When WOW Women of Wrestling premiered on AXS TV on Friday, January 18, at 9 p.m. Eastern, it showcased a roster of independent wrestling stars like Tessa Blanchard and Kiera Hogan (as Fire) mixed with veteran talent from the turn of the century WOW series and more recent homegrown stars that many wrestling fans hadn’t seen before. One such wrestler was The Beast, who first established herself as a force to be reckoned with in a match against Stephie Slays and then returned later in the show for a pull-apart brawl that promised she would play an important role in episodes to come.
Series creator David McLane has called The Beast “a phenom” who will change the face of wrestling and, when speaking to the press before the WOW tapings at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles in October 2018, “a true specimen of athleticism.” McLane said he and WOW trainer Selina Majors came up with the name “The Beast” for the performer previously known to followers of fitness competitions as Twana Barnett Ferguson because “she’s in beast mode all day.” He said that when they suggested this to her, she had coincidentally been thinking of calling herself the same thing.
But that night at the Belasco the imposing wrestler gave the media a glimpse of her human side when she sincerely told us, “I’m a mom of three. I have a husband. I grew up thinking I couldn’t do things because I was a girl and I couldn’t do things because I was small, and I was sickly, but I beat that. I never take no for an answer… and now I have three daughters to show that women can do anything, can be anything that they want to. So I show them with this thing I do. This is the first thing I’ve done – and I’m a pro bodybuilder, black belt, I’m an instructor in martial arts; I’ve done anything I wanted to do – this is the first thing I’ve done where my daughters say… ‘Mom, you’re so cool.'”
With Spandex spoke to the Beast later that month at L.A. Comic Con about her history with bodybuilding and martial arts, her goals for her wrestling career, and more. That conversation is below and has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you get into professional wrestling?
I’ve been a fan of wrestling my whole life. Growing up I would watch it and kind of do what I saw. So when I saw WOW come around I ran to David’s offices, said, “I will be your next champion,” and I refused to leave until I became part of the team.
And your background before this was in bodybuilding?
Yes, I’m a professional bodybuilder. I have a black belt in Krav Maga. I’m MMA-trained. I am Muay Thai-trained, boxing-trained, so yeah, I pretty much like to hit things and lift heavy things…
How long have you been fight-training? When did you start that?
I started my first fight training in… 2005. Yeah, 2005. I saw a demonstration, and a guy disarmed another man from a gun and kicked his butt into the ground. I decided that was me. I had to be a part of it. Here’s the thing, is I got seven older brothers. So when you’re the youngest sister in a family of boys, you learn how to fight pretty early on and how to defend yourself and how not to back down. And I think that’s all part of what makes The Beast The Beast is just being that tough, bad chick.
How did the Beast character develop? Between you and David McLane, how did that happen?
Here’s the thing, is The Beast is not a character. The Beast is me. Like, what you see of me in the ring, like, when I say “The Beast,” it’s not just these muscles. It’s a mindset. I don’t quit. I will never fail. I will never accept defeat, ever. So whether I’m in the gym or if I’m in the ring, you will always see me fight with everything I have. I will never, ever give up, and that’s why The Beast can’t be beaten, because you can’t beat someone who will never quit. And that’s me. So that’s not a character. That’s how I live my life every day.
When I went to the tapings, people had not seen a lot of The Beast, but already you were a huge fan favorite. How do you feel about the crowd reception to The Beast so far?
I feel like people know when they see something unique. When they see something great, people know it. And that’s me. Like, I’m – I am very confident in myself, because I know how hard I work. And if people take that as egotistical, I don’t care. I’m great. I am amazing. You will never see anyone like me, and you haven’t seen anyone like me, and the crowd saw that, so they got behind me. They know a winner when they see one. I always say, I might have to introduce myself today, but after this, you will never forget me.
I saw part of a storyline with Tessa Blanchard, who has kind of a similar attitude to you and also is pretty jacked. How was it working with her?
