Wrestling It – Speciale – Intervista a “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo

Wrestling It! Here we are Luca “the real dream” Galdi here Francesco “hunter” Cacciatore Francesco can you hear me? And.

Wrestling It! Here we are Luca “the real
dream” Galdi here Francesco “hunter” Cacciatore Francesco can you hear me?
And with us today there is the one the only the “Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo. Ciao
Deonna. Hi guys how are you? Tutto bene Tutto bene. Thank you thank
you very much for accepting our invitation to do this interview. So we
have a lot of question to ask you because I mean we follow you we we know
that you have an Italian heritage but Francesco let’s start let’s start with
the first question. Alright so I want to start from the
beginning actually because something that’s always interested me is how you
guys who do this amazing job that we all love, how is it that you get interested
in it so was it something that you always liked or I don’t know do you
remember a moment when you said okay this is what I wanna do.
Was there one match one performer that impressed you, how did this start? I have a twin brother, his name is Dominic, he was a huge wrestling fan when we were younger growing up It was…I think I was 9 the first time I saw wrestling and got interested in it Stone Cold Steve Austin hit Chris Jericho I believe it was over the head with the chair And from that moment I was hooked and never looked back as a wrestling fan and then when I got to see the women wrestle
I really became interested in wrestling as a career and that was something that
I thought I could do so at 9 I told my parents that one day I wanted to be a
professional wreslter. Wow amazing. So it’s always Stone Cold Steve
Austin’s fault, see? Yes So your parents can blame him
because of this but that’s actually a good point because
you’re not the first one who told us that Stone Cold was one of the reasons, because
he was an icon back then and wrestling was so over it was so mainstream but
speaking of female wrestlers as you said that you actually decided when you
saw women wrestling, what were yor early idols your main influences to
get into the business? My n.1 favourite was always Trish Stratus. I watched Raw last night because Trish was on it. Her, and Lita, Victoria, Mickie James, all of those women were kind of the reason why I wanted to become a professional wrestler They were not just beautiful and running around in bras and
panties they were wrestlers to me so they made me really wanna pursue
professional wrestling. That’s right and when did you actually start training and
who were your trainers? I started training at 18 in New Jersey with Damian
Adams at a school called d2w oh it doesn’t exist anymore it’s kind of
transformed over into team Adams which is Damian and a few other girls like
Karen Q and Tasha Steel’s that I’ve trained with consistently but my number
one trainer since day 1 has been Damian Adams. I’ve read somewhere that you trained
with Rip Rogers too at some point? Yeah so Rip Rogers was actually Damian’s
trainer back when he was in OVW I’ve trained with Rip quite a few times we brought him to
New Jersey to do seminars I’ve been in Canada with Rip for seminars so I’ve
just kind of anytime he’s been in the area that I could get to I went to train
with him. So, you mentioned the New Jersey right now so you’re a native of
New Jersey? Yes. Right and I know there is a huge italian community there, right?
