Pro Wrestling Sheet spoke with Mandy Rose ahead of her Money in the Bank qualifying match tomorrow night on SmackDown to get her take on the unique concept for this year’s match.
There’s no denying Mandy Rose’s stock is on the rise in WWE.
The fitness model who started her WWE career on “Tough Enough” dedicated her life to world of sports entertainment after the series was over and proved naysayers wrong over the years by showing she’s more than meets the eye.
Now, after years of being in a team with Sonya Deville, “The Golden Goddess” and her former friend are being given the opportunity to shine on SmackDown as singles acts following a well-received storyline involving Otis and Dolph Ziggler. A storyline that led to one of the best moments of WrestleMania this year when she and Otis embraced in the middle of the ring to cap off the end of a long, and entertaining, courtship.
Rose now has the chance to kick things up a notch tomorrow night when she faces-off against Carmella for the final spot in the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match; which already includes Asuka, Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.
Read our full conversation with Mandy below where we discuss how badly she wants to compete in the Money in the Bank match, her creative input on the storyline with Sonya/Otis, how the lack of a crowd helped a recent segment she was in, Vince McMahon being approachable, TikTok and much more!
Pro Wrestling Sheet: What are your thoughts on Money in the Bank this year taking place at WWE Headquarters and how badly do you want to be in the match?
Mandy Rose: Obviously, with times like this, we have to get creative and try to think of some innovative ways. I’m really excited to have a qualifying match, obviously, tomorrow on SmackDown against Carmella. I look to go forward with that and hopefully win and go on to the Money in the Bank ladder match because I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I don’t even know how it’s setup or anything. I just think it’s going to be creative and definitely entertaining.
PWS: The video that they show from the commercial where you can see nighttime setup of the roof looks awesome. Me, personally, I love the cinematic matches that WWE has been doing as of late. What have you thought about them?
MR: I love them, too. I think it’s awesome. The Boneyard Match and the WrestleMania stuff was really cool to watch. I felt like I was very invested. It was cool. We’re not just sports, we’re actually entertainment as well and I feel like it shows another side of our characters. It shows sides that maybe some characters aren’t able to portray as much. Maybe they feel it more when they’re in this cinematic environment type thing. But I think it’s really cool and I would love to be a part of it.
PWS: As a performer, you’ve been there in the PC without a crowd. Do you think that the cinematic element helps the vibe of the match since you’re not focused on the fact that nobody’s there?
MR: Yeah, I think so. Obviously it’s a challenge with not having the fans there because we’re so used to having our fans cheer us on and boo us and just be so involved. We’re such an intimate sport. I think it is different for us.
But even our promos, Sonya Deville and myself a couple of weeks ago, watching it back afterwards, I almost enjoyed it a little bit without the fans. It just felt like I was really involved in the actual promo as opposed to the whole setting. I don’t know, the closed set was kind of a cool feel. I wasn’t the only person who said that, too.
It’s different and I think people doing more cinematic matches, you almost feel like you’re filming a scene from a movie … so it’s really cool.
PWS: It absolutely feels that way with some of the recent segments, especially the one you just referenced. My girlfriend and I, when we were watching, she was like “man, Sonya’s trying to get an Emmy over here!” So I completely agree that it can make these segments feel like scenes from a movie.
If that had happened in an arena with a bunch of people, there’d probably be a bunch of “what?!” chants and people trying to take the attention away from what’s going on to try to put the attention on them. And while I miss the audience, there’s definitely segments and some promos that have gained from the fact that there’s been no audience there.
MR: For sure, yeah.
PWS: What went into the creation process of that segment, the one that you and Sonya did a few weeks ago? Is that something you guys had any creative input on?
MR: Yeah. We’ve actually had a good amount of creative input on this whole story. I think it’s been awesome because we’ve all put our brains into it and our creative side with all of us involved, even Dolph Ziggler. He’s been in the business for a while and he’s got some really great ideas. I just think, as a team, between the writers, producers and us as talent, we’ve put together such an amazing story and everything has played out really well. I think it was December when this whole thing started. It’s been really cool and the longest, most successful story I’ve been in so far, just as far as how it’s resonated so well with the fans. I’m just really grateful for it.
PWS: Because it’s been the longest thing that you’ve been involved in a storyline, and the most that the audience has been invested in something that you’ve been doing, I’m sure it was a huge bummer that your big moment with Otis at WrestleMania happened without a crowd.
What was the reaction like backstage when you finished that? Who was the first person to say something to you guys and give you some feedback?
MR: I feel like everyone was super happy about it. Of course, the producers and writers that were involved and Vince himself, of course. Everyone was really happy with how it played out. We had to do what we had to do. The reaction that we got from social media and YouTube and all of the things afterward when it was aired and everything, it was a great reaction from everyone. I’m happy the way it turned out, even though it was unfortunate that we couldn’t do it in front of a huge stadium.
PWS: I absolutely cheered at my TV when everything happened saying, “Yeah! Go Otis!”
MR: It was actually cute to see people’s reactions on my Instagram once they saw it. They taped their reactions and it was like “aww.” You kind of felt like they were there in a way. It was cute to see all the reactions.
PWS: You mentioned Vince McMahon was one of the people who talked to you backstage after the WrestleMania moment and you’ve said in multiple interviews you pitched the Otis storyline to him as well. Do you find him to be pretty approachable from your standpoint?
