Henry Ford famously said that “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this.” WWE Diva Melina might argue that it’s actually not that hard — which is why she is constantly searching for new and bigger experiences.

“Everything I’ve been through,” she told SLAM! Wrestling last week, during a promotional stop at the Viewers Choice Canada offices, “has totally made me grow as a person, and see life differently.”

Melina listens to a reporter’s question. Photos by Mike Mastrandrea

That includes a recent promotional trip to Singapore, which Melina (last name Perez) was a true life highlight.

“Oh my goodness, it was amazing,” she gushed. “I loved it. You don’t really hear that much about Singapore, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t expect it to be a metropolis. It was beautiful.”

It also allowed her a rare opportunity to actually take in some of the culture of the country, something that being there on a tour wouldn’t necessarily allow.

“When we go (somewhere) to do shows, we never get the chance to fully appreciate the city. We go there, do the show, and then move on to the next city or country. Doing this was the best thing ever, because I got to see the sights and really absorb everything.”

Mostly, it was a thrill to get to meet the Singapore fans. For Melina, this is often the best part of any trip, particularly in countries in which WWE doesn’t tour frequently.

“The people were so nice — they loved us. I see how happy they are with the little bit that we get to (see them), and I always feel bad that I don’t give them enough.”

Her fans here might have a similar comment, albeit this time directed towards WWE’s creative team, who seem to forget at times that she’s on the roster. For much of 2011, her appearances were mainly on the low-tier Superstars show, and, while brought back to Raw in recent weeks, it has been in a series of losing efforts. Speculation among the internet wrestling community is that this is a form of punishment for an alleged bad attitude — for the record, during this interview, there was no evidence of this; indeed, Perez was absolutely charming, exuding friendliness and warmth throughout.

She dismissed any talk of discipline.

“That’s just the way it goes,” she said about her current situation. “Nothing goes smoothly all the time in life, nothing’s always perfect in any career. In this business, everybody’s going to get their shot; I can’t always get mine. And I accept that.”

“It’s not that I’m being punished. It’s just the way it goes. My fans may want me to get more time, to get more of a push, and I’m happy that they think that. I’m glad that they think that, because that means they still care. And one day it will happen, you’ve got to be patient.”

In either case, she’s not going to let it affect how she approaches things. In her view, any time she goes out there is a chance to show what she’s capable of, whether she’s in the limelight or not. In fact, she would extend those comments to the entire Diva roster.

“I trust there’s a reason that we get the time we get,” she said. “And that there’s going to be a day that we get even more. But until then, we give everything that we can in our allotted time. I think there’s an art to that, and I’m very proud of all the girls on the roster that we’re able to do what we can in that amount of time.”

“People don’t always give the girls the credit that we deserve. I’m not saying that’s within the company, because I know in our company people do know what we have to offer. But I think the ‘smart’ fans sometimes think that we’re being held back because we’re not talented — but we are. I work with these girls every day, and I know what they have to offer.”

“It’s so difficult. We have to look good with our costumes, our hair, and our makeup. And still be PG. But then we have so much more to prove, since because we’re women, it’s like people think we’re not going to be good wrestlers, or they judge us. People don’t realize how much more work we have to do to prove that we can hang, that we’re here, that we deserve to be here.”

Which isn’t to say that Melina wouldn’t like to do more. Indeed, she is constantly looking for new experiences within the company.”

“There could always be more, there’s always a feeling that I could do this or I could do that. I’ve been telling people (when I was) in Singapore and Malaysia that ‘I wouldn’t mind being GM,’ I wouldn’t mind doing stuff like that, and it’s something I would like to try to do in the future.”

Another thing she wouldn’t mind doing again is managing. Fans will recall that her first appearances were as the manager of Johnny Nitro (now, John Morrison) and Joey Mercury — the trio was known as MNM. Perez sees managing as a lost art, particularly in today’s WWE, and it’s something she wouldn’t mind bringing back.

“I miss it. It was a lot of fun. You can be a character behind it, and show little details. There’s so much to be said for doing the little things, like showing a little facials, the way I react to my guy and what he’s doing. I also miss cheating, doing stuff behind the ref’s back. I like being a heel,” she laughed. “Being a heel is fun, because there’s so much fun you can have with the character. I get to act crazy, and basically be my alter-ego. When people are rude and mean to me, the person that I really am, I just say, ‘Okay, let it go, and keep moving on with my day.’ As a heel, I can take all those moments where I thought, ‘I wish I could have said this to that person, or done that to this person’ and put it into that character and act it out in the ring.”

Though she also points out that there are some negatives to playing a villain, the largest being that people can often mistake her character for her real self. As mentioned, there have been a lot of negative things said about her, particularly online. And it has affected her personally in the past.

“In the past, it was really difficult,” she said sadly, her voice a near-whisper, “because people didn’t want to know me or give me a chance, because they believed in that character. Since my character was so mean and so vindictive, people didn’t think I couldn’t really be that way in real life, so that was really hard. It hit a point that everybody was treating me that I was such an evil person, that it kind of wore me down. It was very lonely.”

One refuge she’s had from the negativity is her official website, www.realmelina.com. Using that site to communicate directly to her fans, and show off her real personality, has allowed people to see “the real me,” she said.”

“Now, the character stays in the ring, and I go home and I’m me. (The website and) Twitter, people can get on those any time of the day. I get fans from all over, and they’re great. It’s allowed me to overcome a lot.”

“It really hurt when people couldn’t really see me for me. It was emotionally very hard, being bullied because of this character. And now I hope my experience can help other people who are being bullied. I think this has helped me help other people.”

In other words, what Ford said.


Bob Kapur has struck out with yet another Diva. E-mail him your dating tips at bobkapur@hotmail.com.