SouthCoast Connections to This Year’s Wrestlemania
Three women participating in this weekend’s Wrestlemania events have ties back to the SouthCoast, with two of them taking part in the same match.
Wrestlemania is a two-night affair this year, with matches taking place Saturday and Sunday nights on the Peacock streaming service.
Usually, one of the top headliners of Wrestlemania is a guy with local roots. Future WWE Hall of Famer John Cena is a native of West Newbury, Massachusetts, and he’s been in the main event of Wrestlemania numerous times over his nearly two-decade in-ring career.
However, he’s now a big-time Hollywood actor, especially after his recent appearances in the film Suicide Squad and the HBO Max series Peacemaker, so he’s supposedly too busy to make it this year (although don’t rule out a surprise appearance).
By the way, his dad, John Cena, Sr., served for many years as the commissioner of New Bedford-based House of Bricks Pro Wrestling under his moniker of “Johnny Fabulous.”
This year, the Massachusetts connections at pro wrestling’s biggest weekend are all about the ladies.
Current WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Carmella is set to defend her title along with her partner Queen Zelina on Saturday night. Carmella – whose real name is Leah Van Dale – is a native of Spencer, Massachusetts and attended UMass Dartmouth, graduating in 2010. During her time at UMD, she was also a New England Patriots cheerleader. In addition to being one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions, Carmella also has her own streaming YouTube series with her fiancé, Monday Night RAW announcer Corey Graves.
The champs are defending their titles in a Fatal Four-Way match, against the teams of Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan, Natalya and Shayna Bazler, and Naomi and Sasha Banks. Banks is also a Massachusetts native; she wrestled all across the Commonwealth, including on the SouthCoast, under the name Mercedes KV, a play on her real name, Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado. Although she was born in California, her family moved to Boston and that’s where her wrestling career began. She frequently clashed on the independent wrestling circuit with Ariel, a.k.a. New Bedford’s Ana Rocha Otero, and Amber, a.k.a. Jenn Martin of Dartmouth.
Last but not least, New Bedford’s very own Samantha Johnson will be taking part in her first Wrestlemania as the announcer for the Smackdown brand. Johnson, who works for WWE under the ring name Samantha Irvin, rose quickly through the ranks after joining WWE a few weeks after last year’s Wrestlemania event. She also got to take part in a very cool moment recently when she got to announce her real-life boyfriend Ricochet winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Of course, there is still one male wrestler with Massachusetts roots taking part in Wrestlemania this weekend. On Saturday, Kofi Kingston (Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah) will team with his New Day partner Xavier Woods to take on Sheamus and Ridge Holland. Kingston, a former WWE Champion and 14-time Tag Team Champion, is originally from Ghana but later moved to Winchester, Massachusetts and attended Boston College.