Pro wrestling boomed around the turn of the millennium, when Trish Adora was in elementary school. Her memories of the era are of a smoky ring and a team of female dancers; screams, curses and fans throwing chairs; and women tearing off each others’ evening gowns.
“It was interesting trying to process that as a kid,” she recalls.
Despite the chaos and controversy, the young Adora was drawn to wrestling by the larger-than-life pageantry, the characters and the showmanship. Specifically, she remembers things clicking when she saw female wrestlers including Jacqueline, a WWE Hall of Famer who was the company’s first African American women’s champion.
“She was very strong, and just seeing a Black woman being taken seriously and being strong and still beautiful — and not being stripped of that femininity — was so important for me to see. I couldn’t even believe it,” says Adora, who was born Patrice McNair, raised in Southeast D.C. and still lives in Anacostia.
“When everybody was picking their favorites, you gravitate to somebody that looks like you, and I finally had somebody that looked like me,” she says. “I had my superhero.”
These days, Adora, 32, is becoming a superhero for a new generation of wrestling fans, making waves in the independent wrestling scene and quickly becoming a performer to watch. Perhaps most impressively, she’s done it as a Black woman in an industry that has often been tough on women and talent of color, during a pandemic that threatened the industry’s very existence.
“There is a reason for everything,” Adora says. “I just don’t view much as an accident as far as my wrestling career.”