Melina joined the independent professional wrestling circuit before joining WWE in 2004. Initially, she was a manager for the tag team of MNM. She managed them to three reigns as WWE Tag Team Champions, as well as former boyfriend and MNM member Johnny Nitro to two reigns as WWE Intercontinental Champion. Melina made her WWE singles debut in 2005, and is a three-time WWE Women's Champion, winning the belt twice in 2007 and once in 2009. She also captured the WWE Divas Championship on two occasions in 2009 and 2010, making her a five-time champion overall.
On August 5, 2011, Melina was released from her contract with WWE.
Professional wrestling career
Perez began her career as a model. She won a Miss California beauty contest and also modeled athletic wear for Nike. She decided to become a professional wrestler after talking to Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) superstar Mike Henderson in 2000. Perez started training at Jesse Hernandez's School of Hard Knocks in San Bernardino, California and made her professional debut in April 2002. She joined a number of California-based promotions such as the EWF, where she wrestled under the ring name Kyra, and CRUSH, as Melanie Little Deer. Many EWF officials stated that she had the most natural ability of any woman who came through their school. In late 2002 Perez auditioned for World Wrestling Entertainment's reality show Tough Enough III, making it through to the final 21 before being eliminated from the competition in the final cut of the first episode. After she was eliminated from the contest, trainer Al Snow pulled Perez aside and encouraged her to keep trying to pursue her dream as a wrestler.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
Ohio Valley Wrestling (2004)
Perez debuted in WWE's developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in March 2004, being placed in an angle as John Hennigan's ex-girlfriend. The storyline had Matt Cappotelli introduce her to the ring as a way to taunt Hennigan. Melina, however, turned on Cappotelli and aligned herself with Hennigan, who later changed his ring name to Johnny Nitro. Soon after, Melina and Nitro began teaming with Joey Matthews, later known as Joey Mercury. The trio became known as MNM and on November 10, Melina managed Mercury and Nitro to win the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship. During her time in OVW, Melina, Nitro, and Steven Adkins came up with Melina's trademark split ring entrance.
While in OVW, Melina made occasional appearances on WWE television. On a Thanksgiving episode of SmackDown! in 2003, she dressed up as a Native American and was shown serving food and drinks. Melina made her first Raw appearance on November 29, 2004 when Randy Orton was the guest General Manager and hosted a diva lingerie fashion show. She made another Raw appearance in December, participating in a limbo contest when Chris Jericho was General Manager for the night.
Melina debuted as the villainous manager of MNM on the April 14, 2005 edition of SmackDown!. The team interrupted the first ever Carlito's Cabana interview segment, where one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, Rey Mysterio, was a guest. Melina insulted Mysterio and had Mercury and Nitro attack him, leading to MNM's in-ring debut the next week on SmackDown! in a title match. The team was booked to win the match against Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero, starting their first WWE Tag Team Title reign.
While managing the Tag Team Champions, Melina's character was developed to be more egotistical as she declared herself "the most-dominant Diva in WWE". She made her official WWE in-ring debut on June 30 against Michelle McCool and had her first pay-per-view match—a Bra and Panties match—at The Great American Bash against Torrie Wilson, winning both matches. Also at The Great American Bash, MNM dropped their championship to the Legion of Doom, prompting a new storyline where Melina hired Jillian Hall, a "fixer", to assist them. MNM regained the title on October 28 in a Fatal Four-Way tag team match. On the Eddie Guerrero Tribute Show Melina won an interpromotional Divas battle royal by eliminating Women's Champion Trish Stratus. The next week, MNM kayfabe kidnapped Stratus and Melina challenged her to a match for the Women's Championship. The two fought at Survivor Series, with Melina losing to Stratus after interference from Mickie James.
During this time, MNM was booked to defend their title against Rey Mysterio and the World Heavyweight Champion Batista. Melina was placed in an angle with her trying to make Batista call off the match by visiting him in his locker room and attempting to seduce him. The storyline had the two engage in sexual acts, after which he simply thanked her for the "warm-up" before leaving to take part in the match, where he and Mysterio defeated MNM for the title. The storyline played over to the next episode of SmackDown! when, before MNM evoked their rematch clause, Melina held a press conference in the ring where she claimed that Batista had sexually harassed her. During the tag team match, Mark Henry aided MNM in winning back the WWE Tag Team Championship. The angle with Henry continued into the next year. On the first SmackDown! of 2006, Melina announced that Henry was her personal protection against Batista. He accompanied her and aided the other members of MNM in matches against Batista and Mysterio.
At Judgment Day on May 21, 2006, MNM were booked to lose their Tag Team Championship to Paul London and Brian Kendrick. After the match, Melina and Nitro, as part of the storyline, attacked Mercury, blaming him for the loss. Later that night, Melina lost a singles match against Jillian Hall and after slapping General Manager Theodore Long in anger, she and Nitro were kayfabe fired from the SmackDown! brand. Off-screen, Nitro and Mercury did not get along, and WWE management decided to split the tag team and send Nitro and Melina to the Raw brand. Melina and Nitro made their way to Raw on May 29, with Nitro losing to WWE Champion John Cena. The following week, Melina faked a sprained ankle, allowing Nitro to roll-up Charlie Haas for his first Raw victory. Melina continued to manage Nitro during his successful hunt for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, while being involved in another storyline with Trish Stratus. The angle turned into a tag team feud when Carlito joined forces with Stratus to take on Melina and Nitro. At Saturday Night's Main Event on July 15, Melina and Nitro lost to Carlito and Stratus in a mixed tag team match.
Singles competition and Women's Champion (2006–2007)
After Melina's arrival on Raw, Mick Foley began to mention her in promos, playing on their real friendship mentioned in his WWE.com columns, and they soon formed an on-screen friendship. At SummerSlam, Melina was involved in Foley's "I Quit" match against Ric Flair when Flair threatened to hit her with a barbed wire baseball bat, causing Foley to quit the match to save her. The next night on Raw, the storyline had Vince McMahon order Foley to join the Kiss My Ass club. Foley did not care about saving his own career, but joined after Vince threatened Melina's. After begging Foley not to go through with it, Foley "joined the club" to save Melina's job, only to have her suddenly turn on him by delivering a low blow and kayfabe firing him at the behest of McMahon. This storyline was concocted by Foley to refresh the idea of the Kiss My Ass club. It was also around this time that Melina added another characteristic to her gimmick: screaming loudly at ringside while managing or in tag team action, which became known as the "primal scream".
On January 29, 2007, Melina became the #1 Contender for the WWE Women's Championship, and introduced her finisher from the independent circuit, the Kyrapractor, to WWE under the new name California Dream. On February 5, Melina lost a title match against Mickie James. The following week on Raw, Melina pinned James in a mixed tag team match and then challenged James again for the title. On February 19, as part of her first major singles push, Melina successfully pinned James, making her the only former Tough Enough contestant to have won the WWE Women's Championship. She then retained the title in a rematch during the first ever Women's Falls Count Anywhere match in WWE history.
In March, Melina was placed in an angle where she became jealous of SmackDown! Diva Ashley Massaro, who was receiving attention because of her appearance in Playboy. The angle had Melina claim in her blogs that no Playboy cover models were capable of fighting her. This resulted in scheduled matches against former Playboy cover girls Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle, with both women losing to Melina. The storyline came to a close at WrestleMania 23, where Melina pinned Ashley in a Lumberjill match to retain her Women's Championship. After WrestleMania, Melina organized a photo op with the Women's Title belt in the ring but was interrupted by Mickie James, resulting in another storyline feud between the two Divas. On April 24 at a house show in Paris, France, Melina lost the Women's Championship in a Triple Threat match to James when James pinned Victoria, but on the orders of Jonathan Coachman she was entitled to a rematch on the same night, where she pinned James by putting her hands on the ropes to regain the title and become a two-time WWE Women's Champion.
On May 7, Melina was defeated in a tag team match when she was pinned by Candice Michelle. Melina was scripted to lose to Candice in various tag team matches, as well as in non-title bouts over the next few weeks. At Vengeance, Melina dropped the Women's Championship to Candice, and failed to recapture the title at The Great American Bash.
