Like many WWE Superstars, Toni Storm fell in love with wrestling as a kid. She was 10 years old when she got the wrestling bug and has been hooked ever since.
She discussed being a fan while growing up when Storm joined Lilian Garcia’s podcast, Chasing Glory.
“It was around the time with Mickie James, Trish Stratus and Lita. I just fell heavily in love with it; I’ll never forget the moment. My mom was disgusted with the idea of wrestling. She was like are you going to be like one of those wrestlers? I was like, actually yes, I am going to do this. I was John Cena, Jeff Hardy and Shawn Michaels obsessed. The first show I went to was in 2007 for a Monday Night Raw in Brisbane, Australia,” recalled Storm.
Just a few years later Storm made her pro wrestling debut at just 13 years old. She started out in her native Australia and talked about the sacrifice her mom made to help her live out her dream.
“I started in a really small company. It was usually shows that were in front of moms and dads. We struggled to pay for training fees. My mom would be at every show, every weekend just selling hot dogs to help out the company so that she could trade paying me for her working so I am forever grateful for that because she never had to do any of that. She gave up every single weekend just so that she could see me happy because it was the only thing that made me happy,” stated Storm. I didn’t have a good time at school whatsoever. School was a nightmare so the only thing that lighted me up was wrestling so she made sure that I got that.”
About one year ago leaked photos of Storm made their way online and the fallout of that caused Storm to delete all of her social media accounts. But the emotional toll it took on her was just as damaging as the leaked photos themselves as she explained.
“I just shut down because I noticed stuff that had leaked because I was already kind of in a bad place mentally. I always really struggled with depression and anxiety. I’ve never really spoken out about it; I don’t know why. There’s not really any reason for it. I’m not sure why I suffer from it, but a lot happened growing up where I lost my grandfather and there was a lot of drama with my family,” said Storm.
“At 16, I was diagnosed with anxiety. When all that came about, I was already struggling. I was like, I don’t want to know about any of this. I didn’t want to face it, so I just one day I was like the hell with this. I didn’t want to be seen, I really didn’t because I was completely humiliated and ashamed. It was awful and I didn’t even know who to turn to.”
Storm said she felt isolated at the time and didn’t want to talk to her family about it because it was just so humiliating. She is thankful of her friends for supporting her even from afar as they were in Australia and she was in the US.
“I had good friends and they know who they are. I have really good friends and if they weren’t around God knows what would have happened,” stated Storm. “I live far away from a lot of friends. I was so alone; I was completely by myself and I had to deal with all of that. I was a mess. I was a complete mess and I wanted to shut off but it obviously kept happening and more and more stuff kept being said. A lot of people calling me weak, but I was like, I am already dealing with my own head and my own thoughts. It was one of the worst things that I could have gone through.
“Now, I’m at a place where I can laugh with friends about it but it was awful during that time. People try to humiliate me with it and make horrible comments. They will give me hell. I turned my comments off of Instagram. I obviously love the support from fans that I appreciate it so much, but with that, I get a lot of abuse and that stuff started happening. I was getting a lot of disgusting comments. I don’t want my sister going on there and seeing all of those horrible things. People get mad at that so I’m like just send me a message then.”
After a wave of emotional support, both online and in person, Storm has since returned to social media and she’s very appreciative of all of her fans.
“I love all of my fans and love the support that I get. It means more than they realize. I may not always get the chance to respond, but it means a lot to me,” said Storm. “I don’t know how I came out of that, to be honest. I suffered greatly from depression. I have been a very self-destructive person for a lot of years. I have been really awful to myself. Nothing to do with the leaks or anything, but it’s been terrible and I was wondering how I can deal with that.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.