It has been a marquee few years for women’s wrestling and that marquee doesn’t begin and end in the WWE. While the attention and lustre of the WWE’s all women’s “Evolution” pay per view is at the forefront of the discussion, some of the absolute best women in the sport are competing in other organizations all across the world. This doesn’t mean that their fighting spirits and contributions to the sport are any less important or less impactful. If anything, many of these women have been kicking down the doors and breaking barriers long before the biggest sports entertainment company on the planet hopped on the bandwagon. Such words can be used to describe the hardworking roster of women competing under the “Women of Honor” banner on Ring of Honor television; namely Ring of Honor dojo product and long-tenured veteran Jenny Rose.
Rose is a Philadelphia native who began her pro wrestling journey at the young age of sixteen. Nearly a decade later, she is one of the most successful and heralded women on the Women of Honor roster. Her training and thirst for in-ring knowledge led her to Japan where she wrestled for Pro Wrestling Diana as a masked character “Jamilia Craft”. A short time later she unmasked and Jenny Rose began her ascent up the rankings. Her career has taken her through a virtual “who’s who” of competitors as she has stepped into the ring with the best the independent circuit has to offer. In addition to her in-ring accolades, Rose pulls double duty as a promoter for her home-based promotion “Aspire Pro Wrestling” and strives for nothing short of excellence every time she puts her name on something. She has a candid way of viewing the sport and an attitude most trainers wish their students would adopt; An attitude befitting of a leader who wishes to leave things better than when she found them. She recently took a few minutes to sit down with me and discuss Ring of Honor, the difference between promoting and competing and left with me in awe with her positive vibes in this exclusive interview with SteelChair Magazine!
This interview comes on the heels of the announcement that Ring of Honor and New Japan have just sold out Madison Square Garden for an arena show. What does it mean to you to be part of the Ring of Honor family with such a huge event on the horizon?
Ring of Honor is very special to me. When I was sixteen years old and considering wrestling schools, I chose Ring of Honor with head trainer Delirious, so I guess you can say Ring of Honor has a big place in my heart. 2019 is my ten year anniversary with the company along with my wrestling career and I’m very proud of how far we’ve come since then. New Japan Pro Wrestling is amazing and their partnership with Ring of Honor has taken us to new levels. I’m very fortunate to learn so much at every show.
You have the unique honour of being both an in-ring competitor and a promoter for your own promotion (Aspire Pro Wrestling). What makes you want to do both and do you love one more than the other?
Since 2011 I lived on and off in Japan competing for Pro Wrestling Diana-owned by Joshi legend Kyoko Inoue-who along with wrestlers Kaoru Ito and Sareee, made me who I am today. I was inspired to run my own events because of how much I enjoyed the dojo shows we had there. They were very family friendly shows and we would even cook for the fans and interact in ways we couldn’t on a lot of independents I’ve been a part of. I wanted to bring that to the United States and also have a positive place to compete and bond with family and friends. I’m a professional wrestler at heart. It’s been a wonderful experience being a promoter. It makes you appreciate how much work actually goes into running shows.
I recently watched a fantastic title match between you and Sumie Sakai for the “Women of Honor” championship. You hit some beautiful manoeuvres in this match including a spear that made me jump out of my chair. Tell us a bit about Sumie as an opponent and about your chemistry with her in the ring. You two really clicked and had me wanting ten more minutes.
I’ve known Sumie Sakai since I was 18 years old. We’ve teamed together more than we’ve actually competed against each other. She has that Japanese strong style that I can relate to more than anyone in Women of Honor because I was trained dojo style just like her. I learned from many of the same Japanese wrestlers who taught her. That’s why we click.
You debuted in a mask and now you are a completely different character in one of the world’s biggest promotions. What would you say has changed over the years and what have you kept the same as far as the development of your in-ring personality?
I lost my mask in Japan years ago. Since then I’ve gained more confidence in myself and I think it shows. Sometimes I can’t help but still jump around in the ring with excitement…I love this!!! #JumpinJRose
You’ve been in the ring with some amazing athletes over the years. Who have you enjoyed wrestling the most and who do you have your best matches with? Is there anyone you have been itching to get in there and compete against?
My best matches and most enjoyable are against Sareee from Pro Wrestling Diana. We are teammates. She’s like a sister to me. We push each other. Currently, she is the Diana Champion and I hope to get a title shot soon, whether it’d be in Japan or the USA. My dream opponent is Sarah Stock. I think she’s all around the best international women’s wrestler in the world and I want to compete against the best. Great wrestler, but even better person.
You could probably name an entire list of people who inspire you in the ring, but who in life inspires you outside of it and why?
My parents are my biggest inspirations. Since day one they’ve been my biggest supporters. They are hard working, good hearted, respectful, and tough. I’m grateful to have such a strong family.
It is well documented that you trained in the Ring of Honor dojo here in the states, but then went over to Japan. What made you want to train there and can you tell us a bit about your experiences?
When I was 19 years old I got an opportunity to train and compete in Japan for Pro Wrestling Diana. I knew it would be a tough experience but I was determined to learn from the best and being so young, I felt like I had to prove myself. I was certainly tested over there. I was the only foreigner for a long time so I got to bond with the Japanese people, and immerse myself in their culture and training, which is very special to me. Training was brutal, there were times when I could barely walk or lift my arms but I stuck with it, pushed through, and gained respect from legends and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I spent well over 5 years there, waking up early to clean the dojo and training hard. I learned so much discipline and respect. I credit Japan for making me who I am today. I’m very grateful.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with professional wrestling and can you elaborate on it?
I was a WWE fan when I was a kid. I remember my dad surprising me and my brother with tickets to Smackdown in Philly. I was 11 years old and after watching that show live it really made me want to do it myself. I remember thinking how fun it was and how it made so many people happy. When I got into training I fell in love with wrestling in a different way. I appreciated the sport more. I still love it.
What are your goals for the rest of 2018?
I want to keep growing and becoming the best I can be. I want to become Women of Honor champion. I want to put smiles on faces. I want to learn more Jiu Jitsu. (laughs)
Where can our readers find you online?
You can find me online at: Twitter.com/jennyrose_jro
Any parting words?
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently, if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth.”—Rocky Balboa