Dancing her way to fame like only a Funkadactyl can, wrestling superstar Naomi has been making the WWE Universe feel the glow since she made her pro debut in 2012. Though she has mostly remained a side character on Raw and SmackDown, yet to win any major championships, she has still stood out to her fans thanks to her funky dance moves, familial link to the Anoa’i family through marriage, and uniquely fly look amongst women in wrestling today.
Because Naomi has never been positioned as one of the top females in WWE, there’s still plenty about her life and career that fans don’t know about. Perhaps sharing some of this information could help kick her career into the next level, especially the more interesting pieces of her history. Naomi had been a professional dancer since long before she had any interest in wrestling and she made several high profile connections while doing so.
On top of her unpublicized backstory, Naomi has also achieved a handful of achievements in the wrestling world that new or casual WWE fans might not be aware of. So, if you’re feeling funky and you want a dance, or if you just want to give a new female WWE superstar a chance, keep reading to feel the glow and learn 15 things you never knew about Naomi.
15. She Was A Cheerleader For An NBA Franchise
Naomi was born in Sanford, Florida and thus all of her careers appropriately had their big breaks in her native Sunshine State. The first such opportunity came when Naomi was only 19 years old, when she became a cheerleader for the NBA Orlando Magic franchise. The Magic have had their ups and downs like any team, with one of their greatest highlights coming during the 2008-09 season when Naomi was cheering for them. That year, the Magic made it to the NBA Finals for the first time ever, although they were ultimately defeated by multi-time champions the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic did at least manage to earn one victory during Game 3. They had a good year in the 2009-10 season, as well, though they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals. In any event, Naomi left the franchise in the middle of her season and as great a cheerleader she no doubt was, it probably didn’t fare too heavily on the team’s success.
14. She Danced For Flo Rida
How do you follow up a stint cheering for one of the most successful teams in the NBA at the peak of their powers? If you’re Naomi, you start dancing for people who sing the songs they play at basketball games. Continuing to show her home state pride, Naomi became a backup dancer for future WrestleMania theme song writer Flo Rida. The exact details of Naomi’s time working for Flo Rida haven’t been explained, but from the best we can tell, she was shaking her stuff in his videos and on concerts somewhere in the R.O.O.T.S.-Only One Flow (Part 1) eras. The influence Flo Rida has had on Naomi’s career has been apparent ever since, with her glowing ring gear and shades taken directly from the hip hop culture Flo Rida’s music is all about.
13. It Only Took One WWE Event Before She Wanted To Wrestle
With the millions of fans in the WWE Universe constantly talking about how fun sports entertainment can be, plenty of people who’ve never seen wrestling occasionally happen to watch a WWE event for one reason or another. It’s not huge shock Naomi’s first exposure to wrestling came on a whim, attending a live WWE event in Florida almost by random. However, the extent of her devotion is nonetheless surprising, as she claimed her decision to become a wrestler was almost immediate upon the show beginning. This might happen with children watching on TV, but Naomi was already an adult when she attended the show and it nonetheless instantly inspired her to switch careers and start training to become a wrestler. Shortly after the show, she started training and wrestling at FCW, soon finding her way to a national audience when FCW transformed into NXT.
12. She Was The First FCW Divas Champion
While it’s true to call Florida Championship Wrestling the precursor to NXT, a great deal of changes needed to be made before the developmental territory became the full-fledged WWE training ground it is today. For one thing, in contrast to NXT’s burgeoning women’s division, it took FCW three years to create a championship for its female superstars. It finally created the FCW Divas Championship in 2010, kicking things off with an 8-woman tournament ultimately won by Naomi. Then using the full name Naomi Knight, she defeated Living (aka Maxine, aka Catarina) in round one, Savannah (aka Black Lotus) in round two, and then Serena in the finals. Future WWE superstars AJ Lee, Aksana, and Tamina were also in the tournament. After winning, Naomi held on to the belt for an impressive six months before being defeated by Lee.
