Former WWE star Nia Jax noted on Twitter she changed her handle to Lina (Savelina) Fanene. That’s not a new ring name but her real name. She also said it is highly unlikely that she will ever wrestle again, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Jax was among 18 wrestlers WWE released on November 4th. Reports stated she was let go because she was unvaccinated. Nia responded saying the company never mentioned her vaccination status and was released after asking for more time off due to mental health issues.
While the adage of this business is “never say never,” professional wrestling outside of the bright lights of WWE would look entirely different to Nia. Someone like Keith Lee, who was also released on November 4th, made his bones on the independent scene before WWE and will have an easier time navigating the circuit.
Independent wrestling is unfamiliar territory to Nia Jax.
Nia’s only ever known arenas and stadiums full of fans. She’s a legacy of the Samoan Dynasty and The Rock’s cousin. WWE signed her before she took her first bump, trained her from scratch in a world-class facility, developed her in NXT until she was ready for the main roster.
Now, that’s all gone.
If AEW isn’t an option, Nia Jax would have to hustle out a living.
There are no costume designers, seamstresses, and hair/make-up artists on staff with independent wrestling promotions. Gone are the movable feasts of DEGA Catering and in it’s place, a hotdog and a beverage the promoter will most likely take out of her pay.
There is no billion dollar compnay creating merchandise and no arena staff to sell it at shows. Merchandise production would be solely up to Nia to either sell it herself during intermission, bring someone with her to sell it, or arrange for the promoter to provide someone to sell the goods.
There is a vast mix of high caliber and low caliber talent on the independent scene for her to work with. WWE’s 20 x 20 wrestling ring with actual ropes is a distant memory. Instead, it’s either an 18 x 18 or 16 x 16 ring with steel cables as ring ropes.
Locker-room amenities for female talent on the independent scene can be less than desirable at times. Some women don’t mind dressing with the guys, while others will make a mad dash to change in the restroom.
Some talents with Nia’s name recognition will request their own locker room before a booking. In contrast, others will dress in gen pop and converse with the local wrestlers on the card or keep to themselves in their own makeshift locker room in the locker room with mini staging and a blackout curtain.
Nia will also have to set her quote and determine how and when she gets paid. If she’s injured or can’t wrestle, a yearly salary with a downside guarantee is no more. On the indies, you don’t play; you don’t get paid. Many promoters deal solely in cash, while Nia might want a check or vice-versa.
Names fresh off of WWE television can charge a mint when they arrive on the independents until the novelty wears off. Then, more and more promoters stop paying the high price tag until the talent has no choice but to to lower their quote.
These are some of the things that Nia never had to think about before that she would have to think about now if she were to work the indies. To someone who’s only known first-class settings, wrestling in a high school field house or a dingy elks lodge is a step down. You got to 100% love this business to put up with grind of independent wrestling.
I mentioned in my post about the November 4th WWE releases that Nia’s wrestling career could be over due to the hustle of the independent scene, her reputation as an unsafe worker in the ring, and the uncertainty of whether diehard fans, which Nia hasn’t exactly ingratiated herself with, would pay a premium to see her perform.
Maybe Nia did her homework and is not feeling the grassroots, entrepreneurial spirit required to make bank in lower levels of the industry. Perhaps, she has other options and can leave the life of a professional wrestler behind her.
The 37-year-old was a part of the evolution of women’s wrestling in WWE. She worked with, and was considered one the bigger talents in the game. Nia held the Raw Women’s Championship, Tag Team Championship, angered some fans while making others smile, and emerged as a body positivity icon.
No matter how you slice it, the independents, or any other form of wrestling outside of WWE might not be for Nia Jax, and that’s ok.