Yes. Well what about the Italian heritage that you have so where are you
from where were your parents or grandparents from? Yes my grandparents and funny story actually both sides of
my grandparents and my family are from the same village there, but we’re
Sicilian. Oh that’s nice. Have you ever been there? No I’ve never been You should go. I’m going to Sicily next week for an holyday in Palermo and Trapani so the north part and on an island called Favignana
which is very nice very nice sea so you should go there. You ever thought of, you
know, exploring your roots I mean researching something or incorporating
them in your character in some way? Yeah My family has done a lot of research to go back and see where our family comes from like my mom has like all that history
but I think like well I guess we just get grouped like Sicilians and Italians
is the same kind, especially in the States so WWE was really the ones
who pushed me to incorporate Italian heritage into my character when
I first started wrestling so I wore the Italian colors and you know transformed
a Ferrari symbol into my own you know so that was when I had first started and I
think characters always evolve and it just kind of become a part of who I am
not necessarily my character so it was really WWE who kind of pushed me to
explore that a little bit more. All right all right, that’s the same thing
that Mike Verna told us basically that they encouraged him to
do something with his Italian background but back to wrestling, when was your
first match? My first match was December 6th of 2013. Wow, very good memory! Yeah I worked my whole life to be able to have that one match I always said the people that I trained with that if I
never had another match from that day forward like I lived that dream that I
wanted so that specific day was one of the most important of my life. Well
that’s very nice. Can you tell us something about the match was your opponent how was it? My opponent was a woman named Jenna
who had been like just just like a veteran wrestler in New Jersey for ten
years or something like that and my parents came like my mom was there to
see my first match I had a few friends there but I remember a week or two prior
to the match Jenna had dislocated my jaw in practice and I was terrified to wrestle, because it was on purpose. It was my first match I had no idea
what I was doing and she was just gonna go out there and try to hurt me
but we got through it and I lived to wrestle another day. Wow. Is any of your parents apart from your brother
of course a wrestling fan? Your mother, your father your grandfather? Not that I can say with confidence. My dad has only see me wrestle a handful of times, the first time
last year last year at Ring of Honor in New York city and he came to the Hammerstein Ballroom
and Cody Rhodes was in the ring and I know Cody, and he was so shocked, like “you’re friends with Dusty Rhodes’ son? You didn’t tell me that!” It just took me 23 and a half year for me to have a conversation about wrestling with my dad. He wasn’t a big fan growing up but I guess he did
watch like you know, we never talked about it so that was a very cool moment to have with him that he knew part of something that I loved for the first time In the Italian community in the 60s and 70s thanks to Bruno
Sammartino there were many Italian American fans so maybe your grandfather as well, we don’t know But I think that I mean the difference
like where people like you know we said Stone Cold and of course Dusty, they
were larger than just wrestling and people outside of wrestling fans knew
them so that’s a huge thing from the past I think that needs to come back in
wrestling today. So we were talking about your
training and what styles actually influencesìd you most in developing your own
style because because we know you’re a master of the Fujiwara armbar so I
think that Japanese wrestling is a huge influence and you can tell us something
about that? Yeah it’s funny that you mentioned japanese style, because I was not a japanese wrestling fan until right before i went to Japan for the first time My training was very old school American style wrestling very very influenced by Rip Rogers who is the master of old-school, so to be able
to transition from basic American style wrestling to a Ring of Honor style
wrestling which is a bit of a hybrid between American and Japanese
and lucha and stuff like that and then to go to Japan and wrestle, my style now
has been more broadened and more well rounded I would like to say, but really I just love technical
wrestling I love people like Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit are my favorite
wrestlers so I’ve tried to adapt more of like that, cruiserweight-WCW kind of style. Yeah absolutely, so moving on when was your first
approach to WWE? So the first time I worked with WWE was as a Rosebud, with Adam Rose, I guess it was 2014 was the very first time that I got to be an extra at Monday Night Raw and then from there just consistently
whenever they were in the Northeast I got to go and be a Rosebud
when Adam was still there I got to do tryouts before its backdown and stuff
so really 2014 was the first time that I got to work. What was the impact going into the WWE Universe? Very Michael Cole, I felt like Michael Cole now. That’s what I jumped at. When I first become a wrestling fan I didn’t know what indipendent wrestling was. I didn’t know what Ring of Honor or Impact wrestling was. I wanted to be a WWE superstar So to walk into Mondat Night Rar my
favorite wrestler growing up was Randy Orton, to be in the same environment as him and just kind of
realize like wow these people aren’t just people I idolize these are my peers
and my co-workers was just a really amazing satisfying feeling. Right
of course. Did you
ever meet Stone Cold Steve Austin at the end of the day? No. For the second Mae Young Classic last year we had to sketch Stone Cold with a blindfold on and I drew a little stick figure that said “Hell Yeah!” and I tweeted it at Stone Cold, and he tweeted it back so that’s the only interaction we had. It’s OK, I think you will do it. Speaking of the WWE there’s something I
wanted to ask you because you know in the last few years there’s been a lot of
talk about the women’s revolution and it’s always been about the WWE but
actually it was not just that, I mean you were in the first Women of Honor
tournament in Ring of Honor so you were actually one of those wrestlers who
made the women’s revolution but outside of the WWE. Yeah I feel like for me
changing the perception of women’s wrestling was always my goal I’ve never
been for like money and fame and and all that stuff comes with being a WWE superstar but I
just wanted women to be seen as powerful forces in pro wrestling no matter where
it was so women of honor was like a passion project for me and something
that I poured my whole soul into because WWE had rejected me so many times
that I was at a point of like no F these people I’m gonna make it work and I’m
gonna be better anywhere else that I could be and I kind of used just that
rejection as motivation to make women of honor what I saw that it could be
which was competition for WWE and it was the same motivation that I used to be
able to wrestle in Japan in England and Australia and all these other places
that I just wanted women to be seen in such a greater light then I saw women
growing up so so Women of Honor was so special to me because we got that
opportunity to like create something for the first time.
