In an exclusive interview with Fightful, independent wrestler Thunder Rosa shared her experiences as a Mexican-American wrestler in a difficult industry, her new character at Women of Wrestling (WOW), and her new found love for MMA.
Rosa made her wrestling debut in 2014 at a Supreme Pro Wrestling show in Sacramento. The Mexican-American wrestler continued to wrestle throughout California during her first year as a wrestler, in various independent promotions, until she made her debut at Stardom. The move to a bigger stage came relatively early in her career, in 2015.
During the second season of Lucha Underground, Rosa debuted as the leader of the Reptile Tribe under the name Kobra Moon. Her work at Lucha Underground led to her nomination for the 2015 Southern California Rookie of the Year Award. When she returned for season 3, her work was noticed again, and she won the 2016 Southern California Women's Wrestler of the Year Award.
Rosa has also had matches with SHINE, Ring of Honor, and Reality of Wrestling since debuting. With her new season at WOW, Rosa reflected on how Lucha Underground contributed to her success so early-on in her career, saying, "It really gave me an advantage, to bring something different to the table of WOW."
With the landscape in wrestling constantly changing, Rosa was asked why she chose to work with WOW.
"Well, really, because it's something completely different than what is on TV, right now. You don't have women's wrestling shows, like, all women's wrestling shows, playing on TV. I feel like that WOW has a great, gives a great platform, a great opportunity for us as performers and wrestlers to show the world that, you know, we're just as great of athletes as anybody else in this business," said Rosa.
When Rosa was asked if she was ever contacted by All Elite Wrestling (AEW) or WWE, she stated she was pleased with her career as it is, now.
"I was [contacted by WWE], but not on what I was expecting. AEW, I have not been contacted by them. I have been contacted by other companies. Right now, I'm staying as independent as possible. I'm honestly really happy right now, with what I'm doing," said Rosa.
In the first season of WOW, Rosa appeared as her Lucha Underground character, Kobra Moon. For the second season, Rosa has a new superhero persona, Serpentine. Rosa explained her new persona was due to contractual issues with Lucha Underground, who wouldn't let her use the name Kobra Moon. Rosa seemed pleased with the changes.
"David McLane decided it would be best to create a character that belongs to Women of Wrestling," she specified. "I feel more comfortable in my new character than when I was Kobra Moon. WOW allows me, as a performer, to really develop a character."
Wrestler Holidead is a frequent tag team partner of Rosa's, and the other half of the Twisted Sisterz also happens to be on the WOW roster. Rosa was asked if there were any plans to form a tag team with Holidead in WOW, or if she was slated for a singles push, primarily.
"It's been singles, mostly. I can't really talk about the future, because I don't really know. They allow me to do a lot of things, which is really awesome, because I was not able to do a lot of that previously, in Lucha Underground," said Rosa.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Rosa joined a class action lawsuit with fellow wrestlers Ivelisse Velez, Joey Ryan, and Jorge Luis Alcantar against El Rey Network, Lucha Underground, and Baba-G, the production company behind Lucha Underground. The lawsuit claimed the Lucha Underground contracts were not legal within the state of California, and unfairly restricted the wrestlers from the ability to work as a wrestler in other promotions.
Rosa compared her struggles with Lucha Underground to her struggles as a woman of color in wrestling, mentioning, historically, treatment of Mexican wrestlers was "disrespectful".
"We have a disadvantage in the business, and yeah, people will take advantage of you. They don't either give you opportunities you think you deserve, or they don't give you a push. It's important that as we of people of color, and I'm a citizen, and I'm really proud of being a citizen, that we're treated with respect, and we're treated right," Rosa said.
Being extremely outspoken on the topic of fair treatment in wrestling, Rosa states moving to a new country, learning a new language, and becoming a wrestler when she was almost 30 years old is an example of how hard she is willing to work to do well in this industry, and recognizes the same ambition in all of the women at WOW.
"There's no stopping us. What we stand for is that, we're superheroes. Women on this roster are superheroes in many different aspects."
Rosa became a U.S. citizen in February, and has expressed how much her career has changed for the better, since.
As a long-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu devotee, it was announced last week that Rosa had been training for her debut in the MMA circuit. Squared Circle Sirens reported first that Rosa would likely be signed by Combate Americas to start her career in MMA. ESPN confirmed the report on Friday, with the announcement that Rosa signed with Combate Americas to a multi-fight contract, and was expected to fight on the Nov. 8 card in San Antonio.
When asked about her upcoming MMA debut, Rosa was excited, and stated her life today gave her energy she never knew she could have. Rosa claimed training for MMA gave her new purpose, adding "I'm learning to love myself, even more."
Rosa was asked if she had any last thoughts for women's wrestling fans, who are experiencing all of the riptides the industry is creating.
"I really want everyone to support WOW-- in the future, and now."
Make sure to catch Serpentine in action by tuning into Women of Wrestling on AXS TV every Saturday night, at 8 p.m. EST.