AEW star Athena is currently making a splash after capturing the ROH Women’s Championship from Mercedes Martinez at ROH Final Battle, but prior to signing with AEW in May of 2022, the star competed as Ember Moon for a number of years after signing with WWE in 2015.
The star reached great heights during her time in WWE NXT, capturing the NXT Women’s Championship in 2017 and going on to win the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship alongside Shotzi Blackheart after returning to the brand following an uneven stint on the main roster.
Speaking to Chris Jericho on a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho, Athena opened up about her journey to become a professional wrestler, saying that her parents weren’t keen on the idea of her pursuing her dream and didn’t take the job seriously until she got to WWE.
“My parents didn’t really support the wrestling career until I got to WWE. My parents have always been supportive but I think they were hard on me because they wanted me to succeed and they were like school is the way to do that.”
“They are both extremely successful in their professions and when I’m like, ‘I want to be a pro wrestler’ and they go to the first show in Marshall, Texas, 20 people in the crowd and they’re like, ‘what is this going to pay for?’ So, I get it, you know, I ended up getting kicked out and I learned to survive on my own.”
AEW’s Athena Detailed Her Early WWE Tryout Experiences
Continuing, Athena explained that she was so dedicated to the idea of wrestling that she used her college tuition money to pay for a WWE tryout years before she would eventually sign.
“I dropped out of college because I had a WWE tryout, I think it was like the first one at FCW, and I used my tuition money to pay for the way to get there.”
The star’s initial tryout came before the days of WWE’s Women’s Evolution, and the feedback she received about her performance pointed out suggestions to change her look.
“I remember getting this form that said ‘doesn’t have the Diva look, work on that.’ They had this whole pamphlet on what you did well, what you didn’t do well, what you need to work on. Main critique was ‘doesn’t have Diva look’ and then it had some suggestions like maybe get hair extensions, maybe get new gear, maybe get this.”
She later had a private tryout, but recalls being told that in order to sign, she would have to lose weight. She did as she was told, but admits she didn’t take the healthiest route and heavily restricted her eating.
“I remember just being told ‘I just don’t know if we should sign you or tell you to lose some more weight.’ That was kind of what it came down to and I was like, ‘I can lose the weight, just sign me.’”
“So, I lose the weight. I’m like, ‘yes, alright we got this, we hit that number’ but it was not in a healthy way because I wanted it so bad. I had a cup of strawberries in the morning, I would run three miles, and then I would have a cup of strawberries at night. That was kind of the only thing I was ingesting.”
Despite losing weight as instructed, it would be some time before Athena signed with WWE in 2015.