Standing at an independent wrestling show not too long ago, a match reached its conclusion as one man turned to another and said "jeez, she's probably the most talented performer I've ever seen. She's going places". That is a view shared by many who have seen the exceptional Laura Di Matteo in action. Though she debuted under five years ago, Di Matteo has phenomenal in-ring ability and a thirst for self-improvement which has seen her reach the top-tier for the now world-renowned PROGRESS wrestling and Pro-Wrestling: Eve promotions. We were lucky enough to spend some time with Laura and to learn about her past, present, and future. Make sure to read on and see her in action at a show near you!
How did you first become interested in wrestling?
I have to thank my brother. Back in Italy, he used to watch and be really into wrestling. He'd watch all the pay-per-views at home. Raw, Smackdown, everything. He'd get friends over and watch it all - I was there and so I'd watch as well. Then I happened to fall in love with it - now my brother's not interested anymore and I'm a wrestler!
Did you come to the UK specifically to get involved in the wrestling business?
Yes. That was the main reason. I tried to look at a few schools in Italy but I'd have had to move back to the North because I'm from the center, south of Italy and there's nothing there. I went to Florence and there's a wrestling school there but I felt the right thing for me was to come over to the UK.
Are you worried about Brexit?
Yes and no. I really would like to get citizenship and have a British passport. I've been living here for about four years now. I'll have to think about that when the time comes! If I have to go back to Italy, I'll have to go!
So you moved to the UK and you've trained at PROGRESS Wrestling's ProJo?
I've only trained at the ProJo. That's where I started and where I kept training. I'm really glad I chose them. When I was in Italy and looking at all the schools on Wikipedia, I saw a few but decided to go with progress - it was the right one.
If you were to explain Laura Di Matteo to someone that hadn't seen you before, how would you do so?
I'm just all about business. I'm very serious. I love having people cheer for me but I'm very serious. The support from the fans means the world but when I go to the ring, I'm all focussed on my opponent. I just want to win.
Will we ever see you do a full-on Italian 'gimmick'?
No, no. People know I'm Italian and I'm not hiding it at all - of course, I'm not hiding where I'm from but I don't want to do that. Never.
How would you describe your style? Technical? High-flying?
I think it's a bit of both. It's a mix. I always like technical and I focus on that when I'm training. It's good to have knowledge as you never know when you'll need it. If you wrestle someone who's good at technical wrestling, it's a good background. I tend to be a high-flyer but obviously, I'm not a proper high-flyer because I don't do all the crazy flips! So it's a bit of both. I'm very athletic though and my weakness can be my strength. Other women are probably all bigger than me. I'm normally the smallest one, so I need to build on that. I've got used to being the underdog.
In a relatively short space of time, you've been headlining events, wrestling international imports. Are you surprised by how fast everything has moved?
Everything's very overwhelming. I really have to thank Progress because they believed in me. Whilst some people had doubts or thought I wasn't that good, Progress always believed in me and helped me along. They gave me the stage to show other people what I can do. Everything that has happened, especially in the past year, it's been crazy, amazing.
Is the ultimate goal to head to WWE? Do you set yourself intermediate goals?
Oh yeah. I think for everyone, even those that don't admit it, secretly that's everyone's goal. I just take every day as it comes. The dream is to go to WWE but I don't really set goals. My goal is to be good in every match - to get better every match. What comes, I'll take as it comes. I just want something in every match I have to be better than the last match I had.
In the four years or so you've been in the UK have you seen a big change in Women's wrestling?
Yeah. If you look at Progress, they hadn't had a women's match on the main show before. Then me and Jinny, Toni [Storm] and Pollyanna, we started at ENDVR. Then Jinny and Pollyanna had the first match on a 'Chapter' show and now there's at least one women's match on every main 'Chapter' show. It's crazy, it's changed a lot. Women's wrestling gets a lot more attention. And the guys backstage at PROGRESS are always willing to help and give advice, they really care about it and want us to be good.
Who from Progress or elsewhere would you be interested in facing?
Definitely Kay Lee Ray. I had a four-way match with her at Pro-Wrestling: Eve. That was the first time I was in the ring with her and I love her so much. I'd love to have a singles match with her one day. Internationally, I think Io Shirai is one of the best wrestlers in the world. So she would be a dream match for me. There's a lot of women I really admire and respect but those two are the main ones.
What's the best rib you've played or someone played on you?
I can't think of one that's been really crazy. I'm not much of a joker, I keep very much to myself. I like to be with other people but I'm not much of a joker.
What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?
As I said, I don't like to set goals - because if I don't reach that goal I'll be disappointed so I just take everything as it comes. Each match, each opportunity I try to make the most of. I'm just hoping to get better and better.