Ivelisse Talks Lucha Underground, Erasing The ‘Tough Enough’ Stigma, Leaving WWE Due To Issues With Former Coach

Lucha Underground star Ivelisse recently spoke with Justin Barrasso for Sports Illustrated Extra Mustard’s Week In Wrestling. 

Ivelisse takes part in the ‘Five Questions’ portion of the feature, talking about her WWE departure, finding a home with Lucha Underground, and more. You can read some highlights below: 

Ivelisse talks about why Lucha Underground has been the best fit for her so far after working with WWE and TNA: 

It’s been a long, hard-fought journey with a lot of sacrifices, but I’m so grateful to be in Lucha Underground. I come from absolutely nothing–a little island on top of a mountain [in Ponce, Puerto Rico]. I went for it, and I have not stopped. There is no other option than perseverance for me, and fortunately, I’ve landed at Lucha Underground with a great opportunity to show what I have on the mic and in the ring. The professional atmosphere is so great backstage, and that’s rare in wrestling.

This business hasn’t been easy. I still struggle to hold onto that positive force that keeps me going. I’ve scratched and crawled, and I obviously don’t have the best luck, being injured again, but I find a way to keep going and persevere. I learned that what I wanted to focus on bringing to the table wasn’t what WWE wanted. It sucked, but it was something I was not willing to compromise. There is a certain integrity to my work that I am so obsessed over–I want to be the best at what I do in every sense possible. There is the politics side, but I can’t be something other than who I am. That is something that hurt my soul, and I tried it but it just wouldn’t work. As long as I can work on perfecting my craft, then I’m happy. When I left WWE, I tried to find that in TNA, but it didn’t work, either. Thankfully, Shine gave me the chance to show who I am really and what I can actually contribute to wrestling, and that’s something for which I am eternally grateful. Now I have that chance on a bigger scale with Lucha Underground. My message is to be a strong female competitor. I don’t get attention for what I wear or what I look like–I get respect through my hard work, and that’s all I’ve done my whole life. As long as I get a chance to do that, I’m happy.

Ivelisse talks about her experience from competing on WWE’s Tough Enough: 

I knew the stigma that followed any kind of contest, especially with Tough Enough. People in wrestling don’t see that as a prestigious way to get in the business, but I don’t pay my bills with their opinions. Tough Enough was an opportunity that presented itself, so why would I refuse a chance for exposure and contacts? Even though I didn’t win, Tough Enough worked out for me because I took every opportunity to learn all about the business, I took every opportunity to meet everyone and present my mind, and that is why I was the only one who was actually signed by the WWE from that Tough Enough season that wasn’t already signed. I will take every opportunity given to me, and I will make the most of it.

Ivelisse addresses leaving WWE because of issues with Bill DeMott, her relationship with WWE Diva Paige: 

Obviously, I’m not the only one who ran into numerous big problems with Bill DeMott. In my personal experience, [his presence] was a big obstacle and big problem. I tried and tried my best to deal with it, but there was only so much I could do when he was in such a position of high power. I am not the type of person to blame someone for any type of failure, but it was a very big obstacle during my time there, especially during the last three months when he was placed in power of the developmental territory.

Paige and I clicked right away in FCW, especially because she had an independent scene background and no one else of the females really did but me. She was the youngest, too, and I wanted to be there for her. We aren’t as close now as we were when we first met, but I’m pretty happy that she managed to find a way to overcome all the crap that made it very, very difficult for one to succeed in that developmental territory. It’s very hard, but she is still there and doing great.