Carmella (wrestler)

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Carmella
Carmella SmackDown 2016.jpg
Carmella in December 2016
Birth nameLeah Van Dale[1]
Born (1987-10-23) October 23, 1987 (age 31)
Spencer, Massachusetts, United States[2]
ResidenceTampa, Florida, United States
Alma materUniversity of Massachusetts Dartmouth[3]
FamilyPaul Van Dale (father)[4]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Carmella[5]
Billed height5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)[5]
Billed fromStaten Island[5]
Trained bySara Amato[4]
WWE Performance Center[1]
DebutJune 2013[1]

Leah Van Dale (born October 23, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, dancer, and model. She is signed to WWE under the ring name Carmella, and performs on the SmackDown brand.

In June 2013, Van Dale signed a contract with WWE and was assigned to their developmental brand NXT in Orlando, Florida. In October 2014, she aligned herself with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady,[6] becoming their manager.[7] In July 2016, she made her main roster debut on SmackDown.[8][9][10] In June 2017, Carmella became the winner of the inaugural women's Money in the Bank ladder match.[11][12] In April 2018, she became the first woman in WWE to successfully cash-in her Money in the Bank opportunity, when she defeated Charlotte Flair to win the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship.[13]

Early life

Van Dale is the daughter of Paul Van Dale, a mixed martial artist and former professional wrestler who worked as a jobber for the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in the 1980s and 1990s. Van Dale is of Italian and Dutch descent.[2][4] She grew up in Spencer, Massachusetts, where she graduated from David Prouty High School in 2006.[2] She graduated from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2010.[3] Van Dale was a cheerleader for the New England Patriots for three seasons, ending in 2010.[3] She successfully auditioned for the Los Angeles Lakers dance team, appearing as a Laker Girl during the 2010–2011 season.[14]

Professional wrestling career

WWE

NXT (2013–2016)

Carmella (down far left) as the manager of Enzo and Cass in March 2015

Van Dale applied to be part of WWE Tough Enough in 2010, but withdrew from the selection process after being accepted as a Laker Girl and moving to Los Angeles.[14] In June 2013, Van Dale signed a contract with WWE and she was assigned to the company's developmental territory NXT in late September.[1] Later, she adopted the ring name Carmella.[5]

Carmella made her debut on the September 4, 2014 episode of NXT, portraying a hairdresser in a segment with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.[15] Two weeks later on NXT, Carmella appeared in another segment with Amore and Cassady at the WWE Performance Center, announcing she had lost her job as a hairdresser due to Amore and Cassady's actions and asked for a job at NXT.[16] She made her in-ring debut on the October 16 episode of NXT, wrestling an unnamed opponent whom Amore and Cassady dubbed Blue Pants.[6] Carmella defeated Blue Pants on two occasions, but lost to her on the January 1, 2015 episode of NXT after Amore accidentally caused a distraction.[17] In March, Amore and Cassady began a rivalry with the NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy while Carmella rejected Blake and Murphy's advances on several occasions.[18] On the May 13 episode of NXT, Carmella was defeated by Alexa Bliss after a distraction by Blake and Murphy.[19] On May 20 at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Bliss attacked Carmella during the NXT Tag Team Championship title match, ensuring the win for Blake and Murphy.[7]

While continuing to manage Amore and Cassady, Carmella began feuding with Eva Marie, which led to a match between the two on the August 26 episode of NXT, which Carmella lost.[20] In January 2016, Carmella won a battle royal to become the number one contender to Bayley's NXT Women's Championship.[21] Carmella unsuccessfully challenged Bayley for the title on February 10.[22] After the match, Eva Marie and Nia Jax attacked the two, which led to a tag team match on the February 24 episode of NXT, which Carmella and Bayley lost.[23] Carmella made her first appearance on WWE's main roster on March 12 at Roadblock, accompanying Amore and Cassady for their match against The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championship.[24] On the May 25 episode of NXT, Carmella competed in a triple threat match against Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax to determine the number one contender to Asuka's NXT Women's Championship at NXT TakeOver: The End, but she was pinned by Jax.[25]

SmackDown Women's Champion (2016–2018)

After being drafted to SmackDown brand on July 19 as part of the 2016 WWE draft,[8][9] Carmella made her main roster debut for the brand a week later, confronting the brand female talents before being interrupted by Eva Marie.[10] On the August 9 episode of SmackDown Live, Carmella achieved her first victory on the main roster by defeating Natalya.[26][27] On August 20 at SummerSlam, Carmella took part in a six-woman tag team match alongside Becky Lynch and Naomi that was won by their opponents Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Nikki Bella after Bella pinned Carmella.[28][29] Two days later on SmackDown Live, Carmella attacked Nikki Bella, turning heel in the process and starting a storyline feud between the two.[30][31][32][33] Simultaneously with her feud with Bella, Carmella took part in a six-pack elimination challenge to determine the inaugural SmackDown Women's Champion on September 11 at Backlash. She was the last woman eliminated by Becky Lynch.[34] She was also part of Team SmackDown in the traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match on November 20 at Survivor Series against Team Raw, where she was the first participant eliminated by Alicia Fox.[35] On December 4 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Carmella lost to Nikki Bella in a no disqualification match to end their feud.[36]

