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    All Elite Woman

    With The Salvation Army’s help, Thunder Rosa wants to make a difference in and out of the ring. November 4, 2022 by Jayne Thurber-Smith
    Filed Under:
    Faith & Friends
    Thunder Rosa (Melissa Cervantes-Robles) volunteers at The Salvation Army’s annual Shoe-In event
    Thunder Rosa (Melissa Cervantes-Robles) volunteers at The Salvation Army’s annual Shoe-In event

    Melissa Cervantes-Robles, or Thunder Rosa to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) fans, is a fighter. In March of this year, she won the AEW Women’s World Championship title in a vicious steel-cage match. At the age of 35, Thunder Rosa’s fierce competitiveness in the ring has made her one of the leading lights of AEW’s Women’s Division.

    But she’s an owner as well as a fighter. Her Mission Pro-Wrestling is an all-female show. In addition to her wrestlers, Thunder Rosa strives to hire women in all areas involved in production: commentators, announcers, designers, camera women, photographers and ticket takers.

    A real girl’s girl, Thunder Rosa has a heart for supporting women in a sport that up until recently was a male-dominated one.

    In Time of Need

    Thunder Rosa also has a heart for The Salvation Army. This year, Mission Pro-Wrestling has hosted various wrestling events to help raise money for the San Antonio Salvation Army’s after-school programs in Texas. Their show in April was titled “Living on the Edge.”

    In April, Thunder Rosa defended and retained her Women’s World Championship belt against Nyla Rose in the main event of AEW’s Battle of the Belts II (Photo: Courtesy of AEW)

    “For kids living in some parts of the city, you sometimes can feel like you’re living on the edge,” Thunder Rosa says. “You never know if you’re going to get in trouble, or if being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get you into things that you never thought that you would get into. I want to make a difference in those lives.”

    Thunder Rosa’s connection to The Salvation Army goes back to when she was just Melissa. Before becoming a professional wrestler, she was a professional social worker, working with at-risk young adults struggling with mental illness, substance abuse and other issues.

    “Even before I became a social worker, I helped with homeless families in the San Francisco Bay Area,” she says. “It was tough for them. Very few organizations had apartments for families, and waiting lists were long. I met one kid who had problems with mental illness, as did his father. He and his dad and brother had just been evicted, and they needed someplace stable.

    I called The Salvation Army and they were able to find a place for that family. There wasn’t a lot of red tape to go through—they just wanted to help people.”

    In addition, Thunder Rosa is thankful for the Army’s alcohol and drug detox programs from which some of her friends have benefited. The Salvation Army also helped her mother out in a time of need.

    “Years ago, my mother was homeless at one point,” she says. “She suffered a heart attack and when she got out of the hospital, she had nowhere to stay. Thankfully, The Salvation Army in San Diego had a month-long housing program for people just out of hospital. I talked to them, and they let my mom stay there for two months. I don’t know what would have happened to her otherwise.”

    A Bright Future

    Thunder Rosa grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, until moving with her family to California when she was 17. She remembers living through hard times as a teenager, the hardest being when both her parents lost their jobs at the same time. Had some of her teachers not provided tuition and book money, she would not have been able to stay in school. After surviving coming from nothing, she wants to help those who have nothing.

    Thunder Rosa, Salvation Army Major Rob Webb and comedian Cleto Rodriguez at the kickoff for the Army’s Christmas kettle campaign (Photos: Courtesy of The Salvation Army San Antonio, Texas)

    “I don’t do fundraising for personal recognition,” she says. “It comes from the bottom of my heart. I helped out with charities even before I became famous. I always volunteered when I could, bringing my husband and son along with me, so we could give back. That’s just me; I try to see the solution, not the problem. I’m a giving person and want to make a difference. Winning the AEW championship now allows me to do a lot more for more people. Having that belt helps me shine light on the projects dear to me. I hope to encourage others to help someone in need.”

    Her “Thunder Rosa” ring name is a tribute to Thunder Road, a rehabilitation centre for teenagers where she worked while training for her future wrestling career. Her “Day of the Dead” face paint, a nod to her Mexican roots and the annual festivities of the same name, represents rebirth and triumph over tragedy. Win or lose a match, just enjoying being in the ring after where she has come from is a true triumph, and she looks forward to a bright future.

    Rejoice

    “You have to continue to push yourself, continue to try different things,” she says. “If you don’t, you don’t really live life. AEW encourages me to pursue my dreams in and out of the ring.”

    Thunder Rosa believes that right now she is where she should be. In July 2020, when she was at a crossroads in her wrestling career, she asked God for patience and wisdom. As she was praying, she got the phone call she was hoping for, that AEW had a contract for her to sign.

    "I’m a giving person and want to make a difference." Thunder Rosa

    “I believe in prayer, especially when I am in need of clarity,” she says. “As you develop as a person through the years, things keep changing. When I’m having trouble dealing with something, I have good spiritual friends to tell me I just have to leave it up to God. The other day one of my friends texted me a reminder to put God first and told me to read this verse every time I’m struggling:

    “ ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.”

    Jayne Thurber-Smith is a wife, mother of four and freelance writer from Nova Scotia who presently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She enjoys tennis, horseback riding and reading.

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    Comment

    On Monday, November 14, 2022, Brent A Ross said:

    Thunder Rosa is an inspiration for all. This is a great article about a great person making a difference.

    Leave a Comment