Chris Van Vliet posted a clip from his recent interview with Athena (former WWE star Ember Moon). Athena talked about her struggles while in WWE, especially during her last few months in the company.
On her last few months in WWE:
"I feel like I need to talk about it just to get it off my chest and to get it out there in the universe. Because my last four months was just one of those moments that I wasn't having fun anymore. And it started with Shotzi being gone. And Shotzi being drafted. And I remember like thinking like, I was sitting at home, and I got a phone call saying, 'Hey, we don't want you to be upset but Shotzi, just got moved to SmackDown and she is debuting with Tegan Nox as a tag team.' And I just was sitting there. And I was like, I was playing D&D, the the most beautiful day of my week, and I'm getting this phone call about how Shotzi's been drafted. And I was like, Oh, my God, I'm so happy for her. And then like, the tag team thing popped out and I was like, but we're the tag team, and we have merch, and we're doing fun things. And we just finally gotten into our groove of the banter. But they're like, don't worry, we have stuff for you. And I was like, okay, cool. Cool. And I remember going to Hunter and Hunter was just like, 'I have no clue what's happening. We'll figure it out together.' And like, that was like, so much of what I needed at that time, because no one really knew what was happening. You know, Bayley had gotten injured. I know Shotzi and Tegan were going to do dark matches for a tryout anyway and they were like, 'Well, we already had these girls here. Let's throw them out there.' But the problem I had was kind of like some of the newer writers were like coming from Raw coming from Smackdown [and they were like] 'We had no idea you and Shotzi were a tag team. And like just sitting there and just a lot of WWE backstage is having to play the game of like, 'yeah, man. It's cool. We get it. We're down here at NXT. It wasn't like we weren't front page of [WWE] dot com or anything when we won the titles, but that's fine. Yes.' And you're just having to, I guess eat the sh*t sandwich and smile with sh*t in your teeth a lot of the times, because it's all about not making waves. "
Athena continued, "And it's just like, okay, yeah, it's fine. Cool. Yeah, I bet you didn't know we were a tag team. Look at sharp look at this, you know, and it's just like, okay, cool. And it was like, you know, Me and Hunter, and the head writer at the time we had all came up with, we're gonna do a heel turn for me, because that's something new [and] that something different. And during this process, we wanted to do like a losing streak, or at least that was my thought is let me do the losing streak. I see all these new faces coming through here. Part of my job at NXT was to help new talent on TV, you know, which I which I get that, you know, I've been around for a very long time. I've been doing this like 16-17 years at this point in time and I love this business so much that I didn't mind. I was like, Hey, let me go on a losing streak. Let me get super frustrated. And let me turn. I remember, okay, this is a great idea. We got ABCDEF, we're going to do your first feud with this person, or this person. And then the first match happens, and then I'm off TV for four weeks. They are like, 'don't worry, we got this, we got this.' Then Hunter disappeared. And then I was supposed to do a match with Sarray. And I ended up getting a rash on my arm. And I had an allergic reaction to something that they thought was something else. So they pulled me from match. And I was like, okay, cool, whatever. That's fine. Alright, we're gonna keep trucking. They're like, 'hey, we'll do this match next week.' And then another three weeks later, they're like, 'Hey, we're gonna do this match.' That match gets pulled from TV and then, you know, one of the head coaches goes, 'Hey, will you do me a favor and work 205 Live with Cora Jade. We really like her. She's a sweet girl. We really think this would be a fun match if you to were in the main event of 205.' And I was like, okay, cool. That sounds great. Like I'm never gonna say no to having a match on TV, regardless of where it's airing or whatever like that. And me and Cora go out there and we have just a fun banger of a match. And they go 'you're turning in this match, but we want to make it subtle.' So they kind of turn me but they don't. And then there was like a lot of confusion on what was supposed to happen...I don't know if I turned to heel or not, you know, and then off TV for three weeks, and I have the match with Mandy, and they're like, we're, we're finally pulling the