By A.C. Flowers
February 1, 2019
For Black History Month, I’m taking the liberty of reminding everyone of the importance in celebrating the contributions of the Black community in every aspect of our society — especially including those who are making history by being a part of EAW. By the end of 2018, EAW saw itself in the midst of change — some of it bad, but mostly good. The most memorable for me being the addition of a handful of new Black stars to the EAW locker room. And as a Black woman, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride to know that there has been a huge influx of Black talent in EAW who come from all walks of life. To honor their hard work, starting today and continuing for every Friday during BHM, I’m going to sit and chat with a select few of EAW’s Black Elitists so that they can share some more of themselves with the EAW Universe — this week, I sat down with Serena Bennett a few days before one of the biggest matches of her EAW career.
Chances are, you’ve been hearing the name Serena Bennett a lot in the last few months. And with good reason — tomorrow, she’ll be wrestling at King of Elite against Andrea Valentine for the Specialists Championship. And she’s assured me that she’s walking away with the title. I find it hard not to believe her. Her vibrant, unapologetic enthusiasm for herself, her culture, and her sport truly made me a believer in Bennett, whose captivating aura is nearly impossible to resist. Read through for the full conversation, be sure to watch King of Elite live on the EAW Network, and check out what she was up to after school:
Anna C. Flowers: Serena! So nice to finally meet you.
Serena Bennett: Hi, Anna! What’s gucci?
ACF: I just want you to know how excited to get started on this piece. I genuinely appreciate you taking the time out to hold this interview with me! I couldn’t think of a better person to kick of this Black History Month series.
SB: You know me, Anna, never gon’ miss an opportunity to showcase who I am and what I believe in. And this seems like the perfect platform for me to do it. Thanks for the opportunity!
ACF: But do I know you, Serena? The EAW Universe doesn’t know much about you. And I can say with confidence that they are absolutely dying to learn more about Compton’s favorite pro-wrestler.
SB: You know, you say I’m Compton’s favorite, but I don’t wanna limit myself like that. Because truthfully, I’m absolutely everybody’s favorite! Even though, yeah, I’m a brand new face to the EAW Universe. Although. Some of y’all may have heard about me here and there, the rest of y’all? Not so much. Or maybe not, I dunno. I had an incredible career all throughout the independent circuit. I’m one of the longest reigning Women’s Champion in the history of one of my old promotions — shoot, I was undefeated all over the world until I came to EAW.
ACF: Undefeated? For how long?
SB: A little over two years. 751 days to be exact.
ACF: Holy crap!
Serena Bennet on Empire in 2019.
SB: Right? Never pinned. Never submit. Never KO’d. It’s wild. I had hoped to let that record carry over with me to EAW, but Andrea Valentine had other plans at Road to Redemption. (Serena chuckes.) It’s cool. I’ma get her back, though. We goin’ undefeated in 2019, you heard?
ACF: I hear you, Serena. Your confidence makes me — makes everybody want to believe in you and what you’re doing in EAW. I support you all the way! But allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment. One victory on Empire hardly represents what the rest of 2019 has in store for you. With all due respect, what makes you think you’ll be as successful at KOE, or against any other opponent?
SB: Fair point. But I’m the type of woman who tries to speak things into existence — if it’s something I want, it’s mine, all I gotta do is say so. And my work ethic is insane. No days off around here — ‘specially when I have so much to prove going into King of Elite.
ACF: What exactly will it mean for you to walk away with that Specialists Championship at King of Elite? More money? More press? What do you hope to prove?
SB: Whew. That’s a loaded question, Anna. To say that it means “everything” sounds hella cliche. But that’s the best way I can put it. It feels like I put an end to all my struggle. Growing up, I didn’t have shit. My parents could barely afford to keep clothes on our backs, put food in the fridge. I lost so many friends to these streets, my brother gave too many years to them jails, and he never gonna get them back. I used to watch him out the window after school when I was little — sellin’ crack across the street. Used to say he had to provide for our family, but it didn’t do much for him in the end. Money has very little to do with it. It’s about sending a message more than anything, bringing pride and joy to my people, to Compton, to people that I can relate to.
ACF: Now, when you say “brother”, do you mean — ?
