Bullying in pro wrestling has been a hot topic lately, and the victims have included everyone from announcers to divas to even former world champions.
In Stephy Slays’ case, she was bullied before entering the industry. Growing up with an absentee father, she suffered ridicule and harassment from kids at school. After all, high school is a pretty rough place.
Now she’s taking her aggression out in the ring as one half of the Bully Busters, partnering with Keta Rush to dominate the tag team division of Women of Wrestling (WOW). “Stephy has all the moves of Ricky Steamboat in the ring. She’s a terrific athlete,” said WOW Founder David McLane.
Slays and Rush are involved in a tag team tournament, facing Caged Heat in the first round at a taping on May 11 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com and more information can be found at WOWE.com. Enter the promo code STEPHY for 25% off.
Slays joined Wrestledelphia Radio this week to discuss breaking into the business, her experience with bullying and life as a WOW Superhero.You can listen to that interview here. Below are excerpts from the conversation.
How did you get involved with WOW?
Stephy Slays: “There was a casting, but I came out of nowhere. My mom is a producer and works with Telemundo and other Spanish networks. She became friends with Sophia Lopez, who plays the world’s greatest lawyer. She told my mom I should try it out. So in the middle of my senior year, I tried it. I thought it was training like some kind of workout you do in a class. So I went and fell in love with WOW and everything about wrestling.”
What’s your athletic background?
Slays: “I came out of nowhere. I didn’t have any cheerleading background or gymnastics background. I did maybe half a semester of volleyball. (laughs) I’m just a competitive person and I learned that with WOW.”
Did you watch wrestling growing up?
Slays: “This is a funny story and I love telling it. My younger brother is a huge fan of wrestling. He collected every action figure. He had the spinning belt. He turned his whole bedroom into a wrestling ring and he got ropes with that ring. As a kid, I would always make fun of it. I’m like, Chris, why do you like wrestling? I was never a fan but I grew up around it because of my brother. And now, he’s my biggest fan. He’s cheering me on and I never imagined that this would ever happen to me.”
How much of your bio is real life and how much is the character?
Slays: “Honestly, what I love about me is I really put in all my realism into my Superhero character. I just amplify it and make it bigger than life. I was bullied and I was bullied in high school for not having a father. My Superhero brings out the strength and confidence that it’s okay to go through a horrible period of life as long as you recognize the negativity and fix it and learn from it.
My character does that and I do that in real life. I like to take all the negativity in life and turn it into a positive. I go after my goal no matter how hard it is. I’m going to make that climb and if I fall down, I’m going to get back up. Hopefully, I can empower younger girls, kids, teenagers, and show them that it’s okay to be the misfit. As long as you accept who you are, and then use it for a better advantage.”
With bullying being such a hot-button issue right now, you see yourself as kind of a role model?
Slays: “Yes, exactly. I see myself being a role model for any person watching. Whether you’re 5 years old, 10, 20, 40. I want to use my experience as an example. My experience happened when I was in high school. I went through a hard time, you know? But having my mother there and my family showing me that I am strong enough and that people are going to talk no matter what, I learned that you just have to live with it and choose what you want to listen to. Do I want to listen to what people have to say negatively about me? Or do I want to listen to the people who truly love me? I chose to listen to the people that I love. My friends, my family.
I don’t hide what I went through. I want to use that as an example. I want to show the world that we’re not all perfect. I might be a Superhero, but I had my flaws and I still have flaws. But I moved on. I got my high school diploma. I’ll be graduating next month with my AA. WOW is going to be there once again for me. WOW has made my life a million times better. WOW is a big family.”
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