- Zelina Vega fulfilled a lifelong dream by teaming up with Rey Mysterio and performing in front of Puerto Rican wrestling fans.
- She had the opportunity to be a commentator in Street Fighter 6, which was a surreal experience for her as a gamer and anime fan.
- Zelina Vega started a gaming podcast with Dakota Kai, where they discuss gaming, anime, and their shared interests outside of wrestling.
Zelina Vega is one of the fastest-rising stars in WWE, and she’s just beginning to scratch the surface of her sports entertainment career. This past April, Vega teamed up with one of her childhood idols, the legendary Rey Mysterio in the Main Event an episode of one of WWE’s hottest weekly shows, Friday Night Smackdown. This wasn’t any ordinary episode of the weekly wrestling show. The Boricua WWE Superstar would not only be teaming up with her hero, but she would also be performing in front of the wrestling fans of Puerto Rico.
This was just the beginning for Vega, who was literally wearing her national pride that night. The following night, Vega would get her first opportunity at a singles title in front of the same boisterous crowd in Puerto Rico’s Capital, San Juan. Vega came up short that night, but for Zelina, that moment will stand in time for the tenacious WWE Superstar. “My chest was still kind of pounding a little bit. I was like, wow, that was beside my wedding day”, said Vega. This moment was a dream come true for the Superstar.
This wouldn’t be the only dream that would come true for Vega, who shares the namesake of her favorite Street Fighter character. The avid gamer wore ring gear inspired by the Street Fighter villain which would lead Zelina to the opportunity of a lifetime. Recently the fiery WWE Superstar appeared in Street Fighter 6 as a commentator in the game. The long-time fighting game fan recalls her experience when she heard her voice for the first time in the game. “I got to see it the first time in full and hear my voice and get to play with everybody that was a part of, you know, creating the game, I almost cried”, said Vega.
This would help propel the passionate gamer to start a gaming podcast with fellow WWE Superstar Dakota Kai called ZELVX AND CHARLIE Girl, which is described as Cyberpunk meets Kawaii. Zelina recounts how the podcast came out with Kai, “Whenever we’d hang out, we would be talking about all kinds of stuff. It was gaming stuff, anime stuff. And I was like, I feel like there’s other people like him relate to this.” As we peeled the onion back on some of Zelina’s interests outside of pro wrestling, the topic of one of her other passions came up, anime. Vega tells Screen Rant what some of her anime tastes are and how they differ from her husband, Malikai Black, who wrestles for the upstart All Elite Wrestling.
Zelina Vega Talks WWE
Screen Rant: You and Dakota Kai coming together for this podcast is incredible. How did this all come together? I know it’s described as cyberpunk meets Kawhi. Tell me how this show came about.
Zelina Vega: Well, it was something that her and I just kind of were doing anyway. Whenever we’d hang out, we would be talking about all kinds of stuff. It was gaming stuff, anime stuff. And I was like, I feel like there’s other people relate to this. So, why don’t we just do a podcast and just see what happened? And she was like, I think we should. It kind of came together really quickly, actually. And luckily, we have our friend Josiah helping us because he’s the mastermind behind all of this. Thank God. But it’s yeah, it’s just one of those things where maybe we get to let people in a little bit behind who Thea is behind Selena and who Charlie is behind Dakota.
Seeing where that goes, because it’s just like really just two kids. I feel like our inner child kind of comes out of it when we do this kind of stuff. So especially when we get to reminisce on things that we used to watch when we were kids like Pokemon or Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball Z and just kind of vibe out to that, what games were you playing? Was it Resident Evil? Did it scare the crap out of you? And why that kind of fun stuff?
I know you’re a Street Fighter fan. We’ll talk about that in a second. But what are some other games that you’re into, as opposed to what Dakota is into?
Zelina Vega: I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of difference necessarily. But I know that for me I loved The Sims game. I was very, very addicted to The Sims game in the worst kind of ways. That’s why I don’t really play too much anymore or else you won’t really see me. I used to play all day and then all night and then go to school the next day, just all the way through.
A dream came true for you recently. You were in Street Fighter 6 as a commentator. That is incredible. Talk to me about that experience a little bit.
Zelina Vega: Well, I mean, my gosh, it came together actually because when I did Vega for the first time for the Royal Rumble, the first rumble I was part of, Capcom saw it and they loved it. And they were just like, Oh, this is so cool. I didn’t know she was a fan. And then hearing me on commentary for some of Andrade’s matches on Raw and stuff, fast forward, they asked me if I wanted to. My friend, Andrew, specifically, he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. And I thought he was kidding. I was like, That’s kind of massive. And you’re just like, How? It didn’t compute.
