WWE will debut its latest television property, Corey & Carmella, Monday afternoon on YouTube.
The show, the first of its kind to premiere exclusively on the social media platform, follows Monday Night Raw commentator Corey Graves and women's tag team champion Carmella through their life away from the ring and everything that comes with it.
From love and sex to the trials and tribulations of coparenting, nothing is off the table in a show the stars promise will give fans an unflinching look at who they are once the WWE cameras go dark.
Bleacher Report spoke with Graves and Carmella about the new show, the importance of authenticity, life outside the WWE bubble and a potential on-screen pairing between two of sports entertainment's most polarizing performers.
B/R: Being on YouTube in front of 86 million subscribers is a little different than performing on Raw, especially when opening up your personal life to viewers. Was there any hesitancy whatsoever in taking part in this venture?
Carmella: I don't think so. We were just excited to be able to show who we are in our real lives.
When you see us on Monday Night Raw, Corey is this loudmouth, sort of bad-guy commentator and I'm acting like The Most Beautiful Woman in All of WWE, so it's really nice to be able to have some creative freedom and creative control over letting the WWE Universe and the rest of the world and the 86 million subscribers see who we are when we leave Raw.
Corey: Yeah, I would say there are certain aspects of the show that we may have second-guessed when we were going through the cuts and the edits...
Carmella: Trust me, I look at some of the footage back and I'm like, "I can't believe I said that or I can't believe I did that."
Corey: Right, but then we agreed among ourselves that this is what it's all about. We agreed on our podcast, Bare With Us, to be ourselves and to be open and honest and kind of let the world in, in a podcast form, into our personal relationship, so we kind of wanted to carry that over to Corey & Carmella and truly remain as authentic as possible when exposing our lives to the fans.
B/R: Speaking of authenticity, we noticed in the trailer there was an edginess we are not necessarily expecting from WWE at this point. Is that going to be a theme, or do you feel there will be a bit that ends up on the cutting room floor?
Corey: The trailer was a little spicy by design because we wanted to get people talking because we never really acknowledged our relationship on TV besides when I gush over Carmella when she comes to the ring, so we kind of had to come out of the gate strong, come out swinging.
And that's one aspect of our relationship that we feel kind of sets us apart. That we're open and honest about the sex part of our relationship, and we feel that everyone should be open and honest and comfortable and kind of break some of those taboos.
That's really just a small portion of what the show is about. That was brought to the forefront to get people talking, and now that they're talking, hopefully they will get to watching and realize there's a lot more to these guys than whatever, you know, sexy clips we aired to get people's attention.
B/R: Kind of staying in the same theme there, is there anything that people who tune in may be surprised by?
Carmella: I think people are going to be surprised to see who we are in real life. Corey is very sweet, kind and sensitive, and if you're watching Monday Night Raw, nobody's thinking that about him. And for me, I'm always making fun of Corey and just, you know, belching as loud as I possibly can. It's just such a difference of who we are in our real lives versus what you see on Monday night. You're going to see us with our families, interacting with Corey's kids, so you're going to see a lot more than you've ever seen before.
Corey: And to your earlier question, the fact that we are on YouTube does give us a little more leeway than we would on a major network right now because it allows us to sort of flesh this out and see where it goes, what works and what doesn't, and WWE is always looking for the next big thing in entertainment, as everybody who follows WWE knows, and YouTube is a platform that we've still got some work to do.
We've got 85 million subscribers, but we're still looking for that next thing. What's the hook? Could this be the first show that lives on YouTube, knock on wood, for a couple of seasons and becomes WWE's footprint on YouTube? But it's really exciting, and WWE's been unbelievable about letting us maintain our authenticity, which was our goal from the start.
Carmella: Yeah, they really let us push the envelope. As you said, it's not so PG, and we thought it was really important for us to be able to because if you listen to our podcast, we talk about all these issues that couples have, whether it's something that's happening in the bedroom or how they communicate outside of the bedroom or whatever it may be. We wanted to be able to bring that to our show.
