KC Navarro: Blessed: A Fightful Feature

At 23 years old, and with the world ahead of you, you can't forget what's behind you, and what built you.

For KC Navarro, who already has almost 300 matches behind him. All good things willing, there will be thousands ahead of him.

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He passes the eye test as he speaks to me at the Nashville Fairgrounds. His ability to stand out was evident. He caught looks from curious fans as we set up in front of an NJPW ring. He wasn't even booked to wrestle in.

KC started wrestling as a teenager. It's not surprising that his path began earlier than most.

"I knew very young. Like my mom—she would know better than me—but before my dad went into the military, I just sat watching all the time. So, the Rock was still there. That’s what I grew up on. Do I really remember everything? Absolutely not. But I do remember watching it. That was like my Barney the Dinosaur, and that was—what’s the new thing now? Yo Gabba Gabba or maybe CoComelon. Yes! That was my CoComelon. I just knew, and then when I was about five years old, I knew this is what I want to go for. Then when I went to middle school and I got bullied really bad, and I was told that I was too small and I’ll never do it, called every name in the book, I knew I would prove those kids wrong. Then that’s what I did."

So, Navarro started out young. That's not tough math based on his experience and age. Today, it seems more common than before. Jordan Oliver. Jordynne Grace. Saraya. Each experienced their own ups and downs. But it didn't go so well early on for KC. Navarro was outright booted from his first wrestling school.

"I got kicked out of wrestling school. I was told I wasn’t humble. I was fifteen years old; I didn’t really know much. I was just an excited kid that was living his dream, obviously. Excited to get in the ring, jump around. Yes, sir. I said I wasn’t humble and I wouldn’t make it anywhere like that. That crushed me because I was only fifteen. Every time I ask people that were there, they say it wasn’t that. I was just an excited fifteen-year-old kid and I was at a show and the company put me over before the trainer could and that upset him. So, I guess it was just an excuse. I don’t know. I don’t think I ever will know because I never had that conversation with that guy. I’ve seen him multiple times, just a hi and bye. But I never had that conversation with him. No bad blood at all now. I only wrestled, maybe, three matches, and that was under my trainer. So, I didn’t know what was going to happen (after that)," Navarro was transparent about how things had unfolded.

Fortunately for Navarro, there was a helpful face from the beginning. One that was finding his way himself. You know him as AEW World Tag Team Champion Anthony Bowens of the Acclaimed. Back then, he was an experienced independent talent still working to gain a foothold in the wrestling world. Still, he had enough experience to help an eager, youthful talent.

"He was there day one when I walked into wrestling school," Navarro said. "Luckily for me, Anthony Bowens and Danny Maff, who used to be in Ring of Honor, who used to be one of my trainers, made sure that my dream didn’t die and they put me in contact with the right people. I just kept grinding, never looked back. I love Anthony Bowens. He’s always a big brother figure to me. I mean there was a time where I was in high school and I had a project and the project was we needed to write something on somebody that we knew that was doing our dream job. The first person I had was Anthony Bowens ‘cause he was doing his WWE tryouts at the time. He was going to England. It was funny ‘cause he was supposed to be going to England and they said if we could bring the person in, we’d get an automatic A and I begged Anthony Bowens and the day before or a few hours before he had to fly out to London, he came to my school and got me that A+."

Bowens is known as one of the "good guys" in wrestling, despite that brash, obnoxious persona. It appears that was one of the things that rubbed off on Navarro.

"The moment KC joined wrestling school he had a large hill to climb," Bowens told Fightful. "He so young, training with a class full of grown men that probably in some cases 100lbs on him. But I as I coached him, I saw he had the most heart of any of the students and anything you showed him he picked up almost immediately. You could tell he SOMETHING but only time would tell. Eventually he ended up not part of the school anymore and it broke my heart. I remember him calling me devastated and hearing the sadness in his voice. So I basically told him if he really wanted this, he has to keep going and if he ever needed any advice along the way, always feel free reach out. He took me up on that offer from time to time and as the years went by we spoke more often and he ended up becoming one of my best friends in the business. I consider him to be like a little brother and I’m beyond proud to see all that he’s overcome."

Similarly, Anthony Bowens was profiled by Fightful in 2019, and was met with glowing reviews from his peers. It's not tough to see why these two had a connection.

