When Eve Torres bid farewell to the WWE Universe in January, some people might have thought the three-time Divas Champion and WWE’s 2007 Diva Search winner would be taking things easy, reflecting on her many accomplishments and kicking back at her Los Angeles home.
As it turns out, those people don’t know Eve Torres.
WWE.com recently caught up with the indomitable beauty, who filled us in on her inspirational new mission, dished about “Total Divas” and offered some crucial advice for WWE’s current (and future) crop of female competitors.
WWE.COM: What have you been up to since we last saw you on WWE television?
EVE TORRES: Well, aside from building a house and planning a wedding and all of that real-life stuff that I’ve finally gotten around to, I’ve been teaching a lot of women’s self-defense classes at the Gracie Academy. Since January, I’ve pretty much been teaching Gracie Women Empowered self-defense full-time, working with women from all walks of life. We’ve got grandmas in there, we’ve got mothers with their daughters, and we’ve had several contracts with the U.S. Air Force.
Also, this summer I actually filmed my first movie. I did a really fun fight scene in [“Scorpion King: The Lost Throne”], which will be coming out next year. I was so excited to be a part of it. Ellen Hollman is the actress I worked with, and she is just incredible. We got to incorporate some wrestling stuff, too. I pulled out some of my old tricks in there. It was a lot of fun to shoot.
WWE.COM: What sparked your passion for women’s self-defense?
EVE: When I first started traveling with WWE [in 2007], I had just won the Diva Search and I didn’t really have any riding partners yet. So, I was making one of the loops by myself. I was somewhere in the Northeast and, just like we always do, I had to stop at a gas station to get some water and snacks, and fill up on gas. I walked in, and there were three guys in there that immediately started heckling me, harassing me and telling me to go with them. They were just kind of trying to poke fun or whatever. I ignored them, and they just progressively got angrier and angrier. It got to the point where they were yelling obscenities at me and calling me all kinds of names. They were threatening me.
WWE.COM: Was there anyone else around seeing this happen?
EVE: I looked at the guy at the checkout desk, and he didn’t know what to do. I didn’t buy my stuff. I threw it down on the counter and I got out of there. They followed me out, still yelling at me.
I think they felt that I was really terrified, and I think they fed off that. I got into my car, locked the door and I took off. I pulled over, I was shaking. I couldn’t believe that had just happened. It’s one of the first times I realized that even though I’m a woman who’s in shape, who has an education and a good job, any man that wants to end that for me or hurt me in some way can do that. Unfortunately, men are just stronger than women.
WWE.COM: That night led you to learn about self-defense?
EVE: I told a girlfriend about it, and she suggested that I start training at the Gracie Academy. Interestingly enough, my brother trained in jiu-jitsu in high school, so I knew a little bit about it. I never really thought it applied to me that much. I had done other forms of martial arts, but it was more for fun. I really didn’t think about the self-defense aspects of it. So I started training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and my mind was completely blown away by what I thought was possible for women. All of a sudden, I realized that there was a way for women to level the playing field. I felt like I needed to share this with others.
All women can do this, which I think is important for women to know: You don’t have to be a WWE Diva or an MMA fighter to be able to defend yourself.
WWE.COM: Is the Gracie Academy where you met your fiancé, Rener Gracie?
EVE: Yeah, the friend who suggested I go there was dating his brother at the time. After about a year of playing hard to get, we got pretty serious. I was in a relationship with him for just about my entire WWE career, and he was patient long enough. It was time for us to start our life together.
WWE.COM: As part of that new life, you’re still connected with WWE, and recently went backstage to teach some self-defense to the current Divas. How did that come about?
EVE: WWE actually reached out to me. I went to the WWE Performance Center [in Orlando] and worked with the NXT Divas down there. That’s how it started. WWE wanted me to work with the NXT Divas, talk to them about my experiences in WWE and also teach them a seminar. Then they said, while I’m there, because Raw and SmackDown were so close, that I could teach the girls on the main roster as well.
Learn more about the WWE Performance Center
This is something I had always wanted to do even when I was with WWE, but we’re all so busy and schedules are so crazy that I’m glad I finally had an opportunity to do it. I know all of those girls have been in situations similar to what happened to me because it happens so often. They’re traveling a lot, they’re all beautiful women and they have to face so many situations that the average man doesn’t really even have to think about. So it’s not only about educating them about how to be aware and present themselves, and how to not be a target in the first place; it’s also about instilling them with confidence based in these techniques, so they really feel like they can address the situation if they have to. And they have a plan to fall back on if they really have to.
WWE.COM: How did the Diva self-defense seminar go?
EVE: They really enjoyed it! Obviously I enjoyed working with them again, and I think for a lot of people, they have a certain idea of what self-defense is: That it’s a lot of groin strikes and eye gouges and palm strikes to the face. I think when you understand that there’s a lot more to it than that, it’s really eye-opening for women.
Everyone did so well, and the girls down at the WWE Performance Center were also very impressive. They learned a lot in one day. Now the question is: Who is going to retain it? They have to continue to practice and they have to practice with one another. But all of them asked great questions, they did really well, and they made my job really easy.
WWE.COM: What was it like to go backstage as an outsider looking in?
EVE: It was so, so good to see everybody. I really miss so many of the people at WWE. I walked in and I felt like, “Oh yeah, I’m just back at work.” I thought referee John Cone was going to tell me I have to see Talent Relations about my appearances that week or something. It was great to connect and see that everybody was still doing well. I’m really happy to see what’s going on with all of the Divas.
WWE.COM: You accomplished a great deal in WWE. Do you have a favorite match?
EVE: I’d say my Survivor Series  match with Beth Phoenix was my favorite.
WWE.COM: When you took a Glam Slam off the top rope?