Yes and you were actually I mean one of the as I said one of the people
who made the women revolution but somehow I mean what happened outside the WWE was kind of overshadowed by the WWE jumping on you know this
women revolution making a pay-per-view and making kind of all about that but as
you said there was a lot going on outside, right? Yeah absolutely think
about it Impact had been doing all women’s pay-per-views for four years and
I got to be a part of two of those with Knockouts Knockdown and they had you
know Gail Kim versus Taryn Terrell in like a last
standing match I believe it was or something like that like women all over
the world and all these companies had the same vision that WWE has now. And WWE has such a great platform worldwide that it’s been pushed to newer higher heights
because of the platform that they have and I think that it’s trickled down
to other places now being given the same platform so it’s kind of all evened out
in the long run. Yeah, and speaking of women in wrestling recently you have
been very outspoken in your criticism of fans chanting the name of
your boyfriend Marty Scurrl during your matches and then I think Renee Young also
added her voice to this and of course I agree with you that’s an awful thing to
do but do you think it’s just just that or you think that also tells us that
maybe female wrestlers are still seen as secondary competitors in the wrestling
scene by the wrestling audiences do you think that this is part of a bigger
problem still? I think it’s always gonna be part of a bigger problem because
there’s such a demographic in the world that want to hold women back want to
hold specific people back like you can’t
appease everyone and wrestling is so subjective because it’s predetermined
that people can form their own opinion it’s not it’s not real just like
who your favorite wrestlers is it might not be mine and there’s no statistics to prove
that people don’t see women in wrestling as equals and those are the people that
were never gonna change them right if they don’t believe it now
then they might never will but it’s my job to perform to the best of my ability
and to support myself as a woman but my fellow women too so I got a lot of
backlash and things at me pertaining to Marty but I’m always going to defend
myself I’m always gonna defend women in wrestling because we’re in a spot where
we can right now and we’re in a spot where we deserve better. You are the coolest thing in wrestling
last year Charlotte Flair Becky Lynch Ronda Rousey this year what Tessa
Blanchard is doing in TNA is in Impact sorry
it’s amaazing it’s great she’s gonna she’s breaking down all the walls, great job great job.