Teaming and Feuding with Beth Phoenix (2008)
Melina, along with then-ally Beth Phoenix, defeated Maria and Ashley at WrestleMania XXIV. On the May 5 edition of Raw, Melina accidentally hit Phoenix with her boot in a Women's Championship lumberjill match against James. The following week on Raw, Phoenix walked out on Melina during a tag match against James and Maria when Melina accidentally bumped Phoenix off the apron. Melina was then attacked by Phoenix during a backstage segment following the match, leading to her turning face for the first time in her WWE career. At One Night Stand, Melina competed in a losing effort against Phoenix in the first ever Women's "I Quit" match. On June 23, 2008, Melina injured her ankle after falling from the turnbuckles during a tag team match with Mickie James against Natalya and Victoria.
Perez returned to WWE television on the November 24 edition of Raw,with a lovely outfit, teaming with former rivals Mickie James and Candice Michelle to defeat Phoenix, Jillian Hall, and Katie Lea Burchill, when Pérez pinned Burchill after pinning her with sunset split. She then made her in-ring singles return by defeating Hall the following week with a new finishing move called "Last Call". After the match, however, Melina had stated her intentions to take the WWE Women's Championship away from Beth Phoenix. On December 29, 2008, Melina won a six-woman battle royal, to become the number one contender to the Women's Championship. After the match, Melina and Phoenix engaged in a confrontation over a fan of Phoenix's named Rosa Mendes, who had pushed Melina. On January 25, 2009, Melina won her third WWE Women's Championship at the Royal Rumble by defeating Phoenix by countering Beth's Glam Slam into a roll up pin.
Brand switches and Divas Champion (2009–2010)
On April 13, 2009 episode of Raw, Melina was drafted back to SmackDown as a part of the 2009 WWE Draft, thus making the WWE Women's Championship exclusive to the brand. She began a feud with Michelle McCool, who was named as the No. 1 contender to the title. McCool attacked Melina after her victory over Alicia Fox on the June 19 episode of SmackDown. Melina lost her Women's Championship to McCool at The Bash after interference from Alicia Fox and failed to regain it at Night of Champions. She then pinned Michelle in singles and tag team matches thus earning a shot at the Women's Championship against McCool, but lost after Beth Phoenix interfered.
On October 12, Melina was traded back to the Raw brand in a tri-branded trade that was announced by the night's guest host Nancy O'Dell of Access Hollywood and went on to win the WWE Divas Championship from the new Divas Champion Jillian Hall, who had won the belt from Mickie James only a few minutes earlier. After defending the Championship in Hall's contractual rematch, Melina went on to feud with new number one contender Alicia Fox, again successfully retaining her title. On December 29, at a WWE live event at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, Melina tore her ACL during a six-woman tag team match; she relinquished the Divas Championship on January 4 due to her injury.
Melina made her return on the August 2 edition of Raw, attacking WWE Divas Champion Alicia Fox after a six-woman tag team match in which she, Jillian Hall, and Tamina defeated Eve Torres, Gail Kim, and Natalya. At SummerSlam, Melina defeated Fox to capture the WWE Divas Championship for the second time in her career. After the match, she was attacked by Michelle McCool and WWE Women's Champion Layla. At the 900th episode of Raw, after winning a match, she was challenged by either Layla or McCool to a match at Night of Champions, to unify the WWE Women's and WWE Divas Championships. At Night of Champions, Melina lost the Divas Championship to McCool after she was attacked by Layla during the match.
