When Dasha Gonzalez, real name Dasha Kuret, saw Dwayne Johnson's social media call for a new crop of contenders for the Titan Games, she jumped at the opportunity. The All Elite Wrestling ring announcer and interviewer saw the NBC competition series as a way to show the world her toughness.
"I swam, dived, wrestled, played football, did ROTC. I was an athlete growing up," she said.
"I was coming off an achilles tendon injury. I wanted to kind of turn the page with this injury and end that chapter and start a new one. I'm still rehabbing til this day, but the doctors cleared me. I wanted to see if it was something I was meant to do."
Being recruited to the show also meant formally meeting The Rock. The WWE alum joins NXT superstar Robert Stone, who participated in the inaugural season of Titan Games. She felt added pressure in representing the industry this time around.
"I had met The Rock one time talking to Roman Reigns on a case backstage before TV one day. I was like, 'Hi, I'm Dasha.' I very awkwardly said hi and ran away. I didn't really get to meet him. It was pretty cool to be able to chat with him and receive encouragement from him.
"...Not only being a former performer for WWE, but now with All Elite Wrestling. I thought, 'Many, I'm representing the company I work for. I'm representing the wrestling community.' I wanted to do the best I could and prove to everyone I'm an athlete. I've been training in the ring as well too. I have always been very athletic too. So having that bond. Wrestling community is like a family regardless of whatever organization you're in. We all have a common love for sports entertainment, wrestling, being active, putting on a show."
For Gonzalez, her participation in Titan Games could bring new fans over to pro wrestling. She wants to help add to the argument those in the business deserve respect.
"Often wrestlers get a bad rap. 'We all know wrestling is fake.' You have to be an athlete in order to compete in the ring. Hopefully, we'll open new eyes," she said.
The Orlando native recalls preparing for the tryout knowing the events would test strength and agility. She was confident in her flexibility from her gymnastics days. It was about building up the calves and working on the achilles recovery. To help take the workout schedule to another level Gonzalez sought the help of friends including the owner of a CrossFit gym. Stamina was a big part of her focus, knowing she would have to not only work to become a Titan. Those who initially conquer Mount Olympus must defend their title.
"I love the new system. Once you lost you were out. Life doesn't happen like that. Just because you lose, you don't get kicked out. I really like there were rounds of redemption," she said. "You may have had a bad day. Something may have happened. Maybe you couldn't figure out one of the machines. It's just like life. You gotta keep going. You have to keep moving forward. You have to stop, reevaluate, refocus. It was cool that just because you lost one time, doesn't mean you're down for the count."
Heading into Titan Games, Gonzalez was thankful to have the pro wrestling world behind her. She is also grateful to have the support of AEW.
"I have the best support system on the face of the planet. Whether it's my family, the wrestling community or my job. It was pretty cool because when I applied and finally got the invitation to join Titan Games at their combine, their tryout. I went over to my bosses and said, 'Hey guys, I kind of have this opportunity. I was wondering...walking over gingerly.' They said, 'Oh my gosh. This is incredible. You definitely need to try out,'" she said.
"I'm going to be representing All Elite Wrestling. I'm super excited to be a face in that sense. I'm excited for Titan Games. I'm excited to give my all. Even during the tryout, I've been given so much support. I received so many phone calls, text messages making sure I was okay. That honestly eases any sort of tension or fear. My motto in life is even though you're scared, just try it. Winners never quit and quitters never win. No matter what is thrown at me, I'm at least going to try and say I gave it my all with no regrets."
Catch Dasha Gonzalez on "Titan Games" tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Photo by: Danny Ventrella/NBC. Dasha's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.