Fast forward to 2022.

If being humble was an issue for Navarro in wrestling school, it's not anymore. A few months before we first spoke with Navarro, he gave a fan-turned-friend and his family a tour of his new place of employment, Major League Wrestling. Along the way, he made sure his friend John met the likes of Enzo Amore and Alex Shelley. John's parents spoke openly about KC's kindness towards her son with autism, wherever he goes.

This wasn't just for MLW cameras. Navarro had long developed a connection with John, and told him wherever he went, he'd take their friendship with him.

"Roman (Reigns) would say, ‘I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m the guy,’ right? Well, I’m not good. I’m not bad. I’m just blessed, okay? I love my autistic fans. I did a whole fundraiser for autism this year. I raised over $2,500 dollars, donated the whole thing. So, no matter what, if people are booing me, I honestly don’t care. Because John Squad, who was in the videos, in the front row is cheering me on, I’m giving him a big hug," Navarro told me, smiling ear to ear. "His mom, very sweet woman—always thanking me, always shooting messages telling me how much I helped their son. He’s got my wrestling buddy that he sleeps with, and when he was in the hospital for something that he had going on, the thing that kept him strong was that wrestling buddy. To think that little toy of me is making a kid stay strong through whatever they’re going through, that’s John Cena stuff. It’s insane. It’s awesome."

Now, let’s hop back in that time machine to 2017, when Navarro was still working to get noticed.

The teenage Navarro was kicked to the curb in September, and had his first match in October. From wrestling in his backyard and overcoming that stigma, to getting the boot from wrestling school, to trying to find work as a 15-year-old pro wrestler.

Even early on, Bowens wasn't Navarro's only influence. Navarro has a wrestling-famous sister. Many don't know it, but his big sister is IMPACT veteran, LAX alumni, and All Elite Wrestling regular Diamante.

Diamante and Navarro purposely kept the fact that they were siblings quiet. "Some knew, but it wasn't heavily mentioned, and for good reason," Diamante told me.

"I always wanted him to carve his own path," she said. "He’s got personality drippin out his pores, he’s ridiculously athletic, he can talk for days on that microphone, he’s an all around entertainer. I’ve always tried to guide him in the right direction and I just made sure no one takes advantage of a young kid coming up in this biz, so I will co sign him all day to let others know, you mess with him you have to deal with me and I will find you. But that’s just me looking out for him. I didn’t think he needed to be connected to someone to make it to the big times. I knew KC would get into wrestling after being bullied in school, he couldn’t stand people picking on him cause he was small or cause he liked wrestling, so many people told him he could and would never be a wrestler. Being a huge fan of John Cena, KC found inspiration in him early on and I just saw the flip switch in his head. Honestly, he felt just like me, he found what made him happy, what made him feel like he can be strong and stand up for himself, so I was with him wanting to get in the pro wrestling biz, I wanted him to know that with hard work and dedication anything is possible."

If you've ever seen the two wrestle, you'll realize that was a smart move. While they both share genetics and talent, the talent they possess is a stark contrast. They stand out. Without anyone telling you, you wouldn't know they were related.

Navarro sat sharply dressed and fresh off a plane. As mentioned, he wasn't booked in Nashville, but was willing to travel in to speak with Fightful for this feature. The trip wasn't fruitless, as he'd be networking at the Starrcast convention that immediately followed. His dedication to making things happen was evident. At that point, he was signed to Major League Wrestling and was the reigning Warrior Wrestling Champion.

“To steal a phrase from baseball, we believe KC Navarro is a five-tool player," Warrior Wrestling's Steve Tortorello said. "He has impeccable and innovative ring work, he has unique and compelling promo work, he has a specific and recognizable character, he has a million dollar look, and he has presence… that special ‘it’ factor that you just can’t teach." KC Navarro is carrying the banner for Warrior Wrestling because we believe he has all the assets to be a major wrestling star, and we want our brand associated with his greatness."

Navarro shared that excitement of being given the torch to carry for one of the biggest indies in the world.

