Unlike some of the other women in WWE (like Bayley and Sasha Banks), wrestling wasn’t always the plan for the former Women’s Champion. Prior to joining Vince’s company, Carmella lived a comfortable life back at home in Massachusetts. Following high school and university, she stayed in her hometown getting a gig with the New England Patriots.
Things started to shift in 2010 when Carmella applied for Tough Enough. Ultimately, she took back the offer and opted for a season with the Lakers as a Laker girl. Just a couple of years later, she would revisit the WWE offer, getting a contract for their developmental branch.
In this article, we’ll take a look back at said journey before WWE, featuring throwback pics of the recent WrestleMania women’s battle royal winner. Enjoy, folks. Let’s get started!
15 Calendar Girl
Prior to traveling the globe with McMahon’s company, Carmella was predominantly stationed in the Massachusetts area. She did all of her studies in Massachusetts and that includes graduating from Dartmouth.
She continued on cheerleading with the Pats. This is a rare shot of Carmella during her earlier days, making it on the team’s calendar.
14 Laker Girl
Following her 2010 campaign with the Patriots, Carmella would jump on a gig opportunity alongside one of the most popular sports teams in the world, the Los Angeles Lakers.
She was a Laker girl throughout the 2010-2011 campaign. She would make the transition into pro wrestling just a couple of years later in 2013.
13 Football Gear
Decked out in football gear and lingerie, this is a throwback shoot prior to her WWE days – Carmella took part in several amateur shoots.
It could have been quite the treat had Carmella joined the actual Lingerie Football League, similar to another WWE alum, Summer Rae. In any event, we’ll take the rare pic!
12 Not-So-PG Shots
Following her cheerleading days, Carmella pushed it in the world of modeling, working several shoots. We’ve seen this formula with lots of WWE stars from the past, especially those in the Divas era. Both Bella twins followed a similar path working amateur shoots prior to inking WWE deals.
Let’s just say Carmella’s shoots are a lot more glamorous these days.
11 Fitness Guru
Divas are fitness enthusiasts and that stems to their days prior to joining WWE. Similar to Carmella, Charlotte also pursued fitness before WWE, becoming a personal trainer.
Carmella has lots of fitness-related posts prior to signing with WWE – that might have been her path had she not been recruited at the PC. Clearly, that passion still burns today; Carmella looks better than ever.
10 With Dana Brooke
She wasn’t introduced to the main roster or to Vince at this point. However, she had made the move to Orlando, shacking up with Dana Brooke. Both were green to the business so it makes sense that they would bond, especially given their love for fitness.
Despite the limited experience, both thrived and are both on McMahon’s main rosters.
9 Hugging It Out With Mom
A throwback shot posted to her IG account, we have to dig deep in the archives for this one. It must’ve been an emotional moment when Carmella decided to leave the Mass area in order to pursue a WWE career.
She had actually almost joined WWE in 2010 for Tough Enough, but ultimately she chose to be a cheerleader for the Lakers instead.
8 The Inspiration
Carmella was inspired by a lot of the former Divas, however, her biggest inspiration has to be her father, Paul Van Dale, a former WWE Superstar back in the ‘90s.
Although he was basically booked as an enhancement talent, Paul worked alongside greats like Shawn Michaels, Big Bossman, and Curt Hennig, just to name a few.
7 More Cheerleading
She was living the dream at this point, spending three years back at home with her hometown football team, the New England Patriots.
Things would start to shift when she applied for Tough Enough, though ultimately the offer was withdrawn. As they say in the industry, timing is everything; Carmella would join in 2013 and she hasn’t looked back since.
6 More Posing For The Camera
Who would have predicted that the same girl would debut as a hairdresser for WWE a decade later...
Surprisingly, Carmella struggled early on as it was said that she wasn’t showing enough character. Ever wonder why she's so turned up all the time? Well, that negative feedback from the past has a lot to do with it.
5 The Pats Life
She would reach new levels of fame once her cheerleading days came to an end. However, initially, Carmella was strictly used as a valet alongside Enzo and Cass.
She was actually held back once the duo got promoted to the main roster – a move she might’ve been sad about back then but one that clearly worked to her advantage in the long run.
4 In The Routine
Following her days with NXT, Carmella would join the main roster and absolutely thrive. Similar to Alexa Bliss, she had limited success with NXT under Triple H – though things were different with McMahon as she was atop the card rather quickly, winning the MITB briefcase.
She would also share the ring in the opening segment with the McMahon family on the 1000th episode of SmackDown.
3 Younger Halloween Days
She recently posted this throwback picture to her IG account. Carmella is alongside her sister in the picture, the two maintain a close relationship and really resemble one another till this day. Heck, they might even be able to fool opponents similar to the Bellas.
In the pic above though, they opted for different Halloween outfits.
2 Ballet Dancer
A big reason for Carmella getting into cheerleading has to do with her passion for dance at a young age – this was the first love that she continued with during her teens and into her 20s on bigger platforms.
We still see shades of that today, whether it be with the Dance Break or that entrance moonwalk.
1 Pumping The Weights
She has definitely come a long way since this very moment. Who could have predicted Carmella entering PWI’s top ten females back in 2018?
She continues to climb the ladder with WWE as a former Women’s Champion, MITB winner and most recently, Women’s battle Royal victor on the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania 35.
Sources – IG, Twitter & WWE