Heel Turn and Release (2010–2011)
On the December 6 episode of Raw, Melina displayed a heel persona after losing a non-title match to Divas Champion Natalya when she left the ring while Natalya was being attacked by LayCool. On the December 20 episode of Raw, Melina defeated Eve Torres and Alicia Fox in a #1 Contender's Triple Threat Match, and subsequently slapped Natalya, who had attempted to congratulate her following her victory, turning Melina villainous. When the two fought for the Divas Championship on the January 24, 2011 edition of Raw, Melina was defeated. Following her failure to capture the championship, Melina mainly appeared on WWE Superstars. Melina made her return to Raw on May 23, 2011, where she teamed up with Brie and Nikki Bella, and Maryse against Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim and Eve Torres in an eight-Diva tag team match. However, the match ended in no-contest following an interruption from Kharma. On the June 2 edition of WWE Superstars, Melina was defeated by Gail Kim in a singles match, while claiming that Kim wasn't a good friend. On June 9 edition of WWE Superstars, she teamed up with Maryse to defeat Gail Kim and Eve Torres. On the June 13 All-Star edition of Raw, Melina lost a 7 on 7 divas tag team match teaming with The Bella Twins, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, Maryse and Tamina in a losing effort to Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim, Eve Torres, Natalya, AJ and Kaitlyn. On the June 23 edition of WWE Superstars, Melina lost again against Gail Kim in a singles match. On the August 1 edition of RAW, Perez participated in a #1 Contender's Battle Royal, however she was the first participant eliminated.
On August 5, 2011, WWE announced that Perez had been released from her WWE contract.
Independent circuit and international tour (2011–2012)
Perez appeared on the World Wrestling Fan Xperience (WWFX) Champions Showcase Tour in Manila, Philippines on February 4, 2012, where she wrestled under her real name. On February 5, 2012 episode of WWFX, Melina defeated former WWE Diva Jillian Hall.
Melina appeared at the Family Wrestling Entertainment event, signing autographs and serving as Eric Young's valet as he became the new FWE Heavyweight Champion. At the Empire City Showdown, on August 20, Melina made her debut for Family Wrestling Entertainment in a segment with Charlie and Jackie Haas. On April 28 edition of FWE Television, Melina was defeated by Winter with Lita as the special guest referee to retain the FWE Women's Championship.
From June 30 to July 2, 2012, Melina took part in World Wrestling Council's (WWC) Anniversario weekend in Puerto Rico. On the first two nights, Melina defeated Velvet Sky in singles matches, but on the final night, she and Davey Richards were defeated in a mixed tag team match by Sky and Xix Savant.
Lucha Underground (2015)
Return to the Independent Circuit (2015-present)
On June 19, 2015, Melina appeared at Maryland Championship Wrestling's Ladies Night event; returning to the independent circuit for the first time in three years. Melina appeared as the Outside Enforcer in the MCW Women's Championship main event match between champion Amber Rodriguez and challenger Mickie James, which was officiated by Lisa Marie Varon. Melina turned heel and attacked James, but was on the receiving end of Varon's Widow's Peak.
On October 16, 2015, Melina made her debut for Japanese promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom, during their first American tour in Covina, California. In her first match in three years, Melina teamed with Santana Garrett in a victorious effort against Hudson Envy and Thunder Rosa.
She was in a long term relationship with John Hennigan, previously known as Johnny Nitro and now as John Morrison, whom she managed on-screen. After their break up, Perez was in a short-term relationship with wrestler Dave Batista, who claims that the duo began their relationship after his divorce from his wife. Perez and Hennigan later began dating again.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Bow and arrow stretch
- Bridging evasion transitioned into a kick to the head
- Camel clutch
- Divastator (Multiple kicking combinations)
- Diving double knee drop to an opponent trapped horizontally in the turnbuckles
- Diving seated senton pin
- Double leg nelson
- Jackknife pin
- Hair–pull head stomp
- Handspring back elbow smash
- Kranium Buster (Flipping neckbreaker)
- Neckscissors choke to a cornered opponent transitioned into a headscissors takedown
- Neckscissors transitioned into an axe kick
- Pendulum backbreaker submission
- Rolling front chancery takedown
- Rope aided calf kick to the neck of a cornered opponent
- Rope hung Boston crab
- Rope hung dragon sleeper
- Running big boot dropped into the splits followed by a jumping roundhouse kick to a kneeling opponent
- Running double knee to back of opponent on the ropes
- Spinning headscissors transitioned into a back kick, a Fujiwara armbar, or a facebuster
- Split–legged hangman's neckbreaker
- Wrestlers managed
- "The A–List Diva"
- "The Barracuda"
- "The (self–proclaimed) Most Dominant Diva in the WWE"
- "The Paparazzi Princess"
- "The Red Carpet Diva"
Championships and accomplishments
- Queen of the Ring (2016)