Growing up in Edmonton’s southeast ‘burb Mill Woods, Gigi Rey fondly remembers watching professional wrestling on TV but never once did she think she might be gracing the screen herself.
On April 15, Gigi made her singles match debut with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) in front of thousands of screaming fans at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on a taped episode of AEW Dark, a weekly show that airs on YouTube to some 300,000 viewers.
It’s quite the stage for someone who only started wrestling three years ago.
“Some of my earliest memories as a kid was sitting down watching wrestling with my brothers, my dad and my mom,” said the Holy Trinity Catholic High School and NAIT Ooks alum, whose given name is Grace. “Basketball, when I played, was my life. I didn’t do anything but go to school and play basketball so I kind of fell out of watching wrestling.
“But by 2019, I just really wanted to give it a try.”
Trained in Edmonton
Rey began her pro wrestling training locally in Edmonton with independent companies Real Canadian Wrestling (RCW) and Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA), specifically with trainer and local pro-wrestling figure, Michael Richard Blais.
“He really saw a lot in me, my potential and really pushed me to keep training and keep going,” Rey said.
After appearing in a handful of matches in early 2020, everything came to a sudden and grinding halt when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world.
Rather than giving up, Rey made the decision to take her talents to Texas City, Texas and join up with Reality of Wrestling (ROW)a training and wrestling school under the tutelage of six-time world champion and WWE/WCW legend, Booker T.
Under his guidance, and the fellow ROW coaches, she not only learned the ropes technically speaking, but grasped the importance of making a name for herself and standing out amongst her peers.
“It’s not necessarily about the moves that you do in the ring, it’s about your ring presence and what you can do to engage other people in the audience. It’s not just about two people wrestling in the ring, it’s a whole show, it’s a whole production — it’s like theater.”
Representing Mill Woods
Which brings us back to Tuesday night, when Rey — standing across the ring from Toni Storm, a stand-out performer who recently joined AEW after stints in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — gestured “MW” to the camera, and mouthed the words , “Mill Woods, baby! Let’s go!”
“I don’t really have a pose or anything that I do normally so I was just trying to think of something that I can do to make me stand out and give me that moment,” said Rey. “Of course, probably the bigger audience isn’t going to know what ‘MW, Mill Woods’ means, but everyone at home is going to know what that means.”
It’s safe to say local fans caught the reference as the moment quickly picked up steam online, with clips circulating on social media.
“My phone has been crazy,” Rey says with a chuckle. “I had to put on silent for the past couple days because it’s always going off.
“(But) I love Edmonton, I’m so proud to be from there. So if I could get a chance to represent Edmonton and Mill Woods on a worldwide stage I was going to do it and I did, and I was really happy I did.”
Rey says she hopes to one day work with AEW again soon, and maybe even with WWE.
But for now, she has her eyes fixed on ROW’s Sherri Martel Classic tournament at the end of the month and ensuring everyone who attends leaves remembering her name and where she comes from.
More news, fewer ads, faster load time: Get unlimited, ad-lite access to the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites for just $14/month or $140/year. Subscribe now through the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun.