By: Jack Wannan
A lot can change in two decades. In the case of women’s wrestling, that amount of time has seen a near overhaul in the field — and Mercedes Martinez has been there through the entire process.
Over the years, women’s wrestling has changed significantly. It has gained a higher amount of attention from fans and better treatment from promotions. And amid these changes has been Martinez — a name that appeared on the indies in the early 2000s, worked in notable women’s promotions like SHIMMER, appeared in WWE’s two Mae Young Classic tournaments, wrestles in AEW and ROH now, and hopes to continue evolving the artform for women. Over the years, she has seen what she has described as not a “trend,” but instead a “transformation of women’s wrestling.”
“I’m one of the fortunate ones that has been able to keep my career on the up-and-up and be able to see these ups and downs and these changes … and maybe even influence some of these changes,” Martinez told Poisonrana in a recent interview. “I take credit, I pat myself on the back all the time, to know that I am a part of this women’s change in wrestling. There’s still a lot more to go, trust me.”
When recalling the early years of her career, Martinez discussed how limited the options would be on the independent scene. Working out of the northeast of the U.S. — an area that she considered one of the stronger at the time for women’s wrestling — there were only so many available opponents that she would face over and over again.
“It was only a crop of girls. It was the same girls that you wrestled constantly through those days. It was the Cindy Rogers, Missy Sampson, the Amy Lees, the Alere Little Feathers,” she said.
If you don’t believe Martinez, you can check for yourself. Wrestling database Cagematch.net says that Martinez wrestled the aforementioned Rogers 24 times from 2004 to 2011, and met Little Feathers 14 times in that same time span.
Martinez has mainly worked with AEW and ROH in recent years. She appeared on the most recent episode of AEW Rampage, facing Skye Blue, Dr. Britt Baker DMD, and Nyla Rose in a four-way match. She also notably dropped the ROH Women’s World Championship to Athena at the promotion’s late-2022 Final Battle event.
The wrestling veteran is booked for an all-women’s event held by Femme Fatales and Smash Wrestling on June 25 — one of the many indie cards that have positioned itself around the AEW and NJPW Forbidden Door show scheduled to happen that same day in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Martinez is set to face Masha Slamovich on that date. Slamovich has gained attention in recent years, showcasing her skills in promotions like IMPACT Wrestling and GCW. She’s someone that Martinez has faced twice before in 2021 in matches that were deemed more on the technical side by Martinez. However, this time around, she hopes a different side of Slamovich will come out.
“She’s on a different level right now,” Martinez said. “She leveled up her game since the last time I wrestled her … I’ve had the wrestling Masha [before], where it’s, you know, ‘hey let’s chain wrestle.’ No, I want the Masha that’s going to kill it. Because that’s the Masha that’s going to bring me to a different level.”
When asked what other names she wants to face, Martinez rattled off just a few of the many on her list. She wants to wrestle Trish Adora again, although in a settling where TV constraints don’t apply to the match as their first meeting did. She hopes to also meet VertVixen again — a name she asked to face right after meeting her earlier this month at an ROH taping. When talking about talents she has never wrestled before, Killer Kelly and Abadon were mentioned. A veteran like LuFisto, whom she hasn’t met since 2018, is still on her list as well.
But more broadly, Martinez is open to facing anyone. “Why? Because I believe at this stage of my career my job is to help the new generation.”
At 42 years of age, Martinez sees herself as a person who can guide younger women’s wrestlers and build their careers. This is something she hopes to do even past her wrestling years. Holding firmly to the belief that wrestling promotions should have women in agent, producer, and coach positions and that every gym should have a female trainer on staff, she hopes an opportunity like that could be available for her later down the line.
“I believe that going forward, my next step — and I really truly hope that this will be my next step — will be to help the new generation of wrestlers in a company like AEW or wherever I land as an agent, as a producer, and as a coach for that company. [I want] to help their women talent feel comfortable, have a producer or an agent that is female to understand and speak to them.”
Mercedes Martinez takes on Masha Slamovich at the Smash Wrestling x Femme Fatales ‘Girls Next Door’ event on Sunday, June 25 at The Rec Room in Toronto, Ontario