"I am the Warrior Champion now. I am the guy there," he said. "You know, it’s been awesome. I’ve been getting all the matches I feel like I’ve been needing; the Rocky Romeros, the Mike Bennetts—who is my favorite, I love wrestling Mike Bennett. I will wrestle him any day of the week, love him. Follow him on Instagram and watch his motivation, he’s the best. Then getting the opportunity to work in the ring with Will Ospreay. How many people can say they did that at my age? Not that many. You got Blake Christian, Nick Wayne on that. But there’s not many people that can really say that and it was so cool to do that. (Maybe NJPW is next) I’m ready to do it, man. Rocky knows it, too. Rocky actually said that I remind him of him. So that’s a really good compliment. My story, getting kicked out, said I wasn’t humble, I wouldn’t get anywhere and for a company to really take me in and see that talent and potential, and really push me, that’s a dream. Warrior was a main place that I really wanted to be at for the last year. When they were blowing up and having all of these really cool shows, it was the place to be. I was like, ‘Man, I really want to be there.’ For them to reach out to me and me just kill it every time they throw something at me, and now I’m the Warrior champ? It means a lot to me."

It's not just Warrior Wrestling, but independent promotions across the country that see the star quality in Navarro.

"He is our Northeast Wrestling LIVE Champion," said Northeast Wrestling's Michael Lombardi. "From the onset, he has gotten over huge with our fans. Our regular monthly events with hardcore fans, and made fans out of families and WWE fans on huge events drawing 2000-2500 fans who came to the events to see stars like the Hardy's, NZO, Caz, John Morrison etc. KC has a charisma and style that appeals to everyone - especially children and women. He reminds me of Darby Allin who gained a big name in Northeast Wrestling - wrestling the likes of Penta, Fenix, Jon Moxley, etc. Darby will tell everyone that Northeast Wrestling and Cody Rhodes watching him against Penta on an NEW IPPV got Darby his job. KC reminds me of Darby with his ring style. Regardless of his size, KC works a fast hard style and everything he does is hard hitting. His dives outside the ring are similar to Darby's. He goes through the ropes like a torpedo - full speed taking out his opponents. He always gives it everything he has. I look at him as the next Darby or Rey Mysterio. He appeals to the fans and works a style like those two superstars."

When Black Label PRO, HOG, REVOLVER, Northeast Wrestling, Battle Slam, GCW and others took notice, it was only a matter of time before televised companies did too. In 2021, at just 22 years old, Navarro was offered a Major League Wrestling contract, after also working IMPACT Wrestling and AEW television.

Navarro said "MLW reached out to me for Battle Riot of 2021. It was very wild. I didn’t see it coming. But I knew it was gonna be a very good opportunity. At the time I was doing the IMPACT Super X Cup, AEW Dark. So I was like, ‘Man, if you add MLW? Awesome! I’ve never worked with them.’ [So I did that, came in, had a singles match, got super over in that singles match, didn’t come out with a W.] But in the Battle Riot I made it to the final four. That was a whole cool way to debut and then the fact that it felt like a really good fit. They offered me a deal, it worked out and here I am."

Between the time I spoke with KC Navarro in person -- Summerslam weekend in Nashville -- and publishing this article, Fightful learned that Navarro reached an amicable parting of the ways with Major League Wrestling. Both sides had positive things to say about the other, with MLW owner Court Bauer saying “Navarro was a good kid and was excited to see what the future held for him.”

We're told the immediate future doesn't include a non-compete clause, so Navarro can work wherever he wants. When asked around among top companies in the United States, multiple expressed interest in him, especially considering his path and the level he's already competed at. Navarro was on a per-appearance deal with MLW, and is now eyeing the future. The past year allowed him to work on MLW TV, but also prohibited him from continuing to pick up dates with All Elite Wrestling. Before his release, Navarro spoke about his decision to sign with MLW.

"I always think, ‘Is this gonna be a place that’s gonna make me happy? What can I do to make this place better?’ I know me being a smaller guy, it’s really hard. I’m only 5’6 and a half / 5’7. So for me, compared to an Alex Hammerstone, it’s very hard for people to believe in me. So I know that my character has to get over. The thing that I wanted to think of was, ‘Man, okay, MLW’s known, but I want to make it the place to be. How am I going to do that? What can I do to make it better? How can I make myself over there to get people behind me? So those are the things I kept in mind and I feel like right now it’s kind of working for me," Navarro said.

