(CBSNewYork/CBS Local) — Liv Morgan is living her best life. Being a WWE Superstar affords her plenty of “pinch me” moments as a lifelong wrestling fan. Although she has been competing in the larger-than-life world of sports entertainment for more than five years, those surreal moments still occur on a nearly daily basis. It’s hard to envision her enthusiasm dying down anytime soon.
Earlier this week on WWE.com her image was featured prominently at the top of the homepage in an ad for Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. She was flanked by Natalya and Shayna Baszler as one of the six women who will compete in the show’s main event. She hadn’t seen the ad and screamed with excitement when I mentioned it to her.READ MORE: Monday Will Be Season's Coldest Yet, With Flash Freeze Causing Icy Commute
“I wanna see it!” she exclaimed.
There was no doubt about it, this was her “pinch me” moment for the day.
Morgan’s gratitude is fueled by a humble upbringing. Her father passed away before she was born leaving her mother as the sole provider for six children. Witnessing the sacrifices her mother made on the family’s behalf helped shape the person she would ultimately become. The love and admiration helped to forge an unbreakable bond between the two.
Her voice broke slightly and she became emotional recalling the time her mom surprised her during filming of the reality show Total Divas. Unbeknownst to Liv, Nikki and Brie Bella arranged for her to fly roughly 12 hours to join them at a tropical beach house after learning that the mother and daughter had never vacationed together. For that, she will never be able to repay the Bella Twins, but will be among those cheering the loudest when they are inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next month.
Sunday’s Elimination Chamber is likely to bring about another “pinch me” moment for the 25-year-old New Jersey native. Just stepping inside of the imposing 10-ton sadistic steel field of dreams with five others will bring about goosebumps. Winning the match and going on to face Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch at WrestleMania will take excitement to a whole new level.
The Chamber match will also pit Morgan against her former stablemates in The Riott Squad, Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan. Until recently, feuding with each other wasn’t anything the tight-knit trio ever really considered, but settling the score on pay-per-view is now dominating their thoughts.
Morgan is also in the midst of unveiling a revamped character and was recently involved in one of the more shocking storylines in recent history. The relaunch comes on the heels of a lengthy absence from television, which she used to recharge and rethink her approach to getting to the top of the WWE women’s division. The hiatus has been paying off in spades.
Since reemerging at the end of December, her career has arguably never been hotter. In the roughly two months that followed, she has competed in the Royal Rumble match, been featured in the coveted closing segment of Raw, become the talk of the wrestling town for her secret storyline romance with Lana, and now is one of the headliners for Sunday’s pay-per-view.
I had a chance to catch up with the quickly rising Superstar to talk about her resurgence, her stunning feud with Lana, the unflappable relationship she has with her mom, her connection with fans, and a note she received from one that she turns to for inspiration.
I have to think, growing up as a wrestling fan, seeing yourself (on the frontpage of WWE.com) like that, that still has to be amazing.
Never would have thought, but I hoped. It’s so crazy, every day I have “pinch me” moments. Because like you said, I grew up a huge WWE fan. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I still want, even though I’m in it. So I’m just grateful. I don’t even know another word. I’m just so grateful to be in the center of the photo. I want to see it. I’m grateful, I’m grateful. There’s a lot of amazing women in that match, Shayna, Asuka, Nattie, The Doo Doo Riott Squad, that I’m mad at now. It’s cool.
I’m sorry, did you say The Doo Doo Riot Squad?
Yeah. Yeah, traitors.
So, when you guys were together and doing your thing last year, did you ever talk about splitting up and doing an angle like this where the three of you would do this every-woman-for-herself kind of deal?
We were so living in the moment and we were having so much fun that those conversations didn’t really all come up. I think we all knew in the back of our minds one day this would happen. But we didn’t really speak on it because we enjoyed being together and the friendships that grew on the scenes and behind the scenes were just so strong and so pure. We just wanted to keep living in the moment, because it was beautiful. I don’t know how to describe it. They were my sisters, and now it’s the other end of the spectrum. And it happened in the blink of an eye, so it’s just crazy trying to adjust.
The Elimination Chamber is a really unique match that only gets done one time a year. How do you even go about preparing for something like this?
I don’t think you do. I don’t think you do. How do you prepare? Do you throw yourself at fences? Steel-link fences? There is no vibration. It’s just, go in there with the mindset that you know you’re going to get hurt, so how much are you willing to withstand to be the last one standing? To go onto WrestleMania to have the opportunity to compete with Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. So I think it’s just the preparation of, “How much am I willing to go through?” And for me personally, I’d go through it all.
You’re still in the midst of this character refresh. Was this a concept that you came up with, or was it a collaboration?
I just think it was time for the character to evolve. As much as I loved having pink hair and a blue tongue, you need to grow up at some point. So I think it was just time for Liv to grow up. So I had a nine-month hiatus of self-discovery and hair dye. I’m just trying to find my footing and my place as a woman in the world and in this business. And it’s different for me, and you guys are seeing the growth live on TV. What it is now may not be how it is in a couple months. But I’m just trying to grow, and I’m not fully there yet.
When you returned, you definitely made a splash with the angle that you did with Lana. When you first found out that this is how you were going to be reintroduced on TV, what was your reaction?
I was like, “It’s crazy enough, I’ll do it.” I was excited. I was excited, there’s nothing like that that’s ever been done. In the company before, Lana and Lashley, they were taking up a very large portion of the screen time on Raw. So, for me, being off of TV for nine months to, now you’re in the main-event picture, in the main-event spotlight, I was like, “Okay, cool. I’m ready for it. Thank you for the opportunity.”READ MORE: MnDOT Brings In Extra Crews Ahead Of Icy Monday Morning Commute
Toward the end of last the last season of Total Divas we saw the Bellas fly in your mom to join you on vacation. It was a huge, huge surprise. How long did the two of you stay there? I felt like there was a lot more that could have been explored with the two of you.
Yeah, I know. I get misty-eyed when I talk about it. Because it just meant so much to me that just hearing me say that I haven’t been on vacation with my family made the girls feel strongly enough like, “Wow, we’ve got to get Liv’s mom here.” I’m really grateful for that. My mom was there for 24 hours. I don’t remember how long the flight was. It was 12 hours, I think. I don’t even remember. I might have added a couple of hours. But my mom doesn’t fly. She doesn’t like to travel. She hates flying, she’s not comfortable with it.
They snuck in my phone and got her contact number and called her and asked her if she wanted to come out just for the day to see me. She was like, “Of course.” So she took that flight there and back, just for 12 hours in this Hawaii house. It just seems crazy. I was so shocked and so surprised. And I’m going to be thankful for that the rest of my life.
Your mom was a single mom. No question she is your role model. How much of her is in you today?
Yeah, just her strength and her resilience. I think about my mom when my father had passed and just her situation. She was pregnant with me. She had five other kids at the kitchen table. She wasn’t working, she’s pregnant. What do you do in that moment? What do you do? What do you decide to do in that moment, you’re pregnant and you have five kids? Your husband and their father just died.
It’s crazy for me to think about because I don’t know. I don’t know what I would have done. And the fact that she just kept it moving and kept on going, it’s unbelievable to me. It’s unbelievable to me, and I feel like I’ll never be able to repay her. So just her strength and her resilience and her grit. She just never gave up. It’s so unbelievable to me.
WWE does a tremendous amount of work in the community. I’m sure that you have met fans who also look up to you in a similar fashion. Is there anyone in particular who’s really struck an emotional cord with you?
I feel so normal, I’m not any better than any of the fans in the stands. So I just like to relate to them on a basic human level. Like, “I know you think I am WWE superstar, Liv Morgan, but I’m just like you.” So I just like to remind them that, “You’re special to. I’m the same as you.”
A couple weeks ago I was leaving a show, and I was just having a bad day. I wasn’t feeling very confident. I was second-guessing myself a lot. And there were five fans by the gate, and I wasn’t going to stop. I was going to keep on walking, but as I walked away, I was like, “Just go see them, just go see them. Go see them, go say hi.” And there was this girl, and she had a long-paged note for me. And she was like, ” Thank you so much for stopping. I wanted to give you this note.” And I was like, “Thank you.” So I took the note, and I didn’t read it until later. And the note was everything that I needed to hear in that moment. And I was so grateful I stopped, because I wasn’t going to. I wouldn’t have gotten that note. So now I keep that note in my wallet, and I just read it whenever I feel like I need it.
WWE ELIMINATION CHAMBER CARD
Women’s Elimination Chamber Match
Liv Morgan vs. Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka vs. Ruby Riott vs. Sarah Logan
Intercontinental Championship 3-on-1 Handicap Match
Braun Strowman (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro & Sami Zayn
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match
The Miz and John Morrison (c) vs. The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode vs. Heavy Machinery vs. Lucha House Party
No Disqualification Match
Aleister Black vs. AJ Styles
Raw Tag Team Championship
The Street Profits (c) vs. Seth Rollins & Murphy
United States Championship
Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carrillo
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Monday Will Be Season's Coldest Yet, With Flash Freeze Causing Icy Commute
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.