Natalie Katherine Neidhart-Wilson – who is better known as Natalya to WWE fans – has always loved wrestling. That passion comes naturally because she is from one of the royal families of the ring being the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, niece of Bret “Hit Man” Hart and a cousin to professional wrestlers Harry Smith, Teddy, Matt and Mike Hart.
Her joy at being part of the professional wrestling world has been magnified in recent months with fans returning to arena and stadium seats. She’s excited to be back in Bakersfield after a two-year hiatus for the “WWE SuperShow” scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Mechanics Bank Arena.
Natalya – who is the first third-generation female wrestler in the world – joins the likes of “Monday Night RAW” and “Friday Night SmackDown” superstars Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Biana Belair, Bobby Lashley and others for the event. Tickets start at $20 and are still available at AXS.com.
“It’s a great feeling to be back in front of people,” Natalya says. “I never took it for granted before, having a live audience. We went for a year and a half without a live audience. And when you don’t have a live audience, we were doing whatever we had to to keep the show going. But, we were always longing for that live audience.
“It’s so good to be back. It’s so good to have fans. It’s good to have that instant gratification from laughing, cheering, booing – everything that comes with a live performance in front of a crowd. It is my first trip back to Bakersfield since before the pandemic and we know there will be insane energy there.”
The Canadian-American professional wrestler had to find ways when wrestling without the fans to create the natural energy she would get from them. She stepped up her pre-wrestling warmups and tried to visualize a crowd that wasn’t there. That helped but was never quite the same.
What didn’t change was her devotion – shared by everyone in the organization – to the idea the show had to go on whether there were no fans or a full house.
“I don’t want this to sound cheesy but that’s the beauty of being a WWE performer,” Natalya says. “Rain or shine, anywhere in the world, we find a way to entertain people.
“We were fortunate to do that during the pandemic.”
Natalya’s devotion starts with being a part of the Hart family legacy with the WWE. Natalya was trained in the rough-and-tumble Hart Dungeon.
She signed with the WWE in 2007 and spent time with the Deep South Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental territories. Natalya won the Divas Championship in 2010 and in 2017, became the SmackDown Women’s Champion. She’s the first woman in WWE history to hold both the Divas Championship and the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Her commitment to the WWE and the fans doesn’t stop when she gets out of the ring. Natalya starred on E!’s “Total Divas” reality series and has been an active supporter of The Creative Coalition’s Be a STAR Alliance, Make-A-Wish, Susan G. Komen and the WrestleMania Reading Challenge.
Natalya does all of this while knowing she is carrying on a very proud family tradition in the wrestling world. Having such a legacy is both a plus and minus.
She has definitely felt more pressure coming from a family held in such high regard.
“We come from a long line of excellence,” Natalya says. “But also, I really love the challenge of being a third-generation female superstar in WWE and blazing my own trail.
“I had a really cool family lineage and legacy but I have blazed my own trail because no one in my family is like me because they were all men that came before me. There is a different sort of dynamic to it.”
Natalya has two sisters but is the only one who went into professional wrestling. Her theory as to why she jumped in the ring and her siblings didn’t is that she feels like she is a lot like her father. She inherited his passion for sports and his big personality, both are major pluses when it comes to professional wrestling.
Following her father’s career path started when she was 17 or 18 years old. She was hosting a kid’s wrestling show called ‘Matrats’ when she got the OK to start training with other members of her family in the Hart Dungeon.
“I was the first woman invited to train in the dungeon. It was very grueling. But, the first time I started training, I fell in love with it,” Natalya says. “The rest is sort of history and I have been wrestling ever since.”
And now, she’s happily wrestling in front of fans again.