11. She Debuted In NXT While It Was A Competition
Still reigning as FCW Divas Champion, Naomi made her NXT debut in August of 2010. NXT was still a reality/competition show at this point, with new and upcoming rookie superstars shadowed by WWE pros, mostly competing in contests amidst occasionally training style matches. The third season of NXT focused exclusively on female superstars, the only year the program would do so while it followed the competition show format. Naomi’s pro was Kelly Kelly and the two achieved a great deal of success together, with Naomi ultimately placing second in that season’s competition. Along the way, Naomi also managed to win the most challenges, specifically the “Who’s That Body,” “Power of the Punch” and limbo contests. More importantly, she defeated nearly every other female superstar of her class in matches, namely Kaitlyn, LayCool, Aksana, and Maxine.
10. Her Main Roster Debut Involved Tons Of Funk
Once the NXT training was over, Naomi continued her run in Florida Championship Wrestling, soon finding a regular partner in Cameron. The two actually started as heels, though they became de facto faces upon their main roster WWE debut in January 2012. Changing their names to The Funkadactyls, Naomi and Cameron danced their way to the ring as the valets of Brodus Clay. Despite her significant training and pre-WWE success, Naomi would spend almost an entire year dancing at ringside for Brodus without ever stepping into the ring to wrestle in an actual match. The Funkadactyls history as a team was also underutilized, not appearing in tag team competition until February 2013. The team stayed together for another year after that, mostly feuding with their fellow Total Divas castmates. Ultimately, in July of 2014, Cameron turned on Naomi and they’ve yet to funk together again.
9. When She’s Not Wrestling, She Dances All Night
Given Naomi’s career in entertainment included a stint as a backup dancer to a pop sensation prior to her stint in WWE, it makes sense that she would have aspirations to pursue a career in music on top of whatever she achieves in sports entertainment. She got her chance in 2014, when she released her first single called “Dance All Night.” WWE strongly supported Naomi throughout her quest to become a pop sensation, posting the video to their official YouTube channel. As documented on Total Divas, Naomi was heavily involved in every aspect of her song and video, serving as the co-producer along with Emmy Award winning cinematographer Evan Zissimopulos, who also directed. The video itself was a highly flashy if somewhat lo fi affair, mostly consisting of Naomi dancing around minimal backgrounds with only a handful of backup dancers. Nonetheless, she deserves credit for living multiple dreams at once and achieving significant fame while doing so.
8. Is She A Total Diva Or Not?
The WWE reality show Total Divas isn’t for everyone, but those who love it afford it the same fanatical devotion given to any popular reality show around. Though The Bella Twins have always been the unofficial focus of the show, as evidenced by their own personal spin-off Total Bellas, every female superstar to appear on the show has received a boost to her profile by doing so. Naomi is the same as any other in this regard, albeit with the strange asterisk that she seems to get jerked around on whether or not her presence is actually wanted. It isn’t the typical reality show drama, either, as Naomi’s on again off again status looks to be thrust upon her by the producers. Naomi started on the show during its first season, staying on board until the middle of season 3. She popped back up at the start of season 4, only to sit out of season 5 for reasons we’ll get to later. As of season 6, she’s back on the show once again, though only WWE knows how long it’ll last.
7. She Married In To Wrestling Royalty
As fans of Total Divas and WWE are no doubt aware, Naomi and Jimmy Uso had been dating for several years prior to finally tying the knot and getting married in Maui on January 16, 2014. The two could have met one another as early as 2009, when both were training and wrestling at Florida Championship Wrestling. Uso is best known for his familial tag team with brother Jey, with a vast and expansive family legacy coming before them and predicting their success. The Usos are the sons of WWE Hall Of Famer Rikishi, and thus descendants of The Wild Samoans, nephews of Umaga and The Tonga Kid, and cousins of Roman Reigns, Yokozuna, Rosey, and Samu. Naomi was allowed to work with her husband from late 2014 to early 2015, when she served as The Usos manager while they feuded with The Miz, Tyson Kidd, and Cesaro. The couple remains happily together as of this writing, but they’ve spread apart on screen so Naomi can continue her solo career.
6. She Denies WWE Has A Race Problem
For quite some time now, WWE has been placed under the microscope by social activists who worry the company has been exhibiting signs of institutional racism. The main issues cited are a dearth of people of color amongst the WWE Championship history, WWE executive offices, and, especially in this case, the WWE female division. The success of women like Naomi and her former partner Cameron are a sign this unfortunate trend is starting to end, though it still could be a stretch to claim the race problem has entirely been fixed. That said, Naomi believes it may have been, or at least she claimed as much during an interview with Ebony magazine, one of the longest running and most popular African American based magazines in America. Her Funkadactyl partner Cameron seemed to agree with the assessment, feeling WWE is a truly equal opportunity employer.
