SPW's own David Dunn sat down with Bea Priestley to talk about her return to New Zealand and her debut for SPW at Southern Rumble!
They also talk about her success in the UK, her WWE tryout, her thoughts on the current Women's wrestling scene and her scary story having brain surgery!
SPW Insider: What prompted you to leave New Zealand and move to the United Kingdom?
Bea Priestley: I left New Zealand because I wanted to do something with wrestling and there wasn’t enough wrestling – at the time – going on in New Zealand. There just weren’t very many opportunities, and I felt I could learn more overseas.
I loved PROGRESS, and I wanted to learn to wrestle there. I loved Jimmy Havoc, and wanted to be trained by Jimmy. The UK scene was blowing up. I saw TNA British Boot Camp and that made me want to come to England and train and wrestle with these guys. I got into PROGRESS. After watching that I started watching ICW – IPW as well – and the Southside shows they used to put on YouTube. The crowds were quite good over here too.
I had the security I was a citizen so I didn’t need to worry about visas. I had family here so I didn’t need to worry if I got into trouble and all that kind of security. I was like, I might as well give it a go – if I don’t like it I can just come home.
Image Caption: Jimmy Havoc
SPW Insider: What are some of your career highlights since moving to the UK?
Bea Priestley: One of my favourite matches has been with Toni Storm in PROGRESS, actually. [Chapter 40: Intercepted Angel] Character-wise I was pretty boring, but wrestling-wise I had a lot of fun with that. Toni Storm is amazing, I love her to death, she’s one of my favourite people.
Image Caption: Bea Priestley VS Toni Storm
I really enjoyed my matches with Nixon Newell in WCPW. I think Nixon is the main reason I improved so quickly. She’s fantastic and I’m very happy for all the opportunities coming her way. I think she’s definitely hard-earned it. It honestly shows how good she is because she made me look good when I was still very new to wrestling in England.
Another one of my highlights of this past year has definitely been my tag match with Will Ospreay against Ricochet and Tessa Blanchard. It was my first time doing a match like that in a tag form. Obviously Ricochet and Will do a lot of stuff when they wrestle, so in terms of me trying to get the hang of that style of match it was a very good learning experience. I managed to hang in there, swim with the sharks in a sense.
SPW Insider: We understand you had a WWE tryout last year? What did that entail?
Bea Priestley: The whole process was so surreal. On the first day, we showed up in our business outfits and did promos in front of William Regal and Norman Smiley. I think my promo went quite well, I went down the brain surgery route. That was the first day we arrived.
SPW Insider: What can you tell us about your brain surgery?
Bea Priestley: Funnily enough I was knocked out so I don’t remember! The hardest part was the recovery process afterwards. I wasn’t allowed to run until two months afterwards. I wasn’t allowed to go to the gym until six months after my surgery. It wasn’t a highlight of my life, but it’s drawn attention to me and made me stand out as a wrestler – because how many wrestlers have survived brain surgery and continued to wrestle? It was just the recovery process, just sitting on your bum and not knowing if you’d be able to wrestle again.
Image Caption: Via @beapriestleypw Instagram account
SPW Insider: Back to the WWE tryout, what else happened?
Bea Priestley: At the end of the second day, Regal pulled all the girls to one side and basically just said we’re going to start straight away in the morning with matches. You can choose who you want to wrestle, it’s up to you, but yeah, just let me know who you wanna wrestle by the end of the day and we’re gonna start straight away in the morning. I picked Nixon, obviously, we both picked each other.
Unfortunately for me though after I had my match my back seized up and I actually wasn’t able to stand up after my match was finished so I had to go see the trainer. I had to sit out some of the drills – which I was a bit unhappy with – but I did jump in afterwards.
Image caption: Receiving a spine buster from Nixon Newell
SPW Insider: What advice would you have for anyone looking to get involved in pro-wrestling?
Bea Priestley: When I came to England I had limited training so I just started again; I said I’d wrestled a little bit in New Zealand but I wanted to start over again because I knew that I was rusty, I hadn’t wrestled properly since my brain surgery had happened. The matches I had done when I was in New Zealand, they were very basic and simple. I went over, I started training, and I just kept going to training until I was asked to come on shows.
Be respectful to everyone, even if you don’t like them. You’re going to have to work with people you don’t like, but it’s called professional wrestling for a reason.
Go to the gym as well. When you get to a higher level you do understand how much more physically demanding it is. You have someone else’s life in your hands, essentially. It could be dangerous if you don’t stay in shape and keep fit.
Image caption: Definitely keeping fit!
SPW Insider: What’s your take on the way women’s wrestling is perceived in New Zealand?
I think “that article” gave a very dated view on women’s wrestling. The way it came across to me is that the article was spoken as if we were still in 2002 Diva Search days, not Women’s Revolution where we actually bust our arses to try look like wrestlers rather than models in bikinis. It was a bit disheartening to see emphasis put on materialistic things ahead of the effort and work we put in outside of the ring.
I came to England to learn how to wrestle, and I’ve had some of the best wrestlers in the world train me, so I’m going to come to New Zealand to showcase what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown as a wrestler.
SPW Insider: You’ll be in action at the SPW Southern Rumble on July 22. What attracted you to Southern Pro Wrestling?
Bea Priestley: SPW reminds me a bit of PROGRESS in a sense. It reminds me of the PROGRESS vibe, and it’s actually on Demand Progress [http://demandprogress.pivotshare.com] so obviously PROGRESS saw a likeness between them too. I like that way it’s all set up. It’s run really well – it looks very professional. When I was in New Zealand, there wasn’t any wrestling I was aware of too much down South, so it’s quite nice to see it being successful. There’s buzz about this, something’s been done right. And the crowd seem really into it from the first few shows I’ve seen. It’s something I want to be a part of.
Image caption: Progress Wrestling, based out of the UK.
As far as Ashlee goes, I've been in the ring with some of the best female wrestlers and I've been trained by some of the best British wrestlers in the world. Ashlee has been making a name for herself in New Zealand, but she's going to need to bring everything she's got because I'm a fighter, and I beat people up. I plan on giving her a match that she won't forget.
Bea Priestley makes her debut for SPW at Southern Rumble in Invercargill on Saturday 22nd July against New Zealand up and comer Ashlee Spencer! Click the image above for tickets!
For more info on Bea you can follow her on her social media channels:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/BeaPriestleyPW
Instagram - beapriestleypw
Twitter - BeaPriestley