Deonna Purrazzo is wrestling with a point to prove.
The reigning Impact Knockouts Champion is headlining this week’s Emergence special in a 30-minute Ironman Match against Jordynne Grace, but she was somehow deemed not ready for television during her time in WWE.
She rarely appeared on television in her WWE run, which started in the spring of 2018 and ended in April with the company’s round of massive layoffs. Yet the woman who refers to herself as “The Virtuosa” never stopped working toward her goal, which was crafting a masterpiece of a match that would force the entire wrestling realm to cast their eyes in her direction. And once Purrazzo seized hold of their attention, she vowed to never let it slip away.
Purrazzo just needed someone to believe in her.
Working for AEW, which is still developing its women’s division, would have been a perfect fit, but serious conversations never developed. A legitimate suitor emerged in Impact Wrestling, which has a rich history of a first-class presentation of women’s wrestling. Executives from Impact told Purrazzo they wanted her to win the Knockouts title and become one of the company’s most identifiable stars, and they were willing to give her main-event opportunities to establish herself. Coming to terms did not take long, and Purrazzo arrived in Impact in June, putting the women’s division, and wrestling world, on notice.
“All I’ve asked for is for someone to take a chance on me,” said Purrazzo. “Impact is the first company to do that. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, I just needed someone to bet on me.”
Purrazzo is only 26, but her youth should not be misinterpreted as inexperience. In addition to her time with WWE and NXT, she also has history with the all-women’s Stardom promotion in Japan, throughout the indies, Ring of Honor and even a brief stint with Impact in 2014.
After too long a stretch of sitting on the sidelines while other talents shined, Purrazzo made the most of her biggest opportunity in Impact, defeating Jordynne Grace in the Knockouts title match at Slammiversary in July. The 15-minute bout was the match of the night, featuring gripping and compelling work from two of wrestling’s rising stars, and ended with Purrazzo, brimming with the confidence she had nearly lost in NXT, wrapping up Grace in her “Venus de Milo” submission finisher.
“It was a fairytale beginning,” said Purrazzo, who named her finisher after an ancient Greek statue that is missing both its arms, a fitting sobriquet for wrestling’s Virtuosa. “Leading up to that match, I made all these proclamations that I was the greatest technical woman’s wrestler in the world. I meant it, and that’s why I put my reputation on the line. But after all that, I knew I needed to go out and perform perfectly.
“Once I locked in Venus de Milo, that’s when I felt it. All that stress, all the nerves, I did it. Jordynne had beat the crap out of me, it was a really tough match, and the ending was everything I wanted it to be.”
Purrazzo and Grace meet in a rematch this Tuesday in the finale of Impact’s two-week Emergence special on AXS TV. This match will be unique because it is a 30-minute Ironman match, providing Purrazzo and Grace an extraordinary opportunity to elevate their own careers and further enhance the meaning of the Knockouts Championship.
“We painted a masterpiece of a match at Slammiversary, and the goal is to do that again at Emergence,” said Purrazzo. “We set the bar really high for ourselves, and we’re headlining, we’re the main event. This is next level, so we need to out-do what we did the first time.
“I’ve waited long enough to be in the spotlight, so I want it to be special. When someone turns you down or puts you through the ringer, there is definitely a desire to show people where they want wrong. I felt frustrated over the past few years, but now I’m in a place that is giving me the opportunity to showcase myself in a brand-new way. I’m getting the time to develop my character and the time needed to show my technical ability. I am showcasing a new version of myself, bringing that edge every week to Impact, and I’m going to show the world what I have to offer.”
The Virtuosa is now ready to unveil her next work of art this Tuesday against Grace, a 30-minute in-ring exhibit from her ever-growing selection on the art of technical pro wrestling.
“My match at Slammiversary wasn’t a fluke or a one-time thing,” said Purrazzo. “I’m the greatest technical wrestler in the world, and I’m going to prove that again at Emergence.”