From a relatively unknown independent wrestler to one of the most powerful female wrestlers of AEW, if not of the business today, there was only one step Nyla Rose made with simplicity and strength. One phone call can change a life, and for Nyla Rose, Kenny Omega’s was the one. Omega told Rose that he was involved with a group planning to launch a major new promotion stateside, and he wanted her in.
Nyla Rose made her AEW debut at the promotion’s inaugural event, Double or Nothing 2019. Her scheduled triple threat match against Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D., and Kylie Rae was turned into a fatal four-way match with the surprise addition of Awesome Kong. Rose was not involved in the decision, after spearing Kong into the ring steps shortly before Baker pinned Rae. A strong woman was showing another strong woman how good she could be.
AEW is proud to promote diversity in their roster. If Nyla Rose hadn’t been revealed as a trans wrestler, this would have probably been something no one would have taken care of. The fact is now Rose is the first openly transgender wrestler in history to sign with a major American promotion, but also the first trans wrestler to win a title in a major American promotion when she won the AEW Women’s World Championship last February. And she’s proud of that.
SteelChair Magazine had the opportunity to talk to Nyla Rose two weeks ago. The former AEW Women’s World Champion told us about his reign, her new association with Vickie Guerrero, AEW, the women’s division, equality in wrestling, and what the future may hold for her.
You have a new manager, pretty loud and talkative, in Vickie Guerrero. How did the situation make you team up with Vickie Guerrero?
“Vickie was kind of a no-brainer. I took a look at the landscape of our division, of the company overall. I don’t just watch the product, I study our product, and there’s like this glaring, overwhelming truth to everything, like everybody who has a little bit of a coach, some outside ears, some outside eyes in their corner, they’re doing extremely well. As well as I have done in the past, losing the title at Double or Nothing 2020, I could stand to do a little bit better, so I thought about who out there in the wrestling world would be a great fit. Like I said, when I was putting together my list, Vickie was kind of a no-brainer. Through some channels, I got a hold of her, and I said, “Hey, I’d love to bring you in, pick your brain, get your insight, and get your expertise.” She’s got over 15 years of expertise, so she was on board. She loved what I had to say. I’d loved even more what she had to say, and it was just a natural partnership.”
I think you’re probably the only woman with a manager in the women’s division
“I think you might be right on that. For now, I tend to be a bit of a trendsetter, so who knows? That might change after everybody sees just how dynamic and how destructive Vickie and I can be.”
The fact of being the villain, a bad girl, is it something that for you fit better with what you want to do or your wrestling style, or is it a moment you think you could be a face?
“Oh no, it’s too good to be bad (laughs).”
I read you were chosen to come to AEW by Kenny Omega because you did not fit any boxes. Kenny Omega told you we want you in because you are fitting no boxes. It’s something so unusual.
“Sometimes things get a little mixed up. The boxes that were being checked just had to do with the look and style of my wrestling, and that’s really as far as that went. They needed a big bad, they needed a heavy, and I checked those boxes right off. I like to think I’m a little bit charismatic and kind of a well-rounded performer. When you’re building a company from the ground up, you want to have somebody who can wear a lot of hats, who can do a lot of things. I’m eternally grateful to him (Kenny Omega) for the opportunity, and Tony Khan as well, and of course, Cody, Brandi, everybody.
The big thing is they saw me as a wrestler, as a performer first, and for all intents and purposes, that’s as far as they saw me. I mean, obviously, they saw me as a person and saw what I had to offer, but they hired me to be a wrestler, they hired me to perform. That’s what they were looking at, that’s where their focus was.”
Do you think one day you will be able to just be seen as Nyla Rose, female wrestler?
“That’s my hope. That’s my dream. Every day there seems to be a little bit of progress in that direction. Shoot for the stars, that’s the overall goal, the overall dream, and that’s what we’re going to keep pushing for, and hopefully, one day, we do see that.”
You have been with AEW, let’s say from the beginning, you made your debut at Double or Nothing last year. How do you see the evolution of the company and the women’s division?
