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The Road to NYWC: A Matter of Pride, A Look at “The Risen Phoenix” Aubrey St John

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As we get closer to NYWC “A Matter of Pride” we will be taking a look at the competitors taking part in the event. Today, we have a statement from “The Risen Phoenix” Aubrey St. John who will be a referee at the event.  

Growing up in my house, if you didn’t watch wrestling, then you’d be left out. My mom and dad were fans and they introduced it to me. That’s when I fell in love with Macho Man Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Sherri. What I loved about them was their larger than life persona. They were different than the rest, they were entertaining.

Years later I really took a big dislike to Mankind and Terry Funk. My father loved them and how hardcore they were. He also loved Dean Malenko because he had a bit of a resemblance to him. Now you ask why would I not like Mankind and Terry Funk? Well, my father would beat me up on a daily and try to imitate his favorites as best he could. He would hit me with brooms, a yellow Fisher Price plastic bat, threw me against the refrigerator, whatever  he’d find and my least favorite, his big heavy hands. I would go on to take beatings until I was fourteen years old when he left.

I continued to watch wrestling through the years. I loved Sunny, Marlena, Chyna, Sable, Luna, Tori, Jacqueline and later on Ivory, Molly Holly, Lita, Debra, Miss Kitty, Trish, Jazz, Gail Kim, Victoria, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, Midajah, Gorgeous George, Mickie James, Melina, Layla El and so on. As I grew older I focused more on the Divas. Whenever I’d wrestle with my cousins I always wanted to be a manager, but they’d beat on me anyways. I took many powerbombs, bodyslams, spears and stunners. I definitely recommend that you don’t do any of that at home.

At school I was bullied for many years and I didn’t have many friends. What I did have was wrestling and my wrestling figures. I never fit in with my classmates. I was fighting a battle all by myself. See, as far as I can remember, I always felt like a girl. I didn’t like doing anything that boys did and I hated to get dirty. I remember telling my 3rd grade teacher that I liked a boy in class and she called my mom to come into the school. Boy was I in trouble. Even back then I was a sucker for blonde hair and lights eyes.

My escape was whenever a show or a meet and greet was in my area. I’d traveled as far as 5hrs to meet people like Trish Stratus, Chris Masters, Randy Orton and others. Then in 2008 I heard about a charity event featuring a few TNA & WWE superstars. They were raising money for kids with Austism. I thought to myself that this was my only chance at living my dream, even if it were for one night. So I placed my bids. I was determined to go to Virginia, so I bid on a few, hoping that I’d get at least one person.

Turns out that I won not one, but four different bids. Definitely wasn’t expecting that. I managed Motor City Machine Guns, Scotty 2 Hottie and Samoa Joe. The only ones that were nice to me were Scotty and Joe. I was also able to ring announce for the match between ODB vs Daffney. I Was supposed to manage Terri Runnels, but at the last minute, everything changed. At the end of Samoa Joe’s match, he gave me his championship belt, told me to climb the turnbuckle and told me to hold the belt high. One of the best moments in my life.

After the show, I had a very long drive home. I got to live my dream, even if it were for one night. I knew that because I was “gay”, I would never be accepted in such a testosterone driven sport.

For the next few years I battled with trying to figure out who I was. I had even contemplated suicide several times before I embraced the fact that I’m transgender. Now I knew for sure that wrestling would never accept me, or so I thought. I checked out a school near Orlando, where one of their students, now in TNA, was extremely rude to me. Unfortunately, my mom called me one night on my way to a show at a bar and told me that she had two tumors and needed surgery. Two days later I moved back to Connecticut.

Although I was performing at bars and clubs and making money, I knew that it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in the squared circle. I attended a few events in 2011 and before long I was offered a spot on a public access channel as a journalist for their women’s wrestling segment. Things didn’t work out after a few years of being disrespected and I was offered a spot on The Squared Circle, so I took it. I was able to talk about and discuss wrestling with a very respectful crew. They’re like family to me.

In the meantime I would valet for a few people sparingly. I remember one time going alone to an event and one worker whom was not on the show, allegedly under the influence, started calling me names and making a scene. I was so embarrassed. I left the show crying. Years later he would apologize and we’d work together during one match. I’ve dealt with things most people would never deal with. Hell, I was supposed to valet for a former WWE legend, but instead I was escorted out of the building by security as all the workers watched on because the promoter didn’t want people of my kind at his show and has since banned me from his shows.

Even though I’ve been through all of that, plus more, I’ve still had some great moments. I’ve interviewed Tony Atlas, The Godfather, Devon Dudley and so many talented wrestlers on the independent scene. I’ve even gotten the chance to talk to several people I grew up watching and picked their brains a bit about the business.

Throughout time, I started hearing about Cassandro and Rick Cataldo, two wrestlers whom happen to be gay. Another person I heard of was Marriah Moreno. Said to be one of the firsts, if not the first openly transgender wrestler. The candle that was within me and dim, now grew brighter. After time, more transgender girls came to surface. Marriah, Nyla, Paola, Roxxy and I would form The Transgender Nation in hopes that we’d get booked together as a stable. Unfortunately only one “promoter” booked us.

For over a year I’ve been with In Your Face Wrestling, training. I debuted for them in January of 2016 to be reunited with my Jerry Springer love interest, Shooter Storm. He’s a great guy and someone in the business that I can call a friend. I remember having an angle where I had to work with a certain guy and this guy didn’t want to talk to me or anything about the match. Stuff like that happens, but I just dust it off and keep going. I definitely want to thank Drake Evans of IYFW for accepting me, believing in me and giving me a home fed. I am now the Senior Advisor for Talent and Operations and I’m looking forward to what my future holds for me. I hope to one day hold my very own championship over my head like I once did with Samoa Joe’s belt at UWF.

This wrestling business to me is like a high school cafeteria. You have the jocks, the popular girls, the nerds, the goth people and the the high flying foreign exchange. Although for many years I’ve found myself eating alone in a bathroom stall, I’m not alone anymore. Now there’s a new table in the cafeteria, the LGBT table. Every single table has something unique to offer, but together we can create magic inside a squared circle.

For now I’m focused on A Matter Of Pride featuring some of the best talents from the LGBT community and some allies. You can’t have a match without one person with a very important role to officiate, the referee. I’m looking forward to wearing the black and white stripes and making sure that everyone plays by the rules. I hope that everyone comes out and watch us living out our dreams.

What I want to do is inspire people with my story. Yes I’ve been through hell and back on a rollercoaster, but I didn’t let any of that keep me from achieving my dreams. Is it fair that “straight” people can chase their dreams of being a pro wrestler and I can’t because I’m transgender? What makes their love of the business better than mine? In order to survive in this circus we call wrestling, we have to have heart, courage and the drive. I don’t see myself as a victim, I see myself as a survivor, a fighter.

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