First off, Happy Thanksgiving! So while I was on YouTube, I found something that just absolutely surprised me and warmed my heart: Ring The Belle, a YouTube page that features various interviews from many stars of women's wrestling, featured quite a surprising guest in the form of Lena Yada. DS Shin, the host of the Ring The Belle interviews, is just amazing; he always brings it and gets pretty much everyone from the world of women's wrestling, so I really shouldn't have been surprised when he managed to get an interview with Lena Yada, who I am still a huge fan of.
I learned quite a bit from DS Shin's interview. Of course, I knew that Lena started in the 2007 Diva Search, but I did not know that it was Lena's second Diva Search attempt. She actually entered the 2005 Diva Search, the one that was one by Ashley Massaro and featured Kristal Marshall and Leyla Milani. I loved that Lena mentioned Leyla Milani, who was the runner up in 2005. I remember hoping that we'd get a repeat of 2004, with Leyla returning as a heel and feuding with Ashley. I remember the 2007 Diva Search; for one, it was the last one, and secondly, it was strictly on WWE's website. Lena finished in third place in that year's contest, which was won by Eve Torres, and I remember it was those two and Taryn Terrell who ended up signed by WWE.
Lena was signed by WWE on November 10, 2007, but after an appearance as an interviewer on SmackDown, she was moved to ECW in January of 2008. Her first appearance saw her host a dance contest between ECW's feuding Divas, Kelly Kelly and Layla, but in a stunner, Lena entered herself in the contest and declared herself the winner. I beamed over that moment, and did the same when the subject of Lena's heel turn was included in the interview. Lena stated that she was originally sent to Raw, before ending up on ECW, and even on that day, she wasn't originally planned to appear on screen. She said it was all a beautiful mess, but it was an amazing beautiful mess.
Lena actually began her heel turn with her hijacking of the dance contest on ECW. Weeks later, the three women participated in a Best Body contest, which ended with Kelly Kelly as the winner. Lena fully turned heel after that contest, as she joined Layla in attacking Kelly, which began their alliance. Lena actually continued her duties as an interviewer, but she would act out her heel persona and serve as an ally of Layla against Kelly, with Victoria being part of the villainous duo's plans as well. Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) was also a subject, as Lena was actually told that Victoria was mean and didn't associate with others, yet Lena and Lisa became close during the former's time on WWE.
We wouldn't see Lena in actual matches, other than the 16-Diva tag bout that was booked to kill time, though Lena was on the victorious heel side on that evening's Raw, with the airdate being November 3, 2008. In the interview, Lena mentioned her gear and her entire look during that evening, and said that she wanted a character change, wanting to play a "bad-ass Japanimation character." Ever since that interview, I've imagined that for Lena, and that would have been so amazing to see her play a bad-ass and lethal villainess in the ring. Lena was actually released a week later on November 10, at exactly one year after she was signed, and regarding that, Lena revealed that at the time, she was taking care of her father, who had underwent a double lung transplant. The "release" was actually Lena's choice because she was still tending to her father, while WWE wanted her to head to Tampa and train. It was a huge conflict, but Lena made the easy and right choice: family comes first.
Sadly, I remember this: there was a long standing story that Lena's release was due to Gail Kim returning to WWE, and the powers that be felt that Gail and Lena "looked too much alike." Oh boy. Unfortunately, that was the thing back then in WWE's women's division. Back then, they could have as many blondes as they wanted (and they did, trust me), but when it came to WOC (Women of Color), it was the Highlander rule: there could only be one (of each race). Lena mentioned that and also brought up Angela Fong, which I loved, because I'm a fan of hers as well. Angela was in WWE as Savannah, and Lena actually mentioned so many rumors involving all three, with one of them being the three women in an all-Asian American faction. That would have been amazing, and chances are, it would have been a villainous faction; Gail would have been the leader, and Angela and Lena would be Gail's evil henchwomen.
Lena's indie match was mentioned, I remember watching this a long time ago. I was surprised when I learned that Lena actually wrestled, and it was a singles match against Christina Von Eerie, who acted as the heel against a babyface Lena, who won that bout. That match took place in the summer of 2009, and I did love what I saw from both women. Prior to her wrestling career beginning, Lena actually appeared in the 2007 Adam Sandler comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, playing one in a group of Hooters girls along with Jamie Chung and Candice Kita.
I enjoyed watching Lena Yada in WWE; she was amazing as an interviewer, but of course, I loved her as a villainess. Though we wouldn't really see Lena in the ring, she still played her evil role very well in the brief time she was in WWE. I would have loved to have seen more from her, but despite this, Lena remains one of the most memorable superstars in the minds of many WWE fans, myself included.