Hailey Hatred is one of the most important women in wrestling. She appeared in some of the earliest Chick Fight events and the formative bouts of the influential IWA-Mid South women’s division. She was also in the first women’s match for AIW, a rising promotion with a strong women’s roster. She even helped put Beyond Wrestling on the map with her barrier-shattering inter-gender matches against the promotions top talent. She’s won titles in both the US and in Japan, her current place of residence where she is again opening doors for women. She’s one of the most talented diverse wrestlers in the world. Hailey has done it all from lucha libre to kickboxing to hardcore to Joshi Puroresu.
All this, and yet Hailey Hatred does not even have a US Wikipedia page. With this interview we hope that more people get to know and appreciate Hailey’s truly ground-breaking career. We caught up with her a few days before her biggest match yet, as on June 26th she will face Leon for the JWP Open Weight Championship, the most prestigious women’s title in Japan, if not the world. If she wins, Hailey would be making history yet again as she’d be American to hold the title. Hailey’s TLW and IMW titles will also be on the line, and the match will also decide the winner of the J-1 Grand Prix Tournament. Matches don’t get bigger than this. Wrestlers don’t bigger than Hailey Hatred. Enjoy.
Photos courtesy JWP and Aoikougei. Sonny contributed to this article.
You always said it was your goal to wrestle in Japan, and you accomplished that years ago. Now you’re not just on a tour but, as you put it, you own furniture there. Did you ever think that you’d become one of the few foreigners given a regular spot in a major promotion?
I’m always confident in my abilities, but it really all comes down to opportunity. When I first started coming to Japan, I was wrestling for various independent groups. Then I started wrestling for JWP in tag-match capacity. It wasn’t until Yoneyama and I had our Triple Title match that I feel I really got noticed there. If I wasn’t holding two championships [at the time] myself, I may have never gotten that chance.
An influx of foreign wrestlers have come to the Joshi scene recently, especially for REINA, which you are a part of. What can you tell us about REINA and some it’s foreign talent?
REINA is still finding its niche. It has all the means to be a cool, unique company, but everyone is still learning, from the wrestlers to the staff. I am hoping it succeeds and can continue to invite an interesting group of wrestlers to Japan from various countries. Its been a long time since Japanese fans have had the opportunity to see foreign women wrestling live!
Before paving the way for a resurgence of foreign female wrestlers in Japan, you similarly were there at the beginnings of the current women’s wrestling renaissance in the United States. You were even in the first match that IWA-MS female ace Mickie Knuckles ever had. You two also participated in AIW’s first women’s match ever. Tell us about your rivalry with her.
I really enjoy getting the chance to wrestle Mickie. She’s very versatile, she knows her way around the mat, with striking, and of course with hardcore matches. One of the toughest girls out there. The last time I wrestled her, I stabbed her in the head with a dart, then yakuza kicked it in deeper. If that puts our rivalry into perspective =)
Also in AIW, you had a series of matches with John Thorne. It began with a no ropes barbed wire match, an intergender first, and ended with an “I Quit” dog collar match. You got slashed with scissors, driven into barbed wire, pounded by chains until your face was covered in blood. The matches were very brutal and very emotional. What did they mean to you?
That’s the perfect description: brutal and emotional. It’s always up in the air how things will go the first time you have a match with someone, let alone the first match being such an extreme stipulation, no ropes barbed wire. I’d never done anything like that before. I couldn’t even think about how it would feel to get cut up by the barbed wire, all I could focus on was the match itself.
Things escalated to the “I Quit” dog collar match, which was actually more brutal than NRBW. I got beat up pretty bad that match, I was sore for weeks afterwards. I didn’t really take into consideration how heavy the chain would be or how much punishment it would provide. I lost a lot of blood, by far the most I’ve lost in my life. That match is really one of my favorites of my career though, the perfect end to a feud. It was very intimate, not in a creepy weird way, but to be that close to your loathed rival, and the only way to make it end is to say that you quit.