Carmella (real name Leah Van Dale) has only been wrestling since 2013, but has already accomplished quite a bit in her four years in the business. She’s wrestled for the WWE her entire career, starting out in NXT, the promotion’s developmental territory, before being called up to the main roster in 2016. What we’ve seen from Carmella is a tough-as-nails competitor who’s not afraid to bash some heads in. She’s yet to win a championship, but that could all change very soon now that she’s the current holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, which she can redeem for a title shot any time she wants.
This diva’s recent run on SmackDown has brought her a lot of success. In fact, Carmella’s spent the last year and change honing her skills in the ring and making a name for herself. And people have noticed. In 2016, Pro Wrestling Illustrated named Carmella one of the top 50 best female wrestlers in the world. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for a diva who’s only been in the business for such a short time. Fans looking forward to seeing more of Carmella can also keep an eye out for her in the seventh season WWE reality show Total Divas, on which she will appear as a main cast member.
15. Money in the Bank
As you can see in the picture above, Carmella is Ms. Money in the Bank. She won the inaugural women’s Money in the Bank ladder match back in June 2017, which allows her to cash in a championship match against current title holder Natalya at any time. For a while there, it seemed like Carmella would challenge former champion Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, but it’s clear that the WWE is interesting in shaking things up in the women’s division.
It would have been interesting to see Carmella face off with Naomi for the title, especially since Ms. Money in the Bank recently defeated the former champion in August. But now Carmella will have to pick the time and place to challenge Natalya, who’s certainly in no hurry to give up the belt.
14. Cool Hat
Before Carmella was Ms. Money in the Bank and before her time at the WWE, she was Leah Van Dale, born in Worcester, Massachusetts but she grew up in Spencer, a town just outside of Worcester. Wrestling on such a big stage seemed natural for Carmella, who has been performing for pretty much her entire life. She took up dancing when she was three and spent a lot of time performing in recitals, which explains why Carmella is so charming in the ring and also so athletic.
Carmella danced through high school and college as well. There’s a certain grace of movement that dancers have that Carmella certainly showcases in the ring when performing difficult maneuvers. It’s really no wonder she makes wrestling look so easy.
It’s no accident that Carmella got into wrestling in the first place. After all, her father, Paul Van Dale, was also a wrestler who performed with the WWE and in the indie circuit. While he was mostly a jobber — a wrestler who’s meant to lose matches in order to highlight other performers — you can still find some of Van Dale’s matches on the internet, including a match against the Big Boss Man. His greatest achievement is undoubtedly inspiring the talented Carmella to enter the ring.
Carmella is a second generation wrestler, which is not a new thing at the WWE. There’s a long tradition of wrestling families at the promotion. Paige is also a second generation performer whose parents, Ricky Knight and Sweet Saraya, have wrestled for years and now own their own promotions in the UK. Charlotte Flair is the daughter of the legendary Ric Flair.
Carmella went to the University of Rhode Island, where she continued to dance, and eventually transferred to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing that may very well come in handy after Carmella retires. After all, she’s probably going to want to market her swag or start her own gym (Carmella’s a certified fitness instructor) or dance studio at some point.
After college, Carmella became a cheerleader, which is not surprising, considering all of the dancing and performing she’s done. She cheered for the New England Patriots for three seasons and then cheered for the Los Angeles Lakers for one year. Carmella was a professional cheerleader from 2007 to 2011. Little did anyone know that the cheerleader would soon become the warrior.
11. Floating on a Doughnut
2013 was a big moment for Carmella, who, after several years cheerleading, was offered a WWE contract. It was a no-brainer for Carmella. She signed on and followed in her father’s footsteps, although she would eventually go on to fly much higher than her namesake. In fact, Carmella’s career since joining the WWE has been nothing but successful. Not only is she one of the most beautiful divas currently working at Vince McMahon’s promotion, but she’s also one of the toughest. Watching Carmella is a true delight.
When she’s not kicking ass in the ring, Carmella is enjoying a bit of fun and relaxation on the beach, as you’ll see in the course of the next few pictures. In the Instragram post above, you can see Carmella enjoying some fun on her doughnut floaty.
10. At the Beach
Leah Van Dale chose the name “Carmella,” who is billed from Staten Island, New York. There’s a very clear gimmick going on here, as the wrestler emulates the tanned Staten Islanders and Jersey Shore stereotypes you see on TV. Of course, Carmella is actually from Massachusetts and is playing to a cookie-cutter character as most wrestlers do. Apparently someone thought Carmella looked like a certain kind of stereotype. Either way, it’s certainly worked out for her, as her character continues to grow in popularity.
Carmella was assigned to the WWE’s developmental territory NXT. She continued to train at the WWE Performance Center. Carmella’s backstory was a hairdresser who had lost her job thanks to an incident with Enzo and Big Cass involving hair removal cream and a poodle. It’s complicated…
9. On a Boat
Above you can see another picture of Carmella on a trip. This time she’s on a boat sailing around Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Both the sight of the rock formations and Carmella wearing a bikini are stunning to say the least. This picture was taken after she had won the Money in the Bank briefcase, which she actually acquired twice due to the controversial ending of the ladder match during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in which her companion James Ellsworth retrieved the briefcase and dropped it down for her.
SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan stripped Carmella of the briefcase and organized a rematch between Carmella, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina, and Natalya, who would go on to win the championship at SummerSlam despite the fact that she lost the Money in the bank match. This time, Carmella won the Money in the Bank match fair and square.
8. Relaxing in Puerto Rico
Another picture of Carmella taking a little break. The Instagram post shows the WWE superstar relaxing in a red bikini by the beaches of Puerto Rico. You can see just what kind of shape Carmella is in. Her incredibly toned body is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with when she’s wrestling inside the ring. Outside the ring, she could be a model. It’s pretty unbelievable that Carmella’s not on the cover of more men’s or fitness magazines or in pictorials. Playboy should definitely give her a call.
Could Carmella’s time in the magazine spotlight be on the way? We wouldn’t bet against it, especially now that she’s Ms. Money in the Bank and posts such alluring pictures on social media. Time will tell.
7. Wearing Calvin Klein
Speaking of modeling, Carmella sure does look great showing off her love of Calvin Klein underwear, a popular choice among women these days. Might we suggest that Calvin Klein hire Carmella as its official spokeswoman? Just look at the picture, Calvin! Seriously, why doesn’t Carmella have a busier modeling schedule? It’s probably because she’s devoting so much time to the ring, which is clearly working out for her. Carmella has always been an athlete first. Her beauty is just a bonus.
You can see from all the pictures on this list that Carmella keeps in great shape, in no small part due to her exercise routine. In fact, Carmella is a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer, so she knows what she’s doing in the gym.
6. Catwoman and the Pink Ranger
Here’s a side of the WWE’s women we don’t often see. Who did Carmella dress up as for Halloween last year? None other than Catwoman! This version of Catwoman seems to be influenced by Christopher Nolan’s take on the anti-hero, although the suit has short sleeves and the top is pretty low cut. Also, part of the suit seems to be a more blueish color instead of the customary solid black. Carmella might have put this little ensemble together herself. After all, it’s not a complicated costume to emulate. Either way, Carmella looks great as Catwoman!
Carmella is accompanied in this picture by fellow WWE superstar Bayley, the babyfaced former Raw Women’s Champion who wrestled alongside Carmella during the NXT days. In fact, Carmella even challenged Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship at one point.
5. Showing Off Her Flat Tummy
Carmella made her wrestling debut on October 16, 2014 in a match against Blue Pants (who is better known as the indie circuit wrestler Leva Bates), which she won. In fact, she beat Blue Pants on two out of three occasions. This didn’t earn her the privilege of being a fan favorite, though. That came later. In the early days, Carmella’s gimmick as a hairdresser and valet to Enzo and Big Cass made her a heel character.
This diva definitely has a bit of an edge to her, which explains why she was a heel in her early days, but after she rejected Tag Team Champions Black and Murphy’s advances, fans started to root for her. Carmella just doesn’t suffer fools. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
4. Yankee Fan
The road to the main roster began for Carmella when she won a battle royale to determine the number one contender for a title match against NXT Women’s Champion Bayley. Carmella got her match against Bayley on February 10, 2016. While Carmella eventually lost that match, she was impressive in the ring and proved that she could hold her own against a champion. Again, it’s not happened for her yet, but we can’t imagine it’ll be too much longer before Carmella finally gets the title shot she deserves.
Carmella and Bayley have also competed in tag team matches together and have become superstars together, being from the same generation of NXT prospects. If you follow either of these divas on social media, you can see that they’re really good friends.
3. All Glammed Up
Carmella grew up loving wrestling her entire life and was inspired by many of the divas who were wrestling when she was a kid. Her favorite female superstars are Miss Elizabeth and Trish Stratus. The latter has been an especially big influence on the new generation of female wrestlers. Few women that have stepped foot in the WWE have accomplished as much as Trish. Carmella chose a great role model.
In the picture above, we see Carmella on the beach again, this time posing for the camera, making a little heart shape with her hands. From the look of it, there’s probably nothing Carmella loves more during her time off than a nice day at the beach. She sure spends enough time there, not that anyone is complaining. Carmella can really pull off a two-piece!
2. In a Swimsuit
Carmella made her main roster debut on July 26, 2016, so just over a year ago. It feels like a much longer time, though. So much has happened for Carmella, from being a newcomer at NXT to becoming the number one contender for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. It almost seems like a Cinderella story. But wrestling is in Carmella’s blood and there’s no doubt that she was born to be in the ring.
Above you can Carmella posing for another picture by the water. Her caption reads, “People are going to judge you anyway. So forget everyone and be yourself!” That is a message Carmella has carried with her all throughout her career and nothing can stand in her way. She is truly an inspiration.
1. The Princess Of Staten Island
There’s not much else that can be said about Carmella except that she’s a formidable competitor that we can’t stop watching when she’s in the ring as well as a gorgeous lady who graces our TV screens every week. Carmella’s career is still pretty new and we know there’s tons more that she can do and accomplish at the WWE. Might a title run be in her future? That seems inevitable at this point now that she’s Ms. Money in the Bank. The WWE is undoubtedly setting up big things for this future star.
Until then, Carmella will keep fighting and taking down anyone who stands in her way. If you want to see more of Carmella outside of the ring, follow her on Instagram or stay tuned for the seventh season of Total Divas. There’s bound to be some drama.
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