WWE Women’s Tag Team Champ Nikki Cross: ‘It’s an Honor to Defend the Titles’
A consistent source of enjoyment for WWE fans these days is Nikki Cross. You never know what the unpredictable Scotswoman will do in the ring or at the announce table, but guarantee it will be entertaining.
Add in her partnership with Alexa Bliss, and you have a recipe for success. The coffee-loving duo, dubbed “Bliss Cross Applesauce,” are currently women’s tag team champions, fighting off challengers across all three of WWE’s brands. Their next defense comes this week on SmackDown against Sasha Banks and Bayley.
“Alexa and I want to have the best possible matches we can for this women’s tag team division,” Cross said. “On SmackDown, you guys are going to see that. It’s going to be athletic, exciting and dynamic. It’s going to be what people come to expect from all four of us. Having the best matches is going to help this division.”
Ahead of the big contest, Cross sat down with us for an exclusive chat. She traces the origins of her friendship with Bliss and talks about their efforts to grow the women’s tag division.
Fans have loved your commentary during matches on WWE shows, especially when Michael Cole is present. Where did that idea come from?
Nikki Cross: I want to say it was Michael Cole’s idea. I think it started when Alexa was competing against Asuka leading up to our women’s tag team championship match at WrestleMania against the Kabuki Warriors. Michael Cole is such a wonderful person because he was very encouraging. He told me to be myself. I think I was dancing on the table and cheering on Alexa. I really had so much fun. I think he is such an amazing commentator. It has been great working alongside him.
It seems you have a lot of freedom at the broadcast table. It must be nice to know the company has so much trust in you.
It is so rewarding. The direction was for me to be myself. There is a lot of caffeine involved. I want to give credit to the coffee!
When you and Alexa first got together I think a lot of fans were scratching their heads or expected the partnership to be short-term — perhaps leading to Alexa turning on you. However, behind the scenes you established a bond. When did your friendship with Alexa start?
I love to tell this story. For me, what you see on television was very much happening behind the scenes. We got to know each other. We did that backstage segment, I believe May of last year in London. That’s the first time we had a segment, but we both wanted to work with each other. We both pitched the idea. We saw something in each other. That was the start of our backstage friendship.
We were traveling a lot together and doing these long drives. We were traveling from the same airport, so we’d wait for our flights to board and chatted away. Our friendship grew from there as we learned more about one another. The audience has come on this ride with us. It was art imitating life, and life imitating art. I’m so proud of that because it really comes from a very organic place. We both like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. Although I think she is a bigger NSYNC fan. I’m definitely more of a Backstreet Boys fan.
Since moving from NXT, Alexa brought out another side of Nikki Cross. How do you think she helped establish you on Raw and SmackDown ?
Alexa’s encouragement has probably been one of the most important things, emotionally and professionally. The way she has always fought for me to show different sides of the character. She is such a dedicated and hardworking person. It has helped both of us because we can bounce ideas off one another.
When we do these interviews with WWE.com, a lot of times they’ll just roll the camera. We’ll feed off each other’s dynamic, which is very much me being excitable and hyperactive. Lexi is calm and cool. She has such a hand in giving me that platform and fighting for me. It has been such an amazing year. I do like that people have been able to see different sides of the character. I’m excited to keep developing because I think more and more people are getting to know me. It has been very gratifying.
How do you feel your work in Sanity at NXT helped prepare you for the opportunities today?
I was so thankful for my time in Sanity. To work with Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and my husband Killian Dain, they had so much experience. They were family to me. NXT really taught me a lot about the business. Moving to Raw and SmackDown was a different challenge for me, a new audience to show who Nikki Cross is. It felt like a natural progression. Working with those guys was quite an honor. I couldn’t be happier for that time because it was such a wonderful period for me.
Along with the IIconics, the Kabuki Warriors, Sasha Banks and Bayley, you’ve helped bring renewed importance to those titles. How does it feel to be at the forefront?
The titles are like our little babies. I have such pride in the division because there are so many talented tag teams. Working against the Kabuki Warriors really helped push us because they are so good. The IIconics returned a few weeks ago. We also have Sasha and Bayley. Being at the forefront is a role me and Alexa take very seriously. It’s an honor to defend the titles because there are so many great tag teams. We’ve seen this story between Sasha and Bayley develop too, so I’m excited for everyone to see where that is. There are so many stories to tell, and I think the women’s tag team championship has so much room to grow.
We want to give it the platform it deserves, even for tag teams that haven’t been established yet. Our tag team came out of friendship. That can easily happen to other girls on the roster with a natural friendship and chemistry. There is no reason way they can’t come together. We want to keep going forward. This week is just another way with the titles being defended on a major platform like Fox. Me and Alexa just want to do our best for the golden babies.
If you could pick two wrestlers that you can see coming together to form a viable team to work against, who would they be?
We had matches with Tamina and Lacey Evans. I don’t know if we can call them Team Mama Bear? Can we do that? Tamina was absolutely amazing to me when I first came up to Raw and SmackDown. She really took care of me. I don’t call her Tamina. I call her Mama Bear. I’d love to hear what the WWE Universe thinks of that. You also got Carmella and Naomi, which is another combination we’ve seen before in the Elimination Chamber. That’s a team I would love to go against as well. If you gave me an hour, I could probably come up with a bunch of combinations because we have such an amazing locker room. All three brands have a wonderful mix of talent.
You’ve been active on social media creating awareness for certain causes. How supportive has WWE been in your eyes when it comes to using your platform to share opinions about issues you believe are important?
Having a platform as a public figure is a responsibility. We have a responsibility to the WWE Universe. It’s something I do take seriously because I want to do what is right and best. I want to raise awareness about issues like social injustice and racial injustice. I think it’s wonderful WWE put out a statement in the last few days and spoke about supporting a multicultural society and condemning racial injustice. WWE is taking a stand beside the black performers and employees and fans around the world and encouraging people to use their voices against racism. I stand behind WWE on that and want to use my platform responsibly to raise awareness. I also want to educate myself and research and find out all the ways I can help. I want to do this for me and my own personal development.
WWE SmackDown, Fridays, 8/7c, Fox