During a recent appearance with Pro Wrestling Junkies, AEW star Ivelisse revealed that the inspiration for her to get into professional wrestling was when women like Trish Stratus, Lita, and Jazz started to really turn the corner for women in the business during the early 2000s. She recalled Trish Stratus and Lita being the first women to main event a card as proof that women were finally starting to be taken seriously as in-ring performers.
“I’m the type of person that doesn’t say particular people inspire me, but rather, particular things about people inspire me,” Ivelisse said. “Or particular things that people have achieved – things like that. I’m one that appreciates passion, so anyone that I see is really passionate about anything they do inspires me. I’ve always been an athlete and dip my foot into whatever I could.
“For wrestling, per se, I was a fan of the characters,” Ivelisse added. “What really pushed me to get into professional wrestling at that time was when I saw that surge of women’s wrestling with Jazz, Molly Holly, Trish Stratus, Lita – that era, especially when we saw those changing happening. Little steps, but that first big step was when I saw Trish and Lita main event RAW. That was a historic thing. Women finally main-eventing on TV was when I was like, ‘Yes! I want to be a part of that!’ I just want to be part of showing women are worthy of getting that recognition and respect in the industry.”
Ivelisse then reflected on her time in the developmental FCW (now known as NXT), and the highly-covered incident with former WWE coach, Bill DeMott. Ivelisse was among the first to speak out about the misconduct of DeMott, who was later forced to resign from his position. Ivelisse said she has always been the type of person that simply doesn’t tolerate someone disrespecting her, and won’t hesitate to stand up for herself or others when she sees that type of situation arising. She also mentioned that her experience there wasn’t all bad, and credited other coaches for being a positive influence.
“There’s not all bad in anything,” Ivelisse said. “I’m very grateful for working with a lot of great agents that were there like Ricky Steamboat and Norman Smiley. I’ll stick with the positive and say I’m grateful for those guys and all the other great agents and coaches that were there. I try to absorb as much as I can, and I’m very cerebral when it comes to wrestling, so my ears are always open. Towards the end, the whole thing with DeMott really had a negative imprint on me. My time was cut short because of the whole thing, but again, there’s not all bad in anything, and I’m really grateful for the positives.
“As far as standing up for myself [to DeMott], that’s just part of my DNA,” Ivelisse added. “It’s something that can easily get turned around. I’ve always just been the type of person that doesn’t take– it’s very hard for me to keep my mouth shut when I feel like someone is demeaning me, or disrespecting me, or whatever. I hate politics and I believe in 100% professionalism from everyone equally.
“I don’t like when someone abuses their power to stomp on others,” Ivelisse continued. “It’s hard for me to not stand up to that. Not just for myself but for others as well. It’s just kind of part of my DNA. It’s sometimes like I do it out of nature, and then I’m like, ‘Well, whatever comes from that – may it come.’ I just have a clear conscience that I did the right thing.”
Ivelisse also spent time talking about how much women’s wrestling as a whole has changed since she first got into the business. She recalls that when she first started 17 years ago, women were still essentially valets for the male stars or their matches were thought of as a bathroom break opportunities. Ultimately, she feels like women’s wrestling has come a long way from that point but is excited to help elevate it to the next level.
“It’s miles and miles away from when I first started,” Ivelisse said. “Pretty much starting at a point where women were looked at as valets, and maybe you’d see a cat fight. That’s pretty much how it was when I first started. Then it kind of evolved more but was still looked at as a popcorn match or bathroom break. I feel like we still have a lot of work to do as far as that transformation, but it’s still definitely miles and miles away from where it was 17 years ago. I’m excited for that currently and everything that’s still to come. I’m happy to be part of that.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Pro Wrestling Junkies with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.