Nikki Bella is walking away from the ring with mixed emotions.
On Wednesday, the Total Bellas star, 35, stopped by The Tonight Show with her twin sister Brie, where she opened up to Jimmy Fallon about making the difficult decision to retire from the WWE.
Though both sisters shared how sad it was to give up their wrestling careers for good, Nikki said she found it particularly challenging because she was forced into it after experiencing health issues, as opposed to Brie, who made the choice as a new mom.
“For me, I really wanted to go back and fight for the tag titles,” Nikki explained on the show. “I’ve always had my neck issues and after neck surgery, it hasn’t been OK. I feel like I needed to get a checkup before we went back for the tag titles.”
“The results came back and I herniated the disc above where I had surgery, I have all this inflammation around the metal and then I have a cyst on my brain,” she continued. “They were like, ‘You’re done, no more,’ so I didn’t get a choice, which sucks.”
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Although she didn’t get too much into detail about her brain cyst, the former wrestler spoke to TMZ the following day, where she shared more about the “scary” discovery and how she was feeling “bummed” over her forced retirement.
“I can’t compete… They found a cyst on my brain, which thank god, it’s benign,” she revealed on Thursday, noting that despite the terrifying experience, she still had an optimistic attitude.
“It’s super scary, it’s something you’re never gonna hear but I’m so grateful,” she continued. “I’m grateful for my health, I’m grateful it’s benign. It’s something that you have to watch out for the rest of your life because you never know how it can change, but I’m definitely grateful because people go through it worse.”
The star also stressed the importance of going to the doctor for check-ups, especially when suspecting there may be something wrong. “Trust your gut; if you don’t feel right, go get it handled!” she advised.
While she might be out of the ring now, Nikki said she’s hopeful for a possible return and wouldn’t completely rule it out as an option.
“I believe in miracles, you never know!” she told TMZ. “We’ll see what the man upstairs has in store for me.”
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The professional wrestler first announced her retirement from the WWE during the season finale of Total Bellas in March.
While at dinner with her family, Nikki explained that being a part of the WWE European tour helped her realize that she was ready to walk away from her professional wrestling career.
“I just feel like I’m too old for that travel. So I realized like, why am I doing this — I don’t feel good,” she explained. “I really am ready to hang up the jersey. Like, I can say it fully.”
“Being on the European tour, I’ve had a lot of time to think,” Nikki continued. “Just how my body feels, being away from my company, how time-consuming this is.”
“It’s making me realize I am ready to fold the jersey and put it away. I’m ready to put the kicks aside and I’m ready to take Nikki Bella into a different direction.”
Bella joined the WWE back in 2007 and made her SmackDown debut alongside her sister Brie the following year. She was the WWE Divas champion twice.
In 2015, the star broke her neck and underwent a risky surgery to fix it. She later opened up about the experience to PEOPLE, noting that many of the other wrestlers did not want to compete with her after recovering.
“All the girls would be like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to re-injure you,’ ” she explained. “That kind of took me by surprise because I was like, ‘Wait, what? I just had the toughest journey of my life, I came back in record time and now people don’t want to get in the ring with me?’”
She eventually proved everyone wrong when she made her comeback debut during SummerSlam in August 2016.
“That was an incredible moment,” she recalled to PEOPLE in Oct. 2017. “I literally was told, ‘You have that one percent chance of getting back in that ring,’ and when I did, woo!”
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