Editor's Note: When starting the Pro Series, Deonna Purrazzo was one of the first names I was interested in. She has a unique combination of youth and experience, as she's already performed on TV for every major wrestling company in the U.S. at 22 years old. She's currently in Japan on tour with STARDOM. Follow along with her on Stardom World, on Twitter and Instagram. Also, check out her Pro Wrestling Tees store!
I've been on WWE, NXT, Ring of Honor and TNA television. I've wrestled in front of crowds ranging from eight to 18,000. I've wrestled some of the most talented female wrestlers on the planet and women that I've idolized from the time I was a child. Not only that, but I've shared a locker room with them and talked with them as not only a contemporary, but as a friend. All the while, I never once felt like I didn’t belong. So as surprising as it may be, I was incredibly scared when I agreed to go on tour with the Stardom promotion in Japan. And unlike being in front of those giant crowds with television cameras rolling with some of the best wrestlers in the world, it was the thought of going to the Land of the Rising Sun that made me doubt everything.
I have never been away from home, my friends and my family. In wrestling, I have never been away from my trainers, their thoughts and opinions. My comfort zone, which HAS to be ever-expanding due to working all major American promotions and their differing styles, was about to shattered in Japan. The perception of what Japanese wrestling is, which is so different from what I have ever been taught and believed appropriate, was making the days approaching my departure nerve-wracking to say the least.
If wrestling has taught me anything, it’s to stay calm, focused, and above all else to have self-confidence. If I believe I can do it and if I work hard enough, I can certainly achieve it. I've dreamed my entire life to be a professional wrestler and 14 years later I am still as in love with this sport as I was the first time I saw it. Part of this impossible dream was reading every book, watching every movie and listening to every interview I could get my hands on. And the common theme amongst those I respected the most? They all went to Japan. I knew that if I wanted to be successful and master my craft, I needed to go there. After a lot of hard work, I was finally getting my opportunity to fulfill just one more dream.
Upon arriving in Japan at the gaijin (foreigner) apartment, all of my new roommates (Shayna Baszler, Nixon Newell, Kay Lee Ray & Viper), who had been here for three weeks prior, made the transition. The angst I had been feeling faded almost instantly. All of my thoughts about how awkward it would be to infiltrate a house of people whom had already been living together disappeared. Even though I sometimes find myself to be anti-social and uncomfortable in situations like this, these women created a welcoming atmosphere that in the passing days made me feel like this was where I needed to be all along.
Nearing a month into my stay with Stardom, I feel as though I've slowly adapted to this new lifestyle, in-ring style and work ethic. Having down time during the week when we’re not training was hard at first because at home I had a full plate. I work a full-time job, attend school as a History Education major, go to Crossfit, train with Team Adams Wrestling School and work independent shows on the weekends. To say down time is a rarity is an understatement.
On the contrary, in Japan, I am able to explore the country and live not only as a performer but as a person. Not only do I get to grasp the different in-ring psychology and “fighting spirit” that is revered in the culture, but I get to gain so much life experience. I've found that I’m picking it all up more quickly than I thought I would. Above all else, I am truly happy outside of the comfort zone I had been so worried to break out of.
After all the worrying and self-doubt, I have capitalized on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in a foreign country and do the one job I always to do. I truly doubt there is anything else I could ask for.