In an appearance on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, Impact Knockouts Champion and AAA Reina de Reinas Champion Deonna Purrazzo talked more about her time in NXT and the struggle to be move up the ranks. Paquette asked if there was a vibe in NXT that one had to wait there turn before getting a push, and Purrazzo concurred.
“That’s the vibe that I got that I was doing wrong,” Purrazzo said. “Because we would have these, you’d do a skull session and they kind of give you critique. I was in a class that I felt like ‘I could do all these things.’ I was in Serena’s (Deeb) class, and Serena was trained by my trainer. So it was kind of like all the things we were doing I had done before I got there. So I would sit down every week and be ‘let’s watch this match. What can I do better?’
“And I wasn’t necessarily getting a lot of feedback of like ‘this is what you can do better.’ Otherwise it was ‘this is good, maybe you could’ve done something different here. Or something there, or we need to play with your music and your entrance.’ But wrestling wise, no one was really telling me anything different. And that was my biggest complaint. So I’d go to Matt Bloom and be like ‘okay I came here to be a TV star. And I’m not. So if you’re not going to tell me what I need to do to be a TV star, what am I doing here?’ In hindsight, maybe I did that too soon.”
Purrazzo also talked about how she felt she lacked credibility within NXT. She also talked about how some people felt she didn’t want to work hard while there, countering that by saying she just wanted to move up the ranks and no one in NXT gave her advice on how to do that.
“I think I felt like ‘I should have more credibility than you give me credit for,’” Purrazzo said. “Obviously it was a whole new environment. I had never actually been sent to NXT. I needed to find a working relationship with all the girls and things like that. I think when I first was released and I said all these things, people were like ‘she didn’t want to work hard. She didn’t want to put in the time.’
“That was not it. I just wanted to move up in the ranks. And for whatever reason I was not doing that. It’s as simple as like ‘okay I’m in the intermediate class. How do I get to the TV class with Sara (Del Ray)? What steps do I need to take to be there?’ And there was no answer. If you’re not telling me what I need to do to be there, then you’re choosing me not to be there. And that’s bulls–t.”
Ultimately Purrazzo felt like it was a situation where no one had her back, no matter how hard she worked. She recalled having several arguments over her situation with Performance Center head trainer Matt Bloom, to the point that the two would be yelling at each other.
“It honestly didn’t really feel like anyone else was backing me up,” Purrazzo said. “I really had to take that initiative. At first you start with the little questions. ‘What more can I do? Did I do something to offend someone? Is there rights I need to make?’ Anything. I looked for any reason why this could not be working out. And then you become frustrated. I would literally sit in Matt Bloom’s office and we’d be yelling at each other from across the table. He would feel one way and I’d feel the other way and I’d just be advocating for myself. I was like ‘I don’t think you’re seeing it.’
“And it was simple things, like I went and spent my own money to have vignettes made, outside of the PC, to pitch this character. And by no means is character work my strong suit. Wrestling is my strong suit and I know that. But that’s a big part of what we do, promos and people want to see character work. And a lot of NXT is based on having these big characters and the whole package. Going in I knew ‘this is something I’m going to need to work on.’ Promos I literally would cry in promo class because I didn’t like my peers staring at me. And it was just something I needed to work on. And I consistently will say I tried to film stuff and do stuff, and be in the extra promo booth talking. Just trying to show I’m working on every aspect of me and trying to put in the extra to try and make this work. And even things like that didn’t work.”
Another fight Purrazzo had was over her gimmick, “The Virtuosa”, which she had developed outside of WWE. Purrazzo talked with Paquette about how she created the gimmick and how ultimately she was able to keep the persona.
“WWE asked me to pick a new name and I was like ‘I can’t see myself as anything else,’” Purrazzo said. “So the process of ‘The Virtuosa’ was like ‘okay. I want something that nods to my wrestling style, but I don’t just want to be the generic technician or ‘The Mechanic’ or things like that.’ So I tried to use those words and translate them into Latin or Italian or things like that, and that’s where ‘The Virtuosa’ came from. But I was kind of like ‘it’s a weird word. If you don’t know how to say it, you’ll say it wrong.’ Some people still call me ‘The Virtuoso.’ It was really, from the get go it was like ‘okay I can’t think of anything else. But I really do like this. We’ll just see what happens.’ From day one it was like an education process.
“And that’s what was as much of a shock to me, when NXT was like ‘we don’t get it.’ I was like ‘this is the literal definition. What do you mean you don’t get it?’ At Ring of Honor I didn’t explain it. One day I was ‘from Hackettstown, New Jersey, Deonna Purrazzo.’ And two weeks later I was ‘The Virtuosa.’ And people were just like ‘okay yeah!’ I don’t know if they Google’d it or whatever, but it just kind of stuck right away where people were like ‘makes sense.’ And I didn’t have to try. So when I really had to try it was really hard, because at that point it was already personal. It was like ‘I’m not giving it up. This is who I am, this has been my body of work, this is what you brought me in from. I’m not giving up my name.’”