On the March 16th, 2022 edition of AEW Dynamite: St. Patrick’s Day Slam, fans were treated to the conclusion of one of the first great rivalries in AEW history, as La Mera Mera, Thunder Rosa took on her nemesis, the Doctor Britt Baker D.M.D., for the AEW Women’s World’s Championship. Not only was this match the second time these ladies’ main evented the flagship show, but it also marked the first-ever women’s cage match in company history, which seemed appropriate after their first landmark, “Unsanctioned Lights Out,” match took place exactly a year to the day.
Unfortunately for Thunder Rosa, even though she got the big win last year, it seemed as though Baker ended up with the bigger piece of the spotlight after the match. Baker got the T-shirts, the magazine covers and was the talk of the Twitter-sphere after the match, well unless you were Mick Foley, who recognized Rosa as the “…true women’s #HardCoreLegend.”
It’s not the first time Thunder Rosa had to fight through adversity to attain her goals or respect. As she mentioned herself on the March 30th edition of Dynamite,” … it seems like every time I get to the top, there’s always bullies that wanna bring me down. But remember Tony (Schiavone), pillars get knocked down, but foundations, they remain standing. And I will be a foundation in this company. So, whoever wants to get at me, I’m ready.”
This seems to be a pattern for Thunder Rosa (real name Melissa Cervantes), as she fought for everything she has achieved. Cervantes, born from humble beginnings in Tijuana, Mexico, made the life-changing decision in 2003 to make the dangerous trek across the border to San Diego with her sister at the age of 17 while their parents stayed in Mexico. After raising money, the sisters then made their way to San Antonio, where Cervantes now calls home.
Cervantes’ moniker “Thunder Rosa” comes from this period in her life as she got the basis of the name from, “Thunder Road” the street she primarily worked on in San Antonio. By replacing the Road with Rosa, and painting half of her face as a way to honor her late grandfather who died of a heart attack at a Lucha match in Tijuana as a Dia de los Muertos tribute to him, Rosa has become an icon in the Mexican American wrestling community.
Having built up so much patience throughout her life, there was no reason to believe that Rosa was not biding her time and enjoying building the momentum to what would become her crowning achievement in mainstream pro wrestling. Building that momentum and staying consistent came in the form of going 34-1 between the unsanctioned lights-out match and the rematch at Revolution. Tony Khan believed in Rosa even while still being on contract with the NWA, as she had made herself so incredibly over with the crowd, and it was only a matter of time before Thunder Rosa became All-Elite.
Then on July 22, 2021, Thunder Rosa got the graphic every pro wrestler wants and was officially signed to AEW. When Tony Khan announced this to the world, the fans knew that the rivalry between La Mera Mera and Britt Baker was only a matter of time before it ramped back up. This was a long time coming for Rosa, as she had been a crucial part of the company, building up a women’s division she technically wasn’t even signed to. Her commitment to the AEW locker room could not be questioned.
Once Rosa did become Elite, the two destined convergent paths finally came to a head for the rivals at Revolution in February 2022, after Thunder Rosa’s failed attempt at the TNT title, thanks to the interference of Mercedes Martinez, Rebel not Reba, and Jaime Hayter, which reintroduced Rosa/Baker to the uninitiated.
At Revolution, which many fans believed would be Rosa’s coronation night, Tony Khan pulled a fast one. Rosa did not actually win the title and lost after interference from the previously mentioned lady stooges plagued the fight with outside interference. The fanbase seemed split as many felt upset that TK did not pull the trigger at Revolution as many saw it as her time. The other half understood the timing of Dynamite visiting San Antonio in a week and a half’s time. San Antonio is Rosa’s adoptive hometown, and the crowd would be red hot for a Rosa title win. TK’s gut feeling paid off, as San Antonio set a bar for crowds at AEW live shows.
As soon as the light came back on from the commercial break, and the all-women’s mariachi band hit its first note, those in attendance and the millions watching at home knew they were about to witness something special. It was now time to crown Thunder Rosa as the new AEW women’s champion. Thunder Rosa’s entrance was magical. It paid homage to her country of birth, as she looked like a Mexican Revolutionary soldier getting ready for battle.
For a lot of people, especially those from the Mexican and Mexican American communities, this was much more than a wrestling match. It felt as though one of their own had made it to the pinnacle. More than the result of a predetermined winner. This felt as though representation had once again arrived in pro wrestling in a way it hadn’t before or hadn’t in a while. Wrestling is as real, or fake, as you the viewer wants to make it. The emotions involved are not fake. That’s why wrestling is great.
The match itself was a bit sloppy, uneven, and frantic, which made it feel so much more realistic and authentic. Powerbomb, Thunder Driver, and a 1-2-3. That is how the match ended. Once it did that hot San Antonio crowd let out an all-time pop. There is raw emotion coming from Thunder Rosa as she won the Women’s. She was not the only one crying, as an outpouring of support for Thunder Rosa showed up on social media, before, during and after the match.
Thunder Rosa’s legacy was then cemented for the rest of wrestling time, as her incredible life journey had hit a peak that not many have reached. This match ends a chapter on a high note of the yet unfinished book of Thunder Rosa. While her career is obviously nowhere near completed, it does feel like a big bow was tied on a grueling 8-year journey.
Where do Thunder Rosa and the AEW women’s division go from here? It seems as though the next step is solidifying that the women’s division is the best in the world. While the women’s division has garnered some criticism in its short time alive, some of it warranted, the future seems bright for the women as Thunder Rosa wants to make sure they, and her, are at the top of the pro wrestling world.
“When I came to AEW, I told everyone that I was going to put women’s wrestling back on the map. I fought and clawed my way to the top to be the face of this division. However, I just don’t want to be the face or the pillar of this division. Thunder Rosa wants to be the face of all women’s wrestling,” said Thunder Rosa on March 30th, Dynamite.
Thunder Rosa, who has been a Stallworth for women’s wrestling, even having her own women-only promotion in Mission Pro Wrestling, so you know she doesn’t take the responsibility of being the face of the women’s division lightly. With a passion for her work, a passion for women’s pro wrestling, and a passion for being the best, Thunder Rosa is ready to transcend the women’s division into its next phase.