Carmella (wrestler)

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Carmella
Carmella March 2015.jpg
Carmella in March 2015
Birth name Leah Van Dale[1]
Born (1987-10-23) October 23, 1987 (age 30)
Spencer, Massachusetts, United States[2]
Residence Florida, United States
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Dartmouth[3]
Family Paul Van Dale (father)[4]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Carmella[5]
Billed height 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)[5]
Billed from Staten Island[5]
Trained by Sara Amato[4]
WWE Performance Center[1]
Debut June 2013[1]

Leah Van Dale (born October 23, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, professional wrestling manager, dancer and model. She is signed to WWE under the ring name Carmella, and performs on the SmackDown brand. She is the current SmackDown Women's Champion in her first reign.

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.[13]

Early life[edit]

Van Dale is the daughter of Paul Van Dale, a mixed martial artist that specialized in boxing and submission wrestling, and former professional wrestler who worked as a jobber for the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in the 1980s and 1990s.[2][4] She grew up in Spencer, Massachusetts, where she graduated from David Prouty High School in 2006.[2] Van Dale is a life-long fan of professional wrestling, and idolized Miss Elizabeth as a child.[14] 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[edit]

Managerial role (2013–2015)[edit]

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] In December, 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]

Singles competition (2015–2017)[edit]

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, 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]

After being drafted to SmackDown 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 alongisde Becky Lynch and Naomi that was won by their opponents Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Nikki Bella after Bella pinned Carmella.[28][29] In August, Carmella started a storyline feud with Nikki Bella, with the two defeating each other in singles and tag team competition during the following months.[30][31][32][33] Simultaneously with her feud with Bella, Carmella took part in a six-pack elimination challenge to determine the inaugural WWE 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 Bella in a no disqualification match to end their feud.[36]

SmackDown Women's Champion (2018–present)[edit]

Carmella cashed in her Money in the Bank contract on April 10, 2018, to win the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship

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]

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 Nikki Bella.[52] Few months later, Carmella also participated 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 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. She defeated Flair, after she had been attacked by the debuting The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce), to win the SmackDown Women's Championship for the first time in her career.[57][58] In her first title defence, Carmella defeated Charlotte 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 would win, giving Asuka her second loss and first one by pinfall after a distraction by the returning James Ellsworth.[63] In a rematch, at Extreme Rules, Carmella once again defeated Asuka to retain her title (with Ellsworth suspended in a shark cage).[64]

Other media[edit]

Carmella made her video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K17 and also appears in WWE 2K18 and WWE 2K19.[65][66] Carmella joined Total Divas as a main cast member for the show's seventh season.[67]

Personal life[edit]

Van Dale is a certified fitness instructor and a personal trainer. She also has a background in dancing.[1]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Carmella with the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 34

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]


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