Tessa’s good. Tessa’s good. I like the challenge. She’s still not me at the end of the day. That’s all the really matters. I mean, I’ll give her credit, and when I get the chance, I’ll show her, you, and everyone else who’s the better of the two. It’s me, by the way. Let’s not doubt that at all. It’s me.
Okay. Do you have any favorite matches that were taped for the WOW show?
Just all of them?
Yeah, it’s mine.
Do you have any of your matches that you’re most excited for people to see?
Each one of my matches is – how do I say this? I try to liken it to… when you wrestle the Beast, it’s something you don’t want to happen, but you have no choice in it. It’s gonna happen. I’m gonna do whatever I want to you. And so honestly, I love all my matches because it’s me imposing my will on an opponent. They have no say-so in what I do. They might catch me once or twice off-beat, but if I get my hands on them, there’s nothing that can stop me. I’m stronger than them, I’m faster than them, I’m smarter than them.
So when you watch my matches, it’s just amazing. I’m not going to lie. I’m patting myself on the back. I think I’m amazing. It’s something you’ve never seen before. You don’t see a woman, strong woman, throwing double powerbombs, throwing, you know, throwing women all the way across the ring. You don’t see that. I do that. I give them that because no one else does it.
And who are your biggest inspirations as a wrestler?
Any other wrestlers besides you?
No, me. Honestly, because here’s the thing, is every day, I’m trying to be better than the person I was yesterday. So if, you know, if I can lift this much weight today, if I can run this far today, tomorrow I’m going to beat that. Why would I look up to someone else who doesn’t care about me, who doesn’t care where I’m going? I’m looking up to me every day. If I don’t love myself, who’s going to love me? If I don’t believe in myself, who’s going to believe in me? I refuse to look up to someone else as my role model when I’m the best role model I can have for myself.
Okay, who was your favorite wrestler as a kid, or your favorite wrestlers?
I was always a fan of the bad guys, the quote-unquote bad guys. I always say Darth Vader was way cooler than Luke Skywalker any day. So you name all the bad guys out there, I was a huge fan of them. I wasn’t one of those ones who followed “drink your milk and take your vitamins,” like, that wasn’t my thing, you know? If you were up there making the most noise, causing the most chaos, I was cheering for you.
You’re a WOW original wrestler, right, you started training with them?
Do you have any plans to wrestle on the independent scene or for any other promotions right now?
My thing is I want to – they say to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, so I wanted to go where I thought the most talent was, the most challenge for me was. So I’m here at WOW… My goal right now is to have that championship title in my hands, so that’s all I’m focused on right now, is becoming the WOW Champion.
If you could have like a dream match with any wrestler in the world right now, who would that be?
A dream match with any wrestler in the world… it would be a tag team. Me against me, with me and me on the other side. Can you imagine a four-way Beast match? That would be amazing
That sounds pretty awesome. I would watch that.
It would be devastating. I’m imagining it in my head now; I’m just happy.
Just all destruction, all the time.
I like that. It would be like a demolition derby, like… monster trucks times ten.
One last question. You kind of already talked about this, but we talked to some people previously from WOW who talked a lot about how on the show, the Superheroes are supposed to be empowering and for everyone. Do you have anything to say about that aspect of the show?
I love WOW because it is for every woman. I don’t look like women. I’m muscular, I’m tattooed, I’m tough, rough around the edges. But if I can show some woman, some girl, that you can be strong and different than everyone else, then that’s cool. I never want to look like everybody else. And if you do, that’s fine, that’s your deal.
But somewhere out there is some little girl who thinks the same way as me, and now she can see a Superhero who looks like what she wants to look like, who looks different, so she doesn’t feel like she has to fit in some mold she doesn’t want to be in that someone else tells her. We start off with everyone telling us what we have to be and who we have to be, and, you know, be a perfect little lady, and you can’t do this and you can’t do that.
I’m here to tell them you do what you want. You do what makes you happy. You tell all those people where to go and how to get there. You don’t listen to anyone and you don’t let them put you down, and that’s what being The Beast is about and that’s what WOW Superheroes are. It’s about being the strongest woman possible.