Carmella then moved into a storyline with James Ellsworth, professing that she found him "uniquely attractive" and he later started accompanying her to her matches.[37][38][39][40] On April 2, 2017, Carmella made her WrestleMania debut, competing in a six-pack challenge for the SmackDown Women's Championship, but was unsuccessful.[41] In late April, Carmella formed an alliance, dubbed The Welcoming Committee, with Natalya and Tamina, and the three started a feud with Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Naomi.[42][43][44][45] The two teams faced off in a six-woman tag team match on May 21 at Backlash, where The Welcoming Committee was victorious.[46][47]

Carmella cashed in her Money in the Bank contract in April 2018 to win the SmackDown Women's Champion

On June 18 at Money in the Bank, Carmella was declared the winner of the inaugural women's Money in the Bank ladder match after Ellsworth obtained the briefcase and dropped it to her.[48] Two days later on SmackDown, Carmella was stripped of the briefcase and a second Money in the Bank ladder match was set by SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan.[49] On June 27, Carmella regained the Money in the Bank briefcase after she won the second match with the help of Ellsworth.[50] In November, Carmella ended her association with Ellsworth after he lost to Becky Lynch in an intergender match.[51] On January 28, 2018, at the Royal Rumble, Carmella participated in the first women's Royal Rumble match, where she entered at number 17, lasting over 18 minutes before being eliminated by her former rival Nikki Bella.[52] She then appeared in the first WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34, but was the first woman eliminated from the match by Sonya Deville.[53]

After 287 days (the longest period ever for a wrestler to hold the contract) and a few unsuccessful attempts to cash in her briefcase on Charlotte Flair,[54][55][56] Carmella officially cashed in her contract on the April 10 episode of SmackDown Live, after The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) attacked Charlotte Flair, she defeated Flair to win the SmackDown Women's Championship for the first time in her career.[57][58] In her first title defense, Carmella defeated Charlotte Flair at Backlash.[59] Shortly after, Carmella was placed in a feud with Asuka that ultimately led to a title match between the two at Money in the Bank,[60][61][62] which Carmella won after a distraction by the returning James Ellsworth.[63] In a rematch between the two, which took place at Extreme Rules, Carmella again defeated Asuka to retain her title (with Ellsworth suspended in a shark cage).[64] After losing to both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in non–title matches,[65][66] it was announced that Carmella will face both in a triple threat match at SummerSlam on August 19.[67] At the event, Flair pinned Lynch to win the championship, ending Carmella's reign at 131 days.[68] Two weeks later, Carmella received her rematch against Flair but she was unsuccessful in regaining the title.[69][70]

The Fabulous Truth (2018–present)

Towards the end of her title reign, Carmella was placed in a storyline with R-Truth, after the latter implied that he wants a "title match by pinning her" (similar to Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair's title opportunities).[71][72] On the September 4 episode of SmackDown Live, Carmella turned face for the first time since 2016, after she agreed to manage Truth for his match with The Miz to avoid Maryse's interference.[73] Shortly after, Carmella started managing Truth and the two were also announced as tag team partners for the upcoming season two of Mixed Match Challenge.[74][75][76][77] In November, Carmella once again took part of Survivor Series as part Team SmackDown, where she went on to eliminate Tamina before being eliminated by Bayley.[78][79] Carmella and Truth lost the first three matches of Mixed Match Challenge before defeating Rusev and Lana to qualify for the playoffs. The team went on to defeat Jeff Hardy and Charlotte Flair in the quarter–finals[80] and previous winners The Miz and Asuka in the semi–finals.[81] In the final of the Mixed Match Challenge that took place at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay–per–view, on December 16, Carmella and Truth defeated Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox, earning both the number 30 spots for their respective Royal Rumble matches at Royal Rumble.[82]

In January 2019, Carmella competed in a triple threat match to determine the number one contender for the SmackDown Women's Championship, however, Becky Lynch won the match by submitting her.[83][84] At the Royal Rumble, Carmella lasted 7 minutes and scored an elimination, but she was unsuccessful in winning the match as she was eliminated by Flair.[85] In February, Carmella started teaming up with Naomi[86][87] and the two took part of a six–team Elimination Chamber match for the inaugural WWE Women's Tag Team Championship at the namesake pay–per–view, where they were the first team eliminated.[88] On April 6, at WrestleMania 35, Carmella won the second WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal with lastly eliminating Sarah Logan.[89][90]

Other media

Carmella made her video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K17 and also appears in WWE 2K18 and WWE 2K19.[91][92] Carmella joined Total Divas as a main cast member for the show's seventh season.[93]

Personal life

Van Dale is a certified fitness instructor and a personal trainer.[1] Van Dale is a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, and idolized Miss Elizabeth as a child.[14]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
2015–18 Total Divas Herself Guest (season 4, 6 & 8)
Main cast (season 7): 19 episodes
2019 Total Bellas Episode: "Bellas Are Back in Action" & "Bellas and the City"
The Beach Bum Samantha

Championships and accomplishments

Carmella with the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 34

Notes

  1. ^ Carmella won the Money in the Bank ladder match for the first time at Money in the Bank, but due to the controversial finish at the event she was stripped of the briefcase two days later. A rematch took place on the June 27 episode of SmackDown Live, where Carmella won, officially becoming the inaugural winner of the women's Money in the Bank ladder match. However, WWE recognizes Carmella as a two-time Money in the Bank winner.[12]

References

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External links