A.Q.A is a young and upcoming female superstar who is sure to be the next BIG thing in professional wrestling. Only in the beginning stages of her in-ring career, she has already captured Diamonds Division Championship twice. She has wrestled against established stars such as Thunder Rosa, Robyn Reid, and Kylie Rae. Expect to hear her name a lot of time goes by.
1. What inspired you to become a professional wrestler?
I just fell in love with it after catching an episode of RAW and Smackdown with my grandfather, and at ten-years-old, I made up my mind that wrestling was what I was going to do with my life. It's also the one thing that I can truly say I've ever pursued with all of my might. Through all of the naysayers, and people trying to get me to change my mind, and personal things I've been through, my determination to become a professional wrestler has been the one constant that has never left my mind.
2. Tell me about your experience in training with Booker T at Reality of Wrestling?
It's great, it's always been great since day one, we're all like one huge family and that's how he wants it. It's a place where you not only get trained, but you're surrounded by people who truly have your back, I wish everyone could experience being at ROW. Booker is a phenomenal mentor, he's very hands-on, very approachable, and he always has the right answers to all of your questions. I could tell from day one that he really loves teaching the art of wrestling just by the way he breaks things down, the way he dives into psychology, and ring awareness and presence, he can literally tell you something that is about to happen in a match before it happens. There have been plenty of times during a show where I would be backstage at ROW sitting next to him and he would lean over and say, "watch this kid, he/she is about to do this" and then that person would, and I'd be blown away, that just goes to show that he not only knows what he is talking about but really knows his students. I really appreciate that he practices what he preaches, everything he tells us to do or not to do, you can see it in his own matches. Or if we're having film study, he'll pause on one 10 or 20-second spot and give us a 10-minute lecture behind the art of it. Me personally, my favorite thing is when he stands up and physically demonstrates things, especially when he really gets into it, let me just say, it is quite the sight to see [Laughs].
3. How did it feel becoming a Diamonds Division Champion?
Honestly, the first time I won it, it was one of those things where I wish I would have been more in the moment, soaked it in a little bit more, truly realized what I had accomplished. It's not every day that one gets to wrestle two of the top female talent, Hyan, and Kylie Rae, for the championship only 9 matches into your rookie year. And afterward, Kylie came up to me and said "Hey, make sure you enjoy and cherish these moments and appreciate that (the championship), they don't just give that to anyone." At the time I was so into my own head, and so critical of every little thing I did, that I didn't allow myself to enjoy that moment the way I should have. The second time around I definitely appreciated it more and was in the moment more. I got to be in the main event with one of my best friends and mentor Hyan, and we made history that night. Not only were we the first women to main-event at Reality of Wrestling, but we were the first women to main-event inside of a steel cage at ROW. That match is the highest viewed match of all time for ROW, I believe we're currently sitting at 26 million views, I'm extremely proud of that.
4. What does AQA stand for?
It's my full name: Angela Quentina Arnold. I always thought my initials were pretty cool, so when I was a kid I decided that it would be my wrestling name. I've run into the issue of announcers or other talent mispronouncing it though, calling me either "aqua" or "a-qway" so I changed it from AQA to A.Q.A to hopefully help people out a little bit [Laughs].
5. The Shooting Star Press is known as one of the most dangerous moves in wrestling. How long did it take to master the move? What does it take to perform this move so well? What goes through your mind prior to performing this move each time?
Okay, let me just say this because I do not want to come off as if I'm bragging because I assure you I am not. But I've only done that move twice, and honestly, when it comes to any sort of flip, it doesn't take me very long to figure out the mechanics of it. I love being in the air, and I would jump on my trampoline for hours and hours on end each day as a kid teaching myself tricks, so when it comes to flips, I can usually look at a video two or three times and have it down pat. I remember when I was 12 I saw Matt Sydal, who was Evan Bourne at the time, perform the Shooting Star Press on RAW. I remember saying out loud to myself, "Hmm, I can do that" so for the next couple of days I went outside and practiced it a few times on the trampoline until I got it. Once I got it, I stored it away in the back of my mind and told myself if I ever got a chance to do it in a match, then I would, so when the opportunity arose 10 years later I took it. I was originally going to do another move, but I said nah, I need something big, this is a steel cage match, I have to go all out, and in that moment I remembered I always wanted to do a Shooting Star Press. So I showed up the night before, practiced it about 4 times to make sure I had the correct positioning and everything, and then the next night I went out and performed it. I wouldn't say I've mastered it, there are few things that only I can see when I watch it that I would really like to tweak, but once I get that down, I'll be able to perfect it. To anyone who wants to do it, my advice is to watch Matt Sydal, his SSP is the only SSP I would strongly advise you to study. In my opinion, he has the best SSP there is, it's always crisp and clean, and he makes it look like the coolest move ever. So for me, I knew if I was going to do it, I needed to do it right, so I studied him. In terms of performing it, after you jump forward and lean back into the flip, the key is to grab your ankles, that's what really gives it the illusion of a "star" so whenever I see people just flip without grabbing their ankles, it really irks my soul a little bit [Laughs]. As far as what was going through my mind when I did it, I was thinking mid-flip "Can I come down already?" [Laughs] honestly, I felt like I was in the air forever.
6. Being a highflyer wrestler, what do you do to keep in shape considering the toll that style of wrestling takes on your body?