trigger on this. And I get a note that week saying, 'hey, in two weeks, we need you to dye your hair fire colored again, we need you to get the red contacts, you're going back to the old Ember Moon character this is per Vince. And you're going to turn heel, but you're going to turn heel as your old character. We're trying to get the old music and all that stuff together.' And I was like, Alright, great. This is great. So I go home, get my bottle of whiskey, I'm dying this hair...Yes, I dyed my hair extensions that fire colored takes a minimum of eight hours. It is extremely tedious and during COVID, my dye supplier actually shut down so I'm having to find different colors, and I'm spending a fortune on this hair. And two weeks later, I show up to TV. I'm like super motivated, I'm happy and I'm like, Okay, it's finally looking out for me. You know, just wait it out. Just wait it out. And I remember [writer] Ryan Katz and I went and filmed like a kind of demo of kind of the vibe that I wanted and, and he's like, 'this is gonna be awesome.' I come back, I get the video ready. I'm ready to show everyone after TVs and they go, 'Hey, we got some bad news.' And I was like, I'm sorry, what? [They said] 'No, Vince is pulling you off TV indefinitely.' And I just kind of sat there and I was just like, What did I do wrong? He's like, 'You did nothing wrong.' And I was like, I have done everything that you guys have asked me."
"And I just remember sitting there and I was like, I've done everything you guys have asked me to I've done over and beyond. I've branched out I'm sorry, I'm getting emotional about it. I'm trying not to but I understand like this is the dream job, especially as a wrestling fan like lifelong wrestling fan."
"And when you care about something and you care about this business so much more not just for yourself but for everyone involved, it hurts so much more because for so many years, I've been not about myself, if that makes sense. I've been for the match for the other people and to be told that I have done nothing wrong and I was taken off TV for doing absolutely nothing wrong. It hurts so bad because I was so happy walking into work. And I remember when Shotzi left. I remember going to my makeup artist and going. 'I'm so unhappy. I'm so unhappy' and we'd have to sit through stupid meetings about how we would have to dress sexy. And I remember looking at someone else like 'I cater to children. I am not about to wear a fishnet booty butt cheek shorts because we had a two hour meeting about how to dress like Mandy Rose.' That's not fair. Not everyone is going to be Mandy. Mandy is absolutely phenomenal and she's an amazing person. But not everyone is Mandy Rose. I started seeing this downslope as soon as Hunter was gone, and like for the first little bit, we didn't know why he was gone. We just knew he wasn't there, you know? I got so angry. And I remember sitting there and I was like I did nothing wrong. I didn't piss off Vince."
Athena said that after she was taken off TV, she was asked to become a coach but she refused to help people who don't care about "what we do" and she said that she would be flying home and she would only return until they had something for her that she could approve.
She continued, "The worst part about this is that on some level, I knew that I was leaving, I had already gone and bought an extra bag and kept it in the locker room. So I could pack all my stuff and leave. It had been there for like a month. And I was just like, 'I'm so unhappy.' Like I see where this is going between booty butt cheek shorts meeting and them telling girls to alter their gear to make it more revealing. And some people were very uncomfortable with that. And they were like, 'Nope, this is what they want. You got to do it.' It didn't matter how that person felt. And I was like, this isn't what I signed up for anymore. This isn't about the wrestling. This isn't about the art that we create in the ring. This is turning into everything that I left on Raw and Smackdown. You could just see the pity parties started forming in the locker rooms and the jealousy and the cattiness [such as] 'Well why is this person on TV and she can't do this' and I just was sitting there and I was just like, 'I'm an adult. I can't deal with this high school bullsh*t. And I'd be like 'guys, it's okay' and I'd be that locker room leader because if I didn't, it would just go into the negative zone and no one would be able to have any type of positivity and everyone would hate the job that we all worked so hard to be at."
If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription
You can hear what she said in the video below.