Put Your Hair Up and Square Up: An Interview with Sonya Deville

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As we get closer and closer to the Elimination Chamber PPV, we get closer and closer to the WWE crowning their first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions in 30 years. Going in, we know who will be starting off the Chamber match as well, as it will be the fan-favorite team of Sasha Banks and Bayley taking on the formerly know Absolution, the team of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Mandy and Sonya have recently been on SmackDown LIVE more and more recently, from Sonya coming just short in the battle royal that sent Asuka to TLC to face Charlotte and Becky Lynch in December, to the ongoing storyline between Mandy Rose and Naomi. Even more recently, Sonya Deville has been in the news for what Ronda Rousey said when she was previewing the Elimination Chamber match on her website, saying she thought of Deville’s MMA career more as a hobby. Well for Ronda and the rest of the world, we happily take a look into the career of Sonya Deville, and more specifically, Daria Berenato.

The pro wrestling world was introduced to Sonya when she was a part of WWE’s returning “Tough Enough” series that aired on USA Network back in 2015. Then, going by her real name of Daria, was one of the early favorites due to her MMA background and likeability on the show. In her MMA career, she respectively went 2-1, including wins by KO/TKO and a submission victory. However, she became one of the real shocking eliminations earlier in the season, being voted out on just the third episode. Like with current NXT Superstar, the Velveteen Dream, she didn’t allow an early exit from the show to stop her from chasing her dreams. We were able to talk to Sonya about her experience on the show however, which really shows what a show like “Tough Enough” could do for you if you were not totally familiar with the wrestling world.

Photo: WWE

Sonya: “Tough enough was a whirl wind of experiences, it was my first time on a reality TV show, but also my first experience with professional wrestling. I was excited, SUPER motivated and overwhelmed all at the same time. My competitive nature took over and all I saw was winning, after being eliminated I was devastated, I had fallen in love with this world and wanted it so bad. So, when I went back to LA I immediately began training with Brian Kendrick and emailing and hounding WWE for another shot. Finally, a few months later I was given another tryout and that is when I finally got hired. It’s changed my life WWE is where I belong.”

Photo: WWE

Being able to appreciate how instead of giving up, she chased her love for the business and did everything she could to get back to the WWE. She was signed within the same year of “Tough Enough”, continuing to learn for a few years down in NXT while being seen on NXT TV from time to time before finally becoming Sonya Deville. She had her NXT TV debut on the August 17th episode in 2016, teaming with her current partner Mandy Rose and five-time Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss in a losing effort to the team of Carmella, Liv Morgan, and Nikki Cross. She would be used sparingly for the next few months on TV, while she would continue to mold her craft on the NXT Live Event circuit, ultimately redebuting on NXT as Sonya Deville, defeating Lacey Evans on the May 17th episode of NXT. Sonya became a force in NXT, defeating the likes of recent signee Rachel Evers as well as the number one contender for the RAW Women’s Champion at Elimination Chamber, Ruby Riott. Her last match on NXT would be an NXT Women’s Championship match against the then champion, Ember Moon in December 2017. However, this would come after one of the biggest nights of Deville’s young career.

Photo: WWE

On November 20th, 2017, Paige finally returned to the WWE and did not come alone. This one will be remembered as both Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose would make their big-time debuts guided by their former “Tough Enough” judge. Deville and Mandy made an impact immediately on the main roster as a part of Absolution, running through the crowd their first night and making be known they were here to stay with their attacks on Sasha Banks and Mickie James. While any WWE debut should be special, Sonya can say that she made her debut with her best friend. I was able to ask Sonya about how special that night was, debuting in the WWE alongside her best friend Mandy.

Sonya: “Debuting alongside my best friend Mandy Rose in our group Absolution was surreal. Not only were we going to be a part of Monday night RAW but together as a tag team with my best friend. It was a dream and it all came to fruition. That night was the most exciting experience of my career running through the crowd into the ring and jumping the girls. That will go down as one of my favorite moments in WWE.”

Photo: WWE

While many debuts nowadays in the WWE are announced or the night after WrestleMania, Sonya managed to have one of the most memorable ones in recent history. Changing the game has always been a part of Sonya’s goals. Being a key part of the continuous Women’s Revolution continues to be something you appreciate as a fan or a spectator from the outside. As her and Mandy said this past week in their sit-down interviews, they have been apart of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble,Women’s Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania Battle Royal, and the first ever Women’s only PPV, Evolution. Deville has not just been witnessing change in the wrestling world but living it.

Photo: WWE

As she continues her young career, she has broken down doors and become a role model for so many young girls out there who should always be themselves. Back in 2015, Sonya became the first openly gay woman to be signed to the WWE, allowing the WWE audience to know the real person they are watching and becoming a fan because she is as real as it gets. The realness that her character and simply she shows every single day is something I asked her, as she has become a true role model and someone for so many people to look to:

Sonya: “I love being able to share my story to help others relate or cope with their own stuff they have going on at home. My personal life is a big part of who my character is. Sonya is the way she is for a reason and I love enlightening the fans on what those things are because so many people are going through similar experiences and have amazing stories I love to hear and relate to myself. Spreading the positivity is just as important and telling the difficult stories. It’s all about informing and growing together. With experience we can do that!”

Photo: WWE

The badass you see on TV every single week is true to form, as Sonya Deville is one of the realest, most genuine people around. She embraces who she is which is something everyone should do and getting to talk to Sonya was truly an honor. This Sunday, alongside her best friend Mandy Rose, she will look to become the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions in 31 years inside the Elimination Chamber. If you’re interested in knowing more of who Sonya Deville is, you can check out her and Mandy’s YouTube series, Damandyz Donutz, where they travel the world looking for the best donuts out there. These two are the present and future of the women’s division, and are both destined to win gold this Sunday and beyond.

We would like to give a big time thanks to Daria for giving us time in her busy schedule to ask her a few questions, it was truly an honor.

You can follow her @SonyaDevilleWWE on Twitter and witness her make history, this Sunday at the Elimination Chamber PPV at 7 pm EST on the WWE Network and Pay-Per-View.