Trinity Fatu answers the phone enthusiastically. As WWE Superstar Naomi, Fatu was still the SmackDown Women’s Champion and very proud of it.
After all, it was the culmination of a years-long effort to climb the WWE ladder.
“It’s been a long journey for me, but I think that’s what makes this moment and where I am now so much more meaningful for me and the fans,” says Fatu, a star of E!’s reality show Total Divas and wife of fellow Superstar Jimmy Uso, born Jonathan Fatu.
The first African-American woman to win the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship, Fatu is among the Superstars who are slated to appear as part of SmackDown Live! on Tuesday, July 4, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Monday Night Raw comes to the venue the day prior.
Professional wrestling wasn’t even in the cards when Fatu attended her first live event.
“When I was 21, I went to my first live show and I instantly knew it was something I wanted to do—or at least try,” Fatu says. “At the time, I was cheerleading for the Orlando Magic. I was looking for the next chapter in my life. I went to a wrestling show and I’ve been wrestling ever since.”
What impressed Fatu was the beauty, athleticism and talent of female wrestlers like Alicia Fox and Kelly Kelly.
“I was blown away—especially at the six-Diva tag team match,” she says. “It was a swimsuit match; we don’t do those matches anymore. I thought, ‘I want to do that. I can do that. How do I get into it?’”
During her research, she discovered the independent company Florida Championship Wrestling. She tried out and was accepted in 2009.
In January 2012, she made her WWE main roster debut as a member of The Funkadactyls, backup dancers to Brodus Clay and Tensai. Before heading solo, she teamed with Tamina and Sasha Banks.
“It took me almost eight years get from Florida Championship Wrestling to champion,” she says. “There were many times in my career when I wasn’t sure if I would get there. People said I wouldn’t get there. It just fueled my fire and made me go further.”
The positivity of fans and family helped get her through the tough times.
“We love what we do,” says Fatu, who maintained her title against Lana during the June 18 pay-per-view Money in the Bank. “We’re passionate about it. We’re sensitive about our craft and our work. We’re constantly getting bashed about it. It sucks. Nobody wants to hear bad things or be criticized. It’s all a part of growing and getting better, though.”
Fatu describes her role as Naomi as a full-time gig. Her “days off” aren’t such. She constantly trains, does interviews and watches film.
“It’s so competitive,” she says. “Things change every day, every week. We can never have an off day or break. We don’t have an off season, either. This is year-round.”
The last 12 months have been a whirlwind for Fatu. She starred in The Marine 5: Battleground with fellow wrestlers Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and his wife, Maryse Ouellet; Curtis Axel; Heath Slater and Bo Dallas.
Fatu recently debuted a new entrance, complete with electronic music and neon clothing. The journey was documented on Total Divas.
“The whole process of finding the costumes, the lighting and the makeup was hard,” she says. “It took two years to persuade the WWE to try this new look. I was relentless. I knew it defined me as a performer and the division. That’s why I didn’t give up on the idea.
“If you really set your mind to do something, it’ll happen for you. Sometimes you just have to be patient.”
SmackDown Live!, Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 800.745.3000, talkingstickresortarena.com, 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, tickets start at $20.
Monday Night Raw, Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 800.745.3000, talkingstickresortarena.com, 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 3, tickets start at $20. Combo packages are sold out.