WWE's allowing us to really push the envelope with the sexiness and the different aspects of our life, and it's just been such a fun process where they're allowing us to push that envelope.
B/R: WWE has a long history of reality television with Tough Enough, Total Divas, Total Bellas—Carmella, you were part of Total Divas, so you're very familiar with that—how much did your experience on that show help with this, and what about WWE lends itself so well to reality TV?
Carmella: For me, I really learned a lot from doing Total Divas. There were a lot of things that I held back on when I did Total Divas. I didn't feel like I was truly myself. I wasn't sure how to act or what to do, and I'd watch back and I'm, like, "Oh my god! I don't even know who that person is that I'm watching" because I'm just so worried and nervous about how to act. So when I was doing this, I knew I was doing nothing other than being myself.
And you know, maybe people are going to like me or hate me. I don't know, but I just wanted to be authentic to me. I think the thing that is so intriguing about reality TV and WWE Superstars is that there's such a difference between what you see on TV and what you see in our real lives, and I think when you pull back that curtain a little bit and people get to see this glimpse into how we live and who we are outside of our WWE bubble, I think that's intriguing to the fans.
Corey: And I think that's what a lot of people lose sight of. Everyone on WWE television, from Roman Reigns down to Corey Graves, we're playing a role. We're playing a character with the volume cranked way up. But you don't really know, we don't really know a lot about the people that we work with.
I can tell you 50 things about X, Y, Z character, but as far as what do they do when they go home? We don't know. Some of our closest friends in the business, you don't know what goes on behind closed doors or once they get off the airplane after Raw. What do they do all day? And that's kind of...we're giving you a glimpse as to what our life is like after the glitz and glamor of WWE.
Carmella: Even with social media nowadays, people only put out what they want you to see, so what you see on social media is not real. So you can portray this certain image that you want people to think of you on social media, but that's not who you really are, and that's what I think is intriguing about the reality. You get to see these people put in real situations. "Oh my gosh! How are they going to act?"
Or you get to see Corey with his kids or me sort of leaning into this new role as a stepmom, and you know, there's so much that you would never see. I mean, we never put the kids or anything on social media. That is not an aspect of our life that people get to see, so I think that will be intriguing for people to watch us in these different roles.
Corey: I'm just excited that people are going to learn that I'm not as terrible in real life as I am on Twitter.
Carmella: He's actually sweet and sensitive and kind and, well, you know, it's exciting for people to see. I think they'll be like, "Whoa! Corey's actually really nice? What?!"
B/R: Are you prepared for and expecting social media input, both positive and negative?
Carmella: *scoffs* We're always...
Corey: I would say our default setting is to expect negativity.
Corey: When we dropped the trailer, there was about 50-50. You know, half were saying, "This is going to be cool and exciting" and the other half were going, "No one wants this. Nobody asked for this." What the irony is, the people that hate it the most will usually check it out just to hate on it, and if that's the case, then cool. Watch it to hate it. That's fine. You can send me a mean tweet. Just keep racking up those numbers.
B/R: It's one of those, "As long as the paycheck clears, it's all good," right?
And social media is...anyone who's in the public eye nowadays will tell you, it's sort of gotten so out of control that we pick and choose as to what we engage with anymore because it can be so overwhelming, and there can be so much negativity.
And then you'd be shocked at how many times you'll encounter somebody in real life who has probably sent you a nasty tweet or a message or left you a terrible comment on Instagram and they're just normal people who want to be cool. It's almost like there's a disconnect where it's not real life to them. They can say any of these bold, horrible things...
Carmella: You reply to someone who says a mean or negative thing, and I'll just say, like, "Oh! Thanks, babe" or something, you know, cheeky, and they go, "Oh my god! I didn't mean that. I didn't know you would actually respond to it." So it's like, why are you saying something negative to begin with? They just want to get a rise out of you.
