by Roderick Osborn
What's in a name?
The wrestler currently known as Krissy, is known for having a flair for the dramatic. This isn't shocking given her background as was born to Patrick and Evelyn Del Ray; two veteran, seasoned performers. Both come from respective theater families and as fate would have it, the two met while performing a play in their high school. Drawn by their similar interest, the two fell in love, followed one another to college, graduated from San Francisco State College and immediately married afterwards. A few years later, they welcomed their first child to the world on April 14th, 1996; Christina Del Ray.
Patrick and Evelyn would go on to have two more children; Jacob and Elizabeth and each have followed Christina's lead. The moment Christina was able to perform, she immersed herself into theater; having been exposed to the world through watching her parents perform. One would think that Christina was perhaps forced into theater but according to both Patrick and Evelyn; "the first time she saw the lights, she knew she wanted to be under them." When asking Jacob, now 18, Elizabeth, now 15, describe Christina's love for performance, their responses painted the same picture.
"This was her calling."
But how does a theater kid find her way into a rising wrestling career? As the story goes, Jacob became a wrestling fan early in his life. At first, Christina wasn't to interested in wrestling. But then, at 15, something changed. Christina wasn't just involved in theater as she was also playing for her high school soccer team. Professional wrestling has often been seen as the eye of the beholder. Some enter through the sports aspect that professional wrestling provides; the competitive nature and the thrills of victory and the agony of defeat. For others, it's the pomp and circumstances, the extravagant entrances, the larger than life characters that draws people in. Professional wrestling often straddles the line between sport and entertainment.
And it's this truth that finally caught Christina's attention. And it's this that motivates Christina to take a year and a half of college before pushing it to the side and going all in towards becoming a professional wrestling. This takes Christina Del Ray to debut on the infamous Bay Area scene as Krissy Sweetheart; to making a name for herself enough to draw the attention of GCW; to scoring her first major contract for a professional wrestling company. To winning her first wrestling championship; the GCW International Championship last year; to now a self proclaimed "evolution" and creating a new group with her at the helm.
Christina Del Ray.
Three names. Three different people. One person. But how can one person be three completely different people?
Which is it? What is true?
That's what I plan on finding out.
I arrive at the Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco around noon and quickly I scan the room. Business is starting to pick up a bit and as the chefs in the kitchen, so do the people filling in. As they do, one person catches my attention from the corner of my eye. Seated towards the far back of the room, a young, blonde haired woman dressed in a purple halter top, white painted nails, black leather pants with rose tinted glasses to complete the look. She was drinking what appeared to be a smoothie. I caught her glance and I knew it was here. Who was this, I'm not sure. But I knew it was her.
I made my way towards her and greeted her by extending my hand to her. She smiled and returned the gesture. She complimented me on my grip; stating "most men either over compensate and squeeze or they're too passive and hold on to her fingers." I took it as a compliment, I suppose before I sat down across from her.
Roderick: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me.
Krissy: Pas de quoi.
She offers a smile as her eyes never leave off of me. There's a level of confidence that radiates off of her. It's a tangible feeling that I'm sure people can detect when they see Krissy on Livewire. However, in person, it jumps out at you even more. This was a woman who was fully comfortable and fully aware of who she wanted to be.
Roderick: So...Krissy Sweetheart. Now just Krissy. This..."evolution" that you've talked about for several months. Some would say the change of name is..dramatic. Perhaps even confusing. So what's is what? What is Krissy?
Another smile forms on her face.
Krissy: I understand why it's confusing to people. Because they're not me so the first time they saw me on screen, they immediately had a perception of who I was to them. We all do it. It's a natural thing. And that's something I'm very acute regarding how people perceive me, what people are saying about me. Saying I didn't care about my perception would be me denying basic human nature.
Roderick: How so?
Krissy: Everyone is self conscious about who they are, who they want to be, who they should be. I can walk out of this room and on then billboard there's some advertisement promoting a product. To say I don't react to what people are saying about me is false. The difference is whether or not I'm going to be defined by what people think of me. Do I want to be what everyone thinks I am?
Roderick: What's your personal answer to that? How does that connect back to the change from Krissy Sweetheart to Krissy?
Krissy: That's basically what it's about. I played off how people perceived me to my advantage. When I first came here, I would say things such as "I'm everything you want me to be." Our imagination is one of the most powerful things that we have. And so is what we think of not just ourselves but other people. So I think people very much looked at the words, what I'm wearing and they're saying "oh she just wants attention. She can't be taken seriously, she's wearing little to nothing in those pictures. You're not worth much." They're right about the attention. Who doesn't want to be recognized for their work? But by people putting me in a box, that gave me the element of surprise in my matches because they've already written me off as a certain type of wrestler. As soon as they did that, I knew I had them because they're not going to be alert to what I'm doing. What I'm bringing. In a sense, I was lulling people to sleep. Playing off what they wanted me to be rather than looking at me for what I can do. But eventually, you surprise people enough times and they become more aware. Once the element of surprise is gone, now you're just trying to recapture something that can't be bottled up again.
