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Zelina Vega Recalls Having To Explain Naruto To Vince McMahon, Presenting At Anime Awards

March 6, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
Zelina Vega WWE Thea Trinidad Image Credit: WWE

WWE Superstar and diehard Anime fan Zelina Vega was recently a guest on the I Hear Voices podcast with voice actors Will Friedle (Batman Beyond) and Christy Clark Romano (Kim Possible). Vega talked about her love of anime feeding into some of her wrestling gear, presenting at the Crunchyroll awards, and the story you never expected to hear: explaining Naruto to Vince McMahon. Read on for the highlights:

On being contacted to present at the recent Crunchyroll anime awards in Japan: “I’m so excited about that. I remember when I got the call about it, I was like, don’t play with me! Cause if this doesn’t end up happening, I’m never speaking to you guys again. They’re like ‘yeah, so you’d be coming to Japan for like five days, do this with Crunchyroll and the anime awards.’ Obviously, the answer is yes. Do I miss TV? Obviously, we do TV every friday. ‘Yeah, they allowed you to miss a TV.’ They allowed me to miss a TV for this, what?? It’s so huge!”

On how receptive Vince McMahon was to her ideas: “It depends on what it is. Especially if he doesn’t hear why it makes sense for the character. He goes, okay. Is this a Thea thing, or is this a Zelina thing? Which one are we doing here?”

On explaining Naruto to Vince: “The way I had to explain Madara [from the anime Naruto] to Vince was my favorite thing in the world. I told him, well, I want Neil Kaplan [English voice of Madara] to do my entrance for the Royal Rumble. Vince was like, why? Well, he is the voice of Madara Uchiha. ‘Who’s that?‘ I was like, OK. Do you know what Crunchyroll is? He’s like ‘a sushi, yes.‘ … Roll back. So, Crunchyroll is like the Netflix of anime. He’s like ‘okay, I get that.‘ So Naruto is like the WWE of anime. He’s like ‘okay, I like Naruto. This is good.‘ Madara is kind of like what Paul Heyman is to Roman! He was like ‘okay, we need it.‘ Speaking his language, you know.”

On how cool the Rumble 22 entrance was for her: “To have Neil Kaplan as Madara announcing ‘All hail the queen, Queen Zelina’ and cosplaying at the same time at the Royal Rumble was just the most insane thing I’ve ever experienced.”

On the Street Fighter inspiration for her ring name: “Vega is where I got my last name from. For Zelina Vega, I chose him specifically. I don’t care if it’s Vega, or Zelina Vega, just make sure Vega’s in there. I would love it if I could be in an Elimination Chamber match and use the gate, kind of like climb the fence like he would. Oh my god, they have no idea what they would be in for in a match like that.”

If using any of the above quotations, please credit I Hear Voices h/t 411mania for the transcription.