The former Nikki and Brie Bella, also known collectively as the Bella Twins, announced Wednesday that they are leaving World Wrestling Entertainment and embarking on “a new chapter” — with new names.
From now on, the retired pro wrestlers, TV personalities and podcast hosts will go professionally by their birth names, Nikki and Brie Garcia. The duo reflected on their decision to exit WWE after 17 years on the latest episode of their podcast, “The Nikki & Brie Show.”
“We’re gonna be 40 in November. We’re mothers. We’re entrepreneurs. We’re executive producers. We’re … hosting shows. And when our contract came up with WWE, we mutually … knew we just needed to head into this new chapter,” Nikki Garcia said.
“We are so grateful for the past 17 years. I have learned so much in and out of that ring. I’ve traveled all over the world. I have an incredible fandom from over 146 countries. … And sometimes you come to this part of your life where you’re like, ‘Let’s go separate ways.’ This doesn’t mean it’s forever, but we just know that it’s right.”
Brie Garcia added that departing WWE is something the sisters had “thought about for a while” and “has been years coming.” Both women expressed gratitude for their longtime alter egos while looking forward to exploring their full creative potential.
It’s unclear if the Garcia twins are planning to make an appearance at this year’s Wrestlemania event, which is scheduled to take place April 1 and 2 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. A representative for WWE did not immediately respond Wednesday to The Times’ request for comment.
“I just want to thank Brie Bella … the character that … I have been,” Brie Garcia said. “I want to say thank you to that name because it caused a lot of change in my life and in many lives, and it did a lot of great things for me.”
“I am so beyond grateful for Nikki Bella,” Nikki Garcia echoed. “She empowered me. She inspired me. She truly made me become fearless. And I found so much of what I had inside … I lost that person, and it took Nikki Bella to bring her out. And so I will always be forever grateful for her and look up to who that person was.”
At the top of Wednesday’s episode, the siblings also revealed the reason they decided to return to their “roots” and reintroduce themselves as the Garcia twins. Though they considered adopting their spouses’ last names, ultimately the pair opted to “take it way back to … birth.”
Nikki and Brie Garcia are married to “Dancing With the Stars” pro Artem Chigvintsev and wrestler Bryan Danielson, respectively.
“We didn’t want to move in our next chapter with our married names, [despite] how much we love our husbands,” Nikki Garcia said. “Our dad right now is doing backflips. He’s super excited. He’s super happy. … We love our Mexican culture, and let’s go back to Garcia — how everyone knew us.”