STANFORD, CONN. - Zelina Vega is a powerful woman who always makes her presence known when she is in the WWE ring as a superstar professional wrestler.
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Vega and other big names on the pro circuit are coming to St. Louis for a SmackDown event on Oct. 6, 2023. She has appeared in front of thousands of fans in her long-time pro wrestling career and uses the name Zelina Vega in the SmackDown brand. Thea Megan Trinidad Budgen, her given name, was born in 1990. She was born in the Queens borough of New York City and is of Puerto Rican descent. She is also a well-known actress and portrayed fellow professional wrestler AJ Lee in the 2019 biographical film “Fighting With My Family.” She also has had several other roles as an actress.
Vega has had phenomenal success in professional wrestling and is a member of Legada Del Fantasia and the Latino World Order. She is also a former WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion.
Vega always had aspirations of a professional wrestling career. Always an athlete, when she was younger she was a swimmer and even played baseball in school.
Vega has been inspired by many people, including actor Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) who encouraged her to act in films. Big-name pro wrestlers Rey Mysterio and Lita were also big inspirations in her ambitious career.
She said it meant a lot to her to end up working with Mysterio. “Ray would always say to me just to slow down, relax and breathe before he would go in the rink,” she said. “Having him in my corner was one of the coolest things ever. I almost had to pinch myself telling me to slow down and breathe.”
Vega said she is a native New Yorker and she believes the confidence she displays in the ring stems from being one of the smaller ones when she was younger and having to be “quick-witted.”
Vega said a big part of being a professional wrestling star is learning how to take the character and “resonate with people.”
“I try to have little ways for the crowd to get to know me in SmackDown events,” she said.
Rhea Ripley, an Australian opponent, is a wrestler Vega said she always relates to in the ring.
“She is one of the wrestlers I feel most comfortable with and connect with in wrestling,” she said. “I can see things she is doing and almost anticipate her next move.”
She was also deeply inspired by star wrestler Bray Wyatt, who died recently.
“The tribute show we did for him was one of the hardest things ever,” she said. “It was very cool having someone like Bray who looked out for me. He cared about his people. I have said this before but he had the whole world in his hands, but what he wanted to give the most to was his wife and kids. That touched me a lot, how much he thought of his wife and kids.”
Bray watched her tryout match and he told others in management, “'Someone needs to sign her immediately; she is one of us,'" Vega said. "That meant so much to me and my career.”
Vega is married to a Dutch professional wrestler Tom Budgen, also known as Malakai Black. The couple was married in 2018.
Vega said she is excited about coming to St. Louis on Oct. 6 at the Enterprise Center and will definitely have something unique for her Missouri and Illinois fans. The action begins that night at 6:45 p.m. Click here for tickets.
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