On the independent scene, you see a wide range of commitment to the profession. Weekend warriors and hobby performers abound, some of them are even quite good. Others grind at a day job during the week only to pay the bills so they can pursue their real passion. They aren’t interested in wrestling in occasional shows and hitting the bar afterward with their buddies.
They are here to do the work, pay their dues and shoot as high as their skill, talent and luck will take them. Danika Della Rouge is without a doubt in the latter category. She is described by those who know her as a hard worker. She isn’t here to play dress up and roll around the ring for something to do on the weekends. Danika is a genuine talent and one only needs to watch her work in the ring to know they are watching someone with a great deal of potential.
When I first met Danika Della Rouge in person, I found her to be a quiet unassuming young woman. Her bright pink hair and engaging smile suggested she wasn’t nearly as sheepish as my first impression. After the layers began to peel away, I discovered a thoughtful and resilient young woman with more depth than what you might expect from most people we casually meet in this business.
I recently had an opportunity to ask Danika a few questions. She politely obliged my request.
Philip: How long have you been wrestling? Tell us about how you got started and motivated you to do this.
Danika: I have been wrestling for about 2 years and two months now. I debuted in April 2018. I started wrestling because I knew it was time to start a career or start something I was passionate about.
Philip: Presumably you were a fan before you got started. Who inspired you? Who are the people you look to for inspiration and motivation?
Danika: I never watched wrestling as a kid or even growing up, I in fact never knew about wrestling in general. Until my senior year in high school, I decided to try out for the wrestling team. I tried about every sport you could in high school and never found any sport that I felt great at or loved, until I started wrestling.
Philip: Are you from here? Tell us a little about where you’re from, schooling and family. What does your family think of you being a wrestler? Do they come to your matches?
Danika: I’m from Orlando, Florida. I went to about four different middle schools and about three different high schools so I never was able to make real connections with other students. My family is very supportive of me wrestling and come to most of my shows.
Philip: I love the pink hair and the fantastic cape. Tell us a little about your style and who you are when you go out there into the ring.
Danika: I originally had mixed colors of purple and pink in my hair and wasn’t really a fan of it, so I stripped some of the other colors away. Buddy Wayne loved my pink hair and made me love it just as much. The name Danika originally came from my step sister’s sister. Her name was Daneka and she had passed away very early in life over 20 years ago, I try to make myself as what she would imagine her as or what she could have been. Death is very hard to cope with, so why not remember those that we lost as what they were or how we perceive them to be.
I want to show the world that all of our lost ones are still with us and can bring the best out of you… It took me a while to think of my entrance cape. When I first started wrestling my trainer, Buddy Wayne, would call us Buddy’s Angels and after he passed all I could remember is hearing that over and over and I wanted to incorporate it somehow and that’s where the wings came into play.
Philip: What are your wrestling goals? Short term in the next year and longer-term, more your overall career.
Danika: My goal is to be in WWE, this isn’t just a hobby. This is a dream I never knew I wanted or was even possible. I want it so bad, but I want to do it the right way. I will give it everything I got just to prove to myself that I can do it that I was worth all the time and effort put into me. There is no short term for me, I don’t plan on stopping or slowing down.
Philip: I get the impression you have a real family in the wrestling community. Tell us about that family and how you all support one another.
Danika: Wrestling family is very important to me. I feel like the people I wrestle/train with are a big part of how I really started to fall for wrestling. Buddy Wayne Academy has been so supportive in my everyday life it has completely changed the person I am now to who I was before I started. We really have become a family and get through the good and tough times together.
Philip: Tell us about one of your career highlights thus far. What have been some of your favorite moments that you look back on and make you feel good about what you do?
Danika: I’d say my first two matches would be the ones I’ll remember forever. My heart was pounding so hard and so much going through my mind. I remember being so nervous on my debut to the point that I was shaking. The day of my debut was the day I got to meet Mick Foley. I remember asking him if he could watch my match, as soon as I walked away from him, I thought to myself what did I just do. As soon as I stepped out from the curtain I felt a wave pass by me like I was a new person.
Every fear I had in my head any stage freight everything went away and I felt reborn. I remember standing in the ring looking around at the crowd and it felt like I was in a movie and the spotlight was on me it was such an amazing feeling I never knew existed. Remember walking back after my match going through the curtains and being greeted by Shayna with tears in her eyes filled with love saying Buddy would be so proud. I will never forget that day. The next day was my second match for Invasion Championship wrestling and like the first Mick Foley was there again. This time I had done a similar spot and my foot ended up catching the top rope when I went to do a springboard crossbody and I ended up flipping over and falling straight on my bottom.
I remember seeing it happen in slow motion and thinking Oh boy, this is gonna hurt. I felt slight sharp pain but I was so high from the adrenaline of being on stage and wrestling that I stood right up cheered and threw my opponent back into the ring and continued the show. After that match, I walked backstage and felt so disappointed in myself that I had fallen.
At that moment Mick Foley said he had some words for me and to hold tight. A couple of minutes of waiting went by and he pulled me aside and told me he wanted a picture with me and told me that I was going to be a star one day. I instantly started crying and was completely shocked that he, a legend, would say something like that about me and believe that about me based off of two matches, my very first two matches at that.
