AEW’s Thunder Rosa responds to ‘sandbagging’ accusations

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Thunder Rosa, who is auctioning off her “Double or Nothing” ring gear to help the victims and families of the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting, is at the start of her reign as AEW women’s world champion. With the “Forbidden Door” pay-per-view approaching, the champ took time for some Q&A with Post pro wrestling columnist Joseph Staszewski.

(Edited for clarity and length)

Q: What do you think needs to be done to push the AEW women’s division forward? Do you feel like everything is being done at the moment?

A: I think there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of longer storylines. I think that will help tremendously in advancing women’s wrestling. Just going back to different things or revisiting stories or having stories that are intertwined or having stables, really strong stables that go after one another. I think that makes it a lot (more) interesting and a lot more fun for the viewers and for the performers. I definitely think that can be made.

Q: You talk about having stables for the women. We see that a lot on the men’s side. There are a million three-man, five-man guys groups, but there isn’t that for the women. You feel like that’s something that can help tie some storylines together and make it easier?

A: Absolutely, because then you don’t necessarily have to have singles matches all the time. You can throw tag matches, you can do three on threes, do like a scramble. There are so many ways you can do different things. It builds so much stories that’s not necessarily one person or the other. It’s the whole entire group. I’m used to that because I was in Japan. That’s how it was. There were stables. I was part of a stable. Everyone has a little storyline and the same thing in (my) promotion (Mission Pro Wrestling), an all-female promotion, we have stables with different girls and they go after each other. It enriches everything a lot more.   

Thunder Rosa and Toni Storm
AEW

Q: You have never wrestled Toni Storm before. Does it feel like she should be the next person up for a title shot and is she someone you’d be interested fighting down the line?

A: There is an open challenge, so anyone has a take on it. So if she’s ready and she wants a piece of me, I’m ready. It’s like Little Caesars, I’m hot and ready. 

Q: What do you want people, other female wrestlers up and coming, to take away from your journey? You paid your dues and stuck with the smaller promotions and have taken advantage of the break in AEW.

A: I’d say, always stick to your guns. Do things your way. Be respectful and work hard to get where you want to get. Nobody can take away when you work hard and you earn the opportunities that you have and you continue to work hard no matter what. I think that will be my legacy and even when you are on top, you continue to work hard to build for you and for others, because once you leave you’re gonna see the same people that you came back with, so always make sure you’re respectful and you do as much as you can to leave the place better than you found it.

Q: With that being said, did you see the online criticism of your match with Marina Shafir and the tweet her and Britt Baker liked regarding it?  

 A: I have nothing to say. Like I said, I have just blessings to everyone, to every single person. I’m focusing on what is in front of me and I’m focusing on making the division better as much as possible, whatever’s in my hands. That’s all I have to say.

Q: So you don’t agree with the inference that you weren’t playing ball or ‘sandbagging’ her or anything like that?

A: I don’t like to get into those comments. I have respect for my opponents all the time.

AEW
Thunder Rosa deliver a kick to Marina Shafir
AEW

Q: What do you think the legacy of you and Britt Baker’s feud will be, especially with the level of physicality and violence you two had that we don’t really see in mainstream female wrestling?

A: I was really glad we made that happen and we brought up another layer of female professional wrestling into the mainstream. I am proud that I am part of it and I am proud that for many, many years my name will be in the history books and I’m proud that (lights-out match in 2021) was match of the year. I can say that to everyone. If I have grandkids, I’ll be like, “Your grandmother was part of a really cool match and she was able to change the landscape of a professional wrestling without being signed (at the time) by a major company.”

Q: Do you have anyone in mind you’d like to face at “Forbidden Door” if there is a match there for you?

A: There are so many wrestlers from so many different companies, especially joshi wrestlers that I haven’t been able to wrestle them. Dash (Chisako) is one of them. I wrestled her in a tag match many, many years ago, but she’s an excellent talent. She likes to do some extreme stuff. She’s a lot of fun and she’s a high flyer and stuff. She’s so much fun to work with. I worked with her before and I don’t think the United States has seen enough of her and what she can do. Hiroyo (Matsumoto). She is one of the tallest wrestlers in Japan and she’s super hardcore. I always enjoyed seeing her in Japan and I think that will be really, really cool.

Q: You trained with Cris Cyborg recently and had a “match” with her. Do you think pro wrestling is something she would be interested in at some point?

A: She’s interested in pro wrestling. She’s so much fun. She’s so wild. She is such a hustler and such a hardworking person. I have so much respect for her. She works so hard for her brand and she works so hard to help other women. I think it will be cool for her if she gets the opportunity to step in the ring.

Q: Do you think she’d pick it up quickly?

A: Sometimes it’s hard, man. Coming from another martial art, some people find it really, really simple and for some people it’s really hard. It’s like for us when we jump into MMA. For some people, if you have the background, it’s natural. For some of us, Jesus Christ it’s another language and you have to put a lot of work in. I hope she can make it and she can have a match or two or maybe have a career after MMA.

Q: You have your hands in so many different things, whether it’s your YouTube channel, you’re working on a music album, you’re running your own promotion (Mission Pro Wrestling). Why has that always been so important to you to test yourself in different areas and have your hands in so many different things?

A: I don’t want to sound a little bit all in my head, but when you’re multi-talented you have to test everything. I think because when I was young I was not allowed to express my artistic side so much and now because I’m an entertainer and professional athlete I have the means to do it, and I know that if I train and that I put all my efforts I will be successful with what I do. That’s why I have been working on writing songs, taking singing classes.

The little thing, “Oh my god I want to do radio, I think it will be great.” Now I do Busted Open Radio on Fridays, I have one hour. I’ve done commentary before for Spanish (broadcast). There might be an opportunity for me to do it in another place. I’m super excited these opportunities are coming because people in these different places and these different companies believe in the talent that I bring to their pool. I just want to do it and try it before I kick the bucket, so when I’m old I can tell my kids, “Hey, I did everything I wanted to do.”

Q: Why had you not been able to express some of your creativity in the past?

A: When you grew up in the way that I grew up, I had to help my family with money. So I’ve been working since I was 14 because we had to pay rent and do all this stuff. There was no time for fun. There was no time for sports. There was time for us to bring the money, put money on the table so we can feed ourselves, so we can pay our rent, so I can go to school. So there was not an opportunity for me to explore all that.

God gave me the opportunity to be where I am and now I’m able to do that. I’m able to provide for my (16-year-old) son (Anakin), who wrestles with me now. We’re going to go wrestle this Saturday together. We’re a tag, mom and son. It’s pretty cool. I always tell him the world is his oyster and he can do whatever he wants, especially from the support he has from me and from his father.

Q: Where are you going to tag with your son?

A: We are going to go to Los Angeles to Midsommar with the Republic of Lucha with the Lucha Brothers in their store. I’m really excited. This is our first road trip together as a tag team.

Q: You have your own Brand Army site and a lot of female wrestlers have started doing things similar. How has that changed things economically for female wrestlers now?

A: It give you some extra freedom to utilize that money. A lot of the money, I use it back to my artistic endeavors. I report everything so it goes back to the fans so they can see the process. That’s why my YouTubes are an hour and half alone on my Brand Army. It’s a lot of work, man. People think being a content creator is easy. No, it’s like you have to travel, you have to do photoshoots, you have to document everything. My favorite part besides the financial freedom is there interactions I get with the fans.    





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