A lot has changed quickly for Nikki Cross.
Three weeks ago on “Monday Night Raw” she debut a new superhero-themed character similar to The Hurricane and Mighty Mollie of WWE’s past.
After being on and off WWE television earlier this year, Cross – now named Nikki “A.S.H.” for Almost a Superhero – finds herself in the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match at Sunday’s pay-per-view (8 p.m., Peacock) with fans back in attendance. If she is able to beat Liv Morgan, Natalya, Tamina, Naomi, Zelina Vega, Alex Bliss and Asuka she’ll earn a contract for a championship match anytime, anywhere.
Before the big match, Cross took time for some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski.
(Edited for clarity and length)
Q: What was the spark that made you sit down and start coming up with this superhero character and where did that start?
A: As a child, I was always watching the X-Men cartoons, the Spiderman cartoons. If I wasn’t watching WWE I would be watching X-Men and they had this amazing theme music (Sings X-Men theme music). So I was always into that, growing up and watching the Marvel and the DC movies, The Avengers, everything in the MCU, DC and they had the Justice League. I always loved superheroes and I loved watching the television shows and the movies. I was always a huge fan of The Hurricane in WWE. We’ve been thinking about this since the Royal Rumble. This is like a six-month labor of love and a love letter to my childhood, 90’s cartoons. For me, that was kind of how everything came together.
I’m so proud of everything and excited about how it came to life, for me, even the lightning bolt which is on the costume. That represents my past as Nikki Storm on the independent scene before coming to WWE and I always had lightning, sparks on my gear and then the butterfly represents the metamorphosis, just because it’s been just a wonderful few years with WWE and trying these different things and some different aspects of the personality. To me, this was kind of a natural evolution.
Q: How nerve-racking was presenting it to WWE after you guys put a lot of time and effort into the idea? Not every idea that’s pitched gets the green light?
A: I believe in the idea. I put so much energy and time. I put so much effort. I put so much time into this, into building this idea. So for me, one thousand percent, I knew it was gonna work. I knew how much I believed in it and I knew my energy and enthusiasm. I knew that I was going to be able to explain it. What I’m trying to say Joe is there weren’t nerves because of how much I believed in the idea.
Q: What would it mean to win Money in the Bank and put the rocket strap on you and this character?
A: It would mean the absolute world. It would mean the galaxy or the universe. It would mean so much, Joe. We have the Money in the Bank ladder match on Sunday and this is the second Money in the Bank ladder match I’ve done. An even though that was 2019, I posted about it on social media. For me, a lot’s changed, the same desire to win, the same spirit to win like all of that is still the same.
With this character and with Nikki Almost a Superhero, I think this is really a chance to connect and reach out to the audience and show them and teach them and kind of present something that’s inspirational, is positive and something it can really get behind and realize that everyone has something super about them. And there’s this idea that you put on the mask and cape and you feel like you can try anything. I feel like it’s such a positive message. I think to win that Money in the Bank contract, I think that adds to even more to this positive and wonderful message that we’re trying to send.
Q: I’ve thought of it as you put your mind to it, you can do it. You don’t need to be a superhero to accomplish great things, kind of a thing?
A: Yeah. For myself, right off the bat, speaking about this on ‘Raw Talk’. We have an amazing digital team that we were really able to put this message out. I know I don’t have superpowers. I know I don’t have super strength. It depends on how much coffee I’ve had. (Laughs). It was making that clear that I know I don’t have superpowers, but you put on the mask, you put on the outfit and you put on the cape and I feel like I can trying anything. That’s the core of this whole character.
Q: Back in January, when you weren’t really being used on TV, you posted videos to social media in the gist of give me a chance, I’m ready, I’m going to show you when I get an opportunity. Does that make this mean so much more to have gone through that to now having the most momentum you’ve had on the main roster?
A: The momentum for the last couple of month have been tremendous. I’m so proud of what we’ve done and it’s so satisfying and it’s so fulfilling to see this come to life. We took it from paper to WWE television. I’m so fulfilled. It’s a very, very satisfying, very proud moment. It’s going to get even better now that we are going to go back in front of or WWE fans. This weekend we are back to being live in front of our fans, so I think the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Q: What was that time like early in the year when you weren’t being used and weren’t on TV? Was it frustrating, did it give you a chance to reflect on things?
A: I used the time to self-improve. I watched a lot of tape. I watched Ricky Steamboat. I was even watching a lot of my older matches and say ohh, let me bring that back or oh that didn’t work as well, maybe leave that in the past. I was able to really reflex and really study a lot of wrestling and my own. A lot of reflection, a lot of sketching stuff and writing stuff down. I was also in the ring four times away. For me, I’m a WWE superstar. I’m a professional athlete, so the grind never stops.
Q: Was that training in the new Dungeon with Nattie or somewhere else?
A: Nattie and TJ (Wilson), they’ve been wonderful enough to invite [us]. We’ve been going there weekly and they just have so much to offer this industry. TJ has such a fantastic mind and Natalya is so inspirational and she has so much knowledge as well, so the two of them together are the ultimate power couple. They care so much about this industry, so to be able to pick their brains was awesome.
And then my husband Damian Mackle (Killian Dain), we’ve done a lot of training. He still is one of my main coaches. We work on things all the time. Also Drew Gulak, before television on Monday afternoon there would be the practice ring set up in the arena and he would always work on stuff with me there. So I feel like I’ve surrounded myself with great people with great knowledge. I’m a very good sport, Joe. I’m very happy.
Q: Your husband said in a recent interview that you recent run got started because you got subbed in for someone, someone was absent and you got thrown and run with it. Is that what happened and what does it mean to get that random opportunity and run with it?
A: You stay ready, the opportunity came, I faced Rhea Ripley the Raw women’s champion in a beat-the-clock challenge and then Charlotte the week after. Both of those girls underestimated the power of Nikki Cross to beat the clock. I seized the opportunity. I ran with it and then we carried that momentum to this presentation, this character, this role model. I think there was a good lesson for anyone in this industry that you stay ready and you take the opportunity and you run with it as far as you can.
Q: So was it supposed to be someone else in that spot?
A: Now that I’m gonna leave to your imagination. As a superhero or as almost a superhero, I’ve got my secrets, I’ve got my secret lair, I’ve got my Nikki mobile and there are things I’m gonna leave to people’s imagination.
Q: How did you find out the news of your husband being released by WWE and just what’s going through your mind when that happens. He’s kind of had some fun with it and said you’re the sugar momma now.
A: (Laughs) He told me he said that and I laughed. Sugar mama. I was there with Damo when he received the phone call. I’d rather let him speak about it. He’s my husband. I support him to the moon and back, to Pluto and back to Neptune and back, all the faraway planets and back. So I would rather let him tell his story and his feelings and his thoughts about it. He’s very excited for his next chapter. I’m excited for his next chapter and it’s his story to tell.
Q: So have you thought far enough ahead of potentially adding a sidekick? Every superhero needs a sidekick. Who do you think might make a good one?
A: Well Joe, how about you? Do you want to be my backup?
Staszewski: I’d love to be your sidekick (Laugh)
A: You would be my Robin. So for me, as almost a superhero so I’m not a superhero just yet, so there is plenty of time for sidekicks, but for now I need to focus on being almost a superhero and become a superhero.