When Stella Grey walked into the ROH Dojo in Bristol, Pa., for the first time on Oct. 17, 2016 - a date she says she will never forget - she could never have imagined that she’d be competing for Women of Honor in a sold-out arena just nine months later.
After wrestling the first match of her career in a Future of Honor Match at the ROH Dojo against seven-year veteran and ROH Dojo graduate Bonesaw Jessie Brooks several months ago, Grey made her WOH debut against Karen Q at ROH’s national TV tapings on July 29 in at the Cabarrus Arena in Concord, N.C. Grey wrestled her second WOH match against powerhouse Kelly Klein at the tapings in Las Vegas Sept. 23.
While she has yet to achieve the first victory of her young career, the 5-foot-2 Grey has proved to be fearless, as she has held her own against larger and much more experienced opponents.
When asked to describe herself prior to her Future of Honor Match against Brooks, Grey said: “In a world full of light and dark, I’m in that grey area.”
ROHWrestling.com caught up with the promising rookie recently to try to shed some light on just who Stella Grey is.
ROH: Where did you grow up and what is your athletic background?
SG: I grew up right outside of Philadelphia and played soccer and basketball. I also have two brothers who played ice hockey, but girls weren’t allowed to do that, so they would play street hockey and I was allowed to play that with them. I was a tomboy growing up, and my brothers did not handle me with kid gloves at all. They were the ones who introduced me to wrestling. We would legitimately fight as kids. They didn’t see me as a girl or little sister; they just saw me as another target (laughs). I have a scar above my eyebrow from one of my brothers shoving my head into a wall. We fought really dirty.
ROH: At what age did you become interested in pro wrestling, and when did you know it’s something you wanted to pursue as a career?
SG: I remember seeing WWE when I was younger and kind of noticing it but not being a passionate fan. It wasn’t until - I can’t remember exactly what age I was, maybe 10 - my brother was watching TV and I walked in, and it was an ECW match between Beulah McGillicutty and Fonzie (Bill Alfonso). I just remember seeing him all bloody and I was like, “What is going on? A girl and a guy fighting - and girls can win?” My mind was blown. Since I watched that, I was hooked.
Since ECW was based in Philadelphia, me and my friend would sneak out to the ECW Arena. My parents hated it, but I didn’t care. I was in love with it. Within a couple months of going to the shows, I was like, “I have to do this. This is what I’m meant to do.” And then ECW got shut down within that year or so. I was such a fan of it and I was like, “I’ll never watch wrestling again if there’s no ECW.” Then I started hearing about ROH and CZW because they were around the area, and I started watching them. I always loved the independent scene -- just the amount of talent and athleticism and how much the fan are involved in the matches. That’s what rekindled my passion and made me realize this is what I need to do.
ROH: How did you end up training at the ROH Dojo?
SG: I always had it in the back of my head that I wanted to do it, but I have a strict Italian family and they’re all about the idea of women being married and pregnant. That just wasn’t a goal of mine, but I always had that pressure. When I turned 21, my father got me a 9 to 5 job at an insurance company. My brother - the one who introduced me to wrestling - quit his job and moved to New York to follow his dream of being a standup comedian. He just gave everything up and bet on himself, and I was like, “Why am I not following my dream? Why am I doing what other people want?” I just started Googling wrestling schools and the ROH Dojo showed up. When I found out it was so close to me, I knew I had to go for it. I kept my training a secret for a long time because I knew my family wouldn’t be very accepting of it, and some friends wouldn’t be either. Only about five people knew I was training until a couple months ago when I made my debut. I was basically leading a double life -- working at the insurance company during the day and at night training and weekends on the road. A lot of friends had no idea why I was so busy and out of town so much.
ROH: What was the training like at the dojo?
SG: It’s like boot camp. They pretty much put you through the wringer to see if you can handle it. I remember the first night just thinking how sore and tired I was and I thought about not going back. And then Will Ferrara texted me with words of encouragement. He said, “I know you’re in a lot of pain but each day it’ll get better.” It’s painful and you’re exhausted the first couple months but your body does adapt.
ROH: How would you describe your personality and in-ring style?
SG: I’m like the sweetheart, girl next door, but also the pissed-off bitch you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. (laughs) It just comes down to being from Philly. I’m kind of a brawler. It’s just that mode that I go into. Having trained at the dojo, I have various skill sets. I love to do hurricanranas, but my go-to moves are forearms and European uppercuts. It’s effective and I just like striking. One of my finishers is a Dragon Sleeper. It’s simple and effective. It’s all about control.
ROH: Can you describe what it was like having your first Women of Honor match against Karen Q?
SG: I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I was just like, “If they think I’m ready, I’m ready.” It was a big arena and there were a lot of people there, but you try not to let that get in your head. Karen is a great wrestler. Her kicks and strikes are very strong, and I knew I had to bring my “A” game. I just really wanted to make the dojo proud.
ROH: What are your goals in regard to Women of Honor, both short term and long term?
SG: The short-term one is just to have more matches with Women of Honor. I’d love to wrestle Mandy Leon. Obviously, Deonna Purrazzo has a totally different style. Honestly, I would be ecstatic to have the opportunity to wrestle anybody on the Women of Honor roster. They’re here because they’re good at what they do. There’s no other wrestling like Ring of Honor, and Women of Honor is of the same caliber. I think all of the girls would love to have a championship belt to compete for. I think Women of Honor can set the standard for women’s wrestling, and I just want to continue to be a part of that and one day be a champion for Women of Honor.