Leah Van Dale (October 23, 1987) is an American cheerleader, dancer, fitness trainer, model, professional wrestler and professional wrestling manager currently signed to WWE under the ring name Carmella, performing on the SmackDown brand.
In June 2013, Van Dale signed a contract with WWE, and was assigned to their Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. In October 2014, she aligned herself with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, thus also becoming their manager.
Leah grew up in a very small town outside of Worcester, Massachusetts. She began dancing at the age of three. After graduating high school, Leah went on to the University of Rhode Island and later transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth where she graduated with her bachelor's degree in Marketing. While she knew it was important to get an education, she continued her love of performing with the New England Patriots Cheerleaders. Throughout her three-year term with the Patriots she traveled all over the world.
Throughout her time with the Patriots, Leah was featured in several world-renowned publications to include a National Visa commercial, Muscle and Fitness, Esquire, Maxim and many more. Her charity work was something she always enjoyed. She was fortunate enough to work with so many different charitable organizations and loved giving back to the community.
Leah's three-year term with the Patriots was up in early 2010. After graduating in May of the same year she knew she wanted to take her dancing career to another level. There's no better place for an entertainer than Los Angeles. On a whim, she decided to fly out to LA the day before the Back-to-Back Champion Lakers were holding auditions for their dance team. With over 600 girls in attendance, Leah danced her way to the final round. After a few trips back and forth between the east and west coast, she earned a coveted spot as a 2010-2011 Los Angeles Laker Girl. As a rookie, she was the cover girl of the 2011 Laker Girl Calendar. She was featured in numerous commercials, magazines, and game shows throughout her Laker Girl Career. Much like her time with Patriots, she loved working with charities. Fit For Life grew to be her favorite organization to work with. Seeing kids without any sense of healthy living, inspired her to show teach them everything she knew about being healthy and fitt. Leah grew up around the fitness industry, as her father was a semi-professional boxer and WWF wrestler in the 1990s.
Professional wrestling career
World Wrestling Entertainment (2013-Present)
In June 2013, Van Dale signed a contract with WWE, and she was assigned to the company's developmental territory WWE NXT in late September. In December, she announced that her new ring name was Carmella.
Carmella made her debut on the September 4, 2014, episode of NXT, portraying a hairdresser in a segment with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Two weeks later on NXT, Carmella appeared in another segment with Amore and Cassady at the WWE Performance Center, announcing that she had lost her job as a hairdresser due to Amore and Cassady's actions, and asked for a job at NXT. She made her in-ring debut on the October 16 episode of NXT, fighting a local wrestler, whom Amore and Cassady dubbed Blue Pants. Carmella defeated Blue Pants on two occasions, while portraying a villainous character despite her alliance with Amore and Cassady, but lost to her on the January 1, 2015, episode of NXT after Amore accidentally caused a distraction. In March, Amore and Cassady began a rivalry with the NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy, while Blake and Murphy attempted to woo Carmella on several occasions, becoming an fan favorite in the process. On the May 13 episode of NXT, Blake and Murphy distracted Carmella during her match with Alexa Bliss, causing her to lose. A week later, at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Bliss attacked Carmella, during Amore and Cassady's title match, ensuring the win for Blake and Murphy. While continuing to manage Amore and Cassady, Carmella began feuding with Eva Marie, which led to a match between the two, on the August 26 episode of NXT (taped at the NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn event), which Carmella lost. On the September 23 episode of NXT, in a rematch, Carmella lost via count–out, and their rivalry quietly ended.
In the beginning of January 2016, Carmella received her first singles push as she won a battle royal to become the number one contender to Bayley's NXT Women's Championship. Carmella received her championship match against Bayley, on the February 10 episode of NXT, but she was unsuccessful in capturing the title. After the match, Eva Marie and Nia Jax attacked the two, which led to a tag team match, on the February 24 episode of NXT, where Carmella and Bayley were on the losing side. Carmella made her first appearance on WWE's main roster on March 12 at Roadblock, accompanying Amore and Cassady to their match against The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championship. On the May 25 episode of NXT, Carmella competed in a triple–threat match against Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss to determine the number one contender to Asuka's NXT Women's Championship at NXT TakeOver: The End, which was won by Jax.
Main roster (2016–present)
On July 19, Carmella was drafted to SmackDown as a part of the 2016 WWE Draft. Carmella made her main roster debut for the brand on July 26, where she confronted the brand female talents before being interrupted by Eva Marie. Two weeks later, Carmella defeated Natalya on the August 9 episode of SmackDown, marking her first victory on the main roster. The following week, Carmella teamed with Becky Lynch in a successful victory against Natalya, and Alexa Bliss, after a distraction provided by Eva Marie, and Naomi. A six-woman tag team match was announced for SummerSlam between Carmella, Lynch, and Naomi against Natalya, Bliss, and Marie, but following Eva Marie's suspension on August 18, her place was taken by the returning Nikki Bella, and Carmella's team would ultimately lose the match at the pay-per-view, which would be also her debut on one of them.
On the August 23 episode of SmackDown, Carmella turned heel and attacked a returning Nikki Bella, canceling their scheduled singles match. At Backlash, on September 11, Carmella competed in a six-pack elimination challenge to determine the inaugural WWE SmackDown Women's Champion; Carmella would eliminate Nikki, but was eliminated by Becky Lynch, who ultimately won the title. Carmella would then start a feud with Nikki, attacking her from behind each week which would set up for a singles match between them at WWE No Mercy, in which Carmella was unsuccessful. The feud continued after the pay-per-view event, with Carmella stating the only reason Nikki got to where she is today is because of her sister Brie Bella, and boyfriend John Cena. After being revealed as one of the members on the SmackDown women's team on the November 1 episode of SmackDown, during a match against Nikki Bella on the November 15 episode of SmackDown, RAW Women's Champion Charlotte appeared at ringside, causing a distraction and a brawl between all members of the Raw women's team and the SmackDown women's team. At the Survivor Series pay-per-view, after Nikki Bella was mysteriously attacked backstage, which caused Natalya to become her replacement, the SmackDown women's team went on to compete against the Raw women's team, but was unsuccessful in winning the match. In an attempt to finally end her feud with Nikki Bella, Carmella competed in a no-disqualification match against Nikki at the TLC pay-per-view, but was defeated, and would afterwards reveal to Nikki that her attacker at Survivor Series was not her, but her fellow Total Divas co-star Natalya. Carmella would compete in multiple singles matches against Natalya to prove to Nikki Bella that Natalya was her attacker, and would come out victorious on the December 13 episode of SmackDown. On the December 20 episode of SmackDown, after Carmella again revealed more secrets about Natalya to Nikki, Natalya would attack Carmella then admit to attacking Nikki at Survivor Series, revealing her pent-up jealousy of her success for years, thus ending her feud with Nikki Bella.
On December 20, Carmella started a storyline with James Ellsworth, professing that she found him "uniquely attractive". On January 3, 2017, Ellsworth started accompanying Carmella to the ring during her matches.
Carmella made her video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K17.
Carmella is a certified fitness instructor and a personal trainer. She also has a background in dancing. She is the daughter of Paul Van Dale, a former professional wrestler who worked as a jobber for WWE in the nineties and also wrestled independently. Her favorite wrestling personalities while growing up were Miss Elizabeth and Trish Stratus. Van Dale is dating fellow wrestler William Morrissey, better known by the ring name Big Cass.
- Finishing moves
- Code of Silence (Modified figure-four headscissors)
- The Staten Island Princess
- Entrance themes