INTERVIEW: Kaia McKenna on her journey as a professional wrestler

Wrestling (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Wrestling (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Kaia McKenna discusses her passion for professional wrestling that took her from being a fan, to performing for others in the ring.

Kaia McKenna had a passion for professional wrestling since she was very young. While she was growing up, some of her favorite wrestlers include Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Luna Vachon, Chyna, and Dean Malenko. Even to this day, she is still a fan of wrestling and earlier this year, she wanted to make her passion turn into a reality.

The Black & Brave Wrestling Academy is where McKenna started her journey to become a professional wrestler. The school is operated by WWE Superstar Seth Rollins along with Marek Brave and Matt Mayday as trainers. Kaia McKenna learned the tools of working a match and to incite a crowd reaction. And she did that on her debut back in the summer when McKenna took on Debbie Kane at Goddesses of War 2. She then continued her training at World Wide Dojo to hone her skills and gain more knowledge of the professional wrestling industry.

Here is what McKenna said about her starting out as a professional wrestler:

“I started getting involved in wrestling maybe two and a half years ago at this point. I was going around doing ring crew, managing, and doing valet work. My career actively started in January of this year when I went to wrestling school from then until March. And then with the pandemic, there was a little bit of a hiatus over the summer. But I had my first match in August so that’s kind of the timeline of where we’re at. I would say four months actively having matches and I trained in January.”

McKenna also opened up about the early struggles of training to become an active professional wrestler while also how much of a transition it was from sports to entering this industry:

“I always played sports growing up, but I was not a natural athlete at first. So I really had to make the extra effort to make sure I was moving all right. Like I looked decent and I didn’t look clumsy or awkward when I was trying to wrestle. That was a big challenge for me in wrestling school with moving with intent. It still is to this day that’s something I always work on because I just don’t have that natural athletic presence where I’m very smoothly. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it right. You just have to be aware of these things and improve upon them. That was very challenging for me. I kind of always knew that I wanted to do my gimmicks so I didn’t really have any challenges surrounding that. A lot of the challenges I faced, were figuring out what I was capable of as a wrestler, where I kind of fit, and what styles in my business to pursue improving upon. It’s just trying to find where your little spot in the world is. Like I am not a high flyer, maybe I’m not a brawler, wait, I’m kind of good at this pure wrestling thing. Let me see if I can develop that. Just finding your little spot is sometimes the hardest.”

McKenna also loves wrestling fans. She believes that the fans should not be ridiculed by promoters and other fans just because they are wrestling fans. Today’s age of wrestling, is much more acceptable in the niche and mainstream landscape than ever before, and here is her take on that:

“It’s so funny because we have this culture in wrestling where we ridicule people for being fans. We call them marks. To me, it’s like hey, why wouldn’t you want to be a fan of something you’re pursuing. I think there’s an extreme to this. You don’t want to be an obsessive fan that drives you to the point where you dislike everything. But I think it is good to be a fan. I still wear my wrestling t-shirts and I love wrestling t-shirts that are my friends now. I love wearing my Stone Cold shirt. I’m a wrestler, but I’m also a big fan of wrestling and I’m proud that I’m a wrestling fan and I love people that are fans of wrestling. So I don’t think anybody should ever be ridiculed for being a fan. I would never make somebody feel bad about wearing a wrestling t-shirt in any capacity.”

Mckenna is also a graphic designer. She originally went to Sopschool for photography, but she fell in love with graphic design after taking one of the design classes. This allowed Kaia McKenna to expand her creativity of content creation while also earning a degree in graphic design.

“I originally started going to school for photography. As I got more and more into that course, I realized ‘oh this is great, but it’s not necessarily going to be lucrative for me and help me support myself’. I’ve always kind of playing in Photoshop and stuff like that up until that point. So I was like ‘let me start taking some design classes’ and I really fell in love with it because it allowed me to use all sorts of disciplines of art. I could use my photography, I could use illustration. Everything was kind of pulled into this one thing so that’s what drove me into doing graphic design and I love it. I really like that I can get to do something outside of wrestling for a living that is expressive and creative. The line of work that I work in helps a lot of people.”

There is more to McKenna as she also played sports when she was younger. Her carefree spirit and her loveable personality make you want to root for her journey. Her parents not only supports Kaia McKenna’s wrestling career, but they also were in attendance on her very first match.

“They were there! What’s interesting, is when you’re wrestling, you’re so focused on trying to win. The crowd is there and you feel their energy. But you don’t always see their faces. But just knowing they were there, was enough for me and it gave me a big confidence boost that I needed because you’re definitely nervous before you have your first match. It’s like all the training, all the practice, all the practice matches, all the mistakes like the injuries, all led you to this moment like it’s finally here. And then it happens so it was nice to have their support there. I really could feel their energy and it was wonderful!”

In this exclusive interview that I linked above, McKenna and I talk about her passion for wrestling and the industry as a whole. We also talk about a crazy Las Vegas story since Kaia McKenna was recently there, and much more.