Few women today command the same level of respect in professional wrestling circles as Serena Deeb.
Trained by hardcore legends like Al Snow and Greg Gunn, among others, Dib is a pro wrestling fan who grew up watching the Monday Night Wars, but her main pastime as a child was football.
Dib will begin preparing for a career in wrestling as soon as she turns 18 and competes in the biggest promotions in the world.
She took time out from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for TheSouthAfrican.com.
What drew Serena Dib to AEW
Dib explained to us that the decision to move to AEW as a competitor while training for the competition was due to unfinished business in the ring and the feeling that the upstart promotion was something special, especially with ardent wrestling fan Tony Khan at the helm.
“What drew me to AEW. So many things. Like, I was training and every day I felt unfinished business in my heart, like in the ring. Like, I coached and I loved it. I love coaching. It is so useful and beautiful. And there are many wonderful aspects to this. But I had this unfinished feeling every day, I would pull into the parking lot and just feel like, oh my god, I didn’t finish my wrestling career like I wanted to, I want to do more.
“And all of a sudden, wow, there’s this thing called AEW. And it happens differently. And it made me feel… because I grew up in the attitude era, made me feel that way.
“It gave me the same feeling from the late 90s. You know, like, the Attitude Era, like, just, like, bad, like, you know, all these things that all of us who were fans at the time were feeling, and that’s, you know, that era when I was a pre-teen slash -as a teenager, 11, 12, 13, 14 years old, I became obsessed with wrestling, and so just watching AEW, I was like, wow, this is something completely different. And I, I’ve been a huge fan, I’ve watched, I mean, I’ve watched every week since it started. And I coached at competitions. So I guess there is a conflict of interest.
“But, you know, I think a lot of us were rooting for AEW, like, you know, there had to be territories back then, you know, like guys and women, they could go here, here, and here. And then there was a time when there was a monopoly on wrestling. And, you know, they just had everything.
“If you weren’t there, you probably wouldn’t be able to make a living supporting a family, all these things, all these beautiful things that you like, real life. You know, this is real life, and when Tony came in and started this mission, it was like, wow, this is something completely different. He was a fan, probably actually more than I was, I think. Yeah, younger, even booking shows when he was a teenager and all that amazing stuff, I was just drawn to it then. I was so, totally drawn to it.
Leading a new wave of women’s wrestling
Dib believes that AEW has done its part in accelerating the development of female wrestling stars.
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When asked about her overall impression of AEW’s women’s roster, she singled out a few notable performers who are tearing it up at Dynamite, Rampage and on the internet shows.
“Women’s wrestling has evolved. So many. Started, you know, back in the day WSU, yelling WSU, Shimmer, like Dave Prazak, like these were the people… To my credit, these were the people who were leading the crew trying to put women on the map before us.
“So I came into the business when I was 18 in 2005. At the time they were doing like Diva Search and all that. And, you know, at that time they were looking for exactly what was like a partition. And now the wrestling business needs great female wrestlers, every company, from AEW to every company, how they have high standards for their women. And it’s beautiful to see. You know, I went through sections where it didn’t matter.
“So to answer your question, there are so many great wrestlers in AEW. Screaming Mercedes Martinez. I just had a match with her for the ROH Women’s Championship, she’s got 22 years of experience and she didn’t back down. Grom Rosa, I think eight years of experience, but our women’s champion, you know, leads the pack with this with this championship on her shoulder around her waist. Britt Baker.
“Britt has come a long way in a short period of time. I think it also accelerates people’s growth. Business used to be like, you know, training for 5,6,7 years before you even get in or whatever, but now it’s accelerated.
“So now we have these very young people, Tony Storm, Athena. Jamie Hayter. I mean, they had a great match. I think we are in a huge growth area. You know, there’s always going to be haters, like, whatever, but like, it doesn’t matter. Like, it’s just 2022, you know?”
“Sky blue another one and Leila Hirsch.
“Jade, like dude, Jade Cargill, it’s… It’s like, it’s a prodigy. I mean, people hate her too because of her lack of experience or whatever, but oh my god she puts in the work. If I had those matches, 30 matches in 40 matches, how come! Give up some respect for work ethic and how and how hard people work.
“So I think our women’s division is on the rise. People are joining, we just added Madison Rayne as a coach and talent, like, she’s someone with a lot of experience in different companies, TV experience, TV experience is a whole other level. And I think we’re in a great place. You know how, in terms of putting some good programs together.”
Serena Deeb, Yoga Instructor
Serena Deeb is avid yoga as an important part of her training regimen, and credits the work of former Diamond Dallas Page for more and more wrestlers to the practice.
DDP, as it is commonly known, has developed its own form of practice that has worked wonders in the rehabilitation of not only wrestlers, but also war veterans and athletes.
Serena Deeb says yoga brings everything together for her.
“I think there are a lot of wise people in the wrestling business who use yoga to their advantage. Chris Jericho is a famous name that everyone knows. Yes, he did DDP yoga. You know, like Matt Sydal and Mike Sydal, obviously, like good friends of mine, like great yogis, you know, they, I think sometimes it takes trauma to teach you a lesson. Not a lesson, but like, “Okay, what else can I do?” For me, with the knee injury, I wasn’t training as well as I should have and that was a wake-up call. It was like, okay, you have to do this every day, every day. As for yoga, you know, for so many years yoga was a weird thing that people didn’t connect with? And then I think about, maybe ten years ago or so, it became such a hot thing. Oh my god, is this a money making machine that people have been getting results from? And how did you believe?
“Before that, I think it was like, oh, maybe it’s just a fad or something. I don’t know about that. But I think people really believe it.
“What DDP is doing is awesome. You know, especially for some of the older wrestlers who have a lot of body aches.
“You never go to the gym and regret it, but you never go to yoga and regret it. In fact, you go to a yoga class and you’re like, “Oh shit, I just did something amazing.” Not just for my body, but for my mind. And I think so… I mean, I’m a big gym guy. I exercise very regularly, almost every day, but yoga ties it all together. Yoga unites the mind, body and spirit. No comments on the spiritual part, because there everyone chooses his own path.
“But it ties everything together. And I think that’s such a healthy thing. And I think more and more wrestlers are jumping on that train. I think DDP is a big part of that. I think Trish Stratus is a big part of that. It’s like there are people in the wrestling business who have broken bodies and they’re walking because of yoga.”
You can catch Serena Deeb and other AEW stars on Dynamite and Rampage with new episodes airing every Saturday and Sunday on TNT Africa from 10am.