Roderick: Is that how you felt about Krissy Sweetheart?
Krissy: You have to think, I've been Krissy Sweetheart for a long time. That signaled the beginning of my journey as a wrestler and it took me as far as it did. I've learned a lot about myself through her and I've become a better wrestler. That's the main objective. With that said, I'm a different person than I was when I came into GCW. I'm a different person now than I was when i started wrestling. As a woman, I've different. So putting Krissy Sweetheart behind isn;t a negation. It's affirmation of who I am today.
Roderick: You said you've left Krissy Sweetheart behind. Does this mean that this was a persona or was this a part of who you were at a certain time?
Krissy: That's what everyone wants to know, huh? How much of it is show? How much of it is genuine? Are these, as you say, personas or are they two sides of the coin? Krissy Sweetheart was born out of the moment that I finally became a professional wrestler. Considering this is my life, that has a profound impact that's very real to me. I wrestled in the Bay Area, I created a reputation for myself. I managed to get signed to GCW. I won my first title. All real moments, real special moments to me. But, even when I was champion, I knew that this was as far as Krissy Sweetheart could go. I knew my thoughts and who I was had become different. Krissy Sweetheart wanted to be the one desiring. Krissy reaffirms that difference inside me, now fully being unleashed. Now I wanted to be the one desired.
Roderick: Was Reverie a part of that affirmation?
Krissy: In ways, yes. Truth be told, I've desired to have an inner circle of people around me for a year now. I understand how the professional wrestling business works and yes it's a Darwin-esue survival of the fittest environment. But I've studied and looked into those who have had long term success and the common component that I saw was that each of them had a few people by their side. Chambers, Vessey, the Jones. Monarchy. The Helms. The Streets. What's important too is that those people who earn the right to be in their trust is that they're all like minded. There's no weak links. There's no hang ons. If you're with them, you need to be actively pursuing perfection. And so I've wanted to do the same thing and last year, I sent out some feelers to people that I wanted to be with me.
Roderick: What were some of the things you were looking for?
Krissy: Success, for one. It's fun to have a dream and mediate on potential. But if hasn't been some level of victory, whether big or small, you're unqualified in my eyes. Then I look at your thought process. Are you a forward thinker? What's your plan for accomplishing what you sent out to do? Are you a proven strategic? Do you understand how the pro wrestling business operates? These are some of the many things I'm looking for. I settled with Christy Hightower last year. We had some good talks. I expressed to her what I was planning and where i was going. At the time, we seemed to be in agreement. However, they fell through. I asked a few former World Champions my vision and they declined. I was offended because said former World Champions are more content drifting in their self pity and confusion over be assertive and regain what they once had. The passivity that I saw surprised me and it made me put those plans on hold. Then around the fall, when I was still champion, I thought back to my early years wrestling. I thought of Trevor [Cash]. We've known each other for a while. What do people say about the Bay Area wrestling scene? We all know each other? There's some truth to that. But Trevor's always watching the shows from the audience. Sometimes he helps create the shows; shows like World Hazard. So what he'll do after matches, he'll walk to the back and he'll compliment you before then making a couple suggestions as to what you can do better. That's how you know he sees something in you. He doesn't do that for everyone. So we talked a lot during those times.
Roderick: He took a liking to you?
Krissy: He wanted to manage me. But I was just beginning my career and I wanted to learn things on my own. So I respectfully declined but I always remembered those talks. A lot of the advice he gave me helped me advance in my career. So when I knew that I was going all in with Reverie. This is my vision, I went to him first. Trevor's such a forward thinking person. Always thinking about the next thing. Never complacent. He dreams big. His ambitions are big. He's always thinking what can I do today that can get one step closer to achieve my goals tomorrow. He has a level of wisdom that is admirable. I knew he had to be involved in doing this. It didn't take long for us to start thinking about what we wanted Reverie to be.
Roderick: You seem to have a lot of reverence for him.
Krissy: It's a mutual respect. That goes with our partnership. He finally gets to manage the wrestler he's always wanted. I finally get the chance to work with him.
Roderick: So how did the two of you go about recruiting the rest of Reverie?