Corey: I haven't learned that aspect yet. I like to fire back because I like to argue with people. I never win, and I know I'm never gonna win, but that doesn't stop me from doing it.
Carmella: Get off Twitter.
B/R: You mention that you don't acknowledge your relationship on TV. Is that something you would like to do? We've seen Edge and Beth Phoenix, Miz and Maryse lately. Is that something you would enjoy doing or just keep it more for the reality side of things?
Carmella: I mean, there are a few things I can think I would enjoy doing on TV, maybe like recreating the Edge and Lita scene...
Corey: If it comes to it, awesome. It's not something we're actively fighting too hard for, but I think, I mean, to me, the best storylines in sports entertainment throughout history have been based in reality.
You think, like, Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth, but we're in a different situation where I'm a commentator, not an active competitor. She's an active competitor, so it's a different scenario as opposed to having two in-ring competitors or whatever that may be, but I think if the opportunity presents itself, we'd both be more than happy to jump because I think we can both provide some entertainment.
Let's be honest, who's easier to hate right now than Corey Graves and Carmella?
B/R: Finally, my girlfriend isn't into WWE. She knows who everyone is, but she's not invested to the extent that I am or other fans are. What about 'Corey & Carmella' is going to keep her coming back?
Corey: Just hearing you say that made me a little bit excited because that's kind of been our goal from the get-go when we started our podcast, Bare With Us. It was to make everyone realize that you may love, love, love Carmella on WWE TV and you may hate Corey Graves with all of your being on TV, but this isn't about that. WWE is, of course, a presence in our life and is sort of the reason we are in the position we are in, so we would be remiss to ignore that, but truly the show does not have a whole lot to do with what goes on at WWE.
This is us behind closed doors. This is us at home, and we found the feedback that we get, particularly through our podcast and some aspects of social media, is how people feel that it's refreshing. We're not trying to portray something we're not. We argue, we fight, we make fun of each other. We have good days. We have bad days. And we're kind of showing that to the world. The line I used in the trailer is "we're showing our relationship, warts and all."
Carmella: It's not all glitz and glamor. I mean, it's great to see all of that on TV, but when you see us on Corey & Carmella, it is truly us and just being real and having arguments and shedding light on things that everyone goes through and also normalizing these things.
It's OK to talk about sex. It's OK to have fights. It's OK to be a stepmom, and you see us in all of these different roles, and we just want to keep it as real as we can with the fans, and I think that that will shine through on the show. We're not trying to act a certain way. We are who we are. Like us, hate us, you tell me.
Corey: People may watch us because of WWE. Hopefully they do. They watch us because they are fans of WWE, but the goal is to have them just as interested in the show in and of itself because it's a relationship show.
It's as raw as we can possibly let it be without getting kicked off all platforms. But to show people that it's about relationships, and I would be willing to bet that most people who watch this, by the end of the first, you know, few episodes are going to be able to say, "Oh, I've been in that situation," "Oh, I know how that feels..."
Carmella: "My husband does that too! I can't stand it..."
Corey: "She reacts the same way my girlfriend did." Just mirror the same way a lot of people feel. We're just doing it on a bigger platform.
Corey & Carmella debuts Monday at noon ET on WWE's official YouTube account with the first two episodes of the series. Episode 1 will look at the couple's attempts at adjusting to life in Pittsburgh, while the second follows them through the house-hunting process.
The success of the show will be interesting to track in that a successful first season will undoubtedly lead WWE to look at YouTube as a potential host for other television properties starring its Superstars.
Given WWE's desire to expand into different avenues of entertainment and find different means to do so, it is somewhat surprising it took the company this long to eye the popular outlet, especially with 86 million subscribers consuming content.
For a company that touts its larger-than-life characters, it will be up to the authentic personalities and real lives of Graves and Carmella to sell fans on the platform.