By Chuck Carroll

(CBS Boston/CBS Local) — WWE Superstar Carmella could be on her way to become Miss Money In The Bank for a second time. The queen of the Seven-Second Dance Break parlayed a controversial win in the inaugural women’s MITB ladder match into a four-month reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion by defeating Charlotte Flair to capture the gold last year.

But before she can become a two-time champion, she’ll have to defeat five other women at the upcoming pay-per-view to earn the right to cash in a contract guaranteeing a title shot any time over the next year. Among those standing in her way are last year’s winner, Alexa Bliss, who was similarly able to successfully cash in for gold and former champions Bayley, Naomi, and Natalya. The eight-woman field is rounded out by Ember Moon, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, who are still seeking their first title runs on the main roster.

Much has changed for Carmella in the past six months, and it appears more changes could be on the way. Her character has morphed from being one of the most hated villains on the roster to becoming a beloved fan favorite after being paired with R-Truth. As “The Fabulous Truth,” the duo captivated audiences with their dance routine, but it appears that the dance break has been broken up.

She appears poised to make another solo run, as R-Truth has set his sights on newcomer Lars Sullivan, while she preps for new challenges in the women’s division. She also recently hinted on Twitter that she’ll be changing her appearance soon, as her character morphs again.

Carmella heads into Money In The Bank with momentum following her victory at this year’s Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania and hopes to keep the ball rolling as she embarks on this new leg of her career. But if things do break her way and a second title reign is in her future, she hopes not to be considered such a villain by fans this time. She confesses that she fell prey to cyberbullying during her time as champion and was on the receiving end of hateful messages on social media.

I had the opportunity to catch up with The Staten Island Princess as she crisscrossed the New York area over WrestleMania week, appearing at scores of events giving back to the community. We spoke minutes after she led a group of cancer survivors in a Zumba class and again a few days later at a Brooklyn Boys & Girls Club following WWE’s signature Be-a-STAR anti-bullying rally, where she was able to speak to children from the heart.

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WWE'S world champion AJ Styles and Smackdown women's champion Carmella speak at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 24, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.

Carmella (Photo Credit: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

Can you give a specific story about a time that you had to overcome bullying and, to borrow a line from John Cena, rise above hate?

Gosh. It’s just so funny, because when I had the Money in the Bank contract, I felt like, I try not to read all the tweets. But if we’re talking about this, then everyone was like, “Oh, Carmella deserves this. She deserves an opportunity.” And then I cash in my contract, and then everyone’s like, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe she’s champion.” I was like, all of you people were just sort of rallying behind me and trying to get me, wanting me to win the title, and then I get it, and then immediately they’re all hating on me. But again, they’re always going to be hating.

People said I didn’t deserve to beat Charlotte, I didn’t deserve to beat Asuka. But I did it, and it lead me to where I’m at and, at the end of the day, what they think is not real. What I’m doing, my hard work, and being here at the Boys & Girls Club and giving back to the community, that’s the stuff that’s real. It doesn’t matter if people think I’m worthy or not of being champion.

With the women’s evolution continuing, your character has been evolving as well. How has that transition been for you? It’s such a contrast to where you were.

I know. It’s so crazy, when I actually think about it. Because last time we were here in Brooklyn was SummerSlam, when I lost the title, and I was booed out of the building when I first came out for my entrance that night. And a few short weeks later I’m getting cheered, because I’m with R-Truth.

So, for me, it’s just been really cool, because it’s something, and I hate to use the word, organic, because everyone uses that word. But my transition to being the character I am now was so organic. I never changed anything about me. I’ve been the exact same character. I was just paired with R-Truth, and now people like me. So it’s a lot of fun.

You changed your hair, too.

That’s the only physical thing. I changed my hair. Everything else is kind of still moon-walking, trash-talking. And I like to have fun, and I like to do whatever it takes to win, and I still do that.

Where did this idea for the dance break originally come from?

That’s a great question. We did the very first episode of Truth TV, and it just took off. It was supposed to be a one-time thing and same thing with Truth and I. We were never supposed to be a thing, and then it just took off. And that’s why I just love the WWE, because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so unpredictable, and you never know if things are going to catch on. And now dance break is a thing…

Was the first one your idea? Were you like, “Hey, I have this wacky idea?”

No. I don’t even know where it came from. It was written in our script, and we’re like, “Okay, what’s a dance break? And we’re like, “We’ll try it.” And then people loved it.

You just went out there and you winged it. You did the floss.

The floss! I didn’t even know how to floss, and then Truth was like, “No. You’ve got to do it. That’s what the kids are doing!” I’m like, “All right.” He’s so cool. He knows all that stuff.

You did a massive dance break at WrestleMania with R-Truth.

The world’s largest Seven-Second Dance Break! Although I think it was 37 seconds. It was really long. I was sitting out there like, “Oh my gosh. How long is this music going to keep playing? I can only dance for so long!”

What was it like to lead 82,000 fans for that?

It was so cool. I feel so lucky, because I do feel like I have such a great opportunity with my character. I was able to win the battle royal, and then I get to go on later in the night with Truth and do our dance break and have fun. I’m loving this point in my career, to be able to just have a good time. I feel like this is the most me that Carmella has ever been. So I just feel like I’m just going out there and having fun as myself.

WrestleMania week had to have been a whirlwind for you. How are you holding up? How do you deal with the fatigue and try not to get too exhausted?

Oh man, it’s crazy. When I think of all the things that I’ve done, I’ve had at least two or three appearances every single day since SmackDown on Tuesday, but I thrive on it. I love it. I love to be able to be here, and all of our fans from around the world are here, and I get great opportunities. I got to be on The Jimmy Fallon Show last week. It’s so crazy.

So for me, it’s just been really cool, because it’s something — and I hate to use the word organic, because everyone uses that word — but my transition to being the character I am now was so organic. I never changed anything about me. I’ve been the exact same character. I was just paired with R-Truth, and now people like me. So it’s a lot of fun.

WWE devotes so much time and effort into giving back communities. What does it mean to you to be a woman and then to be involved in charities such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation?

[During WrestleMania week] we get to be involved in and give back to different charitable organizations and be involved with the WWE Universe. And I was saying it’s really cool, because normally for our signings we’re sitting behind a table. When you’re signing, you get to shake the fan’s hand. But here, we’re interacting with the fans, we get to dance with the fans, and that’s just really something special that not that many people get to do. And they’re donating to the cause for Susan G. Komen, and that’s so important. Even people that couldn’t make it to the event are donating online. So it’s more than just the show on Sunday. It’s all about everything that we’re doing here this week.

Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.

Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.

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