MR: Yeah, from my standpoint, for sure. He’s always been pretty approachable ever since the first time I was able to get a little meeting with him a couple years ago. He’s super sweet and obviously he’s Vince McMahon, so everyone is a little bit scared in the beginning. He’s a little intimidating, of course. But he’s so easy to talk to and he was so happy with everything, the way it all came about. He knows how to handle these types of stories, obviously.
He’s so good at what he does. But he was really appreciative that I had this idea and I’m really appreciative that we actually followed through and went with it and that it was such a success.
PWS: So, going back to Money In The Bank, I saw that Lacey Evans posted a video of herself studying the “official” blueprints of WWE Headquarters. Have you been to WWE Headquarters? Are you pretty familiar with the building at all if you get in the match?
MR: I’ve been there a few times. Yep, for sure. I don’t know how familiar with it, it’s pretty big, so maybe I need to do my studying, But yeah, I’ve definitely been there a few times. I don’t know the whole way around it, so it should be really interesting.
PWS: What was your first time going like? Was it before or after “Tough Enough?”
MR: It was during “Tough Enough,” towards the end when we did … um, I forget what we had to do. We were up in Connecticut and we visited Headquarters. I forget if it was on the episode. But, yeah, it was during “Tough Enough,” which was a few years back now. It’s beautiful there. I remember the gym there was, like, really nice. That’s kind of all I remember now. I was there a little while ago, too.
PWS: The gym has to get involved in the Money in the Bank match somehow. I think it’s so iconic that people want to see it. Do you keep in touch with anyone else from Tough Enough, besides the people who are still in WWE?
MR: Not really. Well, Gigi. I still keep in touch with her. She’s still very much into the fitness industry like I am. Mada, here and there. And Josh [Bredl] here and there, as well. But not too frequently.
PWS: Josh fully fell off. You don’t hear about him at all. He went ghost, it feels like.
MR: Yeah, he has a gym now in L.A., I believe.
PWS: When I was doing research for this interview, I saw your old Tough Enough bio. It has the most random facts on there. It says that your childhood nickname was Hamburgers. I watched that whole series and I don’t remember that being brought up once. It’s on your Wikipedia too. Where did that come from?
MR: It was actually brought up on Tough Talk one night. It was my nickname growing up because I grew up with three older brothers and one day we were eating McDonald’s and I guess I ate the hamburger pretty fast. It was like a Happy Meal, you know. My brothers were laughing and I wanted another hamburger. They were like ‘how many hamburgers are you going to eat?’ And I guess I said it like really funny, I was like ‘a hundred!’ They all just, like, died laughing. Ever since then, my nickname was Hamburgers.
PWS: Do they still call you Hamburgers?
MR: No. They feel so bad now because they’re like ‘thank God we didn’t create this complex.’ But I’m like ‘maybe you did because I turned into a fitness model.’ They feel so bad because I tell this a lot in interviews and all, so they’re always like ‘oh my god, we sound like the biggest bullies.’ And I’m like ‘well, you know, it’s a good story to tell to make sure people don’t call…” I mean, I knew that they were always joking around with me, but still, you know.
PWS: Now you’re making me feel bad for making fun of my sister’s big feet all the time.
MR: Siblings are the worst, I think, to each other. Oh gosh.
PWS: You mentioned fitness stuff. Can you talk to me about your app Fit With Mandy and tell us what it is, why you launched it and how people can download it?
MR: I actually launched it about a year ago.
It’s called Fit With Mandy. It’s a 12-week at-home program designed for all different skill levels, all ages, men and women. It requires little-to-no equipment. You could basically do the program anywhere. It happens to work out really well with quarantine life right now.
Everyone’s home and we can’t go to a gym and stuff. It’s really cool. It’s a lot of high-intensity interval training. Get the heart rate up, get a good sweat. It’s all workouts that I’ve always been incorporating in my training, especially when I was competing and now more than ever with WWE and our tough schedule. It’s sometimes just quick exercises, but I feel like I’m working out a lot and get a good sweat in for a short amount of time. It’s really cool.
It’s available on the App Store. It’s a good little app. It’s fun!
PWS: What’s it like for you to keep a rivalry going at all times with someone you’re close with in real life and even run a side business with over at Damandyz Donutz?
MR: We’re continuing on keeping our business, of course, and we’re doing content separately and making sure we’re still giving our fans what we’re been doing for the past two years with Damandyz Donutz.
Hopefully one day we get back together. Who knows? We can continue our journey with Damandyz Donutz and having our store that we always talked about, but it’s definitely a struggle. She was like a sister to me. It’s been a bit of a struggle with being no longer being best friends.
PWS: Who is better on TikTok: you, Lana or Nia Jax?
MR: Come on, is that even a question? I mean, have you seen my videos?!?
PWS: You have the advantage having your mom there in some of them, which helps.
MR: That’s true, right? She is pretty funny. TikTok is a lot of fun. Nia has been pretty good lately.
I’m not gonna lie, I was a little upset that she had Otis on one of hers. I was like ‘um, don’t be takin’ my man like that!’
Watch Mandy Rose vs. Carmella this week on Friday Night SmackDown at 8pm ET on FOX.
*INTERVIEW SLIGHTLY EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY*