One of the great pleasures of routinely attending local wrestling promotions is the opportunity to be introduced to new talent. Then watch talent as they develop and grow. From time to time, you see someone who stands out for one reason or another. Perhaps they are exceptionally talented. Or, they have an outstanding gimmick. One of the more satisfying things to see in the industry is when someone stands out as unique, different, and imaginative. In a profession where it’s difficult to stand out from the rank and file, it is a pleasure to see someone burst out defying conformity and norms and demonstrate a greatness without peer. In the Pacific Northwest, we have seen a plethora of outstanding talent in the last couple of years. This journey of Izzy McQueen.
To the north, in the land of Tim Horton’s and hokey, a unique talent is emerging. Izzy McQueen is a name you should pay attention to. It’s a name that could very easily be on the lips of wrestling fans across North America and beyond in the near future. She is unpredictable, unorthodox, and perhaps one of the things that makes her so great is her seeming lack of fear to be herself, both in and out of the ring.
Recently I was fortunate enough to ask Izzy a series of questions. Please enjoy getting to know one of the most talented wrestlers performing in the Pacific Northwest today!
Philip– Tell us about your first memories of professional wrestling. Were you always a fan? Was it something that came along later? Who were the people you are watching?
Izzy McQueen-I became a fan at seven because my grandpa introduced me to it. When he immigrated, he became a mainstay at home, and he was excited that he could consistently watch wrestling for the first time in years. At the time, the idea of two wrestling shows on Monday blew his mind, so we alternated between Nitro and Raw each week until the wars ended shortly after. Eventually, Raw and Smackdown became household rituals for us. My grandpa was very much into the main event scene, but I have a lot of fond memories with cruiserweights and Too Cool specifically. Tajiri was also a standout for me.
Philip– At what point did you decide, I’m going to do this, I’m going to be a professional wrestler?
Izzy– I think really shortly after I had some glimmer of an idea just like anyone else, but I also always thought it was just some elaborate fever dream, and I don’t know where to even start. I came from a really small school, so we didn’t have anything outside of basketball, volleyball, and soccer, and wrestling wasn’t available to women, so I took karate outside of school until it burned a hole in a couple of wallets. Even way later in my life, I still didn’t think it was possible, but I worked as much as I could to be athletically fit and right a few wrongs in my body from years of karate.
Philip– What did your family and friends think?
Izzy– Since really securing the decision, my friends have been really supportive, and my family ranges from thinking it’s excessively dangerous to also having some delusions of grandeur about it. Thankfully, no one has tried to stray me away from it despite the many slaps on the wrists I get whenever any injury pops up. Wrestling was a big part of my identity growing up, so it’s always fun to see other people who have known me for years make the connection that my childhood obsession just seeped its way into my adulthood. Even though life happens, I made it a point to make sure wrestling was always this consistent part of my life, so I think long term that worked out for me.
Philip– Tell us about your training. Who did you train with? How was your very first match, and who were you in the ring with?
Izzy McQueen – I initially started training with Nicole Matthews, Tony Baroni, Artemis Spencer, and Billy Suede, who run the Lions Gate Dojo. When I started to travel more shortly after, I was allowed to train with Buddy Wayne, Carl Randers, and the rest of his academy whenever I happened to be in the states on Wednesday or a Saturday. To start with, the perspectives of Nicole, Arty Suede, Baroni, and Buddy felt like a real privilege, and it felt like I was doing something right with wrestling. That didn’t stop me from being a real nervous wreck when I started, unfortunately. I always had panic attacks on the way to training. They’ve gotten better over time, but the nervousness is something I haven’t gotten rid of, especially when it comes to matches.
My first match was a very hodge-podge tag team for a fair show in Abbotsford that was me, Nick Wayne, and Cody Chunn vs. Khash and Nick Radford. It went how you’d expect a first match to go for someone who weighs about 120 pounds in pure nervous energy. I remember feeling really down on myself, thinking I should have done much better considering my training, also under the assumption that a first match was some sort of major milestone that would make or break me. Looking back, I like to think of it as a measuring stick of how far I’ve gotten and how much I’ve grown.
Philip– Who are some of the people you have really enjoyed having the opportunity to get into the ring with?
Izzy– Nicole and I were going to wrestle in April, so I hope I get Izzy vs. Nicole III sometime in the near future. As boring as it sounds, I often enjoy wrestling the same people over and over again because I feel it gives me the opportunity to show how much I’ve grown and changed since the last time I faced off with them, and it also forces me to be creative and not really on the same skills. The same goes for the other person – it’s cheesy, and no one will believe me, but I love seeing how everyone else also manages to evolve and grow too. It pushes me to do the same.
Getting to share a ring with DJZ before he was signed was also pretty cool as someone with zero experience with wrestling someone pretty well known. Even though we had little interaction in that match, that experience for me is tied to a lot of feelings of re-assurement because he was rather complimentary about my work, and I’m always baffled when someone who I feel has no reason to remember me does so very well the next time I see them.
I’m a very empathetic person, so anyone who is excited to wrestle or has the positive energy going into a match helps make it much less of a process to calm my nerves, take my perfectionism and anxiety out of it and have fun sweating it out because that’s really the best part about wrestling and it’s something I lose sight of from time to time. I think one of the first people to help me realize that I needed to rein in the ‘wanting to prove myself too hard’ attitude, lighten up and stick to the ‘wrestling is fun’ attitude was Riea Von Slasher, and she’s also someone who helped me really figure out the mental gymnastics of wresting so getting to learn from her is something I’ve enjoyed a lot.
Philip– What have been some of the standout matches for you? Do you have any matches you would love to have that haven’t happened yet?
Izzy– Every time Danika Della Rouge and I step into a ring; I’ve always been pretty proud of our work together. This kind of goes hand in hand with what I said earlier about watching yourself grow and evolve as a wrestler while also watching your opponent do the same. I can’t count how many times we’ve been thrown in tag matches, but we’ve wrestled each other three times in three very different situations – cities, stipulations, and promotions with three completely different matches. Three is a very small number in this context, but I always appreciate our work together.
In terms of people I haven’t had a match with but would love to, there are a few that come to mind. Cat Power was another person who was hands-on about my training from time to time, and yet we’ve never wrestled each other. I hope somewhere down the line I get the pleasure of wrestling her one day. B-Boy and I once toyed with the idea of having a match together, and it never came to fruition. It made sense to me – Filipino veteran vs. the young upstart Filipino wrestling where there’s a prominent Filipino community. So, literally in almost any metro city along the Pacific Coast!
Philip– If you had to pick someone as a tag partner, who would you choose and why?
Izzy– Yoshihiko is someone I’ve been following for years, and he’s had such a unique and dramatic career, and he’s managed to evolve and adapt as a wrester so many times over throughout the years, and I think that’s probably why I’ve always been drawn to him. I know it’s a tall order to pick someone like him as a tag partner but dream big, right?
Philip– Have you had an opportunity to do some traveling for your work? Where have you gone and where would you like to go? Any promotions you are hoping to work for in the near future?
Izzy– My plan prior to the pandemic the mass cancellation of shows was to go work for GLAM in Oakland, California, and try to make it a regular thing. I wanted to branch out a bit there and see what it was like for me since the furthest I’ve ever really one was to South Oregon for a one-off. I was able to get booked there based on a few recommendations, and it was something I wanted to do anyways because of their diverse roster. Hopefully, I would like to officially be brought in (Well, I can’t say “brought back,” I was never officially there, to begin with) sometime in the future.
When considering long term goals, ever since the idea of wrestling came to me, Japan has always been on my radar. I love Japanese wrestling; I love Japan as a whole and I would love to experience their culture firsthand outside of all my Japanese-related consumable media since that never feels like proper representation of the culture. I’ve been a big fan of DDT since high school, so that has been a bucket list promotion for me to work at.
Philip– This is a serious business that requires a lot of training and commitment to really get as great as someone like yourself. If someone came up to you and asked, “Izzy, I want to do what you do?” What would you suggest to them?
Izzy– It’s a serious business that isn’t really serious. I think a lot of people lose sight of certain things in wrestling, but if you’re in the right mindset, it’s so much fun. It’s okay to let loose and show a little ass. Everyone is in on the act, and if people boo you as the bad guy, that’s the reaction you deserve because you worked for that feedback. You don’t have to be completely serious to be serious about the wrestling business. You can have discipline and consistency and a willingness to learn with an open ear for critique, but the real fun is in not taking everything seriously. At the core, we really are just fake fighting in our underwear, so what’s there to be so serious about?
Philip– When you decide to sit down and watch some wrestling, who do you like to spend your time watching these days? What catches your attention when you see two professionals in the ring.
Izzy– I’ve been drawn back to New Japan as my main focus in wrestling recently. Though regardless of what I watch, I always pay attention to someone’s footwork. It either sucks me in completely and buy into the match or not even bother to rent what they’re selling. I think that’s just a direct reflection on myself because footwork is always something I try to work hard on. I’m overly critical, if not more so, of my own footwork as well.
Also, no one tell Cody Chhun I use his New Japan World login!
