Jenny Rose in DIANA ring
This past June, one of the most promising young wrestlers on the East Coast indy scene left her gigs at SHIMMER, ROH, WSU, PWR, RCW, etc. to travel to Japan and join the DIANA dojo. In the USA she was known as Jamilia Craft, a mysterious masked wrestler with arresting blue eyes. In Japan she wrestles as the gaijin "face" Jenny Rose. DIANA was founded about a year ago by joshi great, Kyoko Inoue. She has training help from her long-time friend and wrestling great Kaoru Ito. At twenty years old, Jenny has made the bold move to give up coveted positions in great promotions to begin at the bottom of the ladder in Japan. Why did she do it? Read this interview and discover the uniqueness of Jenny Rose.
DF: First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview; I have been a fan of yours for a long time. Tell us how it all began for you. When did you know you wanted to be a wrestler?
JR: Thank you! I knew I wanted to become a wrestler when I was about 9 years old. Right after my first live event I attended in Philadelphia. Everyone thought wrestling was just a phase, and I would eventually get out of it, but I had my heart set on training.
DF: You saw a live event when you were nine? Did you go with your family? Are they really in to wrestling? What live event did you see -- were there any women on the card?"
JR: Yes! The event I attended was the last Smackdown before they split the brands. My older brother, who was 17 at the time, took me as a surprise. My whole family love wrestling. I always went to shows growing up. There were no female matches that night, but Lita was managing. We had 3rd row, it was sweet for my first show!
DF: How old were you when you began training and how did you find the SHIMMER school and Daizee Haze?
JR: I started training there when I was 17. I checked out a couple schools in Philadelphia before that, but I decided to go there. I wasn’t all that familiar with independent wrestling, but I enjoyed the matches there and believed they could help me become a good wrestler.
DF: Had you watched any joshi puroresu? Did you have a sense that you might want to go to Japan to wrestle some day?
JR: Yes I watched Joshi Puroresu! I always wanted to wrestle in Japan, but I never thought it would happen so soon.
DF: Tell us how that thought developed. How did the invitation to join Diana develop? Was your friend Sumie Sakai involved?
JR: DIANA was scouting wrestlers to bring over from the USA, and they contacted Sumie Sakai to help. Sumie sent over a list of girls, and I was chosen.
Jenny dives onto Keiko Aono
DF: What were your first few weeks in Japan like? Describe a typical training day and how it differs from training at SHIMMER.
JR: My training in Japan is very old school and intense. We train every day. I never have any free time. It’s great because when I’m not training at the dojo, I’m at the gym! First, we run around an Olympic field for a few miles. Then we do squats, push-ups, and sit-ups. Ride our bikes back to the house to shower. Then head to the dojo to start wrestling and judo training. It’s a lot different than what I learned in the states. Training at the Diana dojo is an all day thing.
DF: Replay your first match in Japan. What was the crowd like? What was the locker room like? What are the biggest challenges on match day?
JR: It’s still, even now, hard for me to believe that I wrestled in Japan, especially at my age. It’s a dream come true. The crowd is so polite. They are there to see a fight, and that’s what we give them. It’s very surreal to be in a locker room with wrestlers who I consider to be the best in the world.
Jenny Rose battles Cherry
DF: Are you well cared for in Japan? Can you make a living as a wrestler, or do you need to find another job?
JR: They take very good care of me in Japan. Since we train so much, it would be impossible for me to get another job. Wrestling and Training is my lifestyle.
DF: What was it like wrestling in Korakuen Hall for the Sendai Flash Tournament? Was that the largest live crowd to watch you wrestle? What was it like to be in one building with so many legendary joshi women?
JR: It was incredible. There’s so much history at the Hall. That match will always mean a lot to me. I was able to team with my wrestling family, and compete against amazing wrestlers. I enjoyed it very much.
Manami Toyota has Jenny in a painful submission
DF: What was it like wrestling the great and terrifying Dump Matsumoto? I imagine she attempted to make the match a hardcore match. Were you able to survive and not be busted open?
JR: I was not busted open, but I certainly was hurting afterwards. Dump Matsumoto is the most intimidating wrestler I have ever been in the ring with. I have so much respect for her. I was scared to death the whole time.
DF: Speaking of being busted open. Have you ever considered being involved in a hardcore match? Where do you draw the line with hardcore elements?
JR: I’m far from a hardcore wrestler. I never thought about being involved in a hardcore match. It’s not my style at all. I prefer to have competitive wrestling matches.
Jenny getting roughed up by Dump
DF: What do you believe is your most significant match to date and why?
JR: I’m not sure, the fans can decide that!
DF: How is it going adjusting to the food, language, cultural differences in Japan? Can you speak some Japanese now? Is it sad sometimes to be so far from a Tony Luke's cheese steak -- do you miss the States?
JR: I respect the Japanese culture. I’m from a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia, so it’s nice to be able to walk down the street in Japan without being harassed by someone. I was in a bit of a cultural shock because of how nice everyone is. I’m learning more Japanese every day. My trainer, Kaoru Ito, bought me a Japanese “Point and Speak” book which helps me out a lot. She also owns a restaurant in Tokyo which is delicious!
DF: I don't know how close you are with Hailey Hatred, but tell us what she means to you. Very few women -- including Japanese wrestlers of the highest rank -- have achieved what Hailey has in Japan. What does it mean to you that an American is setting that kind of standard?
JR: I think it’s great that she‘s accomplishing so much in Japan. I wrestled against her in a tag match, and loved it. I wish Hailey the best of luck in her career.
Joshi Puroresu veteran Sumie Sakai
Before we go, give me your thoughts on the following people . . .
Annie Social: She always looks out for me. I'm happy I got to compete against her in Japan. I love her...sometimes! :p
Jesse Brook: I’m very proud of her. She’s a good friend and a very hard worker. She keeps getting better.
Kyoko Inoue: A very good hearted and humble person who made my dreams in Japan come true. I love and respect her so much. I would do anything for her.
Sumie Sakai: I enjoyed teaming with her in her hometown of Osaka, Japan! She always loves to have a good time.
Dave Prazak: I like what he does at Shimmer. He gives girls a chance to shine and become better at their craft. You have to love that.
Jenny battles Keiko Aono
DF: Will we ever see you back in the USA? Under what circumstances will you return?
JR: Of course you will see me back in the USA! I’m not sure when, but I’m looking forward to coming back home.
DF: Did you ever think that South Philly would see eight of the greatest joshi stars of all-time at the Asylum Arena (thanks to CHIKARA's Joshimania)? Do you feel a little tug in your heart that says, "I wish I could be there?"
JR: CHIKARA is badass for bringing Joshi wrestling to the Asylum Arena. I definitely wish I could be there for all the shows. I know the Joshi girls are very excited to come to America!
Jenny Rose strikes a pose
DF: What is the most significant match you have had since moving to Japan -- and why?
JR: They all mean a lot to me for different reasons. I love them all.
DF: If someone was to write the biography of Jenny Rose, the wrestler, twenty years from now, what would you like to read about yourself?
JR: I just want the fans to be happily entertained. I love to make people smile. It’s all about having fun and enjoying yourself.
DF: Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your new life in Japan. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans? Good Luck and Ganbatte!
JR: Thank you for all of your support while I’m in Japan. I can’t wait to return to the USA. I love you all!
Jenny readying herself for battle