Summer Rae On Slapping Natalya, WWE Return, Total Divas, Why She Loves Watching AEW

Danielle Moinet (@daniellemoinet) is a former WWE Superstar who performed under the name Summer Rae. She sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Hollywood, CA to talk about her recent return to WWE at the Royal Rumble, appearing on Total Divas, the slap heard around the world to Natalya, her storylines with Rusev and Dolph Ziggler, becoming a dancer for Fandango, the heated promo she cut when her character broke up with Rusev, what he DMs typically look like, her advice for men trying to schedule a first date and much more!

On wanting to get back in the ring:

“So I miss wrestling. I personally wouldn’t, I have a bone spur on a vertebra in my neck and I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. So I’m doing good, but at the end of my injury I like, I kind of have the tingling in my hands where I couldn’t really open doors and that was a little scary to me. So for me, I miss storytelling. I constantly write ideas and pitches down and like, submit them to certain promotions. And I have all these ideas that I miss and I do want to be a part of it again, I do think I have a lot more to give. And especially from like, I was telling you a standpoint of being present in the moment, how I would do things so differently, so much more confident and have fun with it, like so much more fun. I don’t think I could wrestle every week and be in that role. And I don’t think that’s my purpose, either. I think, you know, being able to highlight talents, and pull the best out of them and being able to make them the main thing and being able to showcase new younger talent and bring them up with what I know from the business. I would love to do something like that.”

On swearing on her Royal Rumble 2022 entrance:

“I don’t remember that. I definitely blacked out. I definitely blacked out. Um, again, I don’t know how I’m on live TV like streams for horse racing. I used to work for NASCAR. And there’s like all this stuff where you can’t curse and I’m just because of wrestling. It’s just f this f that like I have the worst potty mouth. So I don’t remember that. But that went viral. Yeah. And I’m like, Oh, no. And so I knew what I was given, you know, was two minutes, and I was gonna make the best of it. So it definitely wasn’t the F you. But Nattie and I milked our storyline.”

On being announced for the Royal Rumble ahead of time:

“You know, I was bummed that they announced me before because I felt like no one thought I was going to come back ever. And I’m so good at hiding stuff like pretending that I’m somewhere else and I’m like, I’m going to pretend I’m in Dubai or something like that. also, like, old like I travel so much that like, I can put that on a boat somewhere and I don’t even have to put that it’s St. Barts or you know whatever it is. I hit my hair colour change. I wanted it to be When I was in Maxim Hot 100 I wanted to debut on the red carpet. So I think I posted me with blonde hair for like a week and then I just showed up one day. Yeah. So I remember when they said they were gonna announce me, they literally called me the day of and I was doing cardio. And it was Smackdown. And they were like, Hey, we need to sell tickets. We’re gonna announce the twins, you, Mickie James. And I was like, Mickey, I’m like, don’t announce Mickey. She’s the champ like no, like, ah, and which is I mean. Oh my gosh, that’s like such a no, no, with WWE and like, the forbidden door and everything like that. So I wasn’t gonna fight with him on me. But I’m like, I really think that’s a mistake for Mickey, but like, well, what company I’m in to be announced, you know, with the twins and Mickey. I’m like, okay, cool. And then I’m like, I haven’t told any of my friends. Like I was fabing everyone. And so I was like, Okay, now I have to call my best friend. So I like stopped doing cardio. And I called, like, two or three people. But guess what, I’m going back. Like, how long have you known three weeks? So when it came out that night, I will say that was cool. The internet was like, super excited. You know, even the haters were like, well, at least she is not back for good. Like, they’re like, cool, I’ll have one night you know, or whatever. But people, most people were excited. And it’s crazy. Because you just don’t know, if you’re gonna have a five-minute thing or a two-minute or whatever. So for me, I was like, I don’t need to train. I’m fine. Like, you know, it’s like riding a bike spin kicks, spin kicks, cover, like, it’ll be fine, you know. And so when we showed up, it’s just so many moving parts. And I can’t imagine having the job of the producers to do that. And as my first rumble, you know, I’ll show up, do what you want. But I’m gonna get my stuff over character-wise online, and I’m gonna get myself over. So yeah, and everyone says that too like, Oh, you’re only in it for a little bit. And then like, we all get paid the same? Well, not really. But like, I’m like, we’re all getting paid. And what a moment. And I actually was so so so so nervous backstage, so I’m like, Oh, God, I only have like a little bit to get it out. And it makes the fans want more, you know, you don’t go in there and mess up a 10-minute thing and then they never want to see you again.”

