Jayel Cotto, a Puerto Rican born, and New York raised talent, has been a fan of the wrestling industry since childhood. With a wrestling fanatic as a brother, and living in a tough neighbourhood, wrestling has almost been a way of life for the rising talent.
Diva Dirt recently sat down with Cotto, as we tried to get to know her a little better. We asked her about her upbringing, inspirations from the industry and more – and she had a lot to say!
How did you first become attracted to professional wrestling?
When I was younger [the Bronx] was a very dangerous area, so my parents – especially my mom – would keep me and my older brother inside for most of the day. So, my brother and I would spend every day playing video games, watching cartoons, and anime. He would try to get me to watch wrestling all the time, but for a three-year old little girl, muscular men, clowns, and monsters weren’t her cup of tea just yet. He finally got me to sit still for a match, the British Bulldog vs Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship on Saturday Night’s Main Event – I was hooked! That match was very different and it really wasn’t the usual big man on big man match that WWF would show most of the time. Shawn Michaels brought high flying and acrobatics to the mix and that’s what kept me interested and wanting to continue to watch wrestling. Now, I go back to that match to study the story, movement, timing, and characters to make sure that I also get all of these things in my own matches because I want to keep people interested and always watching.
Which wrestler do you idolise the most, and why?
Growing up of course I would watch my idol Shawn Michaels. HBK was so charismatic and so skillful. He made you believe in everything he did. He would always keep you interested and would always give his all in every match. I think that’s what made him stand out and to me he was always ahead of his time. He will always be hands down my favorite and the greatest of all time. There are also guys like Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho who were not only freak athletes, but had so much fire and passion that always made me look forward to watching their matches. They kept you guessing and wondering what they were going to do next. Edge was also a favorite to watch he always reinvented himself to get to where he wanted to be. I’m more of an old school kind of girl, watching wrestlers like Rowdy Piper, Mr. Perfect, and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes is always a learning experience and I will always go back to them.
Which women wrestlers are your favorites, and why?
My favorite woman wrestlers were Alundra Blayze, Bull Nakano, Jazz, and Jacqueline. Jacqueline played a big role in women not needing to be just beautiful, but women who can get in there with the guys and rough them up. These women taught me that “strong and powerful” can also be “beautiful.”
How did you manage to get your first step into the industry?
I was introduced to the wrestling business by a Kmag brother Eddie Jimenez whose one of the black belts in the Tae Kwon Do dojo that I train in. Every day I would go to train and would get lost in conversation before and after our classes with all the little boys about wrestling and what was going on at the moment. Eddie heard a conversation with me and the boys about wrestling predictions for a PPV and how I wished I could follow my dream. He then told me he worked as a security guard for a show and knew someone who had a wrestling school. The very next day he picked me up and took me to Gleason’s Gym to have an interview with Johnny Rodz. I joined the World of Unpredictable Wrestling and have trained there since.
What’s your favorite match that you’ve competed in?
My favorite match to compete in will always be my next match. I think there is always room for learning and growing. This business has the ability to give you a canvas to work with every time you step into a wrestling ring and that’s the beauty of it. To me my best match will always be the match I have tomorrow because I will be a different wrestler and will bring something different that I didn’t bring today. Every day I’m studying, whether it’s in the ring, watching wrestling, or even talking to my mentors I am always learning and figuring out what to bring to the next match.
What are your favorite memories from the wrestling industry?
I think the best memories I have is all the little puzzles pieces I had to put together to progress in wrestling. To go from not knowing how to lock up to now putting together a match will always be my favorite kind of memory. To look back at yourself when you first started to now is a pretty cool feeling. In a few years from now I’ll be able to look back at my current status and ability in wrestling and just say “Wow, look at how much you’ve grown.”
What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve gone through in your career?
Some of the greatest challenges that I had to endure was to mentally prepare myself and to keep myself going even when I thought I couldn’t anymore. In this business everything takes so much time and it gets frustrating, but if you learn to have fun with it you will succeed. Turning a dream into an actual reality was a challenge in itself. Sometimes you just have to shut the doubt out and just got for it.
Could you describe your character to our readers, and explain what makes you different from your colleagues?
My character in all consists of different types of fighting. I’m a second dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a boxer, and practiced the art of Ju Jitsu. Mostly, I have a lot of kicks in my arsenal and that’s something I’m the most comfortable doing since I’ve practiced Tae Kwon Do for sixteen years. The thing that sets me apart from other women wrestlers is the fact that I’ve been fighting all of my life. I know what it feels like to have two competitors in the middle of the ring to perform. With my striking and my ability to know how to take someone down it has been easier for me to transition into wrestling. Even though I’m 4’11 martial arts taught me that at heart you can be bigger and tougher. You can have confidence and show that you won’t back down from anyone. That you can dance with even the best of them if you fight for it.
What are your biggest career goals that you hope to reach in the future?
There are few goals in wrestling that I have. One is to be the someone little girls look up to and want to be. Not only little girls, but little boys as well. I want to show that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you are, if you’re rich or poor, you should still follow your dream. I want to show that I belong in an era where women can kick doors down and be respected and to show that they’re here to stay. I always want to get better at wrestling and always make sure that people get what they deserve when they pay to see me because that’s what it’s all about.
Since you aim to be an inspiration, what message are you trying to send out?
I just want to let everyone know that you can be anything you want. Be different, be weird, be the best chess player in the world, or create your own business. If your dream is to become a wrestler, or an actor, or a baseball player, then do that. Never regret anything in your life and never be the person who never chased their dream. Follow what your heart wants and always keep your passion and desire, it’s what will drive you to get there. Also, to never forget that the most successful people in the world were the ones who failed the most. Make your mistakes and learn from them.
What are your thoughts on the current “Women’s Revolution” in WWE?
Women’s Revolution! What a change, finally women get to show that they could be just as good as the guys if not better especially in the wrestling business. It’s amazing to see the transition in fans and when they’re talking about women’s wrestling. To read on how women’s matches aren’t the “bathroom break” match anymore and actually the match they came to see is honorable. I’m very grateful for all the women who worked hard to get to this point and to break down barriers to give women like me a chance to show what they could do and what they could bring to the table. To show that women are powerful, strong, smart-as well as beautiful really warms my heart and always puts a smile on my face when I think of it. It’s a movement that no one or nothing can stop and it has given women wrestlers around the world including myself a reason to be different, to be athletic and skilled.
How can our readers follow you/your career?
If anyone wants to reach me they can follow my Instagram and twitter. I’m always available to talk to people about wrestling and always enjoying meeting people who have the same love for wrestling as I do. I also have a new YouTube account where I post my matches. You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
Jayel is destined for greatness. Jayel is destined for greatness. With a few bookings set down the line, and a heavy passion for the business, be sure to watch this space as we have a rising star on the block!
What are your thoughts on Jayel? Will you be following her career? Let us know your views in the comments below!