Liv Morgan will need to beat Shayna Baszler, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Asuka and Natalya at WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on Sunday (7 p.m., WWE Network) to earn a shot at Becky Lynch’s Raw women’s championship at WrestleMania 36. Ahead of stepping into the Elimination Chamber for the first time, the 25-year-old, who grew up in Elmwood Park, N.J., took a go at some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski.
(This interview has been edited for brevity)
Q: How important is this Elimination Chamber opportunity for you? It’s a big pay-per-view and a major chance to advance things with your character.
A: The Elimination Chamber match, I feel like, is the biggest opportunity I’ve gotten so far in my career. I’m taking it very, very, very, very, very seriously. I just came back from a nine-month hiatus where I got a makeover and did a lot of self-discovery. I feel like I need this win more than anyone. I need this win more than anyone else in this match. Not only that, we have Ruby and Sarah. Our friendship pretty much blew up. So there are a lot of factors in this match.
Q: During that nine months that you were away from WWE, what did you do? You talked about some introspection that went on.
A: Just figuring out what I wanted from me. I was in the Riott Squad and I was very, very immature and I was loud. You know, I needed attention. I needed people to look at me, so I dyed my hair pink and made my tongue blue. I did all these things that definitely made me stand out, but were they really me? Is that really who I was at the core of the character? I don’t think it was, especially being with these two other women. And now I’m by myself. It was just finding myself on my own. So I spent nine months, a lot of self talk, a lot of watching old footage of myself and just finding out who this grown woman is now.
Q: Were you happy with the way that you were reintroduced? You got thrown into the Lana-Rusev-Bobby Lashley wedding storyline.
A: I am happy. I think it was very shocking. I think it came out of left field and no one expected it, and I think maybe that was the goal.
Q: Sonya Deville (the first openly lesbian wrestler in WWE) took issue with how the lesbian relationship between you and Lana was presented. Have you talked to her at all?
A: I have a very close friendship with Sonya Deville, so I spoke to her, and the details of those conversations I’m politely not going to share with you, Joe (laughs). But everything’s fine. Everything’s cool. We talked about it. She’s still a very good friend of mine, and I can’t be mad at anyone for how they feel and how they react to things. Everyone is gonna feel how they want to feel, so I’ve just got to allow that. At the end of the day, this is business, this is work, and I’m doing what I’m told and supposed to do, you know.
Q: In your mind is that angle dead or do you think there’s a chance it gets brought back again?
A: I don’t think anything is dead in WWE. I can’t really answer that, but I do think the door is open for it to be touched on again.
Q: What do you want people to take away from the version of you we are seeing now?
A: Just that I’m confident, I’m comfortable within myself, by myself. I don’t need to do these extra things to get people’s attention. I can get attention on my own with my work. I don’t need these extra factors to get noticed anymore. I’m not shuffled in with other people.
I’m still growing. You don’t just grow and stop growing in nine months. I’m still figuring out my footing and my placing, and it’s just a work in progress.
Q: Do you miss any of the aspects of playing the Harley Quinn-type character?
A: It was very fun. It was very easy for me to portray. It was very just … let out the most immature side of myself that I possibly can. We were the Riott Squad, you know, causing chaos.
Q: You were kind of the high school bullies.
A: Yeah, and I was not a bully in high school, so it was just so fun to play and I just dove right into it. I was surprised how it all ended up working out, just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. A blue tongue ended up sticking. I was so wild. I had so much fun.
Q: It sounds like your new character is about you growing up as a person. You feel this is somewhat of Liv Morgan growing up, but it’s playing out on our screen?
A: That’s exactly how this makeover felt. It’s just very funny how synonymous it felt with me outside of the ring just going into that next phase of life, that next phase of womanhood, and just it’s playing out on TV in front of millions.
Q: You got your break in WWE going through Joe DeFranco’s gym in New Jersey. What made you walk through that door one day and say, ‘I’m going to give wrestling a try?’
A: I loved the WWE since I was 5 years old. So I was just a super, super, mega fan, and I was working at Hooters and I watched WWE during my shift on one of the TVs. Everyone assumed I was the wrestling chick. … I got Joe DeFranco’s contact number, so I gave him a call and he invited me to come to the gym.
He felt that for someone who had no athletic background that didn’t really play sports, he felt that I held up pretty well. Because Joe DeFranco, he’s training NFL superstars.
I walk in the gym, and there’s a bunch of NFL players. I don’t watch football. I’m just a little girl like, “Hey! I want to work out.” (Laughs) And I don’t even realize that I’m surrounded by all these professional athletes. I just jumped in their workout and I kept up. He was gracious enough to put in a good word with WWE, and that’s how I got my tryout.
Q: You grew up in a single-parent household with older brothers and a younger sister. How did that experience shape you growing up?
A: I grew up kind of not being told what was right and wrong. In the long run, I grew up seeing for myself what I believed was right and wrong. My father had passed before I was born, and the rest of my family had seen it happen. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how that affects the mind and the brain and just a child. It took a couple years for them to get their bearings again and just try to live a normal life again.
Growing up in my family, it was just a little bit chaotic. It was a little bit damaged, and I saw that and I wanted to change it. I wanted to help my family and I wanted to help myself, and I knew that really, really young. I knew that at 5 years old. I was going to be the one to help change it.
Q: How much pressure do you feel to deliver now when WWE has put so much TV and vignette time into reintroducing you?
A: There is definitely pressure there, but I’m just trying to do my best and not think about failing or not doing well. It’s do what you do and do what you know. What I know is how to go out there and perform and entertain and put on the best match I possibly can.
Q: Take me through that dive at Ruby during the Elimination Chamber contract signing? You got pretty high and straight at her.
A: And I had heels on, too. I wasn’t planning on that. I was just going to sit and be a grown, mature woman. I’m not going to attack this human being. But once I saw everything going on between Asuka, Nattie, Shayna, I was like, “OK. OK. Me too.’ I saw my opportunity. She was distracted by the other chaos, and I just pounced on her.
Q: You talked about your friendship with Ruby and Sarah. What’s it been like to work with them, but in very different roles?
A: It’s weird. It’s different. It’s not something I was expecting when I first came up on Raw and SmackDown. I didn’t see myself as a tag-team competitor. I viewed myself as a singles competitor. Then I got put in with the Riott Squad, and I just became best friends with these two girls that I didn’t even speak to before, best friends, sisters. I think I needed that. I needed that coming up, and I didn’t even realize. Just for this situation [of Ruby attacking me] to play out how it has, it’s shocking and it’s upsetting, but I’ve got to keep it moving.
Q: Why do you think the Riott Squad didn’t reach the heights maybe the three of you had hoped?
A: I think about that, too, and, um, I don’t know. At that time, they went from like no tag teams in the women’s division to all of sudden having all these tag teams in the division, and then we had the [women’s] tag team titles introduced. And I personally felt like when we were at our height, we were just following up on all cylinders. We were so fluid and we knew what we were doing. We knew our dynamic, but just unfortunately it wasn’t our time.
Q: We are in WrestleMania season and we are seeing the NXT women, whether it be Bianca Belair or Shayna or Rhea Ripley, worked into WrestleMania-level storylines. How is that taken by the women who are there every week on Raw and SmackDown?
A: I feel like they’re the top women in NXT, they’re full of talented girls, but I think Bianca and Rhea are the head of the pack right now. I think they earned the spotlight. Whether it be WrestleMania or just Raw or SmackDown, I think they’ve earned to see a different audience see them and bring the spotlight on NXT. I’m personally not mad. I can’t speak about how everyone else feels.