On people thinking there is heat between her and Natalya:

“I know. And I was thinking before I was even thinking before this that I was like, Do I fabe save him the whole interview and like keep the natty thing because even when I’m down training, Natty won’t post me on their Instagram, she’s, we got to keep it up. And I’m like, Yeah, before Natty leaves wrestling, we have to have our feud. She absolutely crushed her double segue match with Rhea and it was so good. Natty is such a good trainer. And I think that’s the one thing that people don’t know about her is she’s so patient. And when you’ve wrestled decades, and it’s just in your blood, how can you not? She probably knows like 72 pins. And so she’s so patient. And her and TJ are just so in love. It’s so gross to say. They’ve been together since they like, met when they were 13 I was actually just telling someone this like they met when they were 13 years old and she’s in the ring teaching us all and he’s just like looking at her, and like being in love and I’m like I hate this. What am I gonna find like, what is this? Like aren’t you sick of her? I’m sick of her.”

On the storyline between Summer Rae, Dolph Ziggler, Rusev and Lana:

“The Rusev, Lana, Dolph storyline was cool because it actually seems really organic like bringing in Dolph, you know, like having us do that we all really enjoyed working with each other when it first like started happening, me Single White Femaling her like pretending to be her and stuff like that was good. But yeah, when it definitely broke down Lana got injured. I can’t remember what and she was still learning how to wrestle at the time. Like she hadn’t wrestled much on the main roster so I was trying to teach her things as well as we’re going along. Yeah, when the TMZ storyline got mysteriously leaked to TMZ no one cares, we aren’t Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, you know. That really set Vince off and like everyone, because I don’t know why. But we were like the favourite storyline of him. It was crazy. I think at the time, Cena had had a storyline for four months, and we were going on three, so just wasn’t something you were seeing like how they do nowadays, like amazing, long storylines. The storytelling in WWE right now is just really coming around so differently. But it was interesting that we were like, we were getting crossover position, like great, you know, positions. And so when I went there, he was really upset. I think the head writers at the time were really upset too, because they had just been so invested in it. And I think the fans aren’t dumb like to know that there was never a payoff like we never had a payoff match. Lana and I never went back and forth. We never had the doubles match even like, so clearly something went wrong in the storyline. And so thank God, we were in Chicago, the best wrestling crowd, in my opinion in the nation, because Europe is great, as well.”

On the sudden conclusion to the storyline:

“So when the Rusev Lana storyline blew up in our faces. We’re in Chicago just happened to be and I lived in Chicago, for seven years big Bears fan. So like people knew that. And usually, I would get pretty solid reactions even if I was on Main Event or something. I was like, Oh, that’s weird I’m over. And we found out that day, I think they called me into the office. I don’t even think it was Vince. I think the head writers called me and they were like, hey, it’s on TMZ no one’s bigger than WWE. That’s a big thing for Vince was like, and Cena would always talk about that, like, no one’s bigger than WWE. And they don’t want you to think that either. So like, Oh, you want to go to TMZ and say you guys are married? Well, and that kind of ruins our storyline, which in my opinion, I don’t think it did ruin it, it’s kayfabe it’s day one. But yeah, like you want to do that? Well, watch this. It’s over. You’re breaking up with him today. Do you want to write your own promo? And I’m like, what? And yeah, and they’re like, Okay, great. We’re gonna put you together with a writer. You guys can go out and like write it. Because I was p*ssed, like, I was so mad. I was like, God, we just did all this. There’s no payoff. Like, what do I do? I’m on the European tour with them. Like, now am I kicked off European tour like that’s $15-20,000. Like, I’m just not going on tour. So the whole thing I was like so mad. And so Jimmy Jacobs and I sat in at the United States are in the arena. And Jimmy Jacobs was like, not obviously new to wrestling, but I think he was like, newer at WWE. And so he was like, Okay, we got to write this. And I just sat there. And I really told him everything. I love writing promos. I love it. Like, I want to write things for other people. I have this whole idea of watching Jungle Boy Turn the other day, and I was like, Oh, I’m gonna DM him and tell him this idea. Like, I have these ideas pouring out of me. And so we wrote the promo. And I think he went and got it approved. And right before and I was hot, like I was p*ssed and right before we went out Rusev came up to me and he was like, I don’t like this line, I don’t think we should do this line. And I said, Okay, well, I don’t like that this just happens. So this is what’s happening. [what was the line?] I think it was about him not having balls or something like or being I don’t remember if I said that you’re a little bitch, but he says, I’m like, This doesn’t make sense. But then I also described what I said to him, I said I put you over, like Dusty’s thing was always like, if you trash someone, then who cares if you beat them? So if you don’t put them over first, and then say like, Oh, that was the hardest match. You know, like people in the NBA will be like, Oh, it was a hard game, blah, blah, blah. But here we are. Yeah, if you just start like, oh, so easy. I beat him this and that. And it’s like, well, then, why should we care?”

