(Image courtesy of AEW)
From the “graveyards” of Tijuana, Mexico, Thunder Rosa (Melissa Cervantes) has struck a chord with AEW and wrestling fans worldwide thanks to her sassy confidence, tenacious, and explosive tough striking, dominant submissions and lucha-libre pizzaz all combined into one incredible package.
Born July 22nd, 1986, the 35 year-old began her professional career in 2014 in independent promotions such as Supreme Pro Wrestling, All Pro Wrestling and Gold Rush Pro Wrestling.
Throughout her career, Rosa built her reputation via wrestling promotions such as Ring of Honour, Lucha Underground, Tokyo Joshi Pro and National Wrestling Alliance where she took home the NWA Women’s World Championship. After a brief time in MMA, Rosa added BJJ and Muay Thai skills to her arsenal.
Rosa finally made her AEW debut in 2020 in an episode of “Dynamite” and only in her second match on the promotion, was given the chance to challenge for the AEW Women’s World Championship, against the Japanese title holder, Hikaru Shida.
Despite coming up short, Rosa demonstrated notable stamina and staying power, making her an enthralling addition to the women’s roster.
In over a year of her AEW career, Rosa has doggedly continued to push the boundaries. Along with her rival, Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D., the two combatants have showcased some of the most definitive battles, not just in the promotion’s history, but also in women’s wrestling – period!
Capturing the Women’s crown earlier this year, this face paint-adorned warrior has come into her own as one of the most dynamic talents in AEW.
So, without further ado, let’s hear the rumble and witness the storm by counting down Thunder Rosa’s Top 5 AEW Matches! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Julia Hart – AEW Dynamite (Jul. 28, 2021)
Nearly a year since her debut on Dynamite, Rosa celebrated her 35th birthday, after officially signing a full deal contract with AEW, and facing former 2-time National Cheerleading Champ, Julia Hart.
The match started explosively as each contestant exchanged pinfalls.
As Julia sought to throw a friendly wave to the crowd, Rosa seized the chance to shoot from behind with an ankle lock, but Julia made it to the ropes in time.
With Julia’s back against the corner, Rosa went to work delivering a knife edge chop, an uppercut, a running clothesline and as soon as Julia landed on the lower turnbuckle, Rosa landed a double knee drop taking the wind out of her.
Despite relentless punishment, Julia managed to evade an incoming dropkick. It was Rosa’s turn to have her back against the corner and to face the vengeance of Julia’s clothesline.
As Julia tried to follow up her comeback with a running bulldog, Rosa broke the hold and caught her with a rolling kneebar.
Although Julia managed to reach the ropes again, Rosa placed her back on the lower turnbuckle, finally landing the double dropkick with conviction before concluding with her finishing move, the Fire Thunder Driver, allowing this high-energy warrior to pick up the pinfall victory.
4. Vs. Serena Deeb – AEW Dynamite (Nov. 18, 2020)
After losing her NWA Women’s World title to Serena Deeb, Rosa was given the chance to reclaim her championship in an episode of Dynamite.
Despite the vicious interfering ambush from Dr. Britt Baker and a powerbomb from Serena, Rosa wasn’t going to let her attempt at retaining her crown fall so easily, kicking out of the pinfall at two.
The two warriors exchanged pinfalls, until Serena locked Rosa into a submission hold, but the challenger was able to break it and brought down a dreaded double stomp to the midsection.
Right after Rosa broke the Serenity Lock, the pair began to exchange some ferocious elbows and uppercuts, with Rosa coming out on top with an inverted Samoan drop.
Serena would kick out at two, and the two warriors went back and forth with pinfall attempts at an exhilarating pace, until Serena countered the backslide, flipped Rosa over her and connected with an inverted front powerslam for the pinfall win.
The chance at being NWA Women’s World Champion may have been lost, but a new burning rivalry was lit that day.