5. She Was Snubbed On A Total Divas Cast Photo
As previously mentioned, Naomi has been bouncing on and off the Total Divas cast since her initial departure halfway through season 3. Understandably, some confusion has popped up as to whether or not she was an official cast member during the seasons she was only making occasionally appearances, even amongst producers of the show. The reality TV programming schedule doesn’t help either, as episodes need to be filmed in bulk months before they air. The practice lead to a big faux pas in the promotion of the latest season, as Naomi has been left out of most advertising for the series despite returning to the show as an official cast member. Upon the announcement the show was nominated for a WIN Award, WWE tweeted the news with a graphic of the cast, only problem being Naomi wasn’t on the photo. Alicia Fox was, despite not being in the show, thus causing speculation of racial confusion. The real issue is likely a scheduling one, with the cast photo having been from the previous season, which was nominated for the award. Whether that was the case or not, Naomi was furious about the incident, and took to Twitter to voice her displeasure.
4. How Her Husband Effected Her Stay On Total Divas
We’re almost done talking about Total Divas, promise. This next story is pretty funny though, so even non-fans might have some interest in it. Popular or not, even fans of The Usos need to admit Jimmy and Jey have never exhibited a great amount of personality outside of celebrating their family legacy. Apparently, Jey in particular is so boring and free of charisma that getting married to him got Naomi kicked off the show. According to The Wrestling Observer, producers made the decision to take her off the main cast after the marriage for the two-fold reason that a married woman couldn’t be involved in any more petty love triangles and Jimmy wasn’t an interesting enough romantic character to follow their life together. Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that around this same time WWE writers had Naomi and Jimmy start having problems on screen, manufacturing the drama that apparently would have been absent on the show.
3. She Loves Japanese Wrestling
Throughout this list we’ve made it clear that Naomi’s interests in her various careers all began in Florida, but that doesn’t mean she never branched outwardly and discovered offshoots of her interests all throughout the globe. When it comes to wrestling, Naomi is especially fond of the Japanese variety, citing All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling icon Manami Toyota as her favorite wrestler. This revelation should help explain Naomi’s work ethic and perception as one of the better female wrestlers in WWE today, considering Toyota has long been considered one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, male or female. Toyota’s international fame can largely be attributed to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which awarded her more five-star matches than any other female performer in history. Toyota is also the only female the Newsletter has named Most Outstanding Wrestler or the Readers’ Favorite Wrestler. Naomi has a long way to go to live up to her idol, but to be fair, there are virtually no superstars male or female who could claim to do so.
2. She Has Two Stepchildren
As of this writing, Naomi is only 29 years old and she and Jimmy have been married but two years. Not to speculate on her personal choices, but the fact she has no children of her own today doesn’t mean she never will. Either way, she does have two stepchildren, Jimmy’s daughter Jayla and son Jaidan. Shortly after the marriage, Naomi announced on Total Divas that she and Jimmy were considering the idea of having children themselves, although it wasn’t in the immediate future thanks to the couple both wishing to focus on their careers. Although not her biological children, Naomi has shown a great effort at bonding with Jayla and Jaidan on the show, openly trying to spoil them with gifts and treats whenever she has the opportunity to visit with them.
1. She’s Making Her Film Debut In The Marine 5: Battleground
Thanks mostly to the success of The Rock, just about every WWE superstar these days has some small hope of one day making their way to the movies, and Naomi is no different from all the others. Adding to her polymath skills as a cheerleader, wrestler, and singer-songwriter, Naomi has decided to try her hand at acting, making her mainstream debut in the upcoming WWE Studios film The Marine 5: Battleground. The film is a direct continuation of the last two in the series, focusing on the character Jake Carter, portrayed by The Miz. His wife, Maryse, who also appeared in the fourth instalment of the series, will also be in the film, as will fellow WWE superstars Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel. Production on the film began in May of 2016 and the release is expected to come some time in 2017.
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