Technically, Serena Deeb has many roles in AEW but the only one that matters to viewers is that of “The Professor.”
She has been schooling young wrestlers in front of a national audience, viciously humiliating them, in quick fashion to boot.
Approaching 18 years in the business, Deeb told SlamWrestling.net that there’s great joy in being mean.
“I’m having so much fun right now,” Deeb said. “There’s been chapters where I’ve been a great babyface and a great whatever. But I have a lot more fun working heel, I think of brings a lot more personality out of me.”
Deeb has apparently applied for a trademark for “The Professor of Wrestling,” which only proves her smarts extend beyond the ring.
“The Professor, it really fell into place just perfectly. I just started leaning into that,” she said. “The character is obviously what you see, just schooling and all these youngsters and taking 17 years of experience in this business — I started when I was 18 in 2005. … I’ve been through many eras.”
Deeb fell in love with pro wrestling during WWE’s Attitude Era. “How could you not want to be a wrestler if you were watching the Attitude Era? So that was when I feel in love, 12-ish years old. And I was first and foremost, DX, I was huge DX girl. I was huge Chyna girl, you know, huge Triple H girl, obviously [Stone Cold Steve] Austin, like all those people from that era,” she said. “I was kind of a rebellious teenager watching that kind of stuff … It probably got me into trouble as a teen a couple times, just trying to emulate my heroes.” She started training in Ohio Valley Wrestling under “Hustler” Rip Rogers, Danny Davis, Al Snow and others.
Trying to walk that fine line of a skilled technician who is a villain that knows they are better than everyone else is partly based on Bret Hart, circa 1997.
“My wrestling style and preferences has evolved a lot over the years. Main inspiration? I think it’s no secret — Bret Hart,” Deeb said. “I think Bret is just untouchable in all aspects. A lot of my current style and presence and all of these things, I watch a lot of Bret to get inspiration from that. So, Bret is number one on my Mount Rushmore.”
Wrestling changed through the years. When Deeb started, “it was the Diva Search era,” and then Ring of Honor established itself as a more competitive style. SHIMMER, WSU and other all-women’s promotions helped build women’s wrestling to where it is today. “Every company has its own niche but I’ve just seen, especially from a women’s standpoint, I’ve seen the evolution of how it has gone from bra and panties matches, mud wrestling matches, all of that stuff that we saw in the late ’90s to now, with the women stealing the show, in my opinion, and on a lot of these events.”
Some of the matches Deeb had with Hikaru Shida in AEW would qualify for that “stealing the show” label — and Deeb was out to confront a returning Shida in Boston on April 6th. “I have been very blessed to have been to Japan seven times and spent quite a bit of time over there,” she explained, listing some of her favorites, like Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. Her dream match, from any era, would be against Meiko Satomura, who is currently competing for NXT UK.
As Deeb explains it, she is “heavily inspired by technical and Japanese style wrestling, and what I go for with my style is kind of like a fusion, also with a little bit of old school elements because I was trained by the most old school of old school, and I have to honor that. I still love old school wrestling very much so I kind of try to fuse all those.”
Women aren’t just on the shows these days, but starring, noted Deeb. “Back then, if there was an amazing women’s match on the card, it was rare. Now it’s expected. That’s the level that the woman have brought it to,” she said.
Training has changed too.
“I can remember being in OVW and being 18, a baby, brand new to business, in over my head, trying to take it all in, and I can remember trying, trying trying to get signed by WWE, and always getting the feedback, ‘Stop wrestling like a guy; stop, stop wrestling like a guy, wrestle like a girl, wrestle like a girl.’ I could never really, at that time, wrap my brain around it, because I was taught by Rip Rogers, and I trained with all guys. I mean, there were like a few women here and there, but it was inconsistent. I was training with guys and learning that way,” she recalled.
Fast-forward to AEW. “Now, I’m in this division where I’m wrestling how I want to wrestle and AEW and Tony Khan are all about it,” she said. “The other companies have have caught up as well and it’s widespread for women, across the board.”
“The Professor” uses the term “tenure” and then walks it back a bit, but it applies. “There’s not a lot of women in the business that are still going for that many years, because a lot of women decide to have families or what have you, but I’m still all in and I am not planning to end my in-ring career anytime soon,” she vowed.
It’s been a wild ride for Deeb, including a featured role in WWE — where she had her head shaved — to serving as a trainer in WWE’s Performance Center for three years, to being NWA World Women’s champion. While in Mississauga, Ontario, for a seminar and then a Hamilton Wrestling Entertainment show, Deeb won the promotion’s new women’s title, beating Jody Threat. In the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 in 2021, she was ranked #11, so Deeb is still competing at the top level.
“Now I’m in a place where I had three years of coaching at WWE at the highest level and taking that experience and being in a role at AEW where I’m coaching, producing, wrestling, mentoring, helping the girls when they ask for it and all these things tie in to that Professor character.”
TOP PHOTO: Serena Deeb heads to the ring. Photo by George Tahinos, https://georgetahinos.smugmug.com
- Apr. 7, 2022: ‘Professor’ Serena Deeb shares her secrets
- Aug. 25, 2017: Mae Young Classic a ‘full-circle moment’ for Serena Deeb
- Serena Deeb socials: Instagram * Twitter * BigCartel