Alexa Bliss has risen to WWE star status as quickly as she drives her opponents' heads to the mat with her signature snap DDT.
Not far removed from being a Division I cheerleader, the dynamic spark plug has claimed both the SmackDown Live and Raw Women's Championships. She's one of the Raw brand's best heels, a sneering, snooty, vicious scoundrel with some of the best facial expressions on the roster.
Bliss is set to defend her Raw women's title at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view on Sunday, when she will collide with the decorated Mickie James. It will be the eighth PPV title match for Little Miss Bliss this year.
It wasn't that long ago that the Columbus, Ohio, native was playing far more of a bit-part role in the WWE world.
Three-and-a-half years ago, Bliss was a pro wrestling novice, a new signee to the developmental system when she got a taste of the searing spotlight of WWE's biggest show of the year.
She, along with Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair, accompanied Triple H as he rode out on a throne during his entrance at WrestleMania XXX. In golden masquerade masks, the three women removed the titan's cape and horned shoulder pads.
She remembers that scene vividly.
"That was one of the best moments ever," Bliss told Bleacher Report. "I remember walking out and just hearing 80,000 people, and Triple H turned to all of us and told us, 'This is just the beginning for you guys.'"
The atmosphere wowed her. And inspiration hit.
"Eighty-thousand people are here to see this match, to watch this show," she said. "To have that moment, it was definitely very motivating. I want that moment. I want to work my way up and have a match where that many people are cheering for me. It was really eye-opening."
Bliss would indeed have her own WrestleMania moment, defending the SmackDown women's title at this year's edition of The Show of Shows.
And there are ample moments to come. At TLC, on Raw and beyond.
From Struggling to Stardom
Bliss didn't have the advantage some of her fellow developmental prospects did. When she signed an NXT deal, she didn't have a sliver of pro wrestling experience.
She was an athlete, but her skills in gymnastics, cheerleading and bodybuilding didn't immediately pay off.
"I was terrible when I started," she said.
Bliss showed potential in terms of agility, tumbling around in the ring well. But it took a while before she found her voice as a Superstar.
At some point, the Bliss persona fit on her better. "It just clicked one day," she said. "And the character started to snowball from there."
She experienced the same kind of eureka moment when making the shift from gymnastics to cheerleading.
"I went from getting participation ribbons to getting first place and being undefeated," Bliss explained. "When something clicks, I work that much harder to excel at it."
That was the case with her WWE work, as she pushed herself, looking to catch up with the talented women around her.
And even though she has already made it past the developmental stage and tasted championship gold four times, her diligence hasn't slowed down.
"I'm still working on my in-ring ability," she said. "I know I'm not the best in [the] ring. I try to get better with every match. I go to the [WWE Performance Center] and try to refresh my skills and learn new ones and bring that into my matches."
That work has shown up on screen.
Her win over Bayley at Payback this year was briefly the best bout of her career. It felt like a coming-out party, a showdown in which she shone between the ropes more closely to how she does on the mic each Monday night.
And she soon topped herself. Her battle with Banks at SummerSlam became her new best effort.
Kicking Down the Door
From NXT to SmackDown and Raw to PPVs, WWE has given Bliss big-time at-bats and counted on her to come through. She's grateful for all of those chances.
She and rival Becky Lynch have battled in a Steel Cage match and a tables match. Both are stipulations women rarely get to be a part of. Little Miss Bliss has wrestled at both WrestleMania and SummerSlam as champ.
Bliss was pegged to win the SmackDown Women's Championship only five months into her run on the main roster.
She couldn't have imagined that this would all come so quickly. "I remember telling my mom when I first got drafted to SmackDown, and she said, 'You think you'll be on WrestleMania this year?'," Bliss recalled. "No, not a chance."
With all of these shots in the sun, her philosophy has been to maximize each of them.
"Opportunities, you have to make the most of them," The Goddess of WWE explained. "You have to run with it. And I know I was one of the most underwhelming draft picks because I hadn't done much on NXT. I hadn't had a TakeOver match. I hadn't won the title. I had valeted the majority of my career. And I knew I just had to just kick down the door."
She says she treats every match and every promo as if it were her last.
It's the second part of the equation where she most thrives. Few young Superstars have the command of the crowd she does. And she's been masterful in her role as a snide, nasty egotist.
