Many times, interviews with a professional wrestler take place once they have made it to the big stage of WWE or other organisations. Alex Gracia, who only started wrestling in 2018, is on her journey to establish herself in the wrestling business. In 2019, she won her first title, the Reality of Wrestling’s Diamonds Championship, and since then, has made another appearance for Impact Wrestling. She also recently made her debut for CMLL in Mexico.
In the first part of this exclusive interview with SteelChair Magazine, Alex gives an insight into her journey from sports broadcasting to wrestling, training at the school formerly known as Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, what Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling is, developing her Pink Dream persona, and much more.
Alex, you mentioned in your Vlog prior to your first wrestling match, that watching Total Divas was instrumental in your decision to become a pro wrestler. Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
Growing up, my family watched wrestling and everything. It always intrigued me, but it never crossed my mind like: “I’m going to be a professional wrestler when I grow up.” It was just instilled in our mind that I need to go to college, I need to get a regular job, and that’s the route I’m going to go. And I’m, in a way, a people pleaser. I want my parents to be happy. I want to make everyone proud, so that’s what I did. I went to university, and I did really well with the career that I chose, which was sports reporting, and I was just totally miserable. I was getting a lot of opportunities with that. Right out of college, I had a television job offered to me, I had a radio job offered to me, and I was getting all these opportunities, and people in my field were asking me how could I not be happy? Because it’s so hard to get a job out here (laughs).
After like a year or so, my lease was going out, and my parents told me to move back home before signing my lease again, so I could figure out what I really wanted to do. Total Divas was always a show that I’d watch, and that would always bring my interest back, and you start to think: “I feel like I could do that.” When I wasn’t turning on wrestling consistently, the show was almost a way of keeping it there and getting it twiddled in front of me. I kept seeing it, but you never think it’s what you are going to pursue as your job.
So Total Divas was always your link back to wrestling in a way?
Yeah, it was kind of a link back, and I remember there were times in college when I would go look things back up on YouTube. It would always bring me back and make me think: “Let me check this out again.” So being older, you just see it from a different perspective too, because then it became something when it wasn’t just this huge fantasy. It was still a fantasy, but the older I got, the more I thought that maybe I should give this a try, and try to figure out how I can make this happen.
You kind of already answered one of my questions, which was, were you a fan growing up? Did you ever remember watching anything, whether it is Stone Cold or The Rock, did a moment stick out in your mind?
Oh, yeah, they were all household names and everything. That’s what is so crazy because my brother kind of outgrew wrestling in a way, and he’s starting to get back into it because he was a huge wrestling fan. Even my aunt and uncle’s sons, they always had it on. So it was just always there. It’s always been in front of me.
When you started watching Total Divas, and it drew you in, was there a particular superstar like say, a Nikki Bella that you aspired to be like?
I definitely would say, just the confidence Nikki Bella has definitely made me think: “I want to be like that.” It really gave me that because I was having a hard time in college, and I think you get to a certain part of your life where you’re just lacking confidence. So when you see all these women that are so comfortable with themselves and happy with their lives, and you see where you’re trying to get to in life. To where it doesn’t matter what’s going on because I’m genuinely happy doing something that makes me feel good, and makes other people feel good. But she was a standout for me. I was so intrigued by everything she was doing, everything she had to say, and she was the definition of someone that’s strong physically and mentally. So it’s like, “How can I get like that?”
You didn’t start off training with Booker T. Where did you get your start in wrestling, and what were those early days like?
So I started at Texas Wrestling Academy in San Antonio Texas, and it was formerly known as Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy. So it’s where Bryan Danielson came from. The way it started, I was at dinner with my cousin, and his daughter was watching wrestling, one of the women’s matches. And I was sitting there watching it with her, and I was like, “This is so fricking awesome.” This is also when I’m trying to figure out what I’m trying to do with my life. I just moved back home. I left all my jobs. So that’s when my cousin said to me why don’t you try out wrestling, so he just answered the question that I always had in the back of my head out loud.
I told my cousin that I had no idea how to get into wrestling, and he said: “You know there’s a wrestling school down the street?” I was like, “What?” And he showed me on his phone. I looked at it, saved the email address that was on there, and I emailed Rudy Boy Gonzalez, who is the head trainer there that night. The very next day, he emailed me back and said that they were having tryouts on September 11th for new trainees. So he pretty much said if you’re about it, come on down.
So I started training September 11th, and that first week, you’re barely even getting in the ring at all. It’s literally conditioning, agility, and everything. I love that type of stuff because I grew up playing sports, so even just doing that, it made me want to get in the ring even more. We would be doing burpees, and I thought to myself, “I know this will be worth it. Soon I’ll get to do things in the ring (laughs).”
People always talk about the training, and the thing they all tend to say is that it’s unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Would you agree with that?
Absolutely. There’s nothing in the world that can prepare you for when you have to start bumping or just the toll it takes on your body. Even when I was learning how to run the ropes, I would be coming home, and I had like bruises across my back. Blue and black bruises from hitting the ropes so hard. You’re just wondering what’s going on because you are abusing your body (laughs). It’s crazy as time goes on, you’re not getting bruises on your back, but then you start to wonder if your back has become that much of a chalice that…
It’s become numb to the pain (laughs).