Navarro appeared nine times for AEW during the Daily's Place days between October 2020 and March 2021. He would team with various opponents primarily in enhancement work, but gained the experience of working against Dark Order, Jurassic Express, Sonny Kiss, Rey Fenix, Ricky Starks, Butcher & Blade, Top Flight and Joey Janela.

"I remember going to Brian Cage, I asked him, ‘Can I talk to you? What can I do? I just want to get out there.’ Brian put my name in. I showed up, showed out. They trusted me. They started booking me with guys like Top Flight, Sonny Kiss, Joey Janela, and Rey Fenix is the most known one. That was such a cool opportunity for me. I was there for about four months."

Those four months didn't lead to a contract, but for Navarro, he knows that's the business. It just wasn't his time.

"I’m the type of guy where I’m like, if God feels that it’s my time it will be my time and if it’s not happening right now, it’s not happening right now because it’s not my time," Navarro said. "I feel like I’m just getting a learning experience. I’m backstage with some legends in AEW. Sting was there, Jerry Lynn was my agent a couple of times, Billy Gunn. So it’s really cool to sit there and learn from them. Learned what Tony liked. ‘Cause I got to meet Tony and talk to him a couple of times. I definitely thought there was a shot after my Rey Fenix match was gonna happen, but it didn’t happen. So it just wasn’t my time. Obviously in MLW it was my time (at that point). That was a very scary time because there was no wrestling at all. No one knew what was gonna happen. But when the AEW opportunity started popping up and Tony Khan was giving guys like me an opportunity to have some work while we couldn’t get any work and some exposure at the same time, I felt a little more confident in that. ‘Cause at first I was just like, ‘This could be it.’ I was getting to my peak and now I’m going down. Which is the story of my career, I get to my peak, I get hurt, I get to my peak, get hurt. Now it’s like, I get to my peak? Pandemic hit. So it’s like, ‘Oh, I can’t win.’ But I felt like once IMPACT was trying to help bring guys into AEW, I was like, ‘Man, I have the chance to show out right now and it’s either earn a contract or when the world opens up, I’m gonna be the guy.’ That was my biggest goal."

Despite not picking up a contract, Navarro spoke well of his experience there. When asked if he had many or any interactions with AEW owner Tony Khan, the "Blessed" Navarro remembered a time when Khan was very kind regarding a match with an AEW original.

"Tony—he’s a very funny guy. The coolest moment that I had at AEW and I used to always make a joke of it. I would just be standing backstage and I feel like a nudge in my back. I’d turn around like, ‘What was that?’ I turn and it’s Tony laughing as he’s running away. I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ The coolest moment over that was after my match with Fenix, Bryce—my referee—said, ‘Hey, Tony wants to talk to you after the match.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my God. This is it.’ I go to the back and Tony very passionately got up, shook my hand and thanked me. ‘Cause they had someone beat him up and he needed a really good match to go into whatever match he had. He was so thankful. That meant a lot to me for him to take him out to just want to thank me. That meant a lot to me," Navarro said.

Not getting a deal right out of the gate is okay. It's not the end of the road, and Navarro will be the first to tell you that. He also won't tell you that everything is sunshine and rainbows. Behind the fancy clothes and his sunglasses, there is a little doubt when things don't go his way.

"There was times when I’d get discouraged, ‘Why isn’t this happening now?’ I see a lot of my friends get signed and I’m like, ‘Man, why isn’t it happening?’ But I forgot, I’m fifteen years old starting and I feel like I’m 25, but really I’m only twenty. I forget that age twenty is very young for this business. So I’m like, ‘What is my rush?’ I actually came to that realization after I signed with MLW, I was like, ‘What was the rush all about? That’s so dumb.’ I just turned 23. I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m still very, very young," said Navarro.

So often, wrestlers, performers, entertainers look for a catchphrase, a personality trait, or something to hitch their wagon to. For Navarro, he looked to his own childhood as his inspiration.

"Blessed" came about from his formative years, and in the same vein, have helped carry him through his formative years of professional wrestling. "Blessed" can be either inspiring or obnoxious, depending on what mood Navarro is in, or what the character dictates. As Navarro tells it, his hand was forced by an integral name who knows a thing or two about developing talent -- former EVOLVE owner Gabe Sapolsky.

