The first entrant in the Knockouts Knockdown Tournament at IMPACT’s returning all-Knockout event last month was none other than Mercedes Martinez. The Latina Sensation finally made a striking IMPACT debut after more than 20 years in the rings all over the world. One of the top-ranked women’s wrestlers in the world, Martinez is an Amazon, a free spirit, someone you must care about in a ring. She has always made her career on her terms, as the no-nonsense badass she is. She has stuck to what she wants to be without making any concession to her freedom, her character, and her legacy.

Twenty years later, it brings her to Impact Wrestling, a company that has always set a special spotlight on women. They have always let them free to be women and wrestlers, now mothers and wives and wrestlers, without any kind of ageism or disrespect. There’s a place for everyone in the Impact Wrestling family, something Mercedes Martinez may be finding out now but for the best reasons. This Saturday, after successfully winning the Knockouts Knockdown Tournament, Mercedes Martinez will face off Mickie James for the Knockouts Championship. A chance she is not intending to miss.

SteelChair Mag had the absolute pleasure to talk to Mercedes Martinez this Tuesday. She told us about Knockouts Knockdown, her Knockouts Championship match at Turning Point, her 20-year career, the current Knockouts roster, putting her freedom and her ethics above everything else, and what the future may hold for her.

This Saturday, you will face someone that you know pretty well, Mickie James, for the most coveted title on Impact Wrestling one month and a half after winning the Knockouts Knockdown tournament. What is your state of mind coming to that match?

“I and Mickie have wrestled a couple of times in our career, so this match will be a combination of what we pretty much know of each other. I’m going into that match expecting to showcase a lot, a different side of Mercedes that people haven’t seen on mainstream and going in there surprising Mickie with a lot of different avenues of my talent and what I can bring to the table. We’re going in there with mutual respect with each other but respect goes out the window when a championship is on the line, so I expect everyone to kind of watch this match and just see a very ruthless and a very aggressive Mercedes because at the end of the day, respect has to be thrown out the window when there’s a title on the line and I’m looking to win that title come this Saturday.”

It has been a wonderful ride for you since ‘Knockouts Knockdown, even before because just a day they announced that you were taking part in this tournament, your fans, wrestling fans in general, were so happy. How did you see this opportunity to come to this tournament, at first?

“Being part of this tournament meant a lot, it just kind of cemented myself as someone who will go with the best of the best and even with the upcoming stars. I watch wrestling in a broader sense of doesn’t matter what’s on TV I’m going to watch everything and see who’s out there, so being part of this tournament was a blessing and an opportunity for me to showcase my talent and what I can bring to the table for those who haven’t seen Mercedes Martinez before. It was very humbling, I was very blessed, and I cherished every moment of that tournament. I wrestled people that I’ve never wrestled before, and that is what I look forward to is just wrestling the new crop of female wrestlers.

“Impact Wrestling has one of the best rosters out there, so why not make my talent and my skill be more prevalent to female wrestling than at Impact Wrestling? Did I think I was going to win the tournament? Always. You want to go in, being confident in yourself and being confident that you’re going to win everything but did I expect to have and wrestle some great matches? Thus far, no, because I look at it as I don’t know what to expect with every female talent, and I just want to wrestle everyone and the Impact Wrestling roster and the female talent that they have that far has surpassed my expectations, it really has, and I’m looking forward to hopefully working with Impact Wrestling more, and I’m pretty sure I will when I win that title this coming Saturday.”

Can we say that Impact Wrestling is Mercedes Martinez for the next year, if not the next few years?

“Yeah, I think, but when it comes to me and my career, I just want to be able to wrestle everywhere. I really do. Whether I get contracted somewhere or not, I still want to be able to showcase my talent and still travel the world and to really be everywhere the fans want to see me. I want to wrestle new talent, I want to wrestle the veterans, I want to wrestle the who’s who of female wrestling. Impact Wrestling has given me a blessing, they really have, with the opportunities they have given me. I’m going into Turning Point wrestling Mickie James, and I’m going in there with my head clear and going to win that title. Then from there, I’m going to keep wrestling as long as Impact wants me, and I will keep wrestling on the independent scene and wherever else anybody wants me. I just want to wrestle, that’s really all I want to do.”