Philip– Tell us about Izzy McQueen, the gimmick. How different is she from the person we might find outside the ring and away from the business?
Izzy– Izzy is equal parts adorable and insane. She very much has her own world, and everyone else just lives in it. This is her matcha latte fantasy, and she marches to the beat of her own drum. Though her personality is absolutely nonsense, her wrestling is no-nonsense because, at the end of the day, she knows a pile of warm hued colors in a 5’2” stack isn’t going to impress or out power anyone. Outside the ring, Izzy is glued to her phone with her permanent tremor. You wonder if she’s cold, but it’s just a condition. She’s on a bus somewhere to get bubble tea, purposely avoiding all contact until it’s her time to order.
Philip– You do amazing work both in the ring and in your promo’s. Where would you like for all this to take you? WWE? AEW? Queen of the Indies?
Izzy– I love travel. I love using my platform to empower people on social issues. But also, I love having an outlet to live my own delusions. Whoever would allow me to do all of the above without filtering my words and experience, I am happy to offer my services to.
Philip– What would we find you doing when you aren’t in the gym, training, or in the ring?
Izzy– I take pride in being multi-talented, and I am very passionate bout my academia, so I’m constantly busy. Cosplay (albeit at a very inconsistent pace throughout my life) really helped me hone a lot of skills since I did it at a competitive level. Drawing, graphic design, makeup artistry, sewing, and costume design are all things I have been able to work at, and wrestling helps me marry those skills to something I love. Whether it’s designing posters, making someone’s gear, designing my own merch, or sewing more of my own gear, I feel I’m always involved in wrestling in some aspect if I am creating art.
In terms of academia, at the time of writing this, I am finishing up by BSC in what is now “Food, Nutrition, and Health.” (A more personal, widespread, and socially conscious approach to dietetics, in my opinion.) I’m currently taking extra courses to see how I feel about also officially getting a Bachelors in Social Work since a lot of my work is rooted in social injustices around food and nutrition, why North America’s food system is an inequitable short reaching system, and working in low income/at-risk neighborhoods to create equitable food resources (so things like better access to grocery stores with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables and bringing more focus to prenatal to preschool diets especially in low income/at-risk areas).
Philip- You seem like the kind of person who puts her earbuds in the gym. What would we find on your playlist? What music gets you going and makes you dance?
Izzy– I am very much a ‘the headphones mean no conversation’ person. It’s a lot of things I find inspiration and motivation in- anime themes, k-pop, metal covers of video game music, and my holy diva Kylie Minogue who has forever been a mainstay in any music playlist I have had since “Fever.”
Philip– These last few months have been a huge adjustment for a lot of people in the business with the whole pandemic. What are your thoughts on how this has impacted talents such as yourself? Do you think the world of professional wrestling is going to lose some momentum? Or do you think people are going to be more eager and hungrier for it than ever?
Izzy– I think the pandemic is very political regardless of where you are. I think it shows that there is much more to be concerned about outside of wrestling. I know there is a lot of stigma around how much someone should love and know about wrestling. Or how much someone dedicates and focuses their time to wrestling. But I think that in itself is a privilege to only think about wrestling and be apathetic when there is much more going on in the world. On top of that, I do think being a wrestler at any level is kind of a privilege. Because you are able to do what most people can’t in terms of physical ability, which reflects how people treat you within the realm of wrestling so having some semblance of a platform that I feel is something people should hold accountability for.
Though I understand the stance of separating art from politics, I also come from a world where performative art can get very political and very real because it is a platform for marginalized people to speak on their experiences in front of an audience. I understand that has shifted my platform and shifted what set of eyes will choose to watch me. But I wouldn’t be where I am today being quiet about the marginalized experience.
I’m a woman of color, child to a single parent who is a first-generation immigrant. I suffer from ADHD and GAD. I am one of the many long time survivors of a gentrified neighborhood. So this pandemic has kind of affected me in many different ways, and all at very inequitable levels. With my identity in mind and the experiences that come with it, plus my academia – it makes me very outspoken about these inequalities. I associate with many people who are non-white, non-cis, non-straight, and non-settler. So to me, it’s only right to speak when I can and empower others to do as well.
In focusing on the scope here, I like to believe professional wrestling won’t lose momentum. She’s an art form at the core that happens to be a fairly flexible sport. So, it just takes a lot of creativity to keep her active in different ways. People do promo’s, short films, recorded matches, etc. I think it’s okay to still have some semblance of a creative outlet. Should things restore to the way they were, I feel like professional wrestling will feel a little bit refreshed. Professional wrestling doesn’t get an offseason. So, I like to consider this as her short nap or just taking her shoes off for a bit.
