WILKES-BARRE — At 5 feet-1 inch, World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar Alexa Bliss is seemingly at a disadvantage in a profession full of towering physical specimens. Don’t sell the former gymnast and competitive bodybuilder short, though — there’s a reason WWE announcers refer to her as 5 feet of fury.
After joining the roster of WWE’s Tuesday night show “SmackDown Live” last year, Bliss used her intensity and in-ring prowess to capture the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship twice. On April 10, Bliss was moved to the roster of WWE’s Monday night show, “Raw,” and claimed the Raw Women’s Championship before month’s end.
On June 5, Bliss will be among the WWE Superstars appearing at Wilkes-Barre’s Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for a nationally-televised episode of “Raw.” Whether she’ll make it to Wilkes-Barre with her championship in tow hinges on her match with WWE Superstar Bayley at June 4’s pay-per-view event “Extreme Rules.”
“I 100 percent plan to walk into ‘Raw’ as Women’s Champion,” Bliss said. “I plan on being the longest-reigning Raw Women’s Champion, that’s my personal goal.”
The word personal could also describe the rivalry between Bliss and Bayley. The championship caliber competitors honed their craft together at WWE Performance Center in Florida and made names for themselves in NXT, a WWE-owned wrestling brand the company uses to develop new talent.
Bliss debuted on NXT’s weekly program as a manager, a role in which she accompanied other wrestlers to the ring and used her personality to garner reactions from the crowd. When Bliss transitioned to in-ring competition, it wasn’t long before she crossed paths with Bayley.
In NXT, Bayley was the more experienced of the two. Now, a seasoned Bliss is excited to see what they can do on WWE’s flagship television program.
“I didn’t get a lot of time in NXT to really develop in the ring or anything like that; I never had a ‘Takeover’ match; I never had a title,” Bliss said. “I always said I could not wait to get into a program with Bayley because she gave me some of the best matches I ever had in NXT.”
NXT is also where Bliss formulated her character. She plays a heel (professional wrestling for villain) and has a history of chirping fans during her walk to the ring. Bliss said her favorite part of performing in front of live crowds night after night is figuring out what makes each fan tick — then using that information against them.
“It’s so much easier to get people to hate you than to like you, and I kind of like to play with that a little bit,” Bliss said. “Not caring what the fans think and just kind of wanting them to hate me, even though I do kind of care what they think; it’s just so fun to portray this mean person, just to see how people react to it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Despite her WWE persona, Bliss enjoys more than just yelling at fans and winning championships. Her passion for pop culture plays into the gear she wears during matches, with homages to Iron Man, Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Suicide Squad” character Harley Quinn counted among her past appearances. Bliss credits former WWE Champion Rey Mysterio as the inspiration for her colorful costumes.
“Rey Mysterio used to have different outfits as well, and I used to watch Rey growing up; and I thought he was awesome because he had lucha style, which I liked because I was a gymnast,” Bliss said. “The fact he used to dress up as all kinds of different characters is where I got the idea to do that myself.”
Will the costumed villain enter Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza June 5 as Raw Women’s Champion, or will she arrive blissed off at Bayley and ready for revenge? Either way, Wilkes-Barre wrestling fans should prepare for 5 feet of fury.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @GeneAxtonTL.
IF YOU GO
What: WWE Raw will air a live television broadcast from Wilkes-Barre
When: 7 p.m. Monday, June 5
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre
How Much: Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or at the arena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.