3. Vs. Nyla Rose – AEW Battle of the Belts II (Apr. 15, 2022)
In the main event of the second edition of Battle of the Belts, it was Rosa’s first trial as the defending Women’s Champion. Rosa’s first test came in the form of formidable ex-champion, Nyla “The Native Beast” Rose, who was building herself back into title contention picture with a seven-win streak in singles competition.
It was clear from the get go that Rose’s insane weight advantage would be no walk in the park. Rosa was not, however, without her wit and ingenuity as she was able to counter “The Native Beast” at almost every turn, especially when it came to countering a Beast Bomb with a Code Red move from out of nowhere.
In spite of her efforts, trying her luck in out-manoeuvring Nyla again, she was brought down by the crushing weight of two clotheslines and a lariat.
With enough time to recover, the champion moved out of the way of a diving senton from the middle turnbuckle. With Nyla stunned momentarily, Rosa seized the chance for a roll up pin, but to no avail.
Even suffering from a falling slam, Rosa kicked out of the pin to spring a surprise roll up, only just mustering enough strength to perform a Frankensteiner, (of course made famous by wrestling legend, Scott Steiner “Big Poppa Pump”) straight into the pinfall.
Despite her significantly smaller stature, Rosa with her fireball-like energy struck way above her weight and dug in deep, demonstrating her worth as the Woman’s World Champion.
2. Vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. – AEW Dynamite (Mar. 16, 2022)
After coming up short in her last encounter with D.M.D., Rosa was given another chance at the brass rings in AEW’s first ever Steel Cage match for the Women’s World title.
This clash of heads proved to be another destructive ordeal as the pair would make sure neither of them would leave the cage unscathed.
Not even the referee was safe from their brawl as he himself got caught by Baker’s Superkick, throwing him out of the ring. Despite connecting with a Fire Thunder Driver, the unforeseen exit of the referee put paid to Rosa’s launch to victory.
Chairs in their multitude were utilized throughout this carnage, as D.M.D. performed an Air Raid Crash from the top rope. A second referee was sent into the cage, but arrived too late to make the three count.
With the upper hand now, Baker stacked the chairs and sent the challenger onto the top rope in preparation for a Reverse STO, but Rosa broke free and threw the champion off the top, resulting in Baker’s collision with the chairs.
After stunning Rosa with a superkick, D.M.D. took her down memory lane, bringing out the thumb tacks, tossing her into the pin studded canvas, back first, following up with her trademark lockjaw submission hold.
It was Baker’s turn, however, to have a taste of her own medicine, as Rosa broke the lock by smashing her rival’s left hand violently into the tacks, following up with a powerbomb and another Fire Thunder Driver for good measure.
After going through hell in front of the San Antonio crowd, Rosa stood with her head held high as the new Women’s World Champion!
1. Vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. – AEW Dynamite (Mar. 11, 2021)
Since their rivalry first sparked back in November 2020, Rosa and D.M.D. would clash once again. This time, the two top contenders would be pitted in an unsanctioned “Lights Out” match.
The two warriors took each other to the brink, with the use of ladders, chairs and tables. With this armoury at their disposal, they pulled out all the stops, performing DDTs, curb stomps and a Death Valley Driver from the top rope.
As soon as D.M.D.’s glove came on, out came the thumb tacks, but before Baker could puncture her hated rival, Rosa countered the neckbreaker, connecting with a powerbomb, resulting ironically, in Baker’s back meeting the thumb tacks instead.
Dr. Baker kicked out of the pinfall, recovering long enough to drag Rosa down onto the thumb tacks, clamping her with her lockjaw finishing move, yet Rosa utilized the same piercing weaponry to free herself from her predicament.
Although stunned by a superkick, Rosa endured the battle long enough to connect with a Fire Thunder Driver from the top rope to the table, resulting in a stunning pinfall victory.
Both of these athletes pulled off an instant classic, changing the game for Women’s Wrestling whilst also earning the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year Award for 2021.