Best of Orlando 2019: Meet the wrestlers!

Pride, pageantry, performance, triumph! Of course we're talking about our annual Best of Orlando issue and blowout party. But, we thought to ourselves, that also seems to sum up the unparalleled spectacle that is professional wrestling, and let's face it, Orlando has a pro wrestling scene that's in a state of very rude health at this present moment.

Florida has been a wrestling hotbed for as long as most fans can remember – from Dusty Rhodes and Kevin Sullivan bringing down the house in CWF in the 1980s down through WWE's Wrestlemania being held in Orlando in 2017 on through to the present day. And for wrestling fans in 2019 who want to keep it local and delve deeper than just watching WWE's weekly television shows, it's a good time to be a fan – there's something on offer for all tastes.

Full Sail brings you the WWE stars of tomorrow at their NXT events (and according to some news reports, these may soon expand into a regularly televised show). USA Pro mixes old stars of WCW and ECW with the cream of regional indie talent. The upstart Atomic Revolutionary Wrestling runs primo events with young talent all over Orlando, Cocoa and everywhere in between, even staging a wrestling cruise of late. Pro Wrestling 2.0 has leveled up big-time with their new weekly Genesis TV tapings. Team Vision Dojo trains 'em up and then gives the stars of tomorrow a live showcase with their "I Believe in Wrestling" events. The brand-new Nerd Street Wrestling is adding some much-needed diversity and representation and, yes, out-there fun to the pro-graps game. And the punk-rock influenced Mayhem on Mills fully embraces all the oversized spectacle and gonzo weirdness of wrestling, and makes it even stranger. And there are more coming up every day!

PHOTO BY ADAM MCCABE
  • Photo by Adam McCabe

Serpentico

King snake indeed! Lucha royalty Serpentico is a fast-rising star in the wrestling game, never ceasing to dazzle with high-flying wizardry. He's never seen without his frankly terrifying mask, and it's impossible to tell what side this grappler is on.

What made you want to be a wrestler?

I come from a family of wrestlers so I kind of fell into it once I was old enough to understand what my dad and his brothers were doing. I was introduced to wrestling at a really young age ... and it's honestly the only thing I've wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What is your persona in the ring?

I am a snake, in every sense of the word. I pattern my look, movements, strikes and offense on what I interpret to be snake-like. That even extends to my character in the ring: For generations, wrestling has been a battle between a good (face) guy and a bad (heel) guy. In terms of storytelling, this tried-and-true approach will always work. But it's also been a staple of wrestling since its inception. I want to take that and turn it on its head. I want there to always be an unease when I wrestle, a sort of unpredictability that comes with being patterned after a snake. Will it strike you? Will it let you be? One will never know. And that's what I like to portray. Neither "good" nor "bad." Just me.

What companies have you wrestled for?

I've been fortunate enough to wrestle for 17 years so the list is extensive, but the most notable ones have been: WWE/NXT, Impact Wrestling, Evolve, Ring of Honor, the Crash, Major League Wrestling.

Who is your dream opponent?

I'd be remiss if I didn't say Rey Mysterio Jr. He's considered a pioneer for lucha libre-influenced guys like myself. We all think he is the greatest luchador of all time and he has broken down barriers for Latinos and for smaller wrestlers in general. It would definitely be an honor to face him before he eventually retires.

PHOTO BY ADAM MCCABE
  • Photo by Adam McCabe

Destiny

Just as Japanese legend Keiji Mutoh became the mysterious Great Muta, so local wrestler Kallee Topper (who also wrestles as Raegan Fire) assumes the unpredictable alter ego of Destiny when a match requires some chaos.

What do you remember about your first match?

I wrestled one of my trainers, Santana Garrett. She's an amazing wrestler, so I was beyond nervous. I remember starting to die out toward the end of the match. No amount of conditioning outside of wrestling truly prepares you for being in in-ring shape. It was definitely one of my proudest moments and a match I'll always remember.

Describe your in-ring persona.

Destiny is pretty uncontrollable. Coming from a psych ward, this character is constantly battling between good and evil in her mind and the frustration is brought out in the ring. If you ever want to be shocked watching wrestling, my work as Destiny is something you'll want to see. I'm known for being unpredictable ... but if you see a hand under the ring, a person standing on a U-Haul or a shopping cart full of weapons, just know that's me getting ready to go crazy.

What companies have you wrestled for?

Way too many to name but some notable ones include Atomic Revolutionary Wrestling, Queens of Combat, Fighting Evolution Wrestling and Rise.

Have you held any titles?

I've held the North Florida FEW Women's Championship, Bombshells Women's Championship, the Riot Women's Championship, the Champ7 Women's Championship and Platinum Women's Championship.

PHOTO BY ADAM MCCABE
  • Photo by Adam McCabe

Lexi Gomez

The Unbreakable Lexi Gomez is a young wrestler on the move, making a name for herself both solo and in tandem with her teammates in "The Rapture" stable, Jay Sky and Richard King (who are also pictured in this issue's photos).

What do you remember about your first match?

I remember being absolutely nervous! My coach asked me if I wanted to debut in the all women's tournament for CWE, and of course I said yes. I didn't have gear or anything that I would feel comfortable in. So I went to Forever 21 and tried on a million things until I found something. The song I chose for my entrance was "Confident" by Demi Lovato. I was anything but confident! But everything turned out fine and I had the best time ever.

Describe your in-ring persona.

I call myself "The Unbreakable Lexi Gomez." And I wouldn't say it's exactly a "character"; it's more the person I wish I was 24/7. I struggle with depression/anxiety and there was a time in my life when I was completely broken as a person. ... But when I'm in the ring I'm Unbroken. I'm strong and powerful, there's nothing that can break my spirit. Not even myself. She's the person I want to be all the time.

What companies have you wrestled for?

I've wrestled with a lot of companies. I've wrestled all over Florida, Alabama, Georgia and recently Puerto Rico.

Have you held any titles?

I won my first title fight in January, at OCW. And I just recently became the new Riot Pro Wrestling Women's Champion.

PHOTO BY ADAM MCCABE
  • Photo by Adam McCabe

Teddy Stigma

Wildcard heel Teddy Stigma has been wrestling for more than a decade for countless promotions, but is currently a mainstay of Mayhem on Mills. He has been known to teleport during a match.

What do you remember about your first match?

Being on the bad end of a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor and my head bouncing off the concrete, which is probably why I can't remember anything else from that match.

Describe your in-ring persona.

I'm an irony-soaked husk of my former self.

Who is your dream opponent?

A younger version of myself so I can beat some sense into him.

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