I had the chance to sit down with Taya, one of the stars of the El Rey Network show Lucha Underground. We discussed her career, the state of women's wrestling, plus what fans can expect from the Mid Season premiere of Lucha Underground on May 31st.
LRM: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. For those unfamiliar, what is Lucha Underground and why should fans watch?
Taya: Lucha Underground is a show and original series that is on the El Rey Network. We are now in the midst of the Season 3 hiatus. We come back from break on May 31st. It's a show that combines lucha libre, combined with action and gritty actions sequences. Really like a graphic novel come to life. It's not a wrestling show. It is a tv series and it is unlike anything you have seen in your entire life, I can tell you that. And I highly recommend it to anyone. To turn it on, if you want to watch seasons one and two, it is now on Netflix and we're really excited for what we're putting out there.
LRM: What inspired you to be a professional wrestler?
Taya: I didn't watch wrestling growing up because my parents didn't want me to other than going to my friend's houses and watching WWE with their older brothers and stuff like that. I grew up being picked on and bullied for being short. I remember seeing when I was about 14 some of the Diva's on tv and just thinking like 'Wow, this is such a cool way...this is such a cool product.' It was art combined with sport, both things that I actually love and the women in my opinion when I was a kid, I would watch them and I would think 'Wow, I could never be like them. They're so confident and strong and outgoing and everything.' So, it was something I was always interested in. I didn't know how to go about it or anything. But slowly but surely I went into competition and did different stuff that led me to exactly where I wanted to be and here I am on Season 3 and hopefully soon Season 4 of Lucha Underground.
LRM: What's a story you can share about training with Lance Storm?
Taya: I loved training with Lance. He was super nice to me from the first day we met. We continue to have a super close relationship as far as trainer and student. I consider him, like, my wrestling dad. He came down to Austin, Texas a few weeks ago and actually watched me wrestle for the first time in five years live, which is crazy. But he's awesome. He's such a technical wrestler and the way he teaches, he's just so detailed in the way he describes things and he's very honest. He'll always be the first one to tell you if you did something wrong or he'll also be the one to tell you how proud he is of you and how great you're doing. I'm so glad to have him in my corner for this crazy journey of professional wrestling.
LRM: Are there any stories you can share about working with the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper?
Taya: Well, I had the pleasure of working with him. We filmed, as you know, World of Hurt Season 2. We worked on it for what I want to say is about three weeks. It was awesome. I think that Piper is one who helped me with my promos the most because it was something he really worked with us on. I think I had been wrestling for about a year when I was on that show and the character of Taya was just getting started. I think I had been working as a babyface in Canada, like I had never really worked heel, and little did I know I would be a huge heel for AAA as well as Lucha Underground and it's my favorite way of working. He would tell stories about getting real heat and what it was really like when people actually hated you and when people believed that what you did was so bad. I really think about him when I think about heel Taya and getting people to have genuine, crazy reactions.
LRM: What attracted you to the lucha libre style?
Taya: I think because lucha libre in its purest form...I mean, if you go to Mexico and really watch some classic matches, it is such a combination of acrobatics and art, and there's more high flying. They're very character based. Everything is, every personality and character and costume, everything is just so showy and amazing. For me, from a dance and theater background and who really consider myself an artist, I found that lucha was the perfect place for me to be able to create such a cool character like you see in Taya and keep growing, and having crazy ideas for matches, and costumes, and different things. Also being able to do different kinds of move sets than you find in the states and in lucha libre we get to wrestle anything and everybody. So it's more of a equal playing field for a woman in this sport so I absolutely love it and wouldn't have it any other way.
LRM: Ryan Satin from Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that AAA and Impact Wrestling have agreed on a talent exchange which could see some Lucha Underground stars show up on Impact Wrestling. Do you see yourself heading to the Impact Zone and any point?
Taya: I don't really know anything too detailed about that, you know, the working relationship that Impact has with AAA because that is so new honestly. I do know that in the past, some Impact stars have come, especially for the Lucha World Cup and for Triplemania and some other bigger events. I don't really know what's going to happen honestly. I do know that it's been confirmed that some Impact stars will be at Triplemania this year which is at the end of August but as far as us going over there, I have no idea and you never know what can happen, right? This is pro wrestling, so we will see what happens. They've got some great, amazing talent with the women over there so never say never but we'll see what happens.
LRM: Women are becoming an increasingly important part of the wrestling world. With independent stars like Veda Scott and Mandy Leon to stars in the WWE like Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch becoming popular based on their in ring ability. What do you think Lucha Underground has done to add to the women's revolution in wrestling?
Taya: I think it's a huge part of it. Lucha Underground allows us to be equal. A lot of people, for example, say that we need a women's title in Lucha Underground. And I'm like 'No!' We are all warriors. The characters are all there like characters in a video game. If you're playing Mortal Combat, they have men verses women all the time. Think about that. Think about Lucha Underground being a live version of that. I think that this gives women the same platform as the men and so I'm extremely happy to be a part of it. I think we really have done something so different. We are the first major tv show to display women at that level of equality in the world of wrestling so I'm just so thankful I work for a company that sees us as athletes and not just as a weaker sex. We are all there to demonstrate that we as women are just as capable, if not more so, than the men.
LRM: What do you say to critics of inter-gender wrestling?
Taya: I say it's 2017 and get over yourself. I think that they just need to open their eyes and their minds and see how awesome it is. You cannot think of this, for example, people bring up my match with Brian Cage and they're like 'Oh, it seems like he was beating up a woman.' and it was all this domestic violence...What are you talking about? First of all, like, I'm the one that chose to be in that match. I'm the one that put myself in that position because I know my ability and my capability and my talent, you know? This is two athletes fighting to see who's the best. And he got me that one time but who knows if it will happen again? I think it's funny when people have a problem with it. I think that the world is changing and it's amazing. Don't be scared of what you don't understand. Just watch and try to understand what it is. It's not a man verses a woman. It is two wrestlers, two athletes, fighting to see who is the best.
LRM: What can we expect from Taya and the World Wide underground in the remaining Season 3 episodes of Lucha Underground?
Taya: Oooh, I really feel like Taya's presence is a lot stronger in the second half of the season. My favorite matches in season 3 have not even aired yet. So there's going to be a lot of cool surprises. The World Wide Underground is ruling the Temple as usual. We have lots of cool stuff, lots of cool matches and vignettes and it's going to be as crazy as ever so I can't wait for everybody to start watching in a few weeks. May 31st, we start up again for the second half of season 3 on El Rey Network.
I'd like to thank Taya and El Rey Network for setting up the time to talk about her career and Lucha Underground. Again, the mid-season premiere debuts on El Rey on May 31st. Seasons One and Two of the show are available on Netflix.