One day she’s browsing through a cheerleading magazine, and several years later, she’s in a WWE wrestling ring facing the girl on the cover of it.
Deonna Purrazzo, a former competitive cheerleader, is a member of Ring of Honor’s Women of Honor. This tough 5-foot-2 talent is ready to battle all sizes, shapes and skill levels.
Only 23-years-old, Purrazzo has already built a solid foundation in her chosen profession.
She worked the indies, competed in Puerto Rico for Savio Vega, trained and wrestled for Stardom in Japan, gained experience in Canada and the UK, participated in Shine, had some matches in GFW/TNA Impact Wrestling (against Brooke, Awesome Kong, Madison Rayne), wrestled for NXT TV (against Asuka, Bayley, Emma, Nia Jax) and appeared on WWE SmackDown.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
That SmackDown segment in December saw her across the ring from then SmackDown champion Alexa Bliss, also a former competitive cheerleader. The 5-1 Bliss (pre-WWE) is the one on the cover of that national cheerleading magazine Purrazzo purchased when she was younger. Two flyers proving cheerleaders can make it in this physical vocation -- professional wrestling/sports entertainment.
Purrazzo, who’s competed in national cheerleading tournaments on championship caliber teams, planned to do both loves. She focused on becoming an all-star cheerleader at the University of Kentucky and training in pro wrestling in Louisville at Ohio Valley Wrestling, a WWE developmental group at the time. But those plans fell through, and that meant onto Plan B.
So far, so good.
At a young age, Purrazzo is already a pioneer. She helped lead the resurgence of women’s wrestling in Ring of Honor with Women of Honor. Mandy Leon and Purrazzo -- through wrestler/trainer Delirious -- resurrected women’s wrestling in Ring of Honor. After receiving the OK with their idea, she made her ROH debut against Leon in Baltimore on July 25, 2015. That match set the tone for what became Women of Honor, which introduced Taeler Hendrix, too.
This driven young lady with a passion toward elevating women’s wrestling has accomplished quite a bit since debuting on the pro wrestling scene in 2013. A Jersey girl, Purrazzo’s been impressive, earning a spot as an alternate for the WWE Mae Young Classic. Not making the final cut stung a little, but she supported the wrestlers who did as well as the purpose of the tournament.
An athlete, competitive cheerleader and gymnast growing up, this tomboy is a longtime wrestling fan, watching it with her twin brother. Her initial inspirations: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Lita, Trish Stratus, Jacqueline, and Jazz.
Born in Livingston and raised in Jefferson, New Jersey, Purrazzo is also attractive and vied for the title of Miss New Jersey USA. She did not win, but it was a good experience and proved she is open to new challenges.
An Italian American, she loves mom’s cooking, especially raviolis, and she likes pizza, of course. #ExtraCheesePlease
Never into pro wrestling, her parents were less than thrilled -- her mom a bit upset she did not discuss it with them -- when she decided to register for wrestling school near her hometown in December 2012. She wanted to train while in high school, but her parents would not allow it. She asked to play tackle football with the boys when younger but her protective parents also said no.
Purrazzo is a graduate of Jefferson Township High School. #GoFalcons
Notable JTHS Alum: Derek Drymon, one of the creators of the Nicktoon SpongeBob SquarePants. Mike Leach, long snapper for the NFL Denver Broncos, and Purrazzo.
After she graduated from high school and turned 18, Purrazzo signed-up for wrestling school, unbeknownst to mom and dad. They thought, just a fad, a stage their daughter was going through.
She knew better, stuck with it, and now her parents are proud and happy she’s happy.
Purrazzo balanced a part-time job, junior college and wrestling school, learning from Damian Adams at the now defunct D2W Pro Wrestling Academy.
Damian Adams said via email: “Deonna reminded me a lot of another wrestler that I had a hand in training in the beginning of their career, WWE superstar Darren Young, in that she was/is an absolute natural in the ring. Even from the beginning stages of training, she had amazing footwork, conditioning, natural ability, charisma, and understood match and promo psychology very well. Just some of many things that are very hard to teach and can take very long to learn and apply.
“The patience and agility from cheerleading certainly helped some although nothing really prepares you for pro wrestling like pro wrestling training.
“Her height was never really a factor as she trained predominantly with men of different sizes in the ring, and she always adapted very well. It was more important for her to add muscle onto her frame which she has done a great job and continues to do a great job with as well.
“I firmly believe Deonna is an extremely unique performer. Having wrestled for the WWE, NXT, Ring of Honor, Impact/Global Force Wrestling, Japan, Puerto Rico, Canada and every top major independent organization in the U.S. against the top performers in the world at such a rapid pace is a testament to her training and unbelievable work ethic.
“One of the many skills that she does well is being able to step foot in a ring against any opponent and without any preparation whatsoever, call a match on the fly, which in today’s wrestling has become a lost art, but is still one of the greatest survival tools to have. Her ability to do that with such comfort and ease is absolutely amazing.
“And she’s only just begun to scratch the surface. I am very well aware of how much more she is still capable of and without question can assure you that Deonna Purrazzo will forever leave a lasting impression not just in women’s wrestling but in professional wrestling. She has already done so many things that no women in professional wrestling has ever done and will continue to do. I see an amazing future for Deonna, and I couldn't be more prouder. She’s certainly earned it.”
Team Adams Pro Wrestling Academy, 17 Robert St.,Wharton, N.J. 07885
Purrazzo also credits wrestling legend Rip Rogers and GFW’s Robbie E for her wrestling development.
Robbie E social media and website
Facebook - Subscribe and Friend Request
Official Website - robbie-e.com
Robbie E said via email: “She was always such a hard worker and had a great attitude. It was only a matter of time until she was gonna blow up and show the world how good she was.”
And she did just that.
Still, Purrazzo continues to learn.
Thus, the future looks more than bright.
- ROH in ATLANTA
Ring of Honor returns to the historic Center Stage for an international TV taping featuring ROH’s hard-hitting, fast-paced, in-your-face action at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug 26 at 1374 West Peachtree St NW in Atlanta.
From 1989-96, Center Stage housed the TV tapings for WCW Saturday Night on TBS.
All of the ROH stars will compete in one of wrestling’s most-notable venues, highlighted by the return of Atlanta’s own and the ROH World Champion The American Nightmare Cody. His father, the late, great American Dream Dusty Rhodes did some broadcasting as a color commentator for some of those WCW Saturday Night shows at Center Stage.
HONOR RUMBLE – WINNER GETS A TITLE SHOT LATER THAT NIGHT
THE VILLAIN MARTY SCURLL vs. ROCKY ROMERO
CHEESEBURGER vs. WILL FERRARA
ROH WORLD CHAMPION CODY
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS YOUNG BUCKS (NICK and MATT JACKSON)
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS WAR MACHINE (RAY ROWE and HANSON)
MARK and JAY BRISCOE
MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS (ALEX SHELLEY and CHRIS SABIN)
GUERILLAS OF DESTINY (TAMA TONGA and TONGA LOA)
PRO WRESTLING’S LAST REAL MAN SILAS YOUNG
BEER CITY BRUISER
TEMPURA BOYZ (SHO and YO)
VINNY MARSEGLIA and TK O’RYAN
PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ and more
MEET-N-GREET (90 minutes before the show)
G.O.D (TAMA TONGA and TANGA LOA)
INTERMISSION - BULLY RAY
For more info, click
- PRO WRESTLING On The WEB
YouTube jim varsallone (jimmyv3 channel)