Naomi‘s return to the ring was one of the biggest moments in this year’s Royal Rumble, even drawing attention from outside of the wrestling bubble. After months out of the ring, she’s set to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship and is rumored to have another match with Bayley for the title planned for WrestleMania. This week, Naomi was a guest on the Women’s Wrestling Weekly podcast, and opened up, among other topics, about what happened in her personal life that led to her absence from WWE TV.
Naomi said that she took time off after the death of a cousin she had a close relationship with, as well as physical and mental exhaustion that had been building up for the past year. She explained that (transcript from Post Wrestling) the, “only time in ten years I’ve ever taken off, legitimately, was due to injuries, and even that isn’t time off because you’re so stressed out about missing out, your spot being taken, and trying to rehab.”
When she took time off after her cousin’s death, Naomi went to the doctor, “just to see what was wrong with me because it was very hard for me to get through matches. I was extremely fatigued all the time. I was literally chugging energy drinks just to get through the days of travel and matches. I didn’t know what was wrong.”
She found out first that she was “severely anemic” and later that she had a stomach ulcer and Vitamin D deficiency. Naomi said she didn’t expect to be off TV for as long as she was, “but that’s just how it ended up happening and how storylines went,” and it ended up giving her a “mental break” and helped her, “realize that I really need to take better care of myself instead of being so focused on everyone and everything else.”
Naomi also revealed that when she wasn’t on TV, she asked “to go down to NXT to work” and that she thinks “NXT is awesome.” She especially wanted to work with or against Bianca Belair, “but it wasn’t the right time, and also B is a star all on her own and I think they wanted her to be that and come into her own.” Part of Naomi’s interest in tagging with Bianca is to become the first African-American women tag team champions.