Yeah so so we just as women have to collectively always stand up for
each other and always defend ourselves and defend one another because there’s
always going to be that portion of the population that doesn’t want to see it
succeed but that portion today was like the
majority ten years ago so if we can continue to push forward and work hard
and support women they’ll get there too. And you have worked really hard
for this I mean 2017 Ring of Honor women wrestler of the year then summer of 2018 Mae Young classic and then an NXT contract you wanna tell us a little
about how this came about? Yeah I signed a contract for ROH in January of 2018 it was meant to be a
year-long contract but just some things with my personal life
and the way my career was going at Ring of Honor wasn’t ideal for me anymore and
I had asked to be released and they granted me that release and just a few
weeks later WWE had contacted me about the potential of signing a contract and
being a part of the Mae Young so it all kind of fell together in this weird way
to work out for the best of all of us. Okay and are you happy living in Florida
now, is it a big change for you? I never paid rent or paid bills so moving to Florida
kind of starting my own life my own family here was a really big change from
me last year but I love it here I love being in Florida at the
Performance Center Karen Q has join me and Rachel Evers and Chelsea Green and
three of my best friends from indie wrestling that I spent all my time with
now I spend every day with and I work with on a consistent basis so it’s been
a really great year I’ve just a lot of personal change but also a lot of
success for for my friends and my family in wrestling. That’s amazing and
speaking of your personal life I’ve read somewhere on the internet that you
actually like history, is that right? Right, I like history. And actually
that’s very funny when I’m not when I’m not doing this I am actually an Historian
and you’re studying to become a teacher too, is that true? I was a teacher before I moved down to Florida. through preschool
from so like two and a half to four ages two to four and yeah I had stopped
teaching right before I moved down to Florida.
Okay and because you’re too busy now I guess, right? Yeah wrestling just kind of
took over and I was you know traveling so much spending so much time away from
home and from work that it wasn’t fair to the kids being a teacher means
consistency and you know discipline and all of those things that kids need to
thrive and I wasn’t able to support that anymore for them so it was best for me
to walk away and allow them a teacher that could provide. Yeah
absolutely that’s very very responsible and so what’s in the future I
mean what are your plans moving forward what are the things you want to
accomplish now that you’re in NXT the message that you want to give to our listeners? I think for me personally I want to bring back the days of of Sasha and Becky and Charlotte and
Bailey in NXT that competitive wrestling fire that kind of ignited this
whole women’s evolution I want to be able to debut on TV when it’s my time
and just kind of show them what wrestling’s about again and luckily I
have been paired with with Chelsea Green and Rachel Evers in NXT and we kind of
have a tag-team thing going on called VXT so I’m really excited to explore
where that goes and and see where that’s headed but everyone wants to be the NXT
Women’s Champion everyone wants to go on to be the Raw or Smackdown women’s champion I hope those things are in my
future. So what’s your dream match if you have to choose a dream match even
with people from the past yeah. If I had to pick someone that’s still wrestling I would pick Natalya and if I could pick an Hall of Famer of course it would be Trish Stratus And if you could pick an intergender match if would be Stone Cold Steve Austin If Dean Malenko could wrestle again, if he came out of retirement it would be
Dean but yes I would love to wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin. The man of a thousand holds! Okay so you must be very
excited for SummerSlam of course we’re seeing Trish vs Charlotte right? Yeah I’m so excited. So very last question tell us your your top three favorite
matches of wrestling history bot men and female. OK, I’m gonna go in no specific order WrestleMania 10 Owen vs Bret, Fall Brawl
Chris Jericho versus Eddie Guerrero I believe it was 1997
and I’m gonna pick a classic Trish match Trish vs Mickey I think it was WrestleMania
23? Yeah I was not expecting Fall Brawl 97 you’re really really
knowledgeable for being so young Honestly that is the style that I love most it has great psychology great athleticism actually it’s just a combination of
everything that I think speaks to Jericho and Eddie and and to know that
they were such good friends and a lot of that was called on the fly is just
amazing to me and it’s one of my favorite technical matches ever. Me annd Luca love to watch old WCW pay per views so we totally agree. Yeah no no that’s great that’s
great thank you very much Deonna I mean I don’t know if you know this but when
you are on television in Italy the Italian community the Italian wrestling
community is very excited because as soon as we see an Italian flag we get
excited so you and I mean also the thing that your name is “the Virtuosa”
which is an Italian word makes us very proud,
you should know that should know that. Yeah that means so much to me thank you
so much. Yeah and for your family as well because they must be proud
as well. Yeah I hope so. Alright so thank you very much Deonna, grazie mille. Yes thank you so much and all the best for the future. Can you say
something in Italian just say hello. Oh, God! Mmm no? I can say some curse words but I don’t think that’s appropriate Just ciao. Ciao!

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