Leah Van Dale, better known as Carmella, carries the pulse of wrestling in her veins, a legacy passed down from her father, who was a professional wrestler himself. Her story, however, begins long before the WWE. With a background as a dancer and a cheerleader for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Lakers, she cultivated an athleticism that would later become her trademark in the wrestling arena. A certified fitness instructor, personal trainer, and an ardent follower of professional wrestling since childhood, she idolized figures like Miss Elizabeth. Beyond the wrestling world, she stepped into the world of business with her wine label, Capo Cagna, in 2020. Yet, her life took a significant turn when she entered the world of WWE.
Carmella’s WWE Journey
Debuting in 2013, Carmella’s journey in WWE began with a bang. The fabulous princess of Staten Island swiftly captivated the audience. Throughout her career, she achieved commendable milestones, including capturing the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank briefcase. This victory led to her reign as the SmackDown Women’s Champion, further elevating her status. Her in-ring collaborations and rivalries with figures like Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Big Cass, and Enzo Amore in NXT showcased her verbal and physical prowess. In 2023, after clinching a victory in a fatal four-way match, she participated in the women’s Elimination Chamber match but was eventually bested by Asuka (Kanako Urai). Her appearances ceased after the March 13, 2023 Raw episode, but don’t fret, she hasn’t retired.
Where is Carmella Now?
Away from the bright lights of WWE, Carmella’s life has been a blend of joy, anticipation, and heartbreaking challenges. In 2022, she experienced two miscarriages, a distressing experience for anyone. Her first was a chemical pregnancy, followed by an ectopic one in October, both of which broke her heart. Yet, Carmella bravely addressed these hardships, emphasizing the value of resilience and hope. “It’s been a journey,” she said during a candid exclusive with PEOPLE, “So it was a struggle for sure. But with how we treated the ectopic pregnancy, I was forced to wait to try again so it afforded me the opportunity to just focus back on work and not stress too much about trying to get pregnant. And it’s so cliché, but everyone says it’ll happen when you’re not trying or when you don’t try so hard and I was like, ‘Yeah okay, whatever,’ but that’s what happened with us.”
However, the universe had its plans and gifted Carmella and her husband, WWE commentator Corey Graves (real name Matthew Polinsky), a new chapter in their story. 2023 brought news of her latest pregnancy, a moment she refers to as their little miracle. When she got the positive pregnancy test for the third time, she was hopeful but cautious. She wanted to ensure everything was alright and both she and the baby were healthy before getting too excited. Describing the jubilant revelation to her husband, Carmella shared, “I told him it was a birthday present that had gotten delayed, and when he opened it, it was literally the last thing he was expecting… a onesie that said, ‘Hello Daddy,’ and with a positive pregnancy test.”
Though, Carmella is already the stepmother to Graves’ three children from a previous union: Lola, Lenny, and Cash. She has since mentioned how these kids are eagerly awaiting their new sibling’s arrival, frequently inquiring about the baby’s growth and comparing its size to various fruits or objects. The positive influence of them in her life were what reinforced her desire to become a mother. While she was uncertain about motherhood in the past, their presence convinced her, and now she’s excited to be a mother of four soon. Reflecting on her health, Carmella has even shared the tribulations of her first trimester, revealing, “You hear about morning sickness, you hear you get tired and things like that, but I had no idea how debilitating it would be until it was happening to me.” However, with renewed vigor, she’s now feeling much better.
Coming to her return to the ring, Carmella has said, “I for sure plan to come back. I think it’s important to show you can have a baby and still have a career, especially a very physical one at that, but I’m not going to rush.” As she awaits the newest member of their family, due November 2023, the wrestling community and fans worldwide stand with Carmella. A testament to her unyielding spirit, her story is a powerful reminder that life, in all its unpredictable turns, is a journey worth wrestling for.
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