Lacey Evans on WWE Money in the Bank, Babyface Turn and More
Within weeks of returning to the ring, Lacey Evans may already be on the verge of securing her first taste of WWE gold. But first, she must prevail in Saturday's star-studded Money in the Bank Ladder match.
Seven of Raw and SmackDown's top female talent will vie for an opportunity to contend for either the Raw Women's Championship or SmackDown Women's Championship at any time of the winner's choosing. Interestingly enough, every former Ms. Money in the Bank has gone on to cash in the contract successfully.
Evans hopes to continue that trend with a win at Money in the Bank, getting her that much closer to her ultimate goal of inspiring the WWE masses. Since initially resurfacing on WWE TV three months ago, she has been sharing her real-life story filled with struggles and setbacks in an attempt to show the world who Lacey Evans truly is and what she stands for.
Now more motivated than ever before, The Sassy Southern Belle doesn't intend to rest until she fulfills her destiny of becoming a champion in WWE and proves it's possible to be a mother and a Superstar simultaneously and thrive at both.
Ahead of Money in the Bank, Evans sat down with Bleacher Report to discuss her comeback, turning babyface, not listening to her critics and more.
Who She Has Her Sights Set on in Money in the Bank
Lacey Evans is no stranger to competing on the grand stage of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
In fact, her first shot at the Raw Women's Championship came at the 2019 installment against Becky Lynch. She also competed in 2020's Money in the Bank Ladder match, though it was formatted slightly different than normal due to being pre-taped at WWE's headquarters in Stamford.
This year's women's Money in the Bank Ladder match will pose an entirely different challenge and will feature faces she has yet to interact with inside the squared circle. She specifically singled out Raquel Rodriguez and Liv Morgan as two women who also have a fighting chance of taking home the briefcase.
“I'm excited to be in the ring with new girls," she said. "Before I left, it was Charlotte, it was Bayley, it was Sasha, it was Naomi. It was different. Raquel Rodriguez, I'll throw that name out there. She's working really hard. Her physique alone coming from NXT to the main roster alone shows you how much of a workhorse she is. Liv Morgan is so fiery and feisty and we have a lot of hard-working women in there, which I love. We all have a good chance and we're all going to give it our best.”
Being Ready to Become a Champion and Preparing for Money in the Bank
Before making it to the main roster at the onset of 2019, Evans had primarily been utilized as an enhancement talent in NXT and was never in contention for a championship.
Thus, her rapid rise to the top of the division upon arriving on Raw was certainly surprising, to say the least. Fans may not have felt she was ready for such an aggressive push so quickly, but she has used her shortcomings from that year to propel her forward now that she's even more experienced.
“I should've been champion then. I'm ready to be champion now," she said. "I think I am more motivated than ever. I think leaving for the reason why I left says a lot because at the end of the day, I'm a mom and I'm a wife, but I'm here to show you can do both, and that's what the hell I did. The only thing I'm missing is... I've got the stretch marks and I've got the belly. Now I need the title around my waist and to finish it.”
Her time spent in the Marine Corps has been well documented over the years, and especially recently on SmackDown. She admits that training for both is incredibly difficult, with each having their own challengers.
“I definitely think the Marine Corps [is harder] because of the mindset you have to have," she said. "You have to be ready for anything. With Money in the Bank, you know what to expect. You already know who your challengers are. You already know what the goal is. In the Marine Corps, you can get a phone call at any minute. You have to be ready and kick butt and take names. I think the Marine Corps on that question, but Money in the Bank is a difficult one. You never know what's going to happen and I just have to get in there and do what I always do and that's fight with my heart.”
Being Ready to Return Long Before She Was Brought Back to TV
Before returning on the April 8 edition of SmackDown in vignette form, Evans was last seen on WWE TV in February 2021 feuding with Charlotte Flair on Raw.
It was a very different time in WWE, as there were no fans in attendance and the shows were still emanating from the ThunderDome. Thus, only now is Evans getting to experience having fans back in the buildings.
