Que Bonita Bandera!
Being from Puerto Rico, I often saw clichéd gimmicks or people erasing their history. In recent years, I’ve appreciated seeing more Puerto Rican wrestlers embracing their culture and roots. I wanted to showcase Puerto Rican wrestlers that have shined recently. We have had wrestlers such as Damian Priest, Santana & Ortiz, Eddie Kingston, Mercedes Martinez, Rocky Romero, Homicide, The Colons (Carlito, Epico, Primo) but we’ve also had women step up to show their roots.
Zelina Vega (WWE)
I began following Zelina’s career when she was in TNA (Impact Wrestling) when she was Rosita, teaming up alongside Sarita. I was very happy seeing her in NXT with Andrade, their teamwork, and how they complimented each other.
Zelina is an amazing wrestler, and I love how she incorporates her favorite figures into her outfit. Zelina has won the Queen’s Crown Tournament and won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship, still hoping for the day she wins the RAW or SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Before marrying Matt Hardy, Reby Sky had her own wrestling career. Reby, who was in Impact Wrestling with Matt and her father Seor Benjamin, composed “Broken” Matt Hardy’s theme music.
Tasha Steelz (Impact Wrestling)
I have been loving watching Tasha’s character in Impact Wrestling, she is not afraid to show her heritage whether it’s in her entrance video or her gear. Tasha has been one of the featured Knockouts in recent months facing the likes of Mickie James and Chelsea Green. Steelz is announced as the Boricua Badass and she definitely makes that true with each one of her matches. Tasha has been a Knockouts Tag Team Champion alongside Kiera Hogan, also the Knockouts Tag Team Tournament with Kiera as well and most recently she became a Knockouts Champion.
Ivelisse has been an active wrestler for quite some time now from being in Tough Enough to Impact, Lucha Underground to All Elite Wrestling and making appearances in the indie circuit. In 2020, She won the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup alongside Diamante. I love that is always highlighting that she’s Puerto Rican in any way she can, usually with her attire or bringing the flag on her way to the ring.
Roxanne Perez (NXT/WWE)
Even though she has been signed in NXT since March, Roxanne has already made an impact as a wrestler. She trained at Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling and made an appearance on Total Divas, telling Nattie she’d be a pro soon. She mentions the Rock and AJ Lee as her wrestling influences. During her stint in Ring of Honor, she won the ROH Women’s World Championship competition. She lost the ROH Women’s World title to Deonna Purrazzo on Impact before joining NXT. Roxanne has won the Women’s Breakout Tournament in NXT and recently faced Meiko Satomura in a great match. This is just the beginning.
Over time, wrestling has become more diverse. I didn’t envision myself in the wrestling roster until AJ Lee.
AJ’s NXT Season 3 stint enthralled me, and I hope she continues in WWE. AJ Lee was the longest-reigning Divas Champion before Nikki Bella. Lee is a mental health advocate and ambassador for NAMI, Jed Foundation, and ASPCA. AJ is a novelist; her books chronicle her upbringing and journey to pro wrestling. She’s written Glow vs. The Babyface and Dungeons & Dragons, a four-issue limited series, with actress Aimee Garcia.
AJ was an inspiration to me when watching pro wrestling because she was unusual, petite, Latina, and a nerd about comic books and video games. I appreciate how authentic her character was and how it reflected her.
It’s not often that I can blend my heritage and culture with wrestling. In wrestling, I rarely saw characters who looked like me until recently, when more Puerto Ricans started appearing and weren’t scared to represent where they originated from. Janai Kai, La Rosa Negra, and Danny Limelight are others I’m watching. I hope the next one features more wrestlers.