On Friday the 12th of June 2020, the second AEW Heels event took place, the brilliant new initiative headed by AEW Chief Branding Officer Brandi Rhodes. AEW Heels is at foremost a community for female fans. A safe place where women can share their love for wrestling and make waves of change in the wrestling community. I attended the event held on Zoom along with our resident editor Steph Franchomme.

The centrepiece of the second AEW Heels event was a Q&A session with the former AEW Women’s World Champion Nyla Rose. We saw a stress management seminar conducted by one of the lawyers for the Jacksonville Jaguars. AEW resident’s make-up artist Stella Kae showed fans how to recreate the current champ Hikaru Shida’s in-ring make-up. Some of AEW’s female performers attended the event including Hikaru Shida, Leva Bates, Penelope Ford, and referee Aubrey Edwards.

Brandi Rhodes and AEW also raffled off a ring worn jacket for the George Floyd Memorial Fund and The Trevor Project, raising a total of $1,885 for two important charities.

Nyla Rose Q&A 

Brandi Rhodes introduced the Q&A segment stating “June is not only my birthday month… But it is also Pride month, which is one of the reasons why it is my favourite month. And I figured it was an important month and an appropriate month to introduce to you guys a little better to Nyla Rose.”

How did it feel to hold the Women’s Championship belt and to be an inspiration to so many across the world? 

“That’s actually a tough question to answer honestly, it’s indescribable. If I’m being totally honest with you. Again new company, here we are, not even a year in and I have reached such a grand moment in someone’s career and wrestling. You know being a leader of a division, It was truly a dream come true. I still have a hard time kinda putting it into words, it’s very indescribable. Despite how the fans felt at that moment, you could hear the reaction from the crowd, a lot of them did appreciate the work that went into what we created and what we did. So, it was, little cliché but it was a magical moment for me.”

Nyla Rose continued explaining to the fans that “being an inspiration was an unexpected side effect for lack of better words. I don’t take that lightly, you know I didn’t have someone like myself to look up to on television. So, knowing that I’m that for someone, I try to be a little bit more considerate of what I’m doing and putting out there. Because I don’t want to reflect badly on my community, I want to do everybody proud.”

How can fans support you and other trans wrestlers? 

“That’s a tough one because I can’t really speak for anybody else, I can say, what I can say for other trans wrestlers, for other LGBT wrestlers in general, we, you know we are out there to wrestle and out there to entertain, lets put that at the forefront. I think that’s the biggest thing is we just want to be seen as equal. We don’t want special treatment and we don’t want, you know, any of the pomp and circumstances that come with this label. We just want to go out there and wrestle and do our jobs to the best of our ability. So I would probably say the best way to really really truly support us is to see them as an athlete first and support them in that way.”

How do you personally deal with the negativity that comes your way? 

“I don’t know, growing up at a young age my mum installed in me early that a lot of people are going to be nasty out there and you got to let the negative comments fall off your back, water from a duck. You can’t really concern yourself with what other people are going to do. Don’t necessarily put yourself in a position to be like a doormat or whatever. Don’t let people walk all over you but you can hyper fixate on their negativity, not everyone is ready to have these open honest conversations with themselves.

So, a lot of that negativity and hate is projection. You know maybe they are dealing with something at home or in their lives, dealing with themselves and until they are ready to confront, they are going to take it into the world. And you know you may be the unfortunate person who is the target. I’m not in any way saying what they are doing is right, it’s not, it’s not right at all.

But you can’t hyper fixate on that, you got to worry about yourself and realise you’re worth it, everyone’s worth it. Take a look at yourself as worth it, maybe seeing you be so positive is going to help uplift them, maybe their turn around. So if you met them head-on and your combating that negativity with more hostility that’s adding fuel to the fire, but if you just kinda brush it off and say hey you know not cool, this is what it is, they might in a perfect world, they might come around.”

How is being the first trans woman on a mainstream platform of wrestling impacted you? And how do you hope it impacts others? 

“My greatest hope is that it impacts others, they just see the normality behind it. That is the biggest take away that I can hope people take away… Just, just to see us as like I say, we don’t want special treatment, we don’t want all these bells and whistles, we just want to be seen as normal everyday people, because we are at the end of the day everyday normal people.” Nyla Rose continued, “We all have fears, hopes and dreams same as anybody else.”

What inspired you to become a wrestler? 

“Just being a fan… I grew up as a fan, I am a fan, Brandi says I’m mean and you know generally catches me off guard but really I’m probably in the zone just like going crazy like, oh FTR are here whoa. I am very much a fan of the business and especially our product. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s fresh, it has that neoclassical feel of you know a bit of the old and the 24 with that rock n’ roll vibe, I can’t get enough of it.”

If you want to become a part of AEW Heels there is not currently a Heels website yet. So, to get updates for the next Zoom event, you will need to sign up for All Elite Fleet E-Mails, which you can do here at the All Elite Wrestling Newsletter. or check AEW Heels Twitter.

All images and videos courtesy of AEW Heels, All Elite Wrestling and Brandi Rhodes