Impact Wrestling and you seem like such a perfect match, for the character you are, the freedom you have always had in your career, and the way Impact Wrestling has been treating women. Knockouts Knockdown was a fantastic moment, to have female producers, female referees, female wrestlers, female commentators, and a female ring announcer. So many fans and wrestlers were happy to see that event happen. Did you have the same feeling, coming to the tournament, knowing that it was everything was women related?

“Like you said, it was something that I think as a female that you want to see in this business, everything just females because you could just show what we as females can do. When you got female commentators, female producers, just female talent, just everything, it was history in the making and, for me, walking in there it was so surreal. With the tapings and stuff, you kind of just look at it, and you don’t think about what you feel when you’re there, but when you go home at night, you’re like, “man, this is something that needs to be done more often, it really does,” because it really submits every female’s legacy and just history in the making. It shouldn’t be just one tournament, there should be more tournaments, there should be just more “everything females.” It’s hard to put into words because it really is.

“When I won that tournament, to be honest, it was very hard for me to not cry because it was something that I felt that helped Mercedes but also just help all the female talents out there, put their name out there, and give them another platform in history in the making. That’s what this whole thing is about. I think it was just a magical moment, for I think everyone who was part of that. I was really left with a sense of pride, a sense of belonging, and a sense of being not this won’t be the first, and it definitely won’t be the last time you see something like this. I just want to keep being a part of something like that because there’s always barrier-breaking when you can be a part of something for the first time, and then it just continues. I was very bluntly humbled, and I just can’t wait to see when the next opportunity comes when you can have something just all-female everything, it was just great.”

It took you a long way to come to Impact Wrestling because we know you’ve had a long career, 20 years. Were you thinking, one day, I will come to Impact Wrestling? Is it something that you wanted but were you waiting for the call? I’m sure that you were watching and you were aware of the fact that they were working with women a different way.

“I just think it was meant to be now. I always believe that things will come to you when you were meant to be. In my career, I have travelled everywhere, I try to stay low-key, things like that, but I think that the universe has a way of telling you when things are supposed to be when they’re supposed to be. The last couple of years, I’ve had my real highs, and it’s been phenomenal, and coming to Impact Wrestling now means that I’m supposed to be at impact now, not five years ago, not ten years ago, but now is the time that Mercedes is supposed to be at IMPACT. In fact, there’s a reason for that, and people just have to tune in, and I just have to be blessed with the opportunity to be there and just showcase as to why I’m here. There’s a reason why I’m here at IMPACT, you just have to wait and see what that reason is, and I’m just taking it for what it’s worth. I’m taking every opportunity that I can get with IMPACT, and I’m blessed for the opportunities that they’re giving me.

“I’m just going to be here in and out, it doesn’t matter I’m part of IMPACT from now on whether there’s a piece of paper saying I’m there, it doesn’t matter. IMPACT has one of the greatest rosters out there, when it comes to female talent, really put their talent in the forefront, they really do, and that’s something that I really respect about them. A lot of these female talents that I see on their roster are friends of mine, we’ve been up and down the coast on the independent scene and different promotions, and we wrestled each other so, if they love it, there’s a reason why I’m here now. I just take it with every blessing that we can and as humble and sincere as I can. I’m here for Impact for a reason, and people just have to wait and tune and see why I’m here. The first step is, of course, winning that Knockouts tournament, and the second step would be to win the Knockouts World Championship come this Saturday at Turning Point.”

I have always been saying that 40 is the new 20 about men in wrestling, but there’s only one place in the world where two 40+ ladies, married with children, are going to wrestle for a World Championship. Gail Kim is now behind the scenes on IMPACT, taking care of the ladies. It’s awful to hear about ageism because you, Mickie, Gail, Madison, you all rock. How do you react to that, the fact that your age or your motherhood can be a problem for you to wrestling?