"Actually it was my favorite word growing up. I used to be Kid Christian when I first started—KC, that’s what it stands for—and it never got me anywhere. Then I tried to brand myself, and I called myself a kid, dyed my hair, and then I blew my ACL out and I knew that wasn’t working for me either. I actually did EVOLVE tryouts with Gabe Sapolsky and he was like, ‘You need more personality.’ Which kind of stopped me because I was like, ‘Man, everybody says I have so much personality.’ So I knew I was doing this little gimmick for this one company where I was calling myself blessed. It’s my favorite word and I was very cocky, my promos were great. I was like, ‘What if I just did this full time?’ Then when I was out, I really wanted to get a tattoo. I got some ink and I was scared to death because I was always told my whole career, ‘If you get a tattoo, you’ll never get to the top.’ So I hit up a good friend of mine, Mia Yim, who was in NXT at the time. So I was like, ‘Alright, she’s at NXT. She’ll be able to know.’ So I texted her and I was like, ‘Hey, I really want to get this tattoo. What do you think?’ She was like, ‘I think you can get it.’ I asked, ‘Do you think I’m not gonna get signed?’ She said, ‘I think it’ll work because you can use it as your character or a story of a character,’ and boom. That’s when blessed was born," said Navarro.

"Blessed" has given Navarro direction outside the ring, and emotional investment inside the ring.

"I’m more than just a gimmick. I’m a real person," Navarro told me. That was evident, as highlighted by his friendship and selflessness with the aforementioned John. If KC succeeds, he's taking his friend for the ride. From humble beginnings to "blessed" results, sometimes where you are makes people lose sight of what it took to get you there.

"I’ve got a bunch of Louis Vuitton stuff on, right? Got a bunch of chains. They’ll go, ‘Oh, that kid’s cocky. He thinks he’s got it like that.’ I earned this," he said. "I’ve worked so hard to be able to own something like this, because as a kid, I didn’t grow up with a rich family. ‘Hey, mom, hey, dad, I want Gucci, I want Louis Vuitton.’ That was a dream. Only rap artists and actors wore that, and now that I got to save my money and work hard and prove a lot of people wrong that doubted me my entire life, I feel accomplished and I just want to share my love with everybody."

Part of that journey was a rough injury that could have left Navarro sidelined for a full year. He nearly shredded his knee. In April of 2019, during a match with AJ Gray and Australian Suicide, it happened. But, after a packed WrestleMania weekend of matches, Navarro got hurt on his last one of the weekend.

"I got very lucky. I partially tore my ACL, so I didn’t need surgery," Navarro said. "I was close, but my physical therapy was going so great that I was healing it my own. The only thing is that it’s forever going to be partially torn."

Navarro was effectively benched for several months. Sitting out in the summer as a young independent wrestler can be brutal. Usually the crowds are bigger, the weather is nicer, the travel is easier, and the merchandise sales are more robust. After what seemed like an excruciating four months, KC returned for the same company he tore his knee for, CZW. For a wrestler smaller in physical stature like Navarro, having one of your wheels at less than one hundred percent can be daunting. Sitting next to him in the middle of a NJPW ring build in Nashville, there was nothing about him that lacked confidence, physically or otherwise. "Blessed" was a big part of that swagger in his return.

"I was very confident coming back because I had this whole idea for what I was going to do as a character, but it was the moment where I got in the ring where I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I was very confident character wise with a little worried about my wrestling ability. ‘Cause I’m a high flyer, I’m a small guy so I gotta live up to that. So my speed I knew was gonna be a little slower. I was scared to dive for a while. I wouldn’t dive or at least dive over the top rope ‘cause I didn’t think I’d make it. So I did a lot of ‘low-pes’ for a while. But that was my only thing ‘cause I was like, ‘Man, if I can’t do the high flying stuff, is my whole act gonna be stale?’ I don’t springboard anymore and I used to. I knew I had to cut some stuff out, but also it gave me an opportunity to learn how to be a character and stop worrying about spots. That was a big thing for me. So I was upset, but happy it happened because it made me a better wrestler, I feel," said Navarro, looking for the silver lining.

Fortunately, he doesn't have long-term repercussions, and was back to full speed not long after.