My brain just wasn’t wrapping around what he was asking me. And then when everything became finalized, I got to see parts of the game, and what I would be doing, then going out to L.A. to actually get to record my voice for it. I was like, Wow, this is becoming more and more real. It’s so crazy. But getting to know that team and everybody involved from the creators, everybody was involved in the game. They’re so talented and such an amazing group of people.
I’m so, so blessed to be a part of it. And then when I actually heard was that when I was in Japan and I got to see it the first time in full and hear my voice and get to play with everybody that was a part of creating the game, I almost cried. I was like, This is the craziest thing I’m getting to see and hear myself. Obviously, when it comes to gaming, I get a little bit feisty, and a little aggressive sometimes. It’s fine. So they did find some humor in that. So there’s that.
That has to be like a dream come true moment. What other video game would you like to be included in or bring to life either on the big screen or as a series?
Zelina Vega: Oh man, that’s a really difficult question. Because I love a lot of different fighting games. I’ve always loved Mortal Kombat and Tekken 2. I think what’s cool about the fighting game community is that I think we just kind of support all games. It’s not even just after one, that’s all you can ever be. But also, I would love to be a part of something that has to do with Naruto or Demon Slayer or something like that, because I’m such a big anime head that I’d love to kind of blend those two. Because obviously, I’ve played Naruto and Ninja Storm, stuff like that. So in some ways, I’d like to find a way to blend the anime gaming space there.
I want to expand my gaming horizon in your recommendations, Zelina. I’m an RPG guy, and Final Fantasy VII is my jam. In your recommendation, what are some games I should be seeking out?
Zelina Vega: I think you have to try a bunch of different ones, right? So for me, I would love if you can try and… listen, I am so bad at Fortnite, but it’s so much fun. It’s so much fun, especially when you get to play with your friends and just start trolling people. It’s just so fun. I love Fortnite. Dead by Daylight is also a really fun game, too. I love playing that. The Mortal Kombat one that I just got. The storyline was incredible. Really big on that.
The Batman Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, Arkham Knight, that whole series is amazing. And I think you’d really love that if you like Batman at all. So, yes, it hooked me so, so much. So, yeah, those are the big ones that I’m into right now. But my husband’s also really big on DMZ. He’s playing a lot of DMZ right now. So, you kind of end the cyberpunk game, obviously. So you kind of get to play a little, I guess, story mixed with just fun fighting at the same time. So that’s that’s really where I like to have a little bit of both whenever I’m gaming.
If you were to recommend some anime, which animes should one be watching?
Zelina Vega: It depends if you’re trying to get into something new and trying to see if anime is more for you. I like to go with Demon Slayer or Death Note because Death Note is only 37 episodes, but they do so much within those 37 episodes that it’s just crazy. And it gets you hooked pretty quickly. Demon Slayer. I love the illustration. I love the story development. Just the characters are amazing. So because Rengoku is, I’m looking at different Rengoku statues in my room right now, but so definitely those two.
But if you’re looking for something to hook you for a while, obviously, One Piece and Bleach is one of those. But Naruto, I love, Inuyasha is another one that I really love, too. So, definitely, I’d say one of those four. If you’re going to go with something. I actually just started My Hero. I know that it’s like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe you haven’t watched that. But we’re in shape and trying to get me to watch it for the longest time. So I said, you know what? I’m going to give it a shot. He’s like, well, if you love Naruto, you’re going to love it. So I watched the first episode, and I was like, OK, I can see why you said that.
Somebody also told me to get into My Hero also because I love the X-Men. One Piece just did their live-action Netflix show. Have you watched it? What are your opinions on it? If you have any.
Zelina Vega: My husband and I are watching it currently, and we both really like it. And he’s more into the Castlevania. Vampire Hunter D is his favorite of all time. So he likes the older stuff. Ninja Scroll, that kind of stuff. But so when we got to watch the live-action of One Piece, he was like, This is actually really fun. And now it’s making me question, do I want to watch the anime, too? There’s so many episodes, obviously snd everybody’s excuses is, Oh, it’s so many. But it’s definitely something that we kind of sink our teeth into. And now we can’t stop watching it.
I was at WrestleMania in SoFi. I was jealous that I didn’t get to go to WrestleMania Backlash in Puerto Rico because that crowd was fire. Tthat crowd was complete fire, talk to me about the moment of challenging for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in front of that crowd.
Zelina Vega: Oh, my God. And it’s funny, I was streaming yesterday, and I literally watched those moments with my chat, and I was like, Man, even now watching it, I still had like a lump in my throat. My chest was still kind of pounding a little bit. I was like, Wow, that was, besides my wedding day, that was the best moment of my life. It was. There was nothing that compares to that. It was literally as if I had the support of an army. It’s crazy to feel that kind of support from your island, from your people, from family, friends, but everything all at the same time.
