The Women’s evolution in professional wrestling is in full swing in 2018, and with WWE Superstars like Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax, Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella, and former UFC Champion and box office mega star Ronda Rousey, this evolution is alive and well. The movement doesn’t end in WWE however as IMPACT Wrestling has its own female superstar talent that are making some waves as well. IMPACT Knockouts Kiera Hogan, Diamante, Su Yung and Knockouts Champion Allie are all making names for themselves while putting on high caliber matches. All this includes much respect to WWE’s 3rd brand NXT, which was originally the company’s developmental brand, but with budding superstars like Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane, and NXT Women’s champion Shayna Baszler the action in NXT’s weekly shows and Takeover specials has made it a brand that rivals the entertainment value of RAW and Smackdown Live.
The independent wrestling circuit also is full of tremendous wrestling talent putting on 5-star matches all over the world, and when you think of 5-star wrestling future superstars, you think of Jayel Cotto. This writer believes this woman has “It”. She has the look, she has the drive to succeed, and most importantly she is 100% the real deal. This former 2-time TKD grand champion and black belt level martial artist is as dangerous as she is charismatic, and with confirmed dates to wrestle all over the east coast and beyond, she is primed and ready to become the next big name in professional wrestling.
HubbardWrestlingWeekly.com had the chance speak with this outstanding combat sports athlete, asking both personal and professional questions about where her dreams began, her inspirations, and what is next on her journey to superstardom:
- Writer: Growing up, where and when did you gain your love for combat sports? Break down that time of growth in your sports life.
- Cotto: Growing up in the ghetto was a very impactful thing in my life. Always having to protect yourself was very important for my family and where we lived. From someone getting jumped on the corner, to someone driving by and beating someone almost to their death with a bat, it was very dangerous. My brother was always into martial arts and boxing so seeing him was very inspirational to me. I knew I was never really going to be into girly things. All I wanted to do was fight. Tae Kwon Do isn’t about fighting though, it was about discipline, about humbling yourself to know that even though you can hurt someone, you had the ability to stand back and stay away from the troubles. It gave me more of a mature view in life and it’s something I hold dearly to my heart everyday.
- Writer: How do you feel about the current state of women’s wrestling? What role do you play in this movement?
- Cotto: The current state is something where women all over the world, even beyond the wrestling community have worked for so many years and it’s finally here. It’s at a point where women can do whatever they put their minds to… even in a man’s world. It’s very special to finally show what women can do, the same things men can do, but even better. My role is just showing little girls and boys all over the world that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you were born into, you can still make something of yourself.
- Writer: You are a 2-time Tae kwon Do grand champion. When did you decide professional wrestling was the avenue to continue showcasing your obviously amazing talents?
- Cotto: I’ve always wanted to wrestle. Wrestling was always my passion as a kid, watching it every chance I had. It was just something I really loved. I was too young to wrestle so that brought me to the conclusion of choosing Tae Kwon Do as a secondary lifestyle. At the dojo I would always come in early and leave late, and every chance I got I would speak about wrestling with all my black belt friends who enjoyed it as much as I did. One of my black belt brothers would always listen to me and how passionate I was about it, so he brought me to Gleason’s Gym. He used to work as security guard for IMPACT Wresting, and around that time he met the great Johnny Rodz. It was something that meant a lot to me and I would never forget that moment. I’ll always appreciate my brother for helping me.
- Writer: The Women’s movement in wrestling has never been better. Where do you see this taking you in your career?
- Cotto: All the way to the top! I watch these amazing women and what they’ve worked hard to create and it inspires me to want to be just as good and try just as hard. I always want to be remembered and for everyone to know what I’ve done. I want to be an inspiration for anyone out there who thinks that they can’t. I want to make a statement and pave a path for younger boys and girls to show that they too can do what they put their minds in to, and make it know that as long as you work hard anything can be achieved. Dreams aren’t unreachable and I want to be known as the woman who made it.
- Writer: How would you categorize yourself?… A fighter or wrestler? Why?
- Cotto: I don’t really like categorizing myself as just one thing. I’m a tough woman who can fight and wrestle and who can adapt to any opponent she has in front of her. Whatever is needed from me at the moment I can do, whether it’s to fight or to wrestle. I have a diverse talent to do whatever I want in the ring. That’s what makes me special.
- Writer: Who is your inspiration in pro wrestling? Who is your inspiration in life period?
- Cotto: My inspiration is my idol Shawn Michaels. Ever since I first laid eyes on him and how talented he was, it was something out of this world. He was over the top and unique, definitely a legend of his time. He was the reason why I began to watch wrestling and love it as my own. He’s someone I want to be at least half of, and just be that over the top personality where I can make anything look good. I’m not the biggest girl in the world being only 4’11 so he showed me how to wrestle like I’m 6 feet tall and be proud of my ability in everything that I have.
- Writer: After checking out HubbardWrestlingWeekly.com and it’s content, how does it feel to be the very 1st professional wrestler (male or female) to be featured in the “The Future is bright” article series?
- Cotto: It’s an honor to be the first. For someone to take the time and choose me as the first to be featured means a lot to me. Just to see how much time was spent to see my growth and my hard work is special, so I’m very thankful. It’s always great to have something like Hubbard Wrestling Weekly because there’s a lot of talent out there that people know nothing of.
- Writer: What’s next for Jayel Cotto?
- Cotto: The sky’s the limit. I have to grasp every chance I get and turn it into my own. I have a lot of great promotions that I’m working for such as CWA Action which is an all women’s wrestling promotion. The roster has some of the best women wrestlers in the world, so it gives me a chance to pick their brains and learn more from them which is amazing. Everyday is a learning experience for me and it gives me the opportunity to grow and get better.
HWWeekly would like to thank Jayel Cotto for her participation in this interview as well as authorizing the photograph featured in this article. Jayel can be found on twitter @JayelCotto.