Guest column from Ryan Dilbert
Ask an outsider what comes to mind when they think of Texas, and they’ll undoubtedly say cowboys and barbecue. Sure. We have plenty of both over here. Natives in the know, however, are aware of one of the massive state’s other abundant natural resources—women’s wrestling.
The acrobatic Thunder Rosa calls Texas home. So does the magnetic Women of Wrestling star Barbi Hayden. And rising talents like AQA are giving wrestling fans more reasons to pay attention to the Texas indy scene with each match-up.
Head to Austin to catch a Sabotage Wrestling show, or hang out in Austin and see WrestleCircus. Check out New Texas Pro Wrestling, Inspire Pro Wrestling or Texas All-Star Wrestling. These companies regularly showcase Texas’ top female stars, in intergender matches, or otherwise.
Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling promotion outside of Houston has become a hotbed for women’s wrestling. ROW partners with Title Match Network every few months to bring you the dependably entertaining Ladies Night Out events. Whether one sees it in person or online, there is steady proof of the level of talent in this state. The following is a look at seven of the top Texas indy women wrestlers of this surging scene.
Honorable Mention: (Alejandra Lion, Rok-C, Raychell Rose)
AQA made it easy to forget she was a rookie last year. The Reality of Wrestling newcomer shot up the ranks, her performances and presence belying her experience.
Discovered at one of Booker T’s fantasy camps, AQA looked like she belonged with Texas’ top talent, right away. Within eight months of being a pro, she was ROW Diamonds Division Champion. Main events and tons of buzz followed.
Agile and quick, AQA moves effortlessly around the ring; a jaguar in purple spandex. She is a skilled striker with a nasty forearm shot, as well as a solid technical wrestler. And while the Alabama transplant is all kinds of fun to watch now, one can only imagine what’s next for her.
With no shortage of quality opponents to learn from, AQA is sure to keep growing. Bet on her becoming one of the biggest names on the indy scene in a hurry.
Jenna Lynn makes it tough as hell not to root for her. She’s a fan living out a dream. A Harry Potter fanatic who pours her heart on the mat each night out.
The fresh-faced prospect from Reality of Wrestling began her career nicknamed “Rookie Jen.” A year later, and Lynn has already shown herself to be a star in the making.
Lynn rolls around the ring like a gymnast. She’s quick with her feet. But her command over the crowd’s emotions is her real strength. She has the ability to pull the audience in, to create a deep sense of empathy for her, as she goes to battle. Her doubt or her fury, her pain or her focus, all radiate from her expressive face. Lynn is a fiery and engaging performer primed to be a top-notch underdog babyface.
She’s still learning her craft and gaining experience with promotions like RISE and SHIMMER. Watching her get better, smiling and battling along the way, is going to be mighty fun.
Jenna Lynn vs. Hyan: Heavy Metal Wrestling
Jenna Lynn vs. Raychell Rose: Ladies Night Out 5
Jenna Lynn vs. Alex Gracia: Reality of Wrestling Ep. 250
Barbi Hayden makes you take notice. Quickly. Whether it’s when she whips her blonde hair like a shark does it tail or when she saunters down to the ring, she snags fans’ attention.
She has showmanship in spades. “I exude confidence,” Hayden told me in an interview, last year. “Once I step foot out of the curtain, something overcomes me, and I just lose myself in there.”
That glowing confidence carries over on the mic. The College Station native is a loudmouth adept at trash talk. She’s entertaining as a color commentator and interviewer, as well.
Once the bell rings, Hayden’s power and technical skill take over and do the talking. Be it against Joey Ryan or Veda Scott, she tells strong stories with crisp ring work and theatrical facial expressions. And her rope-hung DDT finisher is a work of art.
Hayden often works the Ladies Night Out events. You can also see her in action as Abliene Maverick on WOW. One of the bigger promotions is likely to scoop her up before long, giving fans more chances to see her pop off against an opponent.
Barbi Hayden vs. Athena: ROH Honor in the Heart of Texas
Barbi Hayden vs. Taeler Hendrix: Women’s Wrestling Revolution Project XX
Barbi Hayden vs. Veda Scott: Ladies Night Out 3
A fistful of yanked hair, and teeth gnashing on a woman’s fingers: these are sights one should expect to see in a Miranda Alize match.
The Houston-based wrestler is a pitbull in the ring. She’s hard-hitting and vicious, with ample swagger at her disposal. Miranda is best known for her appearance in WWE’s inaugural Mae Young Classic. Her first-round bout against Rhea Ripley only showed off a flash of her ability, however.
She’s been a standout for Reality of Wrestling since 2014, where she often tore it up against fellow Booker T-trainee Hyan. Her resume now includes appearances for SHIMMER and World Wonder Ring Stardom in Japan.
Wherever she wrestles, it doesn’t take long for her to shift the conversation about her sub-five-foot stature to her toughness and in-ring ability. As good a technical wrestler as she is a brawler, Miranda has made it clear she is one to watch.
Miranda Alize vs. Scarlett Bordeaux: Title Match Wrestling/ROW Ladies Night Out 5
Miranda Alize vs. Rhea Ripley: WWE Mae Young Classic 2017
Miranda Alize vs. Allie Rex: Title Match Wrestling/ROW Ladies Night Out 6
Alex Gracia wasn’t destined to stand on the sidelines. As a sports reporter, she hungered to be a part of the action, not just comment on it. Gracia said on Afterbuzz TV’s Women’s Wrestling Weekly, “Something was missing. I think it was because I’ve always had that competitive side of me. And I felt like I need to be out there doing something.”
Wrestling fans have to be glad she made the switch. In just over a year of being in the ring, The Pink Dream has done a lot of impressing. Gracia is powerful and athletic. She’s smooth and charismatic. Her emotion between the ropes resonates, too. She looks like the total package already.
In addition to numerous Texas promotions, Gracia has worked for RISE and Stardom. She is increasingly becoming a coveted commodity, and that promises to continue. With her current trajectory, expect WWE and AEW to come calling.
Alex Gracia vs. AQA: New Texas Pro Wrestling
Alex Gracia vs. Jenna Lynn: Reality of Wrestling Ep. 250
Alex Gracia vs. Myka Madrid: Ladies Night Out 4
Things have changed since Hyan showed up on WWE Raw against Nia Jax, in 2016.
The Houston-based wrestler has been busy tapping into her potential, growing into one of the best overall performers on the Texas indy scene. Hyan has bulked up and added moves like the 450 splash to her arsenal.
In her battles with Kylie Rae and Miranda over the years, she has shown herself to be a skilled storyteller. The two-time ROW Diamonds Division Champ utilizes everything from power moves to pained expressions to pull the audience in. And she’s only going to get better.
Hyan’s recent tour of Japan is sure to sharpen her skills. It’s also been a prime chance to increase her exposure. Fans can catch her tossing foes around on a number of Sendai Girls shows, or wait until she returns to Texas and follow her ongoing pursuit of championship gold. Either way, they will see just why her star is rising so fast.
In a 2017 interview for Bleacher Report, Hyan said, “I feel like I can hold my own with anybody, regardless of who they are.” She’s proving that to be true, with each outing.
Hyan vs. Kylie Rae: Ladies Night Out 1
Hyan vs. Su Yung: Ladies Night Out 4 (No DQ)
Hyan vs. AQA: Reality of Wrestling Ep. 246 (Steel Cage)
A blur of buzzing energy, Thunder Rosa (aka Kobra Moon) can capture a crowd’s attention within the first moments of a match.
The speedy high-flyer zips around the ring, hitting opponents with her artful missile dropkick. And she blends her lucha libre style with plenty of knock-you-on-your-ass aggression.
At many a Texas show, you will find a corner of the crowd decked out in her gear, chanting her name well before her bout has begun. That’s not surprising. She’s likable, easy to root for, armed with a blazing smile.
Rosa, recently sworn in as a U.S. citizen, hails from Tijuana, Mexico, and now lives in San Antonio. She wrestles regularly for Sabotage Wrestling based in Central Texas. Outside of state lines, The Unstoppable has stepped in the ring for Ring of Honor, Tokyo Joshi Pro, Lucha Underground and SHIMMER.
Whether she is teaming with Holidead, or going it alone, Rosa is often one of the most memorable performers on any show she’s booked on.
Thunder Rosa vs. Ivelisse: Title Match Wrestling/ROW Ladies Night Out 4
Thunder Rosa vs. Kylie Rae: Inspire Pro Wrestling
Thunder Rosa vs. Tenille Dashwood: ROH State of the Art
When Ryan Dilbert isn’t keeping track of Texas indy women wrestlers, he’s a freelance pro wrestling columnist for Bleacher Report, Voices of Wrestling, and Bloodsport. Follow him on Twitter @RyanDilbert.