Philip– Who are some people in the business that aren’t getting the recognition they should be getting right now.
Izzy– I know there are very few of us, but please support the BIPOC talents in the Pacific Northwest. Some of us are given fewer opportunities, but we’re just as equally talented.
Philip– Who has been your biggest support in your career?
Izzy– Thanks to anyone reading this. I think that’s pretty supportive!
Hopefully, you enjoyed getting to know the formidable Izzy McQueen. Her approach to professional wrestling contains a type of artistry. It isn’t simply a string of stunts she performs. Instead, it’s a type of physical opera, barely contained to the ring. There is nothing standard or typical when it comes to this talent. Seeing her perform is something quite entertaining and satisfying to behold. If you get the chance to see Izzy McQueen perform in person, do not miss this opportunity. You won’t regret it.
Don’t take my word for this. See what people who know and work with Izzy have to say:
“Izzy’s fire and passion for in-ring work and wrapping herself into the character allows for the crowd to be fully invested into her and the match that she’s in. A hidden gem in the PNW for sure!” – Max Zaleski, Owner of Without A Cause Wrestling!
“Before Covid, I was training with Izzy on a weekly basis, work ethic was never a problem, and she always asked the right questions to get her going in the right direction. Since Covid, she has really shown another side of her personality by doing so well in 5CC’s Scornucopia promo battle. You couldn’t ask for a nicer person outside of the ring as well. I’m very excited to see what Izzy does with her newfound confidence once this pandemic is over.” –Fergie, Professional Wrestler.
“Izzy is charismatic, intelligent, stylish, skilled at the wrasslin’, charming as hell as a babyface, solid heel & most importantly, someone I consider a friend who’s been there for me when I want to bounce back & forth wrestling ideas or need to vent. Izzy’s one of the many people I can point to when I discuss what makes the PNW scene special. I hope this is highlighted post lockdown. It also helps that she’s a genuine and sincere human being who cares for others.” –Parm Singh Mann, Professional Wrestler.
“The two things, to me, that stick out about Izzy is her determination and her creativity. Her creativity is obvious to anyone who’s seen her matches or seen her promos. Not only is she creative in her ideas, but also in her presentation. Thank goodness she makes her own gear because I’m sure she’d have a hell of a time trying to explain her vision to a gearmaker! When you see Izzy come out, you don’t forget her. The more important thing to me, though, is her determination.
It might be shocking to some people who have seen her progress quickly as a performer, but Izzy didn’t have the easiest time picking up on wrestling in the beginning. Some parts of it were a struggle for her and being surrounded by a bunch of natural athletes, I’m sure, didn’t help. However, she never let that stop her progression in her process. When she didn’t get something, she would keep trying. Even if it meant taking the same hip toss bump 20 times. And guess what? It worked. She’s continued to improve and isn’t afraid to try new things that might not come easy to her. Because she’s used to pushing past the uncomfortable feeling of ‘not getting it’ immediately.
I was super happy with the last match we had together because she was able to roll with anything I threw at her (even if it was more complex than may be necessary) and equally contributed to those creative ideas. Too bad it was only in front of 25 people in Chilliwack…” – Nicole Matthews, Professional Wrestler, and Trainer
“Izzy McQueen is a one of a kind girl! She makes me laugh every time I watch her in the ring and is fully committed to what she puts out; I love that girl!” – Danika Della Rouge, Professional Wrestler.
“Izzy McQueen is gorgeous, hilarious, and incredibly conscientious. I wish I could be her. Like in a ‘reflect an inner light like she does’ kind of way. Not in a doppelganger ‘Taking lives’ way. We were in the middle of the woods in Oregon together once. I had the opportunity. But it’s not like that. I just think she’s inspirational. Who did you say you were again?” –BAMBINA, Professional Wrestler and self-described “Time Criminal.”
Watch these matches and see for yourself:
Izzy McQueen vs. Bambi Hall – Girls Gone Wrestling Match at ASW
Sloan vs. Izzy McQueen – Women’s Wrestling / Girls Gone Wrestling Tournament
Izzy McQueen vs. Allie Parker – PGWA Wrestling Championship Match
Izzy McQueen vs. Carl Randers 321 Battle!
POW! Pro Wrestling Izzy McQueen vs. Rebel Kel
Scarlett Black & ‘Mad Dog’ Marty Sugar vs. Izzy McQueen & Danni Deeds
Izzy McQueen vs. Daniel Makabe 321 Battle!
WAC Vol 4: With Love, WAC xoxo DJZ, SONICO & Izzy McQueen vs. Daddy’s Money & Hott Schott