Portia Perez is done wrestling, but she left the way she wanted to — with a heel promo.
On Sunday, October 11th, the 12-year veteran surprised the crowd in Berwyn, Illinois, at the SHIMMER taping by announcing a cumulative injury has forced her to stop competing.
Taking to the microphone, rather than issue the standard emotional goodbye, she told the fans that they suck.
The response? “You suck too!”
Earlier this week, Perez — Brockville, Ontario’s Jen Grattan — spoke with SLAM! Wrestling about her career-ending decision.
But first, those fans.
“Fans seem to like me a lot more now that I’m not wrestling any more!” she chuckled.
Only 27 years young, it’s hard to believe that Perez has had over 750 matches over the past 11-1/2 years.
She’s been one of the most respected and well travelled women in the world for much of that time.
“Wrestling has to end for everyone sooner or later,” she said, matter-of-factly.
Professional wrestling has certainly seen its share of neck issues forcing surgery (Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit) or retirement (Edge).
Perez chose retirement, and recovery.
“Right now, my focus is really on healing my neck and trying to get back to being able to live life in a normal kind of way,” she said.
“My injury is multi-faceted because a lot of people have acute injuries, where one thing went wrong and it’s a major injury all of a sudden, whereas mine was a long-term, progressive and degenerative injury,” Perez continued. “I first injured myself four years ago where, in typical 25-year-old wrestling fashion, just didn’t get it properly taken care of, didn’t take the proper time off, and kept doing things as I was doing them. It gets worse and worse and worse. Then it becomes soft-tissue damage and nerve compression.”
With it not being a visible injury, she said people don’t always know she’s in pain to look at her. Even sitting comfortably to watch a movie at home is an issue.
“There’s good days and bad days,” she said. “It depends on the day. Some days I feel great or can work through what I’m going through. Some days, it’s hard to go do groceries because I can’t carry the groceries in one arm. It’s hard to walk the dog because he’s going to pull my arm.”
Was it all worth it?
“Oh yeah, definitely. I don’t regret anything. Even looking back at moments, ‘Oh, if I had have made a different decision here, maybe I would still be a wrestler.’ I don’t regret any of it. I have no regrets about my career. It was everything I wanted it to be, and now I am moving on to other things. Sometimes when things get shaken up, it’s what’s best for you in the long term.”
While Portia Perez may have excelled as a mouthy heel, especially in SHIMMER and Anarchy Championship Wrestling in Texas, her true personality is something quite different. Schooling has always been important to her, and she has been studying for a couple of years now.
Her area of interest is international development, with her particular field of research being wildlife trafficking.
An eventual day job in the field might lead to travel, which is one of the great parts of being a wrestler, she said. “I always enjoyed the travelling aspect of wrestling. I had fun going to Europe and Japan and Australia. I think that’s one of the things that I’ll take with me getting out of wrestling. The travelling has really shaped how I’ll move forward in my life outside of wrestling.”
“I know that not everybody gets that opportunity, and I got to go to 15 different countries and just see all kinds of things,” Perez added. “It’s weird, because it’s one of the things you miss most — not wrestling, it’s the travelling and having these really crazy things happen to you. I feel very fortunate that I got to do that.”
The actual decision has been in the works since the spring.
“It was around May of this year that it was it was looking like it was a very serious injury,” Perez said. “Then I had my MRI on July the first. So it was over the summer that we were going back and forth about whether or not it needed to be the end.”
The retirement of Portia Perez caught many by surprise, and that’s the way she wanted it. Besides her immediate family, only her tag team partner Nicole Matthews — the Canadian Ninjas! — knew for a while. The folks at SHIMMER, except for Matthews and the promoter, Dave Prazak, didn’t know. “Obviously I let Dave Prazak in on it a little bit earlier than the day of the show,” she chuckled.
It was SHIMMER’s 10th anniversary show, and a few other retired stars, like Daizee Haze and Lacey, wrestled for the first time in years. Another retired Canadian, Allison Danger, is a force behind the scenes in SHIMMER. The finale of the weekend had Danger and Perez seeking teammates for a big battle. It ended up being Daizee Haze, Kellie Skater, Lexie Fyfe and Madison Eagles, accompanied by Allison Danger and Tomoka Nakagawa against Portia Perez, Nicole Matthews, Lacey and Kimber Lee, with an injury Cherry Bomb on the outside. With a grab of the tights, it seemed to Portia Perez had scored the win on Daizee Haze to end her career with a victory, but the referee spotted the foul and restarted the match … which ended with Haze pinning Perez.
There were tears from friends of Perez, and Danger prompted her to speak to the crowd — which she told off. So maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the last we’ll see of Portia Perez, heel mouthpiece.