Taya Valkyrie has been wrestling for about seven years now, but you’d be forgiven if you only really got to know her after she popped up in Lucha Underground during its second season. As Johnny Mundo’s partner in crime and one of the founding members of Worldwide Underground, Taya was responsible for some of the wildest intergender matches wrestling fans have ever seen on television.
With Lucha Underground set to return to the El Rey Network on May 31, Taya took the time to talk to us about her pro wrestling journey, and how she’s been dealing with the show taking a lengthy hiatus.
With Spandex: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How are things going?
Taya Valkyrie: Good, a little frantic. We just landed in from Austin. We were at WrestleCircus last night, performing in Austin, Texas.
How was that?
It was really good. It was my first time working for that company. And honestly, they are, you know, one of the hottest independent companies right now. So it was really cool. I had a really good time and I had a really good match with Rachael Ellering.
You’ve been around for a while now, Lucha Underground, now you’re everywhere. So how are you enjoying working the indies and getting out there?
It’s been a weird transition because I really … I’ve been on TV for AAA for five years now, and so I was a little bit concerned. A lot of people were like, “Oh, you changed your style; now you work like this” and I’m like no! Do your research.
So it’s been interesting. At first it was mixed. Some people were just like,”I don’t know who you are,” but I think that with the popularity of lucha libre as a whole, more people are now watching AAA. More people who would not have picked up or turned on Lucha Underground before are now turning it on, especially because it’s on Netflix. It’s been a very positive response.
I really think it’s growing, and is going to keep growing from here.
Have you noticed an uptick in people finding you after it hit Netflix?
Just different types of people, I want to say. And especially from Canada, that’s where I’m from. They did have it on the Telelatino Network in Canada, but it was very hard to access.
So then all of a sudden, all my friends who think that I’ve just been pretending to be a wrestler for the last five years were like, “Oh my God! [That’s] you … ” and I’m like,”Yes.” It’s cool for me because now a lot of — my parents, and my family and my friends, and people that didn’t get to see my work before really get to see it outside of YouTube, which is the only place where AAA is found in Canada or the USA.
Also in Mexico, people just got Lucha Underground. So there were a lot of people really excited to see what I had been doing there from their standpoint. It’s been very interesting.
You were in AAA for so long, you’re from Canada, but you’ve done so much crazy shit on Lucha Underground.
And there’s more crazy shit to come! Yes.
You do crazy shit, and that’s kind of far removed from what is happening in AAA most of the time.
Well, wait til you see the match I had two weeks ago versus Ayako Hamada, when I got my AAA women’s championship back. I will just leave you with that, and it will be probably up on the lucha libre AAA YouTube page, I’m assuming, in the next two weeks. That shit’s crazy. I think that that was like … yeah. Güera Loca was out in full force and people were like “Holy shit”.
Being full-time with AAA for so long, was there any sort of learning curve, adjusting to what people want on the American indies?
You know what? Not really. Because I was trained by Lance Storm and I had a base in American style, it was more just like,”Oh yeah, to the left” right? You know? Because I’d been going to … for people that don’t know, you wrestle to the right in Mexico. So I had to just adjust my brain a little bit.
But other than that, I really pride myself on combining styles. I’ve done two tours of Japan, so I learned a little bit there as well. And really just being creative about the movement and the way that I put together my matches so that it’s not just lucha, or it’s not just American style.
It was [difficult] at first. It was just kind of like some funny things that happened that I was like,”Oh you mean you armdrag to the left. Aha, okay.” Just things like that. The response was still really positive with fans. Sometimes I would go to shows and people were like,”I don’t even know. I’ve never seen your work before” and then after I work they’re like, “OH, okay” and I’m like, “Yes, you get it. Thank you!”
I’m happy to be traveling around and meeting new fans and opening everybody’s eyes to what lucha libre is, how lucha libre really changed my life, how I fell in love with that art of wrestling. I’m just proud to represent and being a Canadian, I know it’s kind of weird but it’s a very cool feeling.
Well you’re truly Worldwide Underground.
I am literally Worldwide Underground, yes.
Did you get a chance to check out Dulce [Garcia, the former Sexy Star]’s boxing debut?
I was actually … where was I? In Chicago doing press for Lucha Underground at C2E2. But I had friends who were at the fight, who were sending me photos the whole time, and I did watch it. Good for her, I mean I don’t think I could start doing something like that at our age. At her age, or whatever. But you know what? All the power to her. I’m proud of her. I know she really wanted to do this for a really long time. You know, when you set your goal on anything I think go for it 120 percent.
Everyone told me I couldn’t be a Reina de Reinas Champion because I was Canadian, and guess what? I’m a two-time champ now. For me to see someone like her who really had to battle it out in lucha libre and now taking on this crazy other dream is really inspirational. I’m really proud of her.
Can you give us any hint about season four of Lucha Underground? No spoilers, obviously.
No. Yeah, you guys have half of season three. There’s tons of stuff in season three that’s going to be exciting and different and cool. I think that my presence in this is way stronger in the second half of season three than it was in the first half. So, there’s lots of surprises, lots of cool things coming up. So stay tuned and season four, I can’t say anything 100% yet.
Are you planning on doing a season four?
Like, are you mentally preparing for there to be a fourth season?
I want to do season four right now. I literally saw [Chris DeJoseph] in Tijuana when I did the match versus Ayako Hamada, and I go,”Season four cannot come soon enough,” because I think that I’ve grown so much since season three. I mean, we filmed the end of season three last June, so for me it’s like I’m a completely different person than I was a year ago.
People as artists, as wrestlers, we grow and we change and we evolve. Our characters and everything. I think Taya has grown so much since then, and my wrestling has changed so much since then, so I’m really really excited to show everybody some different stuff in season four. And continue doing what I’m doing on the indies, and we’ll see what happens.