Thunder Rosa Talks AEW Dynamite Main Event with Britt Baker, MMA, NWA and MoreMarch 17, 2021
The All Elite Wrestling women's division has produced some standout stars since the company launched in 2019. Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Riho and Hikaru Shida have been there since the start. A recent addition who has been getting a lot of praise from fans is Thunder Rosa.
The former NWA women's world champion got her first taste of national exposure with Lucha Underground and went on to compete with promotions such as Ring of Honor, Women of Wrestling and Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling before finding her way to AEW.
We had a chance to speak with the 34-year-old this week ahead of her main event Lights Out match against Baker on Dynamite about her feud with the Doctor, MMA, how she got into wrestling and much more.
In 2014, Melissa Cervantes decided to completely change her career trajectory by going from being a social worker in Oakland, California to becoming a professional wrestler.
That is when Thunder Rosa was born, although she has also gone by names such as Kobra Moon and Serpiente over the years.
"I was 26 years old and between jobs," Rosa said. "I was a social worker for four years prior to that. It was a difficult time mentally in my life. I was dealing with inner-city kids and adults in Oakland in the Bay Area. Professional wrestling was my out from my reality. My husband was the one who encouraged me to do something interesting and new in my life. Being in the ring is like theater. I did a lot of theater when I was younger. When I was little, I wanted to be a soap opera actress. When I found pro wrestling, it was a marriage of violence and performance and that is what I needed at the time."
Finding the right trainer is important for any athlete's success. There are a lot of pro wrestling schools across the country, but Rosa found the one that was right for her in her own backyard.
"I attended Gold Rush APW Boot Camp in Pacifica, California," she said. "I was trained by Dylan Drake and Matt Carlos, who I am still in contact with. Every time they see me succeed, I send them a signed article. Every time I go to the Bay Area, I thank them for being so hard on me and never giving up on me because I was the one who wanted to quit 50,000 times. Sara Amato and Cheerleader Melissa graduated from there, so the shoes to fill are so big. I want to continue the legacy of very strong women who come out of that school."
Changing careers is never easy for an adult, especially when that person decides to pursue a role in sports or entertainment. Rosa made sure to acknowledge how the support system she had at home allowed her to chase her dream.
"We always make decisions as a family," she said. "My husband decided to work full time so I could focus solely on becoming a pro athlete. That is when my career took off. That is why you see me here about to be in the first women's main event in AEW."
This Wednesday, Thunder Rosa will face Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D in a Lights Out match that will also mark the first time two women will main-event Dynamite.
"You should know by now that I am coming for every limb Britt Baker has," Rosa said. "She has been punking me for the last five months. At the end of the day, I do what I want to do and I have my strategy. No matter what, I am winning this fight. This is not just a match for me. I look at this like I am getting in the cage, so that is how I am preparing mentally."
With the advent of the AEW Women's World Championship Eliminator Tournament and matches on AEW Dark and Elevation, the women's division has been getting more opportunities in the fledgling promotion recently.
And Rosa recognises her contest with Baker has a role to play in furthering the development of women's wrestling.
"As a female athlete, to be in the main event in a major company in the United States, it's everything," she said. "If you know my story, you know I come from very humble beginnings. I never thought I would be doing sports on television like this. It's the wildest thing I could ever wish for, and I am very proud of it. It has been seven years in the making.
"This feud has made me realize the importance of story, and I'm not just talking about one match in the ring. It has to have consistency. Baker is doing that, but she has messed with the wrong woman. I have proved to everybody in the world that I am one of the baddest and toughest athletes in the business. She should be afraid."
In addition to fighting inside the squared circle, Rosa has also been pursuing a career in MMA.
She had her first fight with Combates Americas on Nov 8, 2019, against Nadine Mandiau. She lost in the third round but plans to step back into the cage again when the opportunity arises.
"I am focused on pro wrestling, but I am contractually obligated to complete my Combates Americas contract," Rosa said. "I am just waiting for a date. I am excited for this challenge. MMA is different than training for pro wrestling, and I can't wait to get back in the cage. This time, I am more ready mentally than I was in my first fight."
Rosa is also a member of the NWA women's roster and a former world champion of the division.
The Billy Corgan-backed promotion had to take a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a new partnership with Fite TV to broadcast its weekly Powerrr show and the upcoming Back for the Attack pay-per-view have put it back on track.
Thunder Rosa is advertised for the PPV but we still don't know if she will just be appearing or if she will have a match. When asked about the event and her future with NWA, she said "I am just riding the wave right now. Wherever they send me, that's where I go."
Her current feud with Baker is one of her most high-profile storylines to date, but the program that got her noticed by AEW fans was against Serena Deeb for the NWA Women's Championship.
"I loved working with Serena Deeb," Rosa said. "I can't wait to take the NWA championship out of her hands. She is someone who will challenge you in different ways than anybody else. She is very technical and very story-driven. I pride myself on being somebody who loves psychology in pro wrestling. Telling a great story is so important. Working with the young talents on Dark has been great fun. I get to learn a lot because you get to work with different styles."
When it comes to dream matches, Rosa prefers to focus on building interesting stories than facing anyone in particular. However, she did mention one woman who she would love to face if the opportunity presented itself.
"She is retired but Sarah Stock was my inspiration," she said. "I identify with her because she is a Canadian who became a Superstar in Mexico. I was born in Mexico and came to the United States, and I have been able to become a star in a place that is not my homeland. She is one I would love to wrestle. I don't have a lot of dream matches. My goal is to build strong feuds and have fun with my opponents. I want to learn and try new things. Every time I have had a dream match, I have been let down, so I just want to learn and have fun."
Pro wrestling has a long history of Superstars painting their faces like the warriors of ancient civilizations as they prepared for battle. Legends like Sting, The Road Warriors and Luna Vachon have all used facepaint to create interesting characters. Thunder Rosa is carrying on this tradition with her own unique style and the help of AEW's makeup artist, Janet Ventriglia.
"At AEW, I have been so blessed to have Janet. I love her," Rosa said. "She has been doing my makeup for the past couple of months, and she makes me look fire. I love to give my makeup artist the freedom of creation and we tune it to our emotions. She made me look so good at Revolution."
When she isn't trying to break the limbs of her opponents. Rosa said she finds it hard to fill her free time sometimes. She talked about how spending time with her family is important during her off days.
"I am very anxious. I will fold clothes and put them away for hours sometimes. I just got into playing the Oculus. My son and I have battles all the time. I live in San Antonio so I love going to the river walk to sit down at a restaurant with some chips and queso. When we go to the beach, I like to sit and be a beach bum. It's nice not to have to sit with my phone and answer 50,000 emails, but I don't get to do that too often."
Thunder Rosa will face Britt Baker in an Unsanctioned Lights Out match on Wednesday's episode of Dynamite, and she will also be at the upcoming NWA Back for the Attack PPV on Sunday, March 21.
Check out our previous interview with Baker here.