To be honest, I don't do anything special, I do a regular workout like everyone else, I do my best to strengthen my wrists and ankles though because I'm always coming down from the top turnbuckle hard or walking on my hands from time to time. One thing I've learned though is that if I'm hurting I need to immediately treat it right away instead of trying to tough it out like I used to. Speaking of that, fun fact alert: I sprained my knee really badly when I hit the Shooting Star Press in the steel cage, I couldn't walk for a week, and eventually, I ended up being out of action for a majority of the year because I kept trying to perform on it after taking only two months off, which of course prolonged the injury. If you watch closely, you'll see my left knee extend and then bend in a way that it shouldn't, and my first thought was "oh my god, I just broke my leg" [Laughs], that's why I need to tweak it, my timing was off. Another way I avoid getting injured is now I make sure whatever moves I perform, that I can perform them 10 out of 10 times, that's what Booker teaches us, and it was a lesson that I learned the hard way when I first broke in. I just thought if I did it well 2 or 3 times in training that I'd be fine, so when the time came, and if you go back and watch my earlier matches, you'll see that I would either botch the move completely or just make it by the skin of my teeth. So anytime I would not perform something to the best of my abilities, it would eat me alive because I'm a perfectionist, and even though I'm aware that no such perfection exists, I loathe the thought of messing up, especially on something I really want to do. So this time around I'm learning to slow down, take my time, and make everything count.
7. What is something about you that you are proud of that is non-wrestling related?
I have two, and let me just start off by saying this is in no way going to be anything fancy or inspirational [Laughs], just something I find cool about myself. So this first one is going to sound corny, but I'm proud of the fact that I am a good, self-taught chess player, and I taught myself in the fifth grade, I own a few chess sets and I want to grow my collection. Now with that said, I'm not advocating that someone put me up against a world champion or anything, but I can hang in there with most people. The second one is, that same fifth-grade year, I wrote a book for the school library, but because it was too mature for our age range, they refused to publish it [Laughs]. So while everyone else was writing about their favorite food or superhero, I was writing about real-world issues that I was nowhere near experiencing yet, and shouldn't have been talking about, but my mind was ahead of its time. I don't talk about it much, but I've always loved writing, I have a plethora of posted stories, and movie scripts, and tv scripts that no one knows about except for me and my readers, I feel like it's our little secret. Writing is my getaway, it's my escape, and it makes me proud to see others enjoy my work, no matter how critical I am of it at times.
8. Who are some potential opponent’s that you are eager to step in the ring with one day?
I'll answer that in two parts.
Someone that I would really like to wrestle again is Kylie Rae. The first time I wrestled her in a singles match I was still super new to all of this, and I had not found my rhythm and flow yet, and I was just going through the motions instead of being in the moment and enjoying locking up with one of the best ever. This time around, I feel like I would have more confidence and assurance in myself and would be able to have a better match. Don't get me wrong, our match was good, Kylie was great as usual, I just felt I personally could have done better. To this day I've always felt like I didn't help that match live up to what it could have been, and it's always bothered me.
As far as other opponents go, I truly believe that representation matters, and it's extremely important to me. I say that because when I grew up watching wrestling, I didn't see a lot of female wrestlers who looked like me, wrestling other females that looked like me. So I would love to wrestle the likes of Ember Moon, Bianca Belair, Sasha Banks, Naomi, Big Swole, Kayden Carter, etcetera to show other little black and brown girls that there are women out there that look just like you and are doing what you love, and you can do it too. My goal, even if it's just one, is to be able to inspire another little black girl to lace up a pair of boots and live out her dreams, and hopefully lockup up with whomever that maybe one day.
9. Being a professional wrestler, people want your autographs, photos taken with you, podcasts want you on their show. How does it feel being in such a spotlight and have many looking up to you?
It's extremely exhilarating, I am still in the very beginning of my career and I haven't even begun to show what I can really do. So for people to look at what I've already done and want to take a picture with me, or draw pictures of me, make shirts, or walk up to me and tell me I've inspired them to become wrestlers or that I'm their favorite, not only warms my heart, but it keeps me humble and grounded and seeking to achieve more. I want to be better for them, I want to give them more, if they're having a bad day, when I come through the curtain, I want to be the reason they have a smile on their face. A majority of the time I'm very shocked by the things people tell me. I remember being on the RingSide Society podcast and they told me I was the reason they started their podcast and it truly blew me away. Another time and I won't say her name because It's her story to tell, and she might want to go more in-depth with it one day; but one of our wrestlers at ROW, extremely talented and on the rise, once told me that I was the reason she wanted to start wrestling and that's why she moved to Texas to train at Booker's to do so. And when she told me that, my heart just filled, I never in a million years thought that what I was doing would have that sort of reach, it's humbling in the very best of ways.
10. You get an opportunity to main event WrestleMania, you can choose ANY opponent on the planet, as well as a stipulation, who and what stipulation would you choose?
Charlotte Flair, hands down. She's an opponent that I aspire to wrestle in any main event match. I am not a huge fan of stipulation matches, they have their place, and are great when needed, but I feel like sometimes it takes away from the beauty of wrestling. It's easy to pick up a chair and whack someone across their back, or beat them with a kendo stick, but can we captivate the audience with just our story? Can we draw them in with wrestling alone, nothing extra, nothing over the top, just a pure wrestling match that tells a beautiful story. I've always said my goal is to be able to wrestle in a match that stands the test of time, one that people can go back study, one that is played in all the video packages, one that is always talked about for years and years to come, and if given the opportunity with Charlotte, I believe it could happen. I also strongly believe it could happen with Sasha Banks, two black women in the main event of WrestleMania? Man, just the thought of that gives me goosebumps.