Despite being a heel on TV and dripping with condescension, Bliss has her fair share of giddy young fans. It's something she didn't see coming.
"I've been getting tweeted pictures of little girls dressed up in my outfit, wearing the pigtails, having the pink in their hair," Bliss said. "I never really expected to see that because I do play a bad guy. I'm a villain.
"To see young girls dressing up as me and them sending pictures of them doing my entrance, it's so awesome. It's great."
Head-to-Head with Mickie James
Bliss' persona draws comparisons to Hall of Famer Trish Stratus' days as a heel. But she's intent on making her mark as a unique figure.
"I love watching different characters throughout WWE, but I feel like I don't want to copy anybody," the Raw women's titleholder said. "At the end of the day, I want them to know me, Alexa Bliss. I want them to know my name."
Her latest chance to establish her name has come in the form of facing a familiar wrestler in Mickie James.
The country singer and Superstar's' return to WWE saw her play La Luchadora, a mysterious masked grappler who would save Bliss from trouble and cheat in her favor. Eventually, she unmasked to reveal herself as the five-time women's champ James.
Her and Bliss' alliance didn't take long to crack, but they had to wait for there to be any payoff to their tension.
"As soon as we got a story going, or least we thought, we both got drafted to Raw," Bliss explained. "We both just thought it would continue from there. But then it didn't. So to have this storyline come back around and to finally be able to face each other is super exciting.
"It's been so much fun working with Mickie."
Their story has focused on the brash, upstart champ mocking her foe for being too old. It's been a bit of a jarring tale as James is only 38. The running joke is one the champ realizes isn't exactly based in reality.
"I don't really think she's old, but it's just fun to poke at," Bliss said.
There will be some real emotions when they meet, though, she noted. But there won't be any tables, ladders or chairs in the bout despite that being the theme of the PPV. That's not something Bliss is sweating.
"I can't expect to have stipulation matches all the time," Bliss said. "They save certain stipulations for certain matches. And it's just not our time, which is fine."
"Knowing me, I would have pitched having a walker match," she joked.
Getting Used to Reality
A new audience is poised to see Bliss, as she was added to the Total Divas cast for the reality show's upcoming season.
When the show airs, a juxtaposition between persona and person will be clear. Fans are going to see the woman underneath the heel veneer.
"I am nothing like my in-ring character," she explained. "I'm the complete opposite if anything.
"I always try to model it after that girl in high school who everyone hated because she was so mean, but they still voted for her for homecoming queen. I knew that girl in high school. Some women were that girl. Everyone can relate to that.
"At home, that's not me."
Audiences will get to know her pets (two dogs and a pig) and her fiance, Buddy Murphy, who is an NXT Superstar.
The couple's schedule used to be more favorable. Bliss was Murphy and Wesley Blake's manager when they were both part of the developmental territory, so the couple would see each other every day. With Bliss now traveling with Raw and Murphy based in Florida, that's changed.
"I see him now maybe once, twice per week," the Raw women's titleholder said. "I don't always get my days off. Sometimes, I'm doing media during the week. So a lot of times, I just don't come home."
Technology has been key to alleviating that and narrowing the distance between them. "We FaceTime all the time," the champ said.
And although Bliss is on TV weekly and in front of crowds on a regular basis, having the cameras follow her into her personal life for Total Divas wasn't easy at first.
"It's very different," the Ohio native explained. "I'm still trained that once the red light comes on, I'm Alexa Bliss. I'm mean. I'm rude."
She noted it was tough to get comfortable: "You'll be at home making breakfast, and there's a camera there. You have to act natural but not acknowledge the camera. Then still open up to it."
There was a clear transition period for her in the reality show world, but that passed. By the end of the season, she forgot the cameras were hovering over her every move.
That's not surprising. Bliss has been a quick study, be it as a cheerleader or a Superstar. At only 26, she has plenty of growth and learning ahead. More title matches, more time on Raw's center stage and more WrestleManias are on their way.
And you best believe she's going to take advantage of it all.
"I take every single segment, no matter what it is, and try to make the most it," Bliss said. "Because if not, those opportunities may not come back."
The new season of Total Divas premieres on Nov. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on E! The TLC PPV airs on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network.
Ryan Dilbert is the Lead WWE Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand.