For Australian wrestling star Indi Hartwell, getting to WWE was something she never thought she’d achieve.
She’d grown up watching wrestling when the women’s division had just one championship and limited TV time.
However, she’s now an NXT Tag Team Champion with Candice LeRae, and is keen to see what’s coming next.
Speaking with The Inner Sanctum, Hartwell reflected on her journey to where she is now.
“I’m really stoked with how everything’s gone for me so far,” she told The Inner Sanctum.
“I feel like I’ve worked hard, but I’ve received things quite quickly throughout my journey in WWE.
“But since winning the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships now, we have three Australians holding gold within WWE, which is something I would never have imagined growing up.
“When I first started watching wrestling when I was eight years old, like there weren’t even any Australians in WWE and now we have three Aussies who are champions within WWE. It makes it makes it all extra special.”
Hartwell started in the ring at 19, and it was one match which made her believe she could get to the top.
“This was in 2015, and I’ve told this story a lot, because it means a lot to me.
“It was Sasha Banks versus Bailey from NXT Takeover Brooklyn in 2015.
“That was the match that I watched where I was like, ‘I’m going to do that.’ And that’s literally the match that made me sign up for wrestling school.
“Because before that, wrestling was kind of like the dream that I had that ‘it’s a dream, you’re never actually gonna do it.’ But after I saw that match, I was like, this is what I have to do.”
Hartwell is 24 now and she believes she adapted into wrestling quite well.
“I think I adjusted pretty well into wrestling,” she said.
“It helps if you grow up as a fan of wrestling, I think that shows in the ring, I feel like I picked it up pretty well.
“I was able to kind of get myself out there, work with a lot of different people at a lot of different promotions, in a lot of different countries and I think that really helped my career take off.
“My career started off at PCW, which is based in Melbourne and about a year, maybe year and a half into wrestling, I went over to MCW.
MORE WRESTLING NEWS
“I feel like at MCW, that’s where I really started to find my feet. Every show I did, I just got more and more confident, being in front of a bigger crowd, being in front of a different crowd.
“That really helped me and there were a lot of other companies in Australia that helped a lot like Riot City Wrestling was one where I wrestled a lot, I was the champion.
“Same with Newcastle Pro Wrestling. I feel like those those are the companies that were pretty significant in my journey.
“My first foot in the door with WWE came pretty soon after I started, I think I was about 10 matches in and WWE was coming for an NXT tour of Australia in December 2016.
“One of my coaches at the time, told me to send in a resume and I didn’t expect to hear anything back.
“But thankfully I did and I got invited to the try-out, obviously nothing came from that try-out for me, but Rhea Ripley was signed from that try-out.
“From then, I kind of kept in contact with them, but I knew that I needed more seasoning.
“I basically invested in myself and flew myself out to America multiple times to gain more experience and exposure, and then finally was April 2019 when they basically said that they wanted to sign me.
“I was having a match in Brooklyn, New York and there were some WWE scouts there.
“When I got back to my phone after the match, I had an email basically saying, we’re going to sign you and I thought, ‘Oh, my God’. I couldn’t really believe it.
“Because it’s kind of like a dream that you don’t think is ever going to happen.”
Looking forward, Hartwell believes women’s wrestling will continue to rise.
“It’s awesome having Women’s Tag Team Championships in NXT, as well as in WWE,” she said.
“Growing up watching WWE, there was only one women’s title.
“And now we have multiple, there’s more opportunities for the women, which is great, and I am a tag team champion now in WWE.
“So I never thought I’d be able to say that.
“I think we have such an amazing group of women at WWE, have an amazing group of women at NXT and we have a lot of women who haven’t been on TV yet.
“But, they are working extremely hard at the Performance Centre, who I’m sure will get their chance soon.”
NXT TakeOver: In Your House streams Monday 14th June from 10am AEST on WWE Network.