She aims to feed off their energy while climbing the ladder and capturing the opportunistic briefcase at Money in the Bank.
“It's a definite game-changer," she said. "I've only been able to do two live events, which has been wild to me. I've been cleared and ready to roll since six weeks postpartum. Within WWE, as a professional sports entertainer, you have to wait until your ticket's called, and when mine was called, I was more ready than ever. My girls come with me, they get to see what their mom does and cheer me on from the side."
Evans also offered advice to anyone going through a rough patch and reinforced the message she's been trying to send since returning to WWE.
"The fans obviously make what we do, but it's different with getting to take those hats and high heels off and come in like I am as Lacey Evans and tell the world it doesn't matter what you've been through," she added. "You keep your head up and you keep going. You beat the cycle and you push through. Don't let what you've been through in life or who raised you or where you come from dictate who the hell you're going to become and I get to tell the world that, which is my favorite part.”
Whether She Had Doubts About Coming Back as a Babyface
The concept of Evans as a babyface isn't completely unfamiliar to fans who have been paying attention in recent years.
WWE first tried her out in that role in late 2019 and she surprisingly got over with the audience. While she wasn't nearly as transparent about her real-life story back then, her patriotic persona was easy to root for and even earned her a title match against Bayley at the 2020 Royal Rumble.
It wasn't long before WWE turned her heel again, though, so there was the risk that this latest babyface turn wouldn't work out. So far, she has portrayed the perfect fan favorite.
“I knew I was going to get the chatter and the talk and people on social media saying, 'Enough with the talk! Wrestle already!'" Evans said. "I took that personal route in order to be that vulnerable and I knew I was going to hate it and I knew it was going to suck, but if the world knew how many messages and how many responses I've gotten privately. ... Thousands of messages, and I'm in tears. Being famous and being a public figure can help so many people that are out there looking at these beautiful faces and these big smiles.
"We have demons and heartaches and heartbreaks and a lot of us come from hard, hard lives," she continued. "We can't hide the mental health and heartbreak and ignore it. We can't mask over it with drugs and alcohol and addiction. We have to face it and we have to fix it.”
Evans is a big believer in the idea that if her journey is able to help at least a portion of the audience watching at home, any amount of backlash she receives is well worth it.
“This message that I have is so passionate and so strong that it's stronger than any voice sitting out there," she said. "I could give two craps because for every 10 people that are booing, there are about 150 daughters and kids that were in my position, addicted parents that were in my parents' position, and it's helping. It's telling the world something so much stronger than anything I could be in my life.
"There was a thought of, 'What if they don't like it?', but there's also the part of me that's passionate about it," she added. "Some may hate it, some may love it, but it's for the ones that need it. ... Boo me all day long. I'm not shutting up. The world is hurting. We have to beat the cycle and keep fighting.”
Wanting to Serve as a Role Model to Her Daughters and Other Women
The Sassy Southern Belle brings attention to the fact that she's both a mom and a Superstar more than most. However, WWE has its fair share of women on the roster right now who also fall into that category, including Ronda Rousey, Tamina, Asuka and Becky Lynch.
As previously noted, Evans was ready to return six weeks removed from giving birth to her second daughter. In coming back to compete and not missing a beat, she wants to serve as an example to her kids that thriving both personally and professionally as a mother is absolutely achievable.
“My stomach may not be back to being 100 percent, honey, but guess what? That's life," she said. "My gear is adjusted to fit that and there are millions of women out there who question what they're capable of. What can I do as a mom? Can I be a mom to my kids and still chase this career and what about my body? And the answer is yes we can. We're doing it every day and my daughter gets to watch that.
"I hope and I pray one day she'll look back when she thinks about what she wants to be when she grows up and she looks back and sees that I did it, she knows that you can be beautiful and strong and badass still chase your career while raising babies. It's been hard, but you need to set an example. God gave me this platform for a reason and I plan to use it.”
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.