EVE: That was the one! [Laughs] It was a really emotional match where you go to the back and say, “Oh my gosh.” It was magic out there. Sometimes you experience magic out in the ring. It was a turning point in my career, and I got to share it with one of my greatest friends, Beth. That one always stands out in my mind.
Watch Eve battle Beth Phoenix at Survivor Series 2011
WWE.COM: On the flipside of that, is there any moment that you’d do differently if you could do it again?
EVE: I can’t really say that I regret anything. I do wish is that I could tell myself back when I started in WWE to listen to myself. There are so many people who are giving you influences, and most of the time, they’re trying to help. But what happens is you lose yourself in all of that. I kind of wish I had found myself a little earlier, so I could have committed to it a little bit sooner in my career. That’s the only advice I would have given to the 2007 Diva Search Eve.
WWE.COM: The Divas division is a very competitive place. Were there any Divas you didn’t see eye-to-eye with?
EVE: Oh yeah. I always wanted to be liked, and I thought that if you were nice to everyone then everyone would like you. That’s not always the case. There were ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I always respected everybody I worked with. There were definitely times that I felt really sad, and frustrated, and not treated right by some of the girls. But I always came out on the other side.
When I think back in general terms about my time in the locker room and my time with the girls, I have a positive feeling about it. Sometimes we all wanted to kill each other, and there was a lot of frustration, a lot of competition and a lot of rumors — there were girls that would spread rumors about me — but you just have to overcome it like any other situation. Now I’m proud of all the girls. I’ve made some great friends. Nattie and Beth [Phoenix] are really good friends of mine, and I’m just proud to see all of these girls doing well.
View career-spanning photos of Eve | Check out the greatest Diva gallery ever
WWE.COM: Who else do you keep in touch with these days?
EVE: I still talk to Maryse, who was one of my first in-ring rivalries. AJ and Kaitlyn will send me funny texts every once in a while. I understand that they’ve all got such crazy lives, because I used to live that life. So I never get my feelings hurt that they don’t call me every weekend or anything like that. I know they’re busy doing their thing. And I’m starting my own life too. It’s crazy. I’m actually going to birthday parties, throwing baby showers, all of that real-life stuff.
WWE.COM: AJ has been Divas Champion since June. Did you see that coming?
EVE: Definitely. When I was there, she was gaining so much momentum. AJ’s a Diva that has done so well for herself, been a part of some amazing matches and tied to some pretty important people. Now she gets to represent the division by being the Divas Champ. Whether she’s perceived as good or bad, it doesn’t matter. It helps elevate the entire division when somebody people care about is on top.
WWE.COM:Since you’re close with Natalya, what do you think of her starring role on E!’s “Total Divas”?
EVE: I haven’t seen every episode, but I have seen most of them. I’m just really happy for everybody who’s in it. It’s funny. The whole time I was in WWE, I was like, “We need a reality show,” because the stuff that goes down is just crazy. Now, it has happened. I think the girls that are on it are great for the show, because they’re all funny or entertaining or they’ve got drama going on. It’s fun to watch. For the first time, the world is getting to know the Divas for what they really are and what they can do, which is pretty awesome. It has never really happened before.
Get caught up on all the “Total Divas” drama
And with Nattie, I’m so happy that she has had this opportunity. She has had a lot of struggles in her career, and WWE and wrestling as a whole mean so much to her, as somebody whose family has been a part of it for so long. I’m happy to see her reaping the benefits of it.
WWE.COM:Do you wish you had been on the cast of “Total Divas”?
EVE: To be honest, I knew about the show when I left. Had it happened while I was there, it would have been great, but I knew the timing was right where I had to move on with my life.
WWE.COM: How would “Total Divas” be different if you were on it?
EVE: I’d probably be the boring one. There’s no “Eve Mode,” that’s for sure. I’d be in the background drinking vegetable juice.
WWE.COM: What advice would you give to the Divas of today and the Divas in NXT?
EVE: Being a part of that locker room and being a part of that division, I would say to always remember that it’s in our best interest to have other Divas doing well. Sometimes, if something happens for somebody, instead of being happy for them, we’re jealous. What we have to realize is that for every good thing that happens for one of the girls in our division, it’s elevating the entire division. People lose sight of that.
You will get the most out of this experience if you are able to be happy for others and help people along the way. At some point, you’re going to be the veteran. You’re going to be the one who’s there the longest and you’re going to be helping others do great things. Be open to that. Don’t focus on the competitive side of things, and, surprisingly enough, you’ll find yourself never having to worry about others “taking your spot.”
WWE.COM: Even though you’ve got so much going on in your own life right now, you’re still a part of the WWE family. How would you describe your current relationship with WWE?
EVE: When I left WWE, it was, of course, one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. But I really feel like WWE is a part of me. I do want to be involved whenever I can. Of course I can’t go back on the road, I’m not going to be having matches or anything like that, but any way I can represent WWE, any capacity in which I can contribute and still live the life I have chosen now, I’m excited to do that.
WWE.COM: You can probably see this next question coming from a mile away at this point, but is there any chance we’ll get to see Eve Torres return to the Divas division at some point down the line?
EVE: I knew that question was coming [laughs]. The truth is, I get asked that question all the time, and I really can say that, right now, I don’t see it happening. But I know myself enough to know that I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s never going to happen. I just don’t know what the next few years will bring. Like I said, if things go as planned in my life, and I start a family or anything like that, then probably not. But who knows? There are people who have families and still come back. Right now I don’t see it coming, but I still have dreams about matches, I will tell you that.
For the latest updates from Eve Torres, follow her on Twitter @EveMarieTorres, and for more info on Gracie Women Empowered, click here. To learn more about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, visit GracieUniversity.com.