Thunder Rosa recently talked with Chris Van Vliet and discussed a number of topics, including where her name came from. She revealed that she was trying to come up with a name that appealed to both Americans and Latinos, and also mentioned how her facepaint comes into play.
“Thunder Rosa came out after we came from a show – and this is before we started wrestling,” Rosa said. “Donovan Troy was one of the guys that got me into wrestling, Indeed Wrestling. I used to work with him at Thunder Road, and him and my husband and I were in the car, and we’re like, ‘Okay, we got to come up with a name that appeals to Americans but also appeals to your Latino population.’ And we were going around and around, and we’re like, ‘How about Thunder Rosa?’ Thunder has the job and then we keep the R – Rosa, because Latinos, and then we started doing the whole chanting because it’s very important that makes sense, ‘Thunder Rosa!’ So, it just started like that.
“The backstory of the actual character and why I paint my face and everything came from – because everything is together, so, I went to Merced for a Lucha stream,” Rosa continued. “They wanted to bring more Latino fans in there but they didn’t have any luck, so, ‘Oh, you’re Latina! Let’s just paint your face because it seems like the Day of the Dead is really popular right now.’ Then, they painted my face.
“They really liked it, and then Manny Fernandez was like, ‘You’re too pretty. Just paint half of your face’. So, I just painted half of my face there, but I didn’t do that anywhere else because I didn’t want to be ‘The Luchadora’, ‘The Mexican Wrestler’, I want to be a wrestler. I want to be recognized as a wrestler, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do that anywhere else’. I went to Japan. This didn’t work at all.”
Rosa then revealed how she was able to encompass her family history into her character as a professional wrestler.
“Then, I got a concussion and I felt like I was going to die,” Rosa added. “I was out of work for a whole month, and then my husband was like, ‘When you come back, you got to paint your face again because you got to do something different to get over, and I think the face paint is going to make a difference. And knowing you and telling a story later is going to make sense. So, I did the half-face paint and everybody loved it. They were like, ‘Oh my God! This is actually really cool,’ and then I told the story like it’s being almost dead, and coming alive, and just like a representation of that. And then, when I got signed for Lucha when Lucha saw me, my uncle came to see me on that show.
“My uncle used to watch wrestling, and he asked me the exact same question and I just give him the standard answer. And he told me that the reason why: ‘it all ties together,'” Rosa said. “The reason why I now paint my face is that when he was young, he loved wrestling. He used to go with my grandfather every week in Mexico in Tijuana. My grandfather died of a heart attack watching Lucha Libre, and he was on his lap. So, he told me, ‘I hated wrestling for so long and you brought me back to watch wrestling’.
“‘So, the reason is, it was in your destiny. It was in your future. You were going to become a professional wrestler because it was in your blood and you’re now representing what the real Day of the Dead is, representing those that have passed away in a better way. And every time you get into that ring, you’re fighting for them’. So, that’s pretty much what Thunder Rosa encompasses.”
Rosa went on to say that she was never a fan of WWE because it was “too fake” for her. She also said that she was never really into wrestling growing up and instead favored soap operas. She said it was only when she discovered TNA’s Knockout division that she fell in love with wrestling.
“I watched Soap Operas! I didn’t watch wrestling,” Rosa said. “I mean, it was there, literally, but it was Triple-A [Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide] and CMLL [Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre]. I think the ones that I remember for sure were Mascrita Sagrada because he was on TV. Konnan, because Konnan used to do movies and he used to sing. There are a couple of ones from AAA that I watched, but I wasn’t really involved in the whole thing of Lucha Libre until I was 18 or 19. It was one of the first times I went to shows, and then I started going to Indie Wrestling.
“I didn’t really like WWE. It was too fake for me,” Rosa added. “I remember my cousin used to watch WWE when The Rock and Steve Austin were there . John Cena used to wear the big clock, and I was like, ‘What is this ridiculousness that you’re saying to watch?’ I was like, ‘This is so stupid. I’m sorry, it’s so stupid, and when I started watching it, it was around 2007, but it was TNA and it was the Knockout Division and I fell in love with it.
“It was so dope,” Rosa continued. “I was like, ‘Oh my God. These ladies can go!’ Kong [Awesome Kong], Cheerleader Melissa was there, Raisha Saeed, Gail Kim, ODB was my favorite! Victoria! I loved it! These ladies know how to do it. Those are the ladies that I remember the most because those are the matches I watched. Mickie James too, she was there.”
Rosa continued on about Mickie James, referencing how strongly she feels about her as a performer and even taking to social media to praise her in-ring work and ability.
“So as you can see, I didn’t watch your typical Bra and Panties Matches,” Rosa said. “I didn’t watch that until my friend was wrestling. He’s like, ‘You need to sit down with me. We’re going to watch these matches, and please promise me you’re never going to look like this,’ and then we watched Mickie James and Ashley Massaro. I saw Mickie James working to make this match look good, and he’s like, ‘You see this? Please don’t do that’.
“I remember when they had Evolution, Mickie James was in a match, and I tweeted, ‘Mickie James should be the MVP of this show,’ because I saw it,” Rosa said. “People like Mickie James have made me be a worker because you got to be a worker. You need to make sure your opponent looks good, especially if they’re like the favorite of the company. So people like that, that’s where I started looking up to that were workers.”
Mickie James was most recently involved in a match with Asuka where the finish was reportedly botched by the referee. Rosa mentioned her as one of her dream matches.
“That’s one of them [dream matches], yes,” Rosa revealed. “Sarah Stock as well. Hopefully she doesn’t retire and we can step in the ring; she’s so good! She’s so d–n good, and I love seeing her wrestle. Who else? I really don’t know. Maybe Deonna [Purrazzo] because she’s so technical. I think it would be a lot of fun because I don’t get to do those matches as often. She’s a lot of fun. I think those are the ones from now.
“Maybe have a one-on-one with Io Shirai,” Rosa added. “I never got the opportunity to do that in Japan. She was my trainer when I was in Japan and, oh man, she’s hands down one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world currently. She can work any style and she’s so good at selling, telling a story. Even if she doesn’t speak English, people are drawn to her, and I was just mesmerized when I used to watch her. Oh, Meiko Satomura. That’s another one.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labrini contributed to this article.