SB: (Serena laughs.) Yeah, I got two older brothers. And a little sister. But blood relation isn’t everything. My closest friends and people from my hood, they brothers and sisters to me, too. I take care of my niggas like they’re my very own. What good is first class if I’m ridin’ by myself, y’know? I been trapped inside the ghetto for so long. I don’t want any more kids to experience what I had to, ever again. I’ma make the world a better place, one step at a time…but if I can collect my coins in the process, why the hell not?
ACF: Your authenticity is…iconic. Like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Your openness and honesty tends to rub some people the wrong way.
SB: And that’s not my f**kin’ problem. Wait a minute. Sh*t, can I curse on Fight Grid? My bad.
ACF: What a prime example!
SB: (Serena laughs.) You damn right! I grew up my whole life without a filter. Got my ass beat for it. Got in trouble in school for it. How could I deny the world the most of me? The best parts of me?
ACF: I take it you don’t look back on your times as a schoolgirl fondly?
SB: School just wasn’t my thing, for reasons unrelated to books. Teachers were shitty to me. All my teachers was white and had this essence about them, like they felt good about themselves ‘cause they was doin’ us all a favor by teachin’ in the hood. Like we needed them for anything. Like, fuck on outta here. I didn’t need y’all to look down on me my entire childhood, told me I would never amount to anything every day ‘cause I didn’t obey your rules or give a fuck about your good behavior stickers. You can go right back to the Hills and we wouldn’t miss you. I wanted so badly to have a teacher that looked like me — just one! We needed role models, more than anything — and I had two parents. My best friend was in and out of foster homes her entire life. And nobody was able to give us what we needed, help us in the ways we didn’t know how to ask for. How you s’posed to speak up when you don’t even know the words to say? Or have the mental stability to accurately describe how you feel?
ACF: Wow. I can see where the resentment comes from.
SB: Yeah. But whatever. I finished what I needed to, yeah. Did decent in high school — but that all seems like so long ago. Like, I really graduated high school almost seven years go, fam. It’s crazy. But shit was hard, not in academics, just with all I went through. Yeah, I went to a predominantly Black school, so I had my peers to relate to if not my teachers — and absolutely everybody was gang bangin’, no cap. I’ll never forget when my ex-boyfriend got arrested. He was a sweetheart, I think about him to this day. But he got blamed for somethin’ he didn’t do, borrowed a homie’s car to go to the store, no registration, and of course they found marijuana in the vehicle. So what did you think would happen? I was livid. Wanted to burn the whole city down. It was really the last straw for me, for the justice system — rather, the in-justice system. (Serena sighs.) That was the same year my cousin was murdered by some bloods. I was 15 then. That same day, I told myself, “Serena, you need to get the fuck up out of Compton.” I set myself straight. I wanted to move to the boujee part of Los Angeles, so I applied to UCLA my Junior year — and I got in. Granted, I didn’t finish, but I learned a lot about myself. (Serena smiles.) It was a culture shock for me when I went to college ‘cause I was the only Black girl in my classes. I had to adjust, and people had to adjust to me. Not much different from the EAW locker rooms, honestly, so now I’m used to it. But at first? Psh. It’s no wonder I was such a b*tch. Oop. Sorry.
ACF: And now, you’re unapologetically Black as hell and could care less what anyone else has to say about it.
SB: You damn right, Anna. I used to be so ashamed of who I was and where I came from. Had to lie to them broads in my classes about where I grew up, what my daddy did for a living. But all that’s changed. I’m through hiding from what makes me who I am — and soon, that’ll be EAW’s new Specialists Champion! Believe that.
ACF: What’d you go to UCLA for?
ACF: Oh! So you’re smart!
SB: Obviously not, if I didn’t finish. (Serena laughs.) I’m still payin’ off student loans from the two semesters I spent, sis. It’s a scam. Workin’ in the indys really don’t cover shit. But no worries. Once I get that Specialists Title, I’ll have more cash incoming than I’ll know what to do with. I’m tryna buy my mom and dad a new house, get my brothers each a new car, build some community centers in the old neighborhood — just you watch. I’m only just getting started. You gon’ wanna play close attention to what happens next.
ACF: I sure hope it works out for you, Serena. Thanks again.
SB: Anytime, cuz! You know where I’ll be.