“I think the whole ageism thing is something that should be definitely brought to the forefront, it’s something that needs to be talked about more because when it comes to wrestling, it shouldn’t matter what your age is. If you can go out there, have great matches, and still perform to the best of your ability, then that’s what it should be whether you’re 20 years old, 25, or 30. It doesn’t matter if you can go out there and have a great match consistently and your body is in great health, and you can still perform, then it shouldn’t matter what your age is, talent should speak for itself. Personally, my age should not be the end of my career, it should not anywhere. I should be the one to tell you when I am done, I should be the one to tell you when I can’t do wrestling anymore in the ring because our bodies do take a toll, but I should be the one to tell you I cannot go anymore in that ring, but I still want to be a part of wrestling, whether it’s being an agent, whether it’s being a trainer producer, it shouldn’t matter. Females are females, and as long as we can perform in that ring whether it’s storytelling, whether it’s a character-based character, or if our bodies require big moves or whatever it is. It should not be required for our age, and our age should not stop us from doing what we love to do. You mentioned that 40 is like the new 20, I can tell you me being almost 41, I’m in better shape and feel ten times better than I did when I was 20.”

Like you said, you also want to be free and able to continue to work where you want. Is this freedom really something that you have put first in your career, being free and always being free to be the person and the wrestler that you wanted to be?

“I’ve always liked in my career the importance of being true to who you are, making sure that, whatever I did in my career, I have done it to my best ability and that I wanted to do it my way, not anybody’s mould. I didn’t want to fit a cookie-cutter mould of anybody. I wanted to do everything my way and the way that I wanted to do. Did it make me miss a lot of opportunities? Probably, maybe, but I don’t regret any decision I’ve made because I’ve done it my way. I was always true to myself. I broke down barriers my way, I’ve done everything my way, and that’s really what it comes down to. Now, being with Impact Wrestling and being given the opportunities that they have given me, I still want to have that freedom to be me and to be true to who I am. I think Impact Wrestling has a great relationship when they can just put matches together and bridge that gap with new generation stars and stars like me that, when we don’t matter our age or anything, we can be true and free to who we are and put on matches because that’s really what it comes down to, making sure that we can make magic in the ring, being true to our affecting selves and doing things our way and doing it on a national platform and letting people see what wrestling really should be when it comes to female wrestling. Being free is one of the big things that I loved, and I’ve always done in my career, making sure I’m true to myself and Impact Wrestling just lets me be me, and that’s really what it comes down to, I don’t have to cater to anyone, they just say, “you’re Mercedes, you do what you have to do, go out there perform and give us a great show,” and I’m like, “here, I am, I’m going to do it more than 200 percent” because they’ve given me the freedom to be me, and that’s all I can ask for.”

If you win the Championship on Saturday, who already has a target on her back?

“I think I wrestled almost everybody on that roster at one point of my career. I wrestled Jordynne, Havok, Rosemary, Alisha, I wrestled the who’s who on that roster, so I think when I win that title on Saturday at Turning Point, give me the best person who deserves it, it doesn’t matter who it is, give me someone who deserves to be in the ring with Mercedes Martinez, who deserves to have the opportunity, who really thinks that they can step up to the plate and try to take it away from me. I’m looking forward to wrestling anybody on that roster, like I said, I’ve wrestled pretty much almost the whole roster except for anybody new. Someone who I have my eye on is Lady Frost, she’s an upcoming superstar, but she’s got everything, her confidence, her athletic ability is amazing. I’m just, put us in the ring together and what magic we can make with her style and my style. Impact Wrestling is the only place that you’ll see matches like that, so I really don’t have a certain person I want to wrestle on IMPACT because, to me, everybody on IMPACT is who I want to wrestle with. Give me them all.”

Follow Mercedes Martinez on @RealMMartinez

Turning Point will air live on Impact Plus this Saturday at 10 PM EST (3 AM GMT), YouTube for IMPACT Ultimate Insiders, and Fite TV. The “Countdown to Turning Point” will air live and free on Impact Wrestling social media and Fite TV at 9.30 PM EST (2.30 AM GMT).
IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Thursday at 8/7c on AXS TV in the USA and around the world on IMPACT Wrestling’s new YouTube membership Impact Insiders.

All pics and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling, Fight Network, Dan the JOBR, and AXS TV

By Steph Franchomme

News, Reviews, Social Media Editor, Impact Wrestling Reviewer, Interviewer Well, call me The Boss... And French...

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