SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
Jordynne Grace’s new venture
Jordynne Grace is blazing a new trail for professional wrestlers—as a bodybuilder.
“I want to be the first pro wrestler to ever go to The Arnold,” says Grace, referring to The Arnold Classic, a gold standard in bodybuilding. “That’s my dream.”
The Impact Wrestling star, who is a two-time Knockouts division champion, has transformed her body training and is preparing for this weekend’s Tri-City Classic bodybuilding championship event. Grace will compete under her real name, Trish Gresham, and she is entering with a look that is bound to leave people—herself included—in awe.
“I feel like the same person, then I look in the mirror and say, ‘Whoa,’” says Grace. “The weight loss has become noticeable in my face, and I never thought I’d have a six-pack in my life. It’s been insane to see my body change.”
Grace has competed in powerlifting, but bodybuilding is an entirely new realm for her. Pro wrestling and bodybuilding are two very different forms of sport.
“Bodybuilding doesn’t go with pro wrestling,” says Grace. “I feel so weak. You’re putting your body through extremely intense stress. It leaves you exhausted.”
Grace’s unrelenting drive has led to immense success in wrestling. She stood out in the All In battle royale in 2018, then followed that with a sensational string of matches and stories in Impact. Her willingness to embrace challenges is nonstop, which may have served as a deterrent in this venture. Remarkably, Grace still worked a full slate of matches earlier this month on an international tour in Australia (then wrestled for AAA in Mexico) amid the final stages of preparation for her bodybuilding competition. Her preparation has made pro wrestling even more difficult—and wrestling has complicated the bodybuilding training, adding a new degree of difficulty to prepping meals and following her diet while traveling.
Beneath that willingness to accept these daunting challenges is a determined, tenacious individual hungry to prove to herself—and the world—that she can achieve greatness. And she won’t get there by doing it in textbook fashion. Grace is fighting every day to make her dreams a reality.
“I’ve gotten relentless hate about the way I look on social media,” says Grace, who turned 27 earlier this month. “I’ve heard I was too big or that I was too short—now I hear that I’m too muscular and I look like a man. I am here to prove that you can do whatever you want to, especially if you use those negative comments as fuel.”
The idea of insulting Grace for pursuing her dream is outlandish, yet sadly a reality. She refuses to allow someone else’s opinion to prevent her from reaching new heights for women in pro wrestling, particularly as she represents body positivity.
“I can’t wait to see what happens,” says Grace. “This is something I’m doing for a specific competition, and I think it’s important that people know that. There is so much behind it. Posing, memorizing routines, it’s a whole different ball game. When it’s over, I can’t wait to eat a lot of food.”
The Tri-City Classic, which airs on pay-per-view, is a regional event. Grace will compete in the women’s physique division. To reach the vaunted space where she would compete at The Arnold, she first needs to attain a pro card. Winning this regional is the first step toward accomplishing that before moving on to nationals.
“When I was competing in powerlifting, people would ask if I’d ever try bodybuilding, but I thought there was never a chance this would happen because of all the cardio and dieting,” says Grace. “But look at me now—I’m on the stairs every day for 90 minutes, and I’m eating chicken and rice every day.
“This is exactly what I needed. I can’t wait to compete.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- Jon Moxley responded to Punk’s comments on Renée Paquette’s The Sessions, as well as a host of other topics, including sharing this critique of AEW: “I don’t think I’ve ever said anything even remotely negative about AEW, but I will say this: As an observer, it seems like I spent eight years on the indies, spent a couple years in WWE developmental, spent like eight years in WWE—I’ve never seen so much bulls--- drama in one place in my entire f---ing life. I hate to say that. I don’t know if it’s because of the age of social media and s--- gets blown out of proportion.”
- Is Ronda Rousey correct? Would her program with Liv Morgan have been more compelling had it been given more time on-screen? Overall, she makes a valid point. If you want viewers to invest in stories, those stories need to be presented as important.
- Cody Rhodes and Solo Sikoa main-evented Raw on Monday, with Rhodes—only days away from his first WrestleMania main event—giving Sikoa his first loss on the main roster.
- Unfortunate news out of Impact Wrestling, as Josh Alexander is forced to relinquish the world title due to a torn triceps.
- Sanada is this year’s New Japan Cup winner, defeating David Finlay in the finals. In more New Japan news, Katsuyori Shibata is coming to Ring of Honor to challenge Wheeler Yuta for the ROH Pure title at Friday’s Supercard of Honor.
Austin Theory gets star-making moment against John Cena at WrestleMania 39
Austin Theory will open Night 1 of WrestleMania 39 on Saturday against John Cena.
This is no small task. All eyes will be on Cena, a wrestling icon, as Theory attempts to take his place among WWE’s hierarchy.
Known as a favorite of Vince McMahon, Theory’s career moved in a different direction once McMahon resigned as WWE’s CEO. Theory, who had won the Money in the Bank ladder match in July, lost his briefcase in unceremonious fashion when challenging Seth Rollins for the United States title in November. He ate some humble pie along the way, all while taking vital steps toward transitioning from an over-the-top character taking selfies to becoming a more vicious character.
“For me, it’s all about the evolution of my character,” says Theory, who shares a very positive relationship with Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE’s current head of creative. “That’s what is going to lead me to new heights. It’s very exciting, and it’s a new challenge. I’ve gone from this over-the-top character to someone who is more toned down and serious.”
Theory has a highly coveted opportunity to share the ring with Cena. Even if he loses his U.S. championship, the stakes are far more significant. He has the potential to make a lasting, enduring impression, a goal he did not meet last year against Pat McAfee as he was overshadowed by McAfee, McMahon and Steve Austin.
There are people in WWE that remain extremely high on the 25-year-old Theory, so invested in his work that they believe he is a better long-term prospect than even AEW’s Maxwell J. Friedman. As Theory expressed in his creatively done empty arena promo that aired this past Monday on Raw, his match at WrestleMania is his chance to prove he is the future.
“Looking back, the briefcase was an anchor,” says Theory. “Now I feel more alive than I ever have.”
Tweet of the Week
This video adds a great deal of significance to the Kofi Kingston–Claudio Castagnoli match.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.