We had the pleasure of being able to ask AQA some questions just to get inside her mind of wrestling. AQA, is one of hottest rising, young women out today. We thank her for giving us this opportunity. Before you dive in the Q&A here’s a highlight reel we made for her off of something see said on social media. Again Thank you AQA, and we can’t wait to see more from you
1. Why do you love wrestling?
Because it has saved my life on more than one occasion and is the main moving force behind why I do the things that I do, it drives me, it motivates me. When I’m feeling low and feel I have nothing left it’s the first thing that comes to my mind and tosses out all of my negative thoughts and emotions and pushes me to do more, it keeps me grounded, it keeps me wanting for more. As a kid I never did fit in with a lot of people, I didn’t know who or what I was before I found wrestling, it truly helped me figure out my “why” in life.
2. What started your love for wrestling?
I caught an episode of RAW and Smackdown with my grandfather and I was hooked. I had never seen anything like it before, I was obsessed with the matches, the entrances, the production, the larger than life characters, just any, and everything wrestling. I stopped playing sports in high school after I missed the first 15 minutes of RAW after a softball game, and the funny part is we were in the playoffs and we were one or two games away from winning the championship, but I didn’t care, I was angry I had missed my favorite show and vowed to never play sports in high school again [Laughs]. I even turned down an offer to run track in college because I was afraid to miss one episode, I wouldn’t dare go anywhere on Monday or Friday nights because I knew I needed to be home watching what I loved. It got to a point to where family members wouldn’t even call me on those nights because they knew I was just going to rush them off the phone in two minutes to get back to the action, that’s how obsessed I was. The strength of a thousand men couldn’t pull me away from the tv, friends and family couldn’t get me to stop talking about it, and they still can’t, I am enamored with this business.
3. Describe your style or personality in the ring in 3 words or less
To be honest, I’m still playing around with that, it hasn’t been until my last three or four matches before the pandemic hit that I was starting to find my groove. I’m still trying to figure out who and what A.Q.A is and what she would do in certain situations, she has parts of my personality that I like to show, and she has parts I haven’t unleashed yet. I’ve been working on some stuff since the pandemic began and I want to play around with it in the ring before I label my character as this or that. I do lean towards the high flyer style of wrestling, but that is not what I want to be known for it, I want to work more on my technical abilities as well, be the best of both worlds.
4. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
From a personal standpoint, what I am most proud of is having the strength and determination to start this journey. A lot of people have hopes and dreams, and goals but very few people actually go out into the world and try to accomplish what they set out to do; it’s easy to say what you would like to do, it’s a whole other scenario to go out there and actually try it. There were plenty of times in the beginning and even as recently as last year that I felt like giving up, that I felt maybe this was not for me, but that little voice inside of my head kept telling me to continue. There would be times where I would try to talk myself out of going to training or even a match, but that little voice, as annoying as it could possibly be, kept on and on and on until those thoughts were no longer in my head. As a person who deals with depression and anxiety, of course, those thoughts do come back from time to time, but I no longer allow them to rule me or my mind, when things start to get rough I take the time to let them pass and I pick up where I left off, there is no stopping completely. I’ve come to the realization that most people would rather be comfortable than confront change head-on. There is no fun in being “comfortable”, and what does that even mean? that you’re just “okay” with where you are, that you know you want more, and could have more but you’ll accept where you are because it’s easy and requires no growth? For me complacency is not an option, I’ve tried to be complacent, it’s miserable absolutely miserable. There’s no way I can look at where I am now and go “yeah, I’m just fine with where I am and what I’ve done, not going to change a thing, not going to try and do better.” That’s no way to live life, I used to dread change until I realized that’s where the growth is.
From an in-ring perspective, the biggest highlight of my career so far for me has been my steel cage match with Hyan. I was going through so many personal obstacles at the time, I was really at a low point in my life and no one but a very close friend of mine knew about it, I even kept my family in the dark. So for me to go out there and achieve what we did, make history the way we did, and mark our place all while going through some personal battles meant a lot to me. It showed me that I truly can persevere, that everything you go through is just temporary, if you allow it to be, nothing can stop you but you. Had I stayed inside of my own head who knows what would have happened, the match could have gone completely left. I’ll always be proud of that match because of the story behind it, it’s one of those things that I’ll always keep stored in the back of my brain to remind me that if I can get through that time period, I can truly get through anything.
5. Before a match, do you have a go-to routine or pre-match ritual?
Because of my anxiety, I have a tendency to get extremely nervous about my matches far ahead of time, I’m talking weeks, even months in advance some times, so usually the night before a match or the day of, I will write all of my thoughts down. Anything I’m feeling, whether good or bad, I’ll write it down, it gives me a clear mind, helps get all of the pre-match jitters and concerns out so I can focus on the match, keep my opponent safe, and entertain our audience. Another thing I have to do is eat blueberries before each of my matches, they’re full of antioxidants and vitamin C that help to fight off anxiety, and I know everyone is different, but they work for me, especially when I get really antsy. I also like to listen to music that gets me pumped up, or I’ll listen to motivational audio clips that I have saved on my playlist. I bring my pet hamster Thyloh with me to all of my matches, I just play with him and focus on how cute he is and how happy he makes everyone else, and that’ll usually calm me down as well. Wrestling is all mental, the physical part is easy, so you have to do whatever it takes to get ready and get in the zone, so that is how I calm the rushing river that is my mind and thoughts.
6. What usually happens as an after match ritual for you?
I don’t have an after match ritual, after I go up to my trainers and Booker to receive feedback, the first thing I usually want to do is get out of my gear and relax and watch the rest of the show with everyone else. Having a snack on standby is always nice though.
Random Question : The Rock or Stone Cold?
“Why not both? I enjoy both for reasons that are unique to only them, wrestling wouldn’t be what it is without one or the other.”
7. What match had the greatest impact on your career?
This isn’t a match that is my own, but Shawn Michaels versus The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25. I was 12 at the time, but that match shaped the way I saw professional wrestling going forward, and how I want to go about my career to this day. That was the first time in my life where I felt like I was inside the ring with the wrestlers, they pulled me in from beginning to end, I didn’t understand at the time why because I was so young, but knowing what I know now, it was the psychology, it was the story, it was the unpredictability, the characters, the whole nine yards. By that point in my life, I already knew I was going to be a wrestler, but it was that match that was the driving force behind why I want to be able to tell a story in the ring that stands the test of time. I want to be able to grab the audience’s attention, sink deep into their emotions and take them on a journey the way they did me, literally keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time, there were moments where I was so into it that I would scream so loudly that a family member would come in and check on me. I actually went back and watched the match again for the first time in 10 years today, though I clearly know the outcome, it’s amazing that I still had the same goosebumps and feeling of “wait! he’s not going to kick out!?” after 10 years. I want to be able to have that effect, I want to be involved in something that people are still talking about years later, or be the inspiration behind why they do what they do in the squared circle, or why another little girl wants to lace up a pair of boots.
8. What are your feelings and attachment to nature and are you really about the “farm life”? (Little laugh)
Nature is a really beautiful and enjoyable thing to experience, I love to go for long runs, I’m not a treadmill person, If I’m going to run for miles on end I at least need to see some scenery. I’m not a fan of the heat at all, and my body cannot handle it, so when I am outside it is usually an hour before the sun starts to set, that is also the time I like to ride my horses. As far as farm life goes, the work is not easy at all, you can work up a real sweat out there, but I love animals, they’re extremely interesting, and they have their moments where they make me question my own sanity at times, but I love each of their unique characteristics. Every animal on the farm has its own name and personality, there will be times where I will see something out of place, knocked down, or eaten and I automatically know which one did it. So yeah, I love nature and all that it brings, but then…then there are mosquitoes, like why? I did nothing to you, get away from me you bootleg vampire.
9. Being a person of color, what obstacles have you faced and how did you overcome them?
It’s ironic that my sister and I were just discussing subtle racism about a week ago and how we dealt with it in high school but didn’t really realize how bad it was until we got out. I didn’t have any hardships during my time there, but I did pick up on small comments here and there and how different situations would be handled between one ethnic group versus the other. I remember a few times where if we wore anything Obama related to school we’d be asked to take it off, yet there were other boys and girls walking around with confederate flag belts, belt buckles, and caps tucked in their back pocket and no one batted an eye. Or how one time they let a girl who was head of the school paper completely trash our then-president Obama, and not one administrator thought to take it down. How I had a teacher who I was very close with at one point tell me that she quote “needed a black friend” to talk to because people had called her out on a racist comment she made and I guess she thought if she had my validation it would prove otherwise, kinda like “Hey my black friend said it’s okay so it must be” type of thing. It would just be small things like that from time to time where you knew it was wrong, but because it wasn’t really discussed a lot, it was skipped over, and when you think back on it you wish you had done or said more.
I’ve been fortunate enough that I have not had to go through the things that my family members have been through, but as I said, it’s the subtle racism that I’ve always dealt with. One thing I cannot stand is for someone to tell me that I “talk white” what in the blue hell is “talking white?” I was under the impression that one cannot speak a color. The funny thing is I had never even heard of that until I moved from the city back down to the country and I’ve always hated that proper English is equated to whiteness, like no, there are plenty of ethnic groups who speak proper English, it’s not just limited to one. What hurts the most is when it comes from people who look just like me, it hurts because it shows how low on the totem pole this country has placed us, so much so that we have to equate speaking or dressing a certain way, or listening to a different type of music to one ethnic group. I was always the outcast, I was the black girl who walked around with chains on my pants, my hair in my face, skulls everywhere, spiked jewelry, and I listened to heavy metal, punk rock, alternative rock etcetera and it was always my black peers who made the biggest deal out of it, don’t get me wrong, a lot of them liked it and had questions, but you could definitely tell there was an invisible line that I was crossing and I had no idea it existed. I knew something was up because my white teachers, bless their hearts, you could tell they were so confused [laughs] like why is this little black girl running around dressed like this? [laughs] and they always had questions. My black teachers, the first few times they saw me, they would kind of cock their heads to the side and I could practically hear their thoughts, but as time went on they always smiled and told me how much they liked that I was different and not to change. I don’t know, I just always found everyone’s reactions intriguing because my mother and father never taught me that being different was wrong or going against the norm was weird, they always supported my sister and me in all of our endeavors, so it was always a bit of a shock when everyone else would say otherwise. All I knew was that I was just being myself, I was different, I was unique and I enjoyed that because everyone else was a clone.
As I mentioned earlier, I personally haven’t faced any life-changing obstacles that I’ve seen some family members and friends go through, it’s just always been the subtle racism that got me. I have been followed around stores before, constantly asked if I needed help when I told them on more than one occasion no, but yet they continue. Or when I walk towards the electronics section someone immediately rushes over until I make a decision, that’s always annoying, but the facial expression that I give usually wards them off [Laughs]. I especially hate it if I’m at the self-checkout, and the cashiers purposely stand near me while I scan my items, but they leave everyone else alone. I remember one time I told the lady “there’s nothing in here worth going to jail for, if you like, I can buy you something too since you’re so interested in my cart” and she walked off in a heartbeat [laughs], she knew what she was doing and she knew she was wrong, innocent people have no reason to hide, right? There was one time in college, where I knew I was more qualified for a position in a project, and everyone else including the person who was given the position agreed, and after presenting the facts of why, the deciding person couldn’t for the life of her give me a valid reason as to why I wasn’t chosen, but of course I knew why. Recently I’ve had two moments where I experienced subtle racism again. Once was in Walmart, my debit card for some odd reason only works at certain check out lanes, so I always go to the same one over and over because it doesn’t spit out my card like the others. This particular time it did, so I called over for help and the cashier grabbed my card and in the most condescending voice said, “Well, hmm, how much money do you have on it?” now my initial reaction was to give her a piece of my entire mind, body, and soul, but you never win when you play dirty. Fighting fire with fire only results in someone getting burned, so being the nice petty person I am, I gladly told her the amount, and when I tell you her mouth dropped open so far a 747 could have flown in and landed [laughs] that was all the victory I needed.
Another time, and this happened about three or four weeks ago, I was in the store and I was fourth in line. There were two black ladies in the front, an older white male in front of me, and two white males behind me. So I watch as she rang up the two black ladies and they each had food, and she asked them something but I couldn’t make out what it was because I wasn’t paying much attention but I saw them exchange a look to one another before grabbing their items and leaving. The man in front of me went, got his stuff, and left, then she got to me and rang up my food items, and asked “EBT or Debit?” and I thought “huh? you didn’t just ask the guy in front of me that question”. So I paid for my stuff, and I stepped out of line and stood back to watch her interractions with the two white customers that were behind me. Her interaction with me didn’t sit right, so I decided to test a theory, if she asked them the same question I was going to go on about my business, and if she didn’t, I wanted to know why. So for each one she rang up their food items and asked “cash or debit?” but she asked me and the other black customers “EBT”. So that really just irked my soul, so I waited until the line cleared and walked over and calmly questioned her about it, to which she had no answer. I could tell she was getting nervous and didn’t realize the subtle difference she had made, so I continued to speak calmly and reassured her as I did from the beginning, that I wasn’t here to argue with her or make her feel any sort of way, I just genuinely wanted to know why she felt the need to treat us differently. Though she still couldn’t give me an answer, and I could tell she was racking through her brain for one, I respected the fact that she was genuinely trying to hear me out and learn why I found that offensive, and after having a slight conversation with her boss who decided to walk over and chime in, I could tell right away that she had been taught to do that. It may not mean anything to anyone else, but to me, it’s the small things like this that divide us. If you’re going to ask one person a question, ask everyone that same question, don’t just assume that because I am black that I am on assistance, or any other black or brown person for that matter, treat everyone the same, don’t pick and choose who you will and won’t discriminate against. I believe by the time I was done, there was no doubt in my mind that she was not going to do that again, or at least become very aware of the things that she says and does going forward.
10. What do you see for yourself in the future, coronavirus aside?
I would like to be signed, I would like to see a contract in my future. I’m not opposed to the hard work it takes to get there, I’m more than willing to put in the work, I mean at the end of the day that’s what we are all working towards, that’s the end goal, to do what we love in front of millions of people. I have a goals list and I’m going to work hard to check off all of them. There is one particular goal that I want to reach before the year is over with, I don’t want to jinx myself so I won’t say what it is, but when it happens I’ll be proud to let everyone know.
11. What’s your Mt. Rushmore of Women’s Wrestling?
Honestly, I tend to avoid these types of questions and I’ll tell you why. I have been inspired by so many different female wrestlers that have been the driving force behind my approach to this business that there is no possible way I could ever narrow it down to just four. So many female wrestlers have affected me in their own unique way, that I’d be afraid if I missed one. Every time I do attempt to do one of these, my mind automatically goes “but what about her, or her? or this one? hey, remember when she did that or when she said this and it turned your life around?” so because of that, my Mt. Rushmore is simply a mix of all the women who came before me and paved the way for me to be able to step foot inside of a wrestling ring. Every woman in this business has contributed and played a role no matter how big or small, and they all deserve to be recognized for that, I won’t negate the many for a few.
12. What more do you want the world to know that they don’t know already?
That what you’ve seen so far was only the beginning, my first two years I was shaking out of all of the cobb webs, trying to figure out who and what I am, what can I bring, what do I offer? This time around I have a more clear head going in, I have a game plan. Most importantly, I want the world to know that I am more than just cool tricks and flips, I am not limited to being the person who puts on the “fun” matches, I can be serious and aggressive. I have goals that I will accomplish and check off of my list, especially now that my motivation and determination have returned full circle and I am a very dangerous person when I am motivated. I can sit here and tell you all day what I plan to do, what I want to do, and what I will do, but what is the fun in that? I rather you sit back and watch me shine, see how I perform when there’s a chip on my shoulder, people think they know me but they don’t have the slightest clue of what I am capable of. I haven’t felt this motivated since I started three years ago, I could have been so much more then but I was afraid to be me, I thought I had to be what everyone else wanted me to be. Nah, not anymore, you haven’t seen anything yet, failure is not an option, nor does it exist in my mind. When I return I’m going to do things my way, I may never have this chance again, so why not go all out? For the ones who have been on this journey with me since day one, I thank you and I look forward to continuing down this path with you, to ones who don’t know who I am, oh [chuckles] you haven’t seen nothing yet, not even close.