NWA Women’s World Champion Thunder Rosa joined Chris Jericho on the Talk Is Jericho podcast to discuss her time in Lucha Underground as well as almost signing with WWE as a referee. Rosa’s wrestling career began with Stardom in Japan, and she said that she was scouted by Lucha Underground during a U.S. show that Stardom was holding noting that working for Stardom can help a wrestler’s career.
“It definitely did, but I think you have to make your name value because I could have gone there and like completely disappeared,” Rosa pointed out. “But I was like, ‘I was in Stardom. Oh my god.’ Then I kept working with them, and then they brought the Stardom show to America, and that’s when I got scouted by Lucha Underground at one of those shows.”
Rosa was still very new to pro wrestling when she signed with Lucha Underground, and she admits that working under the Lucha Underground environment meant that she had to put in the work. She credits the veterans working in Lucha Underground for helping her learn, and she credits the TV atmosphere for helping her learn that side of the business.
“I wrestle under the hood as Kobra Moon, and that’s when I learned that when they give you opportunities like that for TV, you got to perform. You just have to,” Rosa said. “It doesn’t matter how green [or] how inexperienced you are, you have to. If you don’t have the skills, you better damn learn because they’re gonna fire you and find somebody else that is better than you. I mean working with so many veterans.
“I mean, I was working with Rey Mysterio [and] the Guerrero’s. There was a bunch of people like Ricochet. It was amazing. I would just be on the apron looking at the guys putting their matches together, and I’m like, ‘man, this is pretty dope.’ I’m actually learning from the best of the best. I would ask question to everybody. I would ask the luchadors from AAA to teach me stuff, and that’s how I started learning.
“A lot of the times I would come early, and I trained with the Ballards and I trained with Santino Brothers, with the Lucha Brothers so I can learn the style, so I can perform better in Lucha Underground. It taught me so much. It taught me about cameras. It taught me about promos, how to do vignettes [and] how to be confident even when you have no skills whatsoever. So it was really good.”
Rosa discussed how cinematic Lucha Underground was noting that she was reminiscing about the crazy storylines during her AEW debut with Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix. She reiterates the amount she learned from her time in Lucha Underground.
“It was very cinematic because you would have your vignette that will be linked into the match,” Rosa explained. “So that’s why I was so used to that because we would have producers and we’d have the writers: ‘OK, this is story we’re trying to tell, this is the match that is going to follow,’ and it was like super extra, super out of this world. I was talking to Pentagon and Fenix, and I was like, ‘do you guys remember all the stuff that you guys used to do when you were in Lucha Underground?’ Everybody was like trying to outwork each other.
“It was like such a competitive place to work, and I think that really made me be more competitive and be better, just really get to a point where if I wasn’t ready, I need to be ready because all these guys, I mean they’ve been wrestling 15-20 years. They’re stars in their own countries, and then they come here and I’m just like, ‘hi guys. I’ve been wrestling for a year and a half. Hi.’ I just learned so much. It was a lot of fun.”
Rosa revealed that she had tried to get a job with WWE even as a referee as she had a friend who was a ref with WWE that helped her get into contact with them. She said she was going to go over to WWE to formalize everything, but Hurricane Dorian hit causing things to be pushed back. Rosa then said she started training for her MMA debut with Combate Americas. She said that she had to choose between WWE or Combate Americas, and she chose Combate Americas, but she revealed she received an offer from NWA days later.
“The only time that I was going to get a tryout, this was when I was transitioning from Lucha Underground,” Rosa recalled. “I didn’t really feel like I was doing anything. I was getting tired of just like doing the indies and just grinding because it gets tiring, very very tiring because you have to constantly be traveling. Some of the matches don’t make sense and you’re doing it because that’s how you make a living, and I call one of my referee friends like, ‘hey, are they hiring like refs? I’ll ref. I don’t care. I just need a job,’ and then he was like, ‘yeah, let me ask them.’ He asked.
“I was contacted. They told me how much they paid, and they were like we’re going to send you the information. Here’s your stuff. They sent me the flight and everything. Then Hurricane Dorian happened. My stuff started getting backed up. Back then, I was already toying with the idea of doing MMA. Combate Americas contacted me, and I started training in June.
“By the time WWE called me, it was the last week of August, and Combate Americas were like, ‘you need to sign the contract now because we need to start announcing that you’re gonna fight.’ And then I was like, ‘OK, I don’t know what to do’ and then that start happening, and I was like maybe this is a sign that I probably should not go to WWE for refereeing. So I told them that I was not interested anymore. Thank you for the opportunity. I signed a contract with Combate Americas for my first MMA fight, and then NWA called me like two days after. They’re like, ‘you want to be in here?’ Like, ‘sure, why not?'”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.