“For me, I don’t necessarily know that evolution is the right phrasing, but there’s definitely been growth and development, which semantics aside, is a form of evolution, I suppose, on a smaller scale. With us just starting up last year, it’s been a steady, steady growth, a steady, steady progress. Every week, we’re pushing, doing and growing, and that has been the trend for over a year, ever since we got the foundation started in the company in October when we hit television. We hit the ground running full force, just pushing forward steady, steady, steady, and here we are, and now we’ve got some big things on the horizon. Unfortunately, COVID kind of slowed things down a little bit, but we have some tricks up our sleeve. We have some things that we want to share with the world, but it’s going to take a little bit of time. Once we get past all this and put all this past us, there’s going to be some great, great leaps and bounds in the women’s division, and in AEW overall.”
Are you missing the crowd and the sound of it?
“We’re missing the crowd just as much as they’re missing us. Like I said, it’s kind of a good problem to have, in a sort of way, because people are just so antsy. They’re so excited. They’re a little bit impatient for what’s next, but all we can ask is just be a little bit patient. We just don’t want to throw it out there when you guys can’t really appreciate it, but there are some good things coming.”
How did you live that period of time when you were AEW Women’s World Champion when you were, let’s say it, on top of the world?
“Another one of the many, many things affected by COVID, it kind of took my head out of the game for a while there, like you said, on top of the world, and just really dialled in, really focused defending the title, doing something on TNT every week. Then, all of a sudden, things come to a screeching halt, and you’re kind of stuck at home for a little bit, kind of takes your focus away, and I really just went into Double or Nothing a little unprepared. I’m reluctant to say it, but Shida is a great champion, she’s doing the company proud, but with Vickie on my side, I’ll have my revenge, and we’ll get that title back where it belongs.”
We have seen you over the last few weeks teaming up with a few people like Penelope Ford, Britt Baker. Is it a side of wrestling you also appreciate?
“Definitely. I love a little bit of tag team wrestling. I tend to be a little bit greedy, so just like anything else in life, you get a lot of flavours with tag team wrestling. You don’t have to wait and see what’s next because it’s all there in the ring right there in front of your face. It’s just really interesting to see how different personalities work, or in some cases, don’t work with each other. There’s a lot to be said about tag team wrestling.”
This women’s division is definitely strong. How would you describe the atmosphere of the division?
“Just like anything else, professional wrestling is full of large, over-the-top dynamic personalities, and that definitely can be said about our women’s division. The overall atmosphere is extremely positive in a lot of ways. We are very much like a family, but just like any family, sometimes, we just don’t get along, and that’s when things are settled in the ring. We’ve got a lot of great personalities, a lot of great characters, and I don’t see any sign of things stopping anytime soon.”
Who are the wrestlers that you have not competed against yet, but you would really want to wrestle?
“Bea Priestley kind of turned her back on me a little while ago, and I have not forgotten. She’s someone I’ve never been in the ring with. I thought she was somebody I could start to trust, as far as a partner, but she wants to turn things around. I’m looking very forward to that travel ban getting lifted, so I can teach her a thing or two. I don’t know where she’s stuck, but when she gets back stateside, she’s going to be stuck under my boot.”
At AEW Heels event, you took the time to answer the question of the fans, of the women wrestling fans. Was it easy for you to come into the project and join the party?
“When Brandi told me we were going to be launching a thing called AEW Heels, I was really excited. I thought, finally, they were just going to recognise me for how great I am, and it was going to be a program just about me, the best heel. Then I found out it was for the fans, and I was like, “Okay, that’s kind of cool too (laughs).” All jokes aside, though, I think it’s a wonderful little project to really highlight some of the women fans because I think a lot of times, with pro wrestling being a bit of a boys club, some of the female fans get a little bit lost in the shuffle, and a lot of times, they may feel a little left out. To have something, a club if you will, just for them to highlight them to showcase them, make them feel warm and fuzzy and welcome, I think it’s going to do wonders for the progress of our business overall.”
What kind of example do you want to be for the fans and for every young wrestler who’s trying to make his debut in the business? What kind of advice would you give to these people?
“It’s as cliché as the sun rising every day, but never give up, truly. That is probably the biggest thing, just keep pushing, never give up. One of our coaches, Dustin Rhodes, says keep stepping. I didn’t know I was living by his motto until I met him, and I learned what his motto was. Definitely, that is something I live by. You got to keep pushing. If somebody gives you a no, figure out how to turn it into a yes. Persevering and pushing, that’s what we’re striving for.”
Follow Nyla Rose on Twitter @NylaRoseBeast – All pics and videos courtesy of AEW and TNT