On a rumoured Royal Rumble 2023 return:

“Yeah. So I recently God I think it was like in January, I went in the ring, Tenille was going back to the Royal Rumble. Wait, that was this year. Yeah. And she said when she showed up to the rumble practice that all of the girls were like, where’s Danielle? And she’s like, what do you what do you mean? She’s like, Danielle, like she’s in the rumble, right? And they’re like, No. So she’s like, why is the why the hell is she training? And I’m like she’s like, I don’t know, she just wants to cardio. So it was interesting that the girls thought I was like, like, fabing them. Like, I’m gonna tell like, the girls, you know.”

On never winning a championship in WWE:

“Yeah, so I’ve never held a title. Every signing that I have, everyone likes to remind me of that. But it’s nice. It’s sweet. Like everyone’s like you were so underutilised and you didn’t get, you know your flowers, and I wish you would have done that. And the main thing that I always say to everyone and the fans that consistently say that to me is I got my dream, like there is a small percentage of women in this world that ever get to be a professional wrestler and say they wrestled on the grandest stage of all in WWE, multiple WrestleManias, and that was my dream like growing up. That’s what I wanted to be I wanted to be a WWE Diva. And they were called divas and that’s what I looked up to. So I won the prize. Sure that would be cool to have, you know, a title shot but that didn’t make or break my career. Just being a part of such an amazing family and living out my passion, that’s a win for me.”

On not living in the moment:

“To be fair, now looking back and going to the Royal Rumble last year. I don’t think I ever really lived in the moments in WWE, I don’t really remember walking out in the crowd and being like oh wow. I was very in it. I was very like next thing, what do I do? And I think a lot of athletes can relate to this. It’s like, okay, got that. Okay, now I’m out of NXT. Like, where can I go here? Okay, I’m on this week, I’m on Main Event, how can I get on SmackDown? And so I never, I would have an amazing, I had a double seg match was Mercedes twice. And she loved it. And she was like, oh, let’s pitch stuff. And I’m like, Cool. Let’s see if it sticks. Like I just never really got my hopes up because so many things wouldn’t stick. And now looking back, like being at Mania, not Mania, Royal Rumble, I made sure to be present. Like I was like, I want to remember this, like, I had nerves, but it was different kinds of nerves. Like when you’re still trying to make it and you’re in it, you can’t appreciate it. Like, it’s so hard. And now going back. I’m like, look at the crowd. Look at St. Louis, Missouri. It was different. And yeah, I feel like it’s weird, you can’t absorb it almost.”

What is Summer Rae doing now?

“Yes, so in 2020, maybe 2021 After the great pandemic, post-COVID PC, that’ll be in the history books. Yeah, I had a mutual friend that got offered a position with America’s best racing. And she couldn’t take it because it was a conflict of interest. So she goes, Oh, I met this one girl in passing. Actually, you know Lisa Ann? So Lisa Ann was a sweetheart. I met her at Sirius Radio years ago. We followed each other on Instagram and didn’t really chat much. And she was so sweet. She teed me off this full-time gig The first year we live streamed every month, I went from COVID getting no checks and no money to actually getting paid monthly from this company. And then they took me on the road. And to be fair, I had no idea about horse racing or gambling. But, you know, Dusty Rhodes always would say about me, he’d be like, just put her in a room and she’ll figure it out. I don’t know if it’s I’m full of shit or what it is. But yeah, but now through osmosis and doing it weekly for three years. I know a lot about horse racing.”

What is Summer Rae grateful for?

“My health, my family and my friends.”

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