While we didn’t mention it at the time – despite other places doing so in some form or fashion – we have been waiting for Davina Rose to make her WWE debut since signing her developmental deal last month. On Tuesday, WWE Hall Of Famer Dusty Rhodes mentioned her (by real name) in a tweet, and on Thursday it happened, with the Californian making her first appearance in a WWE ring as part of an NXT live event in Tampa, FL. Teaming with Charlotte and Paige, she defeated Emma, Summer Rae and Audrey Marie in a six-woman tag match, with a curious new addition to her gimmick – a mask.
That’s right – as you can tell by the image on the left, Davina has her face obscured, and her gear is also a lot darker than the oranges and greens which SHIMMER fans were getting accustomed to seeing.
Now, before anyone starts kicking off about her wearing a mask and accusing WWE of maltreatment, gimmicks change all the time, and she’s only been there for five minutes – I have an open carton of apple juice in my refrigerator that has been there longer than Rose has been a WWE employee. It’s called developmental for a reason, and I’m sure there will be more tweaks to her look and character until they’re happy with it – in fact, she wrestled the following day as a heel against Charlotte without the mask, losing via a backslide. One thing that they will likely not have to work on for very long is her wrestling, as over the last four years, this Rose has blossomed into quite the athlete, and has grabbed a lot of attention along the way…
Davina Rose has always been into wrestling. As a child, she watched it with her family, and she and her brother share watching it as part of their sibling relationship. As well as watching it on TV, she would go to indie shows in the area, which led to her meeting a young Cheerleader Melissa and sharing a photo with her, and sharing locker rooms with her a few years later.
When Rose was ready to make the transition from being a wresting fan to a wrestler, she was in luck, as a great training facility was less than a half-hour drive from her home. Big Time Wrestling in Fremont was where she laced up the boots for the first time in April 2008, and wrestled her first match in the promotion in September of that year, teaming with Shane Ballard in a losing effort against Melissa Coates and Shannon Ballard. However, the ball was rolling, and Davina competed on their shows on a regular basis thereafter, competing in mixed tags and intergender singles outings as well as against women – in fact, less than six months after her debut, Rose took on Melissa (under her Raisha Saeed gimmick), tapping out to a half crab.
The pace of her development was swift, as she took on a range of women with different repertoires and skillsets like Erica D’Errico, NY Knockout Nikki, Yyan Nakano, Buggy Nova, Daffney, Amazing Kong and Christina Von Eerie. However, there was one wrestler who saw a lot in the promising youngster, and decided to take her under her wing.
Serena Deeb had recently been released from WWE and was getting back into the swing of the things on the independent circuit. The pair met on October 22, 2010 when Deeb was booked as Rose’s tag team partner for BTW’s 14th Anniversary show against Buggy and Jessica James, and the pair clicked immediately. The pair formed a friendship to the point where Serena approached SHIMMER promoter Dave Prazak to push for him to book Davina on the tapings. A year later, it happened, and Rose made her debut on volume 41 against Mercedes Martinez – one of the women she points out as being someone she looks up to in the business. As with most debuts in promotions, it wasn’t a successful one – in fact, she went 0-4 on the weekend, also falling to Portia Perez, Nicole Matthews and Kellie Skater – but the confidence in her was there, as none of her opponents are slouches, and she held her own with all of them. Despite being yet to pick up a win, her profile skyrocketed due to the DVD distribution and reputation of the promotion, and Davina Rose became a SHIMMER regular, returning for both sets of tapings in 2012.
As part of the spring tapings, Rose not only wrestled singles contests – losing to Saraya Knight (who was en route to her SHIMMER title win) but also as a tag team with fellow rising name Mia Yim, leading to standing across the ring from joshi stars Ray and Leon in what was a memorable match on volume 46. By this point, Deeb was shelved with a major concussion, but the influence on Rose was apparent, with many insisting that she would be travelling down the same path as her mentor – a talented grappler who made her point with great wrestling, rather than being primarily character-based. She had aligned with Deeb to provide backup for her against Matthews and Perez, but her storyline highlight last year came against someone who was making a similar splash.
Rhia O’Reilly cheated to beat Davina on volume 50, pinning her with her feet all over the ropes. This led to a return match on volume 52, with Rose gaining her revenge by putting down O’Reilly with the One, Two, Three, Floor, seeing her essentially bow out of the promotion with a pair of wins (as she had beaten Cherry Bomb earlier in the day for her first one in the W column).
Elsewhere, Rose spent large portions of the summer of 2012 fighting Kc Spinelli in her home state and in Canada, with the Californian having her hand raised in the US, and Spinelli turning the table in her home promotion of Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling with Davina wrestling as the heel.
As with Serena, Rose and Spinelli built up a close bond, which is why we approached both of them for comment on Davina signing with WWE. Both of them were only to happy to oblige, with Spinelli telling us:
[Davina’s] been trying her whole life at this. She is absolutely amazing – the training that this girl has done has built her for today. There’s no stopping this girl, she looks great and she works hard for her body. Don’t kid yourself – she parties hard but she works so hard. I’m so proud of her.
I absolutely love her, and if I could have picked anybody to have this dream and to ride this road it would have definitely hands-down have been her. It literally brings a tear to my eye. If I had to work the rest of my life to make sure she was doing her thing, I would. She’s going to nail this, mark my words.
Davina Rose – one team. She does it for the fans, and I even have a promo where she will tell you the same thing!
Similarly, Serena was equally overflowing with happiness and praise for her friend:
When I first met Davina, I was very drawn to her because she omits such a likeable vibrancy. Her love for wrestling shines through when you watch her in the ring and she is an absolute joy to be around outside of the ring. I’m very proud to see her experiencing this next step in her career with WWE. She has not even begun to blossom! Her potential is so huge.
Congratulations… Soak it up and never lose your love for wrestling. You’re one of a kind – I’m always behind ya!
SHIMMER promoter Dave Prazak also offered some words:
SHIMMER was very fortunate to have had the chance to feature Davina Rose on twelve of our shows. She did an absolutely tremendous job during that brief time she was a part of our roster, and I can only imagine how much more she could have contributed in the future.
During the post-production process on the last set of shows she was on for us, all I could think about was how talented she is, so early in her career, and was one of the brightest spots of those shows. She is a talent which any promotion could build a women’s division around. WWE has an exceptional performer on their hands.
Back in October, we were informed that a member of the SHIMMER roster would be signing with WWE in the near future, though we didn’t anticipate it would be Davina – and that’s not a knock either, but is a testament to how quietly she goes about her business. In her tryout in California – which nobody seems to have known about – she was reportedly the only female pro wrestler there as the other women had received no previous training. She was tasked with working short matches with all of them, and we’re told she nailed it. With that sort of success, it’s understandable that WWE would want to sign someone like that up.
Obviously, nobody is a lock for rising from the developmental facility to the main roster, but Davina Rose has as good a chance as anyone. The mask may even be beneficial to make her stand out from the pack, and may also allow her wrestling to shine through while WWE works on a character for her. It is a pleasing thing to see someone who gets their head down, works hard, pays attention and shows dogged determination to succeed actually do so, and is a shining example of how dreams are absolutely attainable, given the right attitude.
– Lee Burton
– Photos by Sunset Flip Photography, Gilda Pasquil, Big Time Wrestling & Davina Rose