Navarro hadn't originally planned to travel to Nashville to speak with us. Though he couldn't be more unlike Dennis Stamp, neither were booked! Well, KC was booked, but it was all the way down in Texas the night before. He made the trip in specifically to help us work on this feature. That type of dedication doesn't go unnoticed, even among his colleagues.

An already young Navarro, who was a few months removed from his knee injury and back in the groove of things, was feeling ambitious. Around the time ROH, IMPACT and WWE veteran Mike Bennett was released, Navarro took a flier and reached out to the star.

"KC hit me up around the WrestleMania after I got released and said he wanted to work with me," Bennett told Fightful. "So I started to follow him and was super impressed with the stuff I saw, but more than anything I loved his attitude. He just wanted everything now. He was so passionate, but also respectful. I just thought he was good people and incredibly talented. The thing I love about KC’s journey so far is he’s really making it his journey. He’s getting the matches he wants. He’s working the places he wants, and when he doesn’t vibe somewhere, he doesn’t stick around. Having that mindset at his age is going to do wonders for him down the road. He’s wrestling for himself, and I have so much respect for that.

Navarro didn't just gain an opponent, he gained a supporter and somewhat of a mentor. One who admires his work.

If Navarro has his way, the future could end up being NXT. He told me that was a major goal of his. When we first spoke to him, he had a safe spot in MLW, and was likely to be a featured player. He bet on himself, and so far, it's paying off.

"I want to be the best in the world. I want to inspire many kids. Especially smaller guys that, if you really believe in yourself, you can do it. Even at a young age, man. I feel like Nick Wayne, right now, is a big inspiration for a lot of guys. Especially a lot of young guys. The kid’s sixteen / seventeen? Look at him right now. He’s inspiring me, and I’m twenty-three. I just want to inspire many people, man. The goal is obviously to make it to the big time whether it’s AEW, WWE one day. Because I want to live up to my inspirations like the Rock and Roman Reigns one day. But for right now, I’m just killing it where I’m at and living on God’s hands," Navarro said.

Betting on himself seems like it is working well. He's booked all over the country, and in asking WWE sources about Navarro, it was confirmed to Fightful that they've had their eye on him. One man under WWE contract stated as much. Karrion Kross spoke highly of Navarro to us.

"Absolutely love the kid. Great attitude, has a very strong work ethic, good sense of humor, tough, constantly seeks self improvement and has persevered through some very difficult challenges in life as a young man that have no doubt served as incredible character building experiences. I hope to see him in WWE one day," said Kross.

It's not just in WWE taking notice. At the time we reached out to Mike Bennett, he was IMPACT Tag Team Champion, and later signed with AEW. A change in mindset let Bennett go to personal and professional highs, and he was glowing about Navarro's potential.

"I think KC has the ability to be a huge player in pro wrestling. Every time I see him, he’s cooking up something new. He always looks like a million bucks, and he’s always hungry and trying to get better. He has all the pieces and the right mindset. Sky’s the limit," Bennett told me.

Anthony Bowens, who was signed to a full-time deal less than a year after we profiled him believes beyond the sky is the limit.

"I’m extremely proud of all that he’s accomplished so far, and for all that I know he will accomplish. I don’t think the kid has a ceiling. He can go in the ring whether he’s a heel or an underdog baby face. you’re not going to find very many people right now on the indies with as much charisma as he has. Give him a microphone and you can’t shut him up. He can talk. He’s got it all, and now that he’s a free agent I hope he lands somewhere with a major company soon. He’s worked his ass off. Despite being told no, he’s too small, bullied in school for dreaming big, etc. In my opinion, at least very least, he deserves an opportunity to be a tv star," Bowens said.

But who can sum it up better than his own blood?

"I once told KC the world was his for the taking, he’s captured the world and hasn’t looked back," Diamante said. "He’s obsessed with the game and does not stop till he’s the best….. till he’s the Blessed as a matter of fact."

For the doubters?

"Honestly, I just ignore it. I put the blinders on, man. I just look at ‘em and say, ‘Stay blessed, man,’ and I keep going," Navarro said, before he jets off for yet another flight.

Fightful would like to thank all of the parties involved who were contacted for this piece, as well as Starrcast for accommodating the in person interview. You can follow KC Navarro on Twitter at this link.

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