Thunder Rosa will defend her AEW Women’s World Championship against longtime rival Serena Deeb at Double or Nothing on May 29, and their longstanding rivalry is finally closing.

Two years ago, in September 2020, Rosa faced “The Professor of Professional Wrestling” in her AEW debut match. Now holding AEW’s top title, Rosa sees this match as a milestone in her career. “This one’s two years in the making,” Rosa said. “I was just trying to make a name for myself [two years ago]…and we were both trying to figure out what women’s wrestling was like.”

Before that match, former AEW World Champion Kenny Omega – who also works as a producer for AEW’s women’s division – shocked Rosa when he told her how much TV time she and Deeb would have in their debut match despite being an NWA talent at the time. “We were backstage trying to see how much time we were going to have and Kenny was like, ‘You’ve got 13 minutes,’ and I remember he was like, ‘I want you to show what women’s wrestling is like. ‘ And I thought, oh yes. Say no more.”

Indeed, Thunder Rosa demonstrated exactly what women’s wrestling should be like. She won the AEW Women’s Championship from Dr. Britt Baker at AEW’s St. Patrick’s Day Slam in March in her adopted home of San Antonio, Texas, ending Baker’s nearly 300-day reign in what was the culmination of an extended rivalry, ranking among the best storylines in AEW’s short history.

What made Rosa’s longstanding feud with Baker so compelling was the time and effort that went into it. Perhaps her most memorable moment came in an unauthorized lights out match in March 2021, an unforgettably brutal fight that didn’t officially count as a win for Rosa, but was one of many defining moments in her feud with Baker. Rosa said: “I think it was well developed and well done. We took our time telling the story and I think that’s what attracted people the most… I think people are so short-sighted [memory] Spans and that includes me. But when you have stories and you take your time and develop the background, it’s a lot more meaningful.”

Thunder Rosa has been involved in two of AEW’s most significant feuds – with Baker and Deeb, respectively – and she considers her double-or-nothing match with Deeb her “closure” to bigger and better things. “My expectations are really high. This is a very important game for me. This will be my degree, not from community college or university. I’ve been doing my masters for the past few years, but I’m going to be another pro wrestling professor,” Rosa said.

Rosa’s impact extends far beyond the square circle, too. As a former social worker who has worked with at-risk individuals between the ages of 18 and 25, she doesn’t take lightly the impact she has on fans, particularly young girls who see her as a role model. “I always tell the young girls who come to my table that it’s always important to follow your dreams, whatever that is. And it’s very moving that I get girls from different backgrounds and they see me as someone they look up to.”

Who they look up to is arguably the best wrestler in the world. Rosa said she believes the fact that she is holding the AEW Women’s World Championship proves she is “the best” at what she does. “The championship says I’m the best. I am that Best. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Rosa prides herself on mixing a number of different in-ring styles and being able to adapt to any style depending on who she faces in the ring. So far she’s met some of AEW’s biggest stars, including former Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida, but there are many others she’d love to get in the ring with – or back in the ring – including Kris Statlander. Ruby Soho, Toni Storm and Jamie Hayter as some of the stars on their wrestling bucket list.

Rosa also praised fellow TBS champion Jade Cargill, who she called a “superstar in the making.” As one of the most experienced performers in AEW’s women’s division, Rosa also made it clear that she wants to help AEW’s newer talent get that extra push to reach the next level.

“I’d also like to do some matches with some of the new talent because I think it’s important that the ones that you know can do it – or that are about to do something really, really good , but they just need to be a really good match — I’d love to do that,” Rosa said.

Rosa also noted that pro-wrestling legends Dustin Rhodes and Mercedes Martinez are both instrumental in the development of AEW’s women’s division, but she is open to constructive criticism of any AEW female stars who turn to her for help. “I always tell new talent that I’m available if they need to train with someone or if they have a question or want to roll around,” Rosa said. “It’s very important that they feel supported… You want to get better, you want to get better? I’m here for you.”

Just as Rosa supports her AEW colleagues, AEW also supports Rosa in her outside endeavors. Although best known for her skills in the ring, Rosa considers herself a very creative person and has a number of outside interests, including raising funds for charities, creating short films, and singing. She’s hoping to release a song or two over the next year and eventually an album focused on regional Mexican music that appeals to the Latino market. She even aspires to work with Snoop Dogg and knows that her role at AEW can help her achieve goals that she might not otherwise have been able to achieve.

“She [AEW] really support us to do other things because it looks good for the company and makes the talent happy,” said Rosa. “[AEW President] Tony Khan is very supportive of our personal endeavors… AEW opened the door for me to dive into other things I never thought I would do.”

Although Rosa has many opportunities outside of pro wrestling, she still has plenty of gas in the tank and doesn’t see retirement anytime soon. “I’m going to wrestle as long as I can, but I don’t think I want to wrestle after 45. I know some of my peers that age and they still wrestle. I personally don’t want to do that because it’s very taxing on your body,” Rosa said. “I can wrestle at the caliber I wrestled at for another three to four years … But I also have to step back and take care of my body.”

One thing that has allowed Rosa to take care of her body is AEW’s friendly schedule. Rosa praised AEW’s schedule, which gave her more time to heal: “My body now feels 100 percent. I can’t tell you I’ve been in pain for so long from wrestling so much. This schedule that we have when you have a family is really good because you get to spend more time with your family, unless you’re like me and you’re a workaholic and you’re always working.”

Rosa’s strong work ethic has catapulted her to the top of AEW, and she doesn’t take that responsibility lightly. Though she’s enjoying the money, fame, and financial freedom that global television has brought her, Rosa knows exactly what she wants her legacy to look like when all is said and done.

“I love helping other people. If you ask me what drives me, that’s it,” Rosa said. “Yeah, I want the money, I want the fame and everything. But the fact that with this platform I am able to help others with this [I] I would never do it otherwise, it’s amazing.”

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