Mandy Rose on Becoming Part of WWE's Favorite Couple With Otis & More
The last few months, WWE fans have been invested in the onscreen romance between Mandy Rose and Otis of Heavy Machinery. This tale as old as time told on SmackDown culminated at WrestleMania 36 with a kiss, likened to when the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth reunited. And even though fans weren’t there to watch the payoff in person, Rose could feel the love from viewers at home thanks to social media.
“It was obviously a different environment and something none of us were used to,” the superstar said, describing the atmosphere at the WWE Performance Center. “We just had to adapt. It was a little upsetting at first to not have the crowd be there to enjoy it, but the show must go on. All of us as sports entertainers in WWE were all used to adapting to the circumstances and whatever we have to do to put on a show for our fans.
“Putting smiles on people’s faces is what we do. I was happy with how it resonated so well with fans. Everyone has loved the whole story and the final moments with Otis and I at the end. I think the overall feedback I got was just what a happy moment and genuine response from everyone during such a tough time we’re in right now.”
It’s rare these days to have such a long-term program with as many moving parts and characters. This was the plan all along with how things have panned out. Though Rose had no idea it would become arguably the most popular storyline on WWE TV.
“I don’t think we thought it was going to be such a big story,” she said. “We never anticipated it being this big. But once we started, I remember the segment before Christmas with Otis and I backstage with the whole ham as a gift. I remember giving him the kiss on the cheek, and everyone on social media were like, ‘Oh my God!’ The crowd. I could hear them. We had a feeling then we had something good. I’m really grateful for it all.”
All the pieces were there. The lovable underdog who pines for what he thinks is the unattainable bombshell. Friends Tucker and Sonya Deville are surprised to find a romance blossoming. Little did Rose and Otis know a conniving Deville was going behind her best friend’s back to set up Otis. Putting Rose in the arms of Dolph Ziggler, basically the equivalent of the captain of the football team. A fiery promo on SmackDown officially extinguishing Deville and Rose’s team Fire & Desire.
“I would literally do everything with Sonya,” Rose said. “We travel. We used to live together. We were best friends inside and outside the ring. It’s a pivotal and crazy moment in our careers. I think after SmackDown and having such a good promo segment, it makes it so much better because there is so much realness to it.
“People actually feel it. I think that the best segments are the ones fans can really feel the emotions. We’re the closest duo I feel like in WWE and shown that since Tough Enough. I think it’s going to be really good going forward.”
Even though their feud is just heating up, that isn’t stopping the two from continuing to produce content for their Damandyz Donutz brand. This includes continuing their YouTube channel.
“We’ve already started producing content ourselves,” Rose said. “We’re kind of going off on each other with challenges and making it competitive and entertaining for the fans because that is what we’re here for. We’re not going to stop that because we built that brand and want to keep doing it.”
WWE has not stopped bringing new programming each week, which gives superstars like Rose a chance to see some friends. Social media has also been a way her road family stayed connected.
“When we’re together, we support each other like we always do,” she said of the locker room environment. “We’re trying to stay safe in these tough times. We’re each there for one another. It’s a tough time with people getting released and losing their jobs. We’ve all felt it’s time to step up within the locker room and be there for the other women and men. We have to stay positive in this time because there is so much negativity around. The more we can stay positive, it will resonate with everyone.”
An uplifting outlet for Rose is seeing the difference her “Fit With Mandy” app is having on people’s lives. It’s a 12-week accessible program she designed for varying skill levels and age. Her and Deville have done high-intensity interval training (HIIT) together. Rose has also been touched seeing the progress made by super fan Lisa Guercio.
“You can basically do this program anywhere. You can do it in your living room. You can do it in your garage, outside. It requires little to no equipment. That’s a plus with everyone sheltered or in quarantine,” the fitness champion turned wrestler said. “I built this app originally because I’m always on the road traveling and can’t have access to certain gyms. I developed it for the average person.
“You have to start somewhere. It’s all about creating a healthy lifestyle. Everyone’s goals are different. Once you start somewhere, you want to build from that. Eventually, you want to compete or maybe change your lifestyle or be healthier. I did it for anyone looking for that. It’s super easy to follow. You follow the workouts with me. There are special recipes on there, tips and things like that.”
Rose has never felt more creatively fulfilled, comfortable pitching ideas to WWE about storylines or projects. The New Yorker describes the environment as a team effort.
“The more of what you say and give your input and express how you feel, I think the better the story will be overall,” she said. “I’m a very confident person. I know if they shoot down an idea or if they’re not okay with it, that’s fine. At least you go in there and try. Hard work and being so involved in things shows so much to someone like Vince McMahon and other higher-ups.”
As touched on in Total Divas, Deville and Rose fought for an angle that never came to fruition. Instead they watched elements of what they had in mind played out by other superstars. Now thanks to perseverance and hard work, they’re finally getting a chance to sink into a meaningful storyline, though on opposite sides. Rose believes the current circumstances have opened the door for the potential for outside-the-box concepts.
“I think WWE for so long is about creativity,” Rose said. “Our production company has been amazing. I think that has been demonstrated throughout the years.
"But I think in times like these you have to get creative. You have to think outside the box. You have to think about what could be cool rather than just someone wrestling in a ring. What could we make that would resonate and get people talking? I think it’s a positive outlook on this whole thing. That we can really allow our creative juices to come together and put on a show.”
WWE SmackDown, Fridays, 8/7c, Fox