WWE Diva Natalya is introduced as the "ultimate cat lady" and offers a kind but quick correction.
"Crazy cat lady," she blurts out.
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Might as well call it like it is, Natalya figures. After bringing home 19 furry felines to her less-than-appreciative husband during an episode of the E! reality show "Total Divas," it's not like everyone doesn't already know.
Natalya was in Manhattan Wednesday night with cat royalty Grumpy Cat and Nala Cat at the sneak preview for the Friskies Create & Taste Kitchen. Friskies set up in the storefront on Broadway temporarily to pit Grumpy's #TeamSaucy vs. Nala's #TeamTender in one of the many events in Gotham featuring WWE Superstars leading up to Sunday's SummerSlam show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The marketing ploy of picking sides isn't unlike WWE's current Divas revival, with Diva mainstays and newbies from developmental brand NXT forming alliances at a "Survivor"-like pace after earning a more sizable chunk of airtime.
In one respect, Natalya couldn't be happier. As a descendant of the iconic Hart wrestling clan, her passion has always leaned more toward combat than campiness.
"It's very very cool to see the girls get some serious recognition," Natalya explains. "Because for most of my WWE career I think when people think of Nattie, they think Nattie kind of embodies women's wrestling. For me, I was never a model. I was a wrestler. I wrestled in Japan, I wrestled for my family, I've done jiujitsu and martial arts -- I wouldn't say I was ever involved in MMA, but I did train in Brazilian jiujitsu and just tried to make myself as well-rounded as possible so I could be as best as I could be in the ring. So to see the Divas actually getting a chance, it's great."
Now Nattie is just waiting for her chance, as she hasn't yet been slotted into the current storyline.
"Watching the girls, in some ways it's a little bittersweet because I watch them and I'm so proud of them and so excited for them and I would love to get back in the ring with the Bellas and get in there with Charlotte and Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch and some of the new blood," Natalya admits. "But with WWE, you have to just let the world unfold and everything happens for a reason and we tell stories. So maybe they're saving the best for last."
The good news in today's WWE is that there are plenty of other career options while the company's kingmakers figure out someone's next in-ring saga.
Enter "Total Divas," where Natalya admits an uneasiness every time she watches the show, over everything from her behavior to her wardrobe.
In expressing twinges of regret she almost unknowingly defends the show's authenticity. It can be hard to assume sincerity with reality stars who play characters for a living, but Natalya is ready to explain the difference.
"Because I have worked in WWE for so long, I understand what it's like to be in entertainment," Natalya said. "But being on a reality show, you kind of learn that you have to entertain people but you have to also let them in. So In WWE we're playing characters. There's the good and the bad an there's everything in-between. But on 'Total Divas' it's kind of different avenues of what we're really like. And it's cool because two or three episodes ago, I did something where I had a blowup with my husband [WWE Superstar Tyson Kidd] -- I adopted 19 cats and I brought them to my house. He's like, 'You need to starting learning how to say no.' And I feel like that's the story of my life. 'You need to learn to say no, Nattie. You don't have room for 19 cats and you should have told T.J. But luckily he didn't divorce me."
That cat-astrophe didn't put a dent in her love for the nine-lives crowd, though. On Wednesday night, a Diva who relishes center stage happily played second fiddle to Grumpy Cat, whom Natalie referred to as a Diva that knows it.
"When I was holding Grumpy Cat, I was like, I'm a little star-struck 'cause when Grumpy Cat was a guest-host on WWE ["Monday Night Raw"], all the WWE Superstars and Divas were like, 'Grumpy Cat!' We're on TV every night of the week, and we're flipping out over Grumpy Cat. The last time we got that excited for a guest-star being backstage was Hugh Jackman and the Muppets."