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Mercedes Martinez: Opting Out Of WWE During The COVID-19 Pandemic Hurt My Career

Martinez was off TV until July 2020

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE gave Superstars the option to remain at home. Some wrestlers ultimately decided to exercise that option and the likes of Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns remained at home during the early months of the pandemic. 

NXT's Mercedes Martinez also decided to opt out of WWE TV and she was missing from NXT from February 2020 until she returned in July.

Speaking to DNC Digital, Martinez admitted she believes opting out of WWE TV harmed her career. 

"Then, the pandemic hit. For me, the pandemic was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing for me because I was coming from the indies with injuries. You get signed and nothing got stopped, it was matches after match. I didn't get a rest. The pandemic put me in a position to heal. Not just physically, it got me a chance to heal emotionally and mentally. Going as hard as I've been going for 20 years, there are really no breaks unless I was injured. It takes a toll on you and messes up everything. In my personal life, everything was wrong. The pandemic helped me in my personal life," Martinez began.

"Professionally, it was a curse. It hit me really hard. You have COVID-19 happening, no one knows anything about it and I'm asthmatic, I have allergies, if I catch it, am I going to die? My son is immunocompromised because he had 20,000 things wrong with him. I had to put my safety and health first and opt-out. Me opting out really hurt my career and momentum. For seven months, you didn't see anything about Mercedes. Coming back, how do I get the momentum that I had coming out of the Royal Rumble? It's really hard," she continued.

"It was trying to figure out the creative, figuring out what worked, being put with the Robert Stone brand wasn't something that I wanted, but you have to be a team player. I had fun with it, but maybe that wasn't the right direction I should've gone, but you go with it because it's an opportunity and you take the best with the opportunities and you do the best you can. As the year with dwindling down, it was like, 'What is my role now?' The pandemic changed everyone's storylines. Those who worked got pushed. I opted out for my own reasons and it hurt my career 

"Do I regret it? Oh hell no. I don't regret any decisions I made because I'm safe now. I'm healthy. I really think it hindered my career a little because it stopped my momentum. Coming back at Great American Bash, it was like I was ready, but I wasn't, because we were still figuring out the creative side of stuff. I wasn't frustrated or mad. It was just, 'What is the universe trying to tell me? What is my role going forward? Am I going to be a major player or am I going to be brought in now to level up the girls to make sure they're ready for the top spot.' That's where I was going in my head, then I had the match with Rhea Ripley and I needed that to solidify what I can bring to the table."

Following her return, Martinez had a brief run on the main roster as a member of RETRIBUTION. She opted out of the angle, though, and returned to NXT. 

The 40-year-old was later let go by WWE on August 6. 

H/T to Fightful

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Aidan Gibbons

Written by Aidan Gibbons

Cultaholic's resident newshound.