I also had the rest of the LWO there. I was like, Wow, hold on. So I still feel like this is a weird dream that I had because it was that Friday night to make it to main events. Smackdown with my hero, Rey Mysterio. Then, later that night, we got matching tattoos. And then I got to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in Puerto Rico at Backlash. It still doesn’t like to come out right. Because I’m like, In what way did this happen? But it’s its one of the, oh my God, seriously, the best moment of my life.
Let’s talk about the LWO for a second because you’re in a Faction with Rey Mysterio. I can’t imagine somebody sitting down and telling the young you, “Hey, someday you’re going to be a wrestler, and you’re going to be in a faction with probably the greatest pound-for-pound wrestler ever to live.” What is that like for you?
Zelina Vega: I don’t know because it’s still crazy to think that that’s a legitimate thing. And Rey had sent me the pictures from that past. No, was it Smackdown? No, I don’t think it was Smackdown. It was a Fastlane. He sent me pictures from Fastlane, these really good pictures. And he’s like, Oh, these are really great. If you wanted to post them, I don’t know if you wanted them or not, but I thought, these pictures are really awesome. And I’m looking at them, and I’m looking at me standing next to him. And I’m like, What is life, bro?
And I texted him that I was like, Dude, I know that this seems like it’s an everyday thing and whatever. But this is still one of the coolest things. It is so amazing to actually get to be a part of this with you, to learn from you, even to be talking to you right now is crazy to me. So, and he’s so humble and so sweet. He’s like, Oh, see, we got this. Let’s keep going. This is just the beginning. He’s so positive; he’s so encouraging all the time. I said this before, but they say don’t meet your heroes because you don’t want to be disappointed. But I would meet Rey Mysterio every single day because he’s the best human ever.
Yeah, he’s such a legend. We were just watching his match at Fastlane and were just like, Man, how is this dude still so good for doing this for such a long time and still doing the style that he does? It’s incredible to me. That dude is ageless.
Zelina Vega: Yeah, yeah, I mean, it’s the legend that is Rey Mysterio. It’s mysterious in its own ways, too.
Carlito just returned to WWE as a member of the LWO. What are you excited to see with this run with Carlito in the WWE?
Zelina Vega: I want to do a double spit an apple thing. I think that’d be fun. But I also know that I’d trip out and be like, Oh, the pressure. It’s going to be a little blip. I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to do it right. But no, I think it’s cool because I feel like it’s been so long that it’s going to give us a nice, refreshing feeling to give something the crowd to feel refreshed about. It’s always cool when you add somebody to the mix, but somebody as amazing and talented as Carlito, it’s just so fun because now you never know where we’re going to take it. I have no idea what will happen on Friday, for instance.
No clue, but it’s exciting for me to go to work and go, OK, what are we going to do now? What’s going to be the next step for us? So it’s just more exciting than anything else. And I think the crowd is ready for it. And my God, I haven’t seen this kind of support in a while because it just feels like I said this on ‘The Bump’, but I feel like we have so many people’s hopes and dreams, especially Latinos, I feel like we have so many of their hopes and dreams on our shoulders, and we carry it so proudly that we’re ready to take this to the next level.
You talked about things being refreshing and fresh for WWE, and seeing you in a title match was extremely refreshing to me. Honestly, I feel like you were cheated out of that moment because you didn’t win the title. But Royal Rumble’s right around the corner. What would it mean to you to win the Royal Rumble and go on to Philly, either against Rhea or EO or whoever’s the champion at the time?
Zelina Vega: I think that would be the cherry on top of something so perfect for me because, and I mentioned this before, but people, I’ve been a manager for someone for a good five years in WWE. So this is a whole new Zelina that they’re seeing as far as me being a wrestler and a baby face because that did not come easy at all. I will say that that did not come very easy or, I guess, natural for me because they’ve always said I’ve been a natural heel. But I think it’s just allowing people to get to know the real me and just letting that come out to play for a bit.
And it’s funny because Rhea did this interview where she said for Backlash, seeing how emotional I got, she knew how much it meant to me because she’s, I’m quoting her, she said that I’m usually an angry little gremlin all the time. So to see that kind of emotion coming, she’s like, She does not cry. She does not show any kind of emotion. So to have that come out of me was clearly something so powerful that I couldn’t even hold back. So again, once I realized that I can let people in, it’s like the rest just followed naturally. So by that moment that I had Backlash, then, my God, putting my body on the line and ‘Money In The Bank‘ and just doing what I felt I needed to do to now where we can go in the world, Rumble to WrestleMania.
I think this is just going up and up. And I think that this is something that I feel like I’m proving to the fans, I’m proving to the office, I’m also proving to myself that this is the version of myself that I’m supposed to be at. This is where I’m supposed to be in. And holding singles gold is exactly where Zelina Vega needs to be now in her career.
WWE superstar Zelina Vega can be seen weekly on WWE Smackdown every Friday at 8/7c on Fox.