Yes! (laughs). That’s a little scary too. But yeah, there is nothing like the type of things that you have to go through in wrestling. I feel like when people first start, that’s what they don’t realise. How demanding it is and how physical it is.
For sure. What was your parent’s reaction to this? Because you did mention them kind of wanting you to do the normal type of job.
So when I first decided to try this out, I knew I had to present it to them in a way that made sense and why I thought it would work for me. I literally almost put like a presentation together, and told them why I think it will work, and what I will do if it didn’t. I pretty much had nothing to lose at this point. So I said to them let me give it a try because I’m decently athletic, I came from a television background, and I think I’ve always been trying to pursue things that make up the elements of wrestling. So that’s what I kind of figured out, and I told them to let me give it a try.
But after my very first day, I remember getting home, and my parents were asking me if I was okay. I was like crawling to the couch. I was drenched in sweat, and my body was just so exhausted, and I knew this was no joke. They asked me if I was going to go back, and I said: “Absolutely!” But every day, it got a little bit better. To the point that I was coming back home in one peace. It did hurt them because they were just like why are you doing this? (laughs) I remember bruising my ribs super bad in like the second or third week there. It was just so tender, touching my midsection, and I still had to bump on it. So they were like, “I don’t think this is good for you. (laughs)”
Did they ever discourage you because of the injuries, or did they always stick by you?
I know they had their worries about it, but they never said it to me. I think it was because they saw me get to this place where I was so low in life that just even seeing me excited about something, again, and it was motivating me, they were finally seeing me come out again. So they were very encouraging throughout the whole process, and when opportunities did start coming, they were reassured that maybe I was not so terrible at it either, so this could be a good thing.
One of the things I love about you, Alex, is you’ve developed a personality and connection with fans at a very early stage, which is incredibly important in pro wrestling. Your Vlogs give us a connection to the real you, and The Pink Dream persona makes you stand out from the pack. How did this all come about?
I started Vlogging before I started wrestling, and I like little hobbies like that. I did stuff like that while I was in college because I did sports reporting, so I would edit packages or videos and all that. So I realised this was something I wanted to do for me. But then I stopped Vlogging because I became unmotivated in everything, and I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt like everything I was doing was a waste of time, and I didn’t even feel happy doing it anymore. So, when I started wrestling and I was about to have my first match – you could tell the difference because I was so excited and inspired again that I decided to do a Vlog. I remember I posted the Vlog, and it was like a whole year since I had last posted a blog. I’m glad that people can connect to it because those Vlogs kind of sparked my creativity again. I didn’t even realise that it was helping my brand.
It’s real. It’s one-hundred-percent you, which is why people connect to it, I think.
Absolutely. It’s one-hundred-percent real… I’m using bad grammar (laughs).
Also, The Pink Dream persona, how did that come about? I think it’s very cool. It stands out.
Thank you. I’m a really big girly girl, and I’ve always been a really big girly girl. But, again, I played super competitive sports. I played softball, and I was at nationals doing this, and we could be in the semi-finals, and I would have a bow in my hair (laughs). But my very first day of training, and I still have a picture of it, I showed up in a pink tank top. I had worked that morning, so I had a full face of makeup. I walked into where it was like, everyone was like: “This girl” (laughs). I’ve just always loved the colour pink, and so, a lot of my workout gear, my leggings, they are usually a shade of pink or somewhat like that.
When it started getting to the point where I started thinking about gear, my trainer was telling me this is easy. He said you wear pink like every day, so your gear should be pink, and I was just like, “Yeah!” There’s this diamond that’s called The Pink Dream, and it’s the biggest pink diamond in the world, and there’s only one in the world. Also, it’s ironically my favourite diamond. I have it on my phone and computer background, and it was just like, that’s me. So that’s where I got the name, and I feel like I am that diamond in a sense, and that’s where I got the connection with that. It also gave me an excuse to put diamonds all over my gear, so it’s perfect (laughs).
That’s what we always hear when it comes to the successful stars in this business. Their characters are an extension of their real-life personalities.
Yeah, I think that’s really important because if I don’t believe that’s who I am, I feel like no one else will believe that’s who I am. The more people that are around me, they say, Alex really is obsessed with pink (laughs).
Well, Alex, if we meet in the future, it will be very easy to get a gift for you… something pink (laughs).
Absolutely, I would love that (laughs). I’ll be easy to spot too.
Now you’re kind of a staple of Reality of Wrestling, which is Booker T’s promotion. Initially, I thought Reality of Wrestling was simply a place for wrestlers to train, but it’s kind of become a lot more than that. How would you describe ROW, would you call it a developmental territory?
It feels like a developmental atmosphere for sure. Just the culture that they have there, we clean up before and after training, and you’re learning the whole culture of how to be respectful. That’s literally our home that we’re at, more than our actual home. So we keep it nice, and it takes the whole team to keep things in line there. But to me, it’s kind of like, a pre-school before like the big leagues, because Booker came from WWE. It’s kind of like when you graduate. Then you can pick whatever big college you want to go to. He (Booker) is really giving you everything you need, and all the skills you need to develop so you feel like a hundred percent ready when your time does come.
Stay tuned for part 2!