dad is going to have the best seat in the house, and I know that he’s gonna be with us. He’s with us now. And he’s with me every day.
For the first time ever, the main event is a women’s match: Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch. What’s it like seeing women grab the spotlight?
I think it’s about time, and it’s not just a victory for those three girls; it’s a victory for all the women of the WWE. It’s a victory for everyone. It’s just a testament to how far the women have come, but guess what? We’re still going to go even further than that. Every year we top ourselves. So it’s very cool that we’re going to see that this year.
What’s your own favorite WrestleMania moment?
WrestleMania X as a fan, because it was my uncle Bret Hart versus my uncle Owen Hart at Madison Square Garden, and it was their dream match, and they told this beautiful story. Anybody that ever wanted to be a professional wrestler, that’s the match to watch. It’s like a clinic. Personally, WrestleMania 31. My husband (T.J. Wilson, aka Tyson Kidd, now a WWE producer following a career-ending injury) and I were in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match, and walking down the ramp in front of 80,000 people with him is a moment I’ll never forget. He was the Tag Team Champion. We started out in WWE together, and we accomplished our dreams together. I just always remember thinking, “We made it. We made it.”