With a nickname like “The Real Deal,” it’s only fitting for Zayda Steel to emulate another legit competitor — one who now refers to herself as “The CEO.”
Less than a year since her professional wrestling debut, Zayda Steel is gradually expanding her wrestling resume and character. While Steel continues to craft her in-ring identity, she noted that she always had a natural affinity for the heels in professional wrestling. Under the influence of performers like AJ Lee, The Beautiful People, and Sasha Banks, Steel seemed destined to play a heel as well, or in her words — “a sassy little, b*tch.”
Since lacing up her own boots though, Steel finds herself in a balancing act, working as a both a babyface and heel. As Steel yearns to add more layers to her in-ring presentation, she continues to draw inspiration from one of her childhood favorites. Speaking with WrestleZone’s Ella Jay, Zayda Steel explained how Mercedes Moné, formerly known as “The Boss” Sasha Banks, has heavily influenced her wrestling career.
“Before her, the main wrestler that really made me want to be a wrestler was AJ Lee. Obviously after she retired, it was a weird time. And that’s when I started watching [WWE] NXT because every RAW and SmackDown was the same matches every week. So, I heard a lot about NXT. Turned it on instantly — the same connection with AJ Lee I just had with Sasha,” Steel said.
“One, we’re like the same build basically. She trained like four hours away from me. So just character wise, she was all there. Yeah, she wasn’t the biggest, but she flaunted herself. She made sure you knew who she was, and it just inspired me. I saw a lot of myself and who I wanted to be in the ring from her. So, I try to use little bits and pieces from her. A lot of people think just straight up copy her. I mean, it is what it is, but I just love her so much.”
A noticeable part of Steel’s presentation is the variety of sunglasses she often sports to the ring. Steel began her career with a bedazzled pair of Pit Vipers. Since then, she’s also introduced some retro styled frames to her ensemble, including a pair of vintage triangle sunglasses.
When asked what prompted her to utilize sunglasses, Steel revealed that it partly as a nod to Mercedes Moné. During her previous stint with WWE, Moné routinely arrived to the ring with her signature sunglasses. These “Legit Boss” inscribed glasses later became a staple of Moné’s look. In addition to her homage to Moné, Steel admitted that the sunglasses also help ease moments of nervousness.
“When I started off, it’s not stage fright, but it’s nerve wracking. I was mainly a valet, and I would cut a lot of promos before I would wrestle. And so I was like, ‘All right, well, let me just put some glasses on so I don’t completely see everyone in the audience.’ It did have to play a part with [Mercedes], but also it’s a little cheat code. If you’re nervous to cut a promo in front of everyone or whatever, just pop on some dark shades and you’re good.”