Krissy: We immediately started our search, going based on what I had talked about earlier. First person he suggested was Dianna [Kruse] because he knows Gloria. Gloria has been in wrestling for a few years so she has experience. In particular, her and Dianna have been a pair for about two years and Trevor was mentioning to me how hands on Gloria is when it comes to managing. She provides Dianna with as much resources as possible; suggesting different training methods, giving her realistic goals. She's passionate. Very passionate, which I liked. It's controlled. She's not impulsive. But she cares about the craft and she's bold with her goals. She told me she wants to be known as the best manager in wrestling. That's what I like to see. Dianna, on the other end, she's so rugged in her ring style and it fascinates me. She has this duality with her in which physically she's alluring, a beauty and yet how she wrestles is very nasty and physical. The Aurora is going to be the most feared submission in GCW and she spends a lot of effort perfecting that move. When I got into a room with both of them for the first time, Trevor had set up the meeting, I knew I wanted them in Reverie.
With Maxwell...Maxy, he appeals to the theater kid in me. Performance arts, presentation. Interesting enough, I don't remember if it was him that reached out to me or me reaching out to him. We just naturally found each other. It's hard to truly put into words because we have this common interest that we're so immersed in. People know that my entire family is involved in theater. Plays, ballet, dance, singing, I've done all of that and still do. That is something that's always going to be woven into my DNA and I haven''t found anyone else in wrestling that has the same affinity for that world than him. He has a great attention to detail. He's very self aware and alert about everything he's doing. He's a great athlete too and personally I feel the places he has been seen didn't really appreciate what he can do in the ring. He's athletic, yet explosive and I truly think there's untapped potential there with him. He just needed a platform and it just so happens, we have this common interest that brought us together.
Roderick: I'm glad you brought up your background because that's something I wanted to ask you. I don't know the last time a wrestler combines theater, dance, ballet into wrestling like you do. You're very hands on when it comes to your image. Some people would question how does someone who's first play was at 4 years old eventually become a wrestler. How does your experience in theater contribute to your vision?
Krissy: I think I'm aware of the little things more like how my entrance looks, the lighting, how I'm presented, how I'm trying to express myself. What appealed to me about wrestling was that it was this strange yet beautiful marriage between performance and athletic ability. Wrestling is a spectacle, especially the big shows. The way the stage is set, the ways they use different camera spots, the video packages, all of that plays off of that. That's why I'm constantly talking to the sound guys about where I want the lighting to hit when I come out, I edit my own videos, I make my own gear. Because I think it's that important to have a handle on that. I think there's this perception that this has nothing to do with actual wrestling but that's what separates me from everyone else. I see the connection.
Roderick: What do you mean?
Krissy: Look at anyone's entrance. The music they pick out for their theme, the attire they wear, ring jacket. All of that is trying to send a message. Look at Xander Valentine. His aura revolves around being this imposing figure and a part of that is, look at his entrance. Look where the lights hits him when he's walking down to the ring. Look what song he's waling down to. I read an article about one on Mike Tyson's big wins. He was going against the heavyweight champion. I don't watch boxing but I read that for the fight, Tyson chose to come to a series of chains rattling and just walked out there with no ring jacket, just him in his trunks. The person he fought was so intimated and watching it for myself, you can see it. When I make my entrance, I'm making a statement. It's a game within the game and there just so much space to play with in wrestling that I use to my advantage. That's why I hate interviews in the back. I'm watching people talk about their matches restrained in this certain area of the back and I'm always like "what is this? This is not for me." It's like when I go to comedy shows and for an hour they're just telling jokes on this big stage that they don't use. That's why I do my videos. That's why I control everything I put out because I want to use the space GCW provides for me. If I wanted to be everyone else, I wouldn't be where I am today. I can't be like everyone else. You can't put me in a box and nor will I.
Roderick: How does that translate to the ring?
It's the same thing in the ring. I have the 20x20, plus the outside, the ramp, the steel steps. On the indies, it's 16x16 primarily so it's a little restrictive. When I grew up at the dinner table, my parents would just put me and my siblings on the spot and we would have to improv whatever they wanted us to do. We had to be quick on our feet. Wrestling's the same way and that's why I excel. I have a gameplan, always. I'm never off guard. But generally, your plans go awry and you have to adapt. Because of all the plays and shows that I've done, I'm able to remain calm as the chaos happens. Everything I do makes me a better wrestler. I've been learning how to write left handed for about two years and now I'm at a 11th grade level, which in turn has helped me before a better striker with my left hand. If That's why I desire to become something special in this business. I'm accustomed to pressure and being on a stage. I think wrestling is a stage and a battlefield. It's truly one of a kind. And so am I.
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