Indie Spotlight: Riley Shepard

Riley Shepard is a Monster Factory graduate who gave up a career in law enforcement to train to become a professional wrestler.

“The Gladiator of Geeks” has only been wrestling for three years but she spent the majority of 2019 recuperating from ACL surgery. Shepard will make her return to action next year and can’t wait to continue her journey in the ring.

Even though she is still a newbie to the squared circle she has an impressive resume. She has wrestled for SHINE, RISE, and Ring of Honor, to name a few.

Who is Riley Shepard?

Age: 31

Birthplace: Howell, New Jersey

Trained: “My initial 2 years of training was at The Monster Factory (trained under Danny Cage and NXT’s Damian Priest). I’m currently training at Team Adams Pro Wrestling with Damian Adams and Worldwide Dojo with Cheeseburger and Sumie Sakai from Ring of Honor. “

Debut match: Dec. 16, 2016, for Monster Factory Pro Wrestling. Riley Shepard vs. Gabby Ortiz.

Photo Credit: RISE

When she started watching pro wrestling:

“I started watching pro wrestling around 2014. My husband used to watch with his brother growing up but had stopped watching before we started dating. His brother invited him to Wrestlemania 2013 but didn’t get me a ticket because I guess they thought I wouldn’t be interested. So I kind of got a tad bit spiteful (like I had to prove them wrong or something) and forced him to watch NXT with me after that. This rekindled his interest in wrestling & began my obsession with it.”

Her journey into pro wrestling:

“When I started watching NXT in 2014, The Four Horsewomen (Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Bayley) were coming up. This drew me into wrestling because it was the first time women were gaining momentum by being treated as equals instead of divas. At the same time, I was a police officer and was finding out that I was not content with my job. It was disheartening at the time because I had been pursuing a career in law enforcement since I was 15 years old and thought it was going to be my dream job for the rest of my life. “

“Seeing strong, powerful women in wrestling and being unhappy with where I was in my own life made me realize I needed to make a change. I knew with my gymnastics and athletic background that I could pursue wrestling despite my age (I was 28 when I began training), and I knew it was now or never. “

“When I started researching training facilities in NJ, The Monster Factory posted a deal on Instagram for women to start training. I took that as a sign and immediately reached out to Danny Cage through email. I remember I sent the email around 9:30 on a Wednesday night and he responded right away saying “Come by this Thursday (tomorrow) at 8 pm. Do not worry if you are not in the best of shape or if you think you’re not ready. It’s just a simple test that takes roughly ten minutes and then you can sit and talk to the coaches.” I told him I’d be there, and the rest is history. “

Riley Shepard
Photo Credit: Brian Krieger

Inspirations in the ring:

“Like I mentioned, The Four Horsewomen in NXT were definitely inspirations. I think the biggest inspiration for me was the match between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks at Takeover: Unstoppable in 2015. During that match, the audience sang Becky’s music to her after she lost, and that was the moment that made me decide to become a wrestler. “

” Once I started wrestling training, my coach Damian Priest became a huge inspiration. He showed me that, no matter your age and no matter how many “no’s” you get during your journey if you keep grinding and putting in the work you’ll force people to realize you are undeniable. We trained 3 nights a week at The Monster Factory, and Priest would come in early and be working out at the gym before training all of us every single day. “

Favorite match/opponent to date:

“Oof, that’s a hard one to answer. I don’t think I have a favorite opponent because I’ve been honored to share the ring with so many fantastic wrestlers in their own rights. I do have two favorite matches though, for two very different reasons. One of them is my debut match for Women of Honor in June 2018 tagging with Gabby Ortiz against Stella Grey and Sumie Sakai (who was the champion at the time). This was not only my debut for Ring of Honor but also the first time I had ever wrestled on TV. “

“What made it really special though was that, despite all the nerves running through my body as I walked through the curtains and stepped into the ring, I looked up at the balcony at Hammerstein Ballroom and knew my husband was in the crowd watching and supporting me. Also, realizing I had that opportunity after only a year and a half of wrestling made me just want to continue to prove that I earned that spot. ”

“My second favorite match was at “Let’s Hang Out Again” (LVAC) in October of 2018. It was a four versus four match, where I tagged with Ultramantis Black, Orange Cassidy, and Oleg the Usurper against Hallowicked, Merlok, Rex Lawless, and Miranda Vionette. The atmosphere at LVAC has always made it one of my favorite places to wrestle. There are no chairs, so the fans crowd in around the ring and they’re always insanely excited to be a part of it.”

“I think this match was the first time where I truly just allowed myself to enjoy every single moment instead my nerves taking over, worrying about messing up or disappointing people. Between the atmosphere and the wrestlers that I shared the ring with, I finally felt like I found and embraced myself as a wrestler. And I think that was a huge turning point for me in my wrestling journey.”

Her in-ring style:

” I don’t really have a “style”. I’m sort of average size for a female wrestler, so I tend to have to adapt my offense depending on who I step into the ring with. My trademark moves are 180° handstand knees, roundhouse kicks, missile dropkicks, slingblade bulldogs, and fallaway slams.”

Future goals:

“Right now my first goal is to get back in the ring. Unfortunately, I tore my ACL and MCL in January. I did try to return to wrestling with a huge hinged brace in March and was able to wrestle 4 matches, including my debut at SHINE and Future of Honor. However, I realized I was being horribly reckless and decided to get ACL reconstruction surgery at the end of March.”

” I am FINALLY making my return to the ring in February 2020, 10 months after my surgery! Besides that, I just want to travel and work at as many promotions as possible in 2020. Being on the shelf for most of 2019 has made me beyond antsy, and I just want to get experience and build my wrestling resume by working everywhere against anybody no matter their gender. “

Dream opponents:

“Becky Lynch, Ruby Riott, Io Shorai, Tessa Blanchard, Jordynne Grace, Solo Darling, and Kelly Klein. I’ve also face Nyla Rose at Warriors of Wrestling, but I’d love to be able to tag with her in the future. In all honesty, after these last 10 months, I just really want to fight everyone! “

Her upcoming schedule:

12/28: Atomic Championship Wrestling/ Rogue Women Warriors (commentary)
1/11: New York Championship Wrestling (commentary)
1/31: Brii Combination Wrestling “Queen of the North” (All women’s tournament)
2/1: Workrate Entertainment
2/8: New York Championship Wrestling

“You can find me on social media on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @TheRileyShepard or my website “

Keep an eye out for Riley Shepard because she has a lot to prove and the dedication and skill to rise to the top of the indie circuit.

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