LACEY Evans has told SunSport how a career in the Marines prepared her for life as a WWE Superstar – and how she doesn’t think rival and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch could cut it as a US Marine.
The “Sassy Southern Belle” was called up from NXT in January and attacked Becky Lynch the night after WrestleMania, beginning a four-month long feud with “The Man”.
After several attempts at Becky’s title, Lacey was also guest referee in the main event of Stomping Grounds – which is released on DVD next Monday August 12 – and used her role to stack the deck against Becky’s real-life boyfriend and Universal champ Seth Rollins.
The feud culminated with a hard-hitting mixed tag match at Extreme Rules, with Lacey teaming with Baron Corbin in a losing effort against Becky and Seth.
But before WWE, Lacey had a five-year career in the US Marines. With her experience, Lacey could lay claim to being the legitimately toughest woman on the active roster.
And though Becky has bested her so far, Lacey doesn’t think Becky has the right stuff for military life.
Speaking exclusively to SunSport, Lacey said about Becky: “She’s a tough broad, I’ll give her that. But do I think she has what it takes to be United States Marines? No, I don’t.
“I think this is more her style – she’s a superstar. In the Marine Core you’re not. You’re working as a team. But who knows? It’s three months of boot camp. I’m sure she’d give it hell trying.”
Lacey signed up for the Marines aged 19 and served as a military police officer and as part of the SWAT-like Special Reactions Team, charged with protecting military bases from potential threats, such as terrorists.
She said: “My job was to have quick reactions, enforce rules and regulations, and protect the bases where I was stationed.
“It was a strenuous job – I was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was on a team of seven that would have stop a threat at any given time.
“And it was a dangerous job. You always had to be ready and confident, take initiative and make split second decisions, and do what’s necessary to bring people home safe.”
Lacey was an amateur wrestler during her school years but admits she wasn’t a fan of pro wrestling until a staff sergeant – who moonlighted as a wrestler himself – took her to an indie show in Georgia.
A week later, at her second ever show, she stepped in the ring and wrestled the staff sergeant. She was inspired to start a career in sport-entertainment because of her own tough upbringing.
Coming from a broken home and raised by a drug addict father, life was so hard that Lacey and her siblings often had to sleep in tents.
She said: “My father, my mother, and my family have suffered from addiction and depression. Growing up I didn’t know kind of life I wanted, but I knew for a fact what life I didn’t want. That really helped mould me into who I am today.
“What got my attention at this little promotion in Georgia was the fans – the kids and the parents. You could tell they didn’t have much – they were just doing what they could on a Saturday and enjoying the show. I saw myself in those kids.
“To think I could be put on a platform and impact children and young adults to break the cycle and motivate themselves out of certain situations… I wanted to go back that next Saturday and show them what a motivator looks like and what you can accomplish if you don’t give in.”
A WOMAN’S RIGHT
Driven by her own tough childhood, Lacey excelled in all areas of her military career – including being the top shot in her company – and even began her own construction business while still serving.
Armed with her “Woman’s Right” finisher – a devastating punch to the jaw – and a slick moonsault, Lacey’s wrestling career so far has seen similar success.
She was signed to NXT after just two years on the indie scene and was one of the 32 competitors in the inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament.
Her “Sassy Southern Belle” character was a hit with fans and she was called up from NXT to compete in this year’s women’s Royal Rumble match.
After a wobbly star on the main roster – which saw her mostly coming out to wave at fans – Lacey jumped Becky Lynch on the Raw after WrestleMania.
Just 24-hours after Becky had won both Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships in the first ever headlining women’s match at Mania, it was a huge responsibility and a sign of confidence from WWE for Lacey to be put into a story with “The Man”.
Lacey said: “It’s been quite the rollercoaster coming from NXT to Monday Night Raw. I’ve definitely been thrown in but NXT really prepped me to take on this challenge – it’s on the job training because everyone you get in the ring with is different.
“Up here on Raw there’s a whole new set of girls that I need to work with and learn from.”
She had great fun as guest referee at Stomping Grounds – including nailing Seth Rollins with a low blow – but the in-ring highlight so far was the highly-entertaining mixed tag match at Extreme Rules, which exceeded expectations.
And though she says there are lots of differences between life in the military and life as a WWE Superstar, in some ways her experiences in the marines prepped her for wrestling.
She said: “I don’t wake up and wonder if I’m going to die or be put in a situation where I have to stop a threat. I can breathe a little lighter in this job.
“But there are comparisons. I have to ready at any given time – early mornings, late nights, and with your bags packed and ready.
“And at any time you might be put in front of thousands of people and have to make decisions, have confidence, and not shut down – whether it’s in the ring, behind a mic, or on a TV show.
“We’re pushed to our limits, just like in the military. And I’m thankful I got that military training. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt, there’s nothing I can be faced with at this point in my life that would ever make me back down – not physically, mentally, or emotionally. I know what I’m capable of.”
Lacey’s biggest challenge is balancing life as a WWE superstar and as mother to a young daughter. Lacey puts it down to “lots of coffee and lots of planning.”
She said: “I have to pre-plan everything, down to the shirts that my daughter wears. She starts first grade this year and she’ll be home schooled and on the road with me.
“I’m a super hero to her. She doesn’t like it when her mother loses but other than that, it’s great – she thinks I’m amazing. She watches every minute of me in the ring.
“The key to it all is my husband. Without him there’s no way that I could juggle this. My husband is my biggest fan and has been since we were 15-years-old.
“We grew up together and he is my rock through this all. He gets on the planes with me and makes sure my baby’s taken care of.”
Fans will tell you that the best characters in wrestling are the ones that amplify real personalities, such as Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock. And Lacey Evans genuinely believes in herself as “The Lady of WWE”.
She said: “You don’t want me to put my boots back on because I’m not afraid of mud and guts. However, I’m also a lady – I cook, I clean, I’m a mother, I’m a wife and I take pride in every bit of that.
“I believe women should be OK with their feminism and be OK with their beauty. And I believe that if a woman wants to make sure her husband has a hot meal when he gets home, that’s just fine. I can bake a pie just as good as I can fire a weapon. Women are bad-a**.
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“In my opinion, women today are forced to do what the men can do and outshine the men, to the point they’re forgetting the power and beauty of what woman are.
“The Lady of WWE will not let you forget that women are strong. We can cook and clean and be mothers – and also kick you’re a**. That’s what Lacey Evans stands for – the all-American woman.”
Lacey has kept a low profile since her loss at Extreme Rules and now Becky Lynch is focused on her SummerSlam opponent Natalya, but Lacey Evans knows what’s next for her in WWE.
She said: “Anything that involves being the women’s champion. I’m the prime example of what all women should be and I should hold the title.
“Should I have to sweat for it? Absolutely not. I think it should just be given to me. Unfortunately, that can’t happen unless I can pull some more strings.”
Stomping Grounds is out on DVD Monday August 12.