Philip: The first time I saw you perform was back in September when you filled in for Nicole Matthews at DEFY when she had the border issue. How did that go down? Were you called in? Were you standing by? You got to wrestle with Allie, who we all know from IMPACT. That was a fantastic match. What was that like for you?
Danika: That day I remember I was watching the show when I felt as if I was in a dream. Khash Mirzaei walked up to me and asked me if I had my gear and to come with him. I was walking backstage and met with Matt Farmer and he asked me the same thing, do you have your gear? That was when I learned one of the most important rules I won’t ever forget til this day. “Always bring your gear kid.” Thankfully I lived 5 minutes from the venue and was able to go home and get my gear. I remember rushing out of there soooo fast and so excited.
I couldn’t believe that I was going to be able to wrestle against someone like Allie this soon and at all really. It was unbelievable, we had 20 minutes to figure out what story we were going to tell. I remember being so excited and then when it came time to talk about it with Allie all my nerves hitting at once and she could see it in my face. Didn’t want to mess up anything or make her look bad. I felt like all the pressure of the world was on me. Here was my chance to show what I could do.
Philip: In your time thus far, have you managed to avoid major injury? I know staying safe is a major part of the training. You’ve been training at the Buddy Wayne Academy. Did you get a chance to work with Buddy Wayne? How did you find the Buddy Wayne Academy?
Danika: I have managed to avoid any serious injuries so far, thankfully. One of the first things Buddy taught me was about safety. So, safety and feeling safe is a huge part in wrestling for me. I was searching online for wrestling schools and nothing popped up that stood out to me. Until I found the BWA page and I emailed Buddy and set a day to meet and train, and that was it.
Philip: Do you have to grind a day job until wrestling starts paying the bills? If so, what do you do?
Danika: Yes, I do have a day job that pays the bills and for wrestling. I am a security control room operator. It’s a great job opportunity to move up and make a career out of it, but it’s just not what I’m passionate about.
Philip: Tell us something about Danika Della Rouge that we don’t know.
Danika: Danika Della Rouge started out as a shy girl in school that was insecure in just about everything in life. I met the right people at the right time and found my voice and my gift.
I found it incredibly moving to hear the story behind Danika’s gimmick. She isn’t a pink-haired fairy princess, but rather an angel, paying homage to a life cut short. An embodiment of what could have been. We don’t typically see that much thoughtfulness goes into a professional wrestler’s character.
This isn’t a sport for the faint of heart. She has proven when the pressure is on, she can rise to the occasion. We saw that last September when she faced Allie with only a few minutes’ notice before the match started. It was a demonstration of the kind of professionalism and composure most could only aspire to achieve. She did so in a manner that suggested she had many years of experience under her belt when quite the opposite was true. These are the things that make people stand out. That makes or breaks careers.
As fans, we don’t often see firsthand how much work it takes to be a great performer. We hear about it, we know they work hard. But we don’t see the hours of pushing themselves, taking their body to absolute limits. We don’t experience the emotional anguish and frustration they go through when they try and try until there isn’t any other option but to keep trying until they succeed. All of us don’t feel the aches and pain they endure to perfect their craft. We hear the stories and we see the product of this work in their performance… But, unless you go through this yourself, we can only imagine the hard work the truly great performers like Danika have put into mastering every move she makes in the ring.
It is no surprise to hear Danika’s peers speak to what a hard worker she is. Someone who takes her craft seriously. If she is this good after only a couple of years under her belt, it is clear to see, she is destined for greatness. See for yourself what people in the business have to say about Danika Della Rouge:
“She’s a hard worker and an ass-kicker. She’s just starting and has good things coming her way.” – King Khash, Professional Wrestler
“There was a Defy show back in September where Nicole Matthews was supposed to face Allie, from IMPACT. Unfortunately, due to some issues at the border, Nicole was not able to make it. With very little notice, Danika came in to take her place. At that point, she had maybe 2-3 matches against opponents that were people she had not trained with. To come in on short notice, work with someone new. In front of a crowd as rabid as Defy’s audience, shows that she’s able to be thrown in the fire. There aren’t many women in the PNW wrestling scene. So based on what I’ve seen so far, Danika is poised to make a big impact!” – Referee Aubrey Edwards
“Pink hair, fairy wings
Hardest worker in the room
This girl is a star” – Nick Radford, Professional Wrestler
“The growth in Danika has been expediential. In the last year in particular… her drive and dedication to being her absolute best, is unsurpassed. She’s a true star in the making! Buddy would be SO proud of her, as am I.” – Shayna Edwards, Owner and Operator of the Buddy Wayne Academy
“The most driven female athlete in the PNW.” – Guerrero De Neon
“Danika is a great role model for young kids. She is a very talented performer. She understands how to use her size and speed to take control of her matches. Also, I don’t think ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams fits her entrance choreography… hahahaha” – Cody Chhun, Professional Wrestler
Want to see her in action? Here are some selected videos of Danika Della Rouge at work!
Danika Della Rouge vs. Pricilla Kelly
Guerrero De Neon vs. Danika Della Rouge
Allie (IMPACT) vs. Danika Della Rouge
Danika Della Rouge vs. Kingpin Johnny Flynn
Danika Della